Derek tossed his sixteen-pound bowling ball down the lane and turned his back on it. He didn’t bother to watch how many pins came down. It’d be a small number anyway.
He excused himself from the pack and stalked towards the rest rooms. Not that any of them noticed. Jackson was busy showing off for Lydia, who was admiring her manicure. Allison had picked up a fourteen-pound ball, and Scott was busy salivating over her strength. Isaac had curled up next to Erica, who carded fingers through his hair while drinking Boyd’s illegally procured beer.
And Stiles... Well, Derek was determined not to look at Stiles. If he looked at him, he’d say something stupid. Or he’d growl, which was just as bad. Sometimes, it felt like growling was all he was good for.
He could practically hear Laura mocking him. The first step to getting your crush to go out with you? It’s to BE NICE and ASK HIM OUT. Derek figured he could start with not being growly.
He strode towards the bathrooms and locked himself in a stall in the mens’. He needed a nice, private place to make faces at himself and breathe.
Breathing turned out to be a bad idea. He choked on the putrid, muggy coating of sewage that seeped over his cilia and tongue. Ugh. He growled ineffectually at the stench.
He let his head droop forward, and it against the side wall of the stall. All he had to do was act civilized. No growling. It could go something like this:
DEREK: Hello, Stiles.
STILES: Hello, Derek. How are you today?
DEREK: Pretty good. This bowling ball is a bit heavy though.
STILES: Oh. I’m good a bowling. Here, allow me to help you.
DEREK: How kind of you.
STILES: (walks Derek through the four-step system to bowling the perfect game) See?
DEREK: Why thank you. How can I ever repay you?
Derek growled again. It was never going to go that way. He’d never be able to start a reasonable conversation. Stiles would go off on a strange tangent. And the kissing? He didn’t even know if Stiles was interested in men, let alone werewolves named Derek Hale.
Okay, Derek. You’re going to go out there and NOT GROWL. That’s your homework for the day. Not growling. You can do this.
Funny how his pep talks sounded like his mother sometimes.
He took another breath, managing not to choke on the air this time. With a cheek-tiring smile, he unlocked the stall door and...
...failed to open it.
He jimmied the handle a bit, and pushed again. Nothing. No movement. Nada. On the plus side, the bathroom didn’t smell as terrible right at that moment.
Back in The Before, his middle-school-aged human brother had laughed for days and days about booby trapping the bathroom at one of the bowling alleys in town. Wolfsbane in the door lock. More wolfsbane ringing the top of the stall so that a wolf couldn’t leap out. He had to wait until someone came to help him.
Someone from his pack would come eventually. Though only a human could let him out. And this was the boys’ room, so that meant Stiles. Stiles. He’d never live this down.
He bit back a growl, not sure whether he should be pleased or embarrassed that it came out more of a whine.
He settled on pleased when the bathroom door opened. Yes! His heart sped up and he bounced on his toes. Clearly, one of his wolves had heard the whining.
He was about to call out for help when he heard the newcomer’s heartbeat. Not one of his wolves, nor Stiles. Damn it.
And that was when Stiles came in.
Help! Stiles! Derek opened his mouth, then closed it. He couldn’t say anything. Not while the stranger was still there. Werewolves had to keep the secret. But if Stiles left before the other guy, Derek would be stuck here! He had to do something that would alert Stiles to his plight, but not raise anyone else’s suspicions.
Derek howled. Well, sort of.
It was a very quiet, very un-wolflike “awooo.” High pitched. By Mother Moon, he sounded like a pup trying to join a howl for the first time... and not being very good at it. He tried again. “Awoooo?” He warbled at the end.
Derek hung his head. This wasn’t going so well.
Before he tried for a third mini-howl, he changed his hand so that it had talons and fur. This time, he said “awooo” and tapped his clawed nails against the grimy bathroom floor.
He heard Stiles’ heartbeat come closer, and his own sped to match its rhythm. The stall shook as Stiles opened the one next to it, and then a wad of toilet paper got shoved into Derek’s hand.
Derek could have cried. Ewww! Please don’t be thinking about my bodily functions. Of course Stiles had passed him toilet paper. The hand on the floor had practically begged for it. His little bitty howls had sounded like begging. But that wasn’t... he didn’t... Damn it, Stiles!
And then he was alone in the bathroom once again.
Derek growled his frustration.