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Misinterpret Me Like Lolita

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“So, how was your first day of class, Der?” Laura asks as he trudges on into his apartment that evening.

“What are you doing in my apartment?” he replies, ignoring her question in favor of glaring at her – particularly her feet, which are lying on his coffee table. She grins and doesn’t bother to remove them. Typical Laura.

“I was going to help you unpack, but if you don’t want me to, I can always go home,” she says, making Derek sigh, because he really does need her help in that regard. He’d moved here kind of hastily, and the couch and coffee table that Laura’s lounging on are about the only pieces of furniture he’s set up properly. Well, those and his bed.

“Fine,” he huffs, moving to the kitchen in search of a snack. Unfortunately, he doesn’t come up with anything – he still needs to go grocery shopping.

“Is that referring to both your day and me staying, or just to me staying?” Laura asks, apparently not willing to let it go already.

“My Gender and Sexuality in Lit class is fine, but my American Novel course is shit,” Derek says, indirectly answering her question as he moves back into the living room to slump down on the couch next to her.

“Really? I thought it’d be the other way around,” Laura replies, frowning a little.

“So did I, but at least half of my Gender and Sexuality students are actually interested in the subject,” Derek snorts, trying not to grimace as he thinks about the students who are only indirectly interested in the subject. “I don’t think any of the students in my other class can say the same. I should just fail them all now.”

“Oh Derek, there you go wooing undergrads with you impeccable charm again,” Laura teases, making Derek glare at her again. She’s lucky she’s a lawyer, because he’s certain that if she’d gone into academia she’d have the same problem.

“Teaching them is a waste of my time,” Derek huffs, crossing his arms over his chest.

“At least some of them will get over you after a couple of weeks,” Laura says, attempting to comfort him in that bizarre way of hers. “I’m sure there are at least a couple who want to maintain their GPA at the very least.”

“Is it really too much to ask for a student who’s actually interested in the subject?” Derek asks, aware that it comes out dangerously close to a whine. He’s had a long day, okay?

“Really? There’s no one?” Laura questions, her tone a little disbelieving, which Derek understands a bit. There has to be one, right?

“There was one girl who stared at me like I was an experiment the whole time,” Derek offers, shrugging, trying not to shudder as he remembers the intense look the petite redhead had fixed him with. “Either that or she wanted to murder me.”

“Please tell me you haven’t attracted another psychotic one,” Laura groans, making Derek wince internally. After all, one of the main reasons he’d accepted a new position at this university and moved halfway across the country was because he’d found his girlfriend, Kate, had been taking advantage of one of her eighteen year old students.

“I don’t think she’s psychotic,” Derek ventures, remembering the way she’d smiled at him as she left, like she knew something amusing that he didn’t. “Just… intense.”

“Just don’t get yourself kidnapped by an undergrad, is all I ask,” Laura says, leaning over to rest her head on his shoulder. “Seriously, I know you’re two hundred pounds of solid muscle, but I don’t want to find out that that some tiny demon-woman is holding you hostage in your classroom.”

“I think the horrible course texts are more of a risk to my health than any of my students,” Derek snorts, but he doesn’t try to remove her from his shoulder.

“Old, dead, straight, white men?” she asks knowingly, giving him a sympathetic look.

“Yep,” Derek sighs, allowing her to pat him on the arm comfortingly.

“For your last assignment, you should make your students design a new course booklist,” Laura suggests, Derek pausing to consider the idea.

“That’s… for once, not a bad idea,” he replies, already thinking about how he’d make it into a real assignment. It really wouldn’t be that difficult. He’d had a different topic picked out for their final essay, but he could easily modify it, make them choose five books and justify their picks. It might be fun, even.

“Of course it’s not a bad idea,” Laura scoffs, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “It’s my idea.”

Derek elbows her in the stomach. Gently, of course.

---

Derek sighs as he places his now empty coffee cup in the kitchen sink. It’s about the only dish he’s bothered to unpack as of yet, and he’s currently debating whether or not to wash it in order to put cheerios in it, or whether to just splurge on some coffee shop pastry.

His watch ends up deciding for him, though. If his students are anything like they were on Monday, more than half of them will have already arrived by the time he gets in, and he hates being the last one to get to class. Honestly, he can’t fathom why they’re so early, even if they do like ogling him. Back when he was an undergrad – and doesn’t he feel old thinking that phrase – everyone had always sauntered on into class either five minutes early or one minute late.

Sighing again, he leaves his mug in the sink and grabs his briefcase off of the counter. He pauses briefly to shrug on his jacket, but after that he’s out the door and on his way to work.

He makes it to the SEC in good time. He has about fifteen minutes before class is scheduled to start, which, really, is the only reason he stops to help the very lost looking student standing awkwardly in the middle of the hallway.

Now he’s really regretting it, though.

“You don’t even know the course name?” he growls after the guy blushes and stutters out an answer, because, Jesus, he thought the university had standards.

And it sounds like the course the guy is describing is his. Isn’t it just his lucky day? No breakfast and another student who doesn’t give a shit about the course material.

“So I’ve been a little busy lately – sue me,” the guy has the audacity to say, sounding offended. Really? How can you be too busy to look up the name of the class you’re going to be taking for the next fourteen or so weeks? “Now do you know what class I’m talking about, or should I just continue awkwardly checking every freaking room on this floor?”

Briefly, Derek considers pointing him in the wrong direction. That would probably end badly for him, though, when the guy figures out that he’s actually the professor for the class he’s looking for. He sighs and resists the urge to roll his eyes as he says, “Come with me.”

The student, on the other hand, apparently doesn’t have nearly the same amount of self-control as Derek and actually does roll his eyes.

This class is going to be hell – he’s calling it now.

---

And, well, it is hell, just not for the reasons Derek thought it would be. Because for all the flippancy the student from the hallway – Stiles, apparently – had displayed, he seems to be the one student who actually cares about the course. He’s obviously read A Farewell to Arms before, but the way he references it is simultaneously specific and vague, so it’s probably been a while. And, fuck, if he isn’t a cocky little shit. He’s stubborn is what he is – stubborn and a bit of a know-it-all.

It’s strange, though, the way he talks about literature. He doesn’t use the proper terminology or phrasing, but his observations are excellent and his arguments carefully crafted. It’s a contradiction. Derek’s not sure if he should be sent back to a 200 level course or sent on to a 400 level course. Then again, he’s only had one class with Stiles. Maybe things will become clearer in a few weeks.

Derek’s a little startled to realize that he’s actually looking forward to the coming weeks, now that Stiles is in his class. Somehow he’s managed to become Derek’s favorite and least favorite student all in one class period.

That may or may not have to do with him saying that Hemingway was ‘no homo’ personified. It had been so hard to keep himself from grinning like a lunatic at that. He agrees, after all.

