It's four fifteen on a Friday. He's already scanned in all the returned books and created two carts to be shelved whenever Julianna gets on shift and can watch the front desk. The library is dead. Dead as a doornail, which is pretty much the weirdest expression to ever weird bee tee dubs, and that means that Stiles is free to do pretty much whatever he wants.
He’s finished all of his assigned reading for the week, answered the questions each professor had given to prove that the reading was, in fact, completed, and has about two hundred words over the minimum on the paper due on Monday. And that means that it's internet time.
Stiles smiles to himself as he clicks on the Chrome icon on the start bar, leaning back in his seat and stretching his arms above his head as he waits the homepage to load. He lets out a groan as he lowers them, rolling his shoulders a little to loosen up his back.
"I need Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bartók."
Stiles startles, flailing about enough to nearly topple out of his seat. "Our score library is on the second," he starts to say, but the words die when he sees who it is across the counter. Mr. Surly Eyebrows. Stiles grits his teeth and forces a note of cheerfulness into his voice as he continues. "uh, floor. The second floor. Which you know, because music major. Right. Do you have your call numbers?"
Mr. Surly Eyebrows's eyebrows do that thing where they lower menacingly, though otherwise the expression on his face doesn't change at all. "No, no, of course you don't," Stiles mutters. "You never do. Why am I even asking." He clicks on MINERVA and goes to type in the composer’s name, then freezes because spelling random composers’ names accurately is not exactly his forte. Right, search by title then "What score was it again?"
"Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bartók," Mr. Surly Eyebrows grunts. He looks mildly constipated for a moment, before adding, "And I need sound recordings too."
"Of course you do." Stiles quickly modifies his search and then reaches for one of the snub pencils and a scrap of Pepto-Bismol pink paper. "Here." He writes down the call numbers in an awkward scrawl, eyes not leaving the screen. "You can go and pick that up while I pull your," he pauses, looking thoughtful.
"We've got two records and a cd. Um, the records are Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, and Los Angeles Chamber Symphony, Harold Byrns. The cd is Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti. You want all of ‘em?" Mr. Surly Eyebrows nods and Stiles gives him a tight smile. "Alright, then. You go pull that," he pushes the paper towards Mr. Surly Eyebrows, "while I pull these,” he scribbles down the numbers for the sound recordings, “and I'll hand them on over whenever you are ready to check out. Sound like a plan?"
Mr. Surly Eyebrows stares down at the paper for a moment, then nods again before turning on his heel to leave.
"Hey, don't forget your call numbers," Stiles whisper-shouts after him, but Mr. Surly Eyebrows either doesn't hear or doesn't care. Either way, he doesn't turn back. Stiles mutters darkly to himself, because what even was the point of all that? Seriously, if the dude didn’t need the call numbers, why even come to the front desk? Stiles sighs as he heads to the back shelves, as unenthusiastic as it’s possible for him to be about hunting through the rows and rows of sound recordings.
Thing is, for the most part, Stiles's loves his job. He loves the quiet hush of the library, the way it smells like must and old books. He likes walking through the stacks, collecting books to be shelved. Likes sitting at the reference desk, hell, he even likes the fact that they still have a card catalog, even though no one ever uses it. Everything about the job is amazing.
Except for the music majors.
It's not that Stiles hates all music majors, he's not sure he hates any music majors actually, he just really hates pulling their sound recordings and dealing with the epic mess that is the score library. Scores are thin, you see, and have narrow spines as a result. Which means that there's not enough space on them for the ridiculously long call numbers they all have. And thin also means compact, so you get even more of them squeezed onto the shelves than you do books. All of which means staring at long, long rows just packed with scores, all of which are sporting blank spines.
And then, since the scores are so thin, there is the fact that they easily get pushed back behind other scores, and good luck finding them when that happens because you can’t see them without taking out the scores that somehow ended up in front of them so you are frantically trying to find this stupid score that should be right where you are standing but isn’t except for how it is. You just can’t tell.
