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Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?

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Stiles was in the middle of an intense Call of Duty match (in which he was kicking ass and keeping his whole team afloat) when the landline rang. He tried reaching out with one hand to the phone on his desk without taking his eyes off the game as he tried to keep his character running away from enemies with his free hand. He swore viciously when he was gunned down from behind, his death giving the whole match victory to the other team.

He threw the controller onto the foot of his bed and grabbed the phone.

“Hello?” he answered, his tone sharper than it should have been.

Stiles didn’t recognise the deep voice on the end of the line. “I can’t install the antivirus thing.”

“What?”

The man sighed sharply and when he spoke again, there was a distinct note of irritation. “The antivirus thing you told me to install on my computer?”

“I think you have the wrong number, man,” Stiles said, the situation becoming clear. It wasn’t even an important phone call, making the fact that he’d just ruined his perfect kill-death ratio even more frustrating.

“This isn’t IT?”

“Nope, this is Stiles.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“It’s no problem, happens to the best of us,” Stiles said.

He was about to pull the phone away from his face and hang up when the man sighed again. He sounded just like Stiles’ dad whenever he was given any piece of technology that wasn’t prehistoric, and Stiles’ heart went out to the poor guy. He was probably just some old dude who lived alone had didn’t have any children or grandchildren he could rely on to be his tech support. Stiles had read an article the other day about loneliness among the elderly which had nearly brought him to tears: what if this was one of those old people, and Stiles’ was the only person he had talked to all week? Surely he had a duty to at least keep him entertained for five minutes instead of passing him over to a call center employee.

So before the man could hang up, Stiles offered, “Antivirus stuff isn’t hard though, I can walk you through it if you’d like?”

“…Okay.”

The guy didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic but Stiles knew how frustrating computers could be so he let him off the hook and began to slowly explain the beginning stages of downloading antivirus software.

It became very obvious, very quickly that the man was useless.

“Right,” Stiles said, after a four minute long explanation of what a browser was, in which Stiles found out the man still used Internet Explorer, “Now, type into the search bar-”

“The what?”

“Whatever you use to search the internet.”

“You want me to go to Bing?”

Stiles’ faith in his ability to help this man plummeted.

“Bing? Seriously?”

“What’s wrong with it?”

Stiles was about to launch into a monologue about how the man was unnecessarily torturing himself and how he must be the only person on Earth not to use google, but he refrained. The man had barely followed his explanation of Internet Explorer, Stiles should just be happy that he knows how to use a search engine.

“Nothing serious,” he said as calmly as he could. “People usually use Google, but Bing’ll work fine.”

The man seemed to accept this and they moved forward. Stiles brought up the WikiHow on how to install an antivirus on his phone to make sure he didn’t skip any steps. This proved more trouble than it was worth when the man got frustrated and told him to, “Stop using so much jargon!” (Stiles had said ‘software’.)

But despite having to stick to a fourth grade vocabulary, the man was far more receptive and cooperative than the Sheriff. Stiles hadn’t heard him punching his laptop yet, at least. They manage to get to the download page of the Avast antivirus website without too much hassle.

“But it says the premium option is recommended.”

“That’s just the company trying to sell you stuff, you don’t need it. The basic one will protect you from pretty much everything you’ll encounter from dodgy porn downloads-” Stiles cut himself off, sucking in a breath as he remembered he was talking to an old man. “I’m so sorry! Please forget I ever said that; I have a terrible brain-to-mouth filter.”

The man grunted which could be a positive or negative response. Stiles chose to assume he was a liberal-thinking elderly gentleman who embraced all of the functions of the internet, or at least respected those who used the web to its full potential.

“So, yeah, the free version is fine for an average computer user. Just click on the green button that says Download. Okay?”

“Something else opened!” the man exclaimed, clearly panicked.

“Is it a grey box that says Save File somewhere on it?”

“Yes.”

Stiles resisted the urge to sigh. “That’s normal, it’s what we want. Press Save File.”

The man went silent and Stiles waited for the next description of what has appeared on his screen. The seconds stretched out until Stiles wasn’t sure whether the connection had been lost.

“Uh, hello?”

The man answered immediately, “What?”

“Just wondered if I’d lost you there.”

“No, I’m here. I’m reading the terms and conditions.”

Oh, Lord, Stiles was not ready for that. He nearly choked on his spit as he attempted something between a laugh and an incredulous exclamation that came out a bit like an enraged hiccup.

“Dude! You don’t need to read them, just press accept.”

“I always read the terms and conditions. You should read contracts before you sign them, you know,” the man said and Stiles rolled his eyes to the heavens.

“You should, but terms and conditions are very long and very boring, and I assure you that you won’t sign away your life accidentally.”

“I’m still going to read them,” the man said stubbornly. “You can hang up if you want.”

Stiles sighed deeply. “No, I’m invested in your antivirus download now, go ahead.” He sat back down on the couch, putting the phone on speaker and the TV on mute, picking up his Xbox controller. “Let me know when you’re done.”

He managed to level up twice on Call of Duty before the man finally finished reading the terms and conditions. He’d actually forgotten he was even talking to the guy, so when the phone started speaking to him, he jumped out of his skin.

“Okay, I’ve accepted them.”

“See? No clauses promising your soul to the devil,” Stiles said as his heartbeat returned to a more normal rate.

