"It's going to be the same, just more people."
"Don't say that," Stiles groaned, taking a moment to bob up enough that Lydia could see his unimpressed face on the Skype window. He was unpacking and he had Lydia keeping him focused or he'd be living out of boxes till Thanksgiving. Every time she saw him start to drift away, mostly towards the gaming consoles which were the first things he'd made sure to unearth, she ordered him back to the task at hand.
It was very effective.
He really missed having her close enough that she could do it in person.
"I'm going to be different," Stiles clarified. "I'm going to go to parties and make friends and," Stiles leaned closer into the computer and whispered conspiratorially, "Get laid."
"You have friends."
"I have one friend. You. You are my friend."
"I'm your sister," Lydia said primly. "Do you really want to say that your only friend is someone who didn't have a choice, genetically speaking?" She was doing something to her nails off camera that was making her frown at them.
"You'd like me if we hadn't shared a womb for nine months, wouldn't you?" Stiles said, hurt and Lydia rolled her eyes.
"I thought we talked about this."
"You decreed more like."
"It's going to help us grow as people to go to different schools. We'll also be spreading our brilliance across the nation. It would be selfish to concentrate it all in one place."
"All I'm hearing is that you didn't want me around, cramping your style."
"Like you could," Lydia said, but she was smiling. "Stiles, my darling chia pet of a brother, you're going to be fine. You have a plan."
"It's not really much of a plan. It's like, twelve percent of a plan," Stiles countered. "Also, stop with the chia pet thing. I've grown my hair out, alright? I did what you wanted."
"I think I miss you being brushy, now."
"You're really annoying, you know that?"
"I have the right to change my mind."
"Hey, hi!" a dark-haired guy said, leaning through the door with a duffel bag slung over one shoulder. "Three-eighteen?"
"Yup," Stiles confirmed and watched the guy break into a brilliant grin and then lean back out the door to bellow, "Mom! It's this one!"
"I'm Stiles," he introduced himself and stood up to brush box dust off his hand before offering it.
"Oh, thank god! My rooming assignment paperwork had a guy with a name I couldn't pronounce. There must have been a change."
"No, that would be me," Stiles said with a grimace. "Everyone calls me Stiles, mostly for that reason."
"Cool! I'm Scott," his new roommate said, shaking Stiles' hand briskly and then dumped his bag on the bed that wasn't made up yet. Stiles could only find Spider-Man sheets clean when he was leaving and his dad had promised to come up on the weekend with something a little more neutral so Stiles was hoping his new roommate liked Marvel and didn't think he was a huge dork already.
Scott reassured him a few moments later by saying, "Oh, hey, spidey! My comforter is the Captain America shield. My mom thought I should bring something more plain but it's my favorite, y'know?"
"Yeah, totally," Stiles said.
"I can't see! Let me see him," Lydia piped up from the laptop and Scott wheeled around at her voice.
"Woah, dude. Your girlfriend's hot," he said, then smacked his forehead and rushed to add, "Sorry, geez, that's really disrespectful."
"Especially since that's my sister," Stiles said and Scott made an even more hilariously horrified face than he was already wearing.
"I'm never going to find this again. This building is a rabbit warren," a woman announced from the open door, holding a box marked FRAGILE JUNK.
"Crap, let me take that." Stiles bounced over to her and relieved her of the box that was much heavier than she made it look carrying it. Stiles stumbles a little, getting it over to Scott's bed.
"Thank you, sweet heart," she said, giving Scott a pointed glance. "Your Scott's roommate..?" her sentence drifted away as her eyes tightened and Stiles took pity on her as she tried to puzzle out his real name from memory and supplied, "Stiles."
"I'm Melissa, Scott's mom."
"Nice to meet you," Stiles said dutifully and elbowed his laptop shut even though there was a tinny squawk of protest.
"If you'll help us with Scott's boxes there'll be lunch in it for you," Melissa offered.
"Mom," Scott groaned.
"Hey, totally fine. I won't say no to free food," Stiles said jovially.
"Sorry I called your sister hot, dude," Scott said on their way back down to the street.
"It's okay. She's used to it. I'm pretty sure she snaked all the good-looking genes."
"You guys twins?" Scott asked, interested.
"You don't look that much alike."
"Fraternal," Stiles said and Scott nodded.
"Sorry my mom also roped you into carrying my stuff," Scott apologized again on their way back up the stairs. Scott was carrying a box of books and Stiles had a garbage bag full of clothes over his shoulder and a couple of pairs of shoes looped around his neck.
"Meh, it's fine. I was getting bored of unpacking my own stuff anyway."
"You wanna check out one of the orientation tours when we finish lunch and the club tables on the quad?" Scott asked and Stiles nodded. He'd been already planning to drift around the place aimlessly in the afternoon for lack of anything better to do anyway and it would be much more fun with company.
Look at that, Stiles could make a friend who wasn't related to him. He couldn't wait to rub it in Lydia's face.
"I promised Lydia I wouldn't let my brain atrophy and that means one quiz club," Stiles said, picking up the A&M University Quiz Bowl pamphlet. "They have a Jeopardy tournament."
"Oh, I love Jeopardy," Scott said, looking a little more keen.
"Outdoors club?" Stiles queried, picking up another pamphlet, his turn to be dubious.
"I like camping," Scott said with a shrug.
"I'm more of a monitor-tan man myself but alright," Stiles said, figuring that Scott did actually look more like one of those outdoors people. "You don't like, run for fun or anything though, do you?"
"Every morning and I expect you to join me," Scott said but then busted out laughing. "Oh man, your face!"
"Don't do that, it's not funny," Stiles said, slumping onto his bed and managing to crumple the pile of club newsletters and pamphlets under him.
There was a brisk tapping on their door and Scott crossed over to yank it open. Stiles got up on his elbows to see who it is and then nearly fell flat again because standing in their doorway was possibly the hottest man Stiles had ever seen, outside of the movies and his vivid imagination. He had thick eyebrows and a scowl and he was holding a stack of paper. He peeled one sheet off the top of the stack and shoved it at Scott's chest.
"Floor meeting, ten minutes in the common room," Hot Scowl grunted and then stomped away and knocked at the next door along.
"Who was that?" Stiles squeaked as Scott scanned the paper he'd been handed.
"I think he's our RA," Scott said absently still reading. "Oh man, no parties, what?"
"What? No parties, what?" Stiles repeated and Scott handed over the piece of paper that turned out to be a fairly long list of rules. The page was literally just a bullet-pointed list, not so much as a piece of clip art on it.
"My cousin told me when he went to college his floor parties were epic. We were totally going to do that."
"We were?" Stiles asked, raising his eyebrows. His entire social circle was currently Scott so he didn't know who he would invite to a party.
"Yeah, you just throw some streamers around, print a bunch of invitations and the parties just happen. It's awesome."
"Well, apparently we can't," Stiles said, waving the list and Scott flopped onto his own bed grumpily.
"We should at least be able to have a dorm-warming party. Get to know everyone."
"There's the meeting-"
"You can't get to know people at a meeting. Getting to know people involves having a solo cup in your hand at the very least."
"Maybe we just have to ask? We can at the meeting," Stiles suggested, because he'd been getting more and more enthused about the idea of a dorm party as Scott talked. He'd be more than happy to be known as the party guy at college and that would be helped along by throwing the very first one when nobody knew anyone else and relationships were only just forming. Maybe throwing the first party would be the springboard to getting invited to all the other parties.
