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Actually, I'm great at screwing.

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The thing is, people never really took Stiles for the kind of guy that loves to cook.

Actually, Stiles loves cooking. He loves it, he does it as often as he can and he’s great at it, without wanting to sound too full of himself. By now, most of his friends know about his talent and shamelessly make use of his skills whenever they’re at his place. Or Stiles is at one of theirs. Or when they’re having a celebration at a park and they make Stiles prepare the snacks. Basically, they try to exploit his talent as often as they can and with whatever it is they’re doing or they’ve got planned. Even though they don’t call it exploiting. They call it ‘appreciating art’ and if Stiles is truly honest with himself, he likes that way of thinking and him complaining about it is merely a façade anyway. Because every reason to get cooking is a good reason.

So when the time of him moving into his first very own apartment came around, it was a matter of mere seconds to make the decision of getting a new kitchen instead of putting one together with old pieces people were getting rid of that he found online. Besides, it was practical thinking since the kitchen would be a long-term investment.

Stiles had fallen in love with his apartment right away and if he could’ve, he would’ve moved in then and there instead of two months later. He’d stepped into it and he just knew ‘this is it’. His new landlord was a nice older lady that was something like Melissa’s third cousin twice removed and he got along with her splendidly. She had taken a liking to him on the first day of them meeting and Stiles was thrilled by her wicked sense of humour and how she handled finding out about him being bisexual.

“If I only were a bit younger…,” she had sighed wistfully.

“Then what?” Stiles had asked smiling, stuffing away his copy of the signed lease.

“I would skip giving you an apartment in my house and would make you move straight into my bed.” Stiles had laughed out loud, heavily clapping the chair’s armrest while Scott, standing in the background, awkwardly stared at the ceiling.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” Stiles said, still grinning. “But even though I’m bi, I’m uh, more into guys at the moment. I think?” At the time, Stiles had wondered if it’d be wise to disclose his sexuality straight away. On the other hand, he thought, he didn’t want to make a secret out of it and if it was a no-go for his landlord, he wouldn’t want to live there anyway. Even though it would’ve caused at least one small breakout of tears over the lost apartment. Luckily, it hadn’t come that far.

“Oh, so that’s how it is,” the older lady had said, something sparkling up in her eyes. She then turned towards Scott asking him if she’d be seeing him around more often, too, which had been answered with Scott erratically shaking his head, waving it off while mumbling out something about engaged already to someone else, only being friends since childhood and oh god images in his head.

Stiles had merely grinned since this had by far not been the first time they had been asked if they were dating. Especially when Scott had visited him in college and they have been practically inseparable the entire time.

“Too bad,” Ms Flannigan had sighed before turning back to Stiles again. “But just so you know anyway, my bed’s big enough for three, too.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Ms Flannigan,” Stiles had snorted and gotten up out of the chair.

 

---

 

A week before Stiles moved into his new flat, Scott, Allison and Lydia drove to the biggest furniture store with him to pick out a few things for Stiles. But most importantly, to put the kitchen together. He had met up with Mrs. Flannigan to go over the plans and ideas but she had given him plenty of scope for this. ‘It needs a stove and a fridge and a freezer. Everything else is up to you,’ she’d said and if that wasn’t heaven on earth, what was?

Despite him having made a rough draft of it online in advance, getting everything put together when they actually were at the store was not an easy task. Especially not with Lydia being the perfectionist she was when it came to class, design and looks but Stiles managed to have the upper hand in all most of the decisions. In the end, it was his (and Mrs. Flannigan’s) kitchen so he should have the final say, right? He went for a modern design with a kitchen island in the middle and wooden surfaces for the cupboards paired with steel handles, everything held in warm colours.

Stiles was in love with it and if the store would let him, he’d started test cooking right here in the store. Unfortunately, actual cooking inside one of the exhibits seemed to be frowned upon by the employees, not to mention that none of the stoves were hooked onto electricity. Which was too bad for Stiles in personally but certainly for the better in the whole picture. So Stiles had no choice but to wait for the day his kitchen would be installed in his flat.

Luckily, Stiles had gotten a job straight after graduating college that paid so ridiculously well, he was able to spend much more on furniture than he’d initially thought he could. Home delivery with included assembly of the kitchen was without a doubt the only option he felt comfortable with, because putting up this thing on his own would be a catastrophe in the making. Plus, he wasn’t really up for carrying all these heavy boxes into his apartment even though he only lived on the first floor.

