Danny didn't find Stiles attractive – not in a conventional sense, anyway. He was cute, enough so that Danny had thought about it, but cute and funny never really grabbed him low in the gut the way that confident and sexy always had. Oh, being adorable with a good sense of humor was a definite bonus, but without that hint of sex appeal? Well, it just wasn't enough to hold his interest, so no matter how many times Stiles asked if he was attractive, Danny never said yes.
But he never said no, either, because Danny was raised to be a decent guy. It seemed too harsh; he wasn't unattractive, and whether Stiles was actually into guys or not didn't matter – though Danny was pretty sure that he was – a flat out rejection would always hurt, right? And he just hadn't figured out a way to tell Stiles that he was cute but just not really attractive to him, at least not without sounding like he was just trying to spare some hurt feelings. Stiles was too observant and a little too self-deprecating for Danny to give him that sort of ammunition to use on himself.
If he were being honest, Danny liked Stiles. Liked him more than he would probably ever admit, mostly because Stiles was scarily good at latching onto slivers of hope and the last thing Danny needed was to be the focus of the kind of epic crush Stiles was capable of. Stiles had a lot of qualities that Danny admired, but he just didn't feel any chemistry and without that, what was the point?
Maybe that was shallow, but he'd tried to date people he wasn't attracted to before and it never worked. It just led to wasted time and hurt feelings, and he didn't want to risk doing that to Stiles, didn't want to give him a reason to think Danny was interested that might hurt him later.
So instead of answering Stiles, he just kept his mouth shut and treated the question like an ongoing inconvenience. Which it was, because Stiles was nothing if not persistent. By not answering, Danny was just leaving him with the inclination to ask again another day. And he did. All the time.
Danny always cursed his good nature (though he wouldn't change it for the world – he liked being liked, and besides, someone needed to counter Jackson's attitude) because it made him forever the good guy; the guy who got dumped instead of doing the dumping, the guy who harbored hopeless crushes he would never act on, and the guy who was stuck letting the sort-of-sweet-but-sort-of-odd dork ask him the same irritating question every few days. Except that maybe Danny should be throwing a party instead of a pity parade over that last one, because after lacrosse practice on Friday Stiles had become a lot more interesting.
Considering what he'd seen, it was probably good for Danny that he'd never given Stiles an outright no, because that no had turned very, very rapidly into a yes. And maybe – well, almost certainly – nothing would come of it, but at least that wasn't because Danny had been short sighted and told Stiles no too quickly.
Because holy shit.
Stiles had a navel piercing.
Had a navel piercing.
It had played on his mind for the entire weekend. Every time he closed his eyes he saw a glint of metal surrounded by warm flesh. When he ate, the fork sliding between his lips made him ache to know the feeling of body jewelry slipping against his tongue and teeth.
On Friday night – and each night after – he'd gone to bed with thoughts of nibbling along skin and tonguing gently against Stiles' navel; it left him hard, wanting. That first night, he'd tossed and turned, ignoring his frustration until he finally fell asleep in the early hours of Saturday morning.
When he woke, it was to come stained sheets and a hazy memory of steel and saliva.
After that he'd quit trying to resist – but he promised himself he'd avoid Stiles like the plague until the weird fixation he'd swiftly developed disappeared and he was less likely to embarrass himself thinking about that tiny piece of metal.
No matter how hard he struggled, Danny just couldn't wrap his mind around the idea of it. The fact that Stiles (Stiles!) had a body piercing totally messed with his head. Danny found himself constantly staring at him, or more accurately, at Stiles' stomach, as though if he tried hard enough he'd be able to see through the loose layers of fabric to the skin and secret hidden underneath.
It was getting to be a problem. So much so that Jackson had noticed, not that he suspected the reason for Danny's distraction.
"I know," he'd commented with a head tilt in Stiles' direction, "it's hideous, isn't it?"
It had taken Danny a good twenty seconds to figure out that Jackson was talking about the shirt Stiles was wearing. He was probably lucky that the idea of Stiles being attractive was completely outside of Jackson's realm of comprehension; otherwise there was no way he would have been able to cover up his interest. He knew he needed to get over it, preferably fast.
But he just couldn't help himself.
And maybe he didn't need to get over it. Maybe Stiles' questioning was more than vague inquisitiveness. Maybe—
No. Danny didn't want or need to start thinking along those lines, to develop another pointless crush. And judging by the way Stiles followed Lydia like a devoted puppy, it would absolutely be pointless.
