Stiles stares at his phone, trying to decide if it’s too late to catch the train running in the opposite direction. He could just go home, pull the covers over his head, and forget about being a responsible adult.
Stiles, 7:31am: Scott. I can’t do this, dude.
Barely a second passes before his phone pings a reply, and he’s reminded again why Scott is his best friend.
Scott, 7:31am: Deep breath, man. You got this. It’s just a new job, you’ll be fine. You’re awesome.
The morning passes in a haze of names and handshakes, his signature scrawled across a ream of paperwork, capped by an intimidating meeting with the disturbingly enthusiastic CEO. Despite the Train Ride of Panic, everything’s going okay; he’s gotten a dozen comments on his Dalek t-shirt, his boss bought him lunch, maybe it’s time to dial down the defcon a little bit.
Paul, his new manager, pokes his head into the tiny room where they’ve stashed Stiles as he signs yet another non-disclosure agreement.
“Hey, did you meet Derek? He’ll be in and out of the office for the next few days; he’s taking point on the Exchange migration for the Portland branch.”
Muscles, Stiles’ brain supplies helpfully. So. Many. Muscles. Six feet of muscles.
And a scowl.
Houston, we have a problem.
: : :
The thing is - the thing is, it’s not one thing. If it was just an ungodly amount of muscles tucked into a tight v-neck, Stiles could train himself to ignore it.
But there’s also this - Derek leaning back in his office chair, voice creeping towards frustration as he explains something to the Portland office manager yet again, arms stretching up over his head until three inches of smooth, pale belly are showing.
Sexual harassment lawsuit, Stiles, he reminds himself sternly. Sexual. Harassment. Good luck explaining that one to your dad.
He sends a frantic message to Lydia, the latest in a string of increasing senseless gchats about the Further Adventures of Cute Office Guy.
Stiles, 11:45am: alksjdfa;lksdjf
Stiles, 11:45am: talk me down off the ledge, lyds, i can’t take it anymore
Lydia, 11:46am: How many times do I have to tell you, Stiles? Drag him into a closet and have your way with him. How do you think I got Jackson? And Erica?
Stiles, 11:50am: .... we can’t all be sex goddesses, okay? he would BITE OFF MY FACE
Lydia, 11:51am: Your loss.
And the jeans. Who decided that Derek should get to wear jeans like that? It is cosmically inappropriate, is what it is. They work in tech support. Derek should be wearing khakis or, or cargo shorts or something, something nerdy, not absurdly tight denim that cups the curves of his ass in a way that is, frankly, obscene.
Also Derek’s hands. With the fingers. And the palms that look like they’d cover half of Stiles’ face. Not to mention his... well, the things he tries not to think about at work, because the hipster skinny jeans Lydia talked him into really don’t cover up inappropriate boners.
But does Derek really have to use his hands like that? He could just not type. Or hold his coffee mug. Or slide them into the pockets of those skin-tight jeans so that they perfectly frame - um, yeah.
He maybe wields his stapler a little more viciously than necessary for the rest of the day.
: : :
“I don’t know, I just couldn’t get into American Gods, it’s just so slow in places,” says the girl from Account Management. Doreen? Daria? Something with a D.
Stiles is just drunk enough that he can’t keep his eyebrows from flying up into his hair at her comment. It’s a product release day, which means that the whole company has shut the phones down early and is getting their booze on (Stiles fucking loves his job).
Something-with-a-D is wearing a Firefly t-shirt, so he figured she’d be safe to talk to, but he doesn’t know if he can be friends with someone who loves Orson Scott Card and couldn’t get into American Gods.
He turns to Derek, sitting silently on a corner stool, nursing a single beer.
“Sooo, Derek, how about you? Read anything good lately?”
Derek takes a long pull off his bottle of beer, and Stiles absolutely does not let his eyes zero in on the perfect, plush circle his lips make around the glass.
“I don’t really read a lot of science fiction.”
“But - you do read, right? I mean, it’s totally okay if you don’t, videogames are great, and, um, sports? Outdoorsy... things?”
Stiles knows about the outdoors. He grew up in Beacon Hills - there were trees. And stuff. He could make this work.
“No, I do. Lately, I’ve been working through some Norse poetry.”
Stiles is staring. He’s staring, and he knows it, and he can’t stop. It should make Derek sound like a hipster douche, but it doesn’t, and it’s appallingly awful how much Stiles wants to talk about literature and then rub himself all over that stupid, scruffy face.
