“This is a terrible idea.”
“I can’t do this, Stiles--we can’t do this--”
“It’s gonna be fine, man. We’re prepared,” Stiles points a thumb to the canvas bag in the back seat of his Jeep, stuffed full with thick metal chains and leather restraints.
“We are not prepared!” Scott’s voice finally breaks, going higher with mounting panic. “The only thing that’s going to do is make the rest of the floor think you’ve got some weird kink.”
“We,” Stiles corrects, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel while he navigates the parking lot, trying to find a spot where they can unload their bags and head up to their dorm. “ We have some weird kink. There’s no way they won’t think we aren't fucking.”
“You have to take me home. This is the worst idea we’ve ever had--”
Pulling into an open spot, Stiles mulls it over, his lips pulling down into a deep frown. “It’s definitely top three,” he agrees after a long moment.
“Stiles,” Scott sighs, ever patient. “I am a werewolf. I can’t live in a dorm! Even if I don’t get caught, we’re putting everyone else at risk. It’s not worth it.”
Keys in hand, Stiles shakes his head. “No, it is. If you fall behind now you’re not going make the cut for vet school, and I’m not about to start our sophomore year of college without you. So we’re going to go inside, get our keys from the RA, and pretend to be a happy, normal couple. Got it?”
Glancing over at his best friend and the new-found werewolf in his passenger seat, he sees the moment that Scott steels himself. His eyes flash yellow, but his eyes close before it can go any further.
“Fine, but we’re not pretending to be boyfriends… You’re not my type.”
Stiles lets out a loud, offended scoff.
. . .
Scott might have been right, Stiles can’t help but think to himself as they navigate the narrow hallways of the fifth floor, dodging the other students and their parents as they all fight for space to get settled. By his count, there are roughly fourteen rooms on the co-ed floor where they’ve been assigned, and each room gets two students. Not counting him and Scott, that’s 26 people within biting distance of a brand new werewolf pup, still struggling to keep his teeth and claws in check.
Great, forcing a smile at a dad nearby while he struggles to carry a microwave into his daughter’s room, Stiles keeps going. According to the email he got last week, the RA’s room is at the end of the hall, and that’s their first stop. Would it have been easier for them to find an apartment off-campus where Scott could have dealt with his full-moon changes in peace? Absolutely. Were they too broke to break the housing agreement they signed at the end of their freshman year, and therefore locked into the most unfortunate situation possible? Also yes.
This was their best bet in a crappy situation, but Stiles had done everything he could. The last-minute transfer request to the oldest dorm on campus meant that the building was solid--a combination of brick and limestone--that wasn’t about to come crumbling down if Scott couldn’t keep his shift in check. They’d only had two full moons to practice after Scott had been bitten back in June, and… it hadn’t gone well.
Plus, it was one of the few dorms on campus that had a basement lounge. A creepy basement lounge with a loud radiator and a private laundry room with a lock on the outside of the door, which Stiles had dutifully checked before making sure it would be safe. It wouldn’t be perfect, but they would make do.
“Name and room number, please,” a sharp voice snaps him out of his thoughts, but not before stumbling right into Scott’s back.
“Ooof--” why did he stop so-- Oh.
In the doorway right in front of them, stands the prettiest girl Stiles has ever seen in his life. Holy shit. Even though she’s staring at the two of them like gum on the bottom of her shoe, it suddenly feels like he can’t process anything except the sight of her.
Before seeing Scott change into a werewolf, he would have argued that supernatural things weren’t real. But that’s got to be the only explanation for how beautiful this girl is, with her strawberry blonde hair and painted lips. Her green eyes are sharp and calculating, and Stiles has no doubt that she can see right through him. A pixie, maybe? He gets lost in the thought while Scott rattles off their last names and assigned room number. She is short enough... Or maybe a siren? Wait--wouldn’t she have to sing for him to know what? Or would their powers be enough to--
“Is he okay?” she lifts a manicured eyebrow in his direction, and Scott smacks him hard in the middle of the chest.
“Dude, close your mouth,” Scott whispers, and Stiles snaps his jaw closed.
“Sorry,” he laughs, lifting one arm to the doorframe to lean on it. “Was just… really out of breath. From climbing up all those stairs.”
“We took the elevator,” Scott’s snort from beside him is the worst kind of betrayal.
“Shut up,” he snaps under his breath, looking back at the girl staring at them with her red lips pursed and flashes her the widest smile he can manage.
“Uh huh, sure,” she rolls her eyes, then presents them with two small envelopes. “I’m Lydia, your RA. These are the floor rules. Read them, sign them, and give them back to me by Monday. Allison, can you grab me the keys for room 506?”
