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Finding your discipline

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Derek pressed once again on the elevator button. Training had been exhausting today and he wanted nothing more than to sag in bed. A small price to pay when you took part in the Olympic Games. He sighed as he watched the numbers blinking above the elevator. With all the people moving up and down, he wouldn’t reach his room soon.

No way would he take the stairs.

At last the elevator stopped and a mass of athletes, coaches and staff stepped out. When Derek threw himself in –not really, but it was close enough – there was only a young man left inside. First he cast Derek a tired glance, but one of his eyebrows slowly raised with… what, interest? Derek was so weary he might be imagining it.

“Hi,” the young man said as Derek leant back against the wall. “Long day?”

“Very long.”

The young man nodded and a lopsided grin stretched his lips.

“Yeah, smells like it.”

Derek hesitated between glaring and gaping. He probably ended up doing a mix of both, considering how the young man’s eyes –nice, sparkling eyes– lit up with mirth.

“Don’t worry, I know how it is. So, what do you compete in?”

“Boxing,” Derek growled.

He hoped it would dampen the young man’s spirit, but the other narrowed his eyes, crossing his arms.

“I spend a lot of time watching boxing with my dad. Never saw you. Besides, you don’t have the muscles of a boxer.”

Derek had to be stuck with the one kid who could spot his lie.

“Fine,” he replied, smiling, already wondering if the young man would believe him this time. “Trampolining.”

With delight, he watched the other’s bright lips part in surprise –stared for a second too long, actually. However, the young athlete seemed too busy reconsidering Derek under this new light to notice.

“Really? Wow, awesome.”

The elevator stopped and several people joined them, but the young man didn’t look away from Derek a single second.

“I’m Stiles. Nice to meet you...?”

“Derek.”

They reached another floor and the others left, leaving them alone again. Stiles’ smile widened.

“Nice to meet you, Derek the trampolinist.”

His damn smile was contagious. For no reason, Derek couldn’t repress a grin. He usually didn’t grin with strangers.

“And you, Stiles? What’s your discipline?”

The young man bit his lower lip, cocking his head as he studied Derek’s face.

“My coach would probably tell you that I need some discipline, in fact.” He laughed when Derek rolled his eyes. “But…”

The elevator stopped and Stiles winked, then strolled towards the exit.

“I guess you’ll have to find out, Derek the trampolinist.”

“What? Wait…”

Stiles waved and the doors closed, leaving Derek wondering what he would have said if the young man had indeed waited. Something along the lines of ‘When will I see you again?’

Really, he shouldn’t want to meet again with someone who started making small talk by telling Derek he stank.

 

***

 

The next day, Derek’s heart made some funny stunt in his chest when he spotted Stiles waiting in front of the elevator. Out of dignity, he forced himself to keep a measured pace until he reached the young man. Stiles looked tired, yet his whole face brightened as he recognized Derek.

“Oh, hi trampolinist.”

“Hi, mysterious athlete.”

“Hmm. Does it mean you didn’t find my discipline?”

He made such innocent words roll on his tongue in a much too suggestive manner while keeping a completely serious face.

“I don’t have a lot to work with,” Derek protested.

Stiles gestured at his own body before sliding into the elevator. Derek detailed the young man as he followed him. Once inside, they stood a little closer than strangers would, but they weren’t exactly strangers anymore. Right?

“You have this fine piece of art to work with,” Stiles declared.

Don’t blush, don’t stutter, Derek told himself. Yet what else could he do? He didn’t need an invitation to stare, damn it.

“Okay, then…” He gestured vaguely at Stiles’ face. “You’re not a boxer, I think. Your nose is too per-” Perfect, he was going to say perfect. Idiot. “Too straight.”

“Certainly the only straight part of me.”

Derek ignored the comment to focus on Stiles’ unblinking eyes. Bad, bad idea. His gaze trailed down to the young man’s arms.

“You have leaner muscles than a boxer.”

“That’s because you’re right, I’m not one. But that’s a pretty easy guess. Oh, that’s my floor.”