His mind is still stuck on Stiles as he goes about work the next day, which is why he’s only vaguely paying attention to where he’s going as he makes his way to Isaac and Erica’s shared office. So when someone rounds the hall corner going much faster than they should be, they collide, of course. The papers he was holding scatter all across the hall. He barely even registers them falling, though, because he’s too preoccupied with the fact that the person who’s just run into him is falling, too.

Derek reacts on instinct, wrapping an arm around the person’s waist to steady them, feels the person’s hands press up against his chest as they stumble. He’s about to reprimand the person, but as he finally gets a good look at the student, the words get caught in his throat.

Stiles peers up at him with soft brown eyes framed by ridiculously long eyelashes. His glasses are a little skewed from the collision and his pink, cupid’s-bow mouth is hanging open.

Somehow he’d been so annoyed at Stiles yesterday that he’d completely missed how gorgeous he is.

“Hey,” Stiles says, his voice a little rough as he removes one hand from Derek’s chest in order to push his glasses back up his nose. “Nice, uh, save there, Professor Hale.”

Professor Hale.

Those two words break him out of whatever trance he’s fallen into and he tears his eyes away from Stiles’ lips. Fuck, he shouldn’t be having these sorts of thoughts about a student. He’s not Kate.

His heart skips a beat as he realizes that his arm is still wrapped around Stiles’ waist and he removes it quickly, stumbling back a step so that he’s no longer pressed up against Stiles. He tries to ignore the phantom warmth on his palm from where Stiles’ body heat had seeped through his shirt and into Derek’s skin.

“You should watch where you’re going, Mr. Stiles,” Derek replies, his voice a little strangled. Fuck, could he be any more obvious?

“Just Stiles,” Stiles says, which is really not what Derek wants to hear right now when he’s trying to maintain his distance. “Stiles is my first name.”

“Your parents named you ‘Stiles’?” he asks before he can stop himself, trying not to wince at the rudeness of his own tone.

“It’s a nickname,” Stiles explains, and, well, Derek supposes that would explain why he couldn’t find anyone with a name even remotely close to “Stiles” on his class roster the previous night. Then again, class rosters nowadays come with student photos, too, and he hadn’t seen a picture of anyone who even vaguely resembled Stiles. He supposes that Stiles could have always transferred late, though.

Once again, he’s broken out of his thoughts by movement – only this time it’s to see Stiles drop down onto his hands and knees. Derek’s eyes widen and he’s about to ask Stiles what the fuck he’s doing, but he blushes as he realizes that Stiles is trying to gather up the papers that fell to the floor earlier. Fuck, now that he’s realized how attractive Stiles is, it’s like a dam has been broken. He really needs to get this under control and stop sexually objectifying one of his students.

“What’s your actual name, then?” Derek asks, tearing his eyes away from Stiles and crouching down to help pick up papers, too.

“A monstrosity that no one’s ears should ever have to bear the burden of hearing,” Stiles answers, a note of amusement in his voice.

Of course, his reply doesn’t help Derek very much. It’s not like he can go around calling him “Stiles.” It’s unprofessional, to say the last.

“Wait, is this seriously your class booklist? Please tell me it isn’t,” Stiles continues, wrinkling his nose as he picks up one of the fallen sheets of paper.

God, even his nose is cute. As soon as Derek gathers himself enough to register what Stiles is actually saying, though, he has to immediately resist the urge to say, Tell me about it.

“What’s wrong with it?” is what he asks instead, trying to sound annoyed, because he’s pretty sure Stiles is going to form a class mutiny if shows any more weakness than he already has.

“Do you seriously see nothing problematic about the fact that all of these texts were written by straight white men?” Stiles shoots back, giving Derek a disgruntled look. “I mean, four out of the five are even dead.”

Derek’s so very tempted to say something like, Oh god, please marry me now.

“What books would you choose, if you were to design the course?” Derek decides to ask instead, genuinely interested in Stiles’ answer, but also wanting to see if Laura’s redesign the booklist final essay idea will actually work for the course.

Stiles blinks at him for a moment, clearly surprised by the question, before looking back down at the paper in his hands and chewing on his lower lip in though. Derek has to close his eyes for a long second in order to keep himself from staring at Stiles’ mouth.

Fuck, he’s going to hell.

“Something by Sherman Alexie,” Stiles replies after a moment. “Flight, maybe.”

“Good choice,” Derek says. In fact, he’d already firmly decided to use one of Alexie’s books for future sections of the course, although he’d been planning on using The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian instead. “What else?”

Of the next few books Stiles lists off, Derek’s pleasantly surprised to find that three of them had made his short-list.

“And the last one?” Derek asks, probably sounding overeager. It’s nice to finally have a student who seems genuinely interested in the subject.

Brokeback Mountain,” Stiles replies, his tone undeniably flirtatious as he looks up at Derek through his eyelashes, making Derek blush.

“That’s a short story,” he says, glancing down at the floor and shuffling the papers in his hands awkwardly. “And just for the record, I didn’t choose the course texts.”

“You didn’t?” Stiles asks, surprised.

“I accepted the position fairly late and it was easier for me to just use the materials that the previous professor had left,” Derek answers, still not daring to make eye contact with Stiles again and moving to pick up the last two papers off the ground. “If I ever teach the course again, though, I’m certainly changing a good portion of the material.”

Of course, what he means when he says that he ‘accepted the position fairly late’ is that he needed to get away from his ex-girlfriend after bringing his concerns about her – her treatment of her students to the university. Which is really why he shouldn’t be talking to Stiles like this right now, even if the encounter was entirely accidental.

“Good. I’d have lost all respect for you otherwise,” Stiles says as they stand up again.

“You respect me?” Derek snorts, because Stiles certainly has a strange way of showing it, contradicting everything he says in class and then having the audacity to flirt with him.

Then again, he could have just been imagining Stiles’ flirtatious tone when he’d suggested Brokeback Mountain as a course text. He’s certainly in the right state of mind for it.

“Just because I respect you a little doesn’t mean you’re not wrong,” Stiles shoots back, and how did Derek manage to forget, even for a moment, that he’s such a cocky little shit? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to make him any less attractive.

“Brat,” Derek grumbles, the word tumbling past his lips without his permission. Fuck, he needs to regain control of the situation. “Anyway, don’t you have somewhere to be? You seemed like you were in a hurry.”

“Oh shit,” Stiles says, grimacing as he glances at his watch and slings his bag over his shoulder. “Thanks for reminding me.”

Stiles is already rushing away when Derek abruptly realizes that he still doesn’t know Stiles’ actual name. Or, well, his last name, since it seems like Stiles won’t be giving up his real first name without a fight. Not that Derek wants to know his actual first name. Really, he just needs to stop referring to Stiles by any form of his first name.

“I’ll see you in class on Friday, Mr. – ?” Derek calls, having to raise his voice a little because Stiles is already halfway down the hallway.

“Just call me Stiles!” Stiles yells, turning to grin at him over his shoulder.

Once Stiles rounds the corner, Derek lets his shoulders slump, rubbing a hand over his face.