Which, honestly, is a library aide's nightmare. Because nothing enrages a music major more than not being able to find a score that is supposedly checked in.
And don’t even get Stiles started on the cluster that is file folders. File folders. That’s a great idea. Let’s just shove a bunch of loose pages in together because that will work out great. Let’s just ignore the fact that nothing will ever be put back in order because people can't figure out the difference between book one part two and book two part one. Never mind that they are supposedly music majors and ought to have some idea what order things go in.
Stiles sighs and reminds himself-- again-- that he loves his job as he pushes the cart packed with scores between the stacks. He glances down at the call number stamped on the side of the first score. It should go... somewhere. He sighs again and he pries one of the scores free from the shelf and reads off the call numbers. Somewhere not here, then. Stiles makes a face and moves down one case. He repeats the process, and sighs, because now he's gone too far. He walks back to where he was, and squats to pull a score off the bottom shelf. The number is just slightly too low. He bites his lip and sends a prayer up to the library gods as he pulls the last score on the shelf.
Still too low.
Stiles snarls as he looks up and down the row, trying to spot a stool. There is one way down on the far side of the break in the stacks. Stiles abandons his cart and hurries towards it. The stacks may seem empty, but a stool is a precious commodity and its very possible that three or four students are trying to hunt one down right now.
He doesn't run, running is not at all an approved activity in a library, but he does hustle his self over to the stool. He reaches it right as someone rounds the corner and lets out a whoop. Then the person spots Stiles, bending over to pick the stool up, and lets out a groan. Stiles shoots him a commiserating look and says "Sorry," before heading back to his cart.
An, honest to god, hour later, Stiles is finally done shelving. He does a little shimmy because yay! No more scores! And because dancing in the stacks is sort of one of his favorite things to do. Besides, it’s not like anyone is around to see.
Except for how when Stiles finishes shimming and turns around to push his cart towards the elevators there’s Mr. Surly Eyebrows, staring at Stiles like he’s some strange subspecies or something.
Perfect end to his work day.
It's not that Stiles grumbles all the time or anything. He just likes to get things off his chest every now and then. Same as everyone else. And, yeah, sure most of the things he likes to get off his chest happen to be about the library, but that's because that's his job. Everybody bitches about their job.
Well, so, Scott doesn't bitch about his job, but that's because he doesn't have one. Not really. Not unless you count being in a random group of musicians who support other musicians with free music or whatever. Stiles isn't clear how that works, but he definitely knows that it's not a job, Stiles, they don't pay me, that’s kind of the point and that Scott totally bitches about it. And the lack of pay. And his classes. And his not-girlfriend, Allison. And his classes. And the fact that Isaac from his weird group of musicians who musician is sorta into him but sorta not in a way that is confusing because Scott would totally be into him too (Allison is still not my girlfriend, damn it, I can date whoever I want) if Isaac was into him into him.
So yeah. Stiles is totally entitled to a little grumbling every now and then without Scott being all blah blah music majors are under a lot of pressure you don't even know blah blah.
Because if anyone doesn’t even know, it’s totally Scott. Seriously. He doesn’t know at all.
It’s not just that they act all entitled and get in your face about not knowing some random composer who is totally dead and not that great after all, who cares how ground breaking their musicality was or whatever. It’s not even that they don’t ever want to pull their own scores or look up their own call numbers. And most of the time they don’t even know exactly what score they are looking for, which, okay, fair point. But then they go and expect you to magically know somehow because, yeah, you have nothing better to do than memorize whatever crazy music reference list their professor came up with. It’s the fact that they are so damn ungrateful everything, that they don’t even acknowledge that you did memorize that stupid reference list and do know exactly what score they are looking for and can point them to exactly the right shelf and everything.
They take you for granted, dude. They don’t even say thank you or give you that half smile you saw them giving Danny that one time and what is that even about? Danny is chill as hell and hot to boot but did he memorize their stupid music reference list? No. So why does he get surly half smiles and not you? Huh? How is that fair at all.
And, no, Scott. That isn’t a really detailed sort of complaint at all. It could be about anyone.
