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What a pair we make

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“Honey! I’m hoooome!”

   Behind Stiles the doors of the private elevator slide shut on a whisper as he steps further into the gleaming, hardwood-floor lobby of Derek’s penthouse loft. Directly opposite from the elevator is the terrace that runs the width of the building, visible through floor to ceiling industrial steel frame glass sliding doors that lead out onto the landscaped space, with a multi-million dollar view of the whole city…

   …until a view to rival it all comes walking barefoot around the corner, his usual suit-and-tie apparel swapped for a pair of dark jeans and a Henley that looks painted on, even though Stiles knows for a fact it’s an extra-large. Even barefoot his boss still towers almost a full head above him.

   “You’re late.”  

   “Hello, Stiles! Why thank you for dragging your ass halfway across the city to bring me these files on a freezing Saturday! You sure are the best!” Stiles holds out the stack of files in question.

    Derek takes them without a word, face shifting from his default scowl to deeper Concentration Scowl as he pages through the top one. He holds his hand out again.

   With an eye-roll Stiles digs into his messenger back and hands Derek a pen.

   The second or two where both grip the pen just accentuate their glaring difference in size, a fact that always sends a frisson of heat through Stiles. He studiously ignores staring at the bump of Derek’s nipples under the soft fabric of his Henley, or the span of his jeans around his thighs.

   “You know, and I get the whole territorial thang, but, how about inviting the little human into the rest of your wolfy den sometime? You know, give me the grand tour.”

   “And why would I want to do that?

   “Uh, because I’m your favourite assistant?”

   “You’re my only assistant.”

   “I'm your only everything."

   Derek hums. He flips through the pages, jotting down notes and scratching through whole paragraphs as he goes. He finally nods with lips pursed and a quick wipe of his brow with his thumb. He hands Stiles the file with his notes and his pen back, keeping the rest. “I’m meeting with the shareholders first thing Monday morning. Just, mail it to me when you’re done.”

   “Will do, bossman.” He catches Derek wipe across his brow again, this time with the back of his hand. “You okay?”

   “Fine,” Derek says. “Now get out of here.”

   The doors of the elevator are already closing when Derek calls him. Stiles holds out a hand to stop them from sliding shut. “Yeah?” he leans out.

   The corner of Derek’s mouth threatens to curl up. “You are my favourite assistant.”

   “Pft. Duh,” Stiles rolls his eyes again and duck back inside just as the doors close. Only when the car begins its descend does he blow out the breath he’s been holding. He leans his head back against the panelling, eyes closed.  

oOo

Some people on the subway look at him askance. Monday mornings are not for wistful smiles.

   Stiles doesn’t care. It’s not so much the memory of his boss dressed in that Henley that has followed him around the whole weekend – he’s seen him out of his suit-and tie uniform many times before (and still swears that those biceps are thicker than his own thighs…)

   It’s the way he looked at Stiles, the way that almost-smile turned his eyes soft just before he stepped back into the elevator…

   The train shakes along. Stiles snuggles deeper into his jacket.

oOo

Stiles sits up a bit straighter, a genuine smile on his face. “Morning! How did the…”

   Coat folded over one arm and briefcase in hand, the hulking alpha marches right past his desk without so much as blinking in his direction. His thick eyebrows are drawn into a deeper than normal scowl, as tight as the tendons along his jaw – which are covered by a layer of dark stubble over his normally clean shaven features. He pulls open the glass door to his office and shuts it behind him hard enough to make the glass walls tremble.

   Stiles stares through the glass walls of the office, his boss dumping his stuff on his desk before going to stand by the window, the normally straight line of his broad shoulders sloped.

   With his heart thudding in his throat he stands up and rounds his desk. He knocks politely on the glass door, then opens it, leaning in. “That bad, huh?”

   “Now is not a good time, Stiles,” he says with his back to him, his voice strained.