All week he'd been sneaking glances in the locker room. Not like that…that was one line Danny never crossed, but he couldn't stop his eyes from flicking to Stiles as he changed shirts in the hopes he'd catch another glimpse of that shiny bar. It was in vain, though. Danny had never noticed before – had never had reason to notice before – but unlike the rest of the team, Stiles never kept his shirt off for more than a second and he always faced his locker when he changed. It was possible, Danny considered, that no one else knew. Maybe not even Scott.
In fact, Danny wouldn't have ever known if he hadn't been in just the right spot at just the right time (or maybe that should be the wrong spot at the wrong time – he still hadn't decided if his new knowledge was a blessing or a curse) to see a gleam of light catch the curved barbell in Stiles' navel.
If he hadn't been wandering past the end of that row of lockers just as Stiles slipped his shirt off, Danny would still be blissfully ignorant, and his mind wouldn't be overrun with the kind of obscene thoughts the sight had triggered.
The weird thing was that Danny couldn't even puzzle together why it was getting to him so badly. He'd never really cared too deeply one way or the other about body art. Sure, sometimes he saw a tattoo or a piercing and thought it looked good, but his newfound fascination with Stiles and his unexpected adornment was something else altogether.
Just the weekend before his Stiles-related revelation, Danny had been at Jungle, had seen several good looking guys with various piercings; lip, nose, eyebrow, even nipple rings visible under barely-there mesh. But he certainly hadn't reacted in such a strong way to any of those. Apparently it wasn't a piercing thing, as much as it was a Stiles-with-a-piercing thing.
Hell, during Tuesday's practice, Danny had actually choked on his own saliva when Stiles took a hit and landed on his back only a few yards from the goal. The second Danny had seen skin, where Stiles' shirt had ridden up several inches but not remotely far enough, he'd practically tried to swallow his own tongue and ended up coughing roughly.
He tried to analyze his steadily growing interest – and didn't that feel like the understatement of the century – but thinking about why he wanted to see and touch and taste Stiles' navel piercing just led him to thinking about doing those things, and really, it was a vicious cycle. Maybe it was the incongruity of it; the fact that Stiles was cute-yet-dorky on the outside, but underneath those layers…well. It took a certain level of confidence for a guy to get a body piercing, especially one that was so often considered feminine. And Danny had always been attracted to confidence. It didn't hurt that when he saw the metal bar, Danny also saw smooth, pale skin and lean abs. Stiles wasn't muscularly built, not like a lot of the other guys on the team, but he was slender and defined, with near perfect skin. He had some small moles scattered along his torso, which didn't surprise Danny, but instead of looking like flaws they reminded him of drops of chocolate begging to be kissed away.
Oh, yeah. His view of Stiles had definitely changed.
But in Danny's defense, who would have guessed that under the baggy clothes and hyperactivity, Stiles was actually hot?
Danny closed his eyes, counted to three and hoped for the best. He'd managed to avoid Stiles aside from in class and at practice for nearly four days, but apparently he'd dropped the ball, because that was definitely Stiles. He closed his locker door and opened his eyes, turning slowly to face the current bane of his existence. And yes, maybe that was overdramatic, but Danny was feeling pretty entitled considering the way his brain had betrayed him for the last several days.
"Hey Stiles…uh, what's up?"
Please don't ask, please don't ask, please don't ask.
"Nothing, just…have you seen Jackson?"
Oh, thank God.
"Not since History," Danny answered, "he's probably already lef—"
"Also, I know I keep asking, but you keep not answering – not cool, man, by the way – but seriously, am I attractive to guys? Because…well…I need to know. You know, for reasons."
Danny groaned and let his head fall back until it hit his locker door loudly and somewhat painfully. He had no idea how to reply, because fuck, yes just didn't seem like a good idea. This was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. His brain was filled with thoughts of kissing, licking, biting; starting with Stiles' navel, hell, just taking his fucking time right there before working his way lower. This was officially a disaster. He could feel heat spreading across his cheeks and he was mortified by it; he was actually blushing. In front of Stiles. Fuck his life. And fuck his imagination, seriously.
He clenched his jaw and shouldered his backpack, trying to push past Stiles before it got any worse.
"Dude," Stiles hand on his bicep was completely unexpected, "are you okaa-hey! Wow! You're all red and that's…that's totally a yes. I mean, it is, isn't it? You've finally noticed the hotness that is me. Congratulations, Danny-man, you're like, miles ahead of the rest of this school."
"Awesome," Danny deadpanned, pulling his arm away roughly and starting down the hall. It was silly how much Stiles' reaction hurt. It shouldn't, he rationalized, because there was nothing between them, they weren't even really friends. He'd known nothing would come of it, but some tiny part of him had apparently missed the memo, because now that Stiles was joking about it, Danny felt utterly humiliated.
