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Derek first sees him from across the quad four days into fall semester. He’s sitting on one of the long benches, a marker pen in his mouth, grinning at something the kid lounging on the bench beside him is saying. When he laughs properly he pulls the pen out and throws his head back, his neck a long, lean line Derek is entranced by.  He flicks the page in his book and highlights something, tossing the cap up in the air and catching it with his teeth. The kid beside him rolls over onto his front and drops his head onto the guy’s lap. He seems like he’s going to sleep and the guy props his book up over the kid’s face and carries on like it’s no big deal.

Derek watches him read for so long the freshman behind him who’d been attempting to flirt loses her temper and snaps at him to order his coffee or get out of line.

Isaac’s smirking at him from behind the counter and Derek ignores him, orders and stalks away from the cart.

He’s leaving the Biology department two days later when he sees him again. Bright yellow shirt, skinny jeans and dark framed glasses, he looks like the kind of kid Derek’s sister would mock the hell out of. Hipster. She says the word like it’s a travesty; Derek thinks it’s working in this guy’s favor. He’s leaning against the wall of the lecture theatre; his long legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. He’s smiling down at his phone and Derek finds himself ducking his head so he can see the smile better. It’s a nice smile, wide and soft and genuine. Derek doesn’t know many people who smile like that. He doesn’t smile like that.

The kid from before bounds up towards him, tackles him and they both stumble to the side, laughing. It’s like they’re from a fucking advert about how awesome college is.

*

He jogs to practice and practically runs into the same guy in the foyer of the sports hall.

“Oof, dude, shit, you made of bricks or something?”

Derek huffs a laugh and realizes there are big brown eyes and long, sweeping eyelashes to go with the smile. He’s maybe, mildly, royally fucked.

“Sorry,” he mutters. “You ok?”

“Nothing I didn’t get used to with years of lacrosse playing.” Derek snorts because lacrosse and the guy catches it. “It’s a beautiful sport, shut up.”

“Sure.”

The guy’s eyes narrow at him and then the doors of the basketball court open. “Stiles!”

They both whirl around, Derek thinking wildly of any possible injury that could have the short term Stiles and then sees the other excitable kid from before, sweating profusely.

“Aren’t you coming to watch?”

It dawns on him as ridiculously hot, lacrosse playing guy rolls his eyes that this is Stiles. His name is Stiles.

“What the hell kind of name is Stiles?” he blurts out before he can stop himself.

Stiles quirks an eyebrow at him, lip curling like he knows Derek didn’t mean to say that out loud and he’s going to relish Derek’s discomfort. “My parents wanted me to grow up with a good sense of humor; they had to start somewhere.”

Derek wants to think of something witty to say in response but a basketball hits him on the side of the head instead.

“Hale, get your ass in here and start warm ups,” Finstock sticks his head through the door and glares. “Is this a mother’s meeting?” He looks Stiles up and down. “You here for try outs?”

Stiles laughs and claps the other kid on the shoulder. “Nah, just here for moral support.”

“Cheerleading tryouts aren’t until tomorrow,” Finstock snaps before disappearing back inside.

“Well, I do look very fetching in red,” Stiles muses. “Maybe—”

“Dude! You barely have time to sleep as it is; you can’t start cheerleading.”

Stiles grins and Derek is barely holding it together thinking of Stiles in a cheerleading uniform. He ducks inside and immediately joins the rest of the team, sweating off any inappropriate thoughts.

They run through formalities with the kids trying out and Derek learns the kid attached to Stiles’ hip is called Scott. Every time he has the ball Stiles cheers from the stands without seemingly looking up from a huge tome about Plato he’s reading.

Derek occasionally feels eyes on him as he walks them all through set plays but he tries not to think about it.

He thinks about it in the shower instead.

*

Stiles, Stiles Stilinski as Derek learns, is pre-med. For some reason he’s also taking philosophy. He and Scott went to school together in Beacon Hills and when Derek asks about him, casually, Scott’s whole face hardens and he puts a finger in Derek’s face.

“You are not allowed to fuck with him.”

