I’m quiet you know, you make a first impression.
- Collide by Howie Day.
Derek never really liked spending time with the other people in his dorm. He shares a room with Boyd, and he’s quiet and understands Derek’s need for space. There are people he has more trouble with. Stiles Stilinski, for example.
If Derek had known that today is Stiles’ birthday, he probably would’ve stayed late at the library and accidentally fallen asleep there. As it happens, he had no clue before he walked through the doors, and found the entire common area covered in Happy Birthdays and lots of booze that someone must have bribed the RA to sneak in.
Derek winces, as Stiles slides up next to him, and throws an arm over his shoulder. He’s wearing a pink party hat, and is holding a half-empty solo cup.
“Derek,” he breathes, seemingly awestruck. “I didn’t think you’d show up!”
“Well I–” Derek begins, about to explain that he didn’t exactly want to show up, had he known that there’d be a party, when Stiles’ hand migrates from his shoulder to his cheek, petting it gently. “Um.”
“This is the best birthday gift,” Stiles says, with emphasis, and his eyes are so big and honest that Derek doesn’t have the heart to tell him the truth.
“Um,” he says instead, again, and looks around. “Sorry I’m late. I was in the library–”
“–No no, no excuses,” Stiles interrupts, and then seems to sober up marginally. “You should probably save your laptop before someone spills on it, though.”
Glancing down at his messenger bag, Derek thinks that’s probably a good idea. It’s also his best bet to escape this whole ordeal. Stiles is drunk enough to forget that Derek was even here as soon as he’s out of sight.
“Okay,” he says, trying not to think about the fact that Stiles’ hand is still on his cheek, or how his thumb is grazing his stubble. “I’ll be back later.”
“Promise!” Stiles calls after him, as Derek manages to get enough willpower to walk away from him. He doesn’t reply, because he doesn’t like making promises he’s not planning on keeping.
His room is a quiet oasis in comparison to the crowd outside, and he’s a little warm all over as he dumps the bag on his bed. Boyd’s not here, and Derek didn’t spot him in the crowd, so he’s probably with Erica somewhere. That makes it even better.
He sags down on the bed, kicking off his shoes and pulling his cardigan off, before placing his glasses on the desk. Erica once said that he dresses like a grandpa, but he’s okay with that. Stiles, however, doesn’t dress anything like a granddad. He usually wears really tight jeans, thin t-shirts and jackets with rolled up sleeves.
Derek’s been in love with him since the first time they met. Which is saying something, because Stiles was so drunk that he threw up all over Derek’s shoes.
They haven’t really talked since then. It happened last fall.
The music is getting louder outside his door, but he thinks that he can sleep through it if he puts on a podcast and plugs his headphones in. He really needs his sleep to manage to survive midterms this year.
Just as he’s put on sweats and a t-shirt, there’s a knock on the door. It’s quiet, maybe a bit hesitant even, and Derek finds himself opening before he can think better of it.
Outside, leaning against the wall, is Stiles. His hair looks crazy, and before Derek can think too much about why, he pulls a hand through it and it instantly makes sense.
“So are you ready–” Stiles begins, but then his gaze falls to Derek’s clothes and he falls silent immediately. “Oh.”
Derek never counted on Stiles coming to look for him. He just assumed that Stiles would forget about him ever being around, and that he’d be able to escape for the night. And for the rest of his college stay, because he’s definitely writing down Stiles’ birthday somewhere, so that this doesn’t happen again.
His plan must be obvious, because realisation dawns on Stiles’ face so clearly that even Derek can tell. He just didn’t expect Stiles to look so hurt.
“Look–” Derek wants to reach out, touch Stiles’ hand and make it better, but Stiles takes a step back.
“No, that’s–” He shakes his head, taking another step back. “That’s fine. I’m sorry.”
“Stiles,” Derek says, urgent suddenly. “It’s not what you think.”
Stiles gives him a disbelieving look.
“Okay,” Derek amends. “It’s exactly what you think, but please let me explain.”
Someone calls for Stiles from down the hall, and Stiles glances that way, and then back to Derek.
“Please,” Derek says again, and this time he really does hold out his hand.
Stiles’ name is called again, and there’s a second of Stiles looking at his hand, chewing his lip, as though he’s trying to make up his mind.
“Alright,” he says, finally, with way less enthusiasm than Derek would’ve hoped for. He doesn’t take Derek’s hand as he squeezes past him into the room. When he turns around, after closing and locking the door, it takes him a second to get over the fact that Stiles Stilinski is in his room. He looks almost grayscale in the blueish light from Derek’s laptop on the desk, in the otherwise dark room. Per usual, though, he looks so great. His hair is a little curled at his temples and at the neck, as though he’s really warm, and he’s wearing a pair of jeans that Derek is particularly fond of.
It hits him then, that he has no idea how to explain this to Stiles without sounding like a complete dick.
