"But you said you'd come to my next intramural match last time I asked you," Scott said, turning his big, sad eyes on Stiles as he sat on the sofa in the living room of the off-campus apartment they shared. "You even promised, man."
Stiles looked up from his textbook with a grimace and got pinned by Scott's pleading expression. He'd been falling for that look since kindergarten, and he suspected he always would. "Shit. I did," he said, tossing the book onto the cushion beside him. "And at this point, really, I've absorbed all the chemistry I can. A couple more hours of cramming would probably just piss me off."
Grinning, Scott said, "That's the spirit," and turned his attention back to packing his gym bag, a helmet, mouth guard, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and roller skates littering the floor.
"What are you playing?" Stiles asked. "Football or roller derby? Because I've got to tell you, with the amount of gear you have there, I'm concerned."
"Hey, derby's a highly competitive, contact sport, I'll have you know," Scott said. "People break bones and shit. It's awesome."
"Yeah, sounds like a fun time." Not even remotely accurate, but to each his own, Stiles figured. "Can't imagine why more people don't take advantage of the university's intramural program with advertising like that."
Scott threw a balled-up pair of socks at Stiles' head. "You're gonna love it. Trust me."
Groaning, but standing up nonetheless, Stiles shoved his feet into his sneakers and shrugged into a hoodie. "I'm sure you're right," he said, "and if nothing else, I'll love the pizza you'll buy us on the way home."
"You say that like it's not actually my turn to buy," Scott said, his face scrunched up in confusion.
"Right? Just keeping you on your toes, Scotty. Come on, introduce me to the joys of roller derby."
They lived on the edge of campus, so they walked, making their way to the field house on campus. Scott gave Stiles a brief summary of the game, starting with positions and scoring. At one point, Stiles threw his hands up. "Wait a minute, hold up. So there are blockers, a jammer and a pivot; that's easy enough to understand. But I still don't understand how you score."
Snorting, Scott said, "Yeah, that explains your social life."
"You realize if you make me cry, you end up buying the beer too, not just the pizza?"
"Aw, buddy. You know I was just joking," Scott said earnestly.
Stiles walked closer and nudged Scott's shoulder with his own. "Okay, so back to the scoring. Explain that one more time?"
"So the jammer -who wears a cap with a star on it over their helmet- when they lap members of the other team that's how they score. The blockers on the opposing team try to keep the jammer from passing them." Scott held the door open to the field house and waved for Stiles to go in first.
Grinning, Stiles said, "Ever the gentleman."
"You know it." Scott pointed over to the track which was basically an oval taped out onto a concrete floor. Both teams were getting ready; putting on their gear and lacing up their skates. "Anyway, I'm still learning all the rules myself, but hopefully that made some sense to you."
"I'm hoping it'll make more sense when I see it, but there's always my good friend, Google, if I'm lost."
About to cross over to where his team was gathered, Scott paused instead. "Why do I always get slightly jealous when I hear you talk like that?"
Pushing Scott in the direction of his team, Stiles said, "Oh my god, go. You know you're my favorite. Go do… great things, and don't break anything."
He laughed as Scott's expression brightened and went to find a seat at the edge of the track where there were others sitting on the floor. He took a seat and had intended to pull out his phone to keep him amused until things started, but he was surprised to find he was more interested in watching the teams get ready.
Some players had on pretty outlandish costumes; there were striped socks in bright colors, body paint, funky spandex shorts, tutus -and not just on the women- and Stiles was thinking he'd need to help Scott up his game. About half were dressed like Scott in just a t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts, but they were boring to look at. Yeah, he'd definitely have to set Scott up properly.
After the introductions of each team were made, the whistle was blown and the match started. It took Stiles a bit to figure out what was happening (even with Scott's explanation) and to follow the action. The people sitting on either side of him were more than happy to explain what was going on, and he enjoyed what a raucous bunch they were, both cheering for the players and jeering at the refs in turn.
Scott came into the game early on, but had only been in a minute or so when another player crashed into him, hard. What appeared to be the head referee, a tallish guy in skates with dark hair in a black and white striped shirt, blew his whistle and motioned towards Scott. The ref skated up to him, said something Stiles couldn't hear, and pointed off to the side of the track. Scott looked shocked, but nodded and skated off the track.