Derek blanches. “I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Good, leave him the fuck alone, we dealt with enough jock bullies at high school and he doesn’t need them here.”

Derek is impressed (as much as he ever is) by Scott’s willingness to stand up for his friend. Derek has a lot of muscle on Scott and he’s several inches taller. He can also bench twice what Scott can. The kid knows what he’s messing with but he’s still up in Derek’s face, warning him away from bullying Stiles.

“I’m not gonna pick on him and call him names, dumbass.”

Scott lowers his finger. “Good, because our town is surrounded by a forest and my girlfriend would help me hide your body.”

Derek laughs but Scott’s face doesn’t change and Derek realizes he’s serious.

“Jesus, I was just asking. I’m not—”

“Whatever you were thinking don’t,” Scott hisses before striding out of the gym.

Isaac snickers from where he’s been on the rowing machine, stands and stretches before clapping a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “Tough break, brah.”

“Shut it,” Derek huffs without any heat.

“I mean, if I wanted permission to date the cutest girl in school I probably wouldn’t ask the guard dog first but—”

Derek tackles him and they roll around on the floor until Boyd comes in and complains about them getting all the mats sweaty.

*

Derek does not linger around the med building.

He certainly doesn’t look up Stiles Stilinski on Facebook and glare at pictures of him with a pretty brunette, or go on to her page and discover with a wash of relief she’s called Allison and in a long term seemingly sickeningly adorable relationship with Scott.

Isaac does not come home to him researching medical terms and does not laugh until he cries making Derek beat him with a cushion.

He doesn’t try and find out where Stiles lives.

Those things would all be things a stalker does and Derek is not a stalker.

*

“Derek!”

Derek jumps a foot off his chair and sprays water all over his books.

“Shit, man I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t,” he says gruffly, shoving his hoodie onto the pages in an attempt to dry them and then looking up at Stiles feeling stupid.

Stiles looks at his books apologetically. “Dude, you want me to get paper towels?”

“Nah, it’s cool, thanks though. I needed a break.”

Stiles lingers by his table and then nods. “Cool, ok, well I just thought I’d say hi. I don’t know many people who are in the library at one in the morning. Thought it’d help with my cred status if I acknowledged the ones I do.”

Derek laughs and grabs his wallet. “You want coffee?”

Stiles considers him for a second, looks down at his own books hooked under his arm and then back at Derek. “I could caffeinate before I work, sure.”

They head for the café, casually bumping shoulders as they go and Derek wracks his brain for something other than, I’d really like to see you naked.

“So,” he coughs and hates himself for feeling awkward. “You’re pre-med?”

“Mmm,” Stiles cuts his eyes over to Derek and smirks. “How’d you know?”

“I asked,” Derek shrugs.

Stiles looks surprised. “Why?”

“Curious.”

“Enlightening.”

“Yep.”

“Cool,” Stiles grins and then orders from the sleepy looking girl behind the till. He takes his coffee black; Derek files it away for later use.

“And you?” Stiles kicks his feet out under the shitty metal tables set up to try and persuade students from taking their drinks back out amongst the books.

“English lit. nineteenth century romanticism this semester.”

“Ooh, Brontë. You do have that Heathcliffe thing going for you, all brooding and sexy,” Stiles says, casual as you like as Derek clutches his own shitty coffee tightly.

“Yeah?”

“Yep. So, you a poet or a writer?”

“I can’t be both?”

“Touché.”

“Why philosophy?”

“That, my friend, is the biggest question of all is it not? Why?”

“It’s one in the morning, Stiles. It’s a little too late for existential questions of life, don’t you think?”

“Or is it just the right time?”

Derek finds himself huffing a laugh and shakes his head. “I gotta get back, coach’ll kill me if I’m late tomorrow and I have to finish my write up tonight.”

“Sure,” Stiles stands and Derek catches a flash of skin as he stretches and his tee shirt rides up. “Hey, how’s Scott doing? He any good at the throwing and the catching stuff?”

Derek snorts. “He’s ok. Throwing and catching?”

“It’s one in the morning, Derek, it’s a little too early to be pretending you know shit about basketball, or even that you enjoy watching it.”

