Stiles sighed. He rested his chin in his hand and watched Derek Hale, senior baseball team captain, star shortstop and hottest guy in school, walk past his lunch table. He was perfect. His green eyes, his broad shoulders, that ass…
A fry hit him in the face. “Can you please stop talking about his ass to me?”
Stiles smirked at Scott, fry culprit and innocent bystander of his drive-by pinings. “My bad. Didn’t realize I was talking out loud. I always forget you’re straight.”
“I’ll admit, the guy does have an ass to die for. Besides, you never shut up, Stiles. We all know that.” Scott patted Stiles’ shoulder.
“Just one of the millions of reasons you love me.” Stiles never took his eyes off Derek’s receding back. Another day of being invisible, because Derek didn’t even know he existed. Even if he somehow did, he could do a million times better than Stiles.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Man, you’re a prize! If I was gay or bi, I would have handcuffed that a long time ago,” Scott said, patting his shoulder more gently this time. Thinking out loud again.
“Thanks, Bud.” Scott was always there with moral support.
From across the lunchroom, Derek looked over his shoulder in Stiles’ direction and Stiles’ heart leapt, because it seemed like Derek was looking right at him, but in another second he was gone. The lunchroom was packed and Derek was far away. Must have been Stiles’ imagination.
Scott shoved another taco into his mouth, muffling his voice. “Dude, you've been pining over him since we were in Pull-Ups, why don’t you just spare me another decade of torture and talk to the guy?”
Stiles stirred his watery applesauce with his finger, swirling it in the applesauce’s designated plastic tray square. “And say what, Scott? ‘Hi, I’m the creepy lame who’s been watching your every move from afar even though you don’t even know I’m alive’? That’ll get me the guy, yes sirree.”
“Want me to talk to him for you? You know I will.”
Stiles grinned and squeezed Scott’s shoulder. “Thanks but no thanks, chief. If and when I get the balls to say something to him, I want to do it myself.”
Scott rolled his eyes, but he was smiling fondly. “If you’re too much of a chicken to say something to him, could you at least shut up about it?”
“Love you, too.”
Things didn’t get any easier. Stiles did his homework, played lacrosse, and pined. Every once and again, when the baseball team took the field for practice, he thought he saw Derek look his way.
“My desperation is making me nuts,” he mumbled to himself.
“Stilinski!” Finstock yelled, “Get your ass back on the field!” It took him a moment too long to hustle back, so he got himself (and by extension Scott) sentenced to running laps. Even all the extra running couldn't shake all the feelings. He needed to get them out somehow.
“Dude, I saw a poster up about the school talent show. You in?” Scott said between ragged breaths.
“We have no talent.”
“Dude, we totally have talent! I’m getting better at guitar. You can sing the house down and you know it.” Yeah, okay, Stiles had quite the singing voice, if he did say so himself. He’d been favorably compared to Brandon Flowers of The Killers, thank you very much.
“But you want me to get up in front of people and sing?”
“Hell, yeah! Let’s pick a song and have some fun with it.”
Stiles slowed his pace as he thought of an easy out. “Can’t. We don’t have a drummer.”
“I covered that already. I really want to perform, Stiles. Do it with me. Please?”
Dammit. As much of Stiles’ crap as Scott put up with on any given day, if he really wanted something, Stiles would stop at nothing to give it to him. He didn’t have to be cheerful about it, though.
“Fine, fine, since you’re twisting my arm. When do we start?”
The first day of practice, Braeden Hicks showed up in Stiles’ garage. He was completely intimidated, because she was hot, badass, and star point guard on the girl’s basketball team. She was also Derek Hale’s ex-girlfriend, but that was neither here nor there. She gave Scott a hug and introduced herself with a big smile and a hell of a handshake. Huh, not so scary after all. Pretty damn nice, actually.
Braeden tucked her hands in her green leggings pockets and shrugged. “Got any ideas what we’re gonna play?”
Stiles already knew just the song. “How about ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? It’s a zeroes classic. Light on lyrics but heavy on emotions, just what I need.”
Braeden got excited about it. Like, really excited. “That’s perfect! My ex loved that song. He used to sing it to me all the time.”
“Oh yeah, who’s your ex?” Stiles asked as casually as he could, which probably wasn’t very casual at all.
“You know Derek Hale?”
“I think so, doesn’t he play baseball or something?” Stiles saw Scott side-eye him.
“Yeah, that’s him. People think he’s so tough, but he’s actually really loving. Very romantic.” Oh God, just melt my heart, why don’t you. Of course he’s secretly the perfect boyfriend.
“If he’s so romantic, why’d you guys break up?” Scott elbowed him. “If you, uh, don’t mind me asking.”
She shrugged again, waves of her lovely hair falling over her shoulders. “I think we just weren’t right for each other. We’re still friends. He told me his preference is more towards guys, too. I think he has eyes for somebody new now.” Braeden smiled and winked at him.
