Stiles’ leg jittered up and down like an alarm clock in his seat.
The woman who had scanned his boarding pass had gazed at him strangely when he had to ask where he was sitting. His hands shook too strongly for him to read his seat on the flimsy white paper.
He bit his nail, leaning around the blue seatback in front of him to gaze nervously into the aisle. It was cramped and smelled vaguely like a hospital, stale and congested, and his goddamn leg would not stop bouncing like an overexcited six year old.
He tried to take deep breaths, cursing himself for forgetting his dose of Adderall yesterday. It certainly was not helping with his hyperactivity now, not when he was already nervous. This would be the first time in four years that he had set foot on a plane.
Stiles hated flying.
This was the last thing he wanted to be doing with his weekend. If his rental car hadn’t broken down yesterday, and if he didn’t have to be back to San Francisco by tomorrow afternoon, he would have just waited. But now he was on a goddamn airplane and it sucked.
He looked up at the ceiling, fiddling with the fan in order to give his hands something to do. He bit his lip, his eyes narrowing in concentration and he tried to position the tiny jet of air onto his face. He felt sick. His foot went taptaptap against the grey, thin carpet lining the plane. He wished he had his camera here to distract him.
The snap of a magazine to his right made him turn his head. There, by the window, was the person he would be sharing this four-hour flight with. The man’s dark hair and stubble gave him a tired, frustrated look; or maybe that was Stiles’ doing.
“Can you stop fidgeting?” the man snapped, and Stiles scowled at him. Who shoved something up his ass? He wanted to come up with a witty retort, but he was too nervous. He also wanted to hit the man across the face, tell him that there was every reason to be nervous about flying because humans aren’t meant to fly, that’s why they don’t have wings, and maybe your luggage will get lost or the window will crack and suck out all the oxygen or maybe, just maybe the plane will crash and Stiles would die with fire scorching his skin.
But instead, he just said, “No,” and resumed tapping his foot.
The man sighed in exasperation. His eyes, Stiles couldn’t help but notice, were a forested green that contained speckles of deep, woody brown. “You have been doing that since we boarded. I get that you’re impatient to leave—”
“I’m actually not,” Stiles snapped, unable to help himself from commenting. “I would much rather never take off. Put on some headphones if you’re so distracted. I’m nervous, and I can’t help it.” He crossed his arms and looked back to the aisle, refusing to look at the window seat man. He was becoming increasingly frustrated and anxious. Why did he have to be stuck next to the one person who was rude enough to comment on his hyperactivity?
When he glanced back over at the man, he saw one eyebrow quirked up in disbelief. He glanced back to the seatback, then once again at Window Man. He was still staring at Stiles, looking unimpressed. Turning to him, Stiles spat, “What?”
“I don’t own an iPod,” Window Man said, slowly, “so—”
“Oh for God’s sake!” Stiles hissed, and dug into his pockets to withdraw his white iPod. He practically threw it at the man. “Use mine,” he muttered, and proceeded to look at the aisle again. Compared to his barely remaining sanity, his iPod was an easy sacrifice. He drummed his fingers against his leg, tapping out a random rhythm to try and soothe himself.
There was a moment of silence, and then Window Man said, quietly, “Thanks, then.” He clearly hadn’t expected Stiles to offer his own music. Stiles refused to look over at him. But then he heard a chuckle. Incensed, Stiles turned to the man.
“Nothing,” Window Man said, a small smile tugging against his lips. Stiles realized he was looking through his music. He felt his cheeks heat up, and looked away again.
“You were the one who wanted music,” he said, embarrassed, and to his surprise Window Man actually rolled his eyes. When he was using Stiles’ iPod.
“Yeah, I know. Thanks,” he said, and there was a touch of sincerity behind his words. Stiles swallowed loudly, and went back to tapping his fingers against his leg as Window Man slipped Stiles’ headphones into his ears.
For the next few minutes, as more passengers streamed onto the plane, no snide remarks were exchanged between the two. Stiles leaned back in his seat, closing his eyes as his stomach tossed and turned. He tried to breathe through his nose, remembering what his therapist had told him about relaxation.
The rumble of the plane’s engine started, and Stiles’ eyes instantly snapped open. He could feel himself paling as the wheels started turning, moving the plane slowly down the runway. He gripped the plastic armrests so tightly that his knuckles turned white. He tried to keep breathing slowly, controlled. But his heart was pounding away in his ears and he was biting his lip obsessively. His fingernails had already been reduced to stubs, or else he would be tackling them too.
