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Physical Chemistry

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“Really, Stiles? Don’t you think you’re being just a little overdramatic?”

“No, Lydia, I do not. I am not being dramatic enough. "This -” Stiles collapses into a chair at a table at the cafe across the street from the Physics building, waving his hand around, coffee sloshing out of his mug – “is...underdramatic. I’m thinking of staging a protest. Possibly a lawsuit against the university for…for…false advertisement!”

Lydia raises a perfectly-shaped eyebrow at him over her latte, stare so withering – and so familiar – that she doesn’t even need to tell Stiles, again, that he’s being absurd.

“This is totally and completely unfair and just…mean. I’ve been duped and mislead and…betrayed,” he seethes, knowing full well that he’s just further proving Lydia’s point, but nevertheless unable to stop. He’s exaggerating sure, that’s just what he does, but it doesn’t change the fact that he honest-to-god felt the hot spring of tears in his eyes when he walked into class this morning.

This time, eyebrows aren’t enough for Lydia’s disdain. “Come on, Stiles. It’s really not that bad.”

“Not that bad? Lydia, I took this class just for him. I saw his photo on the Physics department’s website, nearly jizzed in my pants, and registered for the only class he was teaching this semester in hopes of seducing him.”

“I knew it!” Her smile is smug, victorious, the smile that infatuated him for most of his adolescence, until his tastes started drifting more towards those of the penis-having persuasion. “All this time you’ve been trying to convince me that you’re actually interested in Physical Chemistry.”

“I’m incredibly fucking interested in physical chemistry with Professor Hale,” Stiles sighs, hyperbolic shock simmering into actual disappointment. He’s well aware of how cliché his all-consuming crush is, and probably how obvious too, given how he’s caught himself actually drooling during Professor Hale’s lectures on nuclear dynamics and electron orbital hybridization, whatever the fuck that is.

“And now?” Lydia asks. “I mean, yeah he looks pretty different, but it’s not like he’s hideous now or anything. He’s still hot. You may be delusional and weirdly obsessive, but you have excellent taste.”

Stiles slurps at his coffee, wrinkling his brow at her. It didn’t take too long after realizing just how into guys he is to realize that he’s also really, really into muscled guys with beards, and he’s spent much of his three and a half years in college indulging and exploring his predilection in various ways.

But Dr. Derek Hale, Ph.D.? Brilliant and accomplished, chiseled from stone in body and face, jeweled eyes that Stiles is pretty sure defy some law of science, what with their ever-changing rainbow of colors and glittering light, made all the more extraordinary for their stark contrast with his onyx hair, just long enough to always look a little bedraggled.

And of course, his glorious, luxurious, magnificent beard, full and silky-looking, contouring his unfairly perfect cheekbones and sharp jaw, framing his generous mouth. Stiles thinks there might be dimples hiding under there, but it’s hard to tell, what with the thickness of that resplendent man-pelt. Enrolling in an upper division physics class that he has no business being in, including forging the paperwork verifying he had taken the prereqs, is the least he would do to get a chance to find out for sure, to find out just exactly how good that beard looks dripping with his come.

But Derek’s more than just a type, more than just an embodiment of a kink. Stiles may be mostly clueless most of the time to what he’s lecturing about, but in the few weeks he’s sat in the front row of his class, mouth hanging open in lust, squirming in his seat to adjust his erection, he’s also come to learn some things about Professor Hale that make him think his crush is about more than just hooking up with the sexiest man he’s ever met.

“He’s still hot,” Stiles answers her finally. “But I’m dropping the class. Thank god I’m still in the grace period so it doesn’t go on my transcript.”

“You’re giving up?”

“Lyds, I’m a creative writing and graphic design major. I don’t give a fuck about quantum leaping electrons or whatever, which is evident by my shit grade in the class. I gave a fuck about the professor with the best beard the world has ever had the privilege to know. And now it’s gone.” Stiles shudders into his mocha. “Now he’s clean-shaven.”

“Good god, Stiles. You act like he’s committed some great sin against mankind by shaving.”

“He has!” He practically yells, indignant. “A sin against the kind of man I am.”

Lydia scoffs, grinning again. “And what kind of man is that, other than a power top with a beard fetish?”

Before Stiles can snark back, he’s distracted by a loud, choked-sounding gasp and the clatter of dishware, followed by a curt swear, coming from the table directly behind Lydia. The man, who’s sitting with his back to them, stands and stalks over to the counter for napkins to clean up the spilled coffee on his table.

