Even the goggles cannot diminish this.
I am aroused by this futuristic alternate world where Stiles is a teen space detective and Derek works in an unobtainium mine but has a many secrets.
Goggle-wearing unobtainium miner is the Hot Mechanic of shitty sci-fi, plus Stiles would make an EXCELLENT wisecracking detective in his minimalist cyberpunk jacket, BYE.
gav i h8 u
werewolves in space, fuuuuuuck.
“Wolves are fuckin’ dangerous man, crazy, don’t even think about it,” the guy in the next bunk on the transport ship said, twenty seconds before they knocked them out for the twelve light-year journey. Stiles only had to shave once a week when he signed up, and woke up with a full beard, years worth of dreams about glowing-eyed monsters.
There were a lot of them at the station—their body chemistry was suited to low grav atmospheres, they could live for an extra seven minute in the vacuum of space, and they were cranky as fuck about it when you blew out their shitty pulse-engine repair within four days.
“You,” Derek says, appearing from behind one of the little transport ships that break down every time there’s an electrical storm, shoving his goggles down around his neck, glaring. It isn’t as effective as it could be, because the goggles leave a deep depression around his eyes, make him look owlish, tired, strange.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Stiles says, although what he meant to say was that if a pulse-engine couldn’t take a couple shifts from 8.2 to 3.6 and back to avoid some aggressive space worms, it wasn’t much of a repair in the first place.
“Stiles,” Stiles says, trying a smile he knows is charming. “Stilinski—”
“I know who you are,” Derek says, taking down the engine panel with one extended claw, gentle, and glowering at the fizzing innards.
“You do?” Stiles says, straightening, sinking his hands into the pockets of his sweater, trying to look available, which he is, and not desperate, which he isn’t, after three years in space and six months in the mine, and exactly no play at all.
“McCall’s roommate,” Derek says.
“Oh. Right,” Stiles says, disappointed. Derek is grouchy, but the way he spreads his hands across the engines he works on is—promising. He let Stiles jump ahead of him in line at the canteen once, two weeks in, and Stiles has been trying to figure out how to ask him if he wants to share some rations sometime or—
“Yeah, that’s right,” Derek says tightly. “We all know each other.”
“What? I don’t—”
“Wolves,” Derek snaps out, and turns back to the engine. There hasn’t ever been a wolf rated to fly—too angry, mindless, pack instinct in place of intellect. That’s what the manuals said in training, anyhow. Stiles watches Derek pick apart a fraying e-line, splice in a new transmitter, his hands sure, deft.
“Should last you another week,” Derek says. “You’re overloading the circuits.”
“I’m a good pilot,” Stiles says.
“Yeah, and these ships are twenty years old, and they can’t take the hotshot shit you’re doing,” Derek says. “I don’t know who you killed to get sent here, but lay off my boats or I’ll ground you.”
“Only Argent can ground me,” Stiles says. Derek glares at him balefully. Stiles licks his lips.
“Okay,” he says. “Got it. Good talk.”
I HATE ALL OF YOU RIGHT NOW, I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT.
First thing you learn at the station is keep your head down and don’t fuck the pilots. They rotate in, stay for a three tours—two, if they piss Argent off and he wants them off the base—and then leave. No one’s looking for anything but a distraction from being stuck in the backwater reaches of the galaxy; some of the pilots pass the time by slumming it with the ground crew.
It takes five years of post-secondary schooling to get certified at M-level, 380 hours of sim training, 650 hours of flight time, enough to wash out anyone who can’t hack it. Most of the pilots Derek sees are naturals, make it look easy, effortless—Argent’s kid is one of those, soft careless smirk when she swings out of her ship.
Stilinski’s not a natural; he makes it look every bit as difficult and dangerous as it is to fly a fighter on the edge of the void, jittery, violent, unpredictable. His kill score is the one to beat from the first week, and he coaxes a performance out of the bottom-heavy junker Derek sticks him with that makes it look like she’s almost brand new.
“Be sweet to my Lydia,” he tells Derek, once, shooting him a hot little grin, and Derek stares at him until Stilinski’s smile falters. “That’s what I call her,” he says. “because she’s a classy, beautiful, sixteen-year-old girl with great bone structure. Too good for me, when you really think about it.”
“Okay,” Derek says. Stilinski stares at him, perplexed; Derek thinks he must not meet a lot of people who don’t take him up on that grin, don’t follow him back to his rooms and suck him off, turn over for him.
“Okay,” Stilinski says. He zips his uniform sweater up to his chin. “This has been really fun.”