   “Okay. Can I get you some-”

   “Go!” he snarls, his head turned sideways revealing sharpened teeth and glowing eyes.

   “Okay, okay,” he retreats and shuts the door. He scuttles to his desk, glances thrown over his shoulder, his face burning.

oOo

“What?” Derek answers, voice tired.

   Stiles ducks behind his screen with his finger on the intercom. “Ah, yeah, I’m going out for lunch? Can I get you any-”

   “No, thanks,” Derek cuts him off and disconnects.

   “Ugh, sour wolf,” Stiles mumbles. He steals a glance over his screen through the glass partition. Derek is hunched over some paperwork. As Stiles watches, he drags his forearm across his brow.

oOo

It is dark outside and Stiles is about ready to pack up.

   His boss’s voice – angry and rising in waves – pulls his head up. Stiles watches, mouth open, as the man crunches his cell phone in his white-knuckled fist, then pull the same fist back and smash it through the inch-thick glass top if his desk.

   “Ohmygod,” Stiles jerks back in his seat, the glass desk shattering into a million pieces, even the pens on his own desk rattling from the impact.

   Chest heaving, Derek straightens his shoulders and rolls his neck, eyes closed, face twisted in a sneer. After a few seconds of his chest testing the buttons of his shirt, he walks over to the lounge area of his office and sits down on the square leather couch.

   Stiles’ fingers are clamped tightly around the armrests of his chair. His boss has his elbows on his knees while he inspects the bloody knuckles of his right hand.

   Before Stiles is even aware of it he is out of his seat, walking to the glass-enclosed office on wobbly legs. He stops short halfway though, the primal urge to come to the alpha’s aid a surge of adrenalin that leaves him shaking. “Fuck,” he exhales and takes the last few steps. He doesn’t knock. “Derek?” he asks carefully, walking inside.

   “Yes?” his boss calmly picks out bits of glass from his knuckles, his shirt straining over his shoulders and across his back.

   Stiles surveys the remains of the glass desk – a laptop and various files and stationary scattered amongst the twinkling bits of glass strewn across the plush carpet.

   “Are… you okay?”

   “Obviously I am not,” he states easily. “Close the door, please.”

   Stiles turns and quickly shuts it.

   “I need you to clear my schedule for the rest of the week,” Derek says when the door has been shut.

   “Clear… your schedule?”

   “For the rest of the week.”

   “Are… Are you in trouble?”

   “Not yet,” Derek stands up from the couch and walks over to the gleaming panelled wall next to his desk, loosening his tie while he walks. “Which is why I need to get going.” For all his calm demeanour, the slight tremor in his hand as he pulls at the impeccable Windsor knot gives him away. At the wall, he presses against one of the polished wooden panels then swing it open, revealing rows of crystal decanters.

   “Derek,” Stiles takes a step closer. “Talk to me, please. What is going on? Where are you going?”

   “Mexico.”

   “Mexico? Why the hell…?”

   Then it hits him.

   Through the rich leather-and-wood-polish scent that always permeates his boss’s office, the unmistakable caustic tang of Alpha musk is woven like a piece of chunky, blood-red yarn through a white linen cloth, enriched by his lycan genes.

   It all falls into place like chunks of lead that drop down to his stomach one after the other.

   “Y-you’re-”

   “A month too early,” Derek says as he lifts the stopper from one of the decanters, his sleeve stretching seam-splitting tight over his bicep.

   “But… you’re on suppressants. You order them every-”

   “I don’t take them, Stiles,” he pours himself a shot. “It’s just to appease the authorities. I might as well get a lobotomy.”

   “So now you're fleeing to Mexico?”

   "Not fleeing." Derek knocks back the alcohol. “They have black market aconite injections.”

   “Jesus, you’re gonna take wolvesbane?

   “Yes.”

   “Okay, stop the bus. Why would you willingly inject yourself with-” Stiles’ whole face goes lax. “You’re spending your rut alone…”

   “Better than the alternative,” he pours himself another shot.

