Jackson stared at Danny with judging eyes as he pulled his shirt over his head.
Jackson was still judging when the shirt was in place. Danny could see him doing it.
He just didn't know why.
After yet another lacrosse practice, in which Danny, as goalie, was unable to do anything about certain players being assholes to certain other players other than glare at them, which was pretty ineffectual from behind a mask, he'd offered commiserations to Stiles, who was looking to have a long career as a bench-warmer and as usual hadn't even made it to the field. He didn't know why Coach insisted Stiles turn up at all, or that he be dressed for lacrosse, when he had no intention of letting him on the field. He didn't know why Stiles kept turning up anyway, for that matter.
Okay, Stiles wasn't exactly the biggest guy on the team - they had a ridiculous lineup of beefcake this year, which he could appreciate and include himself in and still find bizarre - but lacrosse wasn't all about brute strength. Stilinski was wiry and fast, and that meant he could probably pull off some pretty damn impressive manoeuvres with a bit of practice. Not that they'd ever know about it, if Coach never let him touch the field.
He didn't get why saying as much to a fellow player who was looking pretty damned miserable at his lack of a future in the team was earning him deathglares. Still.
"Dude," Jackson said, and Danny stopped what he was doing, because when Jackson started sentences with 'dude', he was either about to share something deeply personal or about to try and get them expelled for excessive pussy jokes, and Danny had problems with both of those options. He narrowed his eyes warningly and Jackson's chin tilted up just a bit, defiantly.
Not pussy jokes, then.
"*Dude*," Jackson said again, slowly and deliberately, as though really that was all that needed to be said. Danny quite often had no clue what was going through his best friend's head, and this was definitely one of those times. He was usually glad not to know. Right now it would've been kind of useful. So he waited.
Jackson sighed, as though just being in the presence of such a monumental dumbass was physically hurting him, because Jackson was a bigger drama queen than the entire school LGBTQ population put together. "You have got to stop this," he informed Danny, stuffing his lacrosse gear into his locker.
"Stop jerking him around, is what! It's getting weird. And this is *me* saying it, okay, so really, quit it."
For a raging self-absorbed asshole, Jackson was surprisingly self-perceptive. And if he was telling Danny he was going too far with something, it was probably something he should've sorted out long ago, before it was even on Jackson's radar.
Except he still had no clue what Jackson was talking about.
"I have no clue what you're talking about," he informed Jackson, just so they were all up to speed.
Jackson looked at him as though he was only just restraining himself from a third 'dude', and Danny didn't think either of them were ready for that. "Stilinski," Jackson said, and because Danny was used to Jackson raving and bitching until eventually he accidentally made sense, he waited some more.
"Stilinski," he agreed, to keep things moving.
"You know it's not like I give one tiny little shit about him," Jackson said, clearly needing this to be firmly established. Danny nodded, allowing the point. There were very few people in the world that Jackson cared enough about to give any kind of shit whatsoever how they were treated. Stiles Stilinski - and backtracking that hack was on Danny's bucket list, because he'd been over it and couldn't find a single fingerprint or whisper of his actual given name anywhere in the system- was not on that rarefied list. "But when he's chewing on your heels, he's in my face, and you won't let me just punch him until he leaves, so, you know, get rid of him."
"When he's whatting my what?"
"He'd be sucking your dick if he could get any kind of read on what you think of him," Jackson stated, as though this was an abstract fact, like gravity, rather than batshit insanity. "And I don't blame the little weasel. *I* can't get a read on what you think of him. You shoot him down, then you're nice to him, then you shoot him down again. I mean, it was funny for a while, but honestly, by this point, it's just pathetic. Fuck him or tell him outright it's never going to happen so we can all move on."
Danny stared at him. Jackson stared back.
"Wait, Stiles has a thing for me? Like, a thing? For me? I thought he was into Lydia."
Jackson slammed his hand into Danny's locker. "Oh my god, how do *I* have a better gaydar than you?"
"I don't know, man, you're gifted," Danny admitted, because it's true, and actually most of the reason Danny ever got any action outside of certain bars that he wasn't going to admit to going to, because Danny never saw this coming. Every time, Jackson just sighed and pushed his head against the wall and explained in small words that Danny was buff, and on the lacrosse team, and not an asshole or at least less of one than Jackson, and nor was he the skinny little quiet guy he'd been until they were fourteen or so, and so sometimes people wanted a piece of that, and if he had any kind of balls at all he'd let at least some of them have it.
