Stiles Stilinski isn’t an idiot. He knows that sometimes students sneak their pets into their dorms. Usually, it’s a bunny. Or maybe a gerbil. He has even heard that someone managed to get away with having a cat for a solid year.
Stiles thinks the giant fucking dog might be pushing it.
Slowly, without taking his eyes of the massive predator lurking in the middle of the dorm, Stiles eases into the room towards the free bed. The dog’s eyes track his progress, but thankfully it makes no move for the jugular. Stiles drops his duffel bag onto the bed and lets out a small sigh of relief, as if being able to set his bag down without being murdered means he passed some sort of test.
“So, uh, Fido, know when your owner’s gonna be back? I think him and me need to have some words. About pets. Big pets. Big pets that are totally not allowed in dorms.”
And Stiles really isn’t an idiot; he graduated from high school with a 4.2 GPA thank you very much, but he thinks he might be missing something important when the dog rolls its eyes.
“Okaaay,” Stiles says slowly, “maybe not a dog. I guess that makes sense, since you’re huge. I mean, really huge. Don’t tell me my roommate brought a w—”
The dog stands, shaking itself off, and then ripples. Stiles scrambles back, knocking the into the side of his bed and going down, hard. The dog's fur shrinks away to smooth skin and Stiles focuses on that, can't watch as the bones on its—his face crack and resettle into—
"Jesus fucking Christ."
The man standing in front of Stiles is—very naked. Stiles knows his face is glowing red, though the guy's clearly unashamed. Not that he has anything to be ashamed of; Stiles would just be grateful if he put on some pants. And okay, Stiles has always been comfortable about his heterosexuality, but he’s starting to question his place on the Kinsey Scale in the face of—that.
“A werewolf,” Stiles says, keeping his eyes strictly above the waist and thinking that, actually, he is a total idiot. “You’re a werewolf.”
"What clued you in?" the guy—werewolf—asks, lifting one bitchy eyebrow.
Stiles knows, in theory, that werewolves exist. He’s seen them in magazines (has even purchased one or two, though no one needs to know about that) and has read their blogs and has even chatted to one or two in World of Warcraft, debating their unrealistic and stereotyped depiction in MMORPGs (his argument was that everyone is unrealistic and stereotyped in MMORPGs, even humans). He’s just never met one in person. Or maybe it should be in werewolfperson. In the flesh. It’s not like many werewolves like to hang out in Beacon Hills. Sure, they had their fair share of everything else, but no werewolves.
"Uh, you know," Stiles says, flailing a hand in the guy's general direction, then winces. "Can you put on some pants, dude?"
"Derek," the guy corrects, but thank fucking god, goes to his dresser to grab a pair of ratty gray pajama bottoms.
Stiles clinically thinks that Derek is just as attractive from behind as he is from the front, before he throws himself on his bed with a groan.
"Fucking great," he hisses into his mattress.
"Is there a problem?"
Stiles lifts his head and then nearly jumps out of his skin when he comes face-to-leg with Derek. God, he didn't even hear him cross the room. Stiles scrambles back until he's pressed up against the wall. Derek's glaring at him—no, that's more like a scowl, baring teeth that are way more pointy than Stiles is comfortable with.
"Goddamnit, dude! Warn a guy when you're gonna go all ninja!"
"I said, is there a problem?"
Funny how Derek's soft voice is so incongruous with his face and yet manages to be pants-wettingly menacing at the same time.
"Nothing! No problems here, nope." Stiles waves his hands in the universal we're all cool here and then, because his brain-to-mouth filter has been broken since he first learned how to string sentences together, says, "it's just, you know, I never thought I'd be rooming with someone who goes bump in the night."
The look on Derek's face clearly says ‘I’m dorming with an insensitive moron and I'm seriously contemplating if I can get away with violent murder.’ Which, fair.
