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The Company I Keep

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It was only the first week of classes and Stiles was ready to move into the library. The UC Berkeley campus was big, and instead of hauling his ass all the way back to the Foothill dorm, Stiles would rather spend his free time in the stacks with a cup of coffee and a cookie, hunched over his books or surfing the internet between classes.

He, stupidly, decided to take 21 credit hours on top of his undergraduate research apprenticeship program. He hit the ground running his sophomore year, that was for damned sure. He had an hour and a half to kill between his Comparative Societies class and Chemistry, so he decided to drop into the Doe library to kill some time. For it being barely 10 am on a Wednesday, the library was pretty busy. Stiles wished he was still in bed, like one of his roommates, who was never out of bed before noon. Stiles guessed it was his own damned fault for double majoring in History and Anthropology.

Stiles sat down at his favorite table, which, yeah... he has a favorite table from last semester. It was in the corner, it had an outlet near it, and was semi by a window so he could tell what it was like outside. To him, it was pretty much a prime spot. Usually no one was at his table. It was deep in the stacks, sort of out of the way.So when we rounded a bookshelf and realized someone was sitting at his table, he halted in place. His eyes narrowed as he approached it, his head tilted slightly. Someone’s books were spread out, along with an open laptop and a half eaten muffin.There was nobody, but they wouldn’t be far. Stiles frowned as he took a sip of his coffee. He thought about sitting anyways, but didn’t want to be that guy so he sat one table down, farther away from the outlet and not as close to the window. Stiles’ lip jut out in a pout as he pulled a chair out and sat down. He set his coffee down as he got out his laptop and headphones, pressing the power button as he glared at the empty table full of things that weren’t his. By the time Stiles left for Chemistry, the mysterious table stealer hadn’t returned.

Wednesdays suck.

Stiles didn’t return to the library until Thursday afternoon, after his Living Through Conflict in Classical Greece class. He had a paper that he wanted to start on for his Early Modern Russia class so he wouldn’t do it at the last minute over the weekend since he had a lot of research to do for his apprenticeship. His apprenticeship was weird. He basically needed to clock in a total of ten hours a week for it, which doesn’t sound like a lot but with his 21 credit hours... he knew if he didn’t stay on top of his shit that he would fall way behind. He already upped his Adderall intake and went up from three cups of coffee a day to four. Hurrah, college. Land of caffeine and no sleep.

Stiles didn’t like writing without music, but he found that music with lyrics distracted him, so he spent a lot of time listen to film scores. Hans Zimmer was his most listened to artist because Stiles couldn’t stop listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack.
Stiles wrote until his stomach started rumbling and the sun started to set. Stiles made a face as he groaned. If he ran, the dining hall would still be serving dinner. Half of of him wanted to rush, but the other half felt like just grabbing a sandwich to go. He had cheetos back in his dorm that he could munch on as he settled in to spend the rest of his night playing Slender. Fridays were his favorite, because he only had Chemistry and his Chem Lab to go to, as well as his apprenticeship. He had two roommates, Scott and Isaac, both of which would probably be going out to a party. Stiles told himself that parties were for the weekend, which didn’t always work out, but he wasn’t really interested in first week of school parties. He knew he was going to have a quiz in Chemistry, so he at least needed to reread the chapter and make flashcards because he knew the class was going to beat his ass.

As he made his way out of the library, he passed someone walking in that had the same bag as the table stealer had the day before. Stiles couldn’t help but glare at him as he walked past. The guy hadn’t even looked twice at him. Stiles forgot to get a sandwich on the way back to his dorm, his mind had gone completely out the window on that one.

Stiles ended up doing an all nighter on Sunday night finishing his paper for his Russian class, as well as studying for Art History and Chemistry. Whose fucking idea was it to have a quiz every day in Chemistry? Stiles wanted to punch his professor in the jugular. All the coffee and pills in the world couldn’t keep Stiles awake enough in Comparative Societies, so after his Chemistry class of doom and horror, Stiles decided that a nap in the stacks was his best bet. He set his alarm so that he would wake up in time for his Forms of Folklore class, balled up his hoodie, and passed out near his table. When he woke up, someone was seated at his table, looking down at him because his alarm was going off. Stiles put it on silent and yawning, waving a bit at the grump that was glaring down at him. If that guy didn’t understand that it was perfectly acceptable to sleep at any time and anywhere on campus, then Stiles didn’t even know what to say to the guy. Stiles gathered his stuff, then set out for class, stopping by to get a coffee first because not only did he have his apprenticeship to do, but he had Art History that night and even though it was only once a week, that mother fucker was three hours long.