“Hey… are you gonna be alright?” said a voice next to him, and Stiles glanced over with a clenched jaw to see that Window Man had turned to look at him with wary eyes. Grinding his teeth so he wouldn’t be sick, he nodded curtly and turned back to the front, attempting to give off don’t-talk-to-me-or-I-may-barf-all-over-your-shirt vibes. The seat between them was empty, and Stiles wished someone would sit there. He could still feel Window Man’s eyes on him, but that wasn’t his problem right now. Let the man stare. Stiles was used to being stared at, used to getting people’s attention with his uncoordinated movements and loud personality. He was simply not meant to blend in. Scott always joked that he would be the worst undercover officer ever, even though Stiles disagreed because he was convinced he could use his amazing charms and good looks to seduce anyone who found him. Not. But hey, at least, unlike Scott, he could defend himself; had been forced to go to self-defense classes for most of his life by his dad. Guess that just came with being the Sheriff’s kid.
The departure was torture. All Stiles could think about was four years ago, and getting a knock on the door that turned his world upside-down, and pitying looks and a funeral coated in black tears. The sound of the wheels made his palms sweat. The stewardess was saying something over the intercom but all Stiles could hear was blah blah blah safety mask in case of oxygen blah blah blah potential death blah blah. But soon they were in the air, snow shooting past the windows as the late afternoon sky was coated with a blanket of grey. Next to him, Window Man appeared to be reading a book. Stiles glanced at the title, but it was in some foreign language that didn’t make any sense to him. All he knew was that it wasn’t English or French.
Things were getting turbulent. He could feel unrest passing through a few of the other passengers as the plane wobbled slightly, buffeted to and fro by the storm outside. Of course, the one flight that Stiles decided to take was a roller coaster in the goddamn sky. It was getting worse and worse every minute, the snow falling harder and thicker as the seconds ticked by. With a particularly violent jerk, a baby started crying farther up the plane. If this didn’t stop, Stiles would be joining in. Enthusiastically. Oh god, he was going to be sick.
“Attention, passengers,” said a voice over the loudspeakers, and Stiles felt his heart enter his throat. Window Man slowly lowered his book, looking out the window with a small frown on his face. “This is your captain speaking. Flight conditions have become too turbulent to continue. Unfortunately, we are being forced to turn around.”
All around him, passengers groaned. Stiles, feeling dizzy, leaned forward with his head between his knees. “Just what I fucking needed,” he muttered in dismay, feeling the plane tilt as it began to circle back to the Denver International Airport. Window Man’s gaze was on him again, but didn’t care. This was a disaster. He would have to go through this whole process again, plane and all, if he wanted to make his appointment for tomorrow afternoon. Maybelline was a huge client, he couldn’t spare blowing off this job. Erica would do some weird ritual to his genitals like cut them off or tie them into a bow or something, and he preferred his body in working order.
The plane landed, skidding across the icy runway. Stiles was too angry and upset to be nervous anymore. He was out of his seat as soon as the seatbelt sign flickered off, grabbing his bag and not looking back as he slipped his way to the front of the plane. He was the first one off, already rummaging in his pockets for his phone.
His dad picked up on the first ring. “Stiles?” he said, sounding surprised. “Shouldn’t you be on the plane?”
“The flight was canceled,” Stiles said, slinging his bag more securely over his shoulder as he walked out of the gate. “Weather. I have to go to the desk to see when the next one is.”
His dad made a sympathetic noise on the other end of the phone. “I’m sorry, son. It seems you aren’t having the best of luck this trip.”
That is the understatement of the century, Stiles thought bitterly to himself. He speed-walked to the desk, and groaned when he saw that all flights to San Francisco were canceled for the night.
“What’s wrong?” his dad asked, and Stiles muttered curses under his breath and opened his mouth to reply. But he cut short when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and his eyes widened.
Window Man was tall, and now that Stiles was off the plane he had a much better look at him. How had he been too nervous to realize the guy he was sitting next to was a show-stopper? He was a few inches taller than Stiles, with ripped arms and tanned skin that looked exceptionally well cared-for. And holy shit, his mouth—
“Hey, you forgot to get this back,” the man said, and without the humming of the plane, Stiles realized his voice could have been pulled out of a porn video. Or the other end of a sex hotline.
Good genes, clearly.
Stiles gaped at him, confused, and then saw the white iPod dangling from the man’s outstretched hand. Shutting his mouth with a snap, he held up a finger. Window Man nodded, looking slightly annoyed, but shifted his focus away from Stiles and to the Departures board.
“Stiles?” his dad was saying on the other end, and Stiles cleared his throat.