Derek stifled a groan. This elevator was always slow, always late, but when he did need it to be even slower, it went faster. He would have to burn all the frustration through his next training.

 

***

 

“You have wide shoulders,” Derek told the young man two days later.

Stiles reached for the zip of his jacket at the same moment a group came into the elevator. He slid into a corner to make some room, so Derek naturally stepped towards him. This had everything to do with being polite, of course. Nothing related to how good it felt to have Stiles this close, sheltered between Derek and the wall.

“Maybe you want to get a better look,” Stiles whispered, tugging on the zip. His eyes darted to the group –they were too busy chatting to pay attention– and went back to Derek, a burning amber.

“Uh… yes. That would help.”

Stiles opened his jacket and let one side slide off his shoulder. His tank top did nothing to hide his pale collarbone.

“Swimmer?” Derek suggested. He didn’t believe it for a second. He just had to say something to distract himself from his thoughts –which currently consisted in trying to picture how Stiles’ skin would look if Derek could get his mouth on it for a few minutes.

“Flatterer,” Stiles giggled. “Nope, not a swimmer.”

He grabbed his bag. They were almost at his floor.

“You know,” Derek said with a shrug, “I could just go to the reception desk and ask which team stays on floor twenty-one.”

“Come on. Where would be the fun in that?”

 

***

 

Now Derek hopped up and down with impatience after each training. He stayed focus on the competition but he also had something else to look forward to. And every day, he blessed whoever set up Stiles’ schedule, which almost constantly mirrored Derek’s.

“Could you be a gymnast?”

Stiles rested his head against the wall, inching closer to Derek.

“Why? You think I would look good with a glittery leotard?”

Derek coughed. He would never get the image out of his head –not that he wanted to.

“Yes. Maybe. Anyway, uh, I was thinking of your legs.”

Worst wording ever, and sadly, very accurate. But it had the merit to make Stiles inch even closer and distract Derek from his embarrassment. He never broke eye contact with Derek as he brought his left leg forward, gracefully lifting it so that he tiptoed. The corner of his lips twitched up when his knee brushed between Derek’s thighs.

“My legs, uh? What about them?”

“Long and lean. It’s hard to know with all these clothes, though.”

Derek swallowed, cursing his own audacity. He sounded stupid. At least Stiles didn’t seem to mind –if his dilating pupils were any indication. Derek was so lost contemplating them that he startled when Stiles’ fingertips brushed his wrist. Slowly, long fingers wrapped on Derek’s hand to guide it on the offered leg. The trampolinist took a sharp breath as his hand came into contact with Stiles. The smaller athlete pressed Derek’s hand flat on his thigh and flexed his leg a bit, just enough for Derek to feel the muscles roll under his palm. For a few seconds since the day he arrived in the Olympic Village, Derek forgot everything related to training, pain, medals, win or loss. There was only him in an elevator with his hand on a warm thigh and his eyes trained on Stiles’.

“Does this help?” Stiles asked, voice shaking just so.

Derek couldn’t find his words. He swallowed as he let his hand slide on the inside of Stiles’ thigh. Stiles inhaled sharply, eyelids fluttering close.

“You also have nice eyelashes,” Derek whispered, although this was an understatement.

Stiles laughed, and Derek’s chest tightened with pride. For some reason, he liked making the young man laugh.

“What kind of athlete does this make me?” Stiles chuckled.

“A pretty one?”

His heart rate increased as a light blush colored Stiles’ cheeks. It reminded him of the anticipation and thrill he felt when he jumped on his trampoline to gain momentum before starting his routine. No, actually, this was even better. This equaled a somersault twenty feet above the ground.

Stiles’ hand was still on his, guiding it, pressing it on his thigh. At some point, he had managed to get close enough for Derek to feel his breath on his chin. If they shifted only a bit, they could…

The elevator came to an abrupt stop. A split second before the doors opened, Stiles twirled away from Derek and leant casually against the wall.  He also had time to throw Derek a knowing smirk and plaster a –too– innocent look on his face before a couple stepped inside. The elevator resumed his rise and Derek forced himself to stop glaring at the intruders. They had the right to use the elevator like anyone else, even though it didn’t please him.