"I mean, not that you go bump in the night! Or, well, you know, unless you're lucky, if you know what I mean. Which you—don't, or maybe you do and still want to kill me, and I really don't blame you for that because wow I'm coming off as a total asshole—can we start over? Hi. I'm Stiles. And I'm actually not a racist asshole, but to be fair you probably shouldn't be sitting around as a giant wolf—"
Derek slams his hand against Stiles' nightstand, which thankfully puts an end to his word vomit. Stiles glances at the nightstand. There's now a long crack down one side. He looks back at Derek's face. His features have smoothed out to a blank sort of calm that does nothing to soothe Stiles' rioting heart, but his eyes are burning a furious red. Sooo, he's dorming with a werewolf who is also a werewolf Alpha. Who hates him. With good reason.
Stiles winces and quietly says, "Sorry."
"I don't have to deal with this shit," Derek snarls, more beast than human, and storms out of the dorm. Still in just his pajama pants.
Stiles sinks down into his bed, covering his face with his hands. When he'd graduated high school he'd thought, college will be different. I'll get out of this small town and meet new people that don't know what a spaz I am and it will be better. Maybe I’ll have friends instead of just people who I sit with at lunch.
He sighs into his hand and pulls his phone out of his pocket, opening a new text.
can I go home yet?
I'M not even home yet. Go make some friends
Stiles drops his phone. God, he’s so pathetic. His dad literally just dropped him off thirty minutes ago and Stiles is already texting him like a codependent freak. He's doing something wrong if even his father thinks he needs to socialize more.
I'm kind of a terrible person
His dad doesn't answer for a long moment, probably because he's driving and shouldn't be texting in the first place, Sheriff, but after ten minutes he gets: what did you do this time
Thanks, Dad. Stiles doesn't even bother responding, just sighs again and pushes himself out of his bed.
He spends the rest of the afternoon exploring Greenwitch, the small town surrounding Barnett College, filling out applications here and there because although he's got a scholarship, he also a) still has no friends and therefore has a lot of free time and b) needs casual spending money to pay for the tissues he'll need for all the crying he'll be doing during all that free time. Any half-formed daydreams he'd had about being BFFs with his new roommate are forlornly waved away. He wouldn't even blame the guy if he put in a transfer request.
He orders a cup of Starbucks coffee at the local Barnes & Noble, filling out his fifth application, when a girl pulls out the seat across from him. She drops a huge purse next to his backpack and nearly knocks over his coffee. She’s got great reflexes though, because she snatches it up before it can spill all over his half-filled application.
"You're from Beacon Hills, right?"
Stiles grins, brightening when he recognizes her. "Allison, hey."
"Yeah! Um, sorry, but." Allison chews on her lower lip, embarrassed.
"Stiles," he says wryly. He isn't surprised, not really. Even though he and Allison went to the same school for three years, she hung out in groups way, way out of his league. See: Lydia Martin.
He knows that both Lydia and Allison were attending Barnett College; after all, that was part of the reason why he decided to go here. To give himself some credit, though, it does have the best Paranormal Criminology program in the state. Attending the same school as Lydia is just an added benefit. If he clings to a stubborn little fantasy that Lydia, lonely and desperate for attention in this new world where she is no longer the top of the food chain goes flying into his arms—well, no one has to know but him.
"Right! Right. I knew that." When Stiles just lifts his eyebrows she goes a pretty pink. "Well, okay, no. But I'm hoping to change that? I mean, you have no idea how glad I am to see a familiar face."
He does, but he doesn't want to embarrass her further by pointing it out. Allison’s one of those preternaturally nice girls who blushes a thanks when you hold the door open for her and always has a smile for you when she passes you in the hall, even though you’ve maybe only said five words to her in three years. He likes her, thinks maybe he can even be friends with her. Plus, she’s best friends with Lydia, so.
“Yeah. I’m just, um.” He waves down at his application awkwardly. “Looking for a job?” He doesn’t mean for it to be a question, but it comes out uncertain, like he’s asking her if she needs a job.