Before Stiles could even think, he jumped up onto his feet and shouted at the ref. "Are you blind, ref? What kind of dumbass call was that? Do you need to borrow my glasses?"
"You aren't wearing glasses, dude," the guy next to him called up from his seat on the floor.
Stiles was about to reply when the ref turned and began skating towards him, his mouth in a tight line and his eyes narrowed. If pressed, Stiles would deny the whimper of fright that escaped him, and the 'Oh my god, I'm going to die,' that followed.
The ref came to an abrupt stop about a foot from him. Stiles was torn between acknowledging his superior skating skills, making a run for it, or falling to his knees in worship, because of course the ref he'd just insulted happened to be the most beautiful man he'd ever laid eyes on.
"What's your problem?" the man practically snarled, his hands on his hips. "Don't you know a foul when you see one?" Not giving Stiles a chance to answer, he continued. "My grandmother could have seen that foul from here without her glasses."
Stiles was frozen, his eyes wide and his mouth open.
The ref seemed to be searching for something in Stiles' expression, and apparently he found it, because he scowled and said, "Yeah, that's what I thought. Enjoy the match," and skated away.
Sure, Stiles watched him, because the view from behind was nearly as good as the front, perhaps even moreso because he didn't have to see the clear disdain on the ref's face this way. Sighing, he plopped back down to the floor, sitting cross-legged and feeling a bit relieved he hadn't been punched in the face.
"Do you know who that was?" the guy next to him asked, amusement clear on his face.
"Besides the man of my dreams?" Stiles asked, his face still red from embarrassment.
"That's Derek Hale. I think half the people here are here to watch him," he said. "And hey, I'm Dan."
"Stiles," he said. "Good to meet you. So tell me, was that an actual foul? This is my first match ever. I came to watch my roommate."
Dan laughed and said, "Yeah. It was a pretty obvious one, too. Your friend got blocked hard, which is still perfectly legal, but then it looked like he threw an elbow - which isn’t."
Wondering if he'd ever make it a day without putting his over-large foot in his mouth, Stiles groaned. "Figures. Well, thanks. I guess this is me shutting up and no longer heckling the refs."
"At least not until your second match, anyway," Dan joked.
Scott was on the track again, and Stiles shot him a sheepish grin as he skated by. The rest of the match passed quickly, as he tried to follow the action, learn the rules and cheer for Scott's team. He was nothing if not a multi-tasker. When it was over, he was very grateful the worst mishap had been an accidental black eye, and nothing involving blood or broken bones, because puking in public was something he never wanted to experience.
Even though it wasn't Scott's team that won, he skated up to Stiles with a grin on his face and caught him up in a huge hug. "I saw what you did there, man. Defending my honor."
"Humiliating myself is more like it, but I'm glad you enjoyed it," Stiles said dejectedly as Scott swung him in a half circle. "Now put me down before one of us breaks something!" He saw Derek on the side of the track, unlacing his skates. Nodding towards him, he said, " I'm going to go apologize for making an ass of myself."
"I don't know if I'd bother," Scott said. "People yell at the refs all the time."
Stiles shrugged, but frowned slightly. He had that slightly sick-feeling in his stomach that came along with knowing you'd been an unmitigated ass. "I know, but I was wrong. Wait for me?"
Scott nodded, and Stiles grimaced and turned to walk towards the other side of the track. He didn't think he'd been this nervous over an apology since he broke the neighbor's window in third grade, and his mom had made him ring their doorbell and tell them what he'd done. Perhaps it was because he wasn't paying attention that he tripped over nothing and almost fell, just barely righting himself in time, his arms circling his body like giant windmills.
He glanced up just in time to see Derek looking his way, the corners of his mouth turning up, and Stiles was simultaneously enamored at the look of amusement on Derek's face, and horrified he'd just seen Stiles in his natural habitat. “Why is this my life?” Stiles muttered, but fortunately made it the rest of the way unharmed.
“Hi, I'm Stiles,” he said, offering his hand somewhat timidly, and a smile.
“So you can speak,” he said, his tone much kinder, giving Stiles’ hand a firm shake.
"All the time, once you know me," Stiles said, and immediately wanted to duct tape his mouth shut. "Way to make yourself sound super appealing, great job," he muttered under his breath.
“My name’s Derek," he said, when it looked like Stiles was done talking.