“Shit,” Derek breathes, thankful that the hall is otherwise deserted.

He takes a deep breath and tries to shove his thoughts of Stiles from his mind. Then he resumes his trek to Erica and Isaac’s office. He has some questions to ask them about his English 346 course, and although they’re both still grad students in the department, they’ve both taken the course before and will probably have some good insights.

When Derek arrives at the office, the door is open, so he lets himself in without knocking. Erica and Isaac are both sprawled out in their office chairs comfortably, Isaac making marks on what looks like some student’s homework assignment while Erica pages through a worn copy of The Feminine Mystique.

“Professor Hale,” Erica greets him, looking up from her book with a predatory smile. “Anything I can do for you?”

Derek glares at her a little bit, because what is it with students hitting on him today? Erica’s still a student, after all, even if she is a grad student.

“Both of you took English 346 as undergrads, didn’t you?” he asks, electing to ignore her advances.

“Unfortunately,” Erica snorts, Isaac grimacing alongside her. “No offense, Professor Hale. I’m sure you’ll teach it much better than Professor Daehler did.”

“I’m pretty sure you’d have to try really hard to not teach it better than Daehler did,” Isaac snorts, making Erica laugh a little.

“Well, do either of you have any tips for improving the course?” Derek asks, sighing a little. It’s not like he can blame them for their reactions, though. He’s seen Professor Daehler’s old lesson plans.

“Cut it?” Isaac suggests, shrugging.

“Well, I can’t exactly do that when we’re a week into the semester already,” Derek retorts, glaring at Isaac a little, who looks remarkably unapologetic.

“I’m sure that as long as you show a healthy level of criticism for the texts, you’ll do fine,” Erica reassures him, before smirking again. “I mean, it’s not like any of your students are actually there for the course material.”

“There’s one,” Derek huffs, and, well, so much for not thinking about Stiles.

“Oooh, you’ve found yourself a teacher’s pet already?” Erica asks, a mischievous glint in her eye.

“As if,” Derek snorts, a strange feeling of fond annoyance encompassing him as he thinks of Stiles. “He contradicts absolutely everything I say.”

“He’s pulling your pigtails, then,” Isaac says idly, turning back to his grading.

“All of his points are valid,” Derek replies, his tone a little defensive. He regrets it as Erica’s smirk widens.

“Aw, do you have a crush on him, too, Professor Hale?” she asks, earning her another glare from Derek.

“No,” Derek retorts, all too aware that there’s absolutely no way she believes him. “This conversation is over.”

He can hear Erica snickering as he leaves.

---

It’s absolutely pouring rain when Derek finally leaves his office Thursday evening. Thankfully, he’d had the foresight to check the weather report that morning and is equipped with an umbrella. His car is parked relatively far away from the SEC, too, so he’s inordinately grateful that he’d remembered.

However, as he approaches a crosswalk, he can’t help but notice another person who clearly didn’t plan as well as he did. They’re waiting impatiently for the light to turn, completely soaked and shivering a little. Derek lets out a little sigh as he approaches, already moving closer in order offer his umbrella, at least until the light turns green.

He clears his throat and is about to awkwardly suggest they share his umbrella, when the person turns to look at him.

Stiles?” he blurts out, eyes widening a little and cheeks heating.

“Oh my god, dude, you’re a lifesaver,” Stiles says, eyes lighting up as he steps closer, huddling under Derek’s umbrella.

Derek huffs, a little annoyed that Stiles doesn’t even bother asking for permission. Then again, it’s not like Derek would have denied him.

“Seriously, I can’t believe I didn’t check the weather report today,” Stiles continues, folding his arms over his chest as he continues to shiver. Of course, this movement can’t help but draw Derek’s eyes to his chest – and to the fact that his light blue shirt is completely soaked, to the point where it’s practically transparent. Derek can feel his face heating as he tears his eyes away, trying to banish the image from his mind.

“Why are you even here this late? Shouldn’t you be home or off parting by now?” Derek asks, valiantly ignoring just how close to him Stiles is standing, their shoulders nearly brushing together.

“I had some stuff to finish up at the lab,” Stiles answers, surprising Derek. “Greenburg somehow managed to break the autoclave, so I had to run all around the building trying to find another one I could use.”

“Autoclave?” Derek asks. He’s never been much of a science person.

“It’s like this pressure chamber washing machine thingy,” Stiles replies, waving his hand about as he describes it. “Basically we use it to sterilize lab equipment with high pressure steam so that nothing gets contaminated.”

“Oh,” Derek says a little awkwardly.

They fall into silence for a moment and Derek glares at the light, willing the walk signal to turn on. He can’t help but glance at Stiles, though, as the silence stretches on, because this is probably the longest he’s been around Stiles without listening to him blabber on about something or another. Not that he’s been around Stiles all that often.

However, when he looks over, he’s surprised to find Stiles hunched over a little, body visibly trembling as he shivers. Derek frowns as he takes in the sight. A little voice in the back of his mind reminds him that poor Stiles is only wearing a soaked t-shirt while he’s decked out in both his leather jacket and a warm sweater. He could easily spare the jacket.

That feels like crossing a line, though. It’s easy enough to convince himself that he would have offered to share his umbrella with any stranger for the few minutes they’d have to stand at the light, but he certainly wouldn’t give his jacket to just anyone. Fuck, he can practically hear “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” playing in the background.

“Hold this,” Derek grunts, thrusting the umbrella handle into Stiles’ hand.

“Uh, sure,” Stiles says, fumbling it for a moment with rain-slick hands.

Derek can feel Stiles’ eyes on him as he shrugs off his jacket. When he turns back to Stiles, he looks a little confused, his mouth hanging open distractingly. Derek averts his eyes and does his best to casually drape his jacket over Stiles’ shoulders before taking the umbrella back.

“Dude, you don’t have to – ” Stiles starts, but he clutches the jacket close to him, making no move to take it off.

“I can’t have you missing class because you caught the flu,” Derek interrupts, still not daring to look at Stiles, all wrapped up in his leather jacket. “We have a quiz tomorrow.”

“Thanks,” Stiles says after a beat of silence, face flushing a little red.

“The light’s green,” Derek replies, changing the topic. He really doesn’t want to dwell on the little burst of happiness he feels at Stiles’ thanks.

Because at the moment, all he wants to do is take Stiles home and bundle him up in warm blankets. God, he wants to do something ridiculous like curl up with Stiles in bed and recite Walt Whitman poetry to him until he falls asleep. Stiles would probably like Whitman. (Derek really shouldn’t be dwelling on how close their tastes in literature are.)

“Hey, so,” Stiles starts, breaking Derek from his thoughts. “You think you could maybe walk me to my car? ‘cause I kind of don’t want to have to deal with sprinting a few blocks in the pouring rain.”

“Sure,” Derek finds himself saying, even though he really, really shouldn’t encourage this – this crush (yes, fine, Erica) of his.

“Cool. It’s in the State Street lot,” Stiles says, jerking his thumb in the exact opposite direction of where Derek’s car is parked. Of course.

