Derek barely looked up from the essays he was grading as Stiles entered the classroom and closed the door behind him. “I know writing across the curriculum is important, but I think I could make a case that DBQs are against the Geneva Convention. This is painful.”
“Shut up, at least writing is relevant to social studies, I teach math; I should be able to just use ZipGrade and have it all over with,” Stiles said, then waved a hand. “But never mind that, we have a crisis!”
Lifting his eyebrows, Derek looked up long enough to assess Stiles wasn’t bleeding. “I know, progress reports are due. Hence why I’m trying to finish my grading.”
Stiles flailed a hand in the particular way that meant he was incoherent but still trying to convey that Derek was wrong about everything. Derek just waited it out, and after a minute of clenching his fists and opening and closing his mouth, Stiles finally said, “I just got asked to prom.”
If he’d had time to prepare, Derek might’ve managed to stifle the laugh. Stiles was clearly outraged. “Sure, laugh it up, with your perfect beard and everybody you’ve ever met swooning over your impossibly good looks. I’m traumatized.”
Derek was now laughing so hard he was crying, bent over the desk and pinching the bridge of his nose to try to get some control. The wounded noise Stiles made did not help.
“This is serious.” Stiles shoved Derek so hard that he almost fell out of his chair, sending a shower of papers onto the floor beneath his desk. “Juntavius was so fucking earnest, and he’s such a great kid, and I don’t know what the hell to do - he thinks we could be like Brian and Justin, what the hell, how does he even know that show? He was an embryo when it came out!”
“Stop, stop, I’m begging you,” Derek choked out, wheezing and out of breath.
He’d almost gotten himself under control when Stiles dropped under the desk. “Oh my God, was that him? I told him I had to meet with the principal so I could escape - stop laughing.”
Choking on his words, Derek managed, “It’s your fault for being so handsome.”
“That is victim blaming and--” Stiles stopped and clenched his jaw for a moment. “Okay, so maybe I might’ve said something along those line--”
“Exact words,” Derek murmured.
Stiles waved a hand to stop him. “In your case, it’s true. Not so much in mine - I’m kind of cute at best. You: Disney prince. Me: comic relief side character. Possibly an anthropomorphized woodland creature. Oh, God, I don’t just have to let Juntavius down easy in a way that doesn’t crush his little gay or bisexual heart, I have to talk to him about his awful taste.”
Clearing his throat, Derek said, “I think he has excellent taste.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re my friend,” Stiles said dismissively. “It’s not like you’d date me. Apparently I just appeal to underage honor students who volunteer to tutor younger children. It’s a very niche market.”
It was news to Derek that he wouldn’t date Stiles, since he’d been trying to for months. Stiles kept misunderstanding and turning dates into hanging out, and Derek had finally accepted that Stiles was trying to give him a graceful hint. “I was an honor student who tutored younger children.”
“But you’re not underaged or into guys, hence why my extremely targeted appeal passes you by,” Stiles said, crawling around the edge of the desk so he could peer at the window in the door. “I don’t know how you deal with this stuff all the time and stay sane. My nerves are shot.”
“I talk to you,” Derek said absently, still processing. “But, um, about what you said just now--”
“I knooooow,” Stiles wailed. “It’s so awful, and I haven’t been fair to you. But you’ll still help me anyway, right?”
Nodding slowly, Derek said, “Of course.” And he already had an idea how.
Stiles settled into a seated position with his back to Derek’s desk drawers. His eyes were wide and pleading, and Derek was having some extremely unpure thoughts. “Please, Derek? I need you, man.”
A shiver went up Derek’s spine and he found he was talking without having fully vetted the thought being expressed. “You should date me.”
Stiles just stared at him, eyes wide, but Derek let the statement stand. He might not have thought it through, but he’d put it out there, asked for what he wanted, and he had no intention of walking it back.
“Derek, you...” Stiles blinked a few times, leaning forward just enough that Derek thought dizzily he might want a kiss. “You’re a genius. Oh, man, why didn’t I think of that before? I’ll be the best fake boyfriend ever, I promise you won’t regret this.”
He leapt to his feet and swept out of the room, leaving Derek to thunk his head against his desk, trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong in his life to get into this situation.
“Okay, so we might have a problem.” Stiles sank into the chair Derek kept next to his desk for students in time-out within one minute of the last bus being called. “Juntavius didn’t believe me. Or he thinks you’re not good enough for me. I was kind of confused, actually.”
Derek stretched his palm over his forehead so he could rub his temples, trying to stave off the headache he could feel forming out of the unprecedented levels of frustration he was feeling. “Stiles. I need you to listen to me. Carefully.”
Looking at him quizzically, Stiles said, “Are you okay? You know, you don’t have to do this. I know pretending--”
“I don’t want to pretend,” Derek said, slapping his hand down on the desk so hard that the pencils for lending out rattled in the Batman mug Stiles had given him.
