oh my god, someone please callously use shy bookish Derek Hale for his beautiful, sexy mind.
“Who’s that?” Scott said.
“Oh, him?” Stiles said, rifling through his drawers to find a sweatshirt. “No one. We have to do some project together for that social sciences thing.”
“So are you—studying, then?” Scott said. “I thought we were going out.”
“We are going out,” Stiles said. “Derek said he could finish it up—you can finish it, right?” he said, turning to Derek, who was hunched over his laptop, typing quickly.
“Yeah,” he said, looking up. “I can—you want me to turn in your copy tomorrow?”
“Yeah, thanks,” Stiles said, shoving his keycard in his pocket, already half out the door. “See you around, okay?”
The door shut before Derek answered back.
Helen is the devil. Does that thing happen where Derek takes his glasses off in the middle of explaining something to clean them with his shirt and Stiles loses track of whatever Derek’s saying because he’s abruptly, inexplicably swamped by fascination with how sharply Derek’s black lashes contrast with the sea-green of his eyes? And then when Derek puts the glasses back on he flashes Stiles a quick smile and says, “Does that make sense?” and his shoulders are so big, how did Stiles miss that, oh shit his friends can never find out.
To be fair, it’s sort of hard to see how broad someone’s shoulders are under a ill-fitting math club windbreaker.
Stiles was early, but Derek was always at the library, so it was no big surprise that he was there, sitting across from the girl with the frizzy blond hair—Erin or Elsie or something—who sat in the front in Multivariable Calculus (“I tested into it, so they said I had to,” Stiles told everyone on the team, “I just filled in the bubbles kind of at random—”) and asked a lot of questions.
“What, are you meeting your group partner here?” she said, laughing, scrubbing her hair back off her face and looping it into a ponytail.
“He’s not that bad,” Derek said, and Stiles, about to step around the end of the bookshelf, stops, pulled himself back a little.
“Yeah, I could tell he was a big help when you were up all night redoing the—”
“It wasn’t all night,” Derek said. “I didn’t mind, I—he had some good ideas,” he mumbled. “He bought me some pizza.”
“Oh, great, so it was like a date?” Erin said, voice flat.
“No,” Derek said, drumming his mechanical pencil against the library table. “He doesn’t—” he stared down at the table and didn’t say anything else.
“Why do you even care?” Erin said. “He’s just pretending to be nice to you so you’ll do his homework—”
“I know,” Derek muttered. Stiles could see the back of his neck, getting red.
“So he’s an idiot.”
“I thought you said he blew the curve on your midterm—”
“So he’s pretending to be an idiot,” Erin said, withering. She was wearing a saggy old sweatshirt and her lips were really chapped. “And now he’s twenty minutes late and he’s gonna show up and smile and you’ll just say it’s cool, right?”
“It’s my business if I do,” Derek said.
“Yeah,” she said. She stood up, slinging he backpack over her shoulder. “Look, I don’t—I’m sorry,” she said, face softening. “But he’s not going to—”
Derek laughed, low and soft. “He doesn’t even really remember my name half the time,” he said. “So, yeah, I know.”
“Like I said, he’s dumb,” she said briskly.
Stiles waited until she was gone, and then another five minutes after that, staring down at the crumpled paper bag with the bagel and cream cheese he’d brought for Derek, the cup of coffee. He’d been good at school as a little kid. He’d liked to write stories and draw pictures and maps for them, liked writing long history reports and doing extra credit math problems. The last time he got his backpack stolen and thrown up in a tree, his mother had—she’d promised him it wouldn’t happen again, but the next week after that she’d gotten sick, and Stiles had realized he had to take care of himself now, he couldn’t let her worry about stuff like that. By the time he was in high school, she was dead, and it almost didn’t matter that he made first string on the varsity lacrosse team his sophomore year, that he was co-captain, except it made his dad smile a lot. That was rare enough that it didn’t matter that most of Stiles’ classes were boring; he read ahead in the textbooks, made sure to maintain a solid B- average, dated the right people, wore the right clothes, said the right things.
At the table, Derek’s ill-fitting tan windbreaker rustled as he moved. All State Math Champs it said on the back. It was tight in the shoulders. Stiles didn’t get why anyone would wear something like that, just let people know right away that you were a freak, that you didn’t even care who knew.
It turned out her name was Erica and she hated him exactly as much as it sounded like she did, which he could tell because she was completely and utterly polite to him when they ended up sitting together in the campus cafe a week later, waiting for Derek to get back from running a thumb drive over to his project partner. He kept waiting for a crack, but it was like she didn’t even respect him enough to give him a clue that she didn’t respect him.
After five minutes of pseudo-friendly neutrality that made him feel itchy all over, he broke and said, “So, you guys have been friends for awhile?”
She tapped the straw against the bottom of her blended mocha and said, “Sure.”
“Does he ever, like,” Stiles gave his head a little swoop to the left.