“It's good to properly meet you," Stiles said. "I mean, without the yelling and name calling involved." He could feel his armpits starting to sweat, and he considered running away, but took a calming breath and continued. "Anyway, I wanted to apologize for calling you a dumbass. It’s my first match, and I uh, I got a bit carried away, or a lot carried away. But I came to watch my roommate, only he's not just my roommate, we've been friends our entire lives, and you know, I had a moment of jump up and insult the ref first, think later?"
Derek looked like he was fighting a smile and he shrugged a shoulder. "I've been called a lot worse. But thanks all the same. I don't think anyone's ever apologized to me before for what they've said during a match."
"Well, I was a dick, so you deserved an apology." Derek did smile then, and Stiles felt his brain nearly short circuit from the beauty of it. In addition to being impossibly attractive, he was also in possession of manners. It possible, it made him even more appealing, and Stiles cursed the fact that he himself was a mere mortal.
"Why don't you play? Is derby not your thing?" Derek asked.
Stiles shot him a look of disbelief. "I know you saw me nearly trip and fall to my death on the way over here. Trust me when I say attaching wheels to my feet wouldn't be a good idea."
Pausing from where he'd been putting his gear in his bag, Derek looked up. "Have you tried before?"
"What, skating?" He pointed to the underside of his chin. "I've got a scar from eight stitches here that tells me it's a bad idea. My parents got me a skateboard for my birthday when I was ten. After a couple trips to the ER, they bought me some video games instead, and the skateboard was never seen again."
"That's why you wear protective gear."
Scoffing, Stiles said, "Tell that to my broken arm."
Derek's eyebrows were high on his forehead in surprise, and he looked like he might be holding back a grin again. "Maybe if you tried now that you're older? And you have a bit more control with skates," he explained. "I could teach you. I mean, if you're interested."
An immediate 'No thank you, I want to live,' was almost out of Stiles' mouth, but fortunately he managed to stop it in time. He was not about to turn down an excuse to spend time with this man, further trips to the hospital be damned. "I don't have any gear," he said, warming to the idea, but still anxious.
"What size are you?" he asked, looking down at Stiles' sneakered feet. "An eleven?"
"Are you some kind of savant?" Stiles asked skeptically.
"Are there foot-size savants out there?" Derek asked. "It seems like a super specific sub-genre."
Stiles laughed and said, "I don't know, it just seemed like an odd thing to be able to guess."
"I'm an eleven, too" he said. "So, easy guess. And I've got extra gear you can borrow. So what do you say?"
Derek looked directly at him and offered up a look eerily similar to Scott's. It looked a lot better on Derek, but Stiles would never admit that. He could see Scott watching them from across the track, currently making kissy faces behind Derek's back. "I say I'm mildly terrified at the thought of breaking my neck, but I'm still on my dad's insurance, so sure?"
"You'll be in good hands," Derek said.
Staring blankly for a moment, Stiles enjoyed the many practical and extremely enjoyable situations he could apply to Derek's comment. When his brain re-booted, he found Derek smirking at him, as if he knew where his thoughts had taken him. "Ah, okay. Sounds good. Really good. When were you thinking?"
"What are you doing tomorrow night?"
"I have a study group, but I'm free after." Stiles was trying to play it cool, blinking back his surprise, but he was almost certain this was a date. He couldn't get his brain to reconcile the fact that this was happening to him. "How about nine?"
"That works," Derek said, reaching into his bag and pulling out his phone. After unlocking it, he handed it to Stiles. "Here, put your number in."
Stiles hands were shaking, but he managed to enter his number and save it to Derek's phone. He wanted to stay and talk, but he knew Scott was waiting, and he really needed to go pinch himself to make sure this was all really happening. Handing Derek his phone back, he smiled and said, "My friend's waiting, but I'll see you tomorrow night, and hey, sorry again for calling you a dumbass."
Derek chuckled and said, "Let's hope it's the last time I give you a reason to."
The walk to the field house that evening seemed endless. Stiles had half convinced himself Derek wouldn't be there, even though he'd gotten a text from him earlier in the afternoon, checking to see if they were still on for the evening, and telling Stiles to bring a helmet if he had one. But still…
And then he opened the door and turned the corner, and there was Derek with his back to the door, taking gear out of his bag. It gave Stiles a moment to collect himself (ha!) and fistpump the air. The fact that Derek turned and saw him at that exact moment couldn't detract from Stiles' absolute glee. He did blush, though. Quite spectacularly, at that.
