"This isn't going to be awkward, right?" Allison looks anxious, warm brown eyes wide and searching Stiles' face for reassurance, the edge of her lower lip, pink and soft looking tucked nervously under her top teeth. She shifts in Stiles' desk chair and smoothes an imaginary wrinkle from her skirt.
Stiles wants to offer her some kind of comfort, but he isn't sure he'd be any good at it. Plus, it's already a little weird, to be honest. "Awkward? What, working together for the next seven weeks? Nah," he tries to imbue his tone with some kind of nonchalance that he can feel the twist of his features absolutely ruining. Allison laughs though, and the sound of it makes Stiles smile.
"Right," she says, drawing the word out for a few extra seconds. "It's not like I used to date your best friend or anything. Or that that relationship ended in a spectacularly bad manner." She's saying it through a grin, so Stiles figures that the sarcastic tone is meant to be laughed off. It's a technique he's quite familiar with-- defusing uncomfortable situations with sarcasm-- and he's grateful for it now.
"Nope. I mean, if I'd had to listen to hundreds of shitty poems about your beautiful eyes, or the perfect way your hair falls around your shoulders, or your beautiful smile-- god I need to get him a thesaurus-- or how soft your ski-. Um, that might make things strange." He almost chokes on his own tongue stopping the words ' your skin feels under his fingertips ' from falling out of his mouth. There are very clear lines in the sand here; this tentative ease between them, a possibility of friendship that they never quite got to have before. It wouldn't survive anything like an admission that Stiles had thought about how Allison's skin might feel if it were his hands instead of Scott's exploring it.
Allison offers him mercy, ignoring the slip and giving him another unguarded laugh. "He really was the absolute worst poet!"
They share a laugh then, and there’s an almost palpable shift in the mood. Maybe this incredibly long research project won’t be the worst thing to happen to high school English classes since the literary world decided that books about sparkling supernatural creatures were what the kids should be reading.
The first week is more of the same cautious, quiet companionship. They focus on the work, building a bibliography, developing a working thesis. There are a few shared smiles, fewer shared stories, but it’s comfortable. Allison sits at the desk, and Stiles sits against it, resting his book on his knees and trying to ignore the way he can smell whatever perfume Allison is wearing, and that if he were to move an inch or two to the left, he could probably feel the warmth radiating from her legs.
During week two, Allison joins him on the floor, both of them leaning against the side of Stiles’ bed, or sprawling on the floor among a mess of books and notes and half empty bags of chips. They spend almost as much time talking about their completely bonkers shared history as they do their paper, and it’s easier to laugh about things.
Week three, Allison will casually plop on Stiles’ bed (they’ve both decided that it’s much better to keep their study sessions out of the Argent household) and tease him like they’ve always been friends. It feels good to have her in his space, and in his life in a way that is wholly untied to Scott, or to life or death situations. Halfway through the week, she throws herself unceremoniously onto the bed when Stiles is still in it, and they touch briefly; it makes Stiles’ skin feel almost electric. She huffs out a breath as she follows her momentum downward and ends up staring at Stiles ceiling quietly stewing; Stiles can feel her frustration.
“Everything okay, Ally A?” Stiles turns just enough to look at her, his hands anxiously rubbing up and down his legs, unsure what to do about how close they’re sitting, especially now that Allison is laying down. On his bed.
She smiles at the impromptu nickname, but it melts into a pout quickly. “Hey, seriously, are you alright Al?” he asks again, angling himself a little more.
She bites her lip then takes a breath as though she’s going to speak. Before she starts though, she reaches out and tugs at Stiles’ shirt. “Come down here, it’s weird talking to your profile and I’m too annoyed to move right now.” Stiles acquiesces reluctantly, settling himself at as safe a distance he can manage without being obvious or falling off the end of the bed. Allison immediately negates the few inches he’s put between them by turning on her side, one hand propping up her head, the other playing with a thread on Stiles’ comforter that happens to be very close to Stiles’ side. He imagines that he can feel the air between her fingers and his cotton covered skin vibrating.
As she talks about a fight with her dad, Stiles watches the way she speaks with her whole face, expressions adding emphasis and weight to her words and he finds a familiar struggle in her recounting of the current Argent family drama. It’s nice that they have something in common besides loss. After, she thanks him for letting her vent, and gives him a smile with full dimples, and says “You’re a good friend,” and it’s the first time they’ve used the word out loud in context of their relationship, and he smiles back because it sounds nice.