The man grunted and Stiles continued to run him through the last few stages of getting an antivirus. Mercifully, there were no more complicated words or contracts and they had downloaded and restarted the computer within five minutes.

“It says it’s finished the scan,” the man said.

“Is it all green? Or are there big red crosses everywhere?”

“It’s green.”

“Sweet! That means you haven’t got any viruses on your computer and what you’ve just downloaded will protect you from getting any.”

“So it’s all done?”

“Yep, you’re all sorted, dude.”

“Thanks,” the man said and hung up.

It was a bit of an abrupt ending but Stiles put the phone back in its cradle feeling like he’d done his good deed for the day and went back to Call of Duty. He told his Dad about it when he asked if Stiles had done anything productive with his day, but other than that, he largely forgot about the ordeal.


 

That is, until the landline rang a few weeks later while Stiles was eating his breakfast and rushing through the homework he’d got too distracted to finish the night before.

“Sup, this is Stiles speaking,” he said with his mouth full of cereal.

“My computer won’t turn on.”

Stiles’ eyebrows rose as he recognized the grumpy, frustrated tone on the other end of the line.

“Is this the antivirus man?”

“Yes. My computer won’t turn on.”

“So you said. Are you sure you pressed the button for long enough?”

There was a deep, long sigh. “I know how to push a button. I’m not an idiot.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean it like that.” Stiles had possibly meant it like that. “When you press the button do any lights come on?”

“Yeah, it goes green but nothing comes on the screen even when I move the mouse.”

“Do you have a laptop or a computer on the floor with a separate screen?”

“It’s not a laptop but the computer is on the desk not the floor, does that make a difference?”

Oh, this poor man. How does one manage to live in the twenty-first century knowing so little about technology?

“No, that doesn’t make any difference. Can you tell me if there are any lights on the screen?”

“No?”

“Ah, right, I think I know what your problem is. Does your screen have a button you can press to turn it on?”

There was a brief silence and then the man said, “Oh,” sounding slightly embarrassed.

Stiles couldn’t help the little laugh that bubbled up his throat. “Don’t worry about it: it happens to all of us!”

“Thanks.” Yep, that was definitely the sound of someone who felt like an idiot and wanted to pretend nothing had ever happened.

“You’re welcome. If I’m going to be your go-to tech guy, I might need to know your name though.”

His voice was less strained when he said, “It’s Derek.”

“Cool. Glad I could help, Derek.”

The man hung up immediately again and Stiles frowned at the phone. Clearly the guy wasn’t a fan of small talk, but he could respect that. He tossed the phone back into its cradle and went back to tackling his algebra homework, wondering how much he could copy off Lydia in homeroom without her noticing.


 

Stiles did indeed become Derek’s personal tech support. The calls were infrequent – it was common to not to hear a peep from him for months on end – so it wasn’t much effort on Stiles’ part, and despite being grumpy and incapable of saying more than two sentences in a row, the man was always genuinely grateful for Stiles’ help and he understood concepts reasonably quickly, which was a blessing when it came to helping the elderly with technology. In fact, he’d actually swapped to using Google, Derek told Stiles proudly during one phone call. His go-to browser was still Internet Explorer but Stiles was happy for the small victories.

Often the conversations were no more than a few minutes, like the one where Stiles had to explain how to find Derek’s email when he deleted the shortcut from his desktop, or when Derek accidentally muted his computer and couldn’t work out why there was no sound.

Sometimes Derek just called because he didn’t understand something. “What are cookies and why do websites keep asking me to accept them?” was the most recent query of this kind, and Derek was treated to one of Stiles’ infamous tangential monologues that traversed from cookies to the sketchy nature of internet tracking and data collection. Derek swore he was going to stop using computers after that lecture, but he called Stiles back the next week, asking how to plug in a projector so it hadn’t been too scarring.

Stiles’ eighteenth birthday came and went, as did college applications and then acceptances. The next time Derek called, Stiles mentioned that he should save Stiles’ mobile number so that he could keep helping Derek when he was at UCLA.

“You’re going to UCLA?” Derek asked.

“Yeah! I got my acceptance letter last week! I can’t wait.”

“I’m at UCLA,” Derek said. “So I’m biased but I think it’s a great school.”

“Really? Wow, what a small world,” Stiles laughed. “Do you teach there?”

“Um, yes,” Derek says slowly. “History.”

“Aw damn, I’m a psych major. It would have been so weird and cool if I was doing history then you could have taught me! But my high school teacher was truly awful and basically ruined the whole subject for me. It’s a shame though because I’ve always loved history, I just wanted to study the interesting topics, not the boring ones they always put in the curriculum, y’know,” Stiles rambled on for a while more before managing to shut up. “Sorry, I talk a lot.”

“It’s okay,” Derek said. “What kind of history do you think is interesting?”

“Well,” Stiles said slowly, popping his lips as he considered the question and try to think of an appropriate answer. He didn’t really manage. “There are lots of little overlooked stories out there. I once wrote a history of circumcision for my economics class. That was pretty interesting.”

On the other end of the line, there was the sound of Derek choking. Stiles was about to ask if he was alright when he realized the noise was Derek’s laugh.

“Yeah, I guess it was pretty weird. But I’m doing psychology instead,” Stiles agreed.

Derek must have been aware of Stiles’ tendency to get distracted from the topic at hand, because he recovered from the shock of the circumcision paper pretty quickly.