“Wow, you’re moving fast. I need to get one too, but I guess I’m just being lazy.”
Stiles doesn’t really know what to say to that, so he just smiles at her. She smiles back. They continue to smile silently for a full minute, before Allison clears her throat and gets up. “Uh, so, I’m just going to get some coffee.”
“Great!” Stiles says, a little too enthusiastically.
“Yeah! So I’ll see you around?”
“Sure, yeah, of course.” He gives her a tight little wave, feeling like he just finished an extremely awkward first date, but without any of the benefits.
“Oh, wait! Let me at least get your number.” She digs around in her ridiculous purse before coming up with her iphone with a pleased, ‘ah!’. “Stii-les. Is that with an i or a y?”
He gives her his number and the correct spelling for his name, still off-balance. It doesn’t at all feel like she’s trying to pick him up, but Stiles has always been completely hopeless at reading these things.
“Bye, Stiles!” Allison beams at him and waves, tucking her hair behind one ear as she heads towards the exit, her massive purse tucked securely under one arm. Stiles never really noticed just how pretty Allison is, always too blinded by Lydia. He feels like he’s being disloyal to Lydia for noticing Allison’s beauty, but.
Stiles has always done a great job at deluding himself when it comes Lydia Martin. He’s held onto his crush for her all the way until senior year, even through his brief relationship with Malia, in junior year. He thinks he’ll always love Lydia, even if it is just from force of habit. But—but maybe he should try the whole dating thing again. He doesn’t necessarily have to break away from the ten year plan; he can just—play the field or something.
Stiles snorts into his coffee. Yeah. ‘Play the field.’ As if he has any game to speak of. He finishes his coffee and his application, handing it to the bored cashier who is drawing anime characters on a strip of receipt paper. He grins at her, dredging up some of this elusive ‘game.’
She lifts an eyebrow.
Stiles’ grin falters.
“Someone will be in contact with you shortly,” she says, and Stiles flees the scene.
Derek, thank god, isn’t in their dorm by the time Stiles gets back to their room. Stiles still feels like a major jackass for being unintentionally racist and knows he owes Derek a true apology, but he doesn’t think he can handle those murderous eyebrows twice in one day. He wonders if he should maybe leave a note or something, but it feels way too grade school to him so he just tells himself he’ll apologize next time he sees him. If he ever sees him again.
Derek isn't there the next morning, either, and Stiles has the horrible suspicion that he has driven off his roommate within five minutes of knowing him. This dreadful thought lasts up until Stiles notices that Derek's sheets are a tangled mess. Derek must have snuck in after Stiles fell asleep last night, and back out before he woke up this morning. He doesn't blame Derek for avoiding him, he just wishes he'd stick around long enough for Stiles to apologize.
He waits around for most of the day just in case, futzing around on his laptop, before giving up and heading back to the Barnes & Noble to sulk over a cup of coffee. He got enough gift cards for his high school graduation that he figures he’s set for the next three years.
Stiles doesn’t know what he was thinking, expecting that he’d magically have a social life just because he’s in college. He knows better, has learned from years of experience that most people can’t handle Stiles’ brand of overly loyal friendship. So far, all he’s managed to do is make his new roommate hate him.
How sad. It’s the day before class begins and he’s spent it moping over his laptop and a cup of coffee. So much for college being different.
He doesn't think Allison is ever going to text him and since he never asked her for her number, he expects that their friendship was over before it started. So he's pleasantly surprised when he gets a text from an unknown number when he’s in the middle of his second cup of coffee and making himself increasingly sad.
hey stiles! It's Allison. There's a party tonight at the frat house. Wanna come
YES! Where Stiles types, then immediately deletes because he’s not that desperate. He really is, but he doesn’t need to come off that way.
Sounds cool, where? he sends instead.
deke house at 10
Stiles has no idea what a deke house is or where it could be, but he isn’t a master of Google for nothing. He fires off a quick awesome and then frantically searches Google for where a ‘deke house’ could possibly be in the Bay Area. Thankfully, Allison saves him from scrolling through roughly a million useless results by sending him the address.
