Stiles wasn’t sure how he let himself get talked into this. Both his father and Derek had been going on about how he needed to expand his horizons and make the most of his time in college. He was too caught up in the pack and things going on in Beacon Hills and he had to do his own thing every once-and-awhile and blah, blah, blah. They had even recruited Scott into this mess, who told him not to worry about the harpy infestation – it’s under control, Stiles – and focus on his work at the newspaper. Because he was Scott and because he knew Stiles was slightly crazy and likely to read into everything, Scott had added, "I'll miss seeing you though, man, and you know Derek will be miserable."
Not as miserable as Stiles was at the moment. While he didn’t particularly enjoy wandering around in the dark hunting down supernatural crap, it was better than this. He was pretty sure the time he was poisoned by the Kanima wasn't quite as painful as watching this horror show. He considered pulling his phone out and shooting off pissed off texts to Derek and Scott because his current predicament was their fault. He bought into their hippy-dippy crap and now he was sitting at the Collegiate Men’s Soccer Finals, covering it for the college paper after making an impassioned plea to the editor on how he wanted to be more involved.
The school had agreed to give him full access to the team and field, issuing him a press pass right along with the local news. Stiles had tried to explain that wasn’t really necessary, but his editor had gone on about getting into the nitty-gritty of the game. He tried to point out that it was soccer and not even the fun European kind where players got stabbed in the face by the fans. His editor was not moved and not for the first time Stiles realized not a lot of people appreciated his take on things.
It was cold and rainy. The mud from the field was splashing up and spraying everyone along the field. He most definitely had not signed on for this.
“Shit," he muttered, when he tried to step back from a big splash of muddy water only to fall on his ass. He jumped off the ground, wiping his hands on his jeans. He moaned, "What did I do to deserve this punishment?"
“I can’t tell you that, but my mistake was to tell my boss that her outfit made her look so much younger than she was. I meant it as a compliment, but she didn’t take it that way. And now here I am, stuck in northern California, forced to report on a not-real sport like I'm just starting out on the job,” a man said, standing next to him, blowing on his hands.
Stiles glanced at the man suspiciously. In his world, strangers didn’t start conversations with you unless they wanted to murder you or use you to get to your friend to murder him. His eyes widened though and he said, “You’re the guy from Sports Night.”
“The guy? I like it. Not sure Casey would agree, but he’s stupid and laughed when I got sent here,” Dan replied. He extended his hand and said, “Dan Rydell.”
“Your parents named you Stiles Stilinski? On purpose?”
“Well, we’ve got the time. This game could go on for another millennia. At least it feels that way.”
“Yeah, I don’t get the appeal of soccer.”
“That’s what I say all the time. Anyone can kick a ball into a net. It’s not that difficult, definitely not hard enough to warrant my attention. I was thinking about ditching this and heading out to catch up with the big wave surfers. Now there is athleticism at its finest.”
“Hell no. I have no interest in drowning or being eaten by sharks,” Dan replied. He touched the badge that Stiles had been forced to wear and said, “I used to work on my college newspaper. I did a sports column. Luckily no one forced me to cover soccer games or my career might have ended before it could begin."
“I’m a freshman. They make me deal with the things no one else wants to.”
“Sounds right. Is this what you want to do?”
“Report on soccer games? I’d rather have my eyes clawed out.”
Dan slapped his back. “I like you.”
"Are you studying broadcasting and journalism? Or is this just to make you look irresistible to job recruiters and grad schools?"
"It's my major."
“If you’re interested in learning the broadcasting side of things, I might be able to help you out. Sports Night is getting ready to start the hiring process for the summer internship program. I know it can be hard to get your foot in the door and I’m so sick of the interns that Natalie and Jeremy pick. They’re stiffy and boring and like soccer. You’re smart. I can tell. Probably would never use the word magnanimous wrong.”
“I’m just a freshman. I’m mostly in intro classes.”
“Best to start laying the ground work as soon as you can, Stiles, especially in this business. The competition for positions can be tough, but if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll get them to interview you. She can be a cruel mistress, but Dana is a good person to learn from. And of course I’m amazing…and I guess Casey is okay if you’re into that sort of thing.”
“Really? You’d do that? All because I hate soccer?” Stiles asked. He wondered if maybe Dan Rydell was actually an evil werewolf out to hurt his best friend and boyfriend, but at the moment, he didn’t really care. His day was finally taking a turn for the better. He said, “That would be great.”
“Send me some of your stuff,” he replied. He pulled out his wallet and handed Stiles a business card. He grabbed the pen from behind his ear and wrote information on it. He said, “That’s my personal cellphone and email. I sometimes forget to check my work emails and I’m pretty sure my voicemail box has been full at the office since 2002.”
Stiles turned his attention to the field after some of the people in the stands starting clapping and shouting. He looked up in time to see one of his school's players raising his arms in victory before waving to the stands and then kissing the sky.
Stiles snorted and Dan said, “I hate soccer players almost as much as the game of soccer.”
“They really made you cover a college soccer game?"