It could be.
Truth in advertising time here.
Stiles? Totally has a thing for Mr. Surly Eyebrows, even if he is a music major.
A large, scowly music major whose real name is Derek Hale, not that he’s actually even introduced himself, but names are kind of important to the whole checking out process so Stiles knows what his is. But that’s not the point. The point is that Derek has these massive shoulders and cheek bones and scruff. And Stiles sort of just wants to grab hold of his leather jacket, pull him in close and just... well.
Stiles isn't sure what. Because by that point in his fantasies Derek usually opens his mouth and says something snide and demeaning-- what? Stiles likes a little realism in his fantasies, it’s kind of his downfall because even in his fantasies, Stiles doesn't get off on that combo. Which is just unfortunate because Derek totally has the sort of anger issues that would completely translate into him being amazing in the sack.
And so maybe Stiles gets a little bit of a thrill whenever Derek comes and scowls it up while demanding that Stiles pull call numbers for him, even though Stiles totally gave him a link to his professor’s online syllabus, same as he does for every student who comes in at the start of the year looking clueless.
But whatever, it’s not like it’s terrible to have to look stuff up for him or anything. Kind of the opposite in fact. It’s just... Look, Stiles has done the hopeless crush on someone a million miles out of his league before. And it’s not really that fun. And he sort of promised himself that he wouldn’t go down that path again in college.
And so maybe he goes a little ranty about grumpy music majors and eyebrows and cheekbones and stuff to Scott, but dude. Scott didn’t have to get all pissy about it and then storm out and slam the door.
Because Stiles is a wonderful best friend, he doesn't roll his eyes or make faces the next time Scott starts going on about all his trials and tribulations. And because Stiles is pretty much the best friend a floppy haired kid could have, he also doesn't roll his eyes or make faces when said floppy haired kid asks him to come to his weird musicians who musician performance, even though it's the middle of Stiles’s allotted DVR time.
Scott isn't exactly the type to suffer in silence and, as previously mentioned, he bitches about his musicians group kind of nonstop, so Stiles is well aware of the issues he is having with his current assignment. The composer of their arrangement is some sort of overly aggressive, perfectionist asshole who is in Twilight levels of love with some long limbed space case of a muse.
And so Stiles doesn't say no when Scott begs him to come to the preview night of their piece, which has something to do with musical theory and atonality and how it relates to the major social movement of the late twentieth century? Stiles isn’t really sure how, or even what any of that means, to be frank, but that’s what Scott said and Scott's the expert so yeah. Atonality. That’s where it’s at.
Oh god, that sounds awful. Like a headache just waiting to happen and not at all how Stiles wants to be spending his one free Friday night this semester, but Scott is his amigo, his best bud, his pal. And if Scott needs support, Stiles is going to be there to support him.
Stiles twists, turning towards his name, smiling at Scott as he barrels towards him. "Dude! That was awesome! I mean, I wasn't really sure what to expect or anything, and you know I have the most uninformed opinions about music ever, but that was awesome."
Scott whoops as he wraps his arms around Stiles waist, lifting him up in an awkward bear hug. "Dude!"
Stiles shoves at his shoulders. "Put me down, you caveman."
"Dude!" Scott grins like a maniac as he sets Stiles down. He laughs and slings an arm around Stiles shoulder. “You liked it, really?”
“Hell yeah!” Stiles holds out a fist for Scott to bump. “I mean, there was a lot of clicking and clacking and I’m still not sure how any of that has to do with the rise of the industrial war complex or whatever, but I liked it. It was totally like listening to refined version of Glitch or found sound or something.”
Scott laughs hard at that, shaking his head as he squeezes Stiles’s bicep. “Don’t repeat this to anyone, anyone, but you are totally right. The whole musical grouping is like a classical version of a The Glitch Mob album.”
Stiles beams, nodding his head. “Totally, dude. Totally. And I’m down. I’m so down. You can totally drag me to any more of these performances because I’m so totally down.”
