Stiles scanned the arrivals board at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Which carousel do we need? As it stood, his and Scott's flight had not been assigned one in Baggage Claim yet. Hurry up. He was anxious to get to campus and check out their dorm room.
"Dude, I am starving. Maybe we should stop and get some lunch on our way."
Stiles leveled his step-brother (and lifelong best-friend, ask anyone. They'll tell you) with a pointed glare, one that said, 'I am not carrying my luggage anywhere other than up to our dorm .' "We can check out campus once we drop off our shit, because there is no way I'm lugging my equipment bag to some restaurant."
A disembodied voice came through the intercom speakers. "Now unloading at Baggage Claim Six, United Flight 5466 from San Francisco."
Stiles massaged his temples. Headaches sucked. Royally, majorly, epic- okay they were a nuisance but work with him. He'd had a long day.
"I don't see how carrying the bag is any different than wearing its contents all at once." Scott sighed in relief, his shoulders sagging. It had been a long day so far. One that started at three am so his mom and Stiles' dad could drive them to Redding in order to catch the first leg of their flight. It was 03:35 now. He rubbed the back of his neck. Why did they decide to attend college so far from ho- Oh yeah, Stiles.
He was not jealous of his step-brother's full ride athletic scholarship, not at all. Okay, he was a little. Mostly, he was just happy to have made the gymnastics team at a Division I school. It wasn't Stiles' fault that hockey was a far bigger draw. Stiles' phone conversation drew him from his thoughts.
"I don't know, Dad. Our bags haven't come down yet." Stiles paused. "Dad, if the bags haven't shown up yet, how would I know if my equipment arrived in decent shape?" Stiles groaned. "I'm aware that's almost four grand in equipment. I have it insured."
Scott looked over and laughed as Stiles rolled his eyes; he could practically see the smoke coming from his ears.
"Yes, I understand that. Oh look, our flight's luggage is coming down. Gotta go, Dad. Yeah, yeah. Love you too. Raise a lot of money for the walk next week. Send me a shirt." He hung up without giving the man a chance at a rebuttal. "I'm calling it now, Scotty my man. My dad is going to be the worst sort of Helicopter Parent. Just you watch."
"Just wait until he starts calling you." Stiles flinched as the buzzer signifying the arrival of luggage blared from the carousel behind him. As the bags started to tumble down the ramp, he waited with bated breath. To be fair, his dad had a valid point. His new equipment, a gift for graduation, was pricey, and it would suck to have to wait for insurance money before buying new stuff as practice started the second week of classes. Scott, the lucky bastard, didn't really have to worry until spring semester. Yes, there were practices in the fall semester, but at least he wouldn't be thrown into competition in a little over a month.
Stiles was nervous. He wasn't new to the sport, God no. No way he would have secured any kind of scholarship or place on a team if he was. It was just that it had been awhile since he was the new guy on a team. Between his club team (he would not miss the ninety minute drive to Roseville three times a week), Team California for the America's Showcase back in April and the National Under 18 team, he'd been around a lot of the same players for years. But he hadn't met anyone on his college team yet. Had the National Junior Team not interfered so much with his last year of high school, he'd at least have met a couple players by now.
Nope. He was flying blind.
He looked up to see his black equipment bag sliding down the conveyor belt, the orange 'Heavy' tape adorning the handle. As he hefted the thing off the carousel, thankful as fuck that it had wheels, he turned to see Scott scowling, holding up his suitcase, crushed with one broken wheel.
"What the hell do they do with bags? Run them through a meat grinder?"
"Pretty sure they just toss them into the cargo hold." Stiles pulled his second bag, the largest suitcase he could find, from the conveyor belt. Well, he tried. The thing got caught on the bag next to it, and when it did not come free, Stiles fell into the carousel. Trying to brush his clumsiness off as intentional, he looked around to see if anyone had witnessed it.
Scott doubled over, hands on his knees, sucking air as he almost laughed his way to an asthma attack. "Oh my god, Stiles. How do you manage to be any good at hockey being as clumsy as you are?"
"You're one to talk. I seem to remember at least three broken lamps as a result of your wild brandishing of a lacrosse stick."
Scott held up his hands in surrender. "Sorry, Dude."
"And to answer your question, my special brand of flailing works exceptionally well at stopping pucks."
"Even when you look like a trout on ice?"
Stiles smirked. "Especially then." He hooked his arms through the straps of his backpack and tugged the handles to his bags towards the sign that read 'To Light Rail Transit.'
They stood in front of door 386 in Territorial Hall. Scott turned the key and pushed open the door. "Home sweet home, Bro."
"Did it have to be so far from the elevator?"
Scott pushed open the window in the room to let in some fresh air. "Fine student athlete like yourself having trouble walking all the way around the elevator?"
Stiles threw a balled up pillowcase at him.
"Which bed do you want?"
"Dude, I don't fucking care. I'll take the left one." Stiles started taking clothes out of his suitcase and placing them in the dresser underneath his lofted bed. He'd crammed as much as he could into his luggage, buying the entirety of Target's Space Saver bag supply in order to do so. Sure, his dad and Melissa had sent several moving boxes via UPS for him and Scott, but they would not arrive until Friday. That was the trouble attending school halfway across the country. If your parents weren't able to get time off to drive you to college, you took what you could carry and awaited the rest via mail.
Scott opened the box containing their coffeemaker and set it atop the small table they'd bought (also at Target). Assembly had been a breeze and now they had a little extra 'counter' space as it were. Stiles threaded their curtains through the provided rod and handed the other end to his stepbrother. "A little help?"