"I've always thought it was better to ask forgiveness than permission," Scott sat up to say, waggling his eyebrows.
"Dude, how are you going to hide the fact that you're planning a party on the floor from the RA, who, y'know, lives on the floor."
"Oh, right," Scott said, deflating.
"We'll ask in front of everyone, he'll be reasonable," Stiles decided and Scott nodded, although he looked disbelieving.
A few minutes later they headed to the common room which was a large space set in the middle of the two sides of the floor, marking a division between the male and female sides. Stiles watched everyone navigate for space, dropped into a sagging couch next to Scott, interrupted in his people-watching when he got jammed into the couch's arm when Scott schooched over to make room for a tall guy with blonde curls. There was about twenty people clustered together, most of them holding the page of rules and looking about as impressed with them as Scott had been.
Stiles scanned the common room quickly once everyone was settled, not having had a proper chance to before. He was glad he'd brought his small flat screen and gaming consoles with him because the communal television was a huge, ancient monstrosity and the remote looked like it was glued to the side of it. There was a couple of mismatched couches that looked to be the result of someone's curb-shopping expedition and some bean bag chairs that had seen better days, plus a puke green shag rug in the middle.
Hot Scowl planted himself in the middle, holding a clipboard and still looking hot but also efficient which Stiles was surprised to find really worked for him, who knew? The RA looked to be counting heads for a few moments before he nodded, seemingly satisfied that he had everyone.
"I'm Derek Hale, your floor adviser. At Evans Hall we obviously have a a grouped mixed floor, but this common room is the division and I want it to be respected."
"What if-" the blonde guy next to Stiles started to ask and Derek made a slashing motion with his hand.
"Questions at the end," he snapped and the guy actually sunk back further into the couch like he wished he could disappear.
"This is a freshman floor, so I know most of you are going to be new to this. You're going to make two very important discoveries. Yes, you'll have more individual freedom than when you were living with your parents but the intense academic demands and shared living arrangements require more self-control and individual discipline than ever before."
"Apparently we're still living with dad," Stiles heard someone mumble behind him and even though it was quiet and there was no way Derek should have been able to hear it, he still looked directly at the person hovering behind the couch over Stiles' shoulder.
"Uh, no," the targeted Whittemore, a guy that looked like a fraternity pledge waiting to happen, said with an audible swallow.
"The rules I gave you may seem harsh, but they're to protect you and make sure you have a safe, secure and educational experience. If you have any questions or concerns, I have an open door policy, where if my door is open you can ask me questions, but if it's closed, your room better be on fire or something before you disturb me."
There was a brief chuckle at that but Derek merely stared them all down and it died quickly with the knowledge that he was completely serious.
"All of my rules are in conjunction with the Student Policies and Regulations handbook that would have been part of your welcome packets. Familiarize yourself with the rules because ignorance isn't a defense." Derek took another beat to look at them all and then barked, "Dismissed."
A girl with long wavy hair put her hand up tentatively and Stiles heard Scott make a kind of choked, startled noise beside him. Derek nodded at her and she said, "Weren't we going to get to ask questions?"
"Did I say that?"
"You said questions at the end," Whittemore piped up, his voice dipping off to a frightened whisper when Derek shot him a poisonous look.
"Fine," Derek grunted out and then leveled them all with a glare and a tight, "Any questions?" through his teeth.
It didn't seem like anyone was game. Stiles was expecting Scott to ask about the party but his new friend was just staring at the girl who'd spoken with his mouth hinged open a little, even ignoring it when Stiles elbowed him in the side. Stiles sighed inwardly, girded himself and raised his hand. Derek glanced at his clipboard, his whole face clenching the way people's always do when they read his name for the first time with the prospect of having to pronounce it.
"Stiles," he corrected automatically and Derek didn't look impressed. "I mean, uh, we were thinking, Scott and I," Stiles babbled, elbowing Scott again who finally managed to tear his gaze away from the girl and had the good grace to smile guiltily. "That maybe, I know it says we can't in your rules and all, which look very professional by the way, but we thought maybe we could have one teeny, tiny, minuscule really-"
"Are you reaching a point today?" Derek interrupted.
"A party? Like, a dorm-warming just so we can all get to know-"
"No parties," Derek said. "Any other questions about something I've already covered?"
"Anyone else? No? Good," Derek said, turned on his heel and disappeared down the hall.
Stiles was still sitting, just blinking and feeling sideswiped when the guy beside Stiles said feelingly, "What a douche."
"Yeah, right?" Scott agreed, then offered his hand. "I'm Scott."
"Isaac," the guy introduced and then looked at Stiles pointedly and Stiles managed to scrape his wits together enough to say his name and offer his hand across Scott.
"You guys eaten dinner yet?" Isaac asked and Scott shook his head and stood.
"Stiles?" Scott said when Stiles remained sitting.
"Huh? Oh, right, yeah. Food," Stiles said and followed when Scott and Isaac headed for the food hall.
Isaac becomes a regular fixture pretty quickly and soon they have Erica, Boyd and Danny from their floor traipsing in and out. Scott, Stiles was warmed to find, had decided that Stiles was his favorite though and made sure that he was included whenever they headed to dinner or out to a party at a dorm that hasn't been declared a no-fun zone.
In return, Scott watched on bemusedly as Stiles drew them up a schedule, sectioning off times for being social and allotting hours that would be devoted to study and library trips. "Geez, are you sure Derek's not your twin?" Scott teased as Stiles very carefully color-coded their wall calendar and Stiles whapped him in the face with a pillow, before pulling his eyebrows down and in his best growly impression of Derek said, "You'll thank me later."
"Is that supposed to be me?" Derek asked from the doorway and Stiles did not scream, but it was close.
"Wow, you are quiet," Scott said, blinking at Derek as Stiles flopped onto his bed to hide his burning face.
"I walk on my toes," Derek said with a shrug. Stiles would think Derek was joking if joking was something that Derek actually did.
"Did you need anything, other than to give Stiles a heart attack?" Scott asked and Stiles threw a plastic dinosaur at Scott who batted it aside with a laugh.
"I'm running the first camping trip for the Outdoors club," Derek said after a pause and both Stiles and Scott groaned. Stiles had had visions of illicit drinking and campfire stories and fun, but any hopes of that were dashed if the fun police was going to be running the show. Derek looked down at his feet and Stiles tried not to find it adorable. "We had a pretty poor turnout for most of our events last year and I saw your names on our member roster so I thought maybe you guys could round up some of your friends to come along?"
Derek pulled a few folded pieces of paper out of his back pocket and Stiles moaned, "Oh my god, is that a list of camping rules?"
Derek frowned. "Uh, no? It's just the details. We usually go up to Elk Point for the first trip just for the weekend. It's only an hour away. We provide most of the equipment, the tents and everything. You just have to be able to get up there and bring a sleeping bag."
"Sounds awesome," Scott said and Stiles glanced at him but Scott even went so far as to give an enthusiastic thumbs up. Derek looked a little hesitant, but also nodded and retreated, pulling their door closed behind him. "Wow, no," Scott said as soon as Derek was gone, scrunching the flyer up and shooting it into their waste basket.
