The voice is panicked, out of breath, and Laura flies out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped tightly around her, her hand clutching her toothbrush like a weapon.
“Laura, Laura, Laura! Oh my God, you have to help me,” Derek says, sweating like he just ran all the way up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Laura feels her heart drop.
“Derek are you okay, what's happening? What's wrong? What's going on?”
She's already pawing at her brother, checking for an injury, and he bats her hands away like a five year old getting too much attention from his grandma. “Where's my phone?” Laura goes on, hysterical, convinced she has to call either the police or an ambulance, judging by the crazed look on her brother's face.
“Would you stop?” Derek hisses, gripping her shoulders tightly. “This is serious!”
“What, what, what? What is it?” she asks, her heartbeat going out of control.
“There's this guy, he followed me home, I can't get rid of him, please help me,” Derek whispers, glancing at the front door like it might come alive and attack him.
Laura widens her eyes, already subtly looking for her phone again. “Oh my God,” she whispers back. “Is he dangerous? Did he threaten you? What did he look like? I'm calling the police.”
“What? Laura! No, you're not listening.”
“I am! There's a potential murderer behind our door!”
“I don't think he wants to kill me, he asked for my number and he kept talking and flirting and I tried to escape but I couldn't just tell him to go the fuck away, so I just made up some stupid excuse to come back home but he might have understood that he was allowed to come with me or something and Erica’s not answering her phone and now he just won't leave, and please, please, please, help!”
Laura listens to his tirade in silence, her hand slowly losing her death grip on the toothbrush. It's like the calm before the storm. Then, she unleashes the fury.
“Oh my fucking Lord, Derek!” she pushes him away from her and he tumbles on the couch, bewildered. “I thought it was an emergency you fucking idiot, you scared the shit out of me!”
She stomps to the front door, uncaring of her state of undress and opens it with such strength it goes crashing against the wall. There's a dude here, looking like a deer in the headlights, frozen, as if he's thinking that if he doesn't move, she might not see him. She's not some freaking dinosaur.
The guys stammers, “I'm so sorry, I didn't know he had a girlfriend, he didn't say – I'm...”
She slams the door in his face. Derek is still sprawled on the couch, where she left him. He's looking at her like she's gone insane, and Laura wants to tell him to go fuck himself because she just saved his ass. Again. She peeks through the peephole and sees the guys is still standing there, utterly lost. It's time to make him move.
She turns back to Derek, and he's still saying nothing. She's pretty sure if she starts yelling at him, he'll just wait until it stops. It's like his defense mechanism, he goes very still and waits for the screaming to die down. She needs to make it look more real. She grabs one of her sneakers from the floor near the door and hurls it in his general direction with all her might.
It slams itself square in Derek's chest. He jumps to his feet, with a loud scream.
“Ow! Are you fucking nuts? You could have – You're so –”
But Laura keeps throwing shoes at him – she's going to run out of them soon – and he tries to dodge them. It's oddly cathartic. He continues to yell abuse at her, and when she's out of ammo, she turns back to the door to look at the guy. He's tripping over himself in the hallway, getting away from their apartment as fast as possible. Another victory for reigning champion Laura Hale.
She calmly makes her way back to the bathroom, panting a little from all the agitation.
“You'd better pick up all the shoes and put them back where they belong when I'm finished with my shower, or so help me.”
Derek just stares at her. She closes the bathroom door in his face.
“Stop it, you'd have done the same thing alright? He was hard to say no to.”
Laura is still laughing at him unattractively, and he's regretting asking for her help already. But Laura gets the job done, so he'll have to deal. Still, he'd rather have her throw her shoes at him again instead of just mocking him.
“Please, you're such a coward. I don't get you sometimes. You were like, the most popular guy at school, and now you're some sort of legend in college,” she says, stabbing a piece of chicken with her fork, “you have like, three thousand friends on Facebook –”
“They're not all my friends,” he grumbles.
“Well half of that number wants you in their bed,” she points her forked chicken at him.“You're pathetic. I know you're not a caveman, you love being the guy everybody knows. I don't understand how you can come home looking like you're about to cry when all you had to say to this poor guy was 'sorry, but I'm not interested'. I mean, how hard is that?”
Derek scowls at his plate. It is hard. He just can't bring himself to do it. Flirting comes easily to him, but when it's time to move on, he can't deal with their doe-eyed expressions and their hopeful smiles and...
“Ugh,” he whines.
“Pathetic,” Laura repeats. “Oh, by the way, mom called.”