 

---

 

It’s one and a half weeks later that he gets the notification about his kitchen being delivered the next day and that he should be ready to let their personnel in. Stiles happily agrees and slumps back down onto his old couch with a box of take away noodles in his hand. As much as he likes this kind of food and lived off of in college every now and then, he’s more than ready to start cooking for himself again.

At 9 a.m. sharp the next morning, the bell rings and Stiles nearly jumps to the door, pushing the intercom button. “Hello?”

“Delivery and assembly service. We’re here with your kitchen, Mr. Stilinski,” a smooth, light voice informs Stiles.

“Awesome! Come on up,” Stiles cheers, letting them in with a push of another button.

Less than two minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Stiles swung it open, a warm welcome on his lips when he laid eyes on a man that looked so ridiculously much like he’d escaped from a GQ magazine and/or numerous of Stiles’ wet dreams that mentioned greeting faltered for the briefest of seconds.

“Mr. Stilinski, I assume,” GQ guy says, raising his eyebrows expectantly.

“Uh…,” Stiles retorts after a long second passes by with him doing nothing but blinking. “Yes.”

“Good,” GQ guy proceeds curtly. “Can we come in?”

“We?” Stiles asks confused and only then spots the tall guy with the sly grin in the back. “Oh. Hey.”

“I’m Derek Hale and this is my partner Isaac Lahey. Our other partner is still down at the truck,” hot, tall and broody explains, already looking like he’d rather be elsewhere than continuing this conversation any longer than absolutely necessary.

“Oh, uh, of course! Sorry,” Stiles hurries and steps aside, letting them in. “Sorry.” Derek and Isaac step inside the apartment before Stiles closes the door, leaning forward to rest his forehead on the wood for a second. “Get a grip, Stilinski. Get a grip,” he hisses at himself quietly and thuds his forehead against the wood of the door once.

He takes a deep breath and rounds the corner, joining the two other men in the living room. “The kitchen’s to the right, please,” Stiles explains, gesturing towards the door in question.

Derek wordlessly enters said kitchen and puts down his toolbox. Stiles does not check out his butt. He totally doesn’t check out that firm, round perfect…

“Mr. Stilinski?” Stiles snaps from his thoughts when Derek’s voice gets through to him and he looks up to see the other man looking at him expectantly, a bit like he thinks something must be wrong with Stiles. Who could blame him, though? Stiles’ behaviour after meeting the guy hasn’t been a prime example for level-headed thinking or a cool façade despite obvious attraction. He hadn’t been acting incredibly stupid but not entirely respectful either.

“Sorry, I’m a bit beside myself today. Haven’t um, slept that well,” Stiles coughs.

Thankfully, Derek chooses to not comment on it any further. “Is it okay with you if we start bringing everything up, then?”

“Yes, totally. I’m all for you bringing it up for me,” Stiles nods enthusiastically and oh god. It’s a few split seconds passing until he realises what he just said and all he wants to do, really, is go back to bed and wait for them to be done with everything so they can leave and Stiles can die in peace. It’s not like this is something Stiles would never say because he totally would. But intentionally in an appropriate situation instead of blurting it out without a warning to Derek who’s in no way prepared for it and probably hasn’t even sensed Stiles already having the hots for him.

Isaac snorts out a laugh, trying to cover it up with his hand. Derek shoots Stiles an unimpressed look before pushing his partner out of the door, mumbling something like ‘stop it’.

 

---

 

They’re about an hour into installing the kitchen when Stiles joins them to check up on them.

“Hey,” he says, stepping over a small pile of empty card boxes.

Derek shoots him a glance over his shoulder from where he’s hunched down, hammering in one of the countless pegs on the floor beside him. Stiles smiles and even though Derek doesn’t really return the smile full on, he’s holding the eye contact with the idea of a smile ghosting over his lips, not looking as broody as he did when Stiles had opened the door earlier on and that’s a what you call progress, right?

“Hey,” Isaac grins, wiping away some of the sweat on his forehead with his sleeve.

“I just wanted to check if you want anything to drink. I have water, soda and coffee,” Stiles says, rubbing his hands together.

“I’d actually have a coffee with milk, if that’s alright with you?” Isaac asks, perking up at the mention of it.

“Sure. Wouldn’t offer it if it weren’t okay,” Stiles nods and turns towards Derek and Boyd, the partner that has been waiting at the truck earlier on and was now helping with the assembling.

“Coffee, too. Black.” Boyd replies, very precisely and to the point.