The same bored cashier from yesterday is starting her shift and Stiles grins at her again. She rolls her eyes but smiles back at him. Stiles counts that as a win.
It turns out Deke stands for Delta Kappa Epsilon, some fraternity Stiles doesn’t even dream of joining. He snags a chunk of watermelon from the platter in the tiny kitchen, popping the whole thing into his mouth and then almost immediately spitting it right back out. It’s like he crunched into a cube of solid vodka, and not the good kind either. Only the sight of familiar strawberry blonde curls keeps him from making a jerk of himself.
“Ly—” he coughs into his fist, “Lydia.”
Lydia turns to him, lifting eyebrows over her solo cup. She takes her time sipping from her drink, not breaking eye contact. “Do I know you?”
One of the many meatheads surrounding her snorts a laugh. Stiles sighs and gives her a small smile. He’s not even surprised anymore. It took him half his life to realize that Lydia’s beautiful and smart and so wrapped up in her image that she’s happy to pretend she’s not as great as she really is. Last year he would have detailed their entire future together. Now he just shrugs and runs his fingers through his hair, messing it up even more. It still stings, but he’s, well. He’s used to it.
“Nah,” he says. “Must have thought you were someone else. Watermelon?”
He sees the exact moment her eyes go calculating, and he knows she knows who he is, but she takes a piece of watermelon and says nothing. He salutes her with his piece and grabs two more, winding his way into the thick of things. Where there’s a Lydia, there’s an Allison.
“Stiles!” Sure enough, Allison collides into him, grabbing one of his arms with both her hands. “I’m glad you made it!”
The music’s loud, some dubstep crap that’s making his insides flinch. He tries to jump with her to the music, but gives up pretty quickly. “I need more alcohol for this!”
She grins sympathetically at him and drags him towards the back. “Come on! There’s a keg back here.”
This is how Stiles ends up doing a keg stand, held up by Allison, some dude who smells like pot, one of Lydia’s meatheads and, surprisingly, Lydia herself, though she’s only holding one of his feet. When they set him down again his head is spinning slightly from all the blood rushing back down, but people are cheering and laughing and Stiles thinks that he might actually be getting the college experience. He’s handed a solo cup and he chugs that too, realizing too late that it’s tequila. Ugh. He grins weakly, saluting whoever handed it to him and heading back towards the house to get away from the crush of bodies.
He stumbles when he recognizes just who is leaning against the wall, subjecting the crowd to his moody eyebrows. Somehow, Derek didn’t strike him as the partying type. He is not surprised at all when he sees that he’s standing next to a gorgeous chick since Derek’s, well, Derek.
"Derek!" Stiles just barely manages to stop himself falling into him by grabbing onto his arm. He's treated to a very pointed glare for daring to touch Derek's werewolfy bad self, but he clings to his sleeve anyway. "Derek."
"I don't think we started off on the wrong foot. The right foot. I don't think we started off on the right foot. Or the left one."
So he might be drunk. Like, really drunk. That last shot of tequila did a number on him. He's still got the spins, which usually leads to some intense puking, but he's determined to set thing straight with the guy he'll be living with for a year.
Derek is starting to get all glarey again, possibly because Stiles has twisted his hand into his sleeve, staring up at him with big earnest eyes.
"You have to listen," Stiles insists, shaking Derek's arm. This just ratchets up the glaring.
"Let go before I tear off your arm."
Stiles pauses in his shaking because that's a little excessive. "Dude. Not buddies."
"We aren't 'buddies,' Stiles."
"That's what I'm saying! You need to listen."
Derek rolls his eyes, glancing at the stupidly hot girl beside him. She lifts her eyebrows and he just shrugs, turning back to Stiles.
"Well what?" Stiles asks. His mouth is starting to water.