“Yeah, Dad, I’m sorry but—I have to go. I’ll call you when I find out more, ok?” They hung up, and Stiles turned to face Window Man with his cheeks burning. “Sorry about that,” he said, and Window Man turned his green gaze back to him. He handed over Stiles’ iPod, which the younger man awkwardly pocketed.
“Some plane ride, yeah?” Stiles said, suddenly feeling nervous, and the man shook his head in annoyance.
“Stupid weather,” he said with a sigh, and Stiles couldn’t help but nod in agreement. “Have you seen that all the flights are canceled?”
“Yeah,” Stiles said, lamely, and then blushed again. He waved his hands around spastically, motioning to the airport roof and interior. “Guess I’ll just have to sleep here.”
“You don’t seem like the kind who sleeps,” Window Man said, eye Stiles’ tapping foot, and Stiles forced it to still. Seconds later, it was tapping again.
“Yeah, well,” Stiles said, suddenly annoyed at Window Man’s lack of polite conversation, “thanks again for the iPod. Totally forgot it, and whatnot. Couldn’t dare leave that baby behind. Good luck finding a flight.” He meant the last part. No one should be stuck in an airport.
Least of all me, he thought, self-pitying, and looked down at his useless ticket until Window Man stalked away. He glanced up to watch him go, noticing the broad curve of his shoulders under his black leather jacket. He was hot. Too bad he didn’t seem skilled in social… well, anything. Still, it was impossible to deny that he was one fine piece of booty. Window Man’s jeans fit well, but Stiles couldn’t tell if it was because they were expensive or because everything probably fit well on that ass.
Forcing his mind to come out of the gutter, Stiles turned the opposite direction and began to wander forlornly through the airport. He glanced longingly at the bars (since he was only 19, he couldn’t go in), but settled instead for a Big Mac at the nearest McDonalds. He could only imagine the aneurism his father would have if he saw Stiles eating fries while he was forced to munch away on carrot sticks and veggie burgers.
Hours passed. Bored, Stiles turned on his iPod. His eyebrows raised when he saw the song that Window Man had been listening to. How he had managed to find the one classical song Stiles owned, the brunette did not know. It made him feel even more humiliated as he realized just how different their taste in music probably was. The fact that Stiles had managed to shame himself while trying to be cordial was a nice summary of his life.
Now that the adrenaline from the plane were starting to dim down, Stiles couldn’t help but wish he had managed to talk a bit to the dude. Stiles knew that his hyperactivity often drew the attention of people, so was it really Window Man’s fault for being interested? Stiles probably would have asked if someone had been acting as strange as he was, too. He could only have imagined what he had looked like on the plane. But it wasn’t his fault—that had been his first plane ride since four years ago, since the funeral. He wasn’t supposed to be unaffected, isn’t that what his therapist had said?
With a sigh, Stiles got up from the table, tossing his burger wrapper into a nearby trash can. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he started wandering around once more. He wished he had someone, anyone, to talk to. He tried calling Scott, and then Isaac, but with no luck. They were probably partying, now that he thought about it. He thought again of Window Man, of his green eyes, and wished he had just ignored his rudeness and followed him. At least he would have had something to do. Boredom is a killing thing, Stiles.
There were so many people, even though it was nearly 7 at night. Stiles slung his bag in front of him, undoing the zipper and pulling out his camera case. He had brought along one of his smaller Nikon D40 cameras to take a shoot of his high school crush, Lydia, who was now his best long-distance friend. Currently faced with hours of time at the airport and many more until he could sleep, he was grateful to have brought it.
His mentor, Erica, had mentioned that he needed to start broadening his scope past just portraits. Erica was older than him, maybe thirty (he didn’t know exactly because who the hell would ask that), and Stiles was incredibly lucky to have her as an insider into the business. He mostly followed her advice.
Anwyays, he had some karma to earn back and some gold star stickers he needed to score with her. What better time to please Erica then now? What else was he going to do?
He was bending over, taking a photo of the tent-like roof of the airport, when he decided that he needed a better angle. As he scooted back, he nearly fell over backwards as he collided with someone who was walking by. There was an awkward tangle and flail of limbs as Stiles righted himself, turning around with his arms cradling his camera protectively. “I am so sorry—” he began, and then stopped short and gazed with wide eyes as Window Man straightened up. He looked just as surprised as Stiles, his thick eyebrows raised.
“No, I wasn’t looking,” Window Man said, brushing invisible dust off his leather jacket, and Stiles shrugged.