"Stiles," Derek said, his face breaking out into a grin. "I was starting to think you wouldn't show."
Glancing at the clock on the wall, and seeing it was only a few minutes past the hour, he said, "We did say nine, right?"
"We did," Derek said, checking the time. "I guess I was early." He gestured to the bench next to him and said, "Take a seat, let's get you prepped." His eyes widened and he immediately corrected, "Ready. Let's get you ready."
Laughing, Stiles nearly tripped over his feet, but made it to the bench unscathed. He wondered, just for a moment, if maybe Derek was feeling nervous, too. Setting that thought aside to contemplate later, he toed off his sneakers, and looking up at Derek, he realized for they were wearing practically matching outfits. "I see you got the same 'black shorts, white graphic-t memo' I did."
"Apparently so." He reached out a finger and dragged it across Stiles' shirt, where the word 'lacrosse' was faded due to so many washings. "You played in high school?" he asked.
"I was never first string or anything," Stiles said. "Mostly Scott, my roommate, didn't want to try out alone, so he talked me into it, and then it just stuck. What sports did you play in high school?"
Smirking, Derek asked, "What makes you think I played sports? Maybe I was the chess club president or a mathlete."
"Have you seen yourself in a mirror? There's no way you look like that without working out." Stiles wasn't going to let himself feel embarrassment for that comment. Anyone with two eyes could see the truth in that statement. "Come on, tell me."
Derek's cheeks were pink when he answered. "I played basketball and baseball, but I was a mathlete, too." He hesitated a moment before saying, "I'm here on a baseball scholarship. It's why I don't actually play on one of the intramural derby teams. If I broke anything, I'd be out. I like to skate, though, so being a ref is as close as I get."
Stiles nodded. "That's seriously awesome. I love baseball. What position do you play?"
"Catcher," he answered.
The sly grin on Stiles’ face probably would have been enough, but he couldn’t help saying, “Do you ever pitch? Or do you only catch?”
He pinned Stiles with an intense look and raised an eyebrow slowly. “I only pitch for fun." Smirking, Derek added, “I’m versatile, yes.”
Clearing his throat, Stiles said, “Good to know.” He looked down at the gear Derek had set out for him. "I suppose we should do this. But I don't know where to start."
Derek pulled more gear out of his bag. "I usually start with my knee pads. Slide them up like so," he instructed. As Stiles copied his movements, Derek reached over to check the fit, slipping a finger behind Stiles' knee on both sides. "These feel good, right?"
Not being able to actually form words, Stiles just nodded. He was a lost cause. If Derek's fingertips on the backs of his knees was enough to throw him into a lust-fueled panic, he wasn't sure he was going to make it through the rest of the night.
They repeated the process with the elbow pads, and then Derek knelt down in front of Stiles to lace his skates. "I know you're not a child," he said, "but there's a specific way to lace your skates that add stability to your ankles. It's easier to show you this first time than to risk an injury." When he had Stiles' skates laced up, he wrapped his fingers around Stiles' ankles and gave them a squeeze. "What do you think?"
Honestly, Stiles wasn't thinking much at the moment, past his brain's constant refrain of 'Oh my god, he's touching my bare skin with his fingertips and I want him to touch me everywhere and why are his fingers like little points of electricity and I wonder if I could get him to move them up my legs just a little?'
"Stiles?" Derek said, squeezing his knee, staring up at Stiles with a questioning gaze.
"Sorry," he said, looking down into Derek's eyes, marveling at the different flecks of color that made up his irises. That was probably not the way to gain any sense of calm, but he couldn't help himself. "I got a bit distracted." He smiled by way of apology and said, "You have eyes."
Snorting with laughter, Derek said, "Yes, Stiles. I do."
"I mean, pretty eyes. Your eyes are beautiful. Oh god. Please help me shut up," he begged. "Isn't there a mouth guard or something next?"
Derek rose to his feet in one smooth movement and sat on the bench leaving little room between them. "Since there's little chance of us throwing elbows, I think we're probably safe without them."