"if you're just fucking around—"
"No! No. I wanted to," he swallows, "to—"
He lets go of Derek's arm and bolts into the house, one hand clamped over his mouth. He barrels past the girl reaching for the bathroom door, just barely making it to the toilet before he is violently sick. The girl politely closes the door behind him.
He flushes the toilet and rolls onto his back on the bathroom floor, trying not to think about what he's lying on, and stares glumly at the ceiling. This is one of those unfortunate nights where he's barfing up his spleen and yet is completely aware of every agonizing moment of his existence.
“Sorry, Derek,” he says dryly to the ceiling. “I’m really good at talking, but I suck at saying what I really mean.”
A minute later the girl who shut the door for him walks into the bathroom and primly sits on the toilet. Stiles glances at her from under his arm, confirms she’s doing exactly what he thinks she’s doing, then covers his face again with a groan.
“Could you not have waited?” he asks.
“Nope,” she says cheerfully and flushes the toilet.
That is just awesome.
The first day of classes is just as bad as he thought it was going to be. He is hungover and exhausted, and he didn't have time to grab something to eat before Intro to Paranormal Criminal Justice. He manages to get to class five minutes before it starts and secures a seat in the middle of the classroom.
A minute later, Derek walks in.
He’s bright eyed and bushy tailed, not at all as if he’d spent half the night partying. Stiles knows for a fact that he didn’t get home until well into the a.m., since Stiles was awake when Derek slipped into his own bed last night. After the whole puking fiasco, Stiles stumbled back to their dorm, alone, and somehow feeling even sadder than he had that afternoon. He wasn’t as lonely—Allison really is a cool girl who willingly wants to hang out with him, but Derek’s persistent hatred makes him feel like a crappy human being. So he’d crawled into his bed and tried to sleep away the rest of the alcohol. His sour stomach kept him from getting a good night’s sleep and he was wide awake when Derek finally decided it was time for bed.
Derek frowns at him, which is a huge step up from his usual enraged scowl, but he take a seat on the other side of the forum. Stiles looks down at his desk. Huh. This isn’t exactly a popular class, but, well, Derek is the posterchild for the paranormal, so maybe it isn’t that surprising after all.
Derek is also in the other two classes Stiles has for the day. By Sociology of the Supernatural, he’s given in and taken the seat next to Stiles. Stiles definitely counts that as a win.
“Why are you in all these classes? Are you supernatural?” Derek asks when the class ends.
“Paranormal Criminology major,” Stiles says.
“Oh.” Derek slings his bookbag over his shoulder with one hand, even though it looks like he has half a library in there. “Me, too.”
This somehow doesn’t surprise Stiles at all. The same can’t be said about Derek, who is staring at him with open curiosity. It’s so disconcerting that Stiles starts babbling to hide his discomfort.
“My dad’s the sheriff of my hometown. Beacon Hills? Maybe you’ve heard of it. A lot of crap went down there a couple of years ago. Kanimas, wendigos, pixies, you name it.” He waves a hand expressively. “It was my dad’s idea. I kept getting in the middle of shit and he thought I should at least be paid to do what I was already doing.”
Derek says nothing. They walk for about two minutes in total silence before Stiles, never good at keeping his mouth shut, says, “What about you? Why Paranormal Criminology?”
“I’d be good at it.”
“That’s—god, that’s so true.” Stiles grins. Derek really would be the perfect spook cop. His grin slips. “Hey, you know, I just wanted to tell you that I really am sorry. I acted like a total jerk the other day and I want you to know that I’m not normally such a spaz. Well, alright, I totally am, but—I am sorry.”
“I know.” Stiles blinks up at him, but Derek is still staring straight ahead, face impassive. When Derek notices him gaping, he rolls his eyes. “I heard you last night.”
“You heard me—in the bathroom? What, did you have your ear pressed against the wall?”
“No, idiot, don’t you know anything about werewolves?” Derek taps one ear. “We have good hearing.”