A taller brunette appears from the other side of the room, and if Stiles wasn’t standing so close to his best friend, he might have missed the sharp intake of breath when she comes into view. So that must be Scott’s type. Dark hair, big eyes, and a kind face.
“Here you go,” she says, her voice so much softer and nicer than her roommate’s, and flashes them each a smile. Her eyes linger on Scott for one moment, then two, and it’s almost like watching in slow motion the way her dark eyebrows begin to furrow.
“Thanks,” Stiles reaches out and takes the keys for both of them. “We’ll be going now.”
Before they’re more than a few steps back down the hall, he hears Lydia’s voice, clear as day.
“They’re going to be trouble.”
“Probably,” Allison agrees, just the slightest bit quieter.
They have no idea, hiking his bag over his shoulder as they make their way to their new room, he says a silent prayer for the next ten months.
. . .
“Alright, let’s go over it one more time. What do you remember from that night?”
“Stiles,” Scott drops down onto his bed, pulling the short, dark strands of his hair through his fingers. “You said that the last six times. I’ve already told you everything. ”
“Well there’s got to be something we’re missing!” Stiles throws his hands up while he paces the short length of their dorm room. They’ve been moved in for several weeks, and the next full moon is only a few days away. Another change is coming, and they’re no closer to figuring out who bit Scott or why.
With a sigh, Scott gives in. Again. “Fine. We were out in the woods, which you already know because you were there.”
“Right,” Stiles nods, still pacing.
“It was foggy, and we got separated.”
“I couldn’t tell where I was, and I kept calling out your name. Then after a few minutes I decided to head back to the car to see if you were waiting.”
“Yeah,” Stiles pauses. This is where it gets weird, and even though he’s heard it enough times to know what’s coming, he still needs to focus every ounce of attention in his body.
“I heard something behind me, and at first I thought it was you. I thought you were messing with me, but then I realized it didn’t sound like footsteps. It sounded like an animal. Then I started running, but I started to have an asthma attack. When I tried to get my inhaler out of my pocket, I tripped over some roots.”
“And you hit your head,” he fills in the gap when Scott goes silent. That’s the hardest part for him. Not the part where he woke up, with his clothes in tatters and his whole left side covered in blood. The part where he doesn’t remember.
“I must have slammed my head pretty hard on the tree trunk, because all I remember after that is a flash of pain. Then I woke up.”
“It’s weird,” Stiles resumes his pacing, chewing on his lower lip. “I looked for you for hours and I couldn’t find you. Not even near the road.”
Where you woke up, he doesn’t say. What happened to Scott in the few hours between the time that they got separated and dawn, when he woke up in a completely different spot, is still a mystery.
“I don’t know, man,” Scott gives him a dejected shrug. They’ve got no information to go off. No leads. No nothing.
When Scott’s injuries healed seemingly overnight, they got suspicious. They didn’t tell Melissa, or the sheriff what had happened. They kept their mouths shut and waited it out. Stiles had made a joke about werewolves, of course, but it was just that--a joke. Until the next month when they were playing video games and Scott started freaking out. The claws, the eyes, the hair… It wasn’t just a joke anymore.
They checked the woods the next month, searching for clues in the scattered branches and leaves of the Beacon Hills Nature Reserve, but they couldn’t find anything. Not even a trace of blood, fur, or Scott’s missing inhaler.
“How are we supposed to figure out if there’s a cure if we can’t even figure out how you got bitten?”
Scott stares down at his shoes, the laces knotted so tightly there’s no chance they’ll come unraveled. “Maybe we should work on how I can get through the next full moon without killing everybody on our floor instead.”
Hands on his hips, Stiles drops his head. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
. . .
Things are… not going well.
“Let me out, ” Scott growls, straining against the chains wrapped around his torso. “Let me out! ”
The deep timbre of his voice bounces off the old cinderblock walls of their dorm room, and Stiles backs up a few steps, putting his hands up in the space between his body and where his best friend is currently strapped down to the twin-sized bed frame.
“You know I can’t do that, bud,” trying his hardest to keep his voice quiet and level, he can’t afford to show Scott how freaked out he is. Not when Scott is about ready to tear off his face and wake up their whole floor if he doesn’t be quiet soon. “But you’ve got to be quiet. You’re--”
His pleading is cut off by a full-on roar, and Stiles watches in rapt horror at the way his claws lengthen right before his eyes. Shit. They should have tried the basement first.
A sharp knock on the door sends his stomach plummeting, rolling over onto itself and back up until it feels like it’s lodged in his throat.
“Hey! Open up,” Lydia’s voice is sharp, despite the fact that it’s nearing three in the morning. “Stiles! I know you’re in there!”
Shit. Shit shit shit.
“Heeeey, Lydia,” opening the door just an inch, he squeezes her name out into three long syllables. “What’s up?”