“Oh. Um. I totally understand,” Stiles said, looking a bit deflated.
Growling, Derek said, “No, you don’t.”
“It’s okay, man, I totally do.” Stiles shrugged and pulled on an unconvincing smile as he stood. “I’ll come up with something, it’s totally cool. Anyway, I should go tell Burns about what happened - better safe than sorry, right? Report everything. So, um, thanks, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Stiles powerwalked out of the room, just shy of a flat-out run, and Derek resisted the temptation to claw his own face off. How fucking hard was it to tell Stiles he was beautiful and perfect and serious boyfriend material? A sixteen year old had done it! And yet, Derek. It needed no qualifier; this level of failure just encompassed all of him so well it could’ve gone in a dictionary.
Going home and sulking seemed like an excellent plan, and Derek almost tore the handle off his desk pulling it open so he could retrieve his messenger bag. It stuck, because of course it did, and Derek decided it was a sign from some higher power in the universe that tonight should not actually involve trying to figure out a way to get the kids to actually read their notes and remember any of the things they’d covered in class when it came test time. Tonight might, in fact, involve pizza and Netflix. Because he deserved nice things, dammit.
“Excuse me, Mr. Hale?”
He didn’t curse, but it was a near thing. “Juntavius, hey. Nice braids.”
“They’re twists,” he said, reaching up to twist one as a demonstration. “Um, sir. Sorry.”
“No, it’s okay, I should’ve seen that.” Derek sank back in his chair with a sigh. “What can I do for you? Did you need me to sign off for your hours?”
“Yeah, but, uh, I wanted to talk to you about Mr. Stilinski.” The boy would’ve been tomato red if his skin was even two shades lighter, shuffling his feet and clutching his bookbag as he stood in front of Derek’s desk.
Settling back, Derek said, “He was very flattered by your invitation.”
Openly dismayed, the boy said, “He told you that?”
“He didn’t intend to betray your trust,” Derek said softly. “We all need someone to talk to sometimes.”
Nodding, Juntavius sank into a chair. “It’s just, he’s so smart, and he always listens to me, and I just, I really like him.”
“I understand,” Derek said, one side of his mouth quirking up. “Trust me, I understand completely.”
“He said you guys are dating, but then he gave this fake laugh like he always does when he’s lying.” The boy looked up, his face tight, and Derek recognized the signs of someone trying to hold in the hurt.
Rubbing a hand over his face, Derek said, “That laugh is the worst. I don’t know why he thinks he fools anybody with it; it’s awful.”
“It’s like when he thinks he’s being sneaky and he’s so totally obvious. My little cousin does a better job during hide and seek, and she still thinks you can’t see her if she closes her eyes.” Juntavius shook his head, but smirked a little when Derek laughed.
“I’ve tried to ask him out dozens of times,” Derek said ruefully. “He always turns it into just hanging out.”
With a gleam in his eye, the kid said, “Maybe he’s just not into you.”
“Yeah, he probably isn’t.” Saying it out loud sucked, but it was probably better to face it.
“But you know he’s not going to go for a student, right? However great you might be, you’re still a kid.”
“I won’t be young forever,” he said. “And I’m really mature for my age. I’ve been through a lot, you know?”
Derek bit down a smile, wanting to preserve the kid’s dignity even if he seemed even more young for believing that he wasn’t. “It’s still illegal, and morally wrong. Stiles would never do anything to harm you.”
Sighing heavily, Juntavius said, “Yeah, he’d never do anything that wasn’t legit. He’s real law and order, you know? Almost became a cop.”
Derek choked on air and started coughing, trying to make the statement fit anything about Stiles, who’d picked the lock on the door to Derek’s apartment whenever he felt like waiting at the door was taking too long. Derek also had a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t “youths” that had TP’d Harris’s house and car, but he had carefully maintained plausible deniability on that one.
“I think I love him.” The boy’s lips twisted. “But he doesn’t love me, not like that.”
“Not like that,” Derek agreed. “But his friendship is pretty great. It’s not a consolation prize, it’s something good for its own sake.”
Juntavius sighed deeply, the fight obviously going out of him along with the air. “Love sucks.”
“Sometimes it really does.” Derek fell silent, giving the boy time to process. At length, the kid stood and Derek followed suit, extending a hand to shake. “I’ll see you next week - I’ve got a couple of kids who need your services.”
“Thanks, Mr. Hale.” Juntavius dug in his bookbag for the log of his service hours and Derek signed, noting the paper was almost full. “Mr. Stilinski said he was going to try to get a grant so I can get paid once I’ve finished with the community service hours the school requires.”
Smiling, Derek said, “Money never hurts, and it’ll look great on your college applications.”
Juntavius gave him a nod of acknowledgment, shouldering his bookbag and heading for the door. He paused with his hand on the frame and said, “You know, he’s kind of stupid about some things. He thought I was telling him about some girl I liked, and then he thought I was trying to come out.”