Stiles narrows his eyes. “How good?”
“I was still outside when you apologized.”
“Yeah.” Derek winces slightly. “It’s not always great.”
Stiles thinks about what he was doing right before he apologized and winces as well. “Uh, yeah. Gross.”
Derek abruptly seems to remember that he is supposed to hate Stiles, because suddenly he frowns and turns around, walking in the complete opposite direction and leaving Stiles with his mouth hanging half-open.
He had thought things were going pretty well.
Stiles gets the job at Barnes & Noble as a Bookseller. The manager took one look at him during the interview and said, “Well, you already spend most of your time here, anyway. Might as well get paid for it.” It’s shit pay, but he gets free coffee out of it and the hours are flexible. The cashier, Violet, is slowly warming up to him, but he bonds almost instantly with one of the other Booksellers, Isaac.
It’s good. Things are good. Maybe not as exciting as he was hoping, but he has friends and Things to Do on Friday Nights, which is good enough for him. Derek even sometimes sits next to him in class and doesn’t always bolt out of their dorm when Stiles is in it.
He falls into a routine. School, work, study, sometimes party. Even Lydia’s warming up to him, which would be awesome if he isn’t obviously a permanent resident of the friendzone. She’s dating the meathead who held him up at the keg stand and he’s actually a bigger jackass than Stiles realized, but Stiles isn’t about to complain about being the Friendzoned Nice Guy; he doesn’t need Violet to tell him that’s gross.
One drizzly, quiet morning in October, a girl dressed like a business woman and looks all of fifteen stalks up to the Information station, points right at him, and says, “YOU.”
Stiles looks over his shoulder.
Stiles looks back to the girl, eyebrows shooting up. “Me?”
“Yes, you! Wait, wait, how old are you?”
The girl claps once, beaming at him. “Perfect, as long as you can legally prove it. You’re perfect.”
“Um, for what?”
Stiles’ eyebrows climb even higher. He glances at Isaac, who just shrugs. “Um,” he says, because, what. If he’s so perfect for modeling, why has he had all of one girlfriend his entire life?
“Come on, you can’t be that attached to this job,” the girl says, fishing through her purse. She slams a business card in front of him triumphantly. “Even if you are, it’s fine, we can work around your schedule. You’re good, too,” she points at Isaac, probably realizing she’s being a little rude, “but we don’t really take Betas.”
“Betas?” Stiles repeats, now really lost.
“Beta werewolf,” Isaac explains, the tips of his ears red and—oh. Stiles thinks he might be a crappy friend for not realizing that.
“So you’re not the smartest crayon in the box,” says the girl, and it’s hilarious that she’s insulting his intelligence when she can’t even get her metaphors right. “But it’s okay, because you’ve got the perfect neck.”
“Weird,” he says.
She waves dismissively at him and pushes the card forward, staring intently in his eyes. “Call me,” she orders. She continues to mug several seconds, then turns and just walks out, not even purchasing the book she has in her hands. Stiles is too stunned to go after her.
Isaac picks up the card. “Canid Publications,” he reads out loud. “Paige. No last name.”
“What’s going on?” Violet asks. She’s just come back from her break and is still wearing her sunglasses, a soda from the food court in one hand.
“Some lady just propositioned Stiles.” Isaac hands her the business card.
“She didn’t proposition me.”
Violet flips the card over, sipping from her drink. “There’s a website.”
They crowd around one of the computers that’s supposed to be used for searching books, but that Stiles hacked into one slow Monday to access the internet. Violet types the address into Firefox.
“Stiles,” Violet chokes, when the pictures on the website load. “This is—”
“Oh my god close that right now!”
It’s porn. Well, it’s sort of porn. Gay sort of porn. Definitely Not Safe For Work. Isaac pushes Stiles out of the way to frantically exit out of the browser before their manager catches them looking at porn.
There’s a long, long moment of silence, and then Isaac and Violet crack up. Stiles drops his head on the counter, neck red hot.