“What’s not to enjoy?”

“Oh, I don’t mind watching the players,” Stiles says simply as he heads out of the café, turning to smirk at Derek. “But it’s no lacrosse.”

Derek gets no more work done thinking about Stiles being somewhere in the library, chewing on pen caps and wrapping long, pale fingers around books.

He goes home and adds Stiles on Facebook.

He jerks off to the vision of winning state championship and Stiles flying through the crowd to kiss him.

He’s imaginative, shut the fuck up.

*

They host a Halloween party and Derek will admit he hovered outside the med building for ten minutes debating whether or not to ask Stiles outright to go with him.

In the end it turns out Stiles is going, Scott talked him into it and they sip coffee in silence as they walk and then part ways at the end of Oak Road where Stiles lives, and Derek continues on to Finker’s Place.

Stiles comes dressed in a lacrosse outfit and Derek swallows his tongue. He’s got black stripes across his cheeks and though the maroon tee shirt is loose Derek can see all the muscles in his arms, his legs, his stupid awesome legs. Derek wants those legs over his shoulders, he wants them wrapped around his waist and straddling his hips and—he shoves the ice at Boyd and ducks into the bathroom.

He takes a few deep breaths and then Jackson’s banging on the door telling him to quit jerking off and that they have people to greet.

Stiles flashes him a grin and a salute from across the room. Derek waves and then shames himself for looking like a dork. Isaac gives him a beer. Derek is accosted by cheerleaders for a while who literally dressed up as themselves and finds himself scouring the room, looking for an escape.

“Derek!” Stiles appears beside him. “Quick, Scott fell over and broke his arm!”

“What?” Derek follows him out onto the patio to where Scott’s sitting on some cushions talking seriously to Erica about vampires versus werewolves and who would win in a face off.

Derek slows to a stop and frowns at Stiles. “What—”

“You looked like you needed saving,” Stiles says, shrugging and sitting on the swing bench they have on the corner of the patio.

Derek follows him, relieved. “Thanks, scared the shit out of me though.”

Stiles waves a hand at the scrubs Derek is wearing and smirks, lifts a brow at him. “You’re dressed for the part.”

“Isaac made me wear a costume,” Derek pouts without meaning to and Stiles laughs.

“You look good in green, I’d let you save my life.”

Derek crooks a grin at him and then tips his head back against the bench. “How’s life in medicine?”

“You know,” Stiles flexes his hand in front of him briefly. “Lots of stuff about the body.”

Derek tries not to stare and look determinedly at his feet. “You enjoy it?”

“Yeah,” Stiles scrubs the same hand across his face. “I wanted to be a doctor so bad when I was a kid. I used to put Band-Aids all over Scott and listen to my mom’s heart with a plastic stethoscope.” He’s silent for a second before he shrugs. “I think I’ll go into pediatrics, look after kids. I like kids.”

“They’re alright,” Derek smirks and nods at Scott. “Guess you’ve had a lot of practice already.”

“Hey, I resent that on my friend’s behalf, he is a bonafide grown up, he has sex and everything,” Stiles leans in like he’s telling a secret then drops back against the bench. “’S’why I get exiled to the library every weekend; Allison isloud.”

Derek bites his lip against asking whether Stiles is. Lifts his cup at Isaac and tells Stiles Isaac sometimes cries. Stiles laughs so loud everyone on the patio looks at them funny. Derek doesn’t care. He’s too busy appreciating the way Stiles’ eyes crinkle when he smiles.

*

He goes for a run with Boyd and they don’t talk about why Isaac kept making wise cracks about Grey’s Anatomy at practice the day before.

This is why he likes Boyd; he genuinely doesn’t give a fuck what Derek does in his spare time. He plays, he’s good, he and Derek go for drinks afterwards and talk about the game.

They have a routine.

Boyd does clap him on the shoulder as he heads home to Erica and his paper on why Nash was a theoretical genius. He tells Derek Stiles is in Erica’s anatomy class and she thinks he’s pretty.

Derek laughs and punches him on the shoulder.