“It’s always good to have unique interests in history; otherwise you end up repeating the same argument people have been making for centuries. Finding the overlooked stories is actually a talent that many historians might be quite jealous of.”

It was probably the longest sentence Derek had said since the first call, and it was definitely the most animated he'd ever sounded. Stiles felt guilt lapping at the back of his mind for dubbing Derek as monosyllabic when he'd probably just been bored. Finstock could attest that even Stiles could be quite reticent if someone was forcing him to have a conversation solely about economics.

“That’s true. Maybe I could minor in it!” Stiles cut of that idea with a laugh at himself. “Never mind, I’ve already got two minors, that’s probably enough for a freshman. I’ll fight with the administration to let me do three in sophomore year. But, anyway, let me give you my cell so I can still help you out with your computer problems and then we can get back to fixing your mouse.”


 

Despite Stiles’ promise to continue to help Derek while at college, he didn’t hear from him for the rest of summer. He moved from Beacon Hills to LA without a single missed call, and then the first month as a college freshman distracted him from any thoughts of his computer friend. Once the culture shock had worn off and Stiles started settling into a routine, however, the worries about Derek started. He stupidly hadn’t asked for Derek’s number in return, so he had no way of contacting him, and if he’d given Derek the wrong number than he may have lost his weird IT friend completely.

 (He resolutely did not think about the other possibility for Derek’s silence, the one that kept creeping into his head when he was trying to drift off to sleep… After all, Stiles had only assumed that the guy was about eighty. Stiles’ father was useless with technology, and he was barely in his forties. Derek might just be a particularly incompetent middle-aged man: Stiles didn’t need to keep worrying about him having passed away.)

Still, after two months of nothing, Stiles got worried enough to start searching the UCLA history faculty’s website. He couldn’t find any trace of a Professor Derek. He searched a couple of times, thinking that maybe he’d missed a retirement announcement or obituary, but there was nothing.

He occasionally entertained the idea of emailing one of the professors for more information, but each time talked himself out of it when he considered how stupid that request would sound.

Dear Prof so-and-so, You don’t know me and I’m not a history major, I just want to know if you know a Professor called Derek, last name unknown. I’ve been fixing his computer for a year now, and I want know if he’s dead. Kind regards, Stiles.

The idea of hitting send on an email that stupid made him cringe, so he pushed the thought to the back of his mind and focused on classes instead. If he hadn’t heard anything by second semester, then he’d start considering asking around.

--

Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. The week before Thanksgiving break, Derek had another technology problem.

He was on Skype with his Dad when his phone lit up with an iMessage (which, honestly, was a surprise because Derek was so technologically incompetent that Stiles assumed a smartphone was above his paygrade but apparently he could manage an iPhone).

Hello Stiles, it’s Derek. I’m sorry to bother you during your first semester. I can’t get my printer to work and if you are currently free and on campus I would appreciate the help. I’m in 6265 Bunche Hall. Thank you.

Stiles read the message and internally sighed with relief. Not dead, then.

“Sorry, Dad, technologically inept men are calling for my help. I better head off.”

In hindsight, there were probably better ways to phrase it, but Stiles spouted so much incomprehensible crap that he thought his father would be used to it by now.

“Hold up,” the Sheriff said, before Stiles could hit the hang up button. “Where did you say you were going?”

“To help Derek fix his printer. He barely understands what a USB is, Dad, it’s tragic.”

The Sheriff crossed his arms. “And Derek’s a friend from class?”

“What? No, he’s the old guy who I help out with IT stuff when he gets confused. You know, the wrong number one from, like, last year some time? Turns out he’s a professor here,” Stiles recognised the look that was steadily forming on his father’s face – the one that meant Stiles wasn’t allowed to anything fun – and quickly attempted to cut it off. “I’m going to his office on campus, if I don’t text you within an hour, you have permission to come storming in guns blazing, okay? But nothing bad is going to happen, Derek’s a decent guy who doesn’t understand computers. You two would probably get on great, actually.”

--

It took Stiles twenty minutes to locate Bunche Hall on a map of campus and then make his way over there. It took even longer to find Derek’s office in the maze of corridors and floors.

Eventually, around half an hour after Derek had texted, Stiles stood in front of a dilapidated door in one of the oldest parts of the building. There wasn’t a name plate anywhere on it like on some of the other professors’ offices, but someone had painted 6 65. Stiles could just make out the faint 2 that had faded away, so he knocked.

There was a muffled conversation happening in the office, followed by the tell-tale noise of a chair being pushed back on linoleum floor before the door was thrown open.

The most attractive man Stiles had ever laid eyes stood before him. He had to be a model, otherwise that chiselled jaw and those perfectly defined muscles were going to waste. Stiles’ eyes raked over every inch before he realized that it was tremendously creepy and he had clearly got the wrong office.

“Uh, sorry – I think I must have knocked on the wrong door.” Stiles forced himself to look away from the way the button up was stretched across the man’s chest. The top two buttons were undone and Stiles thought he could see a peek of chest hair… And he needed to stop staring at the dude’s body and make eye contact.

It wasn’t too much of a burden because the man had some of the prettiest eyes Stiles had ever had the pleasure of meeting.

“Stiles?” the man asked and, holy shit, that was Derek’s voice coming out of those perfect lips, framed by the hottest amount of stubble that made Stiles want to rub his face across it.

You’re Derek?!”