   Stiles starts shaking his head. “You can’t… you can’t go. They’ll never let you back into the country.”

   “It won’t be the first time. I’ll be fine,” and pours it down his throat.

   Stiles’ gaze falls on his bloodied hand once again. He turns on his heel and walk out the office before he is quite conscious that his feet are moving. When he walks back in a few moments later - first aid kit in hand - Derek is busy pouring yet another drink.

   “I need to clean your hand.”

   “What? No, I’m fine,” he knocks back the liquor.

   “You’re still bleeding.”

   He pours another. “It will be healed within a day.”

   “Will you stop with the macho alpha bullshit and let me help you!”

   Derek regards him before he downs the drink, then walks over to one of the lounge chairs. He sits down – the chair groaning - and holds out his hand, face impassive.

   Stiles swallows. He hurries over, dragging the coffee table closer. Their knees touch when he sits down. Even though the table is higher than the chair, Derek is still inches taller. He shifts a bit, widening his knees to make room for Stiles.

   The movement draw Stiles’ eyes to where the fabric of his pants stretch tight over his crotch. The substantial bulge has him quickly focusing on where the man’s scruff covers his throat to join the equally dark hair that flows up from the open top button of his shirt, his tie loosened.

   “Please, in your own time.”

   “S-sorry,” Stiles just about chokes and grabs the kit, his face burning.

   He takes out some cotton swabs and wets them with disinfectant. He shoots a quick look at his boss, who just nods, and takes his hand.

   Derek’s thick fingers drape over his palm and curl around his hand, completely covering it. It is heavy, trembling slightly, his skin warm and a bit clammy. Stiles swallows at the stark contrast between Derek’s dark, hair-covered skin and his own blemish-free paleness.

   He begins to methodically clean the wound.

   “Do you think it’s because you haven’t been taking the pill that you’re early?”

   When Derek doesn’t answer, Stiles looks up again. His brow is slightly creased, his gaze locked on his hand. “It is possible.”

   Stiles dabs at the wound. “I was ten when Boise happened. My best friend’s a lycan. He didn’t come back to school the next day.”

   Derek remains silent for a bit. “I was at college. My mother called, frantic, said I should come back home until things have died down. When I got to my car someone had already slashed all the tires and smashed the windscreen. I couldn’t even buy a bus ticket.”

   “Why not?”

   “They wouldn’t allow me on the bus.”

   It takes Stiles a few seconds to remember to close his mouth. He frowns when goes back to cleaning the wound. “Last Memorial weekend when I went to visit my dad, we drove out to a lake close to our town. At the rest stop this guy behind the cash register told me he has the right to refuse me entry to the female bathroom on religious grounds."

   Derek remains focused on Stiles’ face. 

   "So I very kindly explained to him the physiological intricacies of male omegas, and that I would not be in need of such ablution facilities. Then I asked him if he at least goes outside his cave to take a shit.” 

   Derek’s lips quirk. "Such a mouthy little omega."

   “That’s me,” Stiles says with a slight blush. “I swear, if my old man wasn’t the sheriff I probably would’ve been lynched a long time ago.”

   “What a pair we make.”

   Stiles glance up, his blush deepening. “You know, this is the most we’ve spoken since I started working for you. I mean, about personal stuff.”

   Derek remains silent.

   “Even though I still haven’t been invited into your house,” he looks up with a smirk.

   Derek only lifts a tired eyebrow.

   Stiles finishes with the cleaning and grabs a wide fabric plaster. He snips the ends into several smaller flaps, then carefully wraps it around Derek’s knuckles. He dawdles a bit, methodically smoothing the plaster around each knuckle, making sure it’s even. When he is done, he leans back.

   “Thank you,” Derek flexes his fingers.