“Just water,” is what Derek asks for and he’s telling it more to the inside of the cupboard he’s working on than to Stiles, not bothering to stop the work, unlike his colleagues. Instead of assuming Derek doesn’t want to talk to him, Stiles resorts to thinking that, probably, Derek is schedule-sensitive and wants to not waste too much time. To be fair, there was still a good chunk of things to be done.

Stiles returns with their orders a few minutes later, handing Boyd and Isaac their respective cups of coffee only to return with Derek’s glass of water a few moments later. Derek gets up from the floor after all, dusting off his hands on his overall before taking the glass from Stiles.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Stiles smiles, watching Derek lift the glass to his mouth. Which, that’s not a thing people do, staring at people like this. Stiles promptly clears his throat and averts his eyes, berating himself mentally for being so foolish and out of control. Yes, he is undersexed. Yes, he has a type and Derek as hitting 12/10 of the bullet points on the Stiles TypeTM list. Yes, Stiles has, even if only briefly, thought about the highly unlikely scenario of Derek totally being into him as well and them having a hot and steamy make out session in the bathroom during one of their breaks. None of these facts excused Stiles’ ridiculous ogling, though.

“Nice kitchen you’re getting,” Isaac says eventually, snapping Stiles out of his thoughts, halting him in coming up with coping mechanisms concerning his Hots-For-Derek problem.

“Yeah, thanks. I really like it too. Love it, even. I just moved in which is, uh, probably obvious considering the state of most of the rooms,” he laughs, rubbing the back of his hand. “But Rosa, sorry, my landlord Mrs. Flannigan told me to get a new kitchen because apparently the old one has been ruined by the couple that lived here before I moved in,” Stiles explains, hands gesturing as per usual, and Isaac nods solemnly, Boyd hums and Derek levels him with an indifferent look while he takes another sip of his water.

“Said something about ‘sex in inappropriate places’ and ‘didn’t know you could do that on a stove’ too,” Stiles adds because he doesn’t have a filter when it comes to these things and it was pretty amusing of a thought.

And, apparently, makes Derek choke on his water a bit. Which is an incredibly adorable sight to behold, Stiles has got to admit. Isaac laughs out loud and Boyd simply raises his eyebrow, a small smirk playing over his lips.

“You alright, buddy?” Stiles asks, half worried, half enticed, clapping Derek on his back.

“Yeah,” the other man coughs out. “Fine. Just didn’t see the sex part coming.”

“I can see that,” Stiles grins. “Sorry. That was not a nice thing to do.”

“S’fine, no big deal,” Derek coughs one last time and puts down his glass. “Grew up with four sisters. Nothing I haven’t heard at one point or the other.”

“You talked about sex on kitchen isles in your family? Different family, different topics, I guess.”

“No, we didn’t talk ab…” Derek rolls his eyes so hard Stiles is afraid they might pop out of his head. “I simply meant that oversharing is a concept that is painfully familiar to me.”

“I’m pretty sure you could spell ‘menstruation’ before you learned how to spell ‘book’,” Isaac sneers but claps his mouth shut when Derek shoots him a glare of epic proportions. He doesn’t stop grinning though.

“Sorry. I know him too long for it to be healthy,” Derek states fondly, looking back at Stiles and crosses his arms in front of his chest. Stiles likes the new harmony in Derek’s voice, likes that it lost the sharp edges for a moment.

“Nah, don’t worry. I’m the same with my best bud. Gave our parents lots of headaches too,” Stiles says, remembering the one time Scott and Stiles enthusiastically started to discuss the concept of masturbation when they were thirteen and had just discovered some of the amazing things they could be doing with their neither regions apart from peeing. Melissa had simply walked by the door with her hands covering her ears, singing Oh When The Saints at the top of her lungs until she had reached her bedroom and slammed the door shut.

“Okay, I’ll leave you to it again. Don’t wanna keep you up too long.” He moves towards the door, nearly stepping over various utensils on his way out. “I mean, I would help but I’m not good at screwing so I better not screw with you,” Stiles muses, more into the room than to the other men, really.

Derek looks up at him, his eyebrow raised and Isaac halts in his movements. Boyd solemnly reaches for the hammer, seemingly unaffected. It takes Stiles a second or two to catch on why he’s being eyed like this. “Shit. Sorry,” he laughs out loud when he finally does. “That’s me and my lack of a brain to mouth filter again. But just so you know, I’m excellent when it comes to all other kinds of screwing.”