“Um… Yes?” Derek said slowly.

“But… You’re supposed to be a lonely, eighty year-old professor!” Stiles spluttered.

That was not smooth. Stiles wanted to brain himself against the wall.

There was a shriek of mirth from inside the room as Derek frowned at him, his lips curving down in confusion.

“You thought I was eighty?” Derek asked.

“You didn’t know what software meant! You use internet explorer! You read the terms and conditions!” Stiles exclaimed, his words coming out at a higher and higher pitch as he attempted to reconcile the Derek stood before him with the doddery old man he had been imagining for a year.

Derek crossed his arms and huffed. “I don’t like computers,” he said defensively.

Whoever was in the office was still cracking up at. A crazy hot girl with curly blonde hair appeared at Derek’s elbow and gave Stiles an obvious once-over.

“Hi Stiles, I’m Erica,” she said, holding out her hand for Stiles to shake. Her nails were sharpened into points and painted blood red. Stiles was terrified of her, and the feral grin on her face told him that she was well-aware that.

“Uh, hi,” Stiles stuttered.

“You should come in. It’s nice to finally meet the man who taught Derek where the unmute button on his keyboard was.”

“Glad to be of service?” Stiles said as Erica ushered him inside.

He had to squeeze his way past Derek who didn’t move from the doorway. Brushing up against him was like walking into a brick wall and Stiles’ treacherous brain decided to imagine plenty of scenarios were the two of them were alone in this office and Derek wasn’t glaring at Stiles like he was a particularly offensive piece of litter. In all his years of crushing on Lydia Martin, Stiles had never been so intimidated and yet so turned on simultaneously.

The office was small and cramped. Along one wall was a long desk with three computer monitors spaced evenly. The other was a large bookshelf. The whole place was a mess of coffee cups and the bin was overflowing with empty snack packets. At the end of the room there was a small end-table underneath the window, with an ancient printer on top.

“Uh, do you still need help with that?” Stiles asked, nodding towards it.

Erica laughed. “No, I sorted it out when I got in. It just needed to be plugged in.”

Stiles turned to Derek incredulously. “Seriously? What is it with you and not turning things on? It should always be the first thing you check.”

Derek had the decency to look embarrassed, although he did so defiantly. “I thought I had. Sorry.”

Stiles felt a little bad. He fidgeted with his shirt hem as he shifted his weight to the other foot. “It’s alright, I was glad to hear from you,” he admitted. “I thought you might have lost my number. Or died.”

Erica started laughing maniacally again and kicked out a chair for Stiles to sit on. He perched on the edge of the seat, swinging it from side to side with his feet. As soon as Stiles was sat down, Derek sank into the final chair next to the door. Stiles noticed his computer was pushed right to the back of the desk so there was a large area free in front of the keyboard where a notebook lay open, its pages filled with scrawled handwriting.

“I can’t believe you thought I was eighty,” Derek huffed.

“Hey, that’s not my fault. You’re literally a new level of useless when it comes to computers. Even my father is better than you.”

“Derek’s always been mistrustful of technology,” Erica said. “If had his way we’d all still be writing our theses by hand.”

“So… You’re not professors?” Stiles asked.

“Flattering but no, we’re grad students,” Erica said.

“But you said you taught History on the phone!” Stiles protested again.

Derek hadn’t stopped frowning at Stiles since he opened the door. In fact, every time Stiles spoke the lines seemed to carve themselves deeper into his face.

“I just said I was at UCLA. You asked if I taught and I do. I thought you’d assumed I was a grad student.”

“I guess it explains why I couldn’t find you on the history faculty page. I tried googling your obituary on two separate occasions, by the way.”

“You were going to a lot of effort to find him,” Erica observed.

“Well, you know, he’s been a fixture in my life for a while now. We’re kind of weird friends at this point,” Stiles said and shrugged, suddenly feeling a little embarrassed and pretty awkward. The whole situation would be less strange if Derek wasn’t so insistent on glaring at him and lightened up a little. As the silence dragged on, Stiles’ nervous habit of constant talking rose its head. “Anyway, speaking of years of tech support, why did you keep calling me? Surely this place has an IT department that will actually come over and fix things for you?”

“They’re useless,” Derek grunted. “You always managed to fix my computer over the phone in less time than it took them to come over.”

Erica rolled her eyes. “What he means is that he’s yelled at so many different IT guys that they take their sweet time whenever we have problems. If they even bother showing up.”

“They’re all incompetent,” Derek said, without any trace of remorse.

“They’re dorks who’re intimidated by you growling at them,” she shot back.

The door opened and a tall blonde guy entered. He paused when he saw Stiles sitting in (what was probably) his chair, sandwiched between Erica and Derek.

“Am I interrupting a meeting?” he asked.

“No,” Derek said shortly.

“This is Stiles,” Erica expanded. “Stiles, Isaac.”

Isaac raised an eyebrow. “Derek’s Stiles?”

That was definitely a title Stiles could get used to hearing.

“That’s me – just your friendly, unpaid office IT support guy. That’s until Derek gets fed up with my soapboxing and yells at me to get out too,” Stiles said to Isaac cheerfully. Derek looked like someone was punching him relentlessly in the face, which Stiles took as his cue to leave. “Anyway, this was weird. Seeing as your printer’s fixed now, I should get going; you guys probably have work to do.”

