Lesson #2: Power of the head nod

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Derek was really bad at calculus, and that wasn't an understatement. He had a thirty percent in the class and that was only due to writing his name on his papers and a few homework problems he copied from his friends who only knew a little more than he did. It was a miracle they hadn't kicked him out of the class. 


"Stiles, I don't get it," he grumbled, probably for the tenth time in the past hour. We were lying on his bed, both on our stomachs, staring down at his book as he tapped a pencil against his notebook. The night before, we spent two hours doing five homework problems. After school today, we went straight to his house, and now here we were, an hour later, only on problem two. "Show me again?"


"Derek," I groaned, trying not to rip out my hair. "It's right here in the book. It tells you how to do the problem, literally right here." I pointed to the problem in the book that explained it, and he stared at it for a moment before shaking his head with a sigh. "Okay, okay. Let's go over the steps again." I started walking him through the problem, only to realize halfway through that he wasn't even looking at the paper where I was writing down the steps, but instead he was watching me. "Derek, you can't learn anything by watching me talk. You have to follow along while I'm doing this, or you won't get a better grade."


"Right," he answered, quickly. He cleared his throat and looked away from my face, now staring at the notebook. "Okay, sorry. Continue." I hesitated, feeling the heat creep up my neck. Derek was the only person who ever looked at me this much. Every time I turned around, he was looking at me. I was a little self-conscious that maybe there was something wrong with me, or that I had something on my face. 


"Okay, anyways," I sighed, continuing on with the problem. By the end of my explanation, Derek still looked confused. He tried the problem on his own, got it completely wrong, and then threw his pencil down in frustration. He got up and started walking out of the room. "Where are you going?" I demanded, jumping up to follow him. "You almost got it, Derek. We can try again!"


"No!" he answered, obviously annoyed. I wasn't sure if it was with me, or himself. I followed him out of his room and down the stairs, hoping to get him to come to his senses about this. He needed to learn it, or he was going to be kicked off his teams. "Stiles, this whole thing was a bad idea. I'm too stupid to learn any of this shit."


"What? No, you're not!" I argued, grabbing his arm to stop him from walking away from me. It was probably a bad idea, but I hadn't really thought about it before I did it. He turned to face me, my fingers still gripping his bicep as he crowded me against the wall in the kitchen. "Derek, you're not stupid, okay? You just don't understand it yet, but you will. We'll work until you get it. I promise, I'm not going to let you fail." Here he was again, his stupid eyes staring into mine, making me feel all kinds of weird things. I wished he would just cut it out. 


"What if I never get it?" he asked, biting his lip nervously. I could tell this was really getting to him and it made me feel sad. I never had to worry about not passing a class, so I didn't know what he was going through. This was his senior year and if he failed calculus, he couldn't graduate. Even if Derek wasn't helping me win over the girl of my dreams, I would still say yes to helping him. 


I smiled a little, hoping it was reassuring. "You will," I answered, letting my hand fall from his arm. He was still standing a little close for comfort, but he was the one in a bad mood, so I wasn't about to ask him to move. "Why don't we take a break for like an hour and then we can get back to it?" Derek stared at me for a few seconds before he opened his mouth to answer. He was cut off by someone else walking into the kitchen. 

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