   Derek stands up, Stiles tracking him as he rises to his feet, a whiff of his deepening scent making him a bit lightheaded. He shuts his eyes, taking a breath, but the sudden jack-rabbit pace of his heart will not allow him to calm down. “How long do you have?”

   “Less than 24 hours,” Derek answers without looking back.

   Stiles start to back all the supplies back into the kit. “You don’t need to take those injections, you know.”

   Derek doesn’t look around as he walks away. “And why is that?”

   Stiles twists his fingers together. He tries to answer but his throat dries up.

   Derek sets his empty glass down on the cabinet counter. He glances around to meet Stiles’ gaze, who swallows heavily. Derek’s frown slowly smooths over. He turns back to the cabinet, his cheeks flush. “For your sake, I will pretend this conversation never happened.”

   Stiles stands up, hands wrung together. “Those injections are poison.”

   “I’ve been doing this for a long time, Stiles, ” Derek steps over to the remains of his desk and drags his jacket off the back of his chair.

   "You could fall into a coma!"

   "Don't be dramatic," Derek slips his jacket on.

   “Derek-”

   “Enough!”

   The heat of embarrassment floods across his scalp and down to his throat. “Is it… because I’m a guy?”

   “Don’t be ridiculous. You know lycans have absolutely no preference to first gender,” Derek crouches down to pick up his cell phone from amongst the bits off glass and slip it into an inside pocket.

   “Then… why?” Stiles hates how soft his voice comes out.

   Derek straightens up and finally looks at him with muscles that thrum along his jaw. He exhales through his nose. “Let’s forget for a moment the fact that I am your boss, and how utterly inappropriate this is, and focus on the fact that I am a lycan.”

   “Seriously? That’s the issue here? After all this time, you still think I give a fuck about societal norms?”

   Derek picks up his briefcase.    

   “Besides, it’s a known fact that human omegas not only calm a lycan rut more than any other, but can also cut their cycle in half.”  

   Derek snorts. “What a perfect textbook answer.”

   “It’s the truth, isn’t it?”

   Derek narrows his eyes. “Have you done this before?”

   Stiles shifts on his feet and lifts his chin. “Ah… Not exactly. No.”

   Derek shakes his head. “And yet you blindly offer yourself.”

   Stiles takes a step closer. “Not blindly. I trust you.”

   “And I’m going now.” He walks over to the coat stand. “If you need anything, speak to-”

   “Derek! Listen to me!”

   Derek heaves a sigh. “Stiles, I don’t have time for this.”

   “Please, let me help you. This is the safest way-”

   “Safe?” Derek turns around. He closes the distance between them in a few long strides until he crowds right up in Stiles’ space, his chin just about level with the top of Stiles’ forehead. “Safe for who?”

   Without even thinking about it Stiles tilts his head and lower his eyes. This close Derek’s cologne and slight undertone of clean sweat sends his mind into a tailspin. “I trust you. Completely.”

   “I will be half feral. You know this.”

   “Human omega, remember?”

   “There is no guarantee it’ll work.”

   “A million light years better than that black market crap. Not to mention legal.”  

   Derek’s nostrils flare but his eyelids flutter.

   Stiles steals a glance up at him through his lashes. “Russian roulette, or a safe, natural outlet. There really isn't a choice here.” 

   His breath washes over Stiles. “Why? Why would you do this?”

   “Because I,” Stiles bites off the rest and hesitates before he continues, voice much softer. “Because I know what it feels like to not be allowed on the bus.”

   Derek’s scowl smooths over. He rubs a hand down his face before he steps back, hands fisted at his sides. “This is a monumentally bad idea.”

   With his personal space free again, Stiles takes a breath. “Shall I inform HR?”

oOo

The clack-clack of heels draw closer until the plush carpet out in the reception swallows them up. The petite human alpha is typing something on her tablet when she walks into Derek’s office. Her fiery curls are stylishly twisted back, the cuffs of her tailored charcoal pants falling just above her black, peep-toe Louboutin pumps.