"Yeah, maybe you are," Stiles muttered, completely unimpressed with his lack of ability when it came to keeping his cool. Derek's eyes were practically sparkling now as he turned to face him, and Stiles decided cool had most definitely been taken off the menu. He took the wrist guards Derek handed him, and luckily they required no higher brain power to put on.
Once they both had their helmets on, Derek said, "It's really not all that difficult. Just go slow. It's kind of like anything else - don't increase the speed until you have control." He stood up and offered a hand to Stiles. "This isn't just a cheap ploy to get you to hold my hand. Until you have your balance, I'd rather keep you steady."
With a slight shrug of his shoulders, Stiles said, "There won't be any complaints from me." He reached for Derek's hand and rose to his feet. "You better give me the other one, too."
"Your wish, my command," he said, taking Stiles' other hand in his. Derek took a few steps backward, mostly pulling Stiles along with him. "When you're ready, push off with your dominant leg. It's pretty instinctive. I'll skate backwards and steer us, you just concentrate on moving your feet."
"Moving my feet, sure." He couldn't really care less about his feet, not when he was holding hands with this adorably handsome, slightly-stubbled man with inky black hair and the most gorgeous eyes he'd ever seen outside Hollywood. Who needed feet when faced with such a man? Not Stiles Stilinski, no sir.
Derek's grip tightened slightly as they made their way into the first turn. "Don't try anything fancy. Just lean towards the left. We'll address taking corners crossing one foot over the other in a few minutes. For now, we want to focus on getting you comfortable being on skates."
"I don't think there's enough time in either of our lifetime's for that."
"Okay, so perhaps 'comfortable' is a stretch," Derek admitted, his face splitting into a grin. "We could tone it down to a step above terrified. Better?"
"Much." He stumbled a bit, but barely bobbled, being held firmly in Derek's grasp. "This isn't so bad. I can see the potential for fun."
"That's the spirit," Derek said, leading them through another turn, still skating backwards. "So what do you think, are you ready for one hand?"
Anything that involved less contact with Derek wasn't really high on Stiles' list of wants, but he was there to learn, so begrudgingly, he said, "Sure. I've got this."
Derek turned and within moments was facing the same way as Stiles, and they proceeded around the rink several times, holding hands. "Are you having fun?"
"Surprisingly, yes." He turned to look at Derek just in time to see his brow furrowed in disappointment. "No, no no! That's not what I meant!" he hastily added. "I meant I didn't think I'd enjoy skating. I wasn't doubtful at all about spending time with you." He squeezed Derek's hand tightly in his.
"Thanks for clarifying," Derek said, ducking his head and placing a kiss on Stiles' cheek.
It was the most simple, sweetest of kisses, but Stiles wasn't expecting it, and forgetting he was on skates, he forgot to move his feet. Derek tried to catch him when it was obvious Stiles was going to fall, but in his haste to move quickly, one of his skates tangled with Stiles' and they both went down in a heap.
A distinctive snap was heard, followed by a gasp, and then Stiles cried out in pain. “Shit. Shit! Oh fuck.”
Carefully extracting himself from their tangle of limbs, Derek crouched in front of Stiles. “Where do you hurt?” he asked, looking like he was afraid to offer help before he knew.
“My arm,” Stiles said, cradling his right arm against his chest from his spot on the floor. “I think it was under me when I fell.”
“Shit, I’m so sorry,” he said, making quick work of unlacing both his and Stiles’ skates and slipping off their knee pads. “Let’s get our stuff together, and I’ll take you to the emergency room.”
Stiles just nodded, feeling a bit woozy and not trusting himself to speak.
Several minutes later, Derek had his bag crammed full of gear, had put both of their pair of sneakers back on, and was leading Stiles out to his car. He got Stiles buckled in and went around to the driver's side, and as he started the car, he said, "I know I've already apologized, Stiles, but I feel awful. The last thing I wanted was for you to get hurt."
Derek's face was tight with concern, but Stiles thought he also looked upset, and it occurred to him that he hadn't asked Derek if he was okay. "I know, and it's totally not your fault," Stiles said. "You're not hurt, are you?"
"What?" he asked, his face scrunching up in surprise, shocked that Stiles would even ask about him at the moment. "No, I'm fine, other than feeling like a huge jackass."
"Listen up," Stiles said, his voice strained, "because I'm not going to say this again. I'm an adult, it's not your job or responsibility to take care of me. It was an accident, that's all."
