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Stiles loved video games, okay? It’s his thing. When his dad bought him a second hand Xbox after his mom died, he’d kinda poured his everything into it. His dad dealt with his grief by working and sometimes by over indulging with a drink, and Stiles sank hours and hours into his digital world. He’d have CoD tournaments with Scott over the weekend, both of them surrounded by sleeping bags and snacks, and during the week once his homework was completed, he’d reward himself with a game binge until 3am in the morning.

He’d watch Twitch streams, Let’s Build: Rollercoaster Tycoon! and think to himself, well shit I like rollercoasters, I bet I could do that. I bet I could make a kickass theme park.

He saved his allowance, bought the game, and spent the next two months getting the hang of everything; learning the shortcuts and familiarizing himself with the banking on coasters in between keeping up on kicking Scott’s ass on CoD.

He mowed lawns, washed all the squad cars at the station, and took over some of his dad’s chores, all so he could earn a little extra cash so he could buy a decent headset and webcam. He could totally be a streamer.

Stiles’ channel started out slow, but it was fun doing what he’d be doing usually, except now he had a small audience. It made the house less lonely when his dad was on night shifts. As his viewership grew, they got used to his rambling as he built, and the newbies in the chat were always easy to spot.

starspangledman: dude do u ever shut up?

The message popped up at the right time, with a username that caught his attention, before other messages swallowed that one whole. “Rude, Captain.” Snagging a bottle of Mountain Dew, he pointed at his webcam with it, before swallowing half the bottle contents in a couple of mouthfuls. “But the answer’s no,” he grinned, “strap yourself in for another three hours of these dulcet tones.”

What really blew Stiles’ mind, were the donations. People donated money for him to sit and play. So he started taking requests. What other games should he buy? Mac or Xbox? He’d run polls and whatever won, he’d use the donations in order to purchase the game. His viewership grew a little more, and the ones who’d been there from the beginning became quasi-mods of the chat before he figured that shit out and made it official.

He wasn’t pulling in thousands of views per stream — he didn’t have the time, not between school, lacrosse, homework, hanging out with Scott, poking his nose into his dad’s business — but he was online like clockwork every Wednesday night, and watching the viewers jump up by the hundreds every second he was online before levelling out was quite heady. It was something going from being all but ignored at school, to having hundreds of people rocking up just because he was going to build a new section of his city in Cities Skylines, or because he was about to start the next chapter in Mass Effect.

It was like having a close-knit group of friends that he’d never met. He shared with them some things — his name, which given that it was in his username and not actually his real name was neither here nor there, his friend’s names, stories what had happened at school, what his latest paper was on, his favorite films, the fact that his dad was a sheriff and how he couldn’t get away with anything because of it, his most loved comic book arcs — but he didn’t tell them where he lived, where he went on trips (school or otherwise) and even though he was just some generic dude from a nameless town, most seemed genuinely invested in him as a person.

Mind blowing.

Things didn’t change much when Scott got bit and his life went to hell in a handbasket. From rogue Alphas to some Dark Druid and ritual sacrifices, his stream was the only point of normalcy in his life and he was loathe to give it up. Sure, he’d turn up on the streams with more pronounced bags under his eyes and sometimes he’d yawn his way through a campaign, but he was always there and always engaged.

It was during one of those moments, as he thumbed sleep out from the corner of his eyes, that a donation popped up.

amazingauguastina donated $1!
dude check the chat there’s some creep climbing through your window!!

“What?” Spinning around in his chair, nearly beheading himself with the headset wire, his heart picking up triple-pace, he jerked in his seat. “Oh my God, Sourwolf. Use the front door! You’ve just shaved ten years off my life.”

“You weren’t answering your phone.”

Stiles spastically gestured at his computer, where the stream was still running, before pushing his headset off. “I told you, Wednesday night is Stiles Time. I’m busy. I told you. I told all of you.”

“We figured you’d be done with masturbating,” Derek snarked back, eyeing his computer distrustfully and ignoring how Stiles spluttered and went red. “Didn’t know you did it for an audience.”

“Ohmygod.” He could feel the heat in his cheeks and he didn’t want to look at the chat right now. “That is not called Stiles Time. That’s Stiiiiles,” he drew his name out slowly and waggled his eyebrows, “Time™. Not Stiles Time. There’s a difference.” Wait a second. “Hold up, you thought I was masturbating but you still climbed through my window? Dude, personal boundaries!”

