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Derek hoped he never got used to all the attention.

Despite considering the basketball court a second home, Derek had his own special hatred for March Madness. Oh he enjoyed it enough when he was a scrawny high schooler and his priority was earning victories for the Beacon Hills High Cyclones. It was just that the major changes in being college basketball player Derek Hale during March Madness was an experience that made his skin crawl.

It was fine the first year when Berkeley was still in a transition team, but this year was when they became one of the favorites for the Final Four. Which meant interviews, news reports, and above all else: press conferences.

Derek eyed the crowd of reporters as the team walked up the stage and gradually claimed their seats at the long table. He found hand his microphone with its matching place card fairly quickly and let out an eye roll when he discovered it was in the direct center of the stage. He’s wasn’t even the team captain. Why is he getting all the attention and pressure to literally be up front and center?

You know why. Derek plopped down onto his chair only barely holding back another heavy sigh. When the teams noteworthy victories had started accumulating, BuzzFeed had placed him as number one on their ‘Top 17 NCAA Hotties’ list. It didn’t help that both his sisters and his sadistic Uncle Peter had shared and retweeted the list as many times as humanly possible. That had only stirred up the firestorm that erupted on social media. Soon Derek’s pictures were plastered all over the internet with tags that included ‘chiseled jaw,’ ‘piercing green eyes,’ ‘mussed black hair,’ and Uncle Peter’s clear favorite ‘beyond washboard abs.’ Derek had become some weird Most Eligible Bachelor and celebrity hybrid, which did not sit well for a man as socially awkward and private as Derek.

His teammates and Coach Finstock had been a godsend when the craziness first started. Finstock kept a tight leash on any and all interviews with the insistence that the players needed to be focusing on the tournament. Derek’s fellow players also became media geniuses in with their methods of deflecting attention away when it was clear that questions were becoming too personal. Last week, Isaac had used the brilliant plan of calling attention to the two stenographers posted near the stage. Isaac’s natural curiosity at their presence led to a minor tangent in which it was explained that the two women were there to transcript the entire press conference for any news outlet that required quotes from the junket. What followed were the players using as many complicated and ridiculously long words as possible just to see if the stenographers could keep up. It was clearly all in good fun and the team gave the two middle aged women standing ovations once the interview was over. Hours later, they were known as the team who was gleefully fascinated with stenographers. No article mentioned that Derek Hale never did answer the question on what his ideal date would be like.

This was probably for the best considering those types of questions had the possibility of revealing his homosexuality. While he was out to his family and his teammates, Derek was overall a very private person. His own fear convinced him that his team would be overshadowed if his sexuality came out to the press. That being said, Derek’s personal policy was that if he was asked directly, he would not lie. He just hoped he would fade in obscurity once the final games were over.

With the team and Coach Finstock settled by their microphones, the interview began. Finstock called on a reporter who started with a fairly softball question to Isaac asking if there were any complicated words he wanted to give to the stenographers. Isaac started to answer with words such as ‘eudaemonic’ and ‘vivisepulture’ when several reporters quickly began motioning to the techs at the side of the room and shouted something.

“Looks like the mics aren’t working,” the team’s starting defender Boyd muttered from his seat to the right of Derek. This became obvious when the techs began making adjustments to the audio equipment.

Derek let out another sigh and settled himself in his chair. Looks like this joyous affair just got extended.

“Hey Derek.” Derek turned to his left toward Isaac and noticed the blond was directly facing him while his eyes were distinctly paying attention to something in his peripheral vision. “Did you see the gorgeous stenographer we got today?”

Derek turned his head and the tunnel vision he normally reserved for an intense game immediately focused on the young man sitting at the side table poised in front of a laptop. He was currently tapping a pen on an open dictionary (even though there was another pen behind his ear) and occasionally clicking and unclicking it while following a rhythm that existed in his own head. As far as Derek was concerned, the guy could be playing an entire drum solo on the table and Derek would be just as smitten.

The guy seemed a year or two younger than Derek and had short dark brown hair that had been spiked up with some form of hair product. A couple of moles dotted his face and neck and Derek desperately wanted to know if those tantalizing dots trailed down the guy’s body. He was, unfortunately, limited in that regard since he could only get a clear view of the man’s profile. He was dressed casually, yet professionally in dark pants and a white button up with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and Derek let out a chuckle to himself when he thought he saw a glimpse of converse sneakers under the table. When the guy stated to twirl the pen in his hand, Derek’s eyes were drawn to long dexterous fingers that moved without a single break in the entire pen spinning performance. No wonder the guy was a fast typist with fingers that long. Derek nodded to himself, and then turned to Isaac to agree with his sentiment.