"What? I thought you liked camping?"
"I do but dude, with Derek? Ugh," Scott said feelingly.
"I don't know. Maybe we should..." Stiles trailed off, looking at the door and Scott got up to poke him in the ribs, making him jerk.
"What is it your face is doing right now?" Scott demanded, eyebrows pulled down.
"What? Nothing," Stiles said, but he was pale and so it was painfully obvious when he blushed.
"Oh my god, you like Derek?" Scott accused, glancing between Stiles and the closed door, smirking.
"C'mon man. I just noticed he's hot, is all. Like a mole would even notice that guy's hot."
"A mole?" Scott asked, looking confused.
"Y'know, because they're basically blind and live underground... never mind! Like you can talk."
"Oh no way. No deflecting!"
"What? We're not going to talk about how your eyes turn into hearts whenever you look at Allison?"
"Who's Allison?" Scott said airily, trying to bite down on the dopey grin that surfaced every time her name was mentioned. Stiles had noticed that Scott's easy friendship skills had an exception, he became a stammering mess whenever Allison, Erica's roommate, came near him.
"Maybe she would want to come, y'know, camping?" Stiles said, waggling his eyebrows.
Scott looked like he was thinking about it. "Really? We're going to do this? He'll probably make us sit around the campfire while taking some quiz on the housing policies."
"We'll find a way to have fun, right under his nose if we have to," Stiles assured him. "We can't have a party, so we'll invite everyone to this instead. You'll be able to get to know Allison and-"
"You'll stare moonily at Derek and not actually do anything about it?" Scott interrupted with a grin and Stiles clutched at his chest, wounded.
"Ouch, mean!" he snorted, but he also couldn't hold onto his own grin because Scott was fishing the balled up flyer out of their rubbish.
"I don't know, Stiles," Scott said slowly, but he was smoothing out the flyer against his thigh so Stiles was pretty sure he'd won already. "Isn't the whole point of a college camping trip to get illegally wasted? I can't imagine anything getting by Derek that's stronger than caffeinated Mountain Dew."
"Mouthwash, Scott," Stiles said and then rolled his eyes when Scott cupped a hand around his mouth and breathed into it, sniffing. "I don't mean you need it. I mean, booze in mouthwash bottles! It's brilliant!"
"Wasn't that in that stupid Toy Soldiers movie you made me watch?"
"It's not any less brilliant because it's from a movie with Wil Wheaton in it."
"Didn't they get busted?"
"Pish-posh," Stiles dismissed, waving an airy hand.
"He heard us talking about it and I couldn't not invite him," Scott said, giving Stiles his helpless puppy eyes. "He volunteered to drive."
"That doesn't help us when you can only fit a toy poodle in his car," Stiles said.
"Stilinski, you're taking the luggage," Jackson announced, throwing a bag at him that Stiles caught awkwardly against his chest, that was possibly worth more than his entire jeep. Stiles looked pointedly at his own old dinosaur sleeping bag and the threadbare backpack next to it that was filled with nothing but peanut butter cups, the illegal mouthwash booze and a spare pair of underwear, then at Scott again.
"You do realize we're camping and not glamping," Stiles called as Jackson moved over to their small group made up of Erica, Boyd, Isaac, Danny and Allison. "Relatively amenities free."
"I'll take Danny and Allison," Jackson said, waving them towards his car and Scott made a hilariously disappointed noise.
"Ha!" Stiles said because Scott had brought that on himself, but then felt immediately terrible about it and patted Scott on the shoulder. "Sorry bud, plenty of time over the weekend for... um," Stiles trailed off as Allison laughed at something Jackson said and then waited for Danny to get into the back of the car and settled on the passenger seat after, letting Jackson hand her down into it with a dimpled smile.
"Plenty of time for us to kill him and bury the body in a cave," Stiles said out of the corner of his mouth.
"Who are we killing?" Erica asked, looking less disturbed and more intrigued than Stiles was strictly comfortable with.
"You losers better know where we're going!" Jackson rolled down his window to say.
Stiles gave him a thumbs up and then flipped him off as soon as Jackson looked away from him.
"Who invited him anyway?" Isaac complained, looking put-out and tugging his own scarf off that looked a lot more thrift store than Jackson's.
There was three girls there already and by the way they were clustered, whispering behind their hands and eyeing Derek, Stiles suspected they hadn't just randomly decided to try the outdoors. There was also two other guys who were already halfway through putting up a tent, neither of which Stiles recognize. Stiles had admittedly been expecting a lot more people but he didn't know why, considering Derek had asked them directly. He'd been kind of hoping that Derek's claims that he needed them to swell the numbers would've just been an excuse to ask Stiles along but it seemed like it was actually a legitimate concern.
"He's going to try to schedule fun, isn't he," Erica said, making finger quotes around the word schedule and jabbed him in the ribs with a sharp-nailed finger.
"Ow! What'd I do?"
"This was your idea," Erica accused.
"Nobody twisted your arm," Stiles snarked back.
"We couldn't miss the opportunity to watch you spectacularly fail at getting all up in that," Erica said, flipping a hand in Derek's direction and Stiles smacked her hand down before Derek could see what she was doing. Things devolved from there into a fairly juvenile slap fight that Boyd eventually broke up by just standing between them.
"What about Scott? Aren't you looking forward to-" Stiles started to say, hoping he wasn't going to be alone in his pathetic pining for Erica to make fun of, but he happened to glance at Scott as he said it and while yes, he was currently looking in Allison's direction and trying to make it look like he wasn't, it seemed that Allison was doing the exact same thing. They both smiled and ducked their heads at the same time and it was disgustingly adorable.
"Hey, hi!" Derek said, finally noticing them and loping over. He was wearing shorts and Stiles could see hairy legs and knobby knees and basically his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Before he could un-stick it though, Derek frowned and reached for Stiles' backpack.
"Hey, uh-" Stiles started to protest, but Derek was quick and had Stiles' backpack slid off his arm and open in his own hands before Stiles could do anything about it. Derek plucked the bottle of mouthwash out and waggled it with a pointed look.
"That was very nice of you to bring this for me, considering I'm the only one of legal drinking age here," Derek said.
"You're such a dweeb," Jackson snorted, shoulder-checking Stiles on his way past to paw through the pile of tents.
"The tents are all two-man so pick a partner and a tent," Derek invited before moving off. Stiles watched him uncap the mouthwash and pour it out as he went and deflated.
"So, tent buddies?" Stiles proposed, turning to Scott, but Allison was there right behind him.
"Oh, I was going to ask if Scott wanted to share with me but-"
"No, it's..." Scott turned stricken eyes on Stiles and he waved him off.
"It's fine. I'll share with Boyd and Erica."
"Like hell you will," Erica snorted.
"Isaac?" Stiles said, but Isaac was already over with Danny, who was looping his scarf back around Isaac's neck and giving him doe eyes. Stiles' eyes drifted to the other girls but they were all laughing and shoving three sleeping bags into one tent. That left the two guys who had already set up and-
"No," Stiles groaned, dragging his feet over to where Jackson was bent over, turning a tent pack over critically like it would get less grungy if he looked at it from the right angle.
"Don't even think about it. I'm not listening to you mouth-breath all night," Jackson dismissed.
"Like I would think about it if I had any other choice," Stiles protested.