He buys two coffees and lingers outside the lecture theatre at four. He knows Erica’s timetable because Boyd followed her around like a puppy all through freshman year and Derek learnt about everything from her magical ability to wake up with her hair perfectly curled to the fact she can drink you under the table and then uses anything she learnt during said drinking game against you for a month. He likes Erica; she’s very like Laura.

She smirks when she sees Derek and sails past, ruffling his hair.

Stiles is last to emerge, talking to their professor and without looking up, pauses next to Derek and ends the conversation. The lecturer continues down the hall and Stiles looks over at Derek.

“You thinking of switching majors? Austen and her badass ladies getting too much for you?”

Derek snorts and waves one of the coffees at him. “Not yet. I just—bought you coffee.”

“So I see,” Stiles smiles softly at him and inhales. “Aw yeah, this is the good stuff. Thanks.”

“No problem, you coming to see the game tonight?”

“Hell yeah, I’ll be there with my metaphorical pom poms.”

“You didn’t make the team then?”

Stiles laughs and Derek’s insides twist. “Nah, they said I had too skinny a frame.”

Derek’s gaze sweeps appreciatively across Stiles’ chest. “You look alright to me.”

Stiles’ hand slips from where it’s clutching his ringbinder and he clears his throat, pinking up. “Uh, thanks. I gotta head home—get some actual work done before the game but,” he waves the coffee at Derek. “Thanks again.”

“Sure,” Derek hesitates and then starts again. “Stiles—”

“Thanks for the coffee, Derek!” Stiles yells before slamming out of the building and leaving Derek standing alone in the corridor.

People have tried to take their shirts off for Derek giving them less than a cardboard cup of coffee, he’s a little confused.

*

Stiles is sitting next to a pretty redhead when Derek glances up into the stands as they jog onto the court. She looks bored but perks up when Jackson knocks his shoulder against Derek’s and slides onto the bench next to him.

“You ready to kick ass?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “When do we ever not?”

“Just checking, man,” Jackson inclines his head at the stands. “My girlfriend’s here and I need to look good.”

“I thought you always looked good,” Derek retorts drily and tugging at his laces to avoid looking back up at Stiles. He’s already verging on creepy with how much staring he’s doing.

Jackson scoffs and thumps him on the back. “Just don’t screw up.”

Derek resists the urge to remind him he’s been captain of the team for two years and instead punches him right back.

“All right, sweethearts, you’re a team and there’s nothin’ to worry about. We come here, and we gonna conquer, and we gonna kick some, is that understood? That’s what we gonna do, sweethearts, we are going to go and get some? All right, people, on the ready line! Are ya lean?”

“Yes sir!”

“Are ya mean?”

“Yes sir.”

“What are you?”

“Lean and mean!”

“Then get outta my face and go get ‘em,” Finstock finishes with, waving them onto the court.

“He makes weird speeches,” Scott comments as he jogs after Derek.

Derek laughs. “Yeah, it’s his specialty. You ok?”

Scott jumps up and down on the spot, looking nervous. “Are there always this many people watching?”

“Yeah, normally more, don’t worry,” Derek grins at him. “We’ll watch out for you.”

Scott was a good addition to the team. Derek has no idea why he didn’t try out last year but he works well with them. He’s got speed and agility and brings a fluidity to their movements they were lacking before.

Derek tries not to look at Stiles every time he scores a hoop but it’s difficult. Especially when he does look up and Stiles is grinning at him, clapping madly.

They win, which is no surprise to anyone but Scott who can’t stop smiling. He leaves the locker room and Derek sees Stiles launch himself at him excitedly.

Isaac elbows him in the stomach and tells him to stop gawking. Derek flips him off. He was not gawking. He was appreciating Stiles’ ass in his jeans.

*

Stiles accepts his Facebook friend request and Derek spends half an evening debating whether or not to say anything. In the end he writes cool on Stiles’ wall in an attempt to be ironic. Stiles writes back sure with a wink emoticon.

Derek spends the rest of the evening smiling to himself. Isaac takes a picture of him and sends it to Laura. Derek has the worst friends.