She raised her eyebrows at him, politely.
“Never mind,” Stiles said, slouching back in his chair, and pushed a hand beneath his cap to scratch, pulled the brim back down snug when he was done.
Derek wrote the introduction and did the lit-search and compiled all the references and wrote the body of the paper; it was three days until it was due and Stiles knew Derek had a heavy take-home midterm he had to do first, so he blew off Jackson and Scott—lied about having a date—and wrote the discussion section and the conclusion, made some charts, caught four mispellings and a misattributed quote, e-mailed the whole thing to Derek at three in the morning, fell asleep in his clothes with a book digging into his back.
He didn’t have any other classes with Derek; they wouldn’t need to hang out again, so.
“Look, you didn’t—I said I’d do it,” Derek said, catching up to him after class.
“Yeah, well,” Stiles said. “Fix it, if you want to, it’s probably not really good enough so—”
“No, I thought it was—I liked the charts,” Derek blurted out. “I didn’t think of that. And you’re a good writer, it was—”
Stiles laughed. He couldn’t help it. “Do you think I care what you think of me?” he said. “Erica was right; I was just being nice to you so I could get an easy A.”
“Oh,” Derek said. He nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Stiles said. “Cool.”
He went back to the dorm after that, sat down on his bed for a while, where Derek had sat, reading, looking over at him every once in a while, close enough to touch, if Stiles had wanted that, close enough to watch the soft curve of his cheekbones, the way he hesitated before he said things but then almost always said something interesting, worth thinking about, the way he waited for Stiles to answer him, as though he didn’t think Stiles was just some deadweight dumb jock he wished would fuck him. Stiles is used to that, the last thing, the way people look at him, his shoulders, his mouth; he just didn’t want to let Derek think it might happen, that’s all.
I need this to exist because my heart is in love
OMG, I want the rest! <3
“What, are you saying I cheated?” Stiles said, slumping down in the hard chair opposite Harris’ desk. Dr. Harris had had it in for him since Stiles wasn’t paying attention and aced this stupid third-lecture pop quiz that Harris liked to brag about, that the class average had never been above 70.
“Plagiarism is a very serious accusation,” Harris said.
“Yeah, I know,” Stiles said. Harris had stopped him right after class, asked him to come to his office hours; Stiles had been tempted to blow it off, but here he was, watching Harris thumb through the paper he’d done with Derek, the one he’d been trying not to think about, watching the back of Derek’s head in class, the soft-looking hair at his nape.
“What’s up with you, man?” Jackson had said, last week after practice. They’d been friends since seventh grade and Stiles thought about asking—if Jackson ever got tired of lacrosse or wanted to bail on partying and just do some French history reading or volunteer in a lab or something, to see what it was like.
“Nothing,” Stiles had said, instead. “Nothing.”
“You don’t have to say anything, I know you’re banging someone,” Jackson said, sympathetically, for him. “Not working out?”
“Not—something,” Stiles said. Derek had looked at him once, since, a furtive glance before he jerked his eyes away, pulling his backpack straps tightly against his shoulders.
“So,” Harris said, putting the paper down deliberately on his desk. “Do you have anything to say to me?”
“Nope,” Stiles said.
“Violations of the academic honor code are taken very seriously at this institution,” Harris said smoothly.
“I didn’t cheat,” Stiles said. “And I’m pretty sure that if you take it up with Coach—“
“Oh I have no doubt that as a very successful student-athlete,” Harris lingers over the word, curling his lips with distaste, “You would ultimately be found to be above reproach. Your partner, however—“
“Are you accusing Derek of cheating?” Stiles said, sitting up straight, feeling, for the first time, out of his depth. “You can’t—“
“Mr. Hale works very hard; he’s diligent and very thorough—I’ve enjoyed having him in class,” Harris said. “I believe he’s a scholarship student? Such a tragedy, to be left so young without any family, and then to be accused of academic misconduct, and have to go before the academic review board and face the potential revocation of his grant—“
“Derek did the work,” Stiles said, too loudly. He knew—everyone knew about Derek’s family. Derek had a work study job in the dining hall; Stiles saw him sometimes, bussing trays, washing dishes, stripped down to a tank top, damp from the hot steam of the dishwasher. He’d been a little too appreciative about the pizza Stiles had bought, without a second thought, when they were studying late, thanking Stiles twice, for a crappy 14 dollar pizza, refusing to take the last slice although he had obviously still been hungry.
“I’m very familiar with Mr. Hale’s—admittedly excellent—work; but quite a lot of this paper wasn’t done by him,” Harris said. “And it’s a bit too well done to be your work, which means—“
“We worked separately,” Stiles said. “We—you can fail me, but don’t—“ he swallowed; Harris smiled again, sharp.
“So you admit to—“
“Give me a zero, if you want,” Stiles said, cutting him off. His father had trained him too well for him to say yes, but he could do this much. He didn’t have a choice. “but leave Derek out of it.”