"Hey, no, wait," Stiles called out, appearing in a rush from behind Danny to block his path, "don't be like that. Come on, man. I mean, I've been asking you for…I dunno…months. You can't blame me for being happy to find out the answer is yes! I didn't…I wasn't…ugh…seriously, Danny, I wasn't trying to make fun of you or anything. I wouldn't do that."
"Thanks. And I know. But that doesn't actually make me feel any less embarrassed, so could you just—"
Stiles made a strange noise, something between a choke and a laugh, and cut Danny off. "Embarrassed? Man…you want to talk about embarrassed? How about being so low on the social hierarchy that the people you crush on literally ignore you and walk away when you ask them a direct question? I mean, no offense taken by that, dude. I get it, I can be annoying, but still…that…that is the definition of embarrassing."
Danny had no idea how to reply. Not only because Stiles' words made him feel like a complete asshole, but also because his brain had somehow zeroed in on the fact that Stiles had a crush on him and was furiously trying to process it.
"I…I don't know what to say," he confessed, because he had to say something, even if it was nothing helpful at all.
"It's cool. Well, not cool. But it's okay. Really. I mean, it was always a no, right? You were just too nice to say it. That's definitely a step up from Ly— from my other crush, who actually isn't very concerned with my feelings or, you know, my existence approximately ninety percent of the time."
He wasn't sure how to approach any kind of conversation about Stiles' long standing crush on Lydia, and even less sure of how to explain to Stiles that his no was more of a not really, I'm sorry, but I do kind of like you in other ways. Both of those topics seemed like dangerous roads to travel.
"So why did you keep asking?" As soon as he'd spoken, Danny regretted the question. Because really, what a way to take a dig at the guy putting himself on the line. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded…"
Stiles shrugged, his mouth curled on one side in a self-conscious smile. "Because I'm terminally hopeful. Or hopeless, whatever. I guess I just kind of figured that until you said no, maybe there was a chance you would say yes."
"Wow," Danny breathed, suddenly glad he'd let his guard down enough for Stiles to corner him. "Stiles, I never thought – I mean – I just thought you were being curious or something. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Stiles grinned, waving away Danny's apology and eyeing him good-humoredly, "I mean, I'm a genius-level mastermind, and my plan clearly worked, didn't it?"
Danny chuckled and nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess it did." He paused for a moment, shoving his mortification aside to wonder if there was any way he could move the conversation smoothly to where he wanted. Probably not, he finally decided, he'd just have to try the direct route. "So, did you want to…that is, if you're not busy—"
"Do I want to go out with you?" Stiles interrupted. "Totally. Unless that's not what you were going to ask…in which case, I still do, but you should continue with what you were saying while I brainstorm ways to salvage whatever is left of my dignity."
"Your dignity is completely safe. Or at least what's left of it," Danny joked.
Stiles gaped in protest, but he was clearly amused. "Hey, I'll have you know I'm filled with dignity. Overflowing, even. I am the personification of dignified. And I will continue to be dignified…wherever it is that you are taking me…tomorrow night?"
"Tomorrow night," Danny agreed, regaining his composure. But whatever confidence Stiles had built for himself at Danny's earlier awkwardness seemed to have dissolved, because while Stiles was still smiling eagerly, he also looked nervous. Danny found it oddly endearing. "How does seven sound?"
"Seven sounds good," Stiles answered, nodding quickly. "Perfect, even. I'll see you then."
Danny grinned. Stiles' obvious enthusiasm left him feeling bold, so he leaned in and placed a kiss on Stiles' cheek, just close enough to brush the very edge of his mouth. "It's a date," he murmured. He pulled back quickly, shooting Stiles one last smile before he walked away. He chose to ignore the butterflies in his stomach and the pounding in his chest, in favor of thinking about the way Stiles' face had reddened at the contact.
When he glanced back at Stiles their eyes locked, and Danny couldn't help but notice; Stiles had amazing eyes. How had he ever missed that?
As he left the school, Danny thanked whatever deity was responsible for hormonal teenagers, because he'd somehow gotten through that entire conversation without anything inappropriate happening either in his brain or on his body (especially the latter…that would have just made everything unbearable). Aside from his very first reaction to Stiles' question, his thoughts had steered mercifully clear of the body art that had been haunting him for nearly a week, and so he'd managed to not humiliate himself even further. Thank goodness for small miracles.
He just had to hope he could hold onto that through his date; he really didn't want Stiles to think he was just looking to hook up. He liked Stiles, actually liked him, even prior to this whole…thing…whatever it was. That, plus his newly developed attraction, left him thinking that maybe their date could lead to something more serious.
Assuming he could control his new – and apparently person-specific – kink enough to not scare Stiles away, of course.