Stiles’ heart sank. Derek had a crush on somebody else. Was that a surprise? Not at all. He couldn’t even be mad at this nameless, faceless, lucky SOB. He needed to change the subject, stat.
“That’s cool. Wanna go through the song once and see how we do?”
Stiles’ cramped, musty old garage became their new home. He and Scott and Braeden practiced under the bikes and canoes up in the ceiling beams, jumping around on the oil-coated concrete floor. Mostly, it was a ton of fun and they experimented with playing lots of songs, from rock to rap to folk, always circling back to their main song.
Braeden brought Derek up more often than Stiles would have preferred, and sometimes she brought up that he had a different crush a couple more times. It made Stiles sad, so he usually talked about something else. It made practicing the song a little harder, but he just channeled his emotions and sang until the neighbors threw tomatoes at them. Actual tomatoes.
“They just don’t appreciate talent when they hear it,” Scott assured him while Braeden helped wipe off his red-stained face. Yep, this was his life.
The gig day finally came. They stood backstage listening to the cheers from the last act before them, a hip hop dance. Stiles hoped they’d get cheers, too, and not humiliated in front of the entire school. They’d been rehearsing all month and had it down perfect; at least, as perfect as three high school misfits were gonna get it. Stiles was nervous, but he felt ready. Derek wouldn’t know who Stiles was when he got on stage. Hell, Derek might not even be there, but the song would still be very much for him.
The principal announced their names and they took the stage. Dust motes floated in the beams of light, flashing like glitter. Stiles had kept his clothes simple and honest, a white crew neck tee, blue jeans and red Chucks. Scott was ready on guitar, a black vest over his Nirvana shirt, somehow making eyeliner look masculine. Braeden twirled her sticks in her hand, looking hot as usual with bright red lipstick and her hair curled and tied up Rosie the Riveter style, ready to rock.
So many freaking people were looking at him. You got this, Stiles. He closed his eyes, centering himself, counted out loud,” one, two, three, four.” Scott strummed the whining guitar and Braeden started in on the rolling drumbeat.
When he opened his eyes, it took him all of two seconds to locate Derek Hale in the far rows off to the left. He was leaning back, wearing his letterman jacket, arms spread on the back of his chair, joking with his friends and looking like some kind of damn Abercrombie model. Stiles closed his eyes again and let the music flow out of him. “Pack up. I’m strayed. Enough. Oh, say say say.” When he opened them again Derek was sitting forward in his chair, looking shocked. Braeden did say he loved this song. Maybe he was looking at her. Maybe he wasn’t over her after all. Maybe he was looking at Scott, in which case he was barking up the wrong tree and Stiles would curse the Gods for their sense of cruel irony.
Stiles sang to him, “Wait. They don’t love you like I love you.” Stiles couldn’t tear his eyes away. “Wait. They don’t love you like I love you.” That line was so true. Derek’s new crush didn’t. Neither did Braeden. Nobody ever felt this way about another person ever in history, Stiles could guarantee it.
He sang the title word “maps” long and low. “Wait. They don’t love you like I love you.”
Stiles closed his eyes and jammed out until the the second verse, then he grabbed the microphone and its stand in a strangle hold and sang to the rafters. The crowd was actually cheering for them. They sounded good! He could barely believe it, but damn did it feel great.
When the hook came back around, he scanned the crowd but couldn’t keep his eyes off Derek. If only he could understand. Stiles had never put more feeling into anything before. He hoped his strong tenor would fill the creaky old auditorium and melt right into Derek’s heart. His fingers tapped on the mike and one heel pounded into the worn dull wooden slats of the stage as he kept his rhythm and got into it.
The hundreds of raucous teenagers went crazy for them. He’d never gotten this much positive attention from any one student in this school before. Maybe he wasn’t invisible anymore? He threw mock punches in the air and strummed an air guitar to Scott’s breakdown.
He could swear that every time he looked Derek’s way, Derek was looking straight into his eyes.
Derek’s friends were shoving him and slapping him on the back. Derek had a weird look on his face. He was shaking his head, trying to hide a smile? Oh God, they were making fun of him.
So now he wanted to die. He made it through the last refrain, barely, trying to channel his humiliation. He ended on his knees, the way any good rocker should, in his opinion. Besides, that’s how he felt, that all this brought him to his knees.
The cheers were loud and long, but Stiles couldn’t enjoy them. He was heartbroken. No matter what, he’d sang his heart out. He hoped all his stupid in-love feelings were out once and for all, and he could move on.
Scott and Braeden were exploding with energy, but he plodded heavily down off the stage and moped into a corner backstage.
Scott jumped up and down, hanging on Stiles’ back. “Did you see that? We killled! They loved us!”
“Not everybody.” Stiles thought of Derek and company ridiculing him. He wanted to crawl into hole and die.