The tips of Derek’s ears went red and Stiles heartbeat nearly tripped over itself. “Can you help or not? The… others,” pack, Stiles’ mind supplied, “are already at the loft.”

Sighing, Stiles spun back around to face his computer screen, mouth pulled down into a disappointed pout. He put the headphones back on. “Sorry guys, I’ve got to go.” The chat was going mental, all who is that? to get yourself some! to dude plz dont i’m procrastinating on studying for a test tomorrow. “I’ll try and log on tomorrow. And Aussie Mike, I see you, don’t think that I don’t. Go study!” He waved at the camera. “Bye guys!”

He didn’t get to log on the next day because surprise!witches, of course, what else was Beacon Hills missing? By the time he did, it was next Wednesday and his split lip (never get in the way of a werewolf when they were being launched across a room, it was bad for your face) was still in the throes of healing. “Sup guys, sorry I bailed so early last week. But I’ll make up for it today.”

Undriere: what happened to your face?
baseskill: u okay??
ArcadeResource: is that dude from last week single? he is HOT
xxxroadwinning98xx: hey we missed you!

“Don’t let him hear you calling him dude,” Stiles muttered, loading his save file up, “he gets growly.” He kept an eye on the chat as the game booted, snorting at some of the comments. “He’s pretty yeah, but you get more conversation out of his eyebrows.” He made his own, less impressive, eyebrows jump up and down. “Social niceties aren’t his speciality.”

He ended up staying live for about eight hours, mostly because he felt guilty about last week and a little bit because he was enjoying the attention.

The next time his stream was interrupted was by Lydia, who just stormed into his room with a barked, “Jackson’s an ass,” and then, without pausing, “oh, you’re streaming. I thought you were just talking to yourself.” The again was left unsaid.

“Jackson’s in London. Also, hello Lydia, welcome to my bedroom, please make yourself at home.”

The sarcasm was ignored as she primly sat down on his bed. “He can still be an ass even from London.”

Stiles carried on with building his rollercoaster, though he gave a stern eye to the webcam in reply to the chat.

SpectrumWarrior: THE lydia???????
howhotistoohot: DUDE IS THIS THE GIRL YOU’VE BEEN CRUSHING ON?
mobydickinest1987: daaaaaaaaaaamn what’s in the water where you live?

“So why’s he an ass now?”

“He’s ignoring my emails.”

“Ugh,” Stiles tilted his head as he assembled a double barrel roll for some of that G-Force goodness, “you email him? About what?”

“Recently? Internalized homophobia.”

Missedia donated $5!
HEY LYDIA, IF YOU CAN READ THIS, STILES HAS A CRUSH ON YOU!

“You guys are the worst,” Stiles muttered into his mic before speaking at a more normal volume, hoping Lydia hadn’t seen that. Just because the crush had all but simmered down, didn’t mean he actively enjoyed being humiliated. “Gee, I wonder why he’s not replying, given that riveting topic.”

“Stiles doesn’t have a crush on me anymore,” Lydia said, completely ignoring him, and Stiles’ eyes widened because really, c’moooon. “If he did, I wouldn’t be in his bedroom,” she continued, toeing off her heels and curling her legs underneath her as she lounged back against the headboard, making herself comfortable. “His attentions have drifted to someone else.”

Abort. Abort. Abort. “Aw Lyds, you know you’re the only girl for me.”

“Fine,” she sniffed. “Your attentions have drifted to someone more manly.”

“You did not just out me as potentially bi.”

“Oh please. I have no doubt you’ve already waxed lyrical to them about Hugh Jackman. They know you’re bi. The only person who doesn’t is you.”

mindsge: mate she’s got a point

“Okay, you know what?” He twisted so he could point at Lydia. “The peanut gallery is closed. Stiles’ Time, Stiles’ Rules, comprende?” Lydia flicked her eyes up to the ceiling as she rolled them, pulling out her cell, but she didn’t say anything. “And you lot are meant to be coming up with a theme for this section of the park, not discussing my sexual preferences.”

bi_bi_bi donated $1!
if you dont read that in tune to the nsync song, theres something wrong with you

Stiles snorted, mouth curling up into a smile despite himself. “You’re all the worst.”

