It was Valentine’s Day.
"Freakin, fucked up Valentine’s Day," Stiles cursed to himself, moving down the BHHS hallway with Scott, to their lockers.
Along the way Stiles noted cards taped to a few locker fronts. On one or two there was even a single long-stemmed rose. And there was other stuff.
He couldn’t tell if there was more commotion in the hall that morning, more squeals and chatter than usual, due to the love tokens. Maybe it was just his imagination torturing him.
"Is this a thing now, embellishing lockers with Valentine’s Day gifts?" he asked Scott, with the hope his tone of voice conveyed his profound revulsion.
Of course Scott didn’t know if it was a thing now. What did Scott ever know? He was smiling though, as if he liked the idea.
Knowing Scott, he thought it was cute. Ughh.
Scott’s locker was bare, and Stiles’s twisted little heart was pleased. At least there was still no outward sign that Stiles was all alone in his loveless loserhood.
They parted there and Stiles continued further down the hall to his locker.
But where Stiles’s locker should be, had been since last September, was someone else’s.
Obviously someone else’s because on the front of it, carefully taped to it, was a long loop of thin red ribbon that ended wrapped around a heart-shaped box. The loop was in fact the long, knotted together tails of a bow adorning the box.
The locker’s number was Stiles’s locker number. His locker’s neighbors the same faces he saw every day.
"The fuck?" he muttered aloud.
Yanking the ribbon free he shook the box, hearing what sounded like a rattle within it.
He pulled the bow loose and cautiously opened the box to find it contained a little white crinoline sack full of—Reese’s Pieces!
The box was unmarked, not even a brand name on it, no inscription of any kind either. Nothing.
Bolting back to Scott Stiles put the heart shaped box in his face.
"Is this from you?"
Scott looked wide-eyed for a few seconds, till realization sank in.
"You know I love ya, bro.—But not that way," Scott grinned.
The first bell rang, leaving Stiles minutes to get his books and to class.
As English Lit filled in Stiles sat slowly flipping his wrist back and forth, to shake the box. He’d emptied the sack of Reese’s Pieces into it, so it rattled louder.
As the annoying sound kept on, Lydia looked at him, brow furrowed and beautifully scowling.
"Did you leave this on my locker this morning?" Stiles whispered to her, like it wasn’t an absolutely pointless and absurd question.
Lydia made a noise, something between a laugh and a cough. She turned away her head, shaking it in apparent disbelief.
To think Stiles had once compared her lips to rose petals, in a poetic attempt that, thank all that was holy above, he’d never mustered the nerve to actually present to her.
"Stiles," came Erica’s hushed voice. "Is that candy? Can I have some?"
Stiles clutched the little box to his chest. "No!" he asserted, still whispering.
Erica pouted out her bottom lip but then grimaced and shook her fist at him.
Between classes Stiles next encountered Danny, unfortunately with Jackson at his side. Stiles suspected the pair were dating, on the down low, but he took a shot anyway. (After Lydia, Danny had been the next to make Stiles’s heart go pit-a-pat.)
Just getting near them was all it took to make Jackson sneer.
"What?" he snarled.
Stiles shook the box, almost absent-mindedly. "Just trying to find out who left this on my locker."
"Gee, let’s see—I don’t know any blind or brain-injured people, Stilinski. Can’t help you. Now leave," Jackson spewed, charmer to the end.
"Sorry, Stiles," Danny answered, sounding genuine. Whether he was apologizing for not being able to help Stiles or for Jackson’s rudeness, Stiles couldn’t tell.
He decided to take it for both and left.
At lunch time, seated across from Scott as usual, Stiles despaired of finding out the box-bestower’s identity. The list of people Stiles knew was a short one. The list of people who liked him was shorter still—very short.
Taking a stab, Scott offered, "Isaac?"
"Maybe if it’s poisoned candy," Stiles replied.
"Well, is it poison? Did you taste any yet?"
"Scotty, you do realize tasting something to see if it’s poison—that’s not really smar—."
"I know. I’m tryin’ to help!"
"Not helping, dude."
"Why," Stiles groaned, "would Kira—?"
Exasperation shut him up.
Stiles was sure Scott had only said Kira’s name to cause himself heart-eyes and bring on the stars and twittering bluebirds Stiles could see circling above Scott’s head at the mention of it.
Then Scott showed Stiles a mini-teddy bear, in a tiny white t-shirt with a red heart that blazoned I wike U.
Stiles cringed on the inside.
"For Kira," Scott explained, as bluebirds twittered.
"I’d have never guessed."
Stiles’s admirer was secret—and Stiles hated secrets.
Still, with not a further clue throughout the day, after classes ended when Stiles found himself near the gym locker room and saw Kira there, he approached her, just to be thorough, however unnecessary his question to her.
There was a reason Stiles knew Scott and Kira would make a good match, someday, and that was the fact Kira seemed as non-stop confused as Scott.
"That’s for me?" she asked, eyes twinkling, regarding the box.
"No, Kira, I asked is it from you for me," Stiles carefully enunciated.
"Oh," Kira giggled. "No, Stiles, no."
"Thank you. That’s all.—No, wait... You should go find Scott."
"Really?" But she was already fleeting away.
"Bye," Stiles said, imagining the two of them, Scott and Kira, walking into walls together because they’d always be smiling dopily at each other and then smiling dopily at each other with bandaged heads.
Then he revolved in place and walked right into a wall.
A wall of muscle.
A wall of muscle named Derek Hale.
The wall, as walls do, wasn’t moving, and as Stiles stepped around it with an indifferent, "Excuse me," he heard Derek Hale ask, "Do you like your Reese’s Pieces, Stiles?"