“That sounds like something he’d think,” Derek said, his lips twitching.
“All I’m saying is, you should ask him again.” A smile slashed across the boy’s face, and he said, “Otherwise, I’m coming back for him once I’m graduated.”
He’d closed the door behind himself before Derek could begin to think of a response, which was just as well. He didn’t even have one when Stiles slipped into the room a few minutes later, looking weirdly anxious. “Heeeeey, Derek.”
“Hey.” Patting his pocket to make sure he had his wallet and keys, Derek moved out from behind his desk. “I was just going to head home.”
“Yeah.” Stiles stood in front of the door, unmoving. When Derek raised his eyebrows in question, Stiles gave a sort of whole-body twitch and opened his mouth, only to shut it again without moving to allow the door to open.
Frowning, Derek said, “Are you okay?”
“I, um, you know your door was open, right?” Stiles ran a hand through his hair and shifted his weight from foot to foot. “And, seriously, I can totally be sneaky, I have moves you’d never see coming.”
Feeling himself flush at the realization Stiles had heard everything he’d said, Derek nonetheless tried to stay cool and collected. “You shouldn’t eavesdrop.”
He’d missed cool and ended up a 1950s tv show dad. Whatever.
“Did you-- I mean, you didn’t...” Rubbing the back of his neck, Stiles said, “You were just saying that stuff to make him feel better, right?”
“You really are stupid,” Derek said without thinking. He found he didn’t regret it, though. As Stiles would say, he had run out of fucks to give. “I am pretty hopelessly in love with you, you idiot.”
Meekly, Stiles said, “Are you sure?”
Derek’s face met his palm. “Pretty sure, yeah. I didn’t keep asking you out for the fun of being rejected.”
“I never - I would never - dude, there is so much not rejection here, I can’t even - you’re an idiot, too!” Stiles shoved his chest with one hand, hard enough to make Derek rock back on his heels. “You asshole, I’ve been fucking pining for you!”
“How is that my fault?” Derek crossed his arms and scowled. “I’m the one who asked you out, remember? We went to that fancy French restaurant with the candles and you spent half the night talking about how awesome it was for bros to hang out! You sang a song about bros.”
Stiles set his jaw and gritted out, “I was trying not to get my hopes up, because someone kept talking about the amazing food there and how it’d be worth the drive and making it seem like that was the reason to go.”
All right, maybe Derek had been a bit too off-hand that time, but. “What about when I had you describe your perfect date to me and then took you on it?”
“Pity for my never getting asked out, ever,” Stiles said promptly.
“You get hit on all the time,” Derek growled. “The PTA moms had a pool going for who could seduce you first!”
Stiles turned pale, his jaw hanging slightly open. “Oh my God, is that why Neveah’s mom kept cornering me to talk about a kissing booth?”
“Yes.” Derek rubbed his temples again, wishing he could take something for the headache the whole conversation had given him.
“I’m an idiot,” Stiles said softly. Derek was pretty sure his you think? was visible on his face, because Stiles added, “Look, in my defense, I’m so gone on you that no one else even registers.”
Derek started to argue, then realized what Stiles had just said. With a soft, lopsided smile, Stiles said, “So, um, would you mind going out with me? It’ll be like hanging out, but there’ll be kissing.”
A smile crept across his face, and Derek leaned forward, reaching a hand to draw Stiles closer and cup his cheek. “Kissing?”
Stiles licked his lips, only for his eyes to go wide as the door bumped into his back and the custodian said, “Go home, boys, I need to mop.”
Bursting into giggles, Stiles said, “Yes, ma’am. See you tomorrow!”
“Have a good one,” she said as Stiles grabbed Derek’s hand and tugged him down the hall. Derek wasn’t sure at what point it had been decided they were taking just one car, but he was soon bundled into the passenger seat of the Jeep and they were heading towards the diner on Main.
“Are we going on a date now?”
Stiles nodded. “I figure I should buy you food before demanding nakedness.”
Derek was silent for a moment, mulling it over. “If we order pizza, you can pay when we order. You know they always take an hour to get to my place.”
The gears ground as Stiles shifted and switched directions. “You. I like the way you think.”
“I like you,” Derek said, lips curving into a smile at getting to say it without Stiles turning it into a ‘bro’ moment.
“Yeah,” Stiles said hoarsely. “Me too. I like you. And, God, I can’t wait to kiss you.”
The light turning red was too good an opportunity to waste, so Derek leaned in and claimed his lips, teasing them open with his tongue and enjoying the small sighs that escaped him. They didn’t stop until someone behind them honked their horn, and Stiles was flushed and breathless as he put the car into gear. “We are going to be so damn good together.”
“Yeah,” Derek said, trailing his hand over his thigh. “By the way, in case you missed it - I want to be your boyfriend.”
Stiles rolled his eyes, but brought Derek’s hand to his mouth for a kiss. “I thought you’d never ask.”