   She looks up, her placid smile quickly slipping off her face when she takes in the shattered desk.

   “Lydia,” Derek calmly point to one of the chairs, “Please have a seat.”

oOo

Exactly thirty-eight seconds later, Lydia stands up again. “Derek, will you excuse Stiles and I for a moment? Stiles?” she points a sharply manicure eyebrow at the door.

   Stiles looks at Derek, who rests his head against his fingers, then nods with a sigh.

   They have just rounded the corner, out of Derek’s sight, when five blood-red talons hook into his arm.

   “Owwowwowwoww,” Stiles gets dragged into a supply closet.

   Lydia kicks the door shut. “Are you out of your fucking mind?” she hisses through clenched teeth, punctuating each word with a smack across his head.

   “Will you stop attacking me!” he swats her hand away.

   “When I got you this job we agreed it was a stepping stone for you to get into the company’s research division, not fall in love with your boss!”

   Stiles gapes like a fish, his cheeks lighting up. “I’m not in love with him!”

   “Bullshit! You’ve been naming your children from day one! Why else would you agree to something so idiotic?”

   “I am trying to keep him alive and/or out of jail!”

   “Then let him take suppressants!”

   “Do you even know what that crap does to a lycan?”

   “Yes! Stop them from going on a murdering rampage! Jesus, Stiles, Boise was not fake news.”

   “This is completely different!”

   “Is it? There’s a reason why we have laws for lycan ruts. These are not alternative facts we’re dealing with.”  

   “Look,” Stiles holds up his hands, “I am not getting into a socio-political debate with you. Just, do this for me. Please.”

   “I don’t need to do jack shit!” she flashes her eyes.

   Stiles looks away at once.

   “Stiles,” she takes a steadying breath, “I know you think you have the heart of an alpha, but that man is an alpha. A lycan alpha. He is literally twice your size. Twice. You wouldn’t stand a chance if-

   “Lyds, you know the effect human omegas have on lycans. He won’t hurt me.”

   “You sure about that?”

   “Yes!”

   “Oh my god,” she shakes her head at him. “You are even dumber than I thought.”

oOo

“Okay,” Lydia sighs once they have sat down in Derek’s office again. “Legally I can’t stop you, but, for the record, I would like to state that I am categorically against this, and would advise you to reconsider.”

   “Duly noted,” Stiles says with a bit of an eye-roll.

   Derek remains quiet. He is still in the same chair, a furrow to rival the Grand Canyon splitting his brow, the ice in his crystal tumbler clinking slightly from the tremor in his hand.

   Red lips pursed she looks at Derek. “How long do you have?”

   “Tomorrow,” Derek answers.

   Lydia sits back and cross her arms. “There won’t be time to get you tested.”

   “Uh, he’s a lycan?”

   Derek takes a sip of his drink.

   “Yes, but he can still be a carrier.”

   “So? That’s what condoms are for.”  

   “Stiles, besides the fact that condoms won’t last, I will not be in the right frame of mind to even contemplate wearing protection.”

   Lydia scratches her nose, looking away.

   “Right,” Stiles blinks a couple of times, his cheeks bright. “Ah, yeah, well, I know you, you're clean,” Stiles says.

   “The feeling’s mutual,” Derek says softly, staring at the light refracting in the crystal tumbler in his hand. Stiles’ eyes flick to him.

   “Well,” Lydia smiles too brightly, “At least we have trust. How charming.”  

   “Are you on birth control?” Derek asks Stiles, looking at him from over his drink and completely ignoring Lydia.

   Stiles’ ears burn. “Ah, no, but my heat is still a long way off, so, we’re good.”

   “Are you sure?”

   “Yes, I’m sure. Male omega, remember? No heat, no baby-daddy.”

   A heavy silence settles between them.

   “Great! Now that that’s out of the way, there are some papers to be signed,” Lydia stands up, clasping her tablet to her chest one-handed. Her eyes sweep over the remains of Derek’s desk. “Conference room?”