Derek rose along with Stiles, and he loitered next to the door as Stiles attempted to slide by Isaac. The office clearly hadn’t been designed with three people in mind.

“It was nice to meet you finally, Derek. Sorry for thinking you were an old man,” Stiles said as he wiggled his way to the door. He managed to get out to the corridor without rubbing up against Derek, but Stiles was convinced he was emitting pheromones because every time Stiles was within half a foot of him, his dick was suddenly very interested. Of course, that could also just be the fact that Stiles was stood in front of an actual Greek God and he hadn’t be laid since that time with Heather.

Derek was unaware of Stiles’ inner turmoil. In fact, he had a slightly pained expression on his face that suggested he was struggling with some thoughts himself. Stiles would have started to get his hopes up that the attraction was mutual if Derek didn’t start choking out an apology that sounded like he was being held at gunpoint.

“Thanks for helping me out for so long,” he said, but the glare didn’t quite match the sentiment. “Look, I really appreciate it and…”

His words trailed off into silence and he didn’t make an attempt to say anything else so Stiles eventually filled the silence. This was why people-to-people conversation was overrated: instant messaging existed for a reason, and that reason was the keep humanity’s tendency for awkwardness in separate rooms, on other sides of the country.

“No problem, my dude. Feel free to text me the next time you forget to plug something in. I should be able to get here quicker now that I know where this place is.” He peered his head around Derek’s shoulder (he actually had to take a small step to the side, in fact, because Derek’s body was just so broad) and smiled at Erica and Isaac. “Good to meet you both.”

Both of them had put their headphones on and didn’t acknowledge him. He waited for half a second longer, wondering whether he could just die on the spot, before retreating back around Derek and giving him a half-wave as he started to turn away down the corridor.

Derek caught him a few steps later, his hand easily wrapping around Stiles’ skinny upper arm and bringing him to a confused halt. (Stiles couldn’t help but wonder what that hand would feel like wrapped around his dick? Not the time, brain.)

“No, I didn’t finish, I was trying to say that I need to pay you back for everything so here…” He shoved a wad of cash into Stiles’ hand.

Stiles stared at the pile of money in his hand. He wasn’t sure quite how much it was but it was definitely enough that he could easily upgrade to the fancy instant ramen packets for the rest of semester and then probably have enough to buy a fucking PS4 as well. What kind of man just had that much cash lying around in his wallet? Stiles had been under the impression all grad students were poor as shit, but clearly it was a lucrative career move.

What came out of Stiles’ mouth wasn’t a word, but an exclamation of incredulous disbelief that sounded vaguely like, “Whauhuh?!”

“You said earlier, about the fact you’ve been doing it all unpaid and I know college can be tough, so I owe you for all your work.”

“Dude!” Stiles said, regaining control of his motor functions and flipping through a couple of the bills. “This is an insane amount of money! All I did was read out WikiHow pages over the phone every couple of months…”

“What-ow pages?” Derek asked, his face scrunching in confusion and Stiles learnt that he could also find this giant hulking piece of muscle freaking adorable.

“WikiHow,” he enunciated. “Maybe next time I’ll show you, but it’s pretty advanced stuff. I can’t take this, though, it’s too much.” He held out the cash as he spoke but Derek was already shaking his head and backing away.

“You earned it. Think of it as deposit for when I next call you, if you want.”

Stiles was conflicted. On one hand, that was a ridiculous amount of money that he knew he had in no way earned. On the other hand, he was unbelievably broke but he was taking so many credits that it would be sweet if he didn’t have to find the time to squeeze in a part time job as well as studying. There was a limit on how many days in a row a guy could eat a bag bugles for breakfast, and Stiles was nearing it.

Derek clearly knew of Stiles’ inner battle as he put his hand over Stiles’ and pushed it back to Stiles side, giving it a gentle squeeze as his face tightened in an approximation of a smile.

“Keep it,” he said simply and then retreated back into his office, leaving Stiles alone in the corridor with his stack of cash and a goofy smile.

He felt the warmth of Derek’s hand on his the whole way back.


 

It was finals week and Stiles was so stressed he couldn’t remember where the sun rose. Not that this was a particular problem because he barely saw the sun except for the five minutes he spent running to his exams. Other than that, he traded the windowless exam rooms for the silent study section in the library basement which he was kicked out of at 11pm, to return to his dorm room to continue studying until 5am.

He left his last exam with a euphoric high and a stomach ache, both of which could be attributed to the copious amounts of redbull he’d consumed that morning. The caffeine jitters managed to sustain Stiles through a hasty lunch which also settled the cramps but he crashed into bed at 2pm and was out like a light before his head even touched the pillow.

He woke up when his phone started vibrating in his pocket. He was disorientated as he lifted his head and looked around the room. At some point the sun had set and his roommate had been in and got changed, without Stiles even twitching. There was a patch of dried drool on his cheek that unpleasantly peeled away from the bed sheets as he sat up and struggled to get his phone out of his pocket.

Stiles winced against the bright blue light, squinting to read the details. It was midnight. Stiles had been asleep for nearly ten hours and he still felt like he had been run over by a bus. Someone also thought the middle of the night was a good time for a phone call, too.

Incoming call:
Derek

“Hello?” he mumbled into the receiver, his tongue feeling numb.

“Oh thank god,” Derek said. He was clearly panicking, sending adrenaline coursing through Stiles and obliterating the last vestiges of sleep from his mind. “Can you come over? I really need help; I think I’ve deleted my thesis.”