"Okay," Derek said eventually after a period of silence.
Stiles reached out with his good arm, and put his hand on Derek's leg. "And think about what a great story this is going to make. Your kiss literally knocked me off my feet."
Groaning good-naturedly, Derek said, "Please tell me you did not just say that."
"I fell for you. Hard." Stiles laughed, but it trailed off in a whimper as the pain in his arm flared. Luckily, they'd just arrived at the entrance to the ER.
"Oh thank god we're here," Derek said, pulling into a parking spot. "I think the pain has migrated to your brain." He turned to look at Stiles and flashed him a smile, letting him know he was joking. "Come on, let's get you inside."
Just a couple hours later, Stiles' ulna and radius had been confirmed broken, and then set and casted. He was the owner of a hot pink cast that started at his hand and went nearly up to his elbow. Derek had helped Stiles fill his prescription for pain meds, and they were currently in Stiles' and Scott's apartment, waiting for Scott to get home.
"If you need to leave I'm sure Scott will be home soon," Stiles said. They were on the sofa, Stiles' head on Derek's lap. He didn't want Derek to leave, especially because he was pain-free and super comfortable, but he also didn't want Derek to feel like he had to babysit him, either.
"Don't be ridiculous, Stiles," Derek said, his voice gruff. "I wouldn't leave you like this."
Stiles was happy to hear that, as the fingers Derek were currently running through his hair felt wonderful. "I think I'm high from the pain pill," he said. "Either that or you have magic fingers, because they feel really good."
Chuckling, Derek said, "Last I knew my fingers were average, nothing magical about them, so I'm going to have to go with your first guess." They were both quiet for a while, the only sound an occasional moan or happy mewl from Stiles from Derek playing with his hair. "Hey, Stiles?"
"I know you said this wasn't my fault, but I still feel like it is," Derek said.
"Why's that?" Stiles asked, too blissed out from Derek's hands on him to be upset by Derek bringing the subject back up. That, and he was starting to feel a bit drowsy from the pain meds.
Derek looked down at Stiles and smiled, somewhat bashfully. "I should have just asked you out like I wanted to, instead of offering to teach you to skate. But I was nervous," he said. "We could have avoided all this, and maybe we'd be kissing each other goodnight right now, instead of you enjoying a high while nursing a broken arm."
"What's wrong with enjoying my high?" Stiles slurred, smiling up at Derek. "But I like the idea of kissing. Is that off the table?"
"For now, sadly yes," Derek said. "When you're not on pain pills? I'm all for it."
His grin somewhat goofy, Stiles said, "Promise? You're not just humoring me, right? Like, I'll wake up tomorrow morning, and think I just imagined you saying that because you'll want nothing to do with me and you'll be this elusive and devastatingly handsome guy who wants nothing to do with me?"
"I don't know where to even begin responding to that," Derek said. "But there will be kissing, I promise."
"This is my favorite broken bone incident, ever," Stiles said before promptly passing out.
Stiles woke in the morning to Scott handing him a glass of water and a pain pill.
"Here, buddy, take this," Scott said. "You were whimpering in your sleep, so I'm thinking it's probably time for one of these."
As he raised his head and took the pill, he realized two things. He was still on the sofa, and his head was still very much in Derek Hale's lap. He craned his head up to see the bottom of Derek's chin and jaw, his head thrown back against the sofa, sound asleep. "Has he been here-"
"All night, yeah," Scott finished. "You were asleep when I got home. Derek stayed awake long enough to tell me what happened and then he was out, too." Wincing, Scott added, "He's going to have one hell of a neck kink when he wakes up."
He could feel the grin on his face reaching epic proportions. "I hope not too bad," Stiles said. "He promised me kisses."
Scott rolled his eyes. "Only you, Stiles." He sighed and stood up, but before he made to leave the room, he said, "Oh, and we decorated your cast, too."
Looking down at his arm made Stiles laugh. Scott had drawn two stick figures, wearing roller skates, in a heap on the ground. A pretty accurate description of his night, truth be told. But then, right where Stiles wouldn't be able to miss it, was an unfamiliar scrawl. 'I fell for you, too,' it said, and Derek had signed his name beneath.
He was going to kiss the hell out of this man when he woke up. Kinky necks and morning breath be damned.