The next time he streamed, he had a black eye from lacrosse. Isaac had nearly wet himself when Stiles had hit the deck but at least Scott doubled up on the concern, rushing over to him and helping him back to his feet after taking a ball to the face sans helmet because practice had been over, okay, and Isaac was a dick. At least Jackson wasn’t here to make jokes about Stiles being a Wednesday Webcam Whore and how he should be used to having balls flying at his face.

He’d be worried about knowing Jackson so well, but he’d been bullied by him since kindergarten, so you know.

baseskill: i feel like we should be concerned how often you log on beaten up
amazingauguastina: dude u okay??? what happened to your face??
Ginger_Gamer: Why’re you always injured?
TEAMIRONMAN: i’m telling you, this kid’s in the mob or something. that dude who came through the window that time?? totally in the mafia.

“Oh my god, I took a lacrosse ball to the face, calm down. And no balls to the face jokes either, we’re strictly PG-13 in here, because if my account ever got suspended I’d cry. And I’m an ugly crier. There’s snot and tears everywhere, really it’s a mess. Let’s not make Stiles cry, hmm? Also,” he added, switching his Xbox on, “I’m not in the mob. But that’d be so totally cool.”

He was halfway through his latest quest on a new game he’d bought from donations by popular demand (Amnesia - the reviews had creeped him out before he’d even decided to play it) when his dad knocked on the door before opening it. “I’m going to work, kiddo, don’t forget to take the trash out.”

WinterisComing donated $1!
your dad is well fit

“Hey dad, Winter is Coming thinks you’re fit.” His dad’s face made a complicated expression, his hands shifting to his stomach. Stiles rolled his eyes. “I think they’re British. So you know, not fit as in ripped, but fit as in,” he wrinkled his nose, feeling weird, because this was his dad and some random person online was hitting on him, “handsome, I guess.”

“Oh thanks for the face, kiddo. You’re lucky I stopped being offended by you by the time you were five.”

“Pth, please, dad. You’re a good looking dude. I just don’t like strangers on the internet who’re potentially my age saying it.”

His dad grimaced. “You couldn’t just let me have the compliment, could you?”

Stiles grinned at him, big and wide. “Loooove you, daddio.”

“Yeah yeah. The trash. Don’t forget. I’ll see you when I get home.”

“Go save the world!” He ignored his dad’s snort as he shut his bedroom door, and turned his attention back onto his game. “I need to stop encouraging you guys by reading out whatever you say when you donate. I never knew how thirsty you lot are.” He unpaused the game, and wiggled in his seat. “Seeing how you only act like this when my friends barge in.”

WinterisComing donated $1!
your well fit too

Stiles blushed even as he let out a loud, “Hah!” shaking his head. “Alright, tell me right now, is there a jump scare around this corner— no no, don’t actually tell me, just turn down your volume if you’re wearing headphones, because the last time I got a lot of cranky messages about ears bleeding. You told me to get this game! It’s all your fault.”

There was a month of Wednesday’s where he didn’t stream when the nogitsune had him and during the aftermath. When he finally logged on for the first time in what felt like forever, he was still a little pale and bruised around the eyes, not quite ready for this but needing the normalcy it brought.

The chat was quickly swamped by old faithfuls and he could feel himself tearing up at the sheer concern they showed. Shit.

“I’m fine guys.” God, even his voice sounded brittle, the words squeezing out from beneath the lump lodged in his throat. “It’s just been… rough. Lately.” He licked his chapped lips. “My friend, Allison? You guys remember Allison, right? She— she, she died. Murdered. She was murdered. It was my fault.” He was going with the story that Argent had them tell the cops. “Carjacking. She was only there because I’d been sleep walking and gone missing, and everyone was out looking and she was taking me home. But.” He wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. “That’s why no scary shit for a while, okay? I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

baseskill: jfc that’s awful i’m so sorry
mindsge: holy shit
baseskill: its not your fault though dude
tyler08: dude play whatever you want we’re here for you. im so sorry for your loss

Stiles shot a watery smile at the camera as Cities Skylines loaded up in the background. “Thanks, guys. It won’t be a long stream today but I just needed—” he let out a long sigh, “I just needed something to take my mind off of real life for a while.”

Towards the end of the stream, when the donations started to roll in with the request ‘flowers for Allison’, he had to call it a night. But next week he showed them a picture of her grave, with her last name and date of birth blacked out, and all of the flowers surrounding it as he thanked them profusely.

Undriere donated $1!
Sourwolf is back!

It was about month after his break and he paused his game, looking over his shoulder to see Derek all but waltz through the window.