He rattled off an address and Stiles was at Derek’s apartment twenty minutes later. He hadn’t changed clothes or put on deodorant but he had wiped the drool off his face (with his sleeve, but the thought was there).

Derek let him in barely a second after Stiles rang the buzzer and he didn’t even manage to knock on the door before Derek was wrenching it open and pulling Stiles inside, looking frantic.

“Alright, dude, calm down. Where’s your computer?”

Derek gestured to the couch, where a laptop was balanced on top of a cushion with books and highlighters scattered around.

At any other point in time, Stiles would have stopped to appreciate Derek’s apartment. Every available wall was covered in shelves that were crammed with books. On top of the bookshelves were yet more piles of books that were precariously stacked to the ceiling. Most of them were history related, but Stiles could see a few fiction books scattered around.

As it was, Stiles barely had any time to take all this in as he was escorted to the couch. He sat down and pulled the computer onto his lap as Derek hung behind him, peering over his shoulder. He was so close that Stiles could feel his breath against his own cheek.

“What did you?”

“I don’t know, I was just trying to rename it and it disappeared!” Derek growled.

Stiles frowned and looked at the screen. It wasn’t anything special, just an ordinary folder. It was a mess of journal articles, book chapters and word documents with uninformative names like Idea and Plan. There had to be at least a hundred files in the one folder and while Stiles’ own laptop was far from organized, the jumbled and chaotic list of barely related files was giving him anxiety.

“Alright. How do you usually rename things?”

“I right-click and then there’s a rename option,” Derek explained. Stiles didn’t have to turn his head to know that he was on the receiving end of a why-is-this-important glare.

Stiles already had an inkling that Derek was about to be incredibly embarrassed, and he was proved right when he pressed Ctrl+Z and a word document popped up.

“Would ‘I Fucking Hate College’ be your thesis?” he asked

Derek had frozen, staring at the screen. Stiles opened the file and, indeed, it appeared to be a dissertation on the Salem witch trials.

“Oh, hey, cool topic,” he said, scrolling down a couple of pages out of the fifty that were there.

“How… How did you do that?” Derek asked, the amazement clear in his voice.

“Control and Z, my friend. It’ll undo all sorts of mistakes. Next time make sure you don’t press ‘delete’. I know it’s right next to ‘rename’ on the drop-down menu so it’s confusing, but they’re different words and it’ll save both of us a midnight callout.”

Derek looked guilty. “I’m really sorry.”

Stiles snorted and waved his hand nonchalantly. “No worries, I’m just teasing you. The obscene amount of money you gave me last month more than covers a couple of night shifts.”

“Still. Can I make you a coffee?”

“No, I probably shouldn’t have any more caffeine. I’ve been living off it for days.”

“Shit, are you in the middle of your finals?” Derek somehow looked even guiltier.

“I finished this afternoon, don’t worry, you’re not going to ruin my grade or anything.”

This apparently wasn’t enough to placate Derek. “Well, I was going to order pizza for dinner. Do you want to stick around and have some?”

Stiles started salivating at the idea and he groaned pornographically. “Dude, yes. I’m not even going to question the fact you’re having dinner at midnight.”

When Derek stood up to grab his cell to order pizza, Stiles took the opportunity to check out the apartment that he had been rushed into. The apartment was small and a bit grimy, like most cheap LA apartments were. The room Stiles was in was both the kitchen and the living room with a small table with two chairs separating the two. The doors to the bathroom and bedroom were open and Stiles could see the bedroom was just as filled with books at the living area. (He couldn’t see any in the bathroom but, who knows, maybe Derek had filled the bathtub with them.)

“What kind of pizza do you want?” Derek asked from the kitchen.

Stiles looked up from the pile of books on the history of colonial America, and got sidetracked by how good Derek looked. Unlike the time in the office he was dressed casually, just in sweats and a UCLA tee. And god, if Stiles had thought he was muscular in his shirt and jeans ensemble the other month, it was nothing compared to the way the t-shirt sleeves hugged his biceps and the faded lettering stretched across his pecs. His feet were bare, which Stiles found adorable as he padded around the maze of book stacks.

 “Uhh… Anything with meat,” Stiles said, the syllables dragging as he tore his eyes away from the way the sweatpants hugged Derek’s ass, looking for any kind of distraction. His gaze settled on Derek’s thesis. “I’m going to back up your PhD, okay?”

“You’re going to what?” Derek demanded, immediately coming straight back to Stiles’ side and staring at his laptop screen intently.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “I’m going to make a copy of it and put it somewhere safe so if you really delete it at some point, you’ll have a slightly older version to go back to rather than starting again.”

“Oh, that sounds smart.”

“It is. Order pizza, I’ll show you how to do it after.”

Derek did as he was told, calling Dominos and placing an order for a pepperoni pizza with a side of garlic bread. Honestly that was weird enough – what kind of person called pizza delivery instead of getting it online? Apart from Derek, Stiles could count on one had the number of phone conversations he’d had in the past year. He told Derek as much after he had hung up and joined Stiles on the couch.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Did you know that your generation is lonelier than any other because of your obsession with technology?”

“See, it’s that kind of comment that made me think you were eighty. ‘Your generation’,” Stiles repeated mockingly. “You’re what… twenty-five? You’re a millennial, dude, no matter how many notebooks you fill in a month.”

