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An RA's Guide to Mutual Pining

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Derek has let the boys in room 309 get away with a lot over the past semester, but this might finally test the limits of his patience.

The thing is, he’s not the most unreasonable Resident Advisor on campus. He knows he was a bit of a hardass last year, before he figured out how to balance the job with his overly ambitious course load. And he knows that the students who live on his floor are equally afraid of him as they are likely the ones behind the rumors that he’s a eunuch.

But he has a staunch ‘live and let live’ policy that most of them are too grateful for to complain about. As long as he doesn’t have to deal with the fallout of their hijinks, and gets left alone in relative peace, he doesn’t care what they do. And he would, honestly, really rather not know the gory details of it all anyway.

It’s a philosophy not unlike the one Derek applies to his personal life, such as it is. Over the years, he’s found that his day-to-day existence runs a whole lot smoother if people just leave him the hell alone and let him return the favor by burying himself in his books and leaving them the hell alone right back.

The boys in room 309 are so far the only ones who have decided to actively push at the limitations of this system.

Violation after violation–from the time McCall harbored five different stray animals in there for an entire month, to the time Stilinski started charging random passersby for life advice with a cardboard “the doctor is in” sign on their door, and actually turned a not-insignificant profit because everyone thought he was collecting for charity–and Derek has let it all slide.

Not this time.

“Shut up,” he says the moment he reaches where Stiles is fidgeting in the hallway outside his locked dorm room.

Stiles scoffs. “Rude.

“It’s one thirty in the morning on a Wednesday. I’m allowed.” He pulls his master key out of his pocket and makes to open the door, but Stiles leans forward with a small smirk and a twinkle in his eye.

“Come on, you know you love our little late night chats.”

God help Derek, he actually does. Secretly, very deep down, he kind of does. Or, well, he would, if they didn’t take place a handful of hours before his alarm is set to go off.

Derek grits his teeth. “I am this close to getting legal council, don’t test me.”

“To defend yourself against what? Doing your job?”

“Stiles, this is the sixth time in two weeks that you’ve locked yourself out of your own room in the middle of the night and that Scott won’t pick up his phone to let you in.”

“Uh, yeah, man, tell me about it. He really needs to step up his roommate game.”

Derek seriously can’t take this anymore. He hasn’t been this sleep-deprived since finals last year, and he knows he’s being fucked with. Stiles is a klutz and a nuisance and too clever by half, but he doesn't lose things. Hell, he keeps track of McCall’s inhaler better than McCall does; there’s no way he keeps accidentally forgetting his keys.

And there’s definitely no way he keeps only doing it on nights when Derek’s scheduled as the on-call RA for the building.

God damn it, Stiles,” Derek grits out, and Stiles jolts back a step in surprise at his vitriol. Maybe it’s the exhaustion finally catching up to him. Or maybe it’s that, if he ever dared to let himself really think about it, Derek wishes things were different. That this wasn’t just a long-running joke at his expense, and that Stiles actually enjoyed talking to him.

Because the truth is that Stiles isn’t just a klutz and a nuisance. He’s funny and smart (and cute, Derek’s tired brain supplies unhelpfully) and has managed to turn the couple of minutes he sees Derek on these nights into fairly entertaining conversations every single time. Conversations that last all the way up until Derek manages to shove Stiles, tripping backwards and still talking, into his now unlocked room, shut his own door in his face, and head back down the hall to go back to sleep, wondering how long Stiles would have kept talking if Derek let him.

But no, obviously Stiles is just having a go at him. Probably thinks it’ll be hilarious if he does this often enough that Derek ends up failing his upcoming midterms.

This is on purpose, at Derek’s expense, and Derek is done.

He pinches the bridge of his nose and tries to keep his voice down in the dark hallway. “You need to stop.”

“Stop what? Being so aggressively charming?” Stiles wags his eyebrows. “Would that I could, man, it’s as much a gift as a curse.”

Derek practically growls in response, past the point of caring if this gets a complaint filed against him. “You need to stop whatever game this is that you’re playing with me and quit calling the help line every single night that I’m on shift! If this is a dare or a prank or whatever, I don’t fucking care, but I’m not going along with it anymore. Get me fired if that’s what it takes, fine. But I have an eight AM class and I can’t afford to sleep through it again. Please stop.”

Stiles’ face falls in an epic fashion. Which is… surprising.

He genuinely looks wrecked by Derek’s words in a way that Derek hadn’t expected. Reprimanded, maybe, or chided into being slightly less selfish for a few minutes, sure, but the expression on Stiles’ face is far more serious and unmoored than Derek thought was even possible, let alone warranted.

“…You have class in the morning?” he asks quietly.

“What? Yes, Stiles, I have class. Which is why I was asleep. Which is why that phone line is for legitimate emergencies, and not for you to use to practice being an asshole.”

“So… I woke you up. I’ve been waking you up.”

“As if that wasn’t your intention. Just, god,” Derek finally unlocks the door and shoves it open forcefully, “just get inside and let me go back to bed already, Stiles, for fuck’s sake.”

Stiles does as he’s told, with a dejected look on his face and a slump to his shoulders that Derek is honestly too tired and too annoyed to think about. As soon as the door is shut and he can hear the lock click into place, he turns around and heads back to his own room down the hall and hopefully to an uninterrupted few more hours of sleep.