“Neither was I,” he admitted, grinning as nonchalantly as possible. He motioned to the roof. “I was too busy shooting the architecture.”
Window Man was examining the camera curiously. His eyes flicked up to Stiles’ face. “You shoot often?”
“It’s my profession,” Stiles explained, and was surprised when Window Man looked interested.
“Mind if I take a look?”
Stiles gaped at him. “Oh, I, er,” he blustered, and gripped his camera a little tighter. His palms were suddenly sweaty. He hadn’t shown his photos to a stranger before. “They aren’t very good, I’m still in training,” he said, embarrassed, but Window Man shrugged.
“I’ve never taken a professional photo in my life, so you have me beat,” he said, and Stiles realized that the man was actually engaging him in real conversation. Nervously, he handed his camera over. It was like handing both his baby and his soul to someone else; Stiles considered his art very personal. He couldn’t help but stare at Window Man’s hands as he took the Nikon; they looked strong, and his fingers were large.
Stiles fidgeted as Window Man’s eyes slid over some of his photos. He didn’t know which ones were being looked at, and his stomach tightened when he thought of the pictures he had done, with Erica’s help, for Victoria’s Secret a few months ago. Were they still on there? That’s just what he needed: for this guy to think he was a plane-fearing porn photographer with a kink for polka dots and lace. And the word “pink.”
But Window Man was nodding appreciatively. “These are really good,” he said, and Stiles leaned forward a bit to see which one he was looking at. It was of Lydia, dressed in a striking red top and dark jeans. She had heels on, as always, and her hair cascaded down her back in long waves. Stiles remembered how frustrating the wind had been that day; it took hours for them to find a place where strands of hair weren’t floating into her mascara.
“Girlfriend?” Window Man asked, and Stiles shook his head quickly.
“Best friend,” he said, truthfully, and the man nodded. Stiles couldn’t tell if it was at Lydia, or at his response. There was a beat of silence, and Stiles decided to put himself out there. He stuck out his hand. “Stiles,” he said, and after a pause Window Man grabbed it.
“Derek.” His grip was strong, his fingers slightly calloused. Heat poured off his skin. They shook, and Stiles wasn’t sure if he imagined it but he felt like it was a big longer than normal. Derek handed him back his camera.
“No luck finding any flights?” Stiles asked him, uncomfortable with a potential silence, and Derek shook his head.
“No. I called my friend –she’s an airline attendant—and she said all flights are canceled because of this weather.” They both glanced outside the windows; the storm outside had only gotten worse. Stiles sighed.
“At least it isn’t a tornado,” he tried to joke, and Derek just raised an eyebrow. There was a brief silence, and then Stiles opened his mouth because he was good at that. “Hopefully it calms down by morning. There isn’t anything to do.”
Derek shrugged. “There are a few things I brought, but it’s still not how I would want to spend my time. I was about to try and relax a bit.”
“Sounds fun,” Stiles said, unsure of what to say, and there was another awkward silence.
Derek coughed. “Fancy a drink?” he asked, and Stiles felt his cheeks burn again. Derek was offering to get a drink with him? Why? They had only just met, and Stiles recalled his distinct impression on the plane that Derek had been annoyed by him. Boredom is a killing thing? he thought again, and decided to stick with that. He didn’t know how to interpret the invitation, but he couldn’t accept it regardless.
“I can’t,” he said. At Derek’s questioning look, he added, “I’m only 19. No drinks for this guy. I get to wait two more years before I find myself stumbling around and making an idiot out of myself. More of an idiot.” He made a face, and felt his chest heat up pleasantly when a small smile once again tugged at Derek’s mouth. Stiles liked his mouth. A lot. Maybe Derek didn’t hate him, after all.
“Drinking isn’t as fun as they tell you in college,” Derek told him, and Stiles resisted opening his mouth and telling him that he had never gone to college. He hadn’t needed it. Stiles’ artistic abilities had been clear by the time he was in middle school, and after meeting Erica through a program that took on mentees in the art industry, he had opted to find his way in the vibrant world of San Fran instead of being cooped up studying books. As much as he didn’t like to admit it, he wasn’t calm or focused enough to read a novel front to back. SparkNotes and Lydia’s summaries had been his friends all throughout high school. Trailing along at Erica’s shoots and getting his name out there was plenty for him.
Instead, Stiles just shrugged in response. He glanced over his shoulder, catching sight of a coffee stand not too far away. “How about a different kind of drink?” he asked, and Derek followed his gaze towards the shop.
Derek ordered a straight black coffee and Stiles couldn’t help but make a face at him. Derek was defensive. “I don’t need anything diluting the flavor,” he said, and Stiles scoffed.