"Yeah, well, you can share with Camp Counselor Clipboard," Jackson said, indicating the last tent left in the pile.
"Uh, I don't think-"
"That's okay," Derek said from right behind his shoulder and Stiles flailed sideways. "Mindy, Sandy and Simone sharing means someone can bunk by themselves and I get the feeling there'll be less chalk outlines in the morning this way."
"You don't mind?" Stiles asked, and then cleared his throat when the word mind came out on a squeak.
"I'll put up the tent," Derek offered and gathered the equipment, moving it away from Jackson.
"Yeah, no, not awkward at all," Stiles sighed and even though Derek was now on the other side of the clearing, he threw a frown over his shoulder like he'd heard Stiles.
Which would be impossible.
Scott came back when he and Allison were done putting up their tent, hopping from foot to foot and beaming. Stiles tried not to think about the very uncomfortable two days he was going to spend fruitlessly pining and sleeping right next to a guy so far out of his league they weren't even in the same stratosphere in the face of his friend's excitement. Scott wrapped Stiles up in an enthusiastic hug which made the rest of Stiles' reservations melt away.
"What are we doing first?" Scott asked.
"Well," Derek said, coming back and, ugh, he he'd gotten the clipboard out. "We can have lunch and then at one o'clock-"
"You did not actually schedule this weekend," Stiles said, snatching the clipboard out of Derek's hands. Derek looked hilariously surprised by Stiles' boldness, and he was pretty surprised himself, but before he could give the clipboard back and apologize, he actually took a look at it. "Wait, wait, wait. Eight o'lock bed time? You actually wrote bed time?"
"Well, after the four hour hike you'll be ready to crash early, trust me," Derek said, defensive.
"Four hour hike?" Stiles spluttered, looking down at his trainers that had seen better days. A four hour anything meant he'd probably walk straight through the soles.
"Isn't there a lake nearby?" Allison asked.
"It's pretty cold year round-"
"Awesome," Stiles enthused. "Swimming?"
"Stiles, I'm serious. It's-"
"Look, we want to have fun and to some people, I'm guessing pretty much everyone in your immediate vicinity, that doesn't involve a Lord of the Rings-style trek through the wilderness," Stiles said, indicating with a wave of his hand the three girls who looked to have set up some kind of outdoors beauty spa and were doing each other's nails and the two guys Stiles still didn't know the names of yet who had started laying out a complicated-looking card game with pictures of wizards and dragons on the cards.
"We could skip to the orienteering. There's prizes," Derek said, frowning at his list.
"Unless the prize is a weekend away from here, I think we can safely skip that, too," Jackson said, coming over and pushed his sunglasses on top of his head.
"Why are you here again?" Stiles demanded before Derek could offer up anything else.
"Erica said something about you humiliating yourself."
"Lake! Let's... the lake," Stiles said quickly, turning and pointing.
"Stiles, I really-" Derek started to say, but Stiles took off with Scott, Jackson and Allison in tow. Erica and Boyd had disappeared inside their tent so no one was willing to interrupt them, but they did detour to pick up Danny and Isaac on the way.
"What the hell, right? I'm a get-it-over-with kinda guy," Stiles said, stripping down to his shorts and taking a running leap off the end of the dock. He heard someone call his name right before he hit and then there was a split second where he breached the first couple of inches of water and it was pretty warm, but then it felt like he reached pure ice.
Stiles popped to the surface, gasping. He would've been swearing like a drunken sailor if he felt like he could but right then, he was pretty sure his lungs had become raisins and it felt like he swallowed half the lake in his shock.
"Is it okay?" Scott called from the dock, hands on the bottom of his shirt.
"In no... definition... of the term... okay," Stiles managed to gasp out.
Stiles dog-paddled back over to the dock, feeling cold and miserable and also pretty stupid because he hadn't brought any spare clothes. When he reached the dock, he also noticed while there might have been a ladder once, there wasn't anymore, just two stubby bits of wood nailed to the side with nothing in between them.
"C'mon," Derek sighed and Stiles thought he must have been in shock not to notice him earlier. Derek had a towel slung over his shoulder which he handed off to Allison when he leaned down, offering a hand.
"I'm heavier than I look," Stiles said, eyeing the offered hand.
"I think I'll manage," Derek dismissed and as soon as he got a proper grip on Stiles, there was the feeling of a great whoosh and Stiles was standing on the dock, water puddling around his feet and shivering.
"That was impressive," Danny said, looking like he was a second away from fanning himself.
"My a-a-awesome b-b-bomb?" Stiles asked, through chattering teeth.
"No," Danny said with rolled eyes.
"C'mere," Derek said and he had the towel from Allison and wrapped it around Stiles. He was about to thank Derek and pull away, but Derek yanked him closer in and started briskly rubbing Stiles' arms over the towel. Stiles' dad used to pull him out of the community pool and rub him down when it got too cold for him to stay in much the same way and Stiles fought the urge to lean further into Derek who seemed to be almost radiating a delicious and intoxicating warmth.
"It felt warm on the surface," Allison said, scrunching up her face.
"The lake's usually stratified. You get a good couple of inches of warm water at the top but it doesn't mix with the cold water underneath so you get layers of really different temperatures," Derek explained, still with his arms mostly around Stiles.
"Ugh," Jackson said and stomped away, Danny and Isaac following after a beat. Scott gave Stiles a concerned pat before he also retreated with Allison and then it was just Stiles and Derek.
"I think I'm okay," Stiles said. Up close they were of a height although for some reason Stiles kept thinking of Derek as being taller than him. Derek's eyes were distressingly pretty and his artful stubble looked inviting and pat-able.
Stiles resisted the urge as he stepped away a little, figuring that Derek wouldn't buy hypothermia as an excuse for inappropriate touching.
"You are just... really infuriating. You know that?"
"A lot of my high school teachers would agree with you," Stiles said, hugging the towel around himself more firmly.
"You got any spare clothes?" Derek asked, raising an eyebrow and looking pointedly at how Stiles was still shivering, despite the towel.
"We were only going to be here overnight. I didn't think I'd... no," Stiles admitted, deflating.
"Come back to camp. I've got a spare pair of sweats. Someone always falls in a bog or poison ivy or goes swimming," Derek said and Stiles grimaced because he really didn't want Derek thinking of him as being the token camp dumbass. He was usually the prepared one, actually the over prepared one. It was just, he hadn't really been thinking about the camping so much as the prospect of seeing Derek in a wilderness setting and by firelight and his brain had obviously off-lined.
Just a little.
Stiles had officially gotten into Derek's pants. Not the most traditional of ways, but it was progress.
"You think he's gone commando in these?" Stiles mused mostly to himself but Scott heard him and pulled a disgusted face.
"Dude, I don't know and I don't want to know," he moaned, thumping his head against Stiles' shoulder.
"I bet he-"
"Stop. Talking. About. That," Scott said, the words punctuated by the thumps of his head.
"I spent an hour listening to you regale the deepness of Allison's dimples and the featheriness of her eyebrows," Stiles pointed out, glancing over at where Allison was sitting. Allison had joined the three girls with their impromptu nail salon after the swimming debacle and they'd looked delighted when she'd waggled her bare fingers at them. It reminded Stiles of the little girls in the movie Tangled at the prospect of braiding Rapunzel's hair.