Derek straightens up in his chair.
“Yeah, uh oh is right. She yelled at me for half an hour because we still haven't found a new roommate to replace Isaac, and apparently we are being ungrateful and she doesn't want to pay half of our share of the rent anymore if we don't find another one soon.”
“Why did Isaac have to leave? Roommate hunting is the worst thing.”
“He finally moved in with his girlfriend, you should be happy or him.”
Derek finishes his food quickly, trying to escape to his room before Laura asks him what he knows she's going to ask him in three seconds.
He's barely out of the kitchen when he hears her call, “I put up an ad online this morning, you'll do the interview thingies with me. I'll give us one week to find a new one.”
He freezes near the counter top. Maybe he can pretend like he didn't hear that. Unlikely. Maybe he can say no.
“Whatever, I've already received a couple or responses, just be home at 9 on Monday.”
Alright, new tactic.
“I have so many assignments to finish, Laura. I can't.”
“This excuse would have worked if I didn't know for a fact you were going out tonight. And I know you've got, like, five parties in the next few days. I know you're going to go. If you have enough free time to get shitfaced, you can meet some people for the apartment with me.”
Derek, the fucker, finds a way to miss all the interviews she sets up with the potential roommates. She invites them in, and while the door is open, he just takes advantage of it and slips outside with a smug smile. She can't yell and run after him down the hall because that would make a bad impression and they both know it.
She comes home after work and he's not here when he knows they're waiting for that dude who wants to take a look at the place. She hides his phone and his keys so he can't leave the next day. So he just sits on the couch and sulks during the whole meeting with the New Potential Roommate of the Day, grunting and grumbling everytime he's being spoken to. He looks twelve, Laura wants to scream her frustration into a pillow.
She gives up sometime during the middle of the week. She's seen more than five persons who were interested but only one or two were acceptable. There was this one girl who kept laughing at everything she was saying even when it wasn't a joke. It was creepy. There was this guy who kept – honest to God – farting.
“Like it was no big deal!” she exclaims the same night, facing a doubled-over Derek. “Stop laughing, oh my God, I hate you!”
There was this guy, who was pretty decent, but a smoker, and Laura couldn't stand the smell. The other man she had seen last had been perfect from start to finish, but then, when she had walked him to the door, he’d started hitting on her and that was just not going to happen.
“I have to meet this guy tomorrow, but after that, I give up, Derek. You hear me? I'm doing all the work here, you'll have to pull your weight and find me a roommate.”
“I can't be here tomorrow –” he begins automatically.
“Whatever dude, I don't need you, cause next week, you'll be the one meeting them all.”
“Not if the guy you see tomorrow is a match,” he sing-songs.
Laura narrows her eyes at him. He will regret this.
Derek is regretting this. He comes home hungover on Friday morning and there's this... thing in the middle of his living room. He's tall, with messy brown hair and brown eyes. He flails and drops the box he had been carrying when he spots Derek. He vainly tries to make his way toward him, avoiding his cardboard boxes and the coffee table, stumbling and tripping over himself along the way and – he just looks like a puppet without strings. He nearly cracks his head against the wall in an attempt to shake his hand. Derek hates him instantaneously.
“Hey! I'm Stiles, your new roommate. I'm sorry for the mess, I'm just in the process of bringing everything in my room.”
Derek looks at all the boxes, overflowing with weird plaid shirts and many, many DVDs and CDs, absentmindedly returning the handshake. He can be well behaved... sometimes.
“Uh, Derek,” he grunts.
Stiles continues to throw his arms around him, babbling and just generally being too loud for Derek, who just wants to swallow three aspirins and sleep forever. Laura/Satan comes out of her room and beams when she sees the state he's in. She knows he's one conversation away from throwing up.
“Baby brother, I'm so glad you're home. Do you want some breakfast? I've made this big, fat, greasy –”
“Don't,” Derek interrupts her, shaking his head slowly to dissipate his nausea.
“This is Stiles, he's the best. You'll love him. So sad you couldn't make it the other day to meet him...”
Stiles looks at the two of them with narrowed eyes. Laura just smiles wider and Derek knows he's being punished here. He doesn't know the extent of the punishment yet, but he knows Stiles is part of it.
“Uh...,” Stiles says intelligently. “What's going on?”
“Nothing, cupcake. I'll help you carry everything in your room.”
Stiles stands there for a second while she hauls boxes away from the living room. He mouths 'cupcake?' with a look of utter confusion on his face. Derek snorts and without saying another word, locks himself into his room and flops face first on the bed.