On his way out, he hears Isaac dropping his package of nails in a flash of laughter and Derek hitting his head on the top of cupboard he had already leaned back into, cursing. No reaction from Boyd, but that was about to be expected.

 

---

 

It’s late afternoon when Stiles makes his way into the kitchen again.

“You alright in here? It’s grown quiet and I wanted to check if some fatal incident took place without me noticing.”

“Like what?” Derek asks, shooting him an expectant glance.

“I don’t know. The stove exploding,” Stiles shrugs.

“You wouldn’t have noticed when the stove would’ve exploded?” Derek asks and sounds half sceptical and half deadpan.

“Heavy sleeper,” Stiles supplies, winking.

Derek shoots him a strange look. “You were sleeping while three strangers are in your apartment?”

“It was hardly sleeping. I nodded off for, like, ten minutes.”

“You were sleeping, weren’t you?” Derek counters, putting some of his tools back into his tool box.

“How do you know?” Stiles challenges him because he loves that they know each other less than half a day and are already bickering, seeing how they can get the other to shoot back with a snarky comment.

Derek shrugs. “Saw you sleeping on the couch.”

“You watch people sleep often?”

“Sometimes I do after I had sex with them,” Derek looks straight at him when he stands back up and not a thing about this is anything but casual.

“You didn’t have sex with me, though, but you still watched me sleep.” It’s risky and it’s deeply invading the territory of heavy flirting but Stiles is ready and willing to go down that long road to see where it’ll lead them. There’s chemistry between them, as clear as day there is. Their banter, the looks and the flirting all indicate towards it and Stiles may not have been out and about on the dating market but his flirting is still as strong as ever. And he’d be damned to let this opportunity slide without at least trying. He doesn’t want this to be a ‘what if’.

“There’s a first for everything, I guess,” Derek says evenly and yeah Stiles knows, he knows Derek’s enjoying this as much as Stiles himself does because he saw the smile playing over Derek’s lips before he straightened himself after he had put his stuff away.

“Good to know,” Stiles says just mere seconds before Isaac’s muffled ‘oh my goood’ floats in from the hallway.

Stiles can’t keep himself from beaming like an idiot and Derek, despite his often rather sturdy front, is smiling now too. And not just a small, amused smile but a full blown one and wow, yes, Stiles would like to see more of this please. Stiles, this time unashamed, looks at him, soaks in how genuinely handsome he is. It’s not something that goes unnoticed because Derek meets Stiles’ gaze and holds it. It’s palpable how the mood shifts after a few fleeting seconds. The initial light and playful atmosphere slowly but noticeably changes into something more ambiguous when they hold their gazes for longer than strictly necessary.

And when Derek’s eyes drop down to his lips for the briefest blink-and-you’d-miss-it moments, Stiles is about to break the silence but Isaac beats him to it, leaning in around the corner. “Hate to break you two apart but we have a sofa down in the truck that’s waiting to be delivered.”

That does the trick and snaps Derek out of his almost trance-like focus. “Right,” he clears his throat. “Sure. We best get going.”

“Yeah, totally,” Stiles offers, a bit lame but who’s to blame him? Mere moments ago, he was about to offer the guy that put up his kitchen for him his number. He’s allowed to be a tiny bit out of eloquence.

“Don’t forget the signature,” Isaac reminds Derek, finger pointed at him, before disappearing back into the hallway.

“It’s not like this is my first job,” Derek shouts after him, reaching into his bag.

“Didn’t say it was. But the first time you could’ve potentially beheaded yourself because you were too distracted with mentally undres….” Isaac’s voice resounds from somewhere down the staircase.

“Get back to the truck and check if we have all the appliances packed,” Derek cuts in harshly, his voice a pitch from frenzied as it echoes through the house.

“Will do,” Isaac laughs, accompanied by the sound of the front door opening and closing.

Derek clears his throat again, fishing out a pen from his pocket. “I need your signature here, here and here please,” he points at three separate parts in the contract, keeping his eyes firm on the sheet of paper.

At first, Stiles thinks it’s because he’s embarrassed and just wants this to end as quickly as possible, cursing his co-workers for putting him in this incredibly awkward position in front of a customer but when he looks closer, Stiles can see the rosy tips of Derek’s ears and it’s the most beautiful thing he’s seen in a long time. It means Stiles is not alone in this and that Stiles wasn’t the only one to sense all of… well, them. Not that Stiles had truly doubted he was after a certain point.