A face which is suddenly looking scrunched-up and pink, scowl stretching from his forehead to his chin.
“I should get back to my desk.”
“Derek, the phones aren’t even -” and he’s talking to Derek’s back. “On,” Stiles finishes weakly.
: : :
“Morning, Derek, how’s it going,” Stiles asks, giving the world’s most awkward wave as Derek passes his desk and immediately hating himself for it.
Grown up, Stiles. Try to remember that you are a grown up.
Derek’s reply could charitably be described as a grunt.
“Dude,” his coworker Daniel says, leaning over the corner of Stiles’ desk, “don’t even try to talk to Derek before, like, his third cup of coffee. I’ve been working here six months, and I still haven’t heard him say hello in the morning.”
Is it possible that Derek just secretly hates everyone? Is that his deal? He just loathes the entire world but is too polite to say anything?
If that’s true, tech support was a really poor career choice.
“I don’t know. Yesterday, I saw his mouth twitch. It was almost like a smile.” Not that it was pointed in Stiles’ direction, but hey. Baby steps.
The rest of the day devolves quickly from “tolerable” to “unpleasant” and then heads straight into “agonizing” and “migraine-inducing.” Call after call after angry, complaint-filled call, up to and including the woman who informs his boss that Stiles was lying about her problem, and that what he said couldn’t possibly be the answer.
By 12:30, Stiles cracks and sends out a mass text informing his friends that he is in dire need of post-work Emergency Cupcakes. He’s only been living in Seattle for six months, and a new job means a new bus route, so he pores over Google Maps until he’s reasonably certain he knows what bus to take.
He stands at the stop, shivering a bit, scarf forgotten on his kitchen counter, and pulls out his phone to pass the time.
Stiles, 5:11pm: Scoooooott, i think cute office guy hates me.
Scott, 5:12pm: Dude, why would he hate you? Did you do something weird?
Stiles, 5:15pm: Not unless he caught me checking out his ass the other day. And I’m awesome! People like me! You like me!
Another person wanders into the bus shelter, but if six months in the city have taught Stiles anything, it’s Do Not Engage with People on Public Transit. He keeps his attention focused squarely on his conversation with Scott.
Scott, 5:16pm: Dude, I’m sure he doesn’t hate you. You’re doing that obsessive thing you do again, aren’t you?
Stiles, 5:16pm: No.
Stiles 5:18pm: Okay, maybe.
As it turns out, “reasonably certain” was not certain enough when it comes to public transit. Stiles watches as the bus app tells him, three times, that the downtown bus came and went while he’s been standing at the stop looking for it. It’s not until he finally sees the #12 bus go by in the opposite direction that he realizes he’s been waiting for the wrong goddamn bus.
Stiles shoves his phone in his pocket, breath heaving out in crisp, white plumes. Okay. He’s going to find the bus map, and he’s going to Figure Shit Out. He whirls around, determined, and nearly jumps out of his skin.
Three feet to Stiles’ left, gazed fixed on the sidewalk, the person he’s been so studiously ignoring for the last fifteen minutes is - Derek.
It’s Derek. Derek who has to have seen him, because Stiles was waiting at the bus stop first, but who didn’t bother to say hello or nod or anything. Apparently watching the street is more interesting than talking to Stiles.
Stiles, 5:22pm: Uh, yeah. Pretty damn sure he hates me.
: : :
Dude, how awesome is it that he gets to wear his Halloween costume to work? Stiles loves dressing up, and it’s not like he has any plans for tonight other than passing out candy to a handful of trick-or-treaters.
He leans over the sink, straightening his skull-printed tie one last time. It’s almost a shame his office is usually so casual, ‘cause he is working this suit. Stiles grins a vicious Moriarty-sneer into the mirror. On the off chance that evil guys in suits happen to be Derek’s thing, Stiles may have a shot at some filthy, filthy hate sex.
A boy can dream.
Twenty minutes worth of dreams, in fact, that end with him carefully holding his jacket over his lap as he gets off the train.
Derek probably won’t even show up in costume. He probably hates Halloween. And holidays. And fun, Stiles growls to himself, shoving a peanut-butter cup into his mouth. Today is a publically-endorsed sugar rush waiting to happen, and Stiles intends to take advantage of it.
Even if Derek is a giant, absurdly well-muscled fun suck who wouldn’t know a good time if it bit him on the -
on the -
on the tight, tight leather pants that outline every muscle along the length of Derek’s thighs.
What. What is happening, dear god?
