Josh never believed in karma until he got to college. In just the first two weeks, Micah broke the vending machine that gave access to the nearest supply of chips and then every shower ran cold no matter which stall he stepped in; Brett set off the fire alarm at four in the morning and then had a pipe burst in the bathroom all over his only pair of shoes which stayed dripping wet for an entire week despite being left on the radiator at every spare moment; and after Andy and Craig ‘accidentally’ ate the leftover pizza belonging to Stilinski - Josh’s dorm room neighbour - their room became a wifi deadzone. (Two months later and they're still being forced to set up shop in the hallway with no fix managed. Stilinski always looks oddly gleeful whenever he sees them huddled out there.)
Though, Josh has come to learn that everything about Stilinski is a little odd. He grows herbs on the windowsill of the room he shares with McCall, has intricate red tattoos swirling up his arm like vines - probably the latest hipster trend that he’ll find himself regretting in six months time - and Josh is pretty sure his geeky, thick-framed glasses have no prescription, even though he always makes a point to perch them on his nose whenever he stares at the blank pages of the leatherbound book he carries everywhere with him.
Josh hasn’t really had much to do with him - except for that one time their hands brushed and he got an electric shock - but the guy’s door is always open and seems to be admitting a never ending stream of visitors. They leave with small packets of said ‘herbs’, leading Josh to the only conclusion that he must be the dorm’s resident dealer. (Once, he thought he saw the guy hand a nervous, waif-like girl a tiny stoppered vial of acid green liquid - though when he blinked, it turned out it was just a novelty eraser and Stilinski flashed him a wink.)
Josh is all for everyone finding their recreation wherever they please but he’s surprised at how blatant Stilinski’s activities are. It’s probably the reason for their RA’s eyebrows pulling down into a scowl whenever he catches sight of the guy.
Stern but fair, Derek is probably the best RA Josh could have hoped for, but something about Stilinski seems to just rub him the wrong way. Whenever he’s in the vicinity, Derek is all but gnashing his teeth and when Stilinski flutters his eyelashes and smiles that impish grin of his, it - inconceivably - ties the usually articulately-spoken RA's tongue into knots.
It hadn’t taken long for a secret betting pool to open up predicting when they’d finally get each other's clothes off. Josh’s prediction passed by a week ago so he’s down ten bucks to Micah, the only one of them who’d guessed it would take this long. Lucky son of a bitch. Or maybe it’s the karma? He’d better watch out. It has a habit of turning at the drop of a hat around here.
Josh is running late one morning in early November, cursing his lucky roommate who has a late start as he fumbles their door closed behind him. He's just wrestling his bag onto his shoulder when Derek storms across the corridor and slams into Stilinski’s room.
“Stop it,” he snarls.
“Stop what?” comes Stilinski’s voice, dripping with airy innocence.
“You know what.”
“Get Isaac to apologise and maybe I’ll think about it.”
Isaac Lahey is the most recent victim of the karma curse, waking up yesterday morning with hands somehow stained bright red, though Josh has no idea what he did to bring that down on himself. He doesn’t know what problem Stilinski could have with him either.
There’s a thud and as Josh inches by, he sees Derek pressing Stilinski against the wall, hands fisted in his collar. Josh has heard the phrase ‘seeing red’, but for a moment he's sure Derek's eyes are actually glowing.
“If I’d have known you liked it rough, Sourwolf, I would have invited you in sooner.” Stilinski leans closer to Derek whose resident scowl has melted and now he just looks dazed, ears pinking. And is he staring at Stilinski’s lips? The way they quirk up at the corners say it hasn't escaped Stilinski’s notice.
Josh accelerates down the hallway as Derek barrels out of the room and back to his own. He doesn't need to be seen putting his nose where it doesn't belong. He also doesn’t have the precious seconds to spare.
Thursdays are Josh’s longest day of classes so the dizzying trek to the top floor of the dorms that he usually considers the bane of his existence is, for one day a week, a blessed relief.