It takes him a while to place it, Stiles’ pretty eyes, the single tarnished dogtag Stiles has clipped on the chain with his own, and when he gets it he feels stupid. Stilinski’s mother was a war hero, KIA when he was a kid, and his dad is the commander-in-chief of the The Beacon, the flagship of the empire, and Stiles is on a two year rotation out at the verge, flying disorganized, shambling, desperate missions, eating lousy food, drawing the short straw and sharing a room with a werewolf. It’s PR, Derek thinks, to show how even Stilinski’s kid doesn’t get any special treatment.
“Argent’ll space you if he finds out you’re screwing his daughter,” Derek tells McCall, for all the good it does. McCall stares at him, hurt, and then shrugs, and says,
“I don’t care. We’re not stopping.”
“Fine,” Derek says. He starts digging through a stripped starter mechanism to see if he can salvage some of the filaments to use for the rebuild.
“No one even knows,” McCall says. “Except—I mean, Stiles, but—“ he sees Derek looking at him and says, “He’s my roommate! It’s really hard to—to—do stuff in secret if you can’t do it in your room, and I—“
“He’s human,” Derek says, although that explains why Stiles has been underfoot lately, why Derek found him napping, just the other day, curled up under Lydia’s console.
“He won’t say anything,” McCall says staunchly.
“You better fucking hope you’re right,” Derek says, but not with any real heat. He remembers when he first got rotated to the Station, how he thought that if he got far enough out, they might finally let him learn how to fly.
He remembers the glittering ripple of Kate Argent’s hair, the way she slouched in the cockpit, uniform sweater flung carelessly open, saying sure, she could show him the controls sometime, if he could just do her a favor first.
“Hey you,” Whittemore says. He swings a leg over the bench and sits down sideways next to Derek at the long table in the canteen where Derek’s trying to eat lunch. It’s just after shift change and it’s crowded, people shouting and laughing and eating off each others’ plates. “Got a proposition for you,” Whittemore says. Boyd looks sideways at Derek but doesn’t say anything.
“No thanks,” Derek says, hunching down over his food. Whittemore’s good enough in the air, precise, ruthless, but Derek took one look at him the first day—the sneering, arrogant tilt of his mouth—and assigned him to Scott.
“You haven’t even heard what I have to say,” Whittemore says.
“Fine,” Derek says, around his mouthful of food. “What.”
“I just wondered if you wanted to go in with me on a little dogfi—”
“I don’t fight,” Derek says.
“Sure you do,” Whittemore says, dismissively. “I’ve seen you. Little rough around the edges, of course, but you’re fast. Great instincts. With a little coaching—”
“No,” Derek says.
He tussles with Erica, when they can get the gym time, off-hours on delta-shift, just the little drone robots that clean the floors for company while Erica slams him down on the ground, snarling. Boyd comes by when he can, crashing across the room and catching Derek by the throat, all of them tumbling over each other, growling, playing.
“I don’t think you really understand,” Whittemore is saying, still smiling indulgently. “I’m not looking to exploit you, it’d be a partnership, of course we’d split any winnings 50/50—”
“No,” Derek says. In storerooms, in briefing rooms, desks shoved haphazardly out of the way, empty places that Argent can ignore, shifted wolves tear each other apart for a ravening crowd of bored crew, pilots too far from home. There’s money in it if you can fight well, make a show out of it. People have families to feed, kids away at schools on the Core. It’s not illegal, but it’s frowned upon—a barbaric cultural practice, they say, that shouldn’t be encouraged.
There isn’t a base in the galaxy where you can’t put some money down on a good dogfight.
“Okay, 70/30,” Whittemore says. “It’s not like I care about the money.”
“Why bother, then?” Boyd says.
“Sport of Kings,” Whittemore says carelessly. He’s too close, the heat of his body, his breath, and Derek forces himself to eat a forkful of reconstituted beans, to swallow. “Look,” Whittemore says, leaning in, “it’s something to pass the time, it’s just dogfighting, you do it anyway—“
Derek lifts his head and stares at him. Boyd’s hand is loose on his spoon, face expressionless.
“Your loss,” Whittemore says, finally.
“Okay,” Derek says. Whittemore pushes himself up and steps back, mouth petulant. He stares at them, jaw twitching in irritation, and then his face clears.
“I guess it’s pretty hard out here for you guys,” he says conversationally. “I mean, I didn’t even know you could live on M-rations.” He puts his hands in his pockets, his lips twisting into an ugly grin. “At home,” he says, “our bitches get fresh meat.”
“Good for them,” Derek bites out, and Whittemore shoots him a lazy smirk and turns away.
“Nice guy,” Boyd says, after a moment.
“Yeah,” Derek says. He eats another bite of his lunch, which is crumbly, near tasteless, almost at the end of its shelf life.