“It’s called enhancing the flavor,” he shot back, and Derek rolled his eyes with a scowl. He turned to wait at the end counter, and Stiles snuck a look at his muscled arms before placing his own order, a Mexican Mocha with an extra shot and extra whipped cream.
“I can’t believe you’re getting more caffeine and sugar,” Derek said, watching in disbelief as Stiles brought the concoction over to the table he had grabbed. “From what I can see, you don’t need the extra energy.”
“If you knew me well,” Stiles said, smirking, “then you would know I live on this stuff.”
“Everything is making sense now,” Derek drawled, but Stiles ignored him.
“Besides, I’m stuck at an airport. I might as well indulge. You’re the one drinking the black sludge.” He stuck his finger into the whipped cream, taking off a small cloud and popping it into his mouth. He ran his tongue around his lips, humming in satisfaction. Whipped cream was one of Stiles’ weaknesses.
He realized Derek was staring at him.
“What?” he asked, and Derek seemed to be brought back to reality.
“Nothing. So you’re 19?”
“Don’t remind me,” Stiles grumbled, and Derek’s mouth twitched up. Stiles eyed him up and down. “And how old are you?”
Wow, ok. Way to crash all of Stiles’ hopes and dreams. Send magical hot mystery man into his life and voila, he is six years older. God isn’t your fan, Stiles, he said to himself, and wondered if he could manage a stroke of good luck if he repented for being Atheist the past ten years. Or sacrificed a virgin to some tree.
“Oh,” he replied, and Derek raised an eyebrow at him. He didn’t want to explain, so he switched topics. “And what do you do for a living?”
“Oh, what kind?”
“I’m trained in piano, but I’m picking up the drums as well.”
That sounded appealing to Stiles. “So that means you’re out in the big bad world, putting out your work, yeah?”
Derek took a sip of his coffee. “You could call it that.”
“Do you do covers, or write your own songs?”
Silence filled the air. Stiles was realizing that Derek wasn’t one for talking a lot. When it became unbearable, Stiles clapped his hands in front of him and leaned forward. Derek looked at him in confusion.
“How do you feel,” Stiles asked, “about cilantro?”
Derek blinked a few times. “What?”
“You know, the green stuff they put on Mexican food?”
“It’s disgusting,” Derek responded after a moment of contemplation. “Tastes like soap.”
“What about blue cheese?”
“Why all the food questions?”
“Why not?” Stiles asked, grinning, and Derek stared at him for a few moments again. Stiles ran his tongue around the rim of the coffee cup, getting the remaining bits of whipped cream as he waited for Derek to reply. When he glanced up, he blushed when he found Derek watching him again.
“I like blue cheese. I make a killer pizza with it.” It really shouldn’t have been that significant of a statement, but Stiles’ interest was piqued as he imagined Derek during an average day, just cooking. In bed with him, whispering into his ear. He imagined his muscles tensing against Stiles, the callouses on his hands providing friction for fast, powerful strokes. Derek’s hands were large; they could grab him just right—
Not the time for this.
Stiles pushed the thoughts aside, scooting his chair closer to the table in an attempt to distract his increasingly interested dick. “I have a funny story about pizza, now that you mention it…”
Derek was laughing, really laughing, and Stiles was feeling proud. This was coffee round number three, and Stiles could tell that the people at the counter were getting impatient with them. Stiles had been telling stories all night, with Derek interjecting a few comments here and there.
“And so Scott decided it would be a good idea to jump off the roof, you know, so that Kira’s dad wouldn’t catch them making out. He ended up breaking his foot, and her mom was the one to fix it. He was in so much trouble with Ms. McCall,” Stiles finished, and Derek rolled his eyes.
“Sounds like a high school boy,” he said, and Stiles’ heart picked up speed at the warmth in Derek’s voice. It was the first time he had heard that emotional openness, and he liked it. He liked it a lot. “Are they still together?”
“Going strong,” Stiles said, grinning. Suddenly, his phone buzzed. Stiles grabbed it quickly, glancing at the text. Lately, texts hadn’t been good news; it was always Danny with some new problem, or Isaac texting him another apology for outing him at that club a month ago. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it was just his dad wishing him safe travels. He glanced at the clock; his dad must have been on a night shift, because it was already 1 A.M.
Derek seemed to realize this at the same time. “It’s late,” he said, and Stiles nodded. A wave of tiredness his him, and he barely managed to stifle a yawn.
“I wonder if there is anywhere to sleep,” he muttered, and Derek nodded.