Derek and Stilinski are having a hushed conversation at the top. Despite having never met before, Josh has spotted them whispering in corners since their very first day in the dorms and at least three times a week since. They’re always accompanied by Derek’s usual scowl, but what’s not so usual is how serious Stilinski always looks. Josh has never been able to catch what they're saying and the discussion today ends as he crests the final flight. It’s so commonplace he doesn’t even wonder what they mutter about anymore.
Derek nods at Josh as he starts to make his own descent, a stack of paper in one hand, and Stilinski has his elbows draped over the banister, watching.
“Just remember what I said,” Derek says to Stilinski over his shoulder.
“Sure thing, Alpha,” Stilinski purrs.
There’s a choking sound and swish of paper and Josh looks back to see Derek’s worksheets spiralling down the stairwell. He's staring open-mouthed at Stilinski whose eyes sparkle above a wicked smile.
Josh shakes his head and continues his weary trudge towards his room. These guys are driving him crazy.
He's jolted awake that very same night by Stilinski yelling, “I can take care of myself!”
There's urgent shushing and a low, rumbling murmur that can only belong to Derek. Josh lifts his head from his pillow, straining his ears.
Stilinski is hissing, “You’re the one who nearly got your arm ripped off by that other Alpha.”
Getting into a fight with some fraternity? That doesn’t sound like usual Derek behaviour. Though, by the sounds of it, he was defending Stilinski’s honour, in which case it makes perfect sense.
Can’t they just bone already? Josh asks himself as he rolls over and tugs the sheets over his head. He just wishes he had the courage to open his door and yell it at them.
The next morning, Josh spies Stilinski and Derek in line in the cafeteria, standing close, though it looks like Stilinski is giving the RA the cold shoulder. The argument of the night before clearly hasn’t been resolved. Josh can’t help eavesdropping.
“What, are you going to punish me this time?” Derek is asking. “Turn all my course notes to Japanese? Zap all my underwear to the moon?”
Stilinski smirks, a dangerous glint in his eyes. Derek scowls coolly back, and though he can’t put his finger on why, Josh finds himself gulping for him.
When he gets back to the dorms after classes, all of Derek's shirts have mysteriously been sliced open from collar to hem. It’s not exactly unusual for Derek to be walking around the dorm without a shirt, but Stilinski still leans against his doorframe and leers at Derek's bare torso whenever he stomps by.
The next night, Josh goes for drinks at a friend’s place off campus which is exactly what he needs to get away from the weird and downright impossible goings on at the dorm, like the fact that all of Derek’s shirts had been inexplicably restored when he woke up that morning or that he’s ninety-percent sure he saw a black wolf jumping out of Stilinski’s dorm window in the middle of the night. He has no idea what’s going on anymore.
He’s still feeling pleasantly buzzed when he gets back to the dorm at one in the morning, already chalking everything up to sleep deprivation and the stress of an increasing workload.
As he passes Stilinski’s room, a thud comes from inside, followed by Derek snarling, “Jesus, Stiles, you can’t just-”
Josh heaves a sigh and rolls his head on his shoulders in exasperation. He’s had enough of their shit.
Fuelled by his liquid courage, he spins round and slams the door open. He realises too late that there was probably a reason why it was closed for once.
“Okay, that’s it, will you two just-”
The words shrivel in his throat as he takes in the two of them sprawled across Stilinski’s bed, Derek’s jeans undone and slipping down his thighs, Stilinski with his shirt off and revealing that his tattoos spread all the way up his arms, across his chest and down his stomach, all the way to the spot above his belly button where Derek had been in the midst of tracing them with his tongue.
“Oh,” Josh squeaks. “As you were.”
He pulls the door shut with a snap and stands frozen in the corridor for a few long seconds, already pretending that Derek’s mouth full of fangs and Stiles’ eyes shining gold was just a trick of the light. He focuses instead on the triumph of About time! as he continues on to his own room with a spring in his step resulting from the alcohol and a vehement denial of reality. His internal celebrating lasts even through Stilinski’s choruses of “Fuck, Derek, oh fuck-” echoing through the wall, even though that’s something he could really have done without hearing, ever.
On the bright side, he thinks, as he pulls his pillow over his head to block out the world he no longer understands, Maybe it will finally put an end to their constant bickering.
The next morning, he’s awoken by a monumental crash next door.