“You’d think I was too good for this nonsense, right? I’m actually semi-famous, you know, but if I teach you anything, Stiles, hear me on this. Do not upset smart women. They make you suffer in horrible ways."
“My friend, Lydia, constantly reminds me of that all the time,” Stiles said, turning the card over in his hand. He eyed Dan over carefully and said, "I didn't know this game even warranted coverage on a national level."
"Dana has been trying to push more outside-the-norm pieces and this team wasn't supposed to win a single game this year let alone make it to the finals. If I cared about soccer, I might be moved by it."
"Nice fluff piece on the steely-eyed determination of a California-working class state school doing the impossible?" Stiles replied.
"I like that," Dan replied. His phone chirped and he pulled it out, quickly reading it over and glaring at his phone. He caught Stiles watching him and he explained, "That was my partner, the no-good traitor, checking in to see if I was having fun. See if I sing him Feliz Navidad on camera this Christmas."
"That man is trying to get your attention," Stiles replied, pointing to a man under an umbrella tapping his watch.
“I need to get ready to record this monstrosity."
"I'm a professional; therefore, I will deliver superb coverage of this event and show those miscreants at work who's boss," Dan replied. He flicked at his business card in Stiles' hand and said, "Don’t forget to send me your work.”
Stiles watched him walk off. Stiles tried to concentrate on the game, but he couldn't. His mind was racing with possibilities he had never considered before. He almost called his dad because no one would appreciate this more than his father. His dad was the reason he ever started watching Sports Night. It was something they both did after his mother died when neither of them could sleep…and then, as Stiles got older, he would watch it while he’d wait up for his dad to get home from the station. They still sometimes watched it together when they were both home.
And he had not only met Dan Rydell, but the man had offered to read his work and help him.
Derek caught himself glancing at the clock for the hundredth time and cursed himself. Stiles had broken him and Derek wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He found himself counting down the minutes until he saw his mate again, wishing he hadn’t been the one to convince Stiles to stay on campus last weekend. Two weeks was nothing, but it didn’t feel that way.
He turned on the television and flipped through the channels before settling on the Home Garden network. Stiles would mock him, but Derek liked to think about the possibility of rebuilding his family’s house someday. It couldn’t hurt to get ideas or learn how to install wood flooring.
Derek heard Stiles long before he made it to the door of the loft. He smiled as he heard the man humming under his breath – something had him excited – and patiently waited for him to come in.
Stiles burst through the door, full of energy, and stated, “I think I’ve found my calling.” He made his way over to the couch, kissing Derek on the top of his head before sitting down. His foot was tapping excitedly and he patted Derek on the knee. Derek shot him an amused look and Stiles said, “And it actually doesn’t involve crime scene tape or the supernatural. Which is like amazing since I was beginning to think I was doomed to become a weird herbalist or something.”
Derek had learned a long time ago to keep quiet when Stiles got like this. It wouldn’t matter if he asked questions or seemed interested – Stiles would be Stiles…babbling at him about whatever crossed his mind, no matter how little sense it made.
“Who would have thought someone might find their calling at the Collegiate Finals for Soccer?”
Derek’s lips quirked in amusement and he replied, “You want to play soccer? Have you ever actually kicked a soccer ball?”
“In gym class maybe and no, I’ve accepted that my athletic abilities are not appreciated,” Stiles replied.
“I’ve got gifts, Derek.”
Derek looked over at him and said, “You do, but playing sports isn’t one of them.”
“I hate you sometimes.”
“Like a lot.”
“But I’m in a good mood, Sourwolf, because this could be awesome. It’s like in the sports world, which I do love, but without me having to sweat or humiliate myself. And Dan Rydell told me to send him my work because he wants to pick his own intern for the summer and he’d like to consider me. I could be his intern.”
“I have no idea what we’re talking about.”
“I met Dan Rydell from Sports Night.”
“That stupid sports show you make me watch?”
“Yeah. He came up and talked to me. Probably better that way because if I had seen him first, I would have introduced myself and likely said something monumentally stupid. Or used the word magnanimous, which he apparently hates. But I didn’t and instead we both lamented over our great hatred of soccer and the people who forced us to report on it.”
“And he told me that he liked me and asked if I had ever considered broadcasting for a career,” Stiles replied. He went into his pocket and pulled out a small ivory card. “He gave me his business card with his cellphone number and personal email. I was going to try to play it cool, but as soon as I was done at the stupid game, I got back to my room and sent him some of my writing. He read it! He told me I had potential.”
“I’ve told you that you were a good writer,” Derek responded.
“Yeah, but you like have to do that,” Stiles replied.
“Yeah, and Dan does this for a living. We went for coffee before he went back to New York. He gave me some tips for tightening up my writing and provided me with his co-worker’s information so I could set up an interview on Skype. This is like…I’m only a freshman, Derek. If I get my foot in the door at a place like Sports Night now? If I have someone like Dan Rydell mentoring me? That’s huge.”
Derek loved the excitement thrumming off his mate, but he wasn’t sure what to make of any of this. He said, “Stiles…”
“No, not that voice. I cannot handle that voice.”