Derek sighs, but turns so that they’re headed in the right direction. Stiles falls silent for a few more moments, which Derek would have thought would be a welcome relief, but instead it just feels weird. In fact, he’s about to awkwardly try making small talk when he realizes that Stiles is humming something under his breath.

“Are you humming Rihanna?” he asks, shooting Stiles a bewildered look.

“I thought it was appropriate,” Stiles replies, looking over at Derek from under long eyelashes which have clumped together a bit from the rain. “Because, you know. Umbrellas. You recognized that pretty quickly, though.”

“My sister listens to it on repeat when she gets into a certain mood,” Derek answers, regretting the words as soon as he says them, because he really should be telling Stiles about his personal life when he’s trying to maintain a professional distance.

“You have a sister?” Stiles questions, curious.

“Cora’s too old for you,” Derek says, scowling a little bit. “She has to be at least seven years older than you.”

“Seven years isn’t that big of an age gap,” Stiles replies, and Derek does his best not to read too far into the heated look Stiles is giving him. “Not that you have anything to worry about.”

Fourteen years is a really big age gap, though, Derek can’t help but think to himself. Christ, he’s thirty-six and the oldest Stiles can be is twenty-two, if he’s a senior. Then again, maybe Stiles is a grad student. Not that that’s the most pressing issue here. Even if Stiles was the same age as him, he can’t get involved with a student. He’s already pushing all sorts of boundaries right now just by walking Stiles to his car.

“Are we nearly there?” Derek asks, needing to change their topic of conversation.

“Two more blocks,” Stiles answers, and Derek has to resist the urge to let out an audible sigh of relief. “Also, don’t try to distract me from your knowledge of pop music. It’s important. Please tell me you rock out to Beyoncé while grading papers.”

“You’re a menace,” Derek snorts, trying to forget the playlist Laura had once made for him called AWESOME SONGS DEREK NEEDS TO LISTEN TO!!!! It had consisted of only the song Run the World (Girls) repeated about thirty times.

“You like me anyway,” Stiles shoots back, smirking a little bit.

“You’re tolerable when you keep your mouth shut,” Derek retorts, but he can feel his cheeks heating slightly.

“You think about shutting me up often?” Stiles asks, licking his lips.

Fuck, Derek must have done something truly horrible in a past life. Did he murder innocent children? He can’t think of anything he’s done that could have warranted a punishment of this magnitude.

“Is that the parking structure?” Derek asks, gesturing ahead of them, and he’s pretty sure Stiles is laughing at him internally right now.

“Yep,” Stiles answers, popping the ‘p.’ “Do you want me to give you a lift anywhere?”

“No,” Derek replies, maybe a little too quickly. He really doesn’t need to be trapped in an enclosed space with Stiles, though. Not if he wants to keep his sanity, at least.

“You sure? Seriously, it’s no problem,” Stiles says, looking over at Derek with big brown eyes. “I mean, I already commandeered your umbrella and all, so…”

“I’m fine,” Derek insists as they stop in front of the entrance to the parking structure. “I need to leave.”

“Oh, wait!” Stiles exclaims as Derek turns to start walking back in the direction they came from. “Derek!”

Derek pretends not to hear and his heart definitely doesn’t skip a beat when Stiles says his first name.

It’s not until he gets home that he realizes that Stiles still has his jacket. Fuck.

---

Stiles walks into class the next day wearing the jacket and Derek just about dies. He gives it back after class and Derek’s pretty sure at least two other students see.

He’s so getting fired.

---

It’s Monday morning, and Derek is absolutely certain that he’s never had a harder time teaching in his entire career. It’s not like there’s even a logical reason for it, except for the fact that –

Well, except for the fact that Stiles is mysteriously absent.

Naturally, that means that the discussion he’s trying to have is going absolutely nowhere. Then again, maybe that’s a good thing, because it also means that no one’s making suggestive comments about Lolita, which is the text they’ve just started reading. Although he supposes that that might actually be good at the moment, because then he could at least talk about how Lolita has been over-romanticized by American society and twisted out of proportion. Jesus, if he hears another song with a girl calling herself “Lolita” he’s going to hurl. She was a sexual abuse victim.

Hopefully that’s the stance Stiles takes on it instead of using it as an opportunity to flirt with the age difference between them. He doesn’t think that Stiles would disregard the book in such a way, but you never know. Really, rereading Lolita is making Derek feel more and more like a dirty old man by how he’s tempted by Stiles.

Fuck, Humbert is even a thirty-seven year old literature professor. Derek’s only a year younger. At least Stiles is legal. Not that it actually matters that much, because he has absolutely no intention of ever making any sort of move on Stiles regardless.

He needs a drink.

---

Derek’s already started on the scotch when Laura barges into his apartment, unannounced.

“What are you doing here?” he grumbles, glaring at her from where he’s hunched over at the kitchen table.

“You just sent me a text saying: ‘He said that Hemingway was ‘no homo’ personified. I think I’m in love.’ Why would I not be here?” she retorts, waving her phone in his face.

“Fuck,” Derek groans, dropping his head down to press his forehead to the table.

“So, spill,” Laura says, plopping herself down in the chair across the table from him. “We need to have a serious talk if your first reaction to meeting a hot guy is to go home and drink yourself to death alone.”

“He’s a student, Laura,” Derek whines, and that makes her pause, a pitying but understanding look crossing her face.

“Jesus, Der. Only you would have such shitty luck,” she replies, wincing in sympathy, reaching over to take a swig from Derek’s glass herself. “What class is he in?”

“The American Novel,” Derek replies sullenly.

“I thought that was the class you hated,” Laura says, lips turning down in a slight frown.

“I – it was,” Derek sighs, running a hand through his hair. “He showed up on the second day. He’s not technically in my class, though.”

“What do you mean?” Laura asks, her brow furrowing as she frowns at him.

“He never officially signed up,” Derek admits, staring into the bottom of his almost empty scotch glass. “Apparently the other class he had at the same time was cancelled because most of his classmates transferred into my class. He was just curious.”

“Well, then what’s the problem here?” Laura asks, making Derek look up at her with wide eyes, gaping a little.

“He’s a student, Laura!” Derek snaps, because, goddamn it, there’s absolutely no way he’s ever going to become anything like Kate. Or, well, any more like Kate than he already is, since he’s already progressed to lusting over one of his students.

“Yeah, but he’s not your student,” Laura protests, shrugging. “You don’t technically have any influence over him, do you?”

“That’s not for me to determine,” Derek says, shaking his head. “I’d have to petition Human Resources before initiating anything, and even then, if a colleague had even the slightest concerns about any sort of bias in the department…” Derek shakes his head. “I’d be facing disciplinary action.”

“You looked up the school policy?” Laura asks, raising an eyebrow at him and earning herself a scowl.

“Most universities have very similar policies, and I had to look into regulations before bringing up my concerns about Kate,” Derek admits, making Laura’s expression soften slightly.