“I think I passed some before I bumped into you,” he said, and grabbed his wallet from where it was lying on the table. Stiles did the same, slipping his into his backpack. He did so slowly, because he was suddenly faced with the uncertainty of how to proceed. Should he follow Derek? Would that be weird? Were the sleeping in the same space, or was this the end of their interaction? Derek didn’t know Stiles was bi, and Stiles didn’t know if Derek swung towards men. Not that it mattered if Derek only wanted to be friends, or just two people who kinda-sorta knew each other; but Stiles was on unsteady ground, not sure what Derek wanted at all, if anything.
Derek solved the dilemma for him. “You coming?” he asked, and Stiles quickly zipped up his backpack.
“Yeah, yeah, slow down sourwolf. We have hours.”
Derek raised an eyebrow at him as they exited the coffee shop. “Sourwolf?”
Stiles waved his arms around in an attempted explanation. “Yeah, you know, because you’re so dark and hairy and shit.”
“I’m not dark or hairy,” Derek argued, subconsciously reaching up to rub at his stubble, and Stiles grinned at him.
“Oh, so you’re just a big teddy bear on the inside?” he cooed, and Derek glared at him. Stiles yelped when a punch lightly hit his shoulder. “Oww, ok, not a teddy bear,” he said, wincing dramatically, and Derek rolled his eyes.
They sat down in some chairs near a window, which weren’t comfortable but we better than the hard floor. Derek sighed, leaning back the best he could and taking off his leather jacket so he could put it over his eyes. Stiles forced himself not to look at the layers of muscles that sculpted the older man’s body, instead bending over and retrieving his iPod out of his bag. He also tugged out his pillow, which had taken up the majority of the space in his backpack, and slipped his camera snuggly into the bag.
As he shifted a few times to try and get comfortable, Derek shifted as well. Their toes touched and Stiles jumped as if burned. His cheeks were aflame as he drew his legs in closer. It wasn’t a big thing, and Derek didn’t even seem to have noticed, but Stiles’ heart was pumping fast. This is why you don’t get nice things, he chastised himself, and shifted a bit more.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, and Derek shrugged.
“No big deal.” He had allowed one eye to be exposed under the jacket. “Did you seriously bring a pillow?”
Stiles blushed again. He couldn’t sleep without his pillow, never had been able to. Normally he didn’t care if people found out; but for some reason, he cared about what Derek thought. It was incredibly unsettling that one person was affecting him so much. He supposed that, after hanging out mainly with Scott and Isaac for so long, he wasn’t used to questions about his life and habits. “Yes, yes I did,” he said, trying to sound confident and not as nervous as he really felt. “Pillow, meet Derek. Derek, Pillow.”
He was surprised when Derek let out a chuckle, pulling the jacket over his eyes once more. “Yeah, ok. See you tomorrow, Stiles.”
Stiles couldn’t help a grin from spreading over his face. Derek would be hanging with him until tomorrow morning, then. He felt bubbly and, humming lightly to the song filling his ears, he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.
He awoke to someone gently touching his shoulder. Sunlight was streaming in from the large windows onto his face, and he squinted against it as he sleepily bolted into a sitting position. “Wha?” he mumbled, disoriented, and blinked a few times to clear his eyes.
“Hey,” said a voice, and Stiles looked to his left to see Derek stretching next to him. Confused, he looked around; and then he remembered he was still in the airport. His stomach plummeted. Shit.
“Oh god, what time is it?” he asked, scrambling around for his phone, and Derek slipped his out of his pocket.
Stiles swore. His meeting was at 2PM today, and he had to make it through San Fran traffic in a taxi in order to get there. Erica was going to be so disappointed, and Stiles couldn’t stand that. He had been so excited to tell Erica that Victoria Secret had called him and asked for another shoot, just with Stiles because his work had been so good; but if he was late, Erica probably wouldn’t care. “Shit, shit, shit,” he said under his breath, and Derek stood up as Stiles did.
“I have a shoot at 2 today,” Stiles said, distractedly running his hands through his hair. “By now all the early flights will be booked. Shit. The flight will take like four hours, and then there is traffic—”
“You don’t need to worry,” Derek said, and Stiles turned to him in confusion. Derek motioned to his phone. “My friend found me a seat on an 8AM today, and I had her grab you one too.”
Stiles stopped in his tracks. For once, he was completely speechless. He stared at Derek with wide eyes, who suddenly seemed to be uncomfortable.