“Sure.” Stiles hums and takes the pen from Derek, their fingers brushing against each other ever so slightly and he can’t help but to halt a bit when they do. An action that doesn’t go unnoticed and as Stiles’ eyes flicker up to check whether the feeling of Derek watching him is made up or not, he finds Derek’s eyes meeting his own instantly. He smiles shortly, already looking back down a second after to let the tip of the pen dance over the paper as he signs.

When Stiles is done with the paperwork, Derek carefully stuffs it away, picks up his bag but seemingly hesitates to leave.

“I will walk you to the door,” Stiles provides but it sounds like more of a question than a real proposal, really.

“Sure,” Derek nods and lets Stiles lead the way to the entrance area even though he knows perfectly well where that is by now and would find his way without Stiles just fine.

“Thanks. For, you know, my kitchen,” he says, holding open the door and watching Derek step out into the hall.

“You’re welcome,” the other man replies as if this wasn’t a service Stiles actually payed for but, rather, a favour he did him.

“When Isaac just said you had a sofa down in the truck, does this mean you’re not only responsible for assembling that stuff but also for… you know, just delivering it? Not that I think that’s an easy task with all the heavy lifting and so on.” And Stiles knows it’s not the most graceful moves he ever pulled but he’s desperate and clutches at every straw he can get.

“S’fine. But yes, we’re also ‘just’ delivering products customers bought.”

“So if I, let’s say, ordered a couch. Because my one’s in desperate need of replacement. Would you be uh- delivering… said couch?” Stiles asks, fumbling his way through the sentence. He wants, needs Derek to understand that this is more than Stiles asking Derek about his employer’s range of services but he definitely doesn’t want to be too obvious about it either since he’s already chickened out of giving Derek his number.

At first, Stiles is afraid Derek didn’t catch the actual intent behind his question. He looks like he’s about to casually say ‘yes of course we do’ but in the last second before Derek speaks up, he halts, looking at Stiles. A mixture of emotions is flashing over his face in a fraction of a moment. They come and go so fast, it would’ve been easy to miss them but Stiles didn’t. How could he, when he’s standing right in front of him, looking straight at Derek.

“Yeah,” Derek eventually says. “Yeah, we do deliver all furniture. Why?”

“I’m thinking of buying a new couch. The old one is really…. uh- old.”

“Good,” Derek half-smiles and waits a bit before adding that it does look like it needs replacing. “Better sooner than later, I’d say.”

“Yeah. I’ll uh- probably do that soon,” Stiles admits, partially because his brain is close to collapsing by now and partially because he does need a new couch. This is no news but that it may lead to seeing Derek again comes in more than handy.

Neither of them is saying anything for what feels like hours while they look at each other without Stiles quite knowing what’s about to happen because right now? He feels like possibly anything could happen.

But since this is his life, in the end, Derek ends the silence a lot different from what Stiles would’ve preferred. “Better get going,” he says. “Mr. and Mrs. uh…” He looks down onto his clipboard. “Albright will be waiting for their new couch.” He rubs his hands on his pants and holds out his right one to Stiles. “If there are any problems, just give us a call.”

“Will do,” Stiles shoots Derek a lopsided grin and shakes his hand before stepping back into his apartment, shutting the door only to peek through the spyhole mere seconds later but Derek’s already gone.

Stiles is letting out a breath, rubbing his hands over his face to clear his head at least a little. He extends this notion for several more moments before he reaches into his pocket and fishes his cell phone out, shooting Scott a text.

 

To: Scott [17:06]

I may have eye fucked one of the guys that put up my kitchen

 

From: Scott [17:07]

Ur eyefucking ppl all the time whats the deal?

 

Stiles frowns down onto the screen. “What do you mean ‘all the time’? That is so far from the truth,” he murmurs to himself, flopping down onto his most likely soon-to-be-replaced couch.

 

To: Scott [17:09]

Am not!! Thing is that he seemed ok with it

 

Less than half a minute after Stiles had hit send, his phone’s vibrating with an incoming call.

“Are you kidding me? That’s awesome, dude,” Scott exclaims excitedly. “How do you know he’s into you?”

“He banged his head into a cupboard,” Stiles snorts, thinking back to the moment it had happened.

“He did what?” Scott asks and sounds thoroughly confused. Rightfully so, Stiles thinks. It was a fairly random and cryptic statement to answer Scott’s question with, after all.