“Is this – are you just being so adamant about this because of Kate, or…?” Laura inquires, giving Derek a concerned look. “Because you’re nothing like her, you know that, right? Just the fact that you’re so concerned about this proves that.”

“I know,” Derek replies, although his tone is a little hollow. He understands what Laura’s saying, and her reassurance really is comforting, but at the same time, he can’t help but feel guilty over the whole thing. “I just – we started discussing Lolita today.”

“Ouch,” Laura says sympathetically. “He didn’t use it as an opportunity to flirt, did he?”

“No, god no,” Derek answers, more than a little relieved as he remembers the long conversation about the book during his office hours that afternoon. “Fuck, he talked so intelligently about the whole thing and about abuses of power and the oversexualization of teenage girls by the American media – ”

“So you have both an academic boner and an actual boner for him,” Laura interrupts, smirking a little bit at Derek, who scowls, because this is serious goddamn it. “Look, if you’re that into the guy, why don’t you at least try to make it work? I mean, he must be pretty gone on you, too, if he’s willing to discuss boring white-guy literature with you.”

“Mainly he just rants about Hemingway,” Derek grumbles, taking another swig of scotch.

“See? You two were clearly made for each other,” Laura announces, and Derek can’t help but agree at least a little bit, because as often as he contradicts Stiles while discussing Hemingway, there are very few points Stiles has made on the subject that he truly disagrees with. Not that he’s ever going to give Stiles the satisfaction of knowing that.

“Laura,” Derek sighs, pressing the heel of his palm to his forehead. “My desire to get in his pants shouldn’t outweigh his academic opportunities. I’d be of much more use to him as an advisor than as a romantic partner.”

“Okay, first of all, that’s bullshit,” Laura replies, leaning over to snatch the glass of scotch out of Derek’s hands. “I’m sure you’d make an excellent boyfriend. The only reason a relationship hasn’t worked out for you so far is because your partners were shitty.”

Derek opens his mouth to protest, but Laura barrels on. Derek lets her, because although he doesn’t really like to admit it, she does have a point. A small one, but one none the less.

“Look, just… maybe you should spend some more time with him,” Laura suggests, her voice a little softer now. “Explain the situation to him and see if it’s worth it.”

“What, and be that creepy professor coercing him into a relationship?” Derek snorts, his tone morose. “I’m at least fourteen years older than him.”

“I thought you said he was already flirting with you,” Laura replies, pulling the bottle of scotch out of Derek’s reach as he starts eyeing it.

“I could just be imagining it,” Derek grumbles, trying to forget Stiles’ suggestive comments and heated looks. “And even if he is actually interested, there’s no way he’s looking for anything more than sex. He likes riling people up, pushing boundaries. He’s just attracted to the idea of having sex with a professor, because it’s against the rules.”

Laura’s silent for a moment, studying him carefully as he tries not to fidget under her intense gaze. Then she sighs and pushes the scotch back over to him.

“Fine, fine. I see your point,” she concedes, a strangely sad look on her face. “I just want you to be happy.”

“I am happy,” Derek grumbles, but he accepts the scotch.

Laura doesn’t call him out on his lie.

---

“Oh my god, like how is it even possible to misinterpret Lolita so badly?” Stiles asks, looking over at Derek from where he’s sprawled out in the chair in his office. “I mean, what the fuck. I can’t believe he tried to argue that Dolores was in a position of power because she was manipulating Humbert with her ‘sexual wiles’ – ”

Stiles actually uses his hands to make air-quotes here, and Derek would be embarrassed about crushing on a child if Stiles wasn’t tearing down another student’s frankly idiotic argument with such passion. Honestly, it makes him a little hot under the collar, listening to Stiles analyze literature. Laura would laugh her ass off if she ever found out.

“A twelve year old should never be put into a position where they have to manipulate anyone with sex,” Stiles continues, hands failing in his anger. “God, I wanted to punch him in the face.”

“Please refrain from punching your classmates,” Derek snorts, even though he completely understands Stiles’ position. In fact, he’d nearly kicked the student out of the class himself when he’d tried to turn his ‘sexual wiles’ argument into a blatant excuse to flirt. If he really wanted to attract Derek’s attention, he should have actually bothered reading and analyzing the book.

Like Stiles is doing now. Fuck.

“You know, I can never tell if you’re being sarcastic or not,” Stiles says, looking at Derek curiously as he leans over to plant his elbows on Derek’s desk. “Like, sometimes you make comments that make absolutely no sense unless you’re being sarcastic, but you don’t sound like you’re being sarcastic.”

“Maybe you need to take my Sarcasm 101 course,” Derek quips, looking down at the paper he’s attempting to grade. So far he’s only gotten through one paragraph and it’s been over an hour.

“See, that right there was clearly sarcasm,” Stiles replies, pointing an accusing finger at him. “But when you told me not to punch my ‘classmates’ you didn’t sound like that.”

“They are your classmates,” Derek says, a little confused about what Stiles’ hang-up is.

“It’s not like I’m actually taking the class,” Stiles snorts, pouting slightly at Derek.

“No, but you sit in on it,” Derek replies, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles. “Therefore they’re your classmates.”

“I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” Stiles muses, but he sounds less than convinced. “But – ”

“Hey Professor Hale,” a voice says, interrupting Stiles, and Derek looks up from his grading to find Erica standing in the doorway, holding a stack of papers and eyeing Stiles in a way that makes Derek want to do something ridiculous like growl at her.

“Erica – ” Derek starts, but he appears to have already lost her attention.

“Wait, you’re from the bio department, aren’t you?” Erica asks Stiles, confusing Derek a bit, because how does Erica know that Stiles is a bio major? Sure, Derek knows that Stiles is studying biology with a focus on genetics, but that’s just because they’ve talked a lot.

“Uh, yeah,” Stiles replies, also sounding confused as he peers up at Erica.

“Oh my god, I’m so jealous,” Erica groans, making Stiles shoot Derek a bewildered look. “You must get to hang around Professor Boyd all the time. He’s such a hottie.”

Oh,” Stiles says, his lips turning up in a grin, his expression changing from confusion to understanding. “Oh yeah. He has the sort of shoulders a guy wants to throw his legs over. It’s such a shame he’s straight.”

“A shame for you, you mean,” Erica replies, smirking and drawing a laugh from Stiles.

“True, true,” Stiles laughs.

God, Derek’s going to have an aneurysm. Two of his students are discussing the sex appeal of another professor right in front of him, and from Stiles’ commentary it even sounds like he’s tired flirting with the professor before.

Derek tells himself that he’s absolutely not disappointed that Stiles apparently flirts with all his professors. And he’s certainly not jealous.

“Was there a reason you stopped by my office, Erica?” Derek interrupts, his tone sharp and pointed.

“Professor Ito wanted me to drop these off for you,” she answers, indicating the stack of papers, which she drops down on Derek’s desk with a loud thunk. “I’ll let you get back to your conversation now, Professor Hale.”