“Really?” Scott lifts an eyebrow mockingly. “Are you totally down? Because I want to make sure you are totally down.”
Stiles rolls his eyes and wiggles free of Scott’s arm. “Fuck you,” he says, slapping the side of Scott’s face playfully.
“Kinky,” a voice says from behind them, and Stiles turns to see a bombshell blonde leering at him with bedroom eyes.
“You must be Erica,” Stiles says, giving her the up and down she so clearly wants. He lets out a whistle. “You know, Scott never mentioned how hot like fire you are, just babbled on about your musical genius or whatever. Man’s got a sight problem, for sure.”
Erica gives him a sultry laugh paired with a satisfied look. “You must be Stiles. The roommate.” She narrows her eyes at Scott. “Who Scott never mentioned was hot like fire as well.”
Stiles shakes his head. “That’s Scott for you, always withholding vital intel.”
“She’s got a boyfriend,” Scott says in a miffed tone.
“What, Boyd? The one up there who with you who wasn’t Isaac, right?”
Scott nods, a reluctant look on his face, like he doesn’t want to be sharing the info.
Stiles beams. “Dude, also hot, hot, hot. I’m totally down.”
Erica lets out another of those sultry laughs. “I would be too, but my man doesn’t share. Pity.” She runs a finger down Stiles’s chest, her tongue caught between her teeth.
Scott makes a fake retching sound. “Gross, Erica. He’s totally my best friend.” Erica lifts an eyebrow at that, and Scott scowls. “No cool, both of you are really not cool right now. In fact, you are so not cool I’m gonna have to leave for more cool locals.”
Stiles snorts. “Or go find Isaac and try not to swoon too obviously, am I right?”
“I hate you,” Scott says.
“Only because I’m right,” Stiles tells him with a laugh. He moves away from Erica to nudge Scott with his elbow. “Come on, loverboy. Let’s go find you your curly haired muse.”
“Oh god, no. No muses,” Erica says with a dramatic flounce. “I’m so done with muses.”
“Word,” Scott agrees with an eager head nod as he starts to lead the way across the crowded room. “Muses can go fuck themselves.”
“Rude,” Stiles says with a sniff.
Scott doesn't say anything, just keeps walking, head swinging back and forth as he eyes the crowd. All of sudden Scott jerks to a stop, his face doing that I-smell-something-I-don't-like thing. He lets out a long, drawn out sigh. "He's with Dee Aitch. Of course he is."
"Dee Aitch?" Stiles asks, eyebrows rising up. "You've never mentioned a Dee Aitch before."
Scott rolls his eyes. "Dude, yes I have. The composer? The one with the stupid fixation on--"
"Yeah, yeah," Stiles cuts him off. "Okay, got it." He licks his lips. "Dee Aitch. What sort of name is Dee Aitch?"
Erica snorts. "That's not his name. It's his initials and Scott calls him that because --"
"Shut up, Erica!" Scott cut in, voice gone high and panicky. "He's coming this way. He'll totally hear you and then I'll get the shit parts for the rest of forever because dude's got no sense of humor at all. I swear."
"Dickhead," Erica sing-songs. "He's a massive dickhead."
"Who is a massive dickhead?" Stiles asks, feeling completely lost, as Scott mutters "shut up, shut up, shut up," under his breath.
"Scott," a surly voice grits out and Stiles spins in place towards the sound, his mouth falling open because holy shit. It's Mr. Surly Eyebrows. Live and in person and staring at Stiles like Stiles is something he's accidentally stepped in.
"I've gotta go," Stiles blurts out at the same time that Derek Hale-- duh, Dee Aitch, of course-- inclines his head and says, "Stiles," which, what?
"What?" Stiles says blankly. "Um, I mean, how do you know my name?" He narrows his eyes. "I know yours for work purposes, checking out books and scores and stuff requires names, but how do you know mine? I don't wear a nametag."
Stiles pauses, waiting for Derek to come up with, well, something. But he doesn't. Oh no, he does not. Derek just stands there, his jaw going all tight as a faint blush colors his cheeks and oh my god.