Stiles forgot to eat dinner, again.

It was becoming a problem. It also occurred to Stiles that rooming with a Sports Medicine major and a Sociology major may not have been in his best interest. Isaac was always in their room, didn’t get out much, and didn’t really plan to do anything besides go to class and play minecraft. Scott was always playing video games and skipping class, or seeing his girlfriend Allison. Stiles wasn’t sure how he was even still in school after his horrible freshman year, but he was there. Stiles allowed himself an hour of watching Scott play slender before he set out to find food, knowing that Cub Market was open until 1am. Stiles got to bed somewhere between 3 and 4 am, despite having a 9:30 Self & Society in Medieval Europe class which he was five minutes late for.

Stiles wasn’t sure just why this person decided that Stiles’ table was his table but it was starting to get on Stiles’ nerves. They always took up the entire table, too, with books and muffins and his laptop and stupid bag that seemed like it could also be packed with all of his earthly possessions. Stiles hovered for a second before going to the next table over, his usual pout plastered across his face. Stiles was okay, really he was, until he realized that his computer needed to be plugged in or else it would die. Stiles grit his teeth together as he looked over at his table. Stiles took a deep breath and stood up, walked over to his table and cleared his throat.

Yeah, okay, so table hogger was actually rather good looking in a ‘only shave once a week’ way as well as ‘my bag must be full of gym clothes because I am fucking ripped’ way.

“I uh, was wondering if I could sit across from you so I could plug my computer in,” Stiles said in the midst of a defeated sigh. The guy lifted an eyebrow at Stiles, which was semi- standoffish but also made Stiles want to whimper. Stiles held his ground though, and shrugged his shoulders like it would be a good thing to share. Because really? Sharing is caring. “Well?” Stiles asked when he didn’t get an answer.

“Sure,” was all that was said. Stiles grabbed his stuff and plugged his computer in. He popped a tab on his energy drink, because coffee was getting rather expensive at this point, and took a long swig of it, making a face afterwards. They didn’t have his favorite flavor when he went to buy it earlier, which was devastating. He ended up staying at his table until the library closed, way after his computer finished charging. It surprised him that his tablemate had stayed the entire time as well, both of them leaving randomly to eat dinner, which, for Stiles, consisted of a cookie and coffee.

He really needed to eat actual food more often.

Saturdays were the only day that Stiles let himself sleep in, mostly to sleep off the alcohol consumed on Friday nights. He rolled out of bed around one, showered, then headed to the library after eating a real meal (a cheeseburger and curly fries). He walked through campus, passing by people playing extreme frisbee and girls sitting out on blankets with their books open and notes ready. What he really wanted to do was crawl back in bed or play Halo all day, but of course, he had to study and write a paper. Stupid fucking 21 credit hours. There was always a paper, always an exam or quiz, and always reading to be done.

Stiles stopped dead in his tracks as he rounded the stacks of the library. He was never going to get his table back, ever. There was the table stealer, sitting there like he owned the place. Stiles’ jaw clenched. Table stealer looked up, surprise showing across his face. Stiles looked around at other, empty, tables and sighed. Stiles walked up to his table, pointing at the chair he had occupied earlier in the week.

“Can I?” he asked.

“I don’t know, can you?”

Stiles sat down.

“Why do you sit here, at this table, I mean?” Stiles asked as he got out his computer and Classical Greece textbook.

“Is it a crime to sit here?” Stiles scowled at table stealer’s tone, mocking.

“No I was just wondering, I mean, I sat here almost everyday last year-”

“Ah, I see,” he said, sighing. He didn’t move, though. “I sit here because it is in the back, out of the way, is close to an outlet and a window, and because it bothers you.” Stiles’ eyebrows rose, his jaw slackened. “To be honest, I sat here a few weeks back and thought it strange that you kept popping up. It took me a few days to figure out why, but...” he shrugged. Stiles didn’t know whether to laugh or to be angry. He sputtered out a few ‘but’s instead.