She sounds entirely unapologetic and far too smug. Derek can’t help but glare at her a little bit. He’s absolutely certain that she’s laughing internally as she saunters on out the door.

“Seriously? You make all of your colleagues call you Professor Hale?” Stiles asks, drawing Derek’s focus away from the now empty doorway.

“What?” Derek replies, confused. “Erica’s a grad student.”

“Wait, she is?” Stiles asks, eyes widening behind his glasses. “Shit. Boyd’s going to kill me for giving him blue balls.”

It takes Derek a moment to understand what Stiles is saying, but when he does, he relaxes. Thank god Professor Boyd seems to have as strong a moral compass as he does.

“She’ll be finished very soon, though,” Derek can’t help but add. “I’ve heard that an assistant professor position is being held open for her. Not that she won’t have other options.”

“Oh. That’s cool,” Stiles says, brightening up a little bit. “Maybe Boyd’ll only eviscerate me, then.”

That’s all Stiles says on the subject, though. Derek, guiltily, is a little disappointed that Stiles doesn’t bother to offer up when he’s going to be finished with school. He also doesn’t want to risk asking directly, lest he come off as creepy. Which he kind of is right now. Shit.

“We were discussing Lolita,” Derek says awkwardly, clearing his throat.

“Actually, I was ranting about my ‘classmates’ – ” Stiles smirks as he says the term. “ – and you were sitting there like a lump.”

“I was not,” Derek snorts, sending Stiles a mild glare.

“Why, Derek, you’re not accusing me of being an unreliable narrator, are you?” Stiles gasps, mock offended.

“Of course I am,” Derek replies casually, eyes focusing back on the paper he’s still trying to grade.

“Well, I suppose everyone has a perspective,” Stiles says, leaning back in his chair and licking his thumb in order to flip the pages of the copy of Lolita in his lap.

“Doesn’t mean it’s an accurate perspective,” Derek snorts, underlining a sentence in red pen.

“So you’re not one of those ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ sort of teachers?” Stiles asks, sounding distinctly amused.

“Personally, I think the question you just asked me was pretty stupid,” Derek replies, feeling inordinately pleased with himself as Stiles lets out a startled laugh.

“I so left myself open for that,” Stiles says, but he’s grinning. Derek almost can’t suppress his answering smile. “Seriously, though, how do people manage to misinterpret this book so thoroughly?”

“Well, it doesn’t get much better at higher academic levels,” Derek snorts. “I’ve read published essays about Lolita where the author spends the entire time dancing around the words ‘rape’ and ‘sexual abuse.’”

“That’s just pathetic,” Stiles replies, scowling. “I’ve lost all hope for America.”

“Well, there seems to be a few smart people still out there,” Derek says, glancing up at Stiles for a split second.

“Why, Professor Hale, was that a compliment?” Stiles asks, a Cheshire cat worthy grin on his face and a mischievous glint in his eyes. “I’m swooning here.”

“Who said I was referring to you?” Derek replies, his throat feeling a little dry and his cheeks heating slightly.”

“No one,” Stiles says, but his tone of voice implies that he doesn't believe Derek for even a moment. “I suppose you could have been referring to yourself. No one could blame you for being narcissistic.”

Stiles winks. Derek’s pretty sure his entire face turns red.

---

“That’s it!” Laura exclaims, throwing her hands up in the air.

“What?” Derek asks, blinking at her in confused surprise.

“I’ve spent the past week listening to you wax poetic about Stiles-the-unobtainable, and while it was cute for the first few hours, now it’s just pathetic,” Laura answers, fixing him with an annoyed look.

“I do not – ” Derek protests, cheeks heating slightly.

“Der, you were just bemoaning the fact that you’ll never read an essay by him, because he’s not actually taking your class,” Laura says, unimpressed with his denial. “An essay. You’re sad about not getting to grade his essays.”

Okay, so maybe she has a point.

“So, I’m dragging you to the Jungle,” she finishes, in a tone that allows for no argument.

“The Jungle?” Derek asks, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“It’s the best gay club in the area,” Laura answers, eyeing him like she’s already deciding on his outfit. She probably is. “It’s also far enough from campus that not a lot of students go there, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally fucking one.”

Derek opens his mouth to say that he doesn’t plan on fucking anyone, regardless, but he decides against it. When Laura sets her mind on something, it’s best to simply go along with her. He can just quietly sit in the corner the whole night and glower at people while Laura’s too distracted by pretty girls.

And, a few hours later, that’s exactly what Derek finds himself doing. He’s already been approached by more than a few men, but he’s turned each one of them down. Half of them are drunk enough that Derek dismisses them right away, and the other half… well, no one’s struck his fancy.

(As in, none of them are Stiles.)

Derek glances out over the dance floor, sighing out of boredom. His phone battery is only at twenty percent, so he doesn’t want to use it for anything unnecessary, in case Laura needs to contact him or vice versa. And, judging by the way she’s been eyeing a lovely black woman with three distinctive scars running down her neck, he won’t be surprised if he gets a call later telling him not to wait up.

He sighs again and stares down into the glass sitting on the table in front of him, running his finger through the condensation clinging to its sides.

“Fancy seeing you here,” a voice says, and Derek looks up to tell the person off, but as soon as Derek lays eyes on him, he freezes, mouth falling open.

“Stiles,” Derek replies, his voice strangled and awkward.

Fuck, where is he supposed to look? Stiles’ pupils are blown and his cheeks are flushed, probably from dancing. His lips look a little red, and his hair is a mess, like someone’s been running their hands through it or grasping at it. Derek awkwardly fidgets in his seat, trying to will down the beginnings of a horribly awkward erection. He drags his eyes away from Stiles’ face, but that doesn’t help much either, because Stiles’ shirt is white and thin and clings to his chest in such a way that Derek’s eyes are immediately drawn to the way his nipples tent the fabric.

God fucking damn it, he’s so screwed.

“What are you doing here?” he manages, instead focusing on a neutral spot behind Stiles’ shoulder.

“What does anyone do at a club?” Stiles asks with a small smirk, and Derek valiantly does not think about blowjobs in the bathroom.

“You shouldn’t – we shouldn’t be talking,” Derek replies, not answering Stiles’ rhetorical question.

“Is that your way of asking me to dance?” Stiles asks, his tongue darting out to lick over his lower lip, and, shit, Derek’s thinking about blowjobs.

“I can’t,” Derek answers, his nails biting into the skin of his palms as he closes his hands into fists, grounding himself. “I – no dancing.”

He really wants to dance with Stiles.

“Then let me buy you a drink,” Stiles insists, and Derek almost wants to say yes, because then he could at least drink himself to death in order to end this torture.

“I’m the designated driver,” is what he says instead, which is mostly true. He and Laura hadn’t exactly discussed it, but he knows by now that he always ends up as the sober one, so it’s a valid enough excuse.