"You totally work stalked me! That's how you know my name. And that's why you always come in when I'm on schedule. I thought it was just a coincidence because the library gods hate me for never turning in my books on time but it wasn’t a coincidence at all. You totally work stalked me, you massive creeper." Stiles laughs, delighted.
“I did not work stalk you, whatever that means,” Derek grits out, his eyebrows pulling low on his forehead. “I just know your name because,” he fumbles to a halt, giving Stiles massive stinkeye like it’s Stiles’s fault Derek doesn’t have a good reason for knowing his name.
“Oh my god,” Isaac says, his eyes darting between Derek and Stiles. “Oh my god. It’s you.”
Stiles wrinkles his brow at him. “Me?”
Isaac gives him a manic sort of smile. “You work in the library, right?”
Stiles nods slowly, not sure where Isaac is going with his line of questioning. “Yeah, yeah I do.”
“Jesus! It is you.”
Stiles makes an exasperated noise. “What is me?” He turns towards Scott, a what-the-fuck look on his face, hoping for some bro-sympathy, but instead finds Scott staring at him in outright horror. “What?” he says, completely confused. “What?”
Scott opens his mouth, then snaps it shut again when Derek growls, which, who even does that? Stiles turns his head to give Derek some stinkeye of his own, then looks back at his best friend. “Scott?”
“Uh, nothing. I, um, Isaac, wanna grab some, uh, coffee? Yeah. Coffee. And maybe pie. From the all night dinner in the Student Union? Because I could really use some coffee. And pie. Right about now.”
Isaac flushes bright red, ducks his head and nods shyly, which makes Stiles’s heart beat with pride. Okay, so it’s totally a weird as hell time for Scott to man up, but Scott is a weird as hell kinda guy-- part of his charm if you ask Stiles-- and Stiles is willing to give his bro props for actually manning up.
“Way to go, loverboy,” he mutters out the corner of his mouth, subtly giving Scott the thumbs up, but Scott isn’t paying enough attention to him to notice. No, Scott is staring at Isaac like all his dreams are coming true, which, to be fair, they probably are.
“Great!” Scott says hurrying to Isaac’s side. It’s a little too late to be cool, but whatever, he’s smiling and Isaac is smiling and Stiles feels like smiling too. Especially when Scott takes Isaac’s hand and starts to lead him away. Way to go loverboy, indeed.
“I could use some coffee and pie too,” Erica says, her voice going smug.
Stiles gives her a the-fuck-you-doing look. “No you couldn’t,” he says, because Scott is his bro, and Stiles isn’t going to let anyone crash his bro’s first date.
Erica rolls her eyes. “Fine. Scratch the coffee, let’s jump right to desert. Boyd?” She looks up at him from under her lashes. “Take me to bed or lose me forever.”
“I like you,” Stiles tells her, earning himself a quick flash of her teeth before she saunters away, Boyd trailing happily in her wake.
Which just leaves Derek. And Stiles. Standing there, staring at each other. Or manfully avoiding each other’s eye.
One of the two.
“Awkward,” Stiles mumbles to himself, rubbing his suddenly sweaty hands against thighs.
Derek makes a sort of choked noise and Stiles can’t help but look at him directly, which he had been totally successful in not doing. For reasons. That had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Stiles had a creeper crush on him and memorized his class schedule and his required reading list because reasons and thought that maybe, just maybe, Derek might have a creeper crush back on him, but wasn’t really sure how to fact check that just yet.
“Yeah, way awkward.” Stiles chews on his lower lip. “So,” he draws the word out extra long, “how’s about we just nod and walk away? This seems like a perfect nod and walk away moment, don’t you think?”
Derek lets out another of those growls, which, yeah, kinda hot in a weird way that Stiles totally isn’t going to think about right now.
Stiles blinks at him. “No?”
Stiles blinks some more. “So,” he repeats, drawing it out even longer this time. “We just stand here then?”
Derek rolls not just his eyes, but his whole head. “No.”