“Twenty-six,” Derek corrected.

“Oh, of course, that extra year makes all the difference: you’re a certified grandpa now.”

Derek elbowed Stiles gently, but he was grinning at him and, fuck, that smile… Stiles could spend the rest of his life watching Derek smile.

Mentally shaking himself off that train of thought, Stiles went back to uploading back-ups of Derek’s work before he could do anything stupid. Derek was, apparently, doing his best to sabotage Stiles’ self-control, though, because he leaned into his side. He was looking at his laptop screen but all Stiles could pay attention to was the warm weight against his shoulder, and Derek’s arm which was sandwiched in between them, pressed along Stiles’ leg.

“Thanks for doing all this for me.” The quiet words were imbued with such genuine emotion that, along with the physical proximity, the atmosphere of the small, book-filled apartment became intensely intimate.

Stiles had to talk around a lump in his throat. “It’s no problem. I like helping you.”

“I feel like I should be helping you with something in return.”

Stiles made the mistake of looking at Derek. His face was mere inches away, his eyes were wide and earnest.

“You don’t need to,” Stiles said breathily as his traitorous mind conjured up all the ways Derek could make it up to him. He nervously began to ramble as he continued to stare into Derek’s eyes. “I mean, unless you have a talent for DIY because I tried to make my bed into  bunk and it sways terrifyingly whenever I climb into it so I guess if you could fix that, that’d be cool. Or if you know much about economics because I have to take it next semester and if high school is anything to go by, I’m going to fail hard.”

Derek wasn’t moving away and Stiles desperately began thinking of unsexy things: his dad, Scott, the time he broke his arm, his grandma’s funeral, the time he walked in on Scott and Allison having sex, and Scott had pulled away so quickly that Allison made this noise and it was the most awkward moment Stiles had ever experienced and it still made him cringe to think about.

It was all useless.

“I’m not great at DIY or economics, I’m afraid.” Derek was practically whispering at this point, and the world was narrowing so all Stiles’ could see was Derek’s lips just moments from his. “Maybe something else?”

Stiles couldn’t be imagining the double-entendre in Derek’s words. He knew he could be a bit oblivious sometimes, but generally Stiles considered himself pretty adept a reading a situation. There was a reason he decided to do psychology, after all.

“Like what?” Stiles asked. The words strangled but he pointedly tilted his head to the side as he spoke, signalling that he was totally okay with whatever might happen.

Derek didn’t reply, simply leant forward to kiss Stiles’ softly.

Stiles had seen it coming but it still made his heart start scampering around wildly as he tried to keeping his breathing at a normal rate. It wouldn’t do to start hyperventilating.

Despite his racing heart, the kiss was languid as they both took their time, enjoying the softness of their lips and the sighs of their breath. Derek’s hand was now resting on Stiles’ upper thigh, squeezing gently as their mouths moved against each other; his fingertips were resting on the inseam of Stiles’ jeans and every time he tightened his fingers the material would press against Stiles’ dick – just a little, but coupled with the tension from earlier, it was enough to make him rock hard in minutes.

Desperate to get a similar reaction from Derek, Stiles broke away for a moment to put the laptop onto the coffee table. He leant back against the armrest, grabbing fistfuls of Derek’s tee and pulling him over so he was lying on top of Stiles. His leg was hitched over Derek’s hip, his heel pressing into the hard muscle in Derek’s thigh. Derek’s forearms bracketed his head, his fingers curling themselves into Stiles hair. He tugged gently, not causing any pain but Stiles’ stomach flipped with the pressure and he let out a breathy moan against Derek’s lips.

Derek took this as an invitation to slide his tongue into Stiles’ mouth. Stiles’ hands tightened on Derek’s hips, sliding up under his t-shirt as he inwardly marvelled at the plains of muscles that made up his back. The man apparently didn’t have an ounce of fat anywhere… Wondering at this, Stiles let one hand drift down to Derek’s ass, squeezing gently over the cotton sweats. Nope, no fat their either. What kind of Adonis was Stiles currently making out with?

Realizing he was getting side-tracked, Stiles pushed all his attention back to the kiss and responded enthusiastically. Their tongues curled around each other in their mouths, exploring and tasting and sending shivers of desire straight to Stiles’ dick.

His hips jerked up, instinctively looking for some kind of pressure to relieve the throbbing. Derek laughed throatily, pulling away and smiling down at Stiles with that stupidly attractive grin. Stiles sat up half an inch, desperately chasing that beautiful mouth, wanting to show Derek how hot he found it, but Derek pinned him back down with one hand on his chest. God fucking damn, Stiles was going to explode with lust.

“Do you think we should take this to the bedroom?” Derek asked and Stiles stopped breathing, only managing to communicate through very enthusiastic nodding.

They stood up, still a tangle of limbs. Derek grabbed Stiles’ hand and tugged him into the bedroom, dodging piles of books and kicking the door shut before rushing back together. Stiles fisted his hands into Derek’s hair as he pulled his face close once more.

This kiss was significantly dirtier than the last. Stiles ground his hips against Derek’s as their tongues immediately licked across their mouths messily. Derek’s hands were scrabbling at his t-shirt, trying to pull it off without leaving Stiles’ lips for longer than a second.

“We’ll need to be quick – the pizza-” Stiles said brokenly as he ripped his shirt over his head and fumbled with his fly.