"I wasn't talking about her free-balling," Scott pointed out. "Now, what is he doing?" he repeated and jutted his chin in Derek's direction.
Derek had a big blue water canteen and he had secured it to the end of the picnic table with bungee cords. On top was a roll of paper towel in a plastic dispenser and a pump bottle with green liquid in it set to the side. Derek looked adorably pleased with himself as he stepped back and surveyed his work.
"Hand-washing station," Isaac said, slumping down into the kind of graceless sit that Stiles could never manage to make look effortless.
Stiles felt someone poke him in the middle of the back and turned to see that Erica had emerged from her tent, hair mussed and glasses Stiles didn't know she wore pushed to the top of her forehead. "Stiles, he's talking about outdoor crafts," she hissed, sounding like she could only be more horrified by the prospect if he were proposing murder.
"He's trying to make sure we have a good time. Give him a break," Stiles said, frowning at her.
"Distract him," Erica instructed, making a shooing motion at him.
"How do you propose I do that?" Stiles asked archly.
"If you don't know then you're more of a lost cause than I thought."
"You were the one that promised us a good time. That means you can drop yourself on the no-fun grenade," Isaac said.
"C'mon, you want to jump on Derek don't you?" Erica added with a salacious grin.
"Not without his permission," Stiles grunted sourly, but he went, giving Scott one more mournful look. He was starting to think fondly of his friendless high school days as he trudged Derek's way. When it was just him, his comics and his gaming consoles he didn't have to do anything like this. Stiles looked back at Scott again who gave him a bright thumbs up and Stiles immediately felt bad about his uncharitable friend-thoughts.
Despite them making fun of it, the hand-washing station wasn't the most terrible idea. Stiles' hands were kind of sticky and he made a beeline for it, using it as an excuse for his approach. Derek turned as Stiles flipped on the water and shoved his hands under it. The pump bottle was full of liquid soap that smelled like fruit punch and Stiles wanted to bathe in the stuff. The paper towels had happy little ducks on them and Stiles kinda wanted to die.
"Are you... having a good time?" Derek asked tentatively as Stiles finished scrubbing his hands dry.
"It's fine," Stiles said without thinking about it, but it was the wrong thing to say because Derek's face immediately fell. "I mean yeah, of course. A blast, totally."
His belated enthusiasm obviously didn't fool Derek because he sighed and said, "Miranda was a lot better at this."
"She used to organize these trips. She's in grad school this year. It looked easy when she was doing it, but..." Derek did something helpless with his hands before his gaze flicked around the camp area. The two guys who still hadn't introduced themselves looked to have settled in for a truly epic card battle, piles and piles of decks surrounding them. The nail girls were now doing each other's hair with Allison walking awkwardly away from them on her heels, weird spongy things between her toes. His friends were in a third cluster, pretending not to be watching him and Derek.
"Well, y'know, it's not like you can exactly Google camping activities for kids and expect..." Stiles trailed off when he saw Derek's expression freeze and he pointed an accusatory finger at him. "Wait, wait, wait. Is that what you did? Seriously?"
"I just wanted some ideas," Derek said, his shoulders hunching up around his ears in embarrassment.
"Derek, we're not ten. We can't be entertained by scavengers hunts and bush crafts." Stiles watched as Derek tried to subtly kick a basket of different colored leaves, glue and scissors under the picnic table.
"Shut up," Derek grumbled when it was clear that Stiles could see what he was doing.
"Okay, so, what did Miranda do that was so awesome?"
"I don't know, it all just seemed to... work," Derek said. "Everyone had a good time. She didn't..." Derek sighed heavily and reached out. At first, Stiles thought Derek was reaching for him, but then Derek was pulling back and he had the clipboard in his hands which must have been on the table behind Stiles. "She didn't try to schedule everything. God, what was I thinking?" Derek finished, sounding disgusted with himself before he pitched the clipboard into the treeline.
"Don't do that. You love your clipboard," Stiles berated, going after it and bringing it back after fighting with a particularly spiky bush for it. Derek gave him a smile and plucked a couple of twigs out of his hair when he returned it and Stiles, in a moment of pure insanity, what was he thinking, leaned forward and pressed his lips to Derek's.
There was a lusty whoop that was cut-off midway from the other side of the camp and then Stiles was pulling back and blinking, seeing Derek looking startled, mouth hinged open in surprise.
"Um," Stiles said, his mind not-so-helpfully going blank of any explanations he could possibly come up with. Derek looked down and then away and yeah, Stiles has seen that before. With Bethany Hickson when he was twelve years old and then Billy White when he was sixteen. That was the look of someone desperately trying to come up with the best way to let someone down gently.
"Stiles-" Derek started to say, but Stiles didn't really want to hear the speech right now, not in this beautiful place with all his friends watching. What he wanted was to jump in his jeep and drive away, possibly keep on driving until he reached Beacon Hills so he could bury himself in his childhood bedroom and never emerge.
"I'm going... I have to... bed, now," Stiles said and when Derek's eyebrows shot up, he quickly amended, "I mean myself, by myself. I'm going to bed. I'm super tired and it's been a big day."
"It's four in the afternoon," Derek said slowly.
"That doesn't... you can't tell me... I..." Stiles picked up the pen that had been dangling from Derek's clipboard, because of course there was one attached by a piece of bright blue string, and leaned over so he could scribble furiously on the page on the top before smacking it, triumphant. "It's on the schedule!" he shrilled before beating a hasty retreat.
"Stiles?" It was Scott, his voice gentle and tentative. "You alright?"
Stiles didn't want to talk to anyone. He let out a hugely fake-sounding snore and heard Scott sigh.
"It wasn't that bad-" Scott tried and Stiles let out another snore, which was closer to a derisive snort and Scott sighed again. "Okay, well, we're making s'mores so I'll save you some marshmallows if you want to come out."
There was the sound of Scott's retreating footsteps and then it was quiet again. Stiles could hear the murmur of voices and laughter outside and curled into a tighter ball. He could just imagine what they were saying about him, what a disaster he was. It was maybe only a few minutes later that he was invaded again and Stiles winced, thinking it might be Derek, sure it was when the tent zipped open and then closed. Stiles was certain Derek was there to either kick Stiles out of his tent or remove his stuff so they didn't have to spend another single uncomfortable minute together.
He let out an involuntary oof when someone landed on him.
"There's a person in here!" Stiles complained, working his fingers out of the top of his sleeping bag so he could peel it back enough to give his interloper a disgruntled glare. He was surprised to find it was Erica hovering over him, her big blue eyes regarding him with something akin to actual kindness.
"That was not what I meant," she said.
"What? You were waiting for me to humiliate myself horribly, that was why you came, right?" Stiles grumbled. "Tada, hope you weren't disappointed."
"I was kidding, geez," Erica said and rolled her eyes. "No one expected you to do that."
"Especially Derek," Stiles sighed.
"Yeah, you certainly surprised him," Erica agreed and then dug the point of her chin hard into his sternum until Stiles yelped and pushed at her forehead to make her stop.
"Is he...?" Stiles left the question hanging because he wasn't sure what he wanted to ask. Was Derek mad, or laughing or better and worse at the same time, pretending like nothing happened.
"He disappeared right after," Erica said.
"He left?" Stiles spluttered.