“I figured you would want to get out as soon as possible—if that is a problem then we can always cancel it—”
“Yes! I mean! No!” Stiles said, his mouth finally working. “No! That’s just—I’m just amazed, that’s all. Thanks, man.” He was sincere.
Derek’s muscles relaxed. He ran a hand through his hair, looking away from Stiles. “No problem,” he grunted. “I didn’t even do any of the work. It was all her.”
“Well then tell her she saved my life,” Stiles said, feeling as if he was walking on air. “How much do I owe you?”
Derek glanced over at the McDonalds nearby. He seemed to hesitate. Then he said, slowly, “How about coffee and breakfast?”
Stiles was horrified. “No, I can’t do that, that ticket probably cost hundreds—”
Derek waved his hand. “I travel a ton, I have lots of points. I never use them anyways. Musicians don’t take vacations.” Stiles started to protest again, but Derek glared at him. “Just take it, Stiles. It seriously isn’t a big deal. It was convenient to set up.”
With a sigh, Stiles relented. “Then tell her she’s saved my life and my housing bill,” he muttered, and the older man chuckled. He didn’t know how he would manage to pay Derek back, but he was determined he would. He had until the end of the flight home to figure it out.
The flight was, just as Stiles knew it would be, terrible. He could barely open his mouth from when he got on to when they landed. It had been smooth, the storm from the day before completely gone, but his stomach had been in knots the whole time nonetheless. He and Derek had been seated next to each other, and Stiles couldn’t decide if it had soothed his nerves or simply increased them. Because Derek was cool, one of the coolest people Stiles had met outside of his normal friend group, and he couldn’t help but want to see more of him. And that made Stiles anxious. Very anxious. So did the idea of either passing out or throwing up on him, which, being realistic, were both totally likely.
Derek had opened his book as soon as they sat down, retreating behind the steel grey cover lined with wine red stitching. Stiles had closed his eyes at that point, leaning back and trying to breathe. He wanted to think of anything but where he was. Which, of course, didn’t work, even when he put on his iPod and blasted the music so loudly that he could feel Derek’s annoyed gaze on him. He kept his eyes closed, though, because hear no evil, see no evil, yeah?
Needless to say, the landing was a relief.
It was with shaky legs that Stiles walked out of the plane, breathing in the smell of San Francisco that was present even inside the airport. The fact that he contemplated kissing the ground should have disturbed him more, but he was distracted. He had gotten out first (Derek had stowed a bag in the upper compartment and therefore had been forced to take the time to retrieve it), and he hovered between whether he should wait for the older man or just leave now. If he waited, he risked looking like a desperate puppy dog. But if he left, he would never see Derek again.
He decided to wait.
Derek walked out, his bag slung over his shoulder, and when he saw Stiles he could have sworn a small smile passed over the older man’s lips. Derek walked straight over to him and Stiles tried to remember how to breathe as those forest green eyes look at his.
“So where are you off to now?” Derek asked, and Stiles glanced at his phone as they started walking towards the exit. He had enough time to zip home, shower, and make himself presentable enough to shoot for Maybelline.
“Outskirts of Castro district,” he said, thinking longingly of the apartment he shared with Scott. It was the best home away from home that he could have found outside of Beacon Hills. “You?”
Derek seemed to be thinking. “Same area, actually,” he said, and Stiles looked at him in surprise. Seeing his face, Derek elaborated. “I know someone who lives there, and I promised I would stop by.”
“Oh, who—” Stiles began, curiosity overcoming his manners as he thought about all the people it could be, but was cut off by the sound of a phone going off. The ringtone was a piano version of Clarity. Derek looked at the caller ID and flipped it open immediately.
Stiles could hear the voice of a woman on the other end. He looked around the airport to distract himself as the voice blabbered away. He couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy; the woman now had all of Derek’s attention. It was ridiculous, he knew; he and Derek weren’t even friends. He had just met the guy yesterday. But he had felt like things were going well, that Derek was actually beginning to talk to him like a normal person.
“We can talk more about that later,” Derek said, gruffly, and Stiles glanced over at him curiously. The man seemed tense, his jaw clenched. The woman started talking again, but Derek interrupted her. “I don’t have time for this right now, Cora. I’m about to catch a taxi.”
He hung up. Stiles felt a small smirk tug at the corner of his mouth. “One hell of a way to talk to your girlfriend,” he commented, and Derek looked horrified.
“Oh, god, that’s my sister,” he said, the words seeming to come out in a rush, and warmth once again filled Stiles’ chest. He tried to shut it down; after all, Derek was probably straight and even if he did swing towards men, he was way out of Stiles’ league. But the news still made him smile.