He’s almost proud of how even and normal he keeps his tone. Almost.
“What’s up? Are you kidding me?” she scoffs, folding her arms in front of her chest. If he weren’t trying to keep her from seeing his raged-out werewolf roommate, he might catch on the way she’s wearing one of those matching sets with the low cut tank top and the patterned shorts. He might notice the way her cleavage dips down below the pink material before his eyes go right back up to the delicate line of her collarbone. He might.
“Eyes up here, Stilinski,” she reaches out and snaps her fingers in his face. “I’ve gotten three noise complaints about you in the last hour. What the hell is going on in there?”
Leaning up on her tiptoes she tries to see around him, but he mirrors her movements, blocking any sliver of space where she might be able to catch a peek.
“Hmm? Noise?” he rubs the back of his neck, playing dumb. Almost as if on queue, Scott lets out a long, deep groan. It barely covers the sounds of the chains clinking together, and Stiles coughs a few times. “Oh, you mean that noise?”
“You have two seconds to explain before I force my way in there,” she threatens. Her hair is pulled up into a long ponytail, and it sways like a pendulum down her back. God, I’ve got it bad.
No, he snaps himself out of it. No crushes on the mean RA.
“Scott’s sick,” he coughs again to hide a growl from behind him. “Really sick. You don’t want to come in here.”
“He’s sick?” it’s obvious she doesn’t believe him, even if he couldn’t see the exasperated, impatient look on her face.
Nodding quickly, he pulls his lips down into a grimace. “Oh yeah, it’s gross. Must have been the dining hall pizza, but the smell is just--”
“That’s enough!” she puts a hand up between them, closing her eyes to count for patience. He knows that face well, considering all the times he’s seen his dad make it at him. “I don’t need to hear anymore.”
He almost feels bad for how disgusted she looks, so he leans his head against the doorframe to look down at her. “I’m really sorry. I’ll try harder to keep him quiet.”
“Please do. I’ve got an 8 AM test and I’m not about to let you two ruin my GPA.”
Turning on her heel, she marches back down the hallway, ponytail bobbing.
As soon as the door clicks shut, Stiles knows he needs to do two things. Turning to Scott he points a finger at him, close enough to see recognition flare in his yellow eyes, but still far enough that he’s out of nipping distance.
“You,” he starts. “Stay here, and stay quiet. I’ve got to go get something from my Jeep and if Lydia comes back, we’re screwed.”
After a long, tense moment Scott eventually nods, but the action is strained. He must barely be on the edge of holding on, but Stiles doesn’t waste time. In a flash he’s running down the stairs and out to the parking lot to his Jeep, grabbing exactly what he needs from the glove compartment and then sprinting back up to his dorm. Once back inside, he gives his best friend an apologetic look, holding up the roll of duct tape.
“I’m really sorry about this.”
Once Scott is fuming angry but sufficiently gagged and bound, Stiles sinks down to the floor on the opposite side of the room. Dawn is in less than a few hours, and that’s probably when Lydia will be back up again to get to her first class. He’s seen her, sometimes, coming out of her dorm when he’s camped out in the floor lounge trying to get his homework done without waking Scott up. Even at 6 AM, she’s always perfectly put together.
Another reason why she must not be human, he thinks to himself with a laugh before pulling out his phone. With a few taps on the screen, his second task is finished, and he’s twenty dollars poorer. But if all it takes is $20 worth of coffee delivery in Lydia’s name come 6 AM to smooth things over, he’d empty out his entire savings before she had the chance to say no.
. . .
The second month, things get worse.
“Well, I’d say it went okay,” Scott sighs as they survey the damage to the fifth floor lounge in the morning. “If it weren’t for, you know, all the claw marks in the walls.”
“It went okay? You think it went okay? ” Stiles lets out a choked laugh. “Dude, you ripped through the restraints and I had to trap you in here for three hours. We’re lucky no one was around!”
The only luck they had the night before was that the full moon happened to fall on the night before the big homecoming game, which meant everyone on campus was out partying on Frat Row. Shortly after midnight Scott had managed to get loose from his restraints, tearing through the leather with his teeth and claws, then mangling the bed frame until the chains slipped loose and he got halfway down the hallway before Stiles could catch up. They were both lucky he’d managed to grab the chains before Scott got too far away, and wrapped them around the door handles so he couldn’t get out again.
“That was a good body slam, by the way,” Scott acknowledges, running his fingers along one of the gashes in the drywall.
“Thanks,” he shrugs. “I really put my shoulders into it.”
Kicking at one of the ceiling tiles that came down, Scott sighs again. “Seriously, Stiles… What are we doing to do? I don’t know how to refinish drywall.”