"I don't think so. He went into the woods the opposite way to where the cars are parked and his stuff is still here," Erica said, tilted her head at the corner of the tent where Derek's backpack was still resting against the fabric wall.
"So he's just avoiding everyone? Real mature," Stiles said and Erica laughed, genuine and bright.
"You guys are perfect for one another."
"Are you going to come back out?" Erica pressed.
"I just want to wallow for a little while," Stiles said, pulling the sleeping bag back up over his head.
"You're not the most pathetic one here," Erica said when she was up on her hands and knees and backwards crawling awkwardly out of the tent.
"How do you figure?"
"Larry and Ed are here because their mothers made them come."
"Who are Larry and Ed?"
"The card players," Erica said, throwing him a smirk before she disappeared back out of the tent.
Stiles felt like an asshole, assuming that Derek was sleeping outside with nothing but the clothes on his back. After dithering for a few moments about it, Stiles wriggled completely out of his sleeping bag, partly because the urgent need to piss woke up with him but also because he wanted Derek to know that he could still sleep inside the tent, that Stiles wouldn't make things weird.
Stiles used the flashlight app on his phone once he was out of the tent. He panned the light around for a few minutes but didn't find anyone outside their tents and figured Derek must have bunked in with someone else. If it was Jackson, Stiles would have yet another thing to apologize for. He sighed and then picked his way carefully toward the treeline and in so he could find somewhere to relieve himself.
He could've sworn he'd only been a few steps inside the trees, but between pocketing his phone so he could take care of business, and turning it back on, he must have gotten turned around in the dark trying to make his way back to the clearing. Stiles only figured out that he was lost and worse than that, walking in circles, when he tripped over the exact same tree root three times. "Crap," he said feelingly, digging his phone out of his pocket and, unsurprisingly, not finding any signal to speak of. "Double crap."
He thought he'd finally found the clearing again half an hour later when he stepped out through a clump of bushes, only to see a much smaller circle of bare ground that didn't look at all familiar. There was a rustling from the other side of the small space he'd stumbled into and Stiles says, "Hello?" before he could think better of it.
He smacked himself on the head. "Stupid, Stilinski. Classic horror-movie mistake."
He was pretty sure it was going to turn out to be a rabbit or a squirrel or something anyway, up until a large black wolf eased out of the undergrowth and stopped opposite him, ears forward and eyes catching the light oddly, making them look red.
"Craaaaap," Stiles moaned, because of all the ways he'd thought he'd die, and he thought about it a lot because he had a healthily morbid imagination, being eaten by a wolf while a freshman at college was not one he would have put any money on.
"Good, uh, doggie?" Stiles tried, breath coming a little faster and ragged. Don't panic he tried to tell himself because wild animals found fear delicious but it was hard to keep himself calm when he'd seen the kind of documentaries that showed what an efficient and ruthless predator a wolf could be.
Should he run? Did he stay still? Should he try to make himself look bigger? Stiles thought maybe he got that last one from the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy which was probably not the best resource for what to do in a life threatening situation, but he still held his arms up above his head, puffed out his chest and said very forcefully, "Yarr!"
The wolf just tilted its head at him and whuffled. It wasn't growling at least, which Stiles choose to take as a good sign. Maybe it had just eaten, or it wasn't interested in a pale pile of skin and bones. Stiles' hopeful calm retreated though when the wolf took a step forward. Suddenly his breath was whistling in and out of him and his lungs felt like they were closing and he knew that running wouldn't be an option for him much longer as his vision narrowed and darkness started to edge it-
The sharp bark of his name was a startling crack in the quiet of the night and surprised Stiles into taking the first proper breath he had in what felt like hours but was probably closer to seconds. The wolf was gone.
Standing in its place was Derek.
Derek, who was completely naked.
"What the fu-?" Stiles got out, losing the last of the curse because he was still struggling a little to breathe properly but when Derek stepped forward, hands up and out like he wanted to do something but wasn't sure what, Stiles stumbled away a little.
Stiles couldn't breath for a completely different reason.
Stiles didn't even think about it, just stripped off his t-shirt and threw it at Derek, who looked puzzled but seemed to catch it on reflex. "Dude, why are you naked?" Stiles blurted. He mimed pulling his shirt on like a skirt, or even just holding it in a manner that meant it would hide Derek's everything from Stiles' eyes but Derek just continued to look bewildered at Stiles' antics.
Derek was still holding Stiles' t-shirt in a loose fist by his side and Stiles was still frantically flailing at him when two other people came stumbling into the smaller clearing.
"-sure he's-" Allison was saying as Scott stopped dead in his tracks, taking in the scene before him and Allison walked into him. Stiles blinked at them, blinked at Derek and then blinked at them again. The only concession to their arrival Derek had made was to finally move Stiles' t-shirt in front of his junk, but otherwise he looked completely unfazed by their presence.
"See, perfectly fine," Allison said with a grin and a wave of her hand, her dimples digging deep in obvious enjoyment. Scott wasn't quite as pleased, looking like he was going to hurt himself the way his head jerked suddenly up and his eyes fixed on the canopy above their heads.
"Are you okay, uh, Stiles?" Scott asked haltingly, still looking anywhere but at either he or Derek.
Stiles managed to unglue his tongue enough to splutter, "This is not what it looks like."
It was a ridiculous thing to say. When people said it in movies and on TV shows no one ever believed it and that seemed in real life to hold true. Stiles didn't blame Allison for the eye roll or Scott for the clearly disbelieving huff considering he was standing in a small, clear patch of forest shirtless, said shirt being held by Derek whose butt was hanging in the breeze.
"Scott wanted to check on you and when he found your tent empty he was sure you'd sleep-walked off a cliff or something," Allison explained, giving Scott an affectionate pat who still has his head craned at a frankly painful-looking angle. She was wearing an, isn't he adorable that he thought you were dead expression. "But since you're clearly fine, we're going to head back to the tents."
"I was lost," Stiles tried to explain to their retreating backs. "Derek was just... aw hell."
"I didn't mean to surprise you," Derek said, still looking infuriatingly unbothered by the whole situation. He actually looked the most at ease he ever had to Stiles, like stalking around the forest in just his birthday suit was the closest to relaxed Derek ever got.
"Yeah, well, there was definitely..." Stiles flailed a hand again in Derek's direction again, or more specifically in the direction of his t-shirt and Derek automatically held it out to him, giving Stiles the eye-full he'd been manfully resisting taking up until that moment.
It was fantastic, worse luck.
"You shouldn't be walking around in the dark. It's dangerous," Derek said, sounding concerned and Stiles tried not to find it as endearing as it was.
"I didn't mean to. I wanted to find you though, tell you that you could sleep in the tent. I wasn't going to try anything... else."
"I didn't think that," Derek said with an expansive gesture that put everything on display, muscles and skin and Stiles was going to die, right there. "I like the forest. I don't get to come out here enough."
"You're a...uh, naturist?" Stiles hazarded.
Derek looked confused for a moment, but then glanced down at himself and huffed, like he'd forgotten he was completely in the buff. "Something like that," he said eventually.
"So, if you could point me back in the direction of the camp, I'll let you get back to... that."