There was silence as they walked together, matching pace, and suddenly Stiles stopped. “Wait,” he said, “you need to catch a taxi?”
“Yeah,” Derek said, one eyebrow raised, clearly confused as to why this was new information. “I’m not exactly rich, so I don’t have a car. I usually run or catch a taxi to where I need to go.”
Stiles pushed out the visual of Derek running shirtless, sweat coating his muscles as he powered up the hills of San Fran. “Since we are going to the same place…” Stiles said, and suddenly trailed off. His throat felt dry, and his hands were sweating. Get ahold of yourself, Stiles. It’s not like you are inviting him back to your room. Derek was looking at him, and Stiles blurted the rest of the words out. “Want to maybe share the cab, then?” He nearly tripped over his own feet when, after a moment’s consideration, Derek nodded. His heart pounding furiously in his ears, he walked alongside the older man as they made their way to the taxis.
“Well, then,” Stiles said, shifting awkwardly from side to side as he gazed up at the building, “this is my place.”
The taxi ride had gone well. So well, in fact, that they had laughed almost the entire way and he had even found out about Derek’s sister, Cora, and how she once put a goat in the principal’s office after he got Derek in trouble for beating up a bully. Now they were both out on the street, the cab zipping off around the corner, and Stiles didn’t know what to do. He glanced at his watch; he had about an hour to get ready and go. But he didn’t want Derek to leave. He liked Derek, not only as someone who he could see himself having sex with but as a person in general. He liked the way he smiled and the green of his eyes and the stubble across his chin, he liked how Derek was sometimes shy but clearly cared about his work and his family. He wanted Derek to stay.
But he only had an hour left, and he didn’t even know why Derek had come this far with him. He was startled out of his thoughts when Derek stuck out his hand. Stiles reached forward and gripped it, briefly.
“Good luck, Stiles,” Derek said, and Stiles chewed anxiously on his lip.
“Yeah—yeah, thank you. You too, man. Good meeting you. Uh, sorry that it had to be on an airplane, and all.”
Derek nodded, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “Thanks for the airport company.” There was a moment of awkward silence, with both of them hovering on the sidewalk. Then Derek turned his head to look behind him. “Well, I’ll let you go now.”
He started to turn, taking a few steps down the street. And Stiles didn’t know what came over him, but his mind knew that this was someone who he wanted to be in his life, at least a little, and so he bolted after him.
“Hold on—” he began, but as he stepped forward Derek suddenly turned around with a conflicted look on his face.
“Actually—” Derek said, at the same time, and they collided with each other. Stiles stumbled; running into Derek was like hitting a brick wall. He groaned and took a step back, feeling a hand clutch around his bicep to steady him. With a jolt that went straight to his dick, he realized Derek was the one supporting him.
They both started to say something at the same time, then stopped in unison. Derek seemed to realize his hand was still on Stiles’ arm and he withdrew it quickly, shoving his hands in his pockets again. Stiles ran a hand through his hair, grinning sheepishly as his ears lit up.
“Sorry, what were you going to say?” he asked, feeling breathless, and Derek cleared his throat.
“Well…” he said, and then let out a slow breath. “I saw that you had some music on your iPod, songs that I’m doing covers on at this gig next Friday night.” Stiles’ heart leapt. “I was figuring I would invite you and your roommate along—his name was Scout, was it—”
“Scott,” Stiles said automatically, and then snapped his mouth shut.
“Right,” Derek said, looking like he was feeling very flustered and awkward. “Scott. Well. It’s always nice to have PR, and the band likes it when we get new people to come, so… yeah.”
Stiles realized he was waiting for a response. “Oh! Oh, yeah, no—I mean, yes. Yes, that would be awesome. Um—” he rifled through his pockets for a piece of paper, pulling out the plane ticket from the canceled flight, “—here, I’ll give you my number and you can just text me the location, yeah?” He stopped short, and looked up at Derek to scan him over. “Umm, you do text, right?”
Derek rolled his eyes. “I’m not from the last century. Of course I text.” He held out his hand for the paper, and Stiles wrote his number on it as clearly as he could. Derek took it and, folding it carefully, put it into his jean pocket. Derek nodded to him. “See you around, then.”
“Cool,” Stiles said, and this time he really did sound breathless. He coughed. “Alright, well, then; I guess I’ll pop by your gig, you know, if I have time that Friday night.”
At this, Derek raised an eyebrow. A small smile tugged at his lips once more. “Yeah, if you can fit it into your schedule,” he said, green eyes gazing into Stiles’, and then he turned around and walked down the street.