“I’ll buy you a coke, then. Something nonalcoholic,” Stiles presses, and a large part of Derek wants to snap at him, to drive him away, but he sounds so fucking earnest. God, why does he have to be a student?

“This is unprofessional,” Derek finally murmurs, willing Stiles to understand. He’s let this go on long enough, and clearly ignoring Stiles’ advances isn’t working.

“Please, like you’re the first person to do it,” Stiles replies, his tone flippant as he rolls his eyes. “I mean, look at Allison and Lydia. Danny from Comp Sci and I had a thing for a while, too.”

Derek stares at Stiles for a moment, shocked, unsure what to say to that. What the hell is he supposed to say when his student has all but admitted to having had a sexual relationship with another professor? Fuck, Stiles thinks that this is normal – that professors break this rule all the time.

If Derek ever meets this ‘Danny’ he’s pretty sure there’s going to be bloodshed.

“Stiles,” Derek starts slowly, carefully crafting his words in order to avoid making Stiles defensive. “I don’t know what this ‘Danny’ told you, but – ”

“Derbear!”

Laura has impeccable timing, as always.

“Who’s your friend here?” Laura asks as she slides into the booth next to Derek, her cheeks flushed from dancing, and her voice a little loud from tipsiness.

“Laura,” Derek growls, because he really doesn’t need her to say anything that will encourage Stiles’ notion that teacher-student relationships are normal.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m just his sister,” she continues, ignoring him and looking over at Stiles.

“Stiles,” Stiles introduces himself, a gorgeous smile appearing on his face.

The Stiles?” Laura asks, and fuck, fuck, fuck, Derek needs to stop her before – “I’ve been dying to meet you.”

“You have?” Stiles asks, clearly confused.

“Of course,” Laura says easily, Derek’s stomach twisting itself into knots as she smirks. “You’re Der’s favorite, after all.”

Laura!” Derek snaps, his cheeks heating in embarrassment and anger as he glares at her. She knows she shouldn’t say this. He’s already explained to her the multitude of reasons why nothing can happen between him and Stiles, but apparently she’s gotten to the point where she’s buzzed enough that she’s in ‘embarrass Derek’ mode.

Only this time more than his embarrassment is at stake.

“Aw, come on. He’s not even – ” Laura protests, but Derek’s had enough.

“We’re leaving,” he announces, grabbing ahold of Laura’s arm and dragging her away.

“Nice meeting you, Stiles!” Laura calls out pointedly over her shoulder, but Derek doesn’t dare look back at Stiles. Just imagining his confused and hurt expression is enough.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” Derek hisses once they’re well out of Stiles’ sight and hearing range.

“Look, I saw him stop dancing with a very hot, very interested guy in order to go chat with you, you surly, sour curmudgeon,” Laura shoots back, glaring at him. “Clearly he’s really into you. I just don’t get why you won’t even try – ”

“He’s already been taken advantage of by a professor,” Derek snaps, his hand tightening on her arm. “He thinks it’s normal for teachers to sleep with their students and I can’t – I can’t take advantage – ”

“God, I’m not telling you to jump into bed with him!” Laura exclaims, yanking her arm out of his grip. “I’m telling you to talk with him about the potential for a relationship and what that would entail – ”

Somewhere over her shoulder, Derek’s eyes are drawn to two figures dancing together. It’s the woman’s bright red hair that catches his attention, and it takes a moment for him to place her, but abruptly he realizes that she’s the mildly scary student who’d only showed up to the first class period. What really makes Derek stare, though, is her dance partner.

Derek would recognize Professor Allison Argent anywhere.

I mean, look at Allison and Lydia. Stiles had said, and now Derek feels like he’s going to be sick. Like aunt, like niece, it looks like.

“This conversation is over,” Derek says, turning back to Laura. “I’m leaving.”

“Fine,” she replies, anger clear in her voice. “I’m going with Braeden.”

With that, she storms off into the crowd of dancers.

---

Derek mostly tries to forget about the night at the club. He’s successful part of the time, but the rest of the time not so much. Whenever he does think about it, he inevitably ends up either in the shower with a guilty hand around his cock or on the computer science department’s website, glaring at Professor Danny Mahealani’s profile picture. He’s disgustingly nice looking for a slimy dirtball who takes advantage of his students.

As for Stiles, well, Stiles comes to class as usual. It takes him a few days to show up during office hours again, but Derek tries to give him his space. Even when he finally does return to their previous routine, their conversations are a little awkward for a while. Thankfully, they now appear to have fallen back into their old rhythm.

Or, well, they had.

“No,” Derek says, the word heavy on his tongue. “No, I will not go out to dinner with you.”

Stiles stares at him for a moment and Derek’s sure that he’s never seen a more heartbroken expression on anyone before. He feels like a complete asshole.

“Oh,” Stiles finally replies, his voice a little choked. “I – sorry, I’ll just – ” He hauls himself out of his chair and fumbles for his bag. “ – get out of your hair now.”

He’s out the door before Derek can say anything else, before he can give any explanation. Maybe it’s for the best, though. It was a polite, if cold, rejection – simple and precise. Stiles will get over it eventually. He’s still young and impressionable and will undoubtedly find someone nice who’s his own age.

Then again, maybe he’ll go back to Professor Mahealani, Derek’s traitorous mind can’t help but suggest. Maybe he’ll go to Professor Yukimura or Professor Argent or any of those other faculty members who he seems far too familiar with. Fuck, he'd accepted a position at this university because he needed a clean break from his history with Kate, but here it almost seems to be worse.

Maybe he should quit already.

---

On Friday, Laura glares at him and tells him to stop moping and adopt a cat. Derek glares right back, because she knows he doesn’t like cats. Instead, he finds himself at the animal shelter, looking for the biggest, fluffiest dog he can find. A cuddly one.

He feels pathetic.

“Aw, hey there, aren’t you cute?” a painfully familiar voice says, stopping Derek in his tracks.

He freezes, standing there in the hallway, unsure what to do. Isn’t it just his luck that Stiles just happens to be here? Derek can’t help but peek around the hall corner, though, just to catch one glimpse of him. After all, Stiles hasn’t been to class or office hours since Derek had rejected him.

When he finally lays eyes on Stiles, it feels like he’s been punched in the gut. Stiles is clutching what initially looks like a small ball of black fuzz, but on further inspection proves to be a small cat.

“I like you,” Stiles declares, smiling softly as he pets the cat. “And as long as I feed you and pet you, I’m pretty sure you’ll love me, too. Unlike some people. Humans are complicated.”

Derek winces. He’s ninety-nine percent sure that that last bit was directed at him. Not that Stiles meant for him to actually hear it, of course.

“But, I mean, I’d really thought I’d gotten it right this time, you know?” Stiles continues. Derek should really stop listening, but he stays where he is. “Trust me, I’ve gotten it wrong before, which once even landed me with a broken nose, but he just seemed like…”

Stiles trails off and sighs.

“Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I should stop dwelling on it,” Stiles says as he scratches that cat behind its ears, making it purr loudly.