Derek came over, replacing Stiles’ frantic hands with his own steady ones. He hooked a finger through Stiles’ belt loop and dragged him a step closer so he could get to work on the buttons and then finally, finally Stiles could pull his jeans off and free his dick from the denim prison. Derek was already two steps ahead of him, stepping out of his boxers, his hand already on his dick, running up the length of it as he watched Stiles undress.

Fuck, he was hot.

Stiles had been right about not having any trace of fat. Clearly avoiding technology meant he had plenty of time to work out. And that dick. God, Stiles would write odes to that dick. He had never really considered cocks to beautiful but Derek’s could be a work of art in the Louvre.

He dropped to his knees and Derek moaned, letting go of his cock and stepping up to Stiles’ greedy mouth. He didn’t waste a second, immediately sucking on the head and taking it as far into his throat as he could without choking. Derek had a hand in his hair, tugging gently and encouraging him to go even deeper so that Stiles’ eyes were watering.

When Stiles looked up at him through his eyelashes, Derek was staring down at him; his unfocused eyes were dark with lust. When he noticed Stiles blinking up at him he moaned, biting down on his bottom lip and jerking his hips forward a little and causing Stiles to gag. Redirecting his attention back to Derek’s dick only, Stiles went to town.

It wasn’t the neatest blowjob he had ever given, but he could definitely win awards for the most enthusiasm. There was spit pooling at the corners of his mouth and his cheeks were aching with the strain of being open so wide, but he didn’t give up. One hand was wrapped around the base of Derek’s cock, working the last couple of inches that he just couldn’t get his mouth around as he paid attention to the head, swirling his tongue around and hollowing his cheeks until he could feel the skin.

Derek came down Stiles’ throat with a guttural moan, his head tipped back to the ceiling. Stiles swallowed as much as he could, chasing the few drops that had dribbled down his chin with his finger which he sucked, deliberately maintain eye-contact.

“Bed. Now.”

Derek growled out the order, practically lifting Stiles up in his hurry to get them both off the floor. Stiles fell onto the mattress in an inelegant tangle of limbs, his legs splayed and arms slapping against the headboard painfully. Derek followed him with a lot more grace, knocking Stiles’ legs open even wider and kneeling between them as he reached into his bedside drawer and brought out a bottle of lube.

He slicked up a couple of fingers as Stiles watched him. He reached for his dick, which was pulsing with need for someone to touch it, but Derek knocked his hand away, pinning his wrist to the bed. Stiles was not going to survive this.

“Not yet,” he said and then asked “Is this alright?” as he trailed his hand up Stiles’ bare inner thigh, leaving a cold line of lubricant on his skin. His fingers slipped between Stiles’ cheeks, putting the barest amount of pressure on Stiles’ asshole which is where he paused and waited for Stiles’ response.

Stiles couldn’t do anything but whimper and nod fervently. His hands were balled into fists, clinging onto the bedsheet with desperation. He’d never been this turned on his life; his dick was so hard he thought he might come without Derek even laying a hand on it.

As it was, he managed to last a few minutes and he was proud of his self-control.

Derek’s fingers stretched him as he slowly pushed one in, followed by a second a few moments later. Stiles whimpered wordlessly, rocking down onto Derek’s hand, searching for some kind of relief. Derek, thankfully, had decided it was time to stop teasing because he responded eagerly, twisting his fingers around, stroking Stiles’ walls under he found that spot that made stars explode behind Stiles’ closed eyes.

“D’rek,” he moaned through numb lips, his breath coming in uneven pants.

His cock was achingly hard, pointing up to his bellybutton, droplets of precome dripping onto the trail of dark hair on his stomach. Each time Derek twitched his fingers to brush up against Stiles’ prostate another dribble would spurt from the tip.

“Please,” he begged brokenly. He didn’t know which way to move his hips, whether to grind down on Derek’s fingers to get him to touch him more, or let them instinctively jerk up into the empty air, begging for some stimulation.

Derek took pity on him, grabbing his dick with his spare hand. The pressure was so good Stiles nearly sobbed with relief, bucking up into the tight hole of Derek’s fist once, twice, before coming in great spurts across his stomach.

He turned his head into the pillow, his mouth opening and closing wordlessly as he rode the waves of pleasure until they were just faint ripples. Derek pulled his fingers out – causing Stiles to hiccup from the intensity – but he kept his hand on Stiles dick until he was done and his body relaxed back into the mattress, sated and content.

Derek only let him lay there for a few moments before tossing a box of tissues at him. Once he was (mostly) clean, Derek opened his arms and let Stiles collapse on top of him. He lay on his side in the crook under Derek’s arm with one leg thrown over Derek’s hip. Derek’s flaccid cock was sticking wetly to Stiles’ thigh. It was kind of gross but Stiles was too lazy to move.

“That was literally like something out of a cheesy porn film,” Stiles mumbled sleepily against Derek’s chest. “Teacher fucks student who’s come over to fix his laptop.”

Derek tightened his arm, pulling Stiles closer, and muttered back, “You’re not my student. And next time maybe we can just fake the terrifying loss of my doctorate thesis, though.”

“Next time,” Stiles repeated happily, pressing his face into Derek’s chest as he smiled widely.

(Neither of them heard the pizza delivery guy come in the end.)

(Derek took Stiles out for breakfast the next morning to make up for it.)