*

Finstock adds more training sessions as they head into November. Journalists for the college newspaper follow Derek around asking him about their season so far. Boyd moves in with them temporarily when Erica threatens him with a scalpel if he doesn’t let her study and Derek’s never read so many depressing poems about death in his life.

William Blake should have got laid a whole lot more in Derek’s opinion.

He’s sitting on the grass outside his building when Stiles collapses beside him and starfishes out, eyes closed.

“Fuck me.”

Derek chokes on air.

“I mean, I get that Harris in infamous for making rounds a terrifying experience but the dude has it in for me. I might as well die here.”

Derek reaches over and pats his shoulder. “There, there drama queen.”

Stiles bats at his hand. “Fuck off, I saw you sitting here looking like you wanted to cry, you know how I feel.”

Derek slaps his book on Stiles’ chest and he wheezes, rolls to the side.

“Ouch! Some of us aren’t built like a tree you know.” He rubs at his chest and Derek sighs at the sky. He’s being punished. Stiles shoves his glasses back up his nose and then scratches his chin. “Anyway, I gotta go, study group, just thought I’d say hi.”

Then he’s gone with a flash of a smile and his ridiculously long legs bounding across the grass. Derek gives up on his book and plays three rounds of HOOPS on his old Gameboy. Yeah, he still has one of those.

He spends a couple of hours by himself in the gym. Shoots actual hoops on the court, goes home and writes about why he considers Wentworth and Knightly far more appealing as male protagonists in comparison to Darcy. He does not get the Darcy thing. Isaac explains it’s because Derek is Darcy and Derek shoves half a cold pizza down his shirt.

*

There’s a rave to ‘celebrate’ Thanksgiving. Derek suspects tradition is a little lost on most students but goes none the less. He loses Isaac in thirty seconds but gets accosted by a couple of guys from the team and dragged over to a beer keg. Almost the entire crowd is shirtless and covered in fluorescent paint. Erica appears out of nowhere and smacks a kiss on his cheek, drawing green stripes over his face and then demanding he take his shirt off.

“No.”

“Derek, don’t be a priss.”

“It’s November, it’s not healthy to be outside without clothes on.”

Erica rolls her eyes.  “We’re at a rave, loser. Nothing anybody does here will be healthy.” And then she’s tugging his shirt over his head before he can argue with her.

“Hey, you don’t—stop it, you are surprisingly strong.”

She grins and then showers him in bright pink and turquoise paint. “Have fun!”

Derek gets himself a beer and attempts to avoid dancing. He spots Scott and the infamous Allison swaying together and immediately goes on alert for Stiles. He almost can’t believe it when he sees him. He’s wearing basketball shorts and nothing else, bright green and pink paint all over his chest that catches the light and makes him shimmer in the dark. Derek heads towards him without thinking and Stiles waves when he sees him. He’s not wearing his glasses and his hair is pushed back, streaked with paint. He looks like a fucking wet dream as he throws an arm over Derek’s shoulder. He’s drunk, Derek can see it in his slightly glazed eyes and the way he’s languidly smiling at nothing.

“You look so happy to be here, dude.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Overjoyed.”

Stiles shakes his head looking at him fondly and then twists away. “Come and dance!”

Derek shakes his head. “Nope.”

“Derek!” Stiles sways on the spot and Derek’s eyes are drawn to his hips, the way they’re moving to the music without effort.

“I can’t dance.”

Stiles laughs and pulls at his waist. “Everyone can dance, man,” he mutters against Derek’s ear. “If they’ve got the right person to lead.” And then he’s sliding up against Derek, completely oblivious as the music pulses around them. Derek stands as still as possible for thirty seconds before Stiles rolls his eyes and puts Derek’s hands on his hips. “Bend your knees.”

Derek flexes his fingers against Stiles’ slick skin and swallows, tries to remember how to breathe let alone use his legs. Stiles nudges his knee against Derek’s and slowly Derek bends a little, lets Stiles push their hips together. He leans forward and their chests brush, Stiles grinds his hips up against him, sways away and then back into him. Derek clutches his waist and tries to think about cold showers, his sister, Jackson and his sister in a cold shower.