“Don't eat that, it's mine,” Stiles says from where he's hunched over the kitchen counter.
Derek stares at him until he looks up, smirks when he's got his full attention, and pointedly takes a bite of his sandwich.
“You're such a dick,” Stiles sighs.
He looks more than aggravated, but right now homework looks more important than starting a glaring contest with him apparently. Derek smiles around his food. He wins this round.
It's been six months since Stiles moved in, and Derek still hates him with passion. Stiles hates him too, so it's all good. Laura adores him. Sometimes Derek comes home to them cuddling on the couch watching Buffy. It's disconcerting, completely disgusting and absolutely unsurprising. Stiles is loud and he constantly looks like he's on speed. He doesn't talk too much, but he always has a snappy comeback to everything Derek says or does. Always. It's like he stores them somewhere in his weird brain. Seriously, he has one for every situation. No matter how specific it is.
Derek is not even sure who started the hate war first. He just stopped and thought about it one day, when he was sitting in his bedroom with a beer and Stiles had just insulted his sexual prowess (“How would you know? You never had sex with me, you dork!” Derek had yelled and Stiles had flushed deep red before snapping back, “Wow, thanks for putting that image in my head, I’ll be over there, puking.”). He thought about it really hard and couldn't, for the life of him, understand who had started it first. It was like the chicken or the egg thing.
Either way, the result is that: each time Stiles so much as breathes in his vicinity, Derek either mocks him in one way or another or acts like Stiles is the most pathetic excuse for a human being he's ever met. Because he is. Stiles, in retaliation, always comes and bothers Derek at the strangest of times, always –- always figuring out exactly what to say to make Derek want to claw his own face off.
It’s rough and bloody and violent and terribly entertaining. Neither of them acts like it is -- entertaining that is -- but Derek knows better. Laura laughs at them sometimes, keeping score. But mostly she huffs and frowns, cuffs Stiles on the back of the head, and throws random objects at Derek when they get too mean.
“Don't you have somewhere to be? Don't you have some stupid party to go to?” Stiles says after a while.
“Aw, are you sad because nobody invites you to those parties you speak of?” Derek bites back, hoping on the counter next to him.
“I have this thing to finish. You'll work for me one day. You'll regret all this passing out in weird corners with a drunk sorority girl drooling on you. Mark my words.”
“At least I have some girl on me.”
“Yeah, and she has to be drunk.”
“I don't do drunk girls.”
Stiles looks up from his essay, startled. Derek continues to scowl at him.
“Whatever, dude,” Stiles mumbles, looking back down at his laptop.
Laura jumps to her feet from the couch, ready to tackle Derek to the ground. She's done it a few times before, she recognizes that tone of voice. It's the “do not fuck with me I will obliterate you from existence” voice. Stiles has not made one move from where he's sitting, calm as a Buddhist monk. That's a sure sign he's definitely done something he shouldn't have.
Derek comes barreling through his bedroom door holding his favorite leather jacket in one hand.
“What did you do?”
“Nothing,” Stiles replies instantly, pressing further into the couch, hiding behind Laura.
She extends both of her hands to stop Derek from coming any closer.
“It's ruined,” he seethes, brandishing the piece of clothing like a weapon.
“Calm down,” Laura soothes, trying to gauge the extent of the damage.
There are scrapes and tears here and there. It smells really bad too.
“Scott came over here the other day to hitch a ride to the vet clinic. He found a puppy on the side of the road and he had nothing to wrap him up with. I grabbed the first thing I could and it –”
“–was my jacket? Really? Were you hiding all the way in my closet when it happened? Because that's where it was, you –”
“Hey, we saved a life! The little precious thing was scared and kinda clawed at your stupid jacket, but you should be glad this ugly thing served some purpose,” Stiles sniffs disdainfully, still safely behind Laura.
She has to apply more pressure against Derek when he tries to hurl himself at Stiles. “Stop, stop!”
Derek makes a frustrated noise and drops his ruined jacket on the floor before stomping out of the apartment. Laura flops back down on the couch and punches Stiles in the arm.
“You're such a little shit,” she says.
“He deserved it! When he saw me on campus the other day, he embarrassed me in front of like, the whole crowd. Lydia was there!”
Laura nods, “Yeah, he did mention that... He was pretty smug,” she amends. “But I remember he said it was revenge for this text you sent from his phone –”
“That was hilarious,” Stiles declares dismissively. “An I did save a puppy. I just picked the jacket really carefully.”