“But, but... what the fuck, man?” he all but whined. “Why would you do that?” Stiles asked.

“Because I am a psych major? I was running an experiment?” Stiles narrowed his eyes.

“You were... I was an experiment?”

“I’m writing a paper on you, actually. Today’s findings should be enough, because you’re aware now,” he shrugged again. “I’m Derek by the way.”

“Stiles,” Stiles supplied, gnawing on his bottom lip, his brow creased. “You don’t look like an undergrad.”

“I’m not one,” Derek said as he started typing. “Why are you here on a Saturday, Stiles?”

“Greek paper to start, reading for Folklore to get through, studying for Art History, getting away from my roommate while his girlfriend is visiting,” Stiles murmured as he opened up his notebook to look at his Classical Greece syllabus. “Do you mind watching my stuff? I need to go find a few books...” Stiles got up and walked into the stacks, running his fingers through his hair, yanking on it a bit. He had let it get long last year, for the first time since his mother died. He had kept it shaved close to his head for years after her death, but for some reason last year he felt like he didn’t need to anymore. Now, his hair a mess and stuck every which way, he pulled on it in frustration and confusion as his eyes darted across the titles.

He was being used as an experiment? What a fucking laugh. His OCD tendencies must have been read loud and clear to the psych grad student Derek who must think that Stiles took the whole psychological need to sit in the same spot a bit too far. Stiles growled to himself as he pulled two books from the shelves, then walked back. Derek was typing away, clearly in the zone and didn’t seem to be up for conversing further. Stiles took the hint and started flipping through the books for source material, trying to find quotes that were relevant. After about an hour, Stiles noticed that Derek had gotten up, but had left his things. Stiles had been highlighting passages in his Folklore textbook at the time and hadn’t even noticed the disappearance of his table mate. What surprised him was that when Derek reappeared, he had two coffees with him. He handed one to Stiles.

“Thanks?” Stiles said, confusion written across his face.

“You usually have coffee with you,” Derek said, shrugging as if it meant nothing. Stiles held back a smile as he took a sip. Derek had been watching him, had been writing about him. Stiles flushed, clearing his throat as he pushed the thought from his mind.

“Ah, yeah, I do, don’t I? I’m a bit addicted, which is weird since I shouldn’t be drinking caffeine but what are you going to do? Have to stay awake somehow,” he rambled as he tapped his highlighter rhythmically against his book, his fingers raking through his hair before adjusting his glasses since he forgot to put his contacts in. Stiles dropped his hand from his face to keep from biting his nails in front of Derek the psych major. Suddenly, Stiles was overly self conscious. Derek smiled at him, which calmed Stiles a bit.

“I’m addicted to coffee too,” he chuckled as he started typing again. Stiles grinned, his teeth catching his bottom lip as he looked down at his book and continued reading.

Stiles stayed until closing, not because he had to, but because he found that he wanted to see how long Derek would stay. Derek stayed until they kicked them out. Stiles, his bag slung over his shoulder and hands stuffed in his pocket, stood idle as he watched Derek pull on his jacket just outside the library.

“Do you, uh, live on campus?” Stiles asked, his hand against the back of his neck, his eyes raking slowly over Derek’s body as he picked up both his computer bag and duffel bag that Stiles still thinks is full of gym clothes.

“Just off, actually. I’ve got about a twenty minute walk ahead of me.” Stiles nodded, sighing. “See you, Stiles,” Derek said, turning his back on him and walking south. Stiles’ dorm was north east, less than a ten minute walk from where he stood. Stiles walked back to his room, his stomach in knots.

He spent the evening with Isaac playing Slender, screaming whenever they saw Slenderman. It was a good distraction for a while, until he knew he had to finish reading for Folklore if he wanted to get all the studying for Art History done the next day. Stiles fell asleep on his bed, his face pressed against his folklore book. When he woke up, he had a print from his glasses on his face and a crick in his neck.