Stiles tips his head up to the sky and Derek is faced with his neck. His long, perfect neck, sheened with sweat and smeared with paint. It’s ridiculously. He’s being tortured. He wants to lean in and bite, lick, he wants to rut against Stiles and take him up against a fucking wall. He wants to put his hands all over him, his teeth to pull at the skin of his shoulder, his hands on his ass, his tongue on his dick. He can feel himself hard against Stiles’ hip, knows Stiles has to feel it. Stiles has to know. Stiles is—Stiles twists his own hips and Derek bites his lip. Stiles is hard too. He wants to fucking carry him out of here.

He’s not allowed to do that, or any of those things when Stiles is out of it. Reluctantly he lets go.

Stiles ducks his head back down to look at him and licks his lips unconsciously. “You ok?”

“Yeah,” Derek’s voice is hoarse and he backs into the crowd, embarrassed. “I’m just gonna—”

“Derek—”

“See you later.”

He jogs home, curses Erica for not giving him back his shirt and stands in the shower until the water runs cold.

*

He spends Christmas lazing around the house and texting Stiles. Stiles who is swamped with revision and papers and complains to Derek he has no idea why he ever thought med school was a good idea. Derek reminds him about the whole liking kids thing and Stiles texts back frowny faces. They haven’t really talked about what happened at the rave. Afterwards Stiles had seemed completely normal; nodded to Derek in the quad, accepted coffee whenever Derek shoved it at him, turned up to games cheering for Derek as much as Scott but nothing else. It’s almost like he’s going out of his way to keep it friendly but not too friendly.

Derek’s out of his element. He’s dated, he’s fooled around, he’s spent half his adult life flirting. He recognizes flirting when he sees it but Stiles is cautious, careful around Derek. And he can’t get a fucking read on him.

Stiles texts him on New Year’s Eve with a picture of The Godfather on dvd, the text reads, important plans for the big change of the year, what are you up to?

Derek glances round the room at all his sister’s friends and sighs, texts back: nothing half as fun.

He’s glad to be back at college three days later when Stiles turns up on his doorstep with The Godfather Part II, a pizza and a load of flashcards he demands Derek test him on.

“So, you’re bribing me with pizza?”

“Yep,” Stiles pouts. “Please? Scott gets distracted and I need someone with a stern face to not let me get away with half an answer. I need to know everything.”

Derek squints at his tiny, essay like notes and then raises an eyebrow at him. “You need to know all of this?”

“Yes! Something could be important, you never know.”

“Fine,” Derek kicks the door wide. “But only if you got pepperoni.”

“Duh.”

*

Exams are easy for Derek. He never sweated them at school and they don’t make him panic now. He has trouble with long deadlines, essays that sit on blank word documents for weeks with just the title underlined. He likes immediate deadlines, fast outcomes. He’s always been into solving a problem on the spot. He probably shouldn’t have gone into literature but ironically (as his sister is fond of saying) Derek likes words. He likes description and the way a specific piece of prose or a poem can make you feel something entirely different to the next person.

He can’t use his words as often as he’d like to but he enjoys them. He likes the way Stiles uses words. He likes the length of Stiles’ sentences and the way he uses his hands to elaborate. Stiles comes to their first game back and waves a sparkly banner around. Jackson snorts and calls him a dork, both Derek and Scott glare at him until he shuts up. He hasn’t got room to talk at all when Lydia (the pretty redhead Derek was totally not jealous of) waves around her own sign saying; “Go Jackson!”

Stiles hovers after the game and tries to get Derek to give him a high five. He crows when Derek concedes and lifts his hand. His enthusiasm is infectious.

They go to the bar opposite Derek’s place and Stiles and Scott sip cokes while Erica tries to talk Jackson into drinking games. Derek and Boyd both motion that he shouldn’t, Jackson ignores them and falls asleep under the table. Lydia props her feet up on his shoulder.

“So, Derek, you’re the jock with the brains I’ve been hearing so much about?”

Stiles’ elbow slips off the table and he kicks Derek’s foot. Derek pulls it away in surprise and Stiles makes a pained noise. “That was for Lydia, shut up,” he hisses, whirling on her.