Chewing on his thumbnail, he thinks over their options. He doesn’t know how to either, but he could probably figure it out, given enough time. But they don’t have time. Not when Lydia’s about to wake up and wonder what kind of rabid animal just trashed the lounge while she was asleep.
There’s no amount of apology-coffees to make up for this one.
“I’ve got it,” snapping his fingers, he points to Scott. “I’m going to run to the store and get some supplies, but you go grab every poster from our room. And steal any that Issac has, too.”
Their next door neighbor is probably still asleep, but the thought of banging on his door at dawn gives Stiles a small kernel of satisfaction. And it’s definitely not because he saw him flirting with Lydia last week. Nope.
“You want me to hide all of this,” Scott waves his arms around, motioning to the destruction. “With posters?”
“Yes, Scott, I do. Unless you can find a construction crew to come fix your little wolf den on such short notice, I’m pretty sure it’s our only option right now.”
With a resigned nod, he gives in. “Alright. Let’s do this.”
It isn’t until he’s alone in his Jeep that Stiles allows himself to fully deflate. Two more months have gone by and they’re still no closer to figuring out who bit Scott or how to keep him from losing his shit and going into full-on wolf mode.
. . .
Lydia finds him three days sooner than she expects him to, waiting in the hallway outside his room when he gets home from his organic chemistry class.
“Stiles,” she says his name through gritted teeth. “We need to talk.”
“Hmm? We do?” playing innocent, he unlocks his door, trying not to glance back at her. He knows if he looks at her too long, he’ll be a goner.
Apparently, she doesn’t care, because she follows him straight into his room, keeping her hand out to make sure he doesn’t try to close the door in her face.
Damn. She’s good.
“What is this? And why was it taped up in the lounge?”
When he turns around, it takes every fiber of self control in his body not to start laughing. He can feel it bubbling up his chest, pulling at his lips, tightening his throat. Because a frustrated Lydia Martin clutching a naked-and-covered-in-puppies David Hasselhoff poster is enough to make his entire year.
A snort escapes his nose, and that’s when he loses it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” clearing his throat, he tries to regain some kind of composure.
“Bullshit, Stiles. We both know this is yours.”
“Is it? I’m pretty sure Issac has the same one--”
“Then where's yours?” she cuts him off, pointing to the now-blank walls beside his bed.
“It was… stolen,” the pregnant pause between them makes him want to laugh again, but he has the distinct feeling that if he does, she might actually reach out and smack him.
Huffing a sigh, she tosses it on his unmade bed. Her green eyes don’t even skirt around his room, pointedly ignoring the hamper of dirty clothes outside his closet and the desk that’s currently overflowing with mythology textbooks, even though he’s a forensic science student.
“I don’t know what you’re up to, but I intend to figure it out,” she cocks her head with the threat, but he crosses his arms to cover up the panic that flashes through his chest.
“Again, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“First, you claim Scott is sick--”
“--but he’s fine and in class the next morning?” she continues on like he didn’t even interrupt her. “Then, you decide to vandalize the lounge with all your stupid posters--”
“I prefer the term redecorate, but go on.”
Her sharp reprimand sobers him immediately, and he casts his eyes down. “It seems like every month you two are up to something new, and I don’t trust you.”
Honestly, they’re lucky that she didn’t find the gashes in the lounge walls before they had a chance to spackle, sand, and repaint them that same morning while she was in class. He barely finished in time, and one step to the left and she might see the leftover supplies piled up underneath his bed.
“I’m sorry, Lydia,” he hopes that she can see how genuine his apology is. “I’m not trying to cause any problems, I swear.”
Sure, maybe leaving some of the remaining posters in the lounge was a step too far, but it was supposed to be funny. How else is he supposed to survive his sophomore year while keeping Scott’s secret and making sure no one else gets hurt?”
Even glaring, she’s adorable, but he keeps that to himself. Taking a few steps forward, she pokes a painted nail into the flannel on his shoulder. “I’m keeping an eye on you.”
“Lucky me,” he winks, and Lydia rolls her eyes.
As soon as she’s gone, he reaches his fingers into his hair and pulls at the roots until it feels like he can think straight. If this were any other time, in any other life, he’d be ecstatic to have someone like Lydia Martin taking an interest in him, good or bad. Because that means an opportunity to charm. But this…. This is dangerous.
Pulling out his phone, he pulls open his chat messages and taps out a text to his best friend.
Bad news… Lydia is starting to get suspicious. We’ve got to figure something else out.
Scott’s response is a frowning emoji, followed by a single word.
Sighing to himself, he looks around their dorm… Down at the metal bed frame that Scott had to use his newfound strength to straighten back out. At the small gouges in the wood surface of the desk from his claws when he got frustrated at his math homework. Great. Just great, Stiles thinks. Not only does he have to keep Scott safe, but now Lydia too.