Instead of going to the library on Sunday, Stiles opted for spreading out on the floor of his dorm room. Scott and Isaac were both out, surprisingly, so he had room to organize his mass amounts of notecards for the first exam that was coming up. He had to memorize the names of all of the pieces, their origin, and the date. He used up quite a bit of printer ink at the library earlier in the week so that he could paste the artwork on one side of the note card while the information about it was on the other. He popped an Adderall, then sat cross-legged on the floor in his pajamas. Sunday was pajama day and he didn’t care that he hadn’t showered yet. By lunch time though, he was ready to eat. He changed his clothes and donned a beanie, stuffing his note cards in his bag so that he could flip through them in the dining hall.

Stiles didn’t know what surprised him more: the fact that Derek was in the dining hall, or that Derek had smiled at him as their eyes met and motioned for Stiles to join him. Stiles almost tripped over himself as he set his tray down at the table.

“What are you doing all the way over here?” Stiles asked, his voice cracking slightly. He cleared his throat reluctantly as he grabbed a piece of bacon. He liked Sundays because there was brunch, and bacon. He loved bacon. Derek looked at him, his eyebrows raised. Stiles figured this was a semi-permanent look on Derek, based upon how many times he did it in Stiles’ presence.

“I like brunch,” Derek said easily, that half shrug that he did all the time following his words. “I don’t normally eat breakfast so I don’t have anything like this in my fridge. I might as well use the dining hall one day a week.”

“But this dining hall is farthest from...” Stiles stopped mid-sentence. He was thinking too far into things. Instead, he stuffed his mouth full of scrambled eggs and toast. “You working today?” He asked as soon as his mouth was empty enough to enunciate properly. Derek nodded as he ate.

“Not for too long today, though. I’ve got plans tonight.” Stiles stilled for a second, fork mid-air, as he looked at Derek. Derek was looking at him as if waiting for a reaction. Stiles shoved the fork in his mouth and nodded. “You?”

“Studying for Art History,” Stiles said through his food. Rude? Maybe. But Stiles suddenly didn’t care. He felt odd, a pang of something deep in his stomach that had nothing to do with the food he was eating.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” Derek whispered with a smirk. Stiles grinned, nodding.

“The Shining, nice. Yeah, I know, I just don’t want to fall behind. I’m going to put in a few hours in for URAP, too.”

“You’re doing the Undergrad Research Apprenticeship?” Derek asked. Stiles nodded. “How many hours are you taking?”

“Is this you asking me as a person, or you asking me as your experiment?” Stiles asked, his head tilted to the side. Derek was silent for a moment, as if calculating.

“As a person,” he answered.

“21 credit hours.”

“And you’re a junior?”

“Sophomore.” Derek looked down at his food and sighed at the word ‘sophomore’.

“Bit early to be overloading your plate, isn’t it?” He asked. Stiles shrugged, watching as Derek slowly stood up. He was leaving.

“No, I’m double majoring and want to finish in four years. I’m on scholarship,” he whispered, watching Derek gather his things. He felt sad all of the sudden, that Derek was leaving.

“Well, pace yourself, then. See you around,” Derek said as he picked up his tray of eaten food and walked away. Stiles spent the rest of his lunch scouring over his note cards, pushing his food off to the side.

The thing about having two roommates is that, in all honesty, it is rather difficult to jack off. If any of them could get away with it, it would be Isaac because he never leaves the room. Stiles, though, has little to no alone time. And he isn’t the quietest person in the world, either.He never was quiet, even when he was younger. It is a problem. 2am showers where the spray of the water muffles his moans is where he strokes himself off. Lately, he has needed it to fall asleep. It calms him, slows his mind, and after spending so much time in the library sitting across from Derek, he needs release.

He thinks of Derek as his fingers slip and slide over his body, stroking himself, his eyes closed. Stiles listens to himself moan, as the image of Derek plays across his mind. His smirk, his eyes, his fingers typing, his shirt as it stretches across his torso as he stands. Stiles thinks about licking his collarbone, his palms spread across Derek’s stomach, their dicks pressed together. Stiles bit his bottom lip to stifle his cry out as he came, making a mess on his hand and stomach, washed away by the shower’s spray. He cleaned himself off with soap, then rinsed.

He got three hours of sleep before his alarm went off.