“I was only going to say Scott thinks you’ve been a wonderful help with his transition onto the team,” she says, smirking at Stiles.

Stiles glares at her and refuses to meet anyone’s eye.

Derek clears his throat and shrugs. “He turned out to be a pretty good player, yeah.”

Scott beams at him excitedly. “Yeah? Dude, that means so much to me, I mean, we used to come to the games last year and you were so awesome.”

“You—you watched all our games last year?”

Stiles drops his head into his hands and groans.

“Yeah,” Scott bounces up and down, oblivious. “Stiles complained at first but I think he totally warmed up to it.”

“Or something,” Stiles mutters before clambering over his friend. “Excuse me, I’m gonna go die.”

Derek slips out of the booth and catches up to him outside. “So, you really don’t mind watching basketball, huh?”

Stiles pinches the bridge of his nose and refuses to look at him. “I know how many baskets you scored last year dude, how many free throws, how many jump shots. My dad used to talk about Magic Johnson games and how watching him was like watching something special. You play like something special. It was cool to watch. I was not creeping on you, ok. I promise, I’m not weird.”

“I’ve spent four months turning up outside your lecture theatres with coffee, you think you’re the weird one?”

Stiles lets out a shaky laugh and flicks his gaze towards Derek, and then away again. “I just thought you were being nice. It was a little surprising, trust me.”

“Why? Because I’m a ‘jock’?” Derek scrunches up his nose at the word and feels just a little bit hurt.

“No, well yeah! Dude, look at you. Why would we be friends?”

“Friends,” Derek repeats flatly. “You know for someone smart, you’re the dumbest person I know.”

Stiles opens his mouth to retort and then shuts it with a snap. “Well, I guess now I know what you really think.” And then he’s stalking away.

Derek kicks at the wall because suddenly he’s in a dramatic 80s movie.

*

Stiles sits down at his library table on Valentine’s Day and chucks half a pack of twizzlers at Derek.

“Scott and Allison are being romantic,” he explains.

Derek pulls a face. “Do I want to know?”

“Nope. I just left the fire extinguisher by the door and told them not to have sex on my bed. Somebody probably should though,” he adds mildly.

Derek fingers slip on a twizzler and he rests his head against the table briefly, pretending to pick it up from the floor.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says suddenly and Derek jerks up, frowns at him. “I was,” he blows a breath out. “I was just in a weird mood the other night and I was a dick to you.”

“No, you weren’t,” Derek says softly.

“I was, but in my defense Lydia knows just how to embarrass the shit out of me.” He pushes his glasses up his nose and his leg is jiggling up and down under the table. Derek shoots his foot out and pushes it against Stiles’.

“No worries, forget about it.”

Stiles nods, unfolds his books and smiles at Derek, nudging his own foot back. “Thanks.”

It’s the nicest Valentine’s Day Derek’s ever had. And the last one he spent with someone involved sex. He wonders if maybe he’s a little too far gone on Stiles. Then Stiles throws a paper airplane at him that has actual stick figures drawn on it and he decides he’s probably not. He’s just a little bit in love with a nerd.

*

March Madness is Derek’s favorite time of year. He lives on the adrenaline and the insane speeches Finstock rips from movies, and Jackson’s over panicked eyebrows that get higher and higher with each game. They always get through to the final. It’s like, tradition for them.

He and Boyd go for a run beforehand and Boyd tells him at the end of the year he’s going to ask Erica to marry him. Derek nods. “Yeah, I can see that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, you guys are good together. She’s all… feisty and twirly and you’re her grounding.”

Boyd raises his eyebrows. “You calling me boring?”

Derek claps him on the back as they walk into the sports hall. “Yep.”

He doesn’t realize he’s nervous till Finstock starts talking and Derek realizes this is it. The whole team are looking at him expectantly and he opens his mouth and nothing comes out.

“Inspiring words,” Finstock says, smacking Derek on the back. “Knew I picked the right man for the job of Captain with you, Hale.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Let’s just go out there and win.”