Derek doesn’t fall asleep during his eight AM class the next day, but he does take a nap that afternoon while most of the rest of the floor are gathered in the common area downstairs for a foosball tournament.

He gets woken up around five by a pounding in his head that it takes him awhile to register is actually someone knocking on his door. He staggers upright, groggy and sleep-rumpled and too bleary-eyed to bother putting on a shirt as he goes to open it with a yawn.

In the hallway on the other side is Stiles, holding a pizza box from the place on Third that Derek always insists on even though they don’t deliver, and staring at Derek in wide-eyed horror.

“Oh my god, I woke you up again,” Stiles says, looking like he’s going to have a breakdown right there in Derek’s doorway. “Oh my god.”

“Stiles, what–”

Before Derek can even form a complete thought, Stiles shoves the pizza box at him. ”This is an apology pizza. Please take it or I will start crying right here.”

Stiles’ expression suggests that he’s maybe already been crying. Or else that he’s just coming out the other end of an all-nighter spent mostly pacing frantically and pulling at his own hair.

“You didn’t have to do that.” Derek carefully takes the pizza box out of his hands. “Just stop with the stupid prank and we’ll be good.”

Stiles shakes his head and looks a little manic. “It wasn’t a prank.”

Derek sighs and rolls his eyes. “I know you were doing it on purpose, Stiles, you don’t have to–”

“I was trying to flirt.” It comes out in a panicked rush of breath, and looks like it startles Stiles almost as much as it does Derek.

“What.” He can’t even make it sound like a question, he’s too stunned.

“It was part of The Plan. To, like, woo you, or whatever. I knew you were scheduled those nights, and so I thought you would be awake those nights, and it was supposed to be, like, a meet-cute sort of romantic comedy thing? Except I’m legitimately terrible at all things romance, and am apparently really good at being a total asshole even when I’m not even trying to be, which is a definite accomplishment, right? God, dad will be so proud.” He runs both hands through his wild hair and then throws them out wide like he’s completely given up. “Anyway. So. Yeah. Fuck. I’m sorry. Please enjoy the pizza and your lifetime of never having to deal with me again.”

Derek stares at Stiles. Blinks. Is suddenly barely even aware of the fact that he’s currently only wearing a pair of sweatpants, probably has pillow marks on his stubbled cheeks, and is holding a steaming pizza in one hand, as his brain tries to catch up to the situation. “You… like me?”

“That’s, uh, one word for it. Scott calls it ‘mildly obsessed’ but, I mean, he’s one to talk.” Stiles forces a small, uncomfortable laugh that devolves into a pained grimace. Then he hunches in on himself and eyes the hallway to his left, ready and eager to bolt.

This is all so far out of the realm of how Derek knows his life works that it takes him a moment to process. It’s been a long time since anyone’s expressed an interest in Derek that didn’t make him immediately want to shut them down or shy away. And an even longer time since anyone’s managed to hold his attention to the extent that a good book does. Hell, even when they do, he always chooses the book anyway.

But Stiles… Stiles is interesting. He wouldn’t test Derek’s patience half as much if he weren’t. It’s entirely possible that Derek hasn’t just been letting him and his roommate get away with more than anyone else on his floor because he doesn’t want to deal with them, but because it at least hasn’t just been all the same old boring crap that he’s gotten used to.

And he can reluctantly admit, if only to himself, that just maybe his and Stiles’ “late night chats” the past couple weeks, despite Derek’s increasing sleep deprivation, were usually the highlights of his otherwise mundane schedule. Even while they simultaneously pissed him off.

Derek clears his throat and shuffles his feet. He hopes he doesn’t regret this. And that he isn’t just playing into the hands of someone looking to pull another one over on him. “Look, do you want to… you know… share this?”

Stiles’s surprise is broadcast with his entire body in an uncoordinated jolt that nearly sends him falling back onto his ass. “Really?”

Derek shrugs a shoulder, forcing casual. He’s not good at this, and has actively not engaged in romance for the entirety of his college career as a result of both that fact and his commitment to his studies. But he thinks he might be doing okay here.

Especially since the only one he’s ever met who’s probably worse than he is at romance, it turns out, is Stiles.

“We could, uh… Netflix?” Derek suggests uncertainly.

Stiles’ eyebrows shoot up. “Moving a little fast there, aren’t we, buddy?”

“What?” Derek frowns, and then almost drops the pizza. “Oh! No! No, no, just, like, a movie. Give me a sec and I’ll even put a shirt on.”

“Hey now, let’s not go too far there.” Stiles smirks, and Derek huffs a tentatively amused laugh.

Shirtless Netflix will take a bit more than one dinner to achieve, just warning you,” he says as he lets Stiles into the room, sets the pizza aside and hunts down a clean henley.

Stiles hums in acknowledgement, idly taking in his surroundings before sitting on the edge of the unmade bed, easily looking like he belongs there. Like he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. “Well, Derek, if nothing else, I think these last couple weeks are a pretty clear sign that, as idiotic as I can be in the execution, I’m definitely still willing to put in the time and effort when it comes to you.”

Derek pauses with his shirt still in his hands to glance up at Stiles, who has a soft look on his face that Derek’s never seen before.

“You really mean that.” Derek doesn’t know if he believes it entirely yet, but just the thought has him a little breathless and in awe.

Stiles grins at him. “I really do.”