Braeden finished up a text message and slapped him on the back of his head. “Dude. Could you have been more obvious? Why didn’t I see it this whole time?”
“What do you mean?”
“You stared holes into Derek the entire time. You might as well have sung right to him! This is awesome!”
“Was it that obvious?”
“Only to the entire school!”
“Oh, my God. I’m gonna die. I can’t live with this embarrassment.”
“You are so oblivious it isn’t even funny!”
Before Stiles got a chance to ask what she meant, Derek came around the corner with his senior pack, Erica, Boyd and Isaac, pushing him along the whole way. They were headed straight towards him. “I take that back. I’m gonna die cause he’s gonna kill me. Who told them we were back here?”
“I did,” Braeden said, looking like the cat who caught the canary.
Derek looked like a god in his black jeans and green v-neck tee showing all his muscles and matching those perfect eyes.
“What a way to die,” Stiles mumbled. Derek hesitated, and Boyd walked right into him. Boyd laughed and ushered him forward. So did Erica and Isaac, each one pulling at an arm, until Derek was face-to-face with Stiles. The next second They made themselves scarce. Braeden grabbed Scott’s arm and they disappeared, too. The yellow-bellied cowards. How dare they abandon him in his hour of need. How dare they not go down with his ship. Stiles faced Derek and squared his shoulders. Might as well get this over with. Then I’ll find the nearest small dark space to waste away in.
The thing was, Derek was…blushing?
He opened his mouth, paused like he was unsure of himself, then tried again. “I really liked your performance.”
“You did? You weren’t laughing at me?”
He screwed his face up. “Laughing at you? Are you crazy? You were amazing. I knew you played lacrosse but I didn’t know you, like, sang.” It couldn’t be. After all this time, Derek knew he was alive?
“You knew I played lacrosse?”
Derek shrugged and kicked at the ground with his Nikes. “I mean, I see you practicing sometimes. Not that I watch really close or anything. But, uh, you sing real good.” Stiles was gobsmacked. Not only did Derek know who he was, Derek watched him play lacrosse on more than one occasion. On purpose. Did that mean what he thought it meant? His heart rushed in his chest.
“Braeden said you really like that song.”
“Yeah! I do! Did she help you pick it out?”
“No, I just…wanted to sing it. It kinda described the way I was feeling.”
“That’s crazy! The way you were feeling about what?”
“About something…someone…kind of…” It was all for you.
“It was all for you!” Braeden yelled from behind the curtain, like some kind of damn magician.
“For me?” Derek pointed at his own chest and it was so adorable Stiles wanted to die.
“I, Uh, well, I mean-“
“He’s in love with you, Derek!” Braeden added.
“Oh God. I’m definitely dying now. Goodbye cruel world.”
“You’re in love with me?” Derek asked, eyes big as saucers.
Stiles’ voice came out really screechy and pinched, “A little? Maybe? I definitely haven’t had a thing for you since we were in grade school. Nope.”
“Derek’s in love with you, too, the chickenshit.” Erica said from behind a totally different curtain. It was heckling in surround sound.
“Derek, if you don’t stop horsing around I swear I’ll come back out there and mush your faces together myself!” Boyd sounded like he meant business.
“I’m not gonna mush our faces together,” Derek yelled, “that sound like a consent issue…”
“You both consent and you know you do!” Isaac called.
“Stiles sings good but he can kiss real good, too!” Scott shouted.
“For the love of tacos, Scott!” Stiles turned into a tomato. “He doesn’t mean that.”
Derek grinned and tilted his head, eyes taking Stiles in from head to toe. “Can you, though? Kiss real good?”
“I mean, uh, yeah? If you wanted to like, try it, I guess he means that, yeah!”
“Then kiss already!” All five of their friends yelled in unison.
“Oh my God, this is like a movie. Better than a movie. Better than Broadway. Better-“ Derek cut off Stiles’ rambling with a quick kiss, just a soft crush of lips on lips. Stiles stood there stunned silent. Then he sprang into action, wrapping his arms around Derek like an octopus and getting some tongue into the mix. He really did smush their faces together. For a long time. It was awesome.
“Man. I’ve been waiting for that forever,” Derek said.
“Not hardly. You know, I felt like you were singing to me. That’s dumb, I know.”
“Oh my God, you’re not dumb. I’m dumb. We’re both really, really dumb.”
After a little more kissing, Stiles found out about Derek’s eternal crush on him, and how he’d kinda sorta sent Braeden undercover to feel him out but she wasn’t sure because Stiles always changed the subject whenever she brought him up. Derek found out about Stiles’ lethal amount of pining and how he’d picked the song especially to express his feelings for Derek.
After a lot more kissing, they decided they were both done with being so dumb. They were going to start being together, and that was damn sure alright by Stiles. Now all they had to do was get their friends to shut up about it.