“I said something pretty ambiguous which is not really news for you guys since I do that on a daily basis but it is for him, you know? And he was working at a part of one of the cupboards and when I said it, he hit his head.”

“And from that, you figured he must be into you? I’m sorry to take the wind out of your sails but that’s pretty thin ice to be walking on,” Scott puts in carefully.

“I know. But after that it was… I don’t know. Different? Like, the mood somehow shifted and we were full on bickering a while later. As if we’d known each other for years already,” Stiles relates, trying to sort out his thoughts some more.

“Bickering or flirting?” Scott preens.

“Probably more flirting. Yeah, definitely flirting. I mean, Scott, we talked about him watching people sleep after sex and me being good at screwing,” Stiles says, grinning to himself upon thinking about it again.

Instead of Scott giving a verbal answer, a choking sound comes through the earpiece.

“Scotty, you good?” Stiles checks after give or take ten seconds had passed. Better safe than sorry, right?

“And you say you’re not sure about him being into you?” Scott wonders out loud, incredulous.

“No, dude. Look, I know it seems pretty obvious and when I think about it now, the signals were pretty effin’ clear but I’m still…. Not 100% sure? You know how I get around people I like. Or the ones I think like me. Or sometimes people in general”

“Yeah, I do,” Scott laughs. “Remember how you were convinced your roommate was into you and you figured out you’d be okay with hooking up and had this, like, huge dinner prepared for him and he was so confused when he came to your dorm room because you used, like, ingredients you couldn’t even pronounce right and candles and all.”

Stiles groans. “Don’t ever remind me of that again. Not my finest hour.”

“Why not? You did hook up in the end so why the embarrassment?”

“I’m not talking about the hooking up part. I’m talking about the part before the hooking up took place and I acted like such a dense tool.”

“No actually, he said that you were cute,” Scott says. “Once he understood what was happening and all, he said he enjoyed watching you court him.”

“I didn’t court him. I just, uh… I tried to… Yeah, okay maybe I did court him.”

“No offense in that. But what’s it with this furniture store guy now? Do you have a plan?” Scott asks, steering the conversation back to why he’d called.

“I will order a couch,” Stiles says resolutely.

“You will order a couch.” Scott repeats slowly, sounding halfway sceptical and a bit as if Stiles, again, lost his current train of thought and has derailed onto an entirely different topic.

“Yeah.”

“And that will solve the problem with furniture store guy in what way….?”

“When I order a couch,” Stiles states. “He will be the one delivering it and that way, I can see him again.”

“Stiles, you are aware of the fact that they have more than three people delivering their products to customers, right?” It’s Scott feeble attempt to stop his best friend from buying loads of furniture he doesn’t exactly need just to see the delivery guy he’s crushing on again.

“I do. Of course I do, I don’t live under a rock. But the chances that it’ll be him are not that thin. And I mean, I did ask him in a very suggestive way if they’d also deliver furniture and he totally said yes.”

“He said yes because it’s indeed his job to deliver furniture,” Scott huffs out. “What was he supposed to say instead? That they only deliver furniture on Wednesdays and are actually a travelling circus on the other six days of the week?”

“Scott, buddy. I know that, when I order that couch, there’s the possibility of someone else delivering it. But it’s worth a shot and I wanted a new couch anyway,” Stiles defends himself.

“You totally didn’t,” Scott deadpans.

“I did. And even if I didn’t, I want it now so what’s the deal?”

Scott, in return, just snorts out a laugh.

“Don’t you laugh-snort on me, mister. You’re the one that bought the entire ten season DVD-Box of F.R.I.E.N.D.S after Allison once randomly mentioned that she likes Jennifer Aniston in her earlier roles better.”

“Hey, I happen to love that show, okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles hums. “You found that out after Allison and you watched it together because she saw you ordered it. So don’t give me that whole Stiles-is-buying-stuff-to-see-a-dude-again thing.”

“You totally are though and I didn’t go around buying entire pieces of furniture to impress a guy. Not that I have a problem with you doing that. I’m merely pointing out facts.”

“I don’t know what they call this where you come from,” Stiles throws in. “But I call it making fun of people.”

“I’m laughing with you, bro, not at you.”

“I’m not laughing,” Stiles objects but he’s definitely sporting a big grin and he’s sure that Scott knows that he’s, just like Scott himself, only joking. After this many years of friendship, conversations like these are not extraordinary and don’t need to be commented on because they both know it’s only for a good laugh.