“You’ve lost weight.”

What. “And you’ve still not learnt what front doors are and how useful they are.”

“You need to stop skipping lunch.”

“Says who?”

“Says Isaac.”

“Isaac is just a dirty little tattle tale. Why’s he going to you?” Stiles narrowed his eyes, forgetting for a moment that he was streaming to hundreds of people across the world. “You’re not his alpha anymore.”

Clearly it hadn’t slipped Derek’s mind and his eyes flicked over to the computer before landing back on Stiles. “Scott’s grieving.”

Stiles raised his chin. “So am I.”

“No,” Derek growled, “you’re shutting down. You’ve begged off every meeting since she died. You’re skipping meals. You failed your English test.”

“Wooow, Isaac’s really keeping you updated, huh, CreeperWolf.”

Even though he’d pushed his headphones off, he could hear the music that played when someone donated. He didn’t turn to look.

Derek picked up the hoodie Stiles had shucked off when he got home and launched it at his face. “Get your shoes on. We’re going out.”

“I’m in the middle of something.”

“I don’t care. Get your shoes on.”

He huffed, struggling to get his hoodie on before he completely removed his headset and shrugged into it. “Where’re we going?”

“Ruby’s.”

“I’m not hungry.”

Derek’s smile was sharp. “I didn’t ask. Shoes.”

Grumbling to himself, Stiles spun around on his chair, surprised at how many people in the chat we’re telling him to go.

amazingauguastina: omg how sweet is this guy??? GO AHVE FOOD WITH HIM
Setarergy: this is too nice, i’ll have to go kick a puppy to get back some of my manliness
manwithaplan: dude just go

“Right, well you heard all that,” Stiles muttered, slipping on his headset for a moment. “My presence is demanded elsewhere. I’ll see you all next week. And no kicking puppies!” The stream ended on Derek’s confused face at that statement. “So. Ruby’s?” Derek nodded towards the door and with a huge put upon sigh, Stiles threw himself out of his chair and made his way out of his room and down the stairs. “Aren’t you meant to be less bossy now that you’re no longer running on Alpha Juice?”

“Get in the car, Stiles.” Derek slammed the front door behind him.

Clambering into Derek’s soccer mom car, he grabbed at the seatbelt. “I miss the Camaro.” Derek didn’t say anything, just turned the key and pulled away from the sidewalk. “I was busy, you know. You owe me like, thirty bucks or a new video game.”

“I’m buying you dinner.”

“Dinner I don’t want.”

“Yeah? Tell that to your stomach.”

His stomach took that moment to rumble and Stiles pressed both hands over it, feeling oddly betrayed. “What is this?” Silence. “Huh? What, you’ve got bored of threatening me, so now you’re gunna smother me in kindness and food?”

“Shut up, Stiles.”

Stiles slumped in his seat, looking out of the window moodily. “I don’t understand you sometimes.”

“I don’t understand you any of the time.”

“So what, this is payback?”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

He tensed. And then made a conscious effort to untense. “Oh yeah, like you’re one to talk about survivor's guilt.”

“I think we both know I am.”

Instantly he felt ashamed of himself, his cheeks getting warm. “Whatever.”

It seemed like only moments later they were pulling into Ruby’s parking lot. It was one of those old style diners that had been family owned and ran for the last twenty years and the food was the type that stuck to your ribs; milkshakes made with full fat, creamy ice cream and where everything was double fried. Ruby’s was a plight he’d never be free from when it came to his dad’s diet. Derek switched the car off. “Get out.”

Stiles felt every inch of petulant teenager as he slumped out of the car and followed Derek into the diner, his eyes on floor. A menu was unceremoniously pushed into his face as he sat down in a booth and he shot Derek a glare.

“Can I get you anything to drink?”

“Coffee. Regular.”  

“And you, sweetheart?”

Ha, he got a sweetheart and Derek didn’t; he might have the market on pretty attractive women, but Stiles was always going to beat him in the old lady department. He was like catnip to grandmothers.

“Same, please.”

“Alright, hun. I’ll let you look over the menu while I get your drinks.”

“Thank you!” Stiles called after her, before looking over at Derek. He tapped the side of the menu against the tabletop. “I’ve gotta say, this is the most aggressive dinner date I’ve ever been on.”

“It’s not a date.”