Stiles’ eyes crawl up the impossible stretch of Derek’s leather-covered legs, stalling at the NIN t-shirt, ripped at the neck, clinging snug across the breadth of Derek’s shoulders. He drags his gaze up to Derek’s face, holding on to the edge of the desk to keep from throwing himself atop the damn thing and begging for mercy.
Holy mother of fuck.
There’s eyeliner. Thick, smoky, green eyes stark against the depth of it, smudged and sultry and angry, the kind of anger that Stiles want to taste with his teeth.
“Are you - are you dressed up as Trent Reznor?” Stiles chokes out. God, he hopes the lust in his voice isn’t as appallingly obvious as it sounds.
“Yeah,” Derek says, sounding pleased. “Nobody else has gotten it so far.”
“Oh. It’s. Um. I like.” Use your words, fuck, come on, Stiles. Words! “Nine Inch Nails, I like Nine Inch Nails.”
It takes a minute for Stiles to realize that Derek is humming Closer under his breath while he waits for his computer to start.
“Coffee,” Stiles mumbles, flailing a hand weakly in the direction of the kitchen. “I have to go. Coffee.”
: : :
Stiles, 1:05pm: He’s leaning over my DESK, Lydia! I WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
Lydia, 1:07pm: Oooh, did you get a picture?
Stiles, 1:07pm: LYDIA. A LITTLE MORE SYMPATHY FOR MY PAIN, PLEASE.
To his left, Daniel cracks a joke, and Derek actually laughs, hips cocked back against Stiles’ desk, palms flat behind him. His torso is one long, solid line, that fucking shirt riding up over the waist of those damn pants, and it’s just - Stiles can’t - no.
He’s a good person. What has he done to deserve this?
Lydia, 1:08pm: Stiles, he’s obviously flirting with you. Closet. Now. Go.
Stiles, 1:09pm: I like my pretty face right where it is, thanks.
Derek laughs again, so gorgeous Stiles has to slap a hand over his own mouth to keep back a whimper.
The universe just fucking hates him, doesn’t it?
: : :
“So, completely hypothetically, say someone was paging through the employee handbook, just doing a little light reading, and noticed that there’s no inter-office dating policy listed. In the interest of education, we should probably rectify that, don’t you think?”
His boss stares at Stiles, forehead wrinkling as he tries to parse the mess that just fell out of Stiles’ mouth.
“Is this a hypothetical universe in which you don’t spend half the day ogling an employee that I’m going to call.... Eric?”
Merciful Zeus, is he really that obvious? Probably.
“Why, yes. Yes it is. I’m sure that... Eric... is a really nice guy and all, but it would be completely inappropriate for someone to stare at him like that. Unless, of course, the boss happened to be okay with employees dating other employees. In a respectful and absolutely non-disruptive way.”
“If I say yes, will it get you out of my office?”
Stiles nods frantically. It’s not as if he’s enjoying the sheer, unrelenting humiliation of this conversation.
“Fine. But man up and do it fast, won’t you? Then maybe we can all get some work done around here.”
: : :
God, it’s so there and... and beardy, Stiles thinks, picking at the label of his (fourth) beer bottle. Across the room, the rest of the staff laughs, most of them at least one drink in, but no, not Derek. No, Grouchy McBeardy Face just stands there, blank-faced, as the CEO makes (terrible) jokes.
It just looks so soft, damn it. What right does he have to walk around with that body and that face and then top it off with the most perfect facial hair known to man?
No right. No. Right. And you know what? Stiles is going to tell Derek so. He’s gonna go right over there and tell him to stop having such a... facey kind of face.
He tumbles off his stool, refusing to be embarrassed about how long it takes to get steady on his feet.
“Derek! Derek, I need to tell you something!”
Oh, that’s Derek’s chest. Wow, it’s right there, isn’t it? That is a nice chest.
“Yeah...” And the shoulders perfectly balance it out. There’s a, a, what’s the word?
“Symmetry! Very, very symmetrical.”
He’s leaning so far in that Derek’s laugh huffs against his forehead.
“What is, Stiles?”
“Stiles. What did you want to tell me?”
Derek’s voice sounds different. What is that tone in his voice?
He peers at Derek’s face - why is Derek swaying? That is weird.
“Dude, you need to stop moving.”
“I’m not - oh, for god’s sake.”
Giant hands curl around his shoulders, warm through the thin cotton of his t-shirt. Oh, hey, the swaying stopped.
“Stiles, come on, didn’t you want to ask me something?”