“Fast like a gymnast,” he told Stiles as if he were carrying on with their conversation.

From the corner of his eye, he could see the young man’s grin. Stiles shook his head, gaze fixed on some point ahead of him.

“Not a gymnast.”

 

***

 

Next, Derek suggested weightlifting. Stiles threw his head back as he laughed, then asked if he wanted some confirmation by checking Stiles’ abs. The god of the elevators must have been on their side today, considering they remained alone long enough for Derek to tickle Stiles’ stomach with his stubble and brush his lips against the salty skin.

With a shaky sigh, Stiles informed the trampolinist that while weightlifting was a plausible guess, he would have to keep searching. Sadly.

 

***

 

“Come on, Derek, it’ll be fun.”

“Sure.”

Laura’s definition of fun definitely wasn’t Derek’s. Until today she had been busy winning medals in judo. Now that this was done, she dragged Derek to see all the sports they could whenever he had time, which didn’t happen often. But this afternoon, he had a free hour –and needed to unwind according to his sister– so he let her decide what they would do.

“Hurry, we’re late! We have a chance for a gold medal and I don’t want to miss that.”

Indeed when they reach their destination –the fencing center– the fight had already begun.

“This is épée,” Laura quickly explained as they took a seat. “The fencer can aim for any part of his opponent.”

“And we’re not winning,” Derek pointed out, nodding at the scores.

“We’re two touches behind, but it doesn’t mean anything at this stage. You’ll see.”

Derek had never quite understood Laura’s passion for fencing. He couldn’t say this sport bored him, just that he didn’t have a lot of interest in it. Besides, he was stuck here while he could be at the elevator for one of his unofficial meetings with Stiles. He had new ideas about the young man’s possible discipline, and he wouldn’t be able to see him today. A little sigh escaped him and he focused on the épéeists. They weren’t moving much, lightly hopping on their feet as they gauged each other. Suddenly, the American fencer lunged forward. His opponent blocked his blade and launched his own attack, but then the smaller fencer swirled aside and hit him square in the chest. Derek straightened his back in surprise. This move…

“Yes!” Laura exclaimed, grabbing Derek’s arm as the crowd roared.

The fencers stepped back from each other and went to their starting mark. Upon the referee’s order, the fight started again. Derek couldn’t completely forget he’d rather be with Stiles, but he had to admit he felt tension build up in him as the American fencer conceded a touch. His opponent let out a victorious roar and took off his mask as he left the piste.

“What, that’s it?” Derek asked. “We lost?”

“No. That was the end of the first period, now there’s a one-minute break. After that they’ll fight two more periods. The first to reach fifteen points wins.”

“Okay, and what’s the…” Derek paused and his eyes widened when the American épéeist lifted his mask above his head. Silky curls dark with sweat, Stiles shook his head as he walked to his coach –a gesticulating man with black hair sticking in every direction.

“That’s Stilinski,” Laura explained, following his gaze. “First Olympic Games, but he won silver at the last World Championship.”

Fencing. Derek would have needed at least ten more elevator rides to find out. And that was a generous estimation.

He crossed his hands in front of his mouth, lightly biting on his thumb, as the next period began. He couldn’t take his eyes off Stiles, who moved back and forth on the piste, dodging skillfully most of the attacks. Yet Derek cringed each time he and his opponent touched each other, sometimes aiming for the mask or neck.

“Oh my god,” he yelled at one point, hand flying to clench on Laura’s knee, as the two fencers collided, almost embracing each other, trying to free their arms and get enough range to win the first touch. Stiles was quickest.

“You know the swords can’t run through their bodies, right?” Laura asked with a smirk.

“Shut up.”

At the end of the second period, both épéeists had nine points and Derek was taut as a bowstring. Perhaps not as much as Stiles’ coach, whose mouth never stopped moving as he pointed his finger at the young man’s opponent, eyes throwing daggers. Derek could understand the man. He personally wanted to strangle the tall fencer each time his épée touched Stiles. So much for sportsmanship.