“You’re laughing on the inside though, don’t deny it,” Scott chuckles. “But listen, I gotta go. Dinner at Allison’s parents tonight.”

“Oh dear, best of luck, buddy,” Stiles says, knowing full well that a dinner with the Argents is by far not a cake-walk.

“Thanks. Have fun picking out a new couch.”

Scott hangs up before Stiles can scold him for it.

 

---

 

It’s about two weeks after his new kitchen has been installed that Stiles is sitting in front of his computer screen, pondering over dozens of couch designs, colours and options. In all honesty, he didn’t think it would be this hard to pick out something you sit on. Of course, he understands the value of a good couch since it’ll hopefully be with him for many years and it needs to be comfortable and he will do everything to ensure he’ll buy the right couch but this was getting out of hand.

It, in fact, took Stiles one additional night in front of the screen to come to the realisation that he wouldn’t be able to avoid a trip to the actual furniture store to test out the three couches he picked out so far. There were a lot of things the internet has made possible and as much Stiles was an advocate for unlimited online possibilities, checking seating comfort levels a couch was to sit on wasn’t one of them. Yet.

That’s why he finds himself in the living room section of the store he’s already purchased his kitchen at the coming Saturday, testing out the couches he liked best after his online research spree, trying out how comfortable they are and if they looked as good as they did online. Thankfully, Stiles has always been rather quick to make decisions when it came to buying things which is why he’s on his way to the exit to pay for his couch of choice less than an hour after he arrived.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long to pay despite the masses of people who chose this exact day to have a field trip here to eat cheap hot dogs and look at stuff they won’t be buying in the end anyway. Stiles is striding towards the distribution and service area of the store when he hears someone close to him call out a surprised ‘hey’. He turns around to look because even though it may not have been him who the person had been meaning to address but it had happened more than once that someone had indeed been calling out to him and Stiles was too lost in thought to realise he’s the person of interest.

Jogging up to him is no other than Derek Hale.

“Hey,” Stiles replies a little taken aback but with a smile nevertheless. On the one side, because he really is surprised to see Derek inside the store. He assumed that due to his work, Derek wouldn’t be around the showrooms much and more in the back were all the furniture was being distributed. And on the other side because it’s Derek standing in front of him and he looks even more handsome than Stiles remembers.

“Hey,” Derek says again and meets Stiles’ smile with one of his own. “What brings you here?” He seems a lot more at ease and relaxed in comparison to when he put up Stiles' kitchen and boy, does this suit him.

“I love to be surrounded by strangers who buy family packages of scented candles and have made it my goal to eat ten of those one-dollar hot dogs on my days off,” Stiles smiles.

“Then this is the place to be for you,” Derek replies, pretending to sport a serious and contemplative expression after his initial open smile.

“Yeah, it totally is, man. I’m glad it’s still such an insider tip. Like, most people don’t even know about this and I get to have the place nearly to myself,” Stiles nods solemnly when, the second after, a group of four people passes them by, carrying an entire assembled bookshelf, followed right after by a family with what seems like six kids who all scream for a cinnamon bun or ice cream on their way to the food area near the exit.

Derek snorts out a small laugh, amused by Stiles’ dedication to the joke and the situational humour and it sends a thrill through Stiles. Derek hasn’t really been closed off per se when he’d installed Stiles’ kitchen with the others but he hadn’t been this relaxed either. “Right. What an insider you have here. Treat it with care before someone finds out.”

“This place would be crowded as hell in mere days, I’m telling you. You can be glad that you’re usually working in the back of the store.”

“What makes you think I work only in the back of the store?” Derek asks in return with a neutral expression.

“I don’t actually know it, just assumed you’d be,” Stiles shrugs. “Wait, is this the moment you’re telling me you’re actually the one who gives out the food samples in the Swedish Food Market? Like, are you wearing one of those blue-yellow dresses? Please tell me you are.”

Derek tries to level him with an unimpressed glare but Stiles sees the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“Oh man, and I missed it,” Stiles groans. “Quick, tell me when you’re doing that again. I’ll put it in my calendar,” he says, fishing out his phone from his back pocket.

“Check off the box that says ‘never’ and you’re good to go,” Derek answers, the amused grin flowing through his voice as he speaks.

“Aww too bad, my calendar doesn’t have that option.” Stiles winks at Derek who, strange enough, looks positively surprised by Stiles doing that for a moment before he breaks out into a wide smile.