“Woooow,” Stiles drawled, “I don’t think I’ve ever been friendzoned so fast. Has Lydia been giving you tips so you don’t accidentally start the next apocalypse?” As soon as the words left his mouth, his eyes widened and he caught Derek’s, absolutely mortified. “Wow. Rude. I— wow, I didn’t mean to say that. Shit, I’m sorry.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m just tired, ignore me.”

“Hangry,” Derek offered, lifting a shoulder up in a shrug. “Cora gets like that too. But no, Lydia hasn’t been giving me tips, but now that you mention it…”

“No, shit, don’t. I was just being an asshole. That whole Jennifer thing wasn’t your fault. She whammied you with her magic. Don’t start on your self-deprecating bullshit.”

“Here you go.” The waitress had returned and with her she brought along a scalding pot of coffee that she used to fill up two mugs on the table. Stiles could kiss her. “Have we decided?”

“Bacon wrapped four cheese stuffed burger, medium-rare.” Derek busted out one of those smiles that instantly made him look three years younger. “And double fried fries, please.”

“Okay, and you hun?”

Holy shit, that sounded so good. His stomach let out another mutinous rumble. “Can I have the same? But I want my burger dead, well done, charcoal it if you have to.”

Her eyes crinkled as she smiled. “No mooing burger, got it.” She collected their menus and stuffed them under one arm. “Is that everything for you boys right now?”

“Could you leave the pot?” Stiles fluttered his eyelashes and beamed when she put it down onto the table with a smile before leaving. “Thank you!” He turned to Derek, smug. “I’m a grandma magnet.”

“If she hears you calling her a grandma, she’ll put you on your ass.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

All in all, it wasn’t bad. It was a little awkward before the food arrived and what little conversation they’d started was ignored as soon as the plate was put down in front of Stiles; it smelt artery-cloggingly delicious. He might’ve moaned a little but he definitely drooled. “Ohmagawd,” he nearly swooned around the mouthful he’d just taken, “this is so good.”

It might’ve just been him, but Derek seemed to preen a little before he started to dig into his own food.

Stiles only managed to eat three quarters of his burger and a handful of fries and he leant back against the booth, thankful that he had sweatpants on and not jeans because good god, he had such a food baby right now. “Feel better?” He looked up at Derek and thought about it for a second before nodding, just once.

“Actually yeah.” Surprisingly, he did. It wouldn’t last, but right now he felt pretty damn good. “Yeah, I do. Thanks, Derek.”

“You’re welcome.” Smug bastard, he could see it curling at the corner of his mouth.

The bill was dropped onto their table, alongside a takeaway container with a slice of pie nearly as big as his head in it. “On the house, sweetheart. I was only saying to John the other day that you’re looking a little skinny recently.”

“Than—” Stiles narrowed his eyes. “My dad was here?”

She smiled at him, tugging on one of his cheeks. “You be good now.” And then she was gone with Derek’s credit card to settle their bill.

“I let him have full fat cheese on his pizza for Takeout Tuesday! That sneaky bastard.” He heard Derek snort and he threw a napkin at him. They both watched it flutter to the table harmlessly. “Put away the Judgement Brows. Someone’s gotta think of his cholesterol and it’s never him.”

“C’mon,” Derek nodded his head to one side and Stiles groaned as he had to drag himself out of the booth. The food coma was getting ready to hit and as he swayed to his feet, Derek steadied him with a hand against his waist. “Thank you.” That confused him for a moment before he realised he was thanking Miriam for bringing his card back, stuffing it back into his wallet before picking up Stiles’ giant piece of pie.

“I was gunna share that with my dad. Now I’m just gunna eat it all in front of him and not offer him any.”

“You’ll make yourself sick.”

“Worth it.” He yawned as he was bundled back into the car and he yawned as he clicked his seatbelt on. He yawned wide enough to make his jaw click as Derek got into the car and shot him a sleepy smile in reply to his eyebrow raise. “Thanks for that, I really needed it.”

“No problem.” The car came to life with a low rumble and Stiles sank into his seat a little more.

“I don’t really miss the Camaro.”

“I know.” Derek tapped at his own chest, above his heart. Stiles felt his lips tick up into a smile and his stomach swooped when Derek gave him one back before pulling out of the parking lot. With his head resting against the window, Beacon Hills dark and quiet as it blurred past, he decided this was one story he wouldn’t share with his Twitch viewers.

Besides, what good was a story that only had the (potential) beginning?