God, his scruff is so soft under Stiles’ fingertips. He’d thought it would be rough, a bit scratchy, had actually spent some time picturing the way it’d rub his skin red and sore, but instead it’s velvety, tickling against his skin.
Is he. He’s. He’s touching Derek’s face.
Stiles stumbles backward, yanking himself out of Derek’s hands, fingers burning.
“I’m, ah, dude, sorry, my bad, I’m just gonna,” what, what, Stiles, what are you going to do, Jesus Christ, “go! I’m gonna go and just... go.”
“Stiles, hang on, what -”
“Nope, sorry, can’t, very busy, see you later, bye!”
Thank fuck he packed up his stuff before the meeting, ‘cause now he can snatch his bag up off his desk, trip his way down the stairs, and be out the door in under two minutes. Two excruciating minutes, followed by a good half hour of nauseating pause-and-reflect time on the train home.
His dad’s voice plays in a loop in the back of his head.
Actions have consequences, Stiles.
: : :
Stiles, 7:20am: I don’t really have to go to work this morning, do I?
Scott, 7:21am: When they fire you and you’re broke and homeless, you can’t move in with me and Allison.
Stiles, 7:21am: Thanks, man. That’s real friendship. NOT.
Scott, 7:22am: So you got drunk and fondled his face. You’ve done worse.
Stiles, 7:23am: NOT THAT HE’S SEEN.
Scott, 7:23am: It’ll be fine. Just pretend it never happened.
Stiles, 7:25am: PRETEND IT NEVER HAPPENED?! I TOUCHED HIS FACE. HIS FACE. WITH MY FINGERS. LIKE A CREEPER! A CREEPY CREEPER WHO CREEPS!
Scott, 7:26am: dude
Fine. He can act like it never happened. That is a thing he can do.
He takes the steps two at a time, trying to use the motion to clear his head. Nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened, it’s fine, he’s only had this job for two months and he’s going to get fired for sexual harassment but it’s fine, cause nothing happened.
Stiles swings into the stairwell, one hand on the rail, and holy shit it’s Derek.
Waiting. For him. Propped against the wall, hips cocked, arms crossed in front of his chest in a way that drags the sleeves of his t-shirt tight against his biceps.
Oh, god. He’s going to die. Goodbye, cruel world. Scott knows what to do with his browser history, so at least that’s something.
“Stiles,” Derek growls, and the tone sends an entirely inappropriate jolt straight to Stiles’ dick.
He does not want to die with a boner.
“Hey, Derek! Good weekend?” Stiles chirps, all too aware of how manic he sounds.
Derek raises a single eyebrow in response. Great. Derek’s going to murder him, and he’s going to be sarcastic while he does it.
Is Derek really going to make him walk voluntarily to his own execution? What a douche. He takes a single, hesitant step forward, then a hand wraps around his wrist and yanks him closer.
“I’m sorry!” He yelps, face squinching up in preparation for the inevitable punching. “I’m sorry, you’re just really hot, and you have this super dry sense of humor that just kills me,” fuck, Stiles, don’t mention killing, “and I was drunk, and did I mention that I’m sorry? Cause I am. Very sorry.”
“If you’d stop talking for three seconds, I’d really like to kiss you.”
Stiles screws his face up further. “Okay, just make it fast, try to avoid the - hold on.”
“You - but - you hate me.”
“Okay, dude, seriously, what is with the monosyllabic answers? Cause I know you’ve got this whole big, angry muscle thing going on, and it’s working for me, it is, but I’d also like to carry out an actual conversation at some point.”
Derek pulls Stiles all the way into his chest, hand slipping up Stiles’ arm, cupping the nape of his neck, fingers just dipping into his hairline. Their faces come together, stubble scraping gently against the line of Stiles’ jaw.
“What I’m going to do, right now, is find out if that goddamn distracting mouth of yours tastes more like coffee or mint toothpaste, and then kiss you until I can’t taste it anymore. Then we’re going to go to work, and I’m not even going to try and hide the fact that I check out your ass every time you walk by my desk. Which is often, for the record. At 5pm on the fucking dot, I’m taking you back to my apartment, spreading you out on my bed, and seeing how flushed you get before you finally beg me to let you come. How’s that sound?”
Stiles whimpers audibly, and he doesn’t even care, because he can see the way Derek’s eyes go sharp as the noise echoes in the stairwell.
There are two flights of stairs to the office.
It takes half an hour to make it to their desks.