Third period was pure agony. Derek’s heart tried to tear through his chest every time the athletes lunged or feinted. At one point, Stiles crossed the piste faster than Derek thought possible, forcing the other one back as their épées clashed together. Then the loud sound announcing a point burst in the center and the crowd roared.

“What happened?” Derek said, never taking his eyes off the fencers.

“See the striped area at the end of the piste? If one goes further than that, the other gets a point.”

So that’s why Stiles now had thirteen touches, like his opponent. His coach yelled his approval at the side of the piste, arms raised above his head. He calmed down –reluctantly– when the referee whispered a few words in his ear. No one could blame the man, in Derek’s opinion. The whole crowd seemed ready to explode. Only Stiles appeared unaffected, careful as ever while he parried and ducked his opponent’s attacks.

Simultaneous touch. Both fencers at fourteen. Derek buried his face in his palms for a second. Laura’s nails digging in his forearm brought him back to the fight. When he looked up, Stiles was running backwards, parrying lightning-fast attacks. But he was moving too far, already in the striped area…

“No, no, no,” Derek begged to whoever would listen. “Come on, Stiles, come on.”

The young épéeist was stuck in that damn area, took a step back, then another. His right foot left the piste and he extended his legs as much as possible, almost in a split (okay, maybe Derek exaggerated a bit, but that was the idea), lowering himself towards the ground. He had one foot still on the piste and his opponent didn’t stop aiming for his chest, mask, towering above him. There was no way…

Quick as a snake, Stiles suddenly bent his left leg and extended his right arm as he lunged forward, found his way under the other fencer’s blade and hit his wrist. A fleeting touch, no more than a second, on such a small surface. Derek couldn’t believe it. Silence filled the room for what felt like a long time but couldn’t extend past a heartbeat, then shouts erupted from everywhere. Derek and Laura bounced off their seats in uncoordinated clapping.

Stiles, who hadn’t let out a single sound during the fight, whether in victory or exasperation, almost threw his mask away and let out a long, joyful yell. His coach caught him in a crushing embrace, lifting him off the ground. Once the man let go of him, Stiles headed for the public and rushed towards a woman with the same upturned nose as his. His mother, Derek guessed. Stiles buried his face against her neck while a man ruffled his hair –probably his father.

Derek felt as happy as if he had won the medal himself. His smile wavered a little when he realized that now, Stiles wouldn’t need to train anymore. No more meetings in the elevator.

 

***

 

Waiting in front of the damn thing wasn’t fun anymore. But Derek had a plan: he would recognize Stiles’ floor with his eyes closed. The young man had won his medal the day before. If Derek was lucky, he might not have left the Olympic Village yet.

“Hello, trampolinist.”

Derek spun on his heels to find a grinning Stiles behind him. Victory suited him.

“I have a new suggestion,” Derek told him.

“Yeah?”

The elevator finally arrived, freeing a crowd of people, as always.

“I think your sport has something to do with blades.”

Stiles’ smile illuminated the whole room, and this time Derek wasn’t exaggerating.

“You found out?”

“In the most beautiful way.”

Stiles tilted his head, as if he couldn’t quite believe Derek.

“My sister is a great fan of épée. Also your greatest fan now, I believe.”

One last person left the elevator and Stiles stormed in, then grabbed Derek’s hand and pulled him inside with surprising strength.

“Or perhaps I’m your greatest fan,” Derek declared, fingers intertwining with Stiles. “We can’t agree yet on that point.”

The elevator shook and rose while Stiles curled one arm around Derek’s neck.

“Well, I can tell you you’re my favorite trampolinist, that’s for sure.”

 Stiles hit the emergency stop button. Derek had no idea if he would win any medal at all, but he already knew he wouldn’t regret these Games.

 

***

 

Derek won his medal three days later, with Stiles and Laura caught up in a yelling contest to determine who supported him better.

Stiles declared himself winner when Derek bent above the fence separating the public from the athletes to place a kiss at the corner of his lips.