Stiles seems to sense this too, because he when he turns around, from touching Derek’s things on the desk, he looks a little softer than before.
“Are you escaping me or the party?” he asks, and sits down on Derek’s bed without asking.
“Both,” Derek says, before he can stop himself. He winces, as Stiles laughs. “I mean, I don’t know how to behave.”
“Around me or the crowd?”
“Both,” Derek says again, and then adds, in a quiet voice: “Mostly you.”
Cocking his head to the side, Stiles looks at him in a way that is way too sober for his own birthday party. “Why’s that?”
“You make me nervous.” It’s the best thing he’s got, aside from I’m very much in love with you.
He doesn’t expect Stiles to smile. At least not like this. His entire face lights up, and he practically beams at Derek.
“You make me nervous, too,” he says, voice soft. “But why would you avoid me just because of that?”
“I’m worried I’ll do something stupid.”
Stiles opens his mouth to say something when his phone rings. Leaning back slightly, he slides it out of his pocket and sighs heavily when he looks at the screen. He does take the call, however, pressing the phone to his ear.
“Yo Scotty,” he greets, and Derek wants to roll his eyes.
This is the Stiles he’s seen around campus. The one with a billion friends and an entire vocabulary of words that Derek doesn’t know what they mean. It’s not that he doesn’t like this Stiles, it’s just that he’s so unattainable for someone like Derek, who has three friends and a way too comfortable relationship with the librarians.
“Nah, I’m not feeling good,” Stiles says, and he glances up at Derek, colour rising to his cheeks as he continues. “I don’t know. If Jackson made the punch, that’s probably why, dude can’t make anything that doesn’t mess you up.”
There’s a pause, and Stiles looks up at Derek again. Less brief this time.
“No, I’ll be okay.” He sighs. “No, I’m not alone, Scotty. Don’t worry. I have someone looking after me.”
Derek’s throat is dry when Stiles hangs up.
“Sorry about that,” he says, nonchalant as though he hasn’t just told his best friend a whole bunch of lies. “I don’t really feel like going out.”
“Why not?” Derek asks.
Stiles gives him an odd smile. It’s a bit wry, but his eyes are warm. “I figured that for my birthday this year, I’d do something I’d want.”
Looking around, Derek can feel his face heat. “We’re not having sex.”
“Oh my god.” Stiles stares at him. “That’s not what I meant!”
“It’s not?” Sometimes Derek wonders if there was a class in first grade how to socially interact with other people that he missed out on. This is all a guessing game to him.
“No,” Stiles says firmly, and gets to his feet. “But I need to tell you something.”
Nodding, Derek manages not to back away when Stiles steps into his space. He smells mostly nice, of cologne and shampoo, and the hint of alcohol is something Derek can ignore. When Stiles reaches out for his hand, Derek shivers, and it’s like his skin has been set on fire.
“What is it?” he whispers, his voice hoarse, as Stiles takes another step closer. They’re still a foot or so apart, but Derek feels so exposed.
“I’ve had a crush on you for a while,” Stiles says, surprisingly calm for someone who’s confessing feelings whose shoes he’s thrown up on once. “And I was wondering if I could take you out on a date?”
But the way he looks at Derek, eyes big and searching, makes him think that maybe Stiles is anything but calm.
“I don’t like going to the movies,” Derek blurts.
Stiles gapes at him. “You don’t–you don’t like–oh my god.”
“What? There are people talking everywhere. Eating pizza and throwing popcorn.”
“Oh my god.” This time, when Stiles says it, it sounds different. Warmer. Softer. He puts his hand on Derek’s cheek again. “Okay, not going to the movies. How about a museum?”
“I could do that.” Derek nods, and leans into Stiles’ touch.
“So, it’s a yes?”
It’s not until Derek nods again, that he realises that he’s said yes to a date. With Stiles.
A long while later, they’re on Derek’s bed, fully clothed and Stiles is talking about a lot of things. Sometimes Derek forgets to listen, too caught up in the way Stiles talks with his hands, or how he throws his entire head back when he laughs.
Mostly, he just can’t believe that this is how Stiles wants to spend his birthday.
“Can I kiss you?” Derek asks in the middle of Stiles’ explanation of why it’s important to watch all the Marvel movies in chronological order, plot wise, to understand the entire universe.
Stiles stops, mouth still open as he stares at Derek. “Do you want to?”
“Yes.” Because he does. He’s wanted it for over a year, and now Stiles is here, in his bed.
It’s Stiles who kisses him. He leans in, mouth soft as their lips brush together, and Derek can’t help but sigh into it. It doesn’t last very long. Stiles’ tongue brushes against his bottom lip, and then he pulls back, smiling as he strokes Derek’s cheek.
“So, about the chronological order,” he says then, and if it wasn’t for the stupid smile on his face, Derek would’ve assumed that he had hallucinated.
But this is real.