“I’m happy for you.”
Derek shrugged and said, “You sure you can trust this guy? It seems pretty odd.”
Stiles leaned back in his seat and glanced up at the ceiling before meeting Derek’s gaze. He said, “I thought about that. I was a little bit leery at first, but apparently, someone took him under their wing when he was fresh out of college and helped him…and he said I remind me of him…and it’s just an interview. He’s not promising a job in return for sexual favors or anything.”
Derek growled and said, “I’d kill him.”
Stiles inched up against Derek, draping his arm over Derek’s shoulders and squeezing. He said, “It’s cute that you’re jealous of someone old enough to be my dad.”
Derek shrugged because he was not having this conversation. Their relationship already caused enough problems for Stiles. It constantly put him in harm’s way and he spent most of his time commuting back to Beacon Hills instead of enjoying his time at school…all because of him. Derek knew that he was way too selfish to give Stiles up. And last time he tried, Stiles threatened to shoot him full of wolfsbane and the rest of the pack gave him lectures for weeks. Derek needed to find a way to be supportive even if the idea of Stiles in New York filled him with dread.
“Derek, seriously, he’s Dan Rydell, and this is a good thing. If I get it. You know me. I’ll ramble on during my interview and that will be the end of it all.”
Derek turned his head and captured Stiles’ lips with his own. He ran his fingers along his jaw and said, “You’ll do fine, Stiles.”
“I figure it’s worth a shot.”
“You do realize you would be in New York though, right?”
“You didn’t realize-“
“-I did, but I didn’t really think about it,” Stiles admitted. He pulled away from Derek and shut his eyes. Derek hated that some of the excitement seeped out of him like a deflating balloon. He sighed and added, “Okay. So maybe I should just let Dan-“
“-No. You’re going to interview and we’ll go from there.”
“Derek, we both know-“
“-we don’t know anything. We talked about this. You’re not beholden to me, the pack or this town, Stiles.”
“I don’t feel beholden and New York is on the other side of the country.”
“It would only be for the summer.”
“-if you ruin this chance for yourself, I’ll kill you,” Derek replied. He kissed the corners of Stiles’ mouth before pressing a long kiss against his lips. He didn’t particularly like the idea of that much distance between them, but Stiles deserved this chance after all he had done for everyone else. “We can worry about the rest if you get it.”
“This is a good opportunity for you. A chance to do something away from this world.”
“I like this world. Everyone I love is a part of this world,” Stiles responded.
“And we will all still love you if you do this thing for yourself,” Derek stated.
“Okay, but don’t go planning any Bon Voyage parties yet. Dan could only promise me a first interview. From there, it’s all on me and it’s pretty competitive. God, what if they ask about soccer? Think I should study up on soccer? Ugh, I hate soccer.”
“That’s really weird considering you played Lacrosse in high school.”
“Are you trying to compare Lacrosse to Soccer? Those are fighting words, Derek.”
Derek laughed and said, “You’re crazy, but I love you.”
“Love you too,” Stiles replied, resting against Derek.
“No matter what happens, we’ll make it work, Stiles. I promise.”
“You could always come to New York with me.”
“You do love me.”
“So why was the guy from Sports Night at a college game anyway?”
“He said his co-workers were out to get him. He’s so cool. I refrained from telling him how much I love Sports Night and we were able to bond. I bonded with Dan Rydell. Things like that don’t usually happen to me. I’m usually watching it happen to someone else.”
“Well, I’m glad.”
“No, you’re not. You’re totally suspicious of him.”
Derek nodded and said, “Habit. After all we’ve been through, I like to know all the variables so I can make sure you’re safe.”
“The thought did cross my mind, but it seems pretty far-fetched. Wouldn’t rumors spread in the supernatural community or something?”
Derek rolled his eyes and said, “Stop thinking about it. Enjoy the opportunity for now.”
“Yeah, sure. So what did I miss? Did you tell the others not to call me? Because no one would talk to me about the Harpies.”
“We took care of it and the deal was you focus on yourself.”
“I’m not four. I can do more than one thing at once.”
“Fine. Whatever. We’re all good?”
“We’re fine. Pack movie night tomorrow.”
“Okay. You and I are doing breakfast with my dad tomorrow morning,” Stiles replied. He glanced at Derek and asked, “Tonight?”
“Just you and me.”
“I like you and me,” Stiles said.
“You’re ridiculous,” Derek commented, but he couldn’t hide the grin on his face. In that moment, he knew that he would follow Stiles if he got the internship. He would follow Stiles anywhere. Six months ago that fact would have terrified him, but there was something comforting about it now. No matter where he went, he would have a home as long as he had Stiles.
“I can hear you thinking and you’re secretly a sap,” Stiles replied, a huge smile on his face, as he grabbed a hold of Derek’s shirt and slid into Derek’s lap. He kissed along his jaw and said, “Our future is looking good, Derek.”
Derek kissed him because he might secretly be a sap, but he wasn’t going to risk jinxing anything. He was just going to enjoy the night with his mate and help him celebrate this new opportunity.