“Yeah. He’s beautiful.” Derek didn’t notice the slight echo or the fact that the reporters had all frozen in their spots. When Isaac bumped him in the side with his elbow, Derek heard the telltale feedback screech of the microphone in front of him.

“Dude,” Isaac said. “The mics are working now.” In the unnerving silence that followed, Isaac unnecessarily added, “Also, I was talking about the girl next to him.”

Isaac’s words seemed to break whatever stupor the reporters were in and suddenly there was a wall of noise where people were shouting out questions on the revelation that had just occurred.

“Derek Hale!! Is this you officially coming out?!”

“Would you like to give a follow-up for that last remark?!”

“Why did you choose this venue to come out?! Are you trying to make a political statement?!”

Camera flashes started going off continuously and Derek was vaguely aware of a handful of people quickly pulling out their smart phones for their own instant update. Derek watched it all happen in slow motion, strangely detached from the whole thing for the first few seconds. When his brain finally decided to take pity on him and remind him of his most recent words, the sheer horror struck him all at once. What had he done?

Then, something incredible happened. In a feat of acrobatic silent communication, Boyd smoothly pulled Derek’s chair out from under him while Isaac simultaneously stood up to make room for his falling body and loudly proclaimed “Oh no! Derek’s fainted! We need a team trainer, STAT!”

Derek wound up on the floor of the stage with a pounding head due to the combination of the persistent noise and the run in with Isaac’s chair. He groaned and brought his hands to his eyes both to ease his headache and to feebly attempt to escape his embarrassment. He suddenly felt a pair of hands on his shoulder and looked up to see the newest student trainer (Sam? Sean?) hovering over him. The dark-haired guy quickly pulled him up and began maneuvering him around the chairs and towards the stage stairs. Meanwhile, the reporters were relentless in their demands for more quotes about Derek’s love life. Finstock was doing an admirable job of trying to steer the conversation away from it and Derek cringed at the mess he was leaving for his coach and teammates to clean up. He would have to work hard and really hustle in their next games to make it up to them. If that was even enough.

It won’t be enough. I’ve completely derailed everything we’ve worked for. The thoughts circled Derek’s head to the point his body didn’t care where it was being lead. He was vaguely aware of the trainer leading him to another, considerably smaller room and being forced into a chair. At this point Derek’s vision was starting to blur and his skin felt like he was on fire. What’s going on?!

“DEREK! STOP! You are having a panic attack! I need to take deep, slow breaths. Breathe with me. In and out. In and out.”

Derek followed the instructions on instinct and slowly his vision cleared and he was finally able to focus on his surroundings. They were in a room he didn’t recognize. The walls were similar to the hotel ballroom the press conference was in, but the size was considerably smaller with a long table in the middle. Must be a conference room, Derek thought.

He faced the trainer and finally was able to form coherent words. “What just happened?” He asked. The trainer gave him a small smile and produced a bottle of water which Derek grabbed for. Maybe if he kept his hands busy he could focus on something other than the situation.

“Like I said, you were having a panic attack,” the guy said. He was Hispanic with short dark hair and a baby face that seemed like he was currently transitioning from adorable to handsome. Derek focused as the trainer continued to talk. “You’re lucky I have previous experience with them or you might’ve been in bad shape.”

“I really fucked up,” Derek said. He wasn’t even sure if he was talking to the trainer, himself, or the universe.

“No you didn’t,” the guy said. “Maybe you broke some hearts, but everything will die down soon enough.”

Derek stared down at his hands, unable to come up with anything to say in response. He finally decided to talk about his mysterious savior before another panic attack set in. “I sorry I can’t remember your name right now. Have you been with the team long?”

“Oh I just started last week,” the guy answered. He put his hand out and Derek shook it. “Name’s Scott. Isaac got me this gig after Matt got kicked out for failing the drug test.”

“Nice to meet you Scott, although I’m sorry it was under these circumstances.”

“Yeah,” Scott said adding a new level of awkwardness. “I actually had a question about that.”