“Oh fuck,” Stiles says in a scratchy wheeze, stomach flipping and souring with embarrassment, not needing the guy to turn around for him to know, without a doubt, that it’s the man himself, Dr. Hale, theoretical physicist, rock-climbing enthusiast, and beard butcher. After all, Stiles has spent an hour and a half, three days a week for the past month staring at that perfectly rounded ass in his dark jeans and fitted slacks. “He’s sitting behind you,” he hisses to Lydia through clenched teeth. “He heard everything.”

Lydia’s eyes go wide but Stiles can’t deal with her shock because he looks up just as Derek turns back around and their eyes meet and his cheeks – his smooth cheeks – are pink, and of course he blushes prettily too, unlike the red splotches Stiles is sure are blossoming all over his cheeks and neck, judging the flames of embarrassed heat that’s threatening to stifle him.

Lydia looks back and forth between them, expression shifting from sympathetic surprise to something else, a curious smirk dancing across her face. “Huh.” She looks back to Derek, and then to Stiles again. “I need to use the ladies’ room,” she announces, flipping her bouncy curls over a shoulder and slipping away from the table, leaving them alone to stare at each other in awkward silence.

Stiles just spent the morning’s class trying to come to terms with Professor Hale’s tragically bare face, but he’s still getting used to it, despite the undeniable fact of his beauty, regardless of adornment. Finally, Derek steps closer, right next to Stiles’ table, napkins scrunched in his hands. Stiles jumps out of his chair, hands flailing, “Dr. Hale, I apologize, that was –”

“Are you really going to?” Derek interrupts, rushed and urgent.

“Going to what?”

“Drop my class. Are you really going to?”

Stiles rubs the back of his neck, worried that he’s offended him by so vocally hating on his beloved subject matter and objectifying him so. “Um…well, yeah, I think so. I’m sorry, but it’s – ”

“Good,” Derek grunts, and then he’s there, right in Stiles’ space, close enough that he can see just how alluringly dark and silken his chest hair is, peeking out from his green oxford shirt that makes his eyes look even more like some kind of impossibly rare and precious gemstone, can see the gentle scatter of laugh lines around them; he can smell his aftershave, musky with a hint of spicy sweetness that, despite himself, makes his mouth water. It’s overwhelming, his senses firing alive in all registers, but that’s nothing compared to when Derek presses a gentle but still insistent, eager kiss on his open, stunned mouth, just barely grazing his tongue with his, a delicious, tantalizing promise.

“Good,” Stiles repeats, dazed and very, very confused.

“Yeah, good. Because I can’t ask you out until you do.” Derek grins, and just before he leans in for another kiss, Stiles sees that yeah, he does have dimples, and okay, fine, maybe he can get on board with this whole no-beard thing.

~*~

Later that night, after their first date, Derek invites him over and kisses him senseless before sucking him off with teasing, hungry skill that has Stiles trembling and feeling like he’s turned inside out with the rush of pleasure, coming all over Derek’s five o’clock shadow. Derek spills hot and sticky across Stiles’ stomach not long after, falling next to him on the bed with heavy thud, lying on his side to stare at him, smiling with satisfaction.

Stiles rolls to face him, hand trailing up to run across Derek’s cheek, through his mess, smiling at the prickle of new hair. “Why’d you shave it,” he asks, kissing his chin.

Derek hooks a hand on Stiles’ hip, pulling him closer. “I lost a bet,” he sighs. “With my friend Erica. She hates my beard.”

Stiles frowns. “I think I need to have a sit-down with this Erica person and explain to her the error of her ways. What was the bet?”

“That I couldn’t go a week without talking to her about the hot student who’s failing my class.”

Stiles nearly cackles in delighted laughter. “No fucking way. How long did you last?” There’s a shiver of fresh want, his chest warming with contentment, when the warm breath of Derek’s laugh dances across his forehead and through his tousled hair.

“Oh, about five hours,” he admits, laughter growing louder, a surprisingly tender giggle for such a stern-looking man. “I told her about how I got distracted in lecture, thinking about how badly I want to give you beard burn all over.”

Stiles nuzzles into his warm, broad chest, rubbing his face against his silken hair, smiling, chest full-to-bursting with affection and excitement. “That better not be just theoretical.”

Derek laughs again, loud and sweet, intertwining his fingers with his. “Look at that. You did learn something.”