In no time, their room looked about as put together as a dorm with limited space could be. Their beds had been made. Star Wars for his (and no, Scott still had not watched it so his step-brother could not appreciate how awesome the bedding set was) and Superman for Scott's. Stiles tripped over his equipment bag as he toed off his shoes before clambering up the ladder to his bed. He desperately needed a nap and crashed onto his bed face first.
"Really? It's almost dinner time."
Stiles flipped him off over the bed railing. "Dude, I'm exhausted. I think even my hair is tired. Leave me alone."
"Whatever." Scott gagged and covered his nose. "Oh my God. What the hell is that smell?"
A woman's voice came from out of nowhere to answer him. "That would be the Eau de Superblock. It comes with its own natural sewer 'perfume' You'll get used to it."
"Oh Superwhatnow?" Stiles yawned, popping his head over the railing to look towards their door where he saw a pretty young woman with brown hair and dimples holding a clipboard. Definitely Scott's type.
"The Superblock. It's our little nickname for the four dorm halls in this area. For whatever reason, the sewer smell is pretty strong in this area. I recommend keeping your window closed. I learned that the hard way last year."
"Last year?" Scott craned his head to the side in a way that Stiles always told him made the guy look like a confused puppy. "I thought this was a freshman only dorm.'
"Hi," she said extending a hand, "I'm Allison. I'm your Community Advisor, your CA." She read the board in her hand. "I see you are Scott and Kr...Ky...um I'm so sorry."
Stiles laughed. "Just call me Stiles."
"Well that's much easier. And you're both from California? What are the odds?"
"Pretty negligible. We're stepbrothers."
"Ah," she blushed, "well that makes a lot more sense. I'm 383. That's kitty corner from you. I’m CA for rooms 368-399, most of us in this wing are student athletes, which,” she read down her list, “I see you both are too. Oh, that’s nice. I’m on the women’s gymnastics team, Scott. So, I'm sure we'll see each other often. Bathrooms and laundry are across the hall, so lucky you. I'll leave the two of you alone to get settled, but don't forget about welcome week which starts tomorrow. There's brunch served tomorrow morning starting at nine."
They waved to her as she left the room. Stiles' stomach chose that moment to voice its displeasure at the lack of food in it, and he clambered down from his bed. "Come on, Scott. Let's go find dinner."
"I thought you were tired."
"Dude, if I don't go get food like right fucking now, I'm going to be down for the count tonight. I can barely keep my eyes open."
They made their way down the halls to the elevator. As they waited they were joined by a girl with long black hair...and also dimples. Huh. How about that? Stiles watched her bounce on the balls of her feet, fingers playing with the ruffled hem of her skirt. The bell dinged, and the doors opened.
"What floor?" Scott asked.
"One please. Thanks."
"Hey," Stiles said, an idea forming in his mind, "can you help us out? Where's a good place to eat around here?"
"Um, I'm a freshman, so I haven't tried any yet. However, my neighbor goes to the U and has recommended some places. What are you in the mood for?"
Stiles gave Scott a playful smack in the sternum. "Well, Scotty?"
"Dude, I don't know. I'm too hungry and exhausted."
"How about Mexican?"
She shrugged. "There's a Chipotle. If you're not too set on Mexican, I've been told Big 10 subs is really good, and close. Actually, it's just up Harvard a couple blocks. And there's Bona. That's a Vietnamese place if you like Phở. Little warm for that if you ask me. There are a couple pizza places along Washington. I'm Kira by the way."
Scott smiled. "Scott."
"Nice to meet you. You guys live on the third floor too?"
They walked out the front door of the building to where the air was still, and quite surprisingly, sweltering. Everyone warned them about the winters in Minnesota, how they were downright oppressive. No one said anything about hot and humid summers.
"Are you guys locals?"
"Nope. We're NorCal kids." Stiles grinned. "Total fishes out of water. Hey, take our picture by that silly bridge." Stiles handed Kira his phone and pulled Scott against his side.
"Stiles, why would you pick this spot to take a picture?"
"Because Dad is worried about us freezing when we walk to class." When Kira took the photo and he saw his step-brother's less than thrilled face, he cackled. "Oh that's awesome, Scotty! I am sending this right now." Less than a minute after he sent the picture, his phone buzzed in his pocket.
"You're a horrible person," Scott said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"I know. It keeps me up at night." They decided on making a much longer trek for food than a few blocks, because Scott was pretty set on Mexican food, and Kira led them to a neighborhood near the interstate called Dinkytown (yeah, Stiles didn't understand it either). Along the way, they learned that Kira planned on studying history and found Scott's focus on animal science adorable (if her broad grin was anything to go by). She lived down the hall from them as well and found the fact Stiles was on the men's hockey team interesting as hell, because she played center for the women's team. However, Stiles could accurately describe the way she looked when Scott divulged he was a ring's specialist for the gymnastics team: Mentally undressing him, trying to imagine all the muscles that lie underneath his clothes. Stiles would need brain bleach.
By the time they rounded the corner onto 13th Ave Se from 4th St, Stiles felt like the proverbial third wheel as Scott managed to already get a date with Kira. How the hell did he manage to do that? Scott, however, was not totally oblivious to Stiles' mild jealousy. It was like he could practically smell it.
"Don't look so sad, Bro. This is college, a place for learning, drinking, having lots of sex, and maybe finding the love of your life."
Scott clapped him on the shoulders. "I'm right. Just you watch. Any day now, you are going to be totally blindsided when that person walks into your life."
"Uh huh. Sure they will. Cause that's worked so far." Stiles shook his head. Maybe if he were someone else, the love of his life would just walk out in front of him. But he was Stiles Stilinski, and he was never that lucky.