"I'll walk you. It's easy to get turned around out here," Derek offered. Stiles would argue but Derek was perfectly right considering Stiles got lost a few steps past the treeline of their campsite. Stiles deflated and nodded, resigned to watching Derek's bare butt twitch its tantalizing way through the undergrowth
Stiles tried to walk beside Derek because that was really the only way he wouldn't see anything but Derek pushed him back whenever he tried, saying reasonable things like, watch my feet so you know where to step so you don't fall and Stiles tried to, he really did.
The problem was that Derek's feet were attached to his shapely calves which were attached to his strong thighs which were attached to his... Stiles was a super creep.
"How'd you get into the whole naturist thing?" Stiles asked, desperate for conversation because walking quietly behind Derek was proving too weird.
"My family was pretty, uh, bohemian I guess you could say? Lots of camping and not a lot of personal boundaries."
"Is that why you like rules so much? Rebelling against your parents?"
"I was always the... kind of the black sheep of the family," Derek said and Stiles could hear the smile in his voice, like he was making a private joke.
"So, I didn't think there were any wolves in this area."
"That was just a big dog, Stiles. I startled it away."
"You startled me," Stiles said, then stopped. He hated his brain more often than not, how it wouldn't let him stand still, but it made leaps that his dad had said were sometimes scarily intuitive. Right then it made an impossible, can't believe I'm going to say this out loud, kind of leap and Stiles blurted out, "Are you a werewolf?"
Derek stopped dead in his tracks and there was a long pause before he said, "No?"
"There's a big black wolf in front of me, I start to freak out and bam, naked guy? Naked guy with bohemian parents who have no boundaries?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Derek dismissed. His denial was firmer now, but he'd had a chance to gather himself and Stiles narrowed his eyes at him.
"I won't tell anyone," he said slowly.
"There's nothing to tell," Derek snapped and recommenced stalking through the woods. They reached a point where Stiles could hear the quiet murmur of a sleeping camp and Derek paused to yank something off a low-hanging tree branch. It turned out to be his clothes that he pulled on with quick efficiency and then gestured at Stiles to precede him into the camp.
"Stiles, drop it, I mean it. I'm an uptight nudist, end of story."
Stiles would laugh at the very idea if he didn't feel like this was going to be the last conversation he and Derek had on the matter, or on anything. Stiles liked Derek, more than he'd liked anyone probably ever and even if Derek thought the very idea of them together was hilarious, Stiles would still at least like to be his friend, clipboard, dorm rules, hand-washing station and all.
"Go back to bed, Stiles. We're leaving early," Derek ordered.
Stiles was dismayed to find that the rest of the camp had been broken down and whisked off while he slept, the others sitting around the dying fire looking impatient. Stiles' tent was the only one left and Derek was nowhere to be seen.
"He wanted us to let you sleep," Scott said by way of explanation. "He said to bring the tent back and leave it in the common room and he'd take care of it."
"Fantastic," Stiles grumbled, stung that Derek would go to such lengths to avoid him.
"What happened?" Scott asked, looking concerned. "I thought you guys...?" Scott raised his eyebrows and waggled them and Stiles would have laughed at him if he didn't feel like he'd just been gut-punched in his pride.
"No, definitely not," Stiles said and packed quickly so he didn't hold everyone up longer than he needed to.
Allison approached him as he was slinging everyone's stuff in his jeep. "Are you okay?" she asked gently.
"I just feel dumb, but I should be used to it by now," Stiles dismissed.
"Stiles," Allison sighed, scrunching up her face and the last thing he wanted to deal with anyone's sympathy.
"Let's get this show on the road!" Stiles called, leaning around her.
"What's with the attitude? We've been waiting on you all morning," Jackson sniped, stomping towards his Porsche.
"Yeah, well, I'm ready now so let's go people."
Allison looked torn, but let herself get tugged away by Jackson, offering a shrug to Scott as she went who appeared at Stiles' elbow again.
"Do you wanna stop for breakfast on the way back down?" Scott asked.
"Yeah! I could murder a stack of pancakes," Isaac agreed cheerily as he swung himself up into the backseat of the jeep.
"I'm kinda tired still-" Stiles started to decline but Erica cuffed him on the back of the head as she went by and said, "Grease and sugar. It's what's good for what ails ya."
Scott gave Stiles a pleading look, throwing big puppy eyes in as well and Stiles let out a, "Fi-ine."
It was nice when they found a diner just outside of campus. Surrounded by friends and bacon and syrup, Stiles could almost start to forget what a dumbass he'd made of himself.
Reality came crashing back in though when they reached the dorms just before midday and there was someone else in the RA suite, surrounded by boxes and busily taking down the Floor Rules flyer Derek had tacked up on his door.
Stiles supposed he should've been as well considering Derek switching out saved Stiles having to do it or a whole lot of awkward.
"He swapped to Downey Hall," Scott reported when he came back into the room a day later. Stiles was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He was allowing himself a full day of wallowing before he pulled himself back together.
"Who?" Stiles said, although he knew exactly who Scott was talking about and judging by the look Scott gave him, Scott knew he knew.
"Derek," Scott supplied anyway. "Apparently Braedan was really jazzed to swap. Downey Hall has had more in-dorm fire call-outs than any other building. She says there's a guy named Greenburg who must have never used a microwave before."
"Derek must've been really desperate to get out of here then," Stiles said flatly and Scott tugged on his socked toes.
"You could go see him?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Because you like him."
"He very obviously doesn't feel the same way, Scott. He moved to make that point very clear."
"You don't know that's why he-"
"I know exactly," Stiles exploded, sitting up and tugging his hands through his hair. "You know how I know? Because he left early in the morning of the camping trip, raced back here, arranged a transfer and moved out all before we'd even gotten back from breakfast."
Scott blinked at him and Stiles felt immediately bad for yelling at Scott, but then Scott's face firmed into an expression of determination. "Yeah, or maybe he'd already organized the transfer before the camping trip and he was already planning to move that morning and this is all coincidental."
"That just means he'd gotten wind of my pathetic crush on him before the trip," Stiles dismissed and Scott made an exasperated noise at him.
"You won't know until you talk to him."
"I think I've had enough humiliation for one life, thanks," Stiles huffed and slumped back on his bed. His view of the ceiling was interrupted by Scott's face, frowning down at him.
"You think it was easy for me to approach Allison?"
"I think it was very easy considering you guys were making gross goo-goo eyes at each other for ages before that."
"Well, Derek spent a lot of time looking at you, too."
Stiles sat up, eyebrows raised. "What?"
"Whenever you weren't looking at him, he'd be looking at you."
"He was probably just thinking, please don't let that human disaster come anywhere near me."
"Wasn't there something about RAs not being able to date the students they were responsible for in the student handbook Derek loved so much?"
"You're reaching," Stiles grunted after a moment, trying to strangle down the very ugly hope that bloomed in his chest.
"Or maybe I'm right," Scott countered, poking Stiles in the forehead with a finger.
"Ow, hey! Look, if he went to all the trouble of moving so he could date me, wouldn't he have come back to, I don't know, let me know that?"
This seemed to derail Scott a little, but then Stiles saw him rally. "Maybe he was embarrassed."
"About what? He didn't try to kiss me in front of everyone."
"Just talk to him," Scott whined, jostling Stiles and he rolled over very deliberately presented his back to Scott.