He walked back, because Derek Hale hadn’t moved from his spot.
Stiles had never noticed the way Derek Hale’s ears poked out a little farther than other people’s. He’d never been close enough to see that before.
He also noticed how they looked a little pinker than a few seconds ago.
"I… haven’t eaten any of them yet," Stiles nearly stammered. "—Because—not until I… find out who gave them… to me."
Stiles had offered Derek Hale an escape from implicating himself—he was generous that way (a.k.a. chickenshit.)
Derek’s face did an interesting smile-like thing before he asked, "Still no idea who?"
Now Derek’s cheeks were pink too. It was a terribly distracting shade of red.
Stiles revoked his escape-offer: "No. But. I’m getting… warmer?"
Derek Hale was king of the basketball court. Random sections of crowds at basketball games turned spontaneously to his cheerleaders. Derek Hale sank free throws unerringly and scored on three-point shots like a pro. Derek Hale did standing back-flips. In the one class Stiles shared with him, History with A-for-asshole-Harris, Derek Hale didn’t say a lot but when he did it was always a well thought out answer, and A-for-asshole-Harris hardly ever disputed him, which for Harris was the equivalent of shamelessly fawning over a pet student.
Derek Hale was handsome. Handsome. There was Lydia Martin beautiful and there was Danny Mahealani hot, and then there was Derek Hale who when he wasn’t leaving Stiles breathless over his phenomenal good looks left him pondering the natural laws that distributed genetic gifts with indiscriminate abundance upon a special few. Stiles’s thing for Derek Hale hadn’t even trickled down to his gonads—because Stiles’s gonads, usually lacking any apparent connection to Stiles’s brains, had figured out Derek Hale wasn’t merely beyond out-of-his-league but more like snowboarding on Saturn’s rings impossible, thus they wouldn’t even participate in sex fantasies about him.
Derek Hale was…
Derek Hale was looking at Stiles, sort of, and blushing. Then something on the floor at their feet became tremendously interesting to the gorgeous guy.
One of Stiles’s fortes was shattering awkward silences—but this was one for the record books, the one that got away.
"Derek?" Stiles proffered. Feeling vulnerable tended to bring out his sarcasm and his verbal maze-constructing, both other fortes of Stiles’s, but for once his acid tongue and hyperactive brain were quelled.
"Some of us on the team," Derek began, "thought it’d be a nice gesture… to show our—significant others—how we felt..."
"’Significant others’?" Stiles thought, didn’t actually say aloud, though Derek corrected himself as if Stiles had.
"Or—others some of us would like to be… significant."
Derek looked up finally into Stiles’s eyes, only Stiles’s eyes were offering only his utter failure to grasp what was really happening. Was it happening? Was it real?
"I’m sorry," Derek started abruptly. "Forget it." He whirled in the direction of the exits and launched himself that way.
Stiles stood still for a few seconds, the longest few seconds ever, stalled in an unprecedented state of mental density.
"Derek," he spoke into the empty space around him, turning toward the exit doors then barreling through them.
"Derek!" he shouted, spotting the unmistakable black leather jacket clad figure walking through the parking lot toward his black Camaro.
Derek halted, not turning around till Stiles was right behind him.
"Sorry!" Stiles gasped. "It’s just—This isn’t—this—isn’t—"
"It’s OK, Stiles. I understand."
"No, you don’t!—I mean, I’m—me and you’re—you!"
"Oh. Now I understand."
"Please, listen.—You’re saying—You want to—you… want to…"
"I’d like to," Derek answered gently, filling in Stiles’s missing words, "get to know you more."
Stiles’s blank look was back, though his wide startled eyes were having a much different effect on Derek than the effect that look had caused moments earlier.
"I know you from class. I know you’re funny, the way you sass Harris."
"Usually that’s called obnoxious—and gets me detention," Stiles deflected.
Derek just snorted. "And… you’re smart."
Stiles wouldn’t deny that—though accepting compliments was another thing, always made Stiles feel squirmy.
"And you’re—" Derek’s head drooped again. He mumbled, in the direction of the pavement, garbling, "—really cute."
"Excuse me?" Stiles fired back, sass-mode reactivated. "Did you just say I’m ‘reluctant’?—I’m not reluctant—just kind of stunned."
"You know what I said."
Now Derek smiled at him, coyly, a smile Stiles had never known existed before.
"…So… you want to… hang out, or…?"
"Date?" Derek filled in again. "I’d like to. Would you?"
"I’ve never dated anyone. You’re probably going to abandon me somewhere, somewhere far away, on our first one, for your sanity’s sake."
"I think I already know better than to present you with a challenge, but I promise not to abandon you on our first date."
"The second one then," Stiles persisted.
"Let’s just have a first one first.—OK?" Derek smiled again.
Stiles already knew that smile would wield untold power over him.
"OK," he agreed. "Want to start now? Want some of my Reese’s?—Your Reese’s—that you gave… me?"
The heart shaped box had survived the day, amazingly enough. Stiles opened it and offered some of his precious, precious candy to Derek.
"How’d you know, by the way, I love Reese’s Pieces?"
"I see you sneak them into your mouth in Harris’s class."
OK. That was… suggestive?—Maybe Stiles’s gonads were on board at last.
"And how’d you know my locker?—If I may ask." Stiles decided to let the stalker implications slide.
"I’m attentive," Derek answered, confidently, smiling once more.
Hmm, smooth talker, too, Stiles thought.
He was really going to have his hands full with Derek Hale, he realized.
At least, he hoped so.