Laura hangs her head in defeat. “You two are impossible. You're really lucky you're my best friend because with the way you're treating my brother –”
Stiles flaps his hands around, and she dodges them as best as she can.
“What! How about how he treats me? He's been a dick since the beginning, and I have no idea why.”
“You're both dicks! You don't have to be dicks about it.”
“That doesn't make any kind of sense,” Stiles deadpans.
“It means,” Laura snarls, “that you could just hate each other in silence? Why don't you just ignore him? Why don't you act like the bigger man and let it go? You're both adults.”
“You don't understand, it's too late for that zen shit!” Stiles throws his arms up. “If I stop now, I lose. I won't lose to Derek fucking Hale.”
“But there's nothing to win,” she exclaims, exasperated.
Stiles shakes his head at her, like he's disappointed in her thickness. It's very patronizing, so Laura grabs a cushion and hits him in the face with it.
“Who started it anyway?”
“I honestly have no idea, but that is so not the point,” Stiles shrugs. “The point is – the point is...”
Laura levels him with a look. The look. The “I'm judging you so hard right now that I am utterly insensitive to your bullshit and I am bored with your whole being, now” look. It is a carefully practiced stare that she has perfected over the last six months. Derek knows this one really well too.
Before Stiles can find what exactly the point is, a text comes through his phone, and Laura reads over his shoulder.
You're gonna pay for the jacket. Literally. It cost me 350$, I really hope you have to go work at the burger place on 94th or something to pay for it.
Stiles just snorts.
“I'm not gonna pay for it,” he says with a confident smile.
Another text makes his phone vibrate.
Oh by the way, Lydia's looking very pretty tonight. I'm looking at her right now. This frat guy seems really interested in her. Jackson right?
Stiles jumps to his feet, clutching at his phone.
“Oh, that is low,” he says through gritted teeth.
“Dude, she's not interested in you anyway, let it go.”
She doesn’t add that Derek left literally three minutes ago and it’s nearly impossible for him to be at some frat party.
“I know that,” he snaps. “It's just the principle of it. He knows I hate Jackson. He knows I like Lydia. It's mean.”
“Oh, come on! He's probably lying anyway, I don't think there's any party tonight.”
Stiles sits back down and turns off his phone.
“Whatever, I don't care.”
“That's my boy,” Laura cheers. “I thought Lydia was your friend now, anyway?”
“She is. We're friends. It's not awkward anymore, I just – I was putting her on this weird pedestal you know?”
“Oh, I know,” Laura huffs.
Stiles shoves her away.
“Whatever. She's not flawless to me anymore. I still like her though. She's fucking smart,” he says. “But Derek is a dick for reminding me I was head over heels for her, and reminding me she chose Jackson – out of all the dudes she could choose – Jackson!”
Laura loops an arm around his shoulder. “She loves him. He loves her. Shut up about it already.”
“But he knows it's embarrassing me to think about how I was all over her. He just knows – the fucker.”
“You're so cute,” she coos.
“He's so cute,” Erica says again, like Derek hasn't heard her the first time.
He huffs and ignores her, toying with his drink. She pokes him with the straw of her milkshake.
“He's your roommate, come on! Just give me his number or something, I'll do all the work.”
“You don't wanna date the guy, he's a fucking health hazard.”
“Derek, please. Just introduce me.”
Derek looks up from his drink, annoyed. Erica is so freaking pretty. She could do so much better. He doesn't get it.
“He's a standard nerd,” he warns.
“He can be my batman,” she shoots back, undeterred.
“But I hate him,” he whines.
“Are you jealous?” she asks suddenly, like she's just thought about it, smirking wickedly.
Derek glares at her.
“Of you?” he asks with all the disdain he can muster.
Erica recoils in her seat. But then her eyebrows climb up and she just looks like she's figured out the end of Inception.
“Actually... uh, I meant – jealous of him. As in, if I date him then I won't pay any more attention to you and you'll be grumpy. You know... jealous of him because you want me to yourself. That kind of jealous.”
Derek stares some more, but that's just because he doesn't have anything to say to that. He clenches his jaw. He's about to snap at her that she's flattering herself when she smiles and cuts him off.
“It's interesting that your mind jumped to that conclusion, though.”
She looks thoughtful. Derek has no idea what's happening, he's trying really hard to look normal. Then he wonders why he has to try at all. He takes a sip of his coke. Everything's cool. He's cool.
“Come at the apartment tonight,” he says, finishing his drink. “He'll be there.”