“Fuck yeah, I came to win!” Isaac yells, swinging from one of the benches.

“Lahey! Language! And get down from there, you’re not a monkey,” Finstock yells before disappearing out of the locker room.

Derek slips out behind him and rests against the cool wall of the corridor. He can hear the crowd inside the hall, feet thudding on benches, hundreds of people clapping and cheering.

“You look terrible.”

He startles and turns to see Stiles leaning against the wall next to him.

“How’d you get back here?”

“Lied and said I was married to one of the players,” Stiles grins and turns so that Derek can see his basketball shirt with McCall on the back. It doesn’t make him feel any better. “Check it out,” Stiles lifts the shirt and he’s gotHale on his chest.

Stiles drops the shirt and gets a fist in Derek’s jersey. “You won’t screw up,” then he kisses Derek and disappears out of the corridor again.

Derek heads back into the locker room and yells at Isaac to get off the ceiling fan. Then he yells at them all until they yell back in unison and they head out onto the court.

It’s terrifying, it’s exhilarating. Being on the court has always been like home to him. He knows where his feet need to move before he’s even thought it. He’s held a basketball so often and for so long it fits between his hands better than a glove. The crowd is loud, wild and enthusiastic. Derek can barely hear the referee’s whistle.

Scott is white as a sheet and Derek beckons him over before the first toss. “Relax, we got you,” he says, grinning like they’re back in October and Scott’s new and Derek hasn’t just kissed the hottest nerd he’s ever met.

Scott nods then grabs Derek’s shoulder, pulls him close. “If you hurt him, I meant it about the body.”

Derek pulls away, surprised and then smiles. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

And just like that Scott’s fine.

It’s not like it’s unexpected that they win but Derek can’t help but fall to his knees in relief. It was close. They win by three points.

There’s confetti falling and Finstock’s throwing cupcakes at people, refusing to let go of the trophy. Isaac and Boyd find him, throwing their arms around him and not moving until Erica worms her way in the middle and kisses all of them.

“I’m so proud of you all!” she shrieks before throwing herself at Boyd.

Derek’s sister and his mom float over, faces shining with tears, even though they won last year and they’ll probably win next year. His mom is the sentimental type. She squeezes Scott’s cheeks when Derek introduces them and says he played a fine game. Scott blushes and races over to where Allison’s making her way through the crowd.

Derek sees Stiles halfway up the stands. He’s helping Lydia climb over the chairs, slowly making their way to the court floor and he doesn’t want to wait.

He hops over the barriers and legs it up the steps. Jackson’s already clambering over people to get to his girlfriend. He’s wearing a cape he got from somewhere and when he reaches her he picks up her up and she yells in delight.

Stiles steps away from them, folds his arms as he watches Derek jog up the hundreds of steps.

“You not gonna help me out?”

“Nope,” Stiles calls back. “You’re the athlete.” But he starts walking down towards him even as he speaks. He clutches his shirt over his heart and then points at Derek. “You fucking did it.”

“Yeah,” Derek reaches him and doesn’t give a shit that he’s sweating profusely or that there are people swarming around them. He cups his hands around Stiles’ face and kisses him. Stiles makes a content noise and slides his hands under Derek’s jersey, clutching at his back.

“You’re gonna get the shit mocked out of you,” he warns. Derek shrugs, even though he can already imagine Isaac’s mockery for romantic moments in confetti. He’s going to go on about it for weeks.

“Don’t give a fuck,” he scoffs, leaning back in to kiss Stiles’ cheek, his jawline, his mouth again.

“I must admit,” Stiles continues and Derek huffs a laugh against his mouth, he’s forever going to get interrupted when trying to kiss Stiles, he can tell.

“What?”

“Basketball was a beautiful game to watch tonight.”

“Damn straight,” Derek mutters before kissing him again.

“So,” Stiles pulls away again and Derek sighs, grinning and rests their foreheads together.

“No talking now.”

“But—”

“I will buy you coffee in thirty minutes, and you can ask all the questions you like, ok?”

Stiles grins up at him, eyes dancing and hands warm against his back. “Sure, ok.”