“So, jokes aside,” Derek says. “What are you doing here on a Saturday? It’s slow suicide.”

“I needed a new couch, like I mentioned last time, and you can only do so much research on the internet. At one point, you’ve got to check it out in the flesh, or in the fabric to be exact, to see if it’s comfortable for you so I came here. I didn’t want to take a day off at work when the store’s open on Saturdays too, so…,” Stiles shrugs.

“And? Found what you were looking for?”

“Yeah,” Stiles murmurs, half to himself as well. He did find a couch but he also ran into Derek so he most certainly found what he was looking for. Even if only subconsciously so. “Yeah, I did. I’m on my way to get the delivery sorted out.” He nodded his head towards the service desks behind Derek, lifting the piece of paper with the number.

Derek looked at Stiles’ hand that was holding the paper, a flash of something crossing over his face for a second, as if a thought passed through his mind.

“What?” It was a mostly nonchalant question on Stiles part but he also, ever the curious one, wanted to genuinely know what him saying he’d be sorting out the delivery could’ve prompted in Derek’s mind.

“Nothing,” Derek replies, shaking his head slightly even though Stiles has the sneaking feeling that ‘nothing’ is not an entirely honest answer.

“If you say so,” he therefore, not shy of a slightly teasing tone, Stiles smirks before his attention is caught by yet another ding coming out of the digital display along with his number popping up on the screen. “That’s me, I guess,” Stiles says, checking his number again to make sure it indeed was him. “It was great running into you, though.”

“Yeah, it was,” Derek smiles. “Take care.”

“You too,” Stiles returns the smile, lifts his hand in a goodbye gesture and heads over to his assigned desk. The organisation of the delivery goes down smoothly and Stiles manages to keep his question of whether they’d know who’d be delivering his couch casual in inconspicuous. But his mind was still occupied with the encounter, a shadow of the fluttery feeling in his stomach.

 

---

 

A week later to the day, Stiles sits on a chair in his kitchen, waiting for his couch to be delivered. He’s lucky enough that furniture is also being delivered on Saturdays or else he would’ve had to take yet another day off of work. Not that taking off a day is problematic, seeing as his bosses are pretty chilled, but Stiles is new at his place of work and it’s not something he wants to be doing every other week. And if his plans go off smoothly and Derek had gotten the hint, it would be worth every minute of getting up early even though it was something Stiles was quite weary of on weekends.

His couch was scheduled to be delivered at around ten o’clock and Stiles was just about to pour himself a second cup of coffee when his doorbell rings. With a quick look at the clock that says seven minutes after ten, he heads over to the intercom, chest tightening in anticipation.

He runs his hand over his face to rub off the last remainders of sleep as he pushes the intercom button. “Hello?”

“Good morning,” a voice floats through the speaker and Stiles’ stomach does a somersault. “Delivery for Stilinski.”

It’s Derek.

Stiles chirps out “come on up”, pushes the buzzer and opens the door widely before he runs over to the mirror in his bathroom to check how devastated he looks. He knew staying up late and getting up last minute could be a stupid idea but he did it anyway and now he has to count the cost of it.

Thankfully enough, he looks not all that awful. Pretty decent even, only his hair sticking up in various places but that wasn’t unusual, given the love-hate relationship he had with it. Deciding that his eyes were more important than a fixed bed-head situation, he hastily splashes some cold water onto his face. He would’ve gotten his hairbrush too after he quickly dries off his face but at the noises outside quickly abandons that idea, making his way back to the door.

Only mere moments later, Derek’s back came into sight, followed by a humongous package and Isaac’s head.

“Good morning,” Stiles beams, stepping aside so the two of them can enter the apartment without trouble.

Isaac huffs and rearranges his grip on the package. “I’ve still got to decide if it’s good but it’s a morning.”

“Morning,” Derek grunts out right after and boy that is a sound to marvel at. Even though he was not 100% awake yet, a sexy, sweaty and out-of-breath Derek definitely still sends a jolt through Stiles’ body. Stiles pleads to high heavens that the control he’d had over his physical reactions of various body parts, out of all times he needed it and made use of it, will not fail him now.

“The living room’s down there,” Stiles motions towards the end of the hallway and proceeds to lead the way.

A minute and one put down sofa later, Isaac lets out a groan, stretching his arms over his head. “Too early for this.”

“You tell me,” Stiles hums. “Saturdays are not starting before eleven at the earliest. It should be put down in law.”

Isaac agrees with a low “definitely” and runs his hand