"I'm very happy that your life is full of hearts and baby deer at the moment, but not all of us get a fairy tale ending, okay?" Stiles grunted. He listened as Scott shuffled around the room for another few minutes, like maybe he was deciding whether to make another run at Stiles before he let out a defeated huff and left their room, probably to go complain to Allison about how unreasonable Stiles was being while they give each other butterfly kisses or whatever.
Stiles rolled over, picked his laptop up off the floor, but then put it back again, resisting the urge to call Lydia and try to make her come rescue him from himself. He needed to start dealing with stuff on his own, even if, by Scott's estimation, he was doing it badly.
It was Downey Hall.
Stiles didn't even realize his feet were carrying him in that direction until he spotted Derek among the other residents, wearing plaid sleep pants and nothing else, bare feet shuffling in the grass underfoot and bare chested.
Stiles about-faced quickly and started in the opposite direction but it was apparently too late for Derek not to have noticed him because he heard a, "Stiles!" called out from behind him.
Stiles thought about making a break for it, but knew that would make him look even more pathetic and so he stopped and turned around again, offering Derek a tight smile and a, "Oh hey, didn't see you there."
Derek's face said, I'm pretty sure that's not true, but he what actually said was, "I'm glad to see you, saves me a trip over to Evans Hall."
"Did you leave something behind? I can gopher it for you," Stiles offered, not sure why offered and started mentally planning how he could palm off the errand on Scott.
"Nothing like that," Derek said. "I know we left things kind of weird last time."
"At least you're wearing pants today," Stiles said, aiming for jovial and missing by a mile because he also flapped a hand at Derek's groin area and then clenched it into a fist and shoved it deep in his pocket so it wouldn't be tempted to do that again.
"Ye-ah, about that," Derek started, rubbing a hand over the back of his hair. It was interesting what that simple gesture did to the play of muscles across Derek's belly and collarbone and Stiles looked away, trying to concentrate on the fire truck and the small cluster of fire fighters all glaring at one particular guy who was looking sheepish and apologetic and had lost an eyebrow. "Sorry I took off on you. I kinda freaked out, I guess?"
"Yeah, well, I have that effect on people."
"Sorry?" Derek said, looking confused.
"Look, it's fine. I get it. I'm not going to like, try to see you again or make you uncomfortable or anything. I was on my way back from class. Downey Hall is just on the way but short of some majorly inconvenient architectural and structural work that's not going to change, so I might have to walk this way every now and again but I'm not doing it on purpose, or I am, but the purpose has nothing to do with you-"
"Stiles," Derek interrupted, holding up a hand and breaking Stiles' ramble. "Why wouldn't I want you to come by?"
"I don't know, maybe because you moved to get away from me."
"That's not-" Derek made a frustrated noise and rubbed a big palm over his face. "That's not why I swapped with Braeden, Stiles. She'd been nagging me about it for a while and I was mostly holding out to bug her but then there was a reason for me to move."
"Yeah, well, I guess someone having an embarrassing crush on you is as good a reason as any."
"Who has...?" Derek started to ask and at Stiles' disbelieving look, he corrected, "You have a crush on me?" He didn't look as horrified by the prospect as Stiles expected. In fact, he almost looked tentatively pleased.
"I thought I made that abundantly clear when I launched my face at your face last weekend."
"That... I thought that was a dare or something. You did that in front of everyone and-"
"Yeah, I know, no need for an instant replay. I just... don't know what I was thinking."
"Okay, yes, I do know what I was thinking. That you're hot and earnest and despite us being ungrateful dinguses, you still were trying really hard to give everyone a good time. That... you don't really want to know this, though."
"Why wouldn't I want to know that?" Derek asked, now outright smiling and Derek should always smile like that because it was breathtaking. Stiles liked Derek's grumpy face, but he thought he could possibly fall in love smiling Derek.
"Because I'm a disaster of a person? Because my sister banned me from going to the same school as her to also get away from me? Because I'm completely socially inept and I always say the wrong thing and I-"
"In case you haven't noticed, I have some issues on the social front," Derek broke in to offer.
"Yeah, but, well," Stiles said and flailed a hand at Derek again, encompassing his whole being this time.
"When you look like you do, it's not such a big deal."
"When I look... what about you?"
"What about me? I have a weirdly shaped head and the physique of E.T."
"Stiles, you don't have the physique of E.T. You have legs and you're missing the pot belly."
"Yeah, but my arms are too long and so's my neck and I have these fingers," Stiles waggle them and watched Derek stare and then blush a deep red.
"I happen to like your... all of that," Derek said, sounding a little choked.
"How could you? I'm basically nothing but skin and sarcasm."
"Stiles, I like you."
"As a...?" Stiles prompted, still waiting for a gentle, we're just friends let-down. He didn't quite understand when Derek just pulled an exasperated face at him.
Derek stepped forward, closer, their toes almost touching, repeated, "I like you." He leaned in the last couple of inches and pressed his lips to Stiles', a gentle, chaste thing so unlike Stiles' first awful attempt. "Just so we're clear."
"Get it Stilinski!" Somebody yelled from a few feet away and Stiles groaned and turned to see Erica standing behind them, holding up victory arms, Boyd at her shoulder shaking his head and looking embarrassed. "Yeah! Woo!"
"My friends are the worst," Stiles groaned, thumping his forehead onto Derek's chest.
"Stiles, I just told you I was a werewolf, a supernatural creature that you would not have known really existed. I can shift into a real wolf, and yet, of everything I've just told you, that's the first thing you question?"
Derek had brought Stiles up to his dorm room, had closed the door and then had sat Stiles down, looking grim. He'd explained, very patiently and in great detail what he was, how important it was that he hid it and that he was taking a leap of faith by telling Stiles. He hadn't talked to Stiles since the camping trip because he'd had to also clear telling Stiles with his family because he put everyone at risk if he trusted the wrong person.
He waited for Stiles' reaction, probably, Stiles supposed, expecting him to freak out and run screaming from the room.
Stiles did not do that.
"Well, in my defense, that was not the most surprising part about what you said."
"Not the... how is me being a werewolf not the most surprising part?"
"I already figured that out, remember?"
"I denied it!"
"Terribly. You denied it terribly."
"You believed me."
"Eh," Stiles says and waggled his hand in a so-so gesture. "Only because it was mostly unlikely that you would be a werewolf and only because my life is really not supposed to be this cool."
"Cool?" Derek asked, raising his overabundant eyebrows.
"Y'know, me having a hot werewolf boyfriend? In what universe would that ever happen?"
"You already have a werewolf boyfriend?" Derek asked, deadpan and Stiles swallowed, suddenly feeling horrible.
"Oh, no, I didn't mean-"
"Stiles, oh my god, stop making that face, I'm just messing with you," Derek said quickly, suddenly looking concerned and leaned forward to cup Stiles' face in his hands. It was something Stiles could get very used to.
"That's... that fact that you like to mess with people? I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around that," Stiles said. "Where do you find the time what with all your list making and scowling?"
"I have a spreadsheet," Derek said and grinned. "Can I kiss you now?"
"Did you ask your mom if it was okay?"
"I'm starting to regret this whole thing."
"No, no, no, I'm sorry, last one, I swear! You can kiss me, you can definitely do that."
"I don't know, I'm not sure if I'm in the mood anymore. You brought up my mom and all," Derek said, sighing and letting go of Stiles' face.
"Noooooo," Stiles whined, making grabby hands at him. "Bring those lips back here."