Derek turns on his heel and walks back the way he came. He should really stop dwelling on it, too.

---

The Thursday after that, Derek’s mostly contained his moping. He still hasn’t gone back to the animal shelter, though, out of fear of running into Stiles again. Mainly he reads and rereads books and tries not to do things like listen to Rihanna or recite Walt Whitman poetry.

However, things change a bit when he gets a visitor.

“You’re Professor Hale?” a sharp voice asks, and Derek looks up from his typing to see the redheaded student from his class and the club staring at him with an assessing look.

“Yes,” he answers, a little wary. “Is there anything I can do for you, Ms. – ?”

Professor Martin,” she replies, sounding more than a little annoyed, but Derek could care less about that, because what the fuck is Stiles doing hanging around all these professors? “And yes, I have a question for you. Why did you reject Stiles?”

“Why did I – ” Derek sputters, anger building up inside him. “Well why do you feel the need to take advantage of your students, Professor Martin?”

She stares at him, confusion and rage warring on her face.

Excuse me?” is what she finally says, incredulous. “I have never taken advantage of a student in my life, and I can’t believe that you would insinuate – ”

“You asked me why I rejected Stiles, and that’s the reason,” Derek interrupts, scowling and tense. “I don’t sleep with my students.” Unlike the rest of the professors at this university.

Professor Martin stares at him again, studies him carefully, and although the anger is still there, this time her confusion seems to win out. Derek’s about to continue on his rant, when her eyes finally go wide with realization.

“Oh my god, I’m going to kill that idiot,” Professor Martin huffs, and Derek feels a rush of fear, because, shit, had she threatened Stiles with something, should he tell anyone about their affair?

Derek opens his mouth to make a threat of his own, but he’s cut off by an annoyed look from Professor Martin. For some reason, she doesn’t look angry anymore, though.

“Before you jump to conclusions, I would like to assure you that I have never slept with Stiles,” she says, placing her hands on her hips. “As for the predicament you and Stiles have gotten yourselves into, I’d strongly suggest that you attend tomorrow’s nine am Bio 130 lecture. It’s in the biology building’s main lecture hall.”

“Why?” Derek asks, confused.

“You know what, I would have told you right now, but then you went and accused me of sleeping with students,” Professor Marin says, glaring at him. “So you’re just going to have to attend lecture tomorrow and find out.”

With that, she storms out, leaving Derek far more frustrated and confused than he was earlier that morning.

“Wow, she is a hurricane,” Erica says, leaning against the doorway. “I’m half terrified and half turned on.”

“What’s so special about nine am Bio 130?” Derek blurts out, unable to keep himself from asking.

“Bio 130?” Erica asks, giving him a confused look. “Hey, doesn’t Professor Boyd teach that section?”

Oh god. His rejection sent Stiles running right into another professor’s arms, didn’t it? Fuck.

---

Derek spends all night tossing and turning, trying to decide whether or not to go to tomorrow morning’s lecture after his eight am English 346 section. He still hasn’t made up his mind by the time he gets to class, but as people start filing in… well, he can’t help but miss Stiles.

So he goes. He enters in the back with thirty seconds to spare, and spends the entirety of those thirty seconds scanning the sea of students, trying to pick Stiles out.

He doesn’t bother to look towards the front of the room until the professor starts to lecture.

“I’m afraid that Professor Boyd is out with the flu, so I’ll be taking over your class until he gets back,” a horribly familiar voice starts, and Derek's eyes snap up to focus on the speaker. “I’m Professor Stilinski.”

Derek spends the entire lecture gaping.

---

So he and Stiles go on a date. He and Professor Stilinski go on a date. He’s basically on cloud nine, even if Stiles spends the entire dinner making fun of him for the whole debacle. It’s not like it was really his fault, though. It was a logical enough assumption to make, and it wasn’t like he knew Stiles’ actual name, so he couldn’t just google him.

Derek nearly locks Stiles out of the apartment, though, when he jokingly suggests teacher-student roleplay after they head back to his place. (Stiles makes it up to him afterwards.)

Derek’s exemplary mood even holds over to Monday’s class, despite Stiles’ absence. They have plenty of other opportunities to argue about Hemingway now.

“Shit, is that why Professor Stilinski’s not in class today?” someone asks as Derek starts writing essay requirements on the board.

He’s confused for a moment, before he realizes that there was a reason he wore his only scarf today. The one which is now sitting, forgotten, on his desk. He’d removed in on instinct.

“He can still walk, right?” another student chimes in, making Derek turn bright, bright red.

“Mr. Lancing, my private life is – ” He cuts himself off, blinking. “You knew that he was a professor?”

“See! I told you he didn’t know!” a third student hisses to the first in what she probably thinks is a whisper.

“Uh, at least three of us took his Bioethics course last semester,” the first student says, making Derek’s face heat even more. “And, like, eight of us were in his section of Bio 130 freshman year.”

“So wait, did you two finally…?” Mr. Lancing asks, making a gesture which Derek can’t even begin to interpret, but must represent sex of some sort. It looks painful.

“As I was saying, my private life is none of your business,” Derek continues, turning back to the board and hoping that he can salvage whatever scraps of dignity he has left. There can’t be many.

“Well Becky and I have a combined forty bucks riding on your personal life, so,” the original commentator quips, and Derek just barely manages to resist banging his head against the chalkboard.

That’s it. He’s finally quitting academia.

---

“Your students have incited anarchy in my classroom,” Derek grumbles as he trudges into Stiles’ office.

(Yes, Stiles has an office. Because he’s a professor.)

“Okay, first of all, you stole them, so they’re your students not mine,” Stiles replies, grinning as he looks up from the journal article he’s reading. “Second, I’m really tempted to make a comment about how you only call them my students when they’ve done something bad, but that would make us seem like an old married couple. With children.”

“Well, they seem to think we’re an old married couple,” Derek says, moving to sit down in the chair across from Stiles’ desk. “They even had a betting – ”

Derek pauses, staring down into the chair. A small black ball of fur stares up at him.

“I’m not a cat person,” he says after a moment.

“I know,” Stiles replies, his tone annoyingly cheery. “That’s why Laura took Buck back to your apartment.”

“Buck,” Derek repeats, dumbfounded. “From Call of the Wild.”

“It was that or Cujo,” Stiles says, grinning.

“Remind me why I’m dating you?” Derek grumbles, although, truth be told, he probably would have named the dog something similar.

Stiles stands up and pulls him in by his tie. The kiss is deep and wet and Derek has to pull away when Stiles slips his tongue into his mouth, because otherwise he’s going to have a situation in his pants that he doesn’t want to deal with in Stiles' office, particularly while there’s a cat here with them.

“I hate you,” Derek huffs, but Stiles just laughs.

“Yep,” Stiles says, pressing one more chaste kiss to Derek’s lips. “You hate me just as much as you love Hemingway.”

Derek can’t actually argue with that.