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Sleeping Beauty in the Stacks

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Stiles pushed his cart through the library, turning off lamps here and there, collecting books that had been forgotten or cast aside in favor of other tomes. He would be more aggravated, but it was finals week. He had too many memories of his own zombie-like behavior during such times that he mentally added an extra hour to his closing shifts and adjusted accordingly.

He rounded the nearest stack, already reaching to grab two of the books off his cart for reshelving, when the hair on the back of his neck stood up, alerting him to the fact that something was not as it should be.

When he spotted the man, the books in his hand nearly slipped through his fingers. Nearly. He tightened his grip at the last moment, though, and quietly shelved them before tip toeing over to the man who was fast asleep surrounded by a pile of medical texts, his black, square framed glasses nearly falling off his nose.

Staying well back — Stiles had enough sense to know that a student the age of this one might be funding his education with a GI Bill — Stiles reached forward and gently prodded at the man's shoulder before snatching his hand back.

Instead of coming awake with a start, or lashing out like Stiles had half expected, the man just snuggled deeper into his thick, soft-looking sweater, his lips parting in a quiet snore that made Stiles bite his lip to hold in a chuckle.

Emboldened, Stiles got a little closer and gripped the guy's shoulder, giving it a gentle shake at the same time he said, "Hey. Wake up, sleepy head."

The thick black lashes that brushed the man's cheeks fluttered for a moment before he blinked, his eyes a little hazy and… beautiful. Good lord, there had to be a half-dozen colors all swirling around in there. For a guy who'd been stuck with plain, brown eyes his whole life, that just seemed unfair to Stiles.

And then the man smiled, a soft, tired little curve of his pretty lips before he murmured, "Hey," right back at Stiles and… closed his eyes again, nuzzling his cheek down onto the shoulder Stiles was still gripping.

Huffing a little laugh, Stiles shook him again. "Sorry, dude. You can't sleep here. School policy."

The man's thick eyebrows drew together, his nose wrinkling under the bridge of his glasses. "Go 'way," he muttered in a sleep-husky voice.

"Trust me, you really don't want that. Library shelves are not known for their lumbar support. C'mon, man, do me a favor and—"

"Lumbar puncture?" the guy asked, sitting up a little straighter, his mouth flattening out like he was deep in thought. "Go through the pink rabbit. Third disk." He nodded decisively, still very obviously caught in that half-asleep state.

But as he jerked his head into the nod, his glasses gave up their precarious perch and slid down over his mouth and onto his chin before tumbling slowly to his chest. No amount of shoulder shaking or soft admonishments to wake up had the startlingly effective ability to wake this guy like losing his glasses. In fact, he startled so badly trying to fumble for them that he ended up knocking the back of his head quite loudly against the shelf he'd been leaning against.

"Ow! Guuurgh! Mmm!" he muttered, reaching back to rub his head reflexively, eyes flickering back and forth as he sought out his glasses.

And Stiles just watched it all with a smile splitting his face.

"Well," he finally said with a small laugh. "Good morning, Sleeping Beauty."

"Gah!" Those beautiful eyes went wide and a little shocked before the man grimaced and ran a hand over his mouth, wiping at it like he thought maybe he'd been drooling as well as snoring. "Hi, umm. Sorry, I was…" He gestured at the thick texts all around him apologetically.

Stiles nodded, shrugging. "Yeah, finals. I get it, really I do, but the library closed thirty minutes ago. If you need any of those, I can hold them at the circulation desk for forty eight hours, but the check out software has already been shut down for the nightly updates to the inter-library loan system."

"Oh, I—" The man shook his head, pushing himself to his feet and then stopping to wince and twist his back a little, hand pressed there so that his really nice chest was thrust forward.

Stiles tried very hard not to appreciate it too obviously. He may not be a professor, but the university rules against dating students still applied to him.

"I'm not a student," the man finally said, a blush rising into his cheeks as he fumbled at his back pocket. He pulled out a wallet and slipped an identification badge from it, showing it to Stiles, who ran his thumb over it, taking in the details — Dr. D. Hale, Resident, UCSF Medical Center — before giving it back.

"Well, Dr. Hale," Stiles said, unconsciously standing straighter, "I'd love to let you stay longer, but—"

"Right, yes! No, I know, I'm sorry. I didn't intend to fall asleep, I just—" Dr. Hale glanced around at the books again, flushing as he bent to start picking them up. "I had a patient come in today with unusual symptoms and…" He stood, frowning at the book in his hands. "I swear I remember a case study from one of my classes, but it's been years and it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack since I don't even remember which class discussed it."

"Oh!" Stiles waved a hand around. "Come with me. We'll get you sorted out. I can't check the book out to non-students, but we'll find the book and the case study and I'll make you some copies of the corresponding pages." Then, thinking better of it, he grabbed all the remaining books off the floor and slid them onto his returns cart, pushing it in front of him as he hurried to the closest computer.

"You really don't have to do this. I know the library is closed and you must have finals to be studying for yourself."