“What,” Derek asked with dread in his voice. He was in no mood to deal with uncomfortable flirting if Scott was about to hit on him. Or even worse, go on a homophobic rant. Though Scott didn’t seem like the type.

“You were talking about the guy at the stenographer table, right?” Scott started doing shifting on his feet. Clearly this conversation was just as awkward for the young trainer. Derek relaxed at the sight. He nodded when he noticed Scott’s expectant look.

“I actually happen to know the guy.” Derek turned his head sharply to get a better view of Scott. “You do?” He asked.

Just then, the door burst open and both Scott and Derek turned to see Mr. Stenographer himself stumble/pour himself into the room. The newcomer pivoted to face Scott with wide eyes. “Man, do you realize how hard it was to get out of that room? I had to bribe Allison with promises of cookies just to get her to cover the interviews by herself.”

“You know she’d never hold you to that,” Scott said. “Derek, I’d like to introduce you to my… unique best friend Stiles Stilinski.” The aforementioned Stiles began to walk towards Derek with an outstretched hand. Derek felt another panic attack blooming.

“I am so sorry for any embarrassment I caused you,” Derek said while rising up from his chair. “I shouldn’t have said…what I said.” Derek felt a blush rising on his face and his panic had switched over to fight or flight as he desperately tried to figure out a way to smoothly leave the room.

“Dude. Don’t even worry about it,” Stiles said. “I’m not gonna lie, it was surprising. But Derek Hale thinks I’m beautiful?! That just made my month. Hell, my year even.” He gave a big grin that Derek couldn’t help but cautiously return. Now that he knew Stiles wasn’t going to take a swing at him, he allowed himself to get a closer look at the man who unleashed his inner blabbermouth. The moles on Stiles’ face and neck once again caught his eye, but they were now combating for attention with the man’s captivating deep brown eyes. Derek was convinced he could get lost in those eyes.

“You’re not mad,” Derek asked. Stiles vigorously shook his head. “Derek, I would climb you like a tree right now if present company wasn’t in the room.”

“Hey,” Scott proclaimed. “Not cool dude.”

Derek let out a chuckle. “I would hope that we could get coffee first,” Derek gingerly said. While he wanted to get to know Stiles, he was a little leery about his enthusiasm. He had no desire to create more tabloid fodder by dating someone looking for a well-known name so he could share secrets and dirt to the highest bidder.

“Coffee would be great,” Stiles said with a smile. Then he pulled his phone out and fiddled with it until whatever was on the screen satisfied him. He then handed the phone to a confused Derek. “This is so you won’t have to worry about what we can talk about.”

Derek looked at the phone screen and saw an archive of several online articles that had been written on the basketball team’s games. Derek realized something. He had read all these articles. In, fact the writer was one of the few sports writers he made an effort to follow. He always found the articles informative and they contained praise for the team while still giving valid criticism on ways they could improve. He glanced at the name and realized they had all been written by an ‘S. Stilinski.’ Derek’s eyes widened once he made the connection. It had taken him seeing the name in print to figure it out because he had no idea how to pronounce the writers’ last name. “You wrote all these?”

Stiles shifted his weight slightly. He and Scott seemed to have some similar mannerisms. “I figured you would worry I didn’t know my stuff. The stenographer thing is just a side gig. I’m pretty adept at typing.” “I love your articles,” Derek gushed. He was feeling more confident about Stiles by the second. “Your analyses on the tournaments so far have been incredible.”

“Thanks. I’m glad you liked them,” Stiles said trying to go for casual. He would have been successful had Derek not seen the endearing blush forming on his cheeks. His smile grew at the sight on the younger man. “Since you’re already holding my phone…maybe you could, I don’t know, put your number in it…”

“Are you asking him or telling him,” Scott interrupted. Derek gave a slight jolt. He had forgotten all about the other man. Stiles turned and gave a half glare to his friend before turning back to Derek.

“Um, so what do you say,” Stiles asked. Derek immediately took the phone and quickly added his number into the contacts before handing it back to Stiles. “Ok,” Stiles said, clearly relieved. “I’ll send you a text for my number.”

Stiles’ fingers quickly began typing on his phone and Derek felt his phone vibrate in his pocket a moment later. Curiosity made him quickly pull it out and unlock the screen. The text that was sent officially made Derek now regard the embarrassment on the stage as a positive thing.

I think you’re beautiful too.