They start talking more after that, about real things, and stupid things, and their favorite things. They also start sitting closer, moving around each other more like they’ve been doing it for a long time. Allison will pop her feet into his lap, and Stiles doesn’t think twice about brushing her hair from her face. They laugh more than either of them have in a while, and though neither of them really acknowledge it, there are more than a few lingering glances that are summarily ignored.
Fingers brush while they pass papers and reach for snacks at the same time, and they smile, or apologize, or laugh it off. It still leaves Stiles feeling unbalanced, but in a pleasant way.
When their paper is about 70% complete, Stiles is the one who throws himself onto his bed, anger and annoyance making his jaw clench. When Allison comes in, her cheerful greeting is cut off by a concerned “What’s wrong?” Stiles would take a moment to appreciate that they know each other enough by now that the question is no longer “Is everything okay?” but he can’t spare the attention for it.
Before Stiles can reply, she's suddenly laying next to him; she’s on her side like that first time, but much closer because this time they were on the bed in the proper direction. He turns his head towards her and finds genuine concern and patience there. With a deep sigh, he bites out a frustrated “Scott,” his jaw clenching to stop the flood of angry words he wants to unleash.
When Allison’s face scrunches up in confusion, Stiles questions whether it was smart of him to keep Ally in the dark about Scott's increasingly insistent and irritated inquiries about what Stiles and Allison were doing together.
“Has he been on your case about us spending time together?” She sounds so worried on his behalf, and something warm curls in Stiles’ belly; he isn’t used to having people besides his dad care so much. When Stiles takes a breath too long to answer, and his eyes can’t quite meet hers, Allison rests a hand on his shoulder and sighs out “Oh, Stiles, I’m sorry,” and rearranges herself so she’s laying beside him, quietly threading their hands together.
Stiles closes his eyes for a moment, swallowing down the hot, angry feeling in his throat, quickly getting overwhelmed with the warmth of Allison’s hand in his own and the way they’re pressed together from hip to shoulder.
“Y’know,” Stiles starts, clearing his throat when his voice comes out raspy, “Your ex-boyfriend is kind of a self righteous bag of dicks sometimes.” Allison makes an inelegant sound that turns into a loud laugh, and Stiles thinks he might be falling a little bit in love with her. When she rolls slightly to press her laugh into his shoulder and chokes out an agreement, he knows he’s already gone on her.
When they finalize their report and have their presentation mapped out, neither wants to confront what happens when they don’t have the excuse of their project to spend time together. So they don’t.
They spend a few days on unnecessary revisions and edits, then when that becomes too obviously stupid, they avoid talking about anything and marathon movies instead. They sit on Stiles’ bed, or on the couch in the living room, barely an inch between them, but they don’t acknowledge it. Their hands inevitably find each other, and they’ve fallen asleep on each other more than a few times. Sometimes, if John is home, they all have dinner together and the three of them move effortlessly around the kitchen like it’s a habit and not something new.
Of course, it’s on one of these nights that their little bubble of denial bursts.
Somewhere between salad and “Pass the potatoes, please,” John asks “How’s that paper coming along? It’s due on Wednesday, innit?” and Stiles and Allison both freeze, looking at each other with something like resignation. John is looking between the two of them keenly, a knowing look on his face.
Stiles clears his throat, but it’s Allison who answers. “Yeah, it’s almost done, Sheriff. It’s pretty good, too, I think. Stiles is a great partner.” She smiles and looks down when she says the last part, but Stiles feels his face heat like she was staring him down.
John smiles, warm and all-knowing, “It’s nice to see the two of you working together again.” Stiles and Allison share a smile of their own, and Stiles knows that it’s time for their shared silence to come to an end.
After dinner, John excuses himself to his office with a “Have fun, kids,” and a grin, and Stiles and Allison make their way up to Stiles’ room without a word. The click of the door shutting is like a gunshot, and they both startle then laugh at the irony of two people who have fought literal monsters being frightened by a door.
“So,” they say at the same time, laughing again before it fades. Stiles gestures for Allison to continue, and she smiles, taking a couple steps toward him. He is suddenly reminded that she is dangerous in a way that even the wolves that they run with aren’t.