This was something that was never really going to make sense to Danny, but apparently this was his life now. And on the list of people who wanted a piece of that (half of which was definitely all in Jackson's jealous bitchy head, but whatever) was, apparently, Stiles Stilinski.
Danny did not know what to do with this information.
"Really?" he said, because it still seemed pretty unlikely, and Jackson actually, visibly, took a moment to breathe before answering, which, wow.
He also held up a hand, all fingers extended.
"Keeps sitting next to you at lunch, even when you run hot and cold on him like it's your time of the month," he said, and folded the thumb down. "Even when it means sitting at the same table as me and knowing I want nothing more than to punch his stupid face in and you are the only thing stopping me."
"That and human decency," Danny said, and Jackson looked like he actually couldn't believe those words had come out of Danny's mouth. Okay, Danny had to give him that one.
"Just you," Jackson repeated, and Danny nodded.
"Swaps seats to be near you in class. On three occasions in the last two weeks, a move which actually took him further from his alleged not so secret crush that he's not done anything about for literally a decade now." He folded down his little finger, causing Danny a brief moment of petty jealousy that he could do that without taking the ring finger down as well.
"Asks you back to his house to do *labwork*," Jackson stresses, and lowers his ring finger.
"Well, yes, because we're lab partners," Danny stresses back, and if Jackson rolls his eyes any harder he's actually going to injure himself.
"Everyone else in that class, who has a lab partner with which they do labwork? Needed a lab to do it in. Not their bedroom."
That might be a valid point, Danny realises.
"Oh, and what happened while you were there?"
"He distracted me with the buff half-naked guy who was hanging out there and was in no possible way his cousin, unless we're talking Achilles-and-Patroclus-in-'Troy' cousins," Danny mutters.
"And don't think we're not talking about that later too."
"We're not talking about that," Danny states, because they're absolutely not talking about that.
"Oh, and the final point," Jackson says, ignoring this completely, as usual, "when all else failed in the face of your massive and hysterical inability to tell when someone has a boner for you, he *asked you if you thought he was attractive.* In class. In front of like thirty other people and the bitchiest gossips in the school." He lowers his index finger and smirks at Danny over the remaining middle digit.
"You're referring to yourself there, of course," Danny says, because if he punches Jackson in the head like he so desperately wants to there'll be nothing to stop it turning into an all-out brawl and Coach will emerge from sulking in his office purely to give them both detention, or worse, laps.
"Whatever, bitch. I'm right, you know I'm right, you're a little bitch and you're so completely oblivious to your own dick that Stiles fucking Stilinski could drop to his knees in front of you and you would still not understand that *he wants to bone you*. Or actually, probably, to be pinned to the wall in the showers, so let me know if you want me to clear the locker room for you, okay bro?" He nods, as though all of that somehow constitutes an actual rational conversation. "Now I personally cannot imagine anyone wanting to screw Stilinski, ever, not even in that fucked up prison porn you need to learn to hide better if you're going to let me borrow your tablet, but frankly everyone you've ever dated has been a total cockmonkey one way or another, so this wouldn't actually be a change of pace for you. So I am telling you," he adds, emphasising every word like he's carving them in fucking stone, "as a bro, to either fuck that or scrape it off your shoe, because he's irritating the fuck out of me where he is."
"And that, obviously, is the most important issue at hand here."
"Well, obviously," Jackson says, his best asshole smirk in place, but he puts an arm around Danny's shoulder and Danny is kind of horrified to realise that this has been an actual conversation between them, in which real things have been communicated, albeit in terms only explicable to total assholes like his best friend. He sags in place, and Jackson's arm tightens around him, holding him up, just like he always does when the world abruptly changes around them and always has since they were two feet tall together.
"Fuck," Danny said with great feeling. "What am I going to do now?"
Jackson actually laughs, the vicious little bastard. "I gave you your options, man. Pick one."
Like it's that easy.
Stiles Stilinski wants him.
And him? He doesn't have the faintest idea what he wants. As usual.
Except that if he does as Jackson says and cuts Stiles loose, it's going to hurt like burning. He can feel it, just the idea of it like a chemical burn eating away inside him already. And maybe that's his answer.