   Derek knocks back the rest of his drink and stands, unclasping one cufflink at a time before rolling his sleeves up. “After you.”

   Stiles steals a quick glance at the alpha’s thick, hairy forearms roped with veins, before slipping out of the office behind Lydia.

oOo

The electronic letters above the elevator door blur. Stiles tires to blink the burning graininess away. He swears that, through some supernatural wormhole, a hundred more floors have been added to the building. He wills the car to move faster, the ground floor seemingly still lightyears away. It would have all been fine if not for the towering alpha next to him stinking up the small space with that amazing mixture of cologne and musk. Stiles swears even his stubble has become thicker in the last hour.

   “I’ll have a driver pick you up at noon tomorrow,” Derek says, his voice loud after the long quiet. He wipes at the sheen on his brow, sweat darkening the pits of his shirt. His coat and jacket is draped over an arm, suitcase in hand.

   “It I had known this is what it will take to get an invite into your den, I would have thrown myself a you sooner.”

   Derek's jaw goes tight. Stiles notices the slight tremor in his hand where he is clutching his briefcase’s handle. “Sorry, that wasn't funny.”

   The floor numbers blink, and blink, and blink.

   “So,” Derek clears his throat. “I will be your first lycan.”

   Stiles’ insides warm. “Yes, you will be my first,” he smiles softly.

   Derek examines his shoes. “Then it will be a good idea to prepare yourself for tomorrow, beforehand. In actual fact it will be essential.”

   “What do you mean?”

   Derek discovers some lint on his jacket lapel, though a red tinge washes over his cheeks. “I mean I will not be concentrating on foreplay.”

   The blush that warm Stiles’ cheek is much deeper. “Ah…”

   “My knot, Stiles. You need to properly stretch yourself.”

   “Oh! Yeah, okay, got it. Sorry,” Stiles’ face burns. “You know, omegas are built for that kind of-“

   “Trust me. You need to stretch yourself.”

   The car unexpectedly stops with a ding and the doors open, both Stiles and Derek gladly turning towards the distraction. A suited office worker burning the midnight oil blinks up at them, surprised. The man is clearly a lycan alpha, what with his size (still not near Derek’s height and bulk) though Stiles can barely pick up on his scent through Derek’s heavy musk.

   The panels inside the elevator vibrate lightly when Derek growls. He steps in front of Stiles, the bulk of his wide back completely blocking Stiles from view, his nose just about the touching the deep furrow between the wolf’s shoulder blades.

   “Woah, woah, down boy,” Stiles lays a hand on a warm, solid bicep.

   “I-I’ll take the next one,” the guy stammers.

   “You do that,” Derek grinds out.

   Stiles holds his breath while the doors slide shut again. He keeps his hand on Derek’s arm. “You okay?”

   “Fine,” Derek says. He remains where he is though for the rest of the ride, until a soft ding announce their arrival.

   Stiles’ breath rushes from him. “This is me.”

   Derek takes a moment when the doors slide open to lean out and check the coast. “Okay,” he steps out of the way. “See you tomorrow. Get some rest.”

   “I will. Have a good night.” With a last sideways glance, Stiles steps out of the elevator and half-waves over his shoulder.

   “Stiles?” Derek holds the door open with his hand, one foot out.

   Stiles turns around in the lobby. “Yeah?”

   “Thank you.”

   Stiles swallows heavily. “Anytime, bossman.”

oOo

Stiles has the train car mostly to himself.

   He lifts his satchel onto his lap and digs out the waiver Lydia had made him sign.

   There, on the front page: his own loopy signature next to Derek’s tight, slanting scrawl.

   Emerging from the station, the lurid neon signs above pawn and sex shops announce his neighbourhood. Derek’s advice come back to jab him in the stomach. He pulls his jacket tight and walks into the shop with the brightest sign.