“So,” she repeats, dimples on full display and her voice just quiet enough that Stiles has to lean toward her a little. “I’ve really liked spending these last six weeks with you, Stiles.” She looks up at him through her lashes, and Stiles can only nod and hum an agreeable sound and swallow audibly. “And I think you’ve liked it, too,” she raises a perfectly shaped brow, and Stiles nods again, earning him a small curl at the corner of Allison’s mouth that still feels like a small triumph.
“I’ve been thinking that I’d like to keep doing it, even after our presentation is done. But,” Stiles feels his heart stutter, not sure what he wants to hear after that word. Allison is close enough now that she can reach out for his hand, so she does, her fingertips ghosting over the back of his hand before capturing his and winding through his fingers, just barely holding on, the slightest pressure keeping them together and making Stiles’ skin feel electric. He wonders if she feels the same current running through her when they touch. “I have a very important question to ask you.”
“Wh-what do you need to know, Ally? I think you know by now that you can ask me anything.”
She smiles at him at that, a softer one than the almost predatory grin that started this conversation, and it makes Stiles feel warm. “That first day, here in your room, when we were trying to figure out how strange it was going to be for us to work together, you mentioned Scott’s shitty poetry. I need to know,” she leans further into Stiles’ space, bringing her lips right up to his ear and whispering “Does it feel like you imagined it would when we touch?”
The hot rush of her breath against his skin makes Stiles shiver and close his eyes, a prolonged blink that he uses to suppress an urge to groan.
Emboldened, Stiles runs his free hand up Allison’s arm, delighting in the trail of goosebumps that his fingertips leave in their wake, and the way Allison’s breath catches. Her eyelashes flutter and when their eyes meet again, the air in the room is suddenly heavy; tension vibrates all around them, but the space between them is calm with the promise of an about to be realized possibility. His fingertips reach the place where her shoulder and neck meet, then he’s cradling the delicate curve of her jaw and tracing her bottom lip with his thumb. He’s quiet when he answers, deferring to the fragility of the moment. “It’s so much better than I ever could have dreamed of.”
She inhales sharply, her eyes shine and she licks her lips, catching the edge of Stiles’ thumb, eyes widening when she realizes what she’s done.
“Allison,” Stiles whispers, leaning down so that their foreheads touch and squeezing their joined hands tighter. “Tell me you feel this, too.”
Allison grabs Stiles’ shoulder and surges upward to bring their mouths together. It starts with a too rough press and a moan from them both, edging on desperate, before it softens. Their arms wind easily around each other as their lips catch and slide, hands learning the shape of one another with slow sweeps, tongues slowly exploring and tasting. It’s easy as breathing for Allison to thread her fingers through Stiles’ hair and for Stiles to wrap his arms around her waist, bringing her close.
Allison walks them backwards, toward the bed, and crawls toward the headboard carefully, never breaking the kiss. Stiles moves over her, cautious to keep his weight off of her, which is a moot point when she pulls him down, rolling her hips into his and gasping into his mouth when she feels his half hard length push against her thigh. Stiles pulls away just enough to speak, panting out an apology that Allison dismisses with a shake of her head and another kiss, this one chaste in comparison but no less electric.
“Maybe we should slow down a little, save some of this for a time when the house is a little emptier? Because I would really like to see what else I can do to make you make that sound again.” Allison laughs, throwing her head back into Stiles’ pillow before leaning up to kiss his nose.
“Good call, Stilinski. I knew I requested you as a partner for a reason.”
Stiles pulls further away, mild shock on his face. “You requested me?”
She traces the column of his neck with teasing fingers to watch his reaction, biting her lip and holding his gaze, nodding as a smile tugs at her lips. “I might have.”
Stiles laughs and lets himself fall slightly lower, trailing his nose up her neck and following it with his tongue, revelling in the small gasp it earns him. “I’m glad you’re kind of an evil mastermind.”
“Mmmhmm. Me too.” Stiles reaches a spot just below her ear, and she stifles a groan and arches her neck so he has better access, uses a hand in his hair to encourage him to concentrate on the spot. She tugs lightly on his hair, making him hum against her skin “C’mere, I bet there are a few things we can do without making too much noise.”
It turns out that nothing they end up doing together is awkward at all.