Stiles scratches his cheek, feeling a might puzzled. “No to walking away. No to standing here. Um, what would you say yes to, then?”
“You coming back to my place.”
That’s a come on. That’s totally a come on. Except... Except Derek totally looks like he’s about to have a tooth pulled when he says it. Which isn’t the way you expect someone to look when they are coming on to you, so...
“I’m confused,” Stiles admits.
Derek has that something-he-stepped-in look on his face again. “I asked you back to my place. What in the name of god is confusing about that?”
“Well when you put it like that,” Stiles says with a weak grin. He chews on his bottom lip some more. “It’s just... I mean, doesn’t that seem a bit fast?”
“Fast?” Derek sounds like the word hurts him.
“Yeah, fast. You know, the opposite of slow. Which is how I typically go? Slow. Like, ice melting in winter slow. Where I creep a bunch and then maybe do the awkward flirt chat thing for a while and then eek my way into the friendzone and four years and ten months into my five year plan, I ask them on a date.”
Derek’s mouth sort of falls open a little and he gives Stiles an incredulous look. “Does that actually work for you?” he asks.
“Uh.” Stiles rubs the back of his head, squinting a little. “Not really? I mean, no. Not at all. I’m not actually a big one for dating. It’s complicated and messy and the rejection sucks. So, yeah.”
Derek grunts and nods and Stiles feels like Derek is trying to communicate something to him via the grunt-nod combo, but whatever it is, it just flies right over Stiles’s head.
And there they are, back to staring awkwardly at each other again.
Stiles shoves his hands in his pockets for something to do, hunching his shoulders a bit self-consciously. He’s trying to think of something to say, trying really hard, but all can focus on is that he just admitted to his crush that he’s the sort of loser who comes up with five year plans to make people fall in love with him. And that, to date, not a single one of his plans has worked.
Stiles hunches his shoulders a little more, desperately wishing that Derek would just go away and leave him to his misery.
“Is that a no then?” Derek asks, jerking Stiles out of the embarrassment downward cycle he was in.
Derek’s hands clenched at his sides. “Is it a no to you coming back to my place?”
“What?” Stiles shakes his head in confusion. “You still want me to? I mean, I thought that after, you know,” he wrinkles his nose in a way that he hopes implies my-word-vomit-slash-profession-of-loserdom, “the offer was off the table for sure.”
“Yes,” Derek takes a determined step towards him, a soft look coming into his eyes. “The offer is still very much on the table. I like you a lot, Stiles,” he admits, his voice going hesitant at the end.
“Oh.” Stiles’s voice is fairly hesitant too. “Oh, that’s good. Because I, uh, I like you a lot too?”
Derek’s hand comes up to cup Stiles’s cheek. “My place?” he asks a final time, voice gruff.
Stiles can’t answer at all, can just nod as Derek closes the distance between them, using the hand on Stiles’s face to angle his head up for a kiss.
“I hate you,” Scott says as he storms into their room three weeks later, his eyes wild and his hair a complete mess.
Stiles looks up from his textbook, highlighter cap in his mouth, and raises an eyebrow in question.
“He’s writing a whole movement devoted to your moles. Your moles, Stiles. I swear to god, I shit you not.”
Stiles spits out the highlighter cap and gives a braying sort of laugh. “Holy shit, are you serious?”
“Yes,” Scott says through gritted teeth.
Stiles laughs again, loud and happy. “He said there was something captivating about the way they were sprinkled across my skin, but I thought he was just, you know, bullshitting. Like guys do.”
“He is! He totally is! He’s bullshitting his way through a master’s degree and using you and your stupid, freaking moles to do it. Oh my god, he’s basing all of his timing off of the number of moles you have on your face, your shoulder, and the inside of your left thigh. Are you listening to me, Stiles. I now know how many moles you have on your the inside of your left thigh, something I never needed to know, by the way, because I have to change my timing every fifteen minutes on account of it!”
Stiles feels his mouth stretched wide in a grin. “Music majors,” he says with a rueful shake of his head, “god love ‘em.”