Stiles didn't take offense at Dr. Hale's assumption — he had made the same mistake with the other man, after all — just shook his head. "Not a student. Stiles Stilinski, head librarian, at your service." He sat at one of the student computer kiosks, toggling the mouse so that a log-in screen popped up, and input his credentials.

Something about the silence from Dr. Hale made Stiles look up, eyebrows raised. Those pretty eyes were wide, shocked, causing Stiles to huff out a little laugh.

"You were expecting a little, old, hunched over lady, huh?"

Dr. Hale bit his lip, one corner of his mouth curving upward. "I mean, bifocals at the very least."

Stiles shook his head, going back to the computer and clicking on the software he needed. "Perfect vision, sorry to disappoint. Okay, give me a few keywords. Major symptoms or whatever you remember about the actual case study."

Dr. Hale braced one hand against the back of Stiles' chair and the other on the desk of the kiosk, blocking Stiles in and increasing the intimacy factor of being locked in the empty library together after hours. The faint scent of his cologne filled the air, the warmth of his body making Stiles feel flushed. Clearing his throat, Stiles shifted in his seat, all too aware that Dr. Hale was not a student. Not a professor, either, so…

Giving his head a small shake, Stiles locked those thoughts down, fingers working on automatic as he typed in the keywords Dr. Hale provided. Within seconds, Stiles had a few texts returned as possibilities, along with pages where the referenced words were located.

"This is…" Dr. Hale's voice sounded a little wounded. "I spent hours looking through those stupid books."

"Hey now," Stiles said, trying to hide a grin as he peeked up at the other man. "Those books are my babies, Dr. Hale."

"Sorry. And, uh, it's Derek." At Stiles' raised eyebrows, he explained, "My name. You just saved me several more hours of research, I think you can call me by my name."

Stiles chuckled and pushed his chair back, almost mourning that the movement displaced Derek's hand, but… well, it was almost midnight and the library wasn't going to close itself. Swivelling toward the returns cart, he quickly found two of the books and pulled them off, flipping them open to the referenced pages.

Derek's large, square hand with its dusting of dark hair pointed to a page as he exclaimed softly, "This one! This is what I was looking for. Oh my god, I could kiss you."

Biting his lips closed on an automatic response of okay, go ahead, Stiles just stood up and carried the book to the photocopy center. Thankfully he hadn't shut the machines down yet, so there was no reason to stand around awkwardly waiting for them to warm up. "Do you want me to make a copy of these pages from the other book, just in case?"

"That would be… I mean, I can actually do this part? I know you must have other things to do."

Stiles waffled for a few seconds, loathe to leave but knowing it was actually a good suggestion. "Yeah, if you don't mind? I don't actually have much left to do; just hit the power button when you're finished making copies to shut the machine down, if you don't mind?"

Looking up from the book in his hands, Derek smiled softly. "I can do that."

"Thanks. Just yell if you run into any problems."

Stiles rushed through the rest of his closing procedures, shelving the remainder of the books left out in record time. By the time he got back to the photocopy center, all the machines were dark and the area was free of any and all hot doctors. Shoulders slumping, Stiles shook his head at himself and walked back to the circulation desk, grabbing his personal items and leaving a note for the staff member who would be opening the next day.

The returns box only had the two medical texts Derek had been making copies from. Instead of taking another trip to reshelve them, Stiles just left them there and shrugged into his jacket, patting his pocket to make sure his keys were where he'd left them.

"Hey, um—"

Stiles jumped, hands flailing as one of the shadows spoke, then moved toward him before resolving itself into the form of Dr. Derek Hale.

Holding his hands up, Derek backed away quickly. "Sorry!"

"No, it's fine! I just thought you'd left." Stiles pressed a hand over his racing heart, smiling ruefully. "Was there something else I can do for you?"

"I, um, I just wanted to say thanks. And maybe buy you a cup of coffee?"

Stiles stared at him, a little bewildered. "It's almost midnight?"

"Oh. Right, yeah, I just…" Derek looked down, his shoulders coming up defensively as he crossed his arms over his chest.

"But! There's a twenty four hour diner just off campus that does an amazing pie." Stiles held his breath, not sure exactly what was happening here, but also not wanting to lose an opportunity.

Derek's shoulders loosened and he slowly uncrossed his arms, pushing his glasses up his nose as he met Stiles' gaze again. "Pie sounds great."

"Yeah. It's a date. I mean!" Stiles stumbled over himself, hands fluttering between them as he tried to explain, "I mean, it doesn't have to be a date, but—"

A low chuckle cut him off. "Definitely a date." Then Derek bit his lip and stepped forward, his hand coming up to lightly cup Stiles' cheek just before he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Stiles' mouth. "Sorry," he murmured, his thumb stroking over Stiles' jaw. "But I've wanted to do that ever since you woke me up."

"You got it backwards," Stiles breathed, swaying toward Derek. "It's the prince that's supposed to wake Sleeping Beauty with a kiss."

"I guess you'll have to do that next time then."

"Next time?" Stiles asked, his hands settling on the soft wool of Derek's sweater, palms pressing into what felt like a nicely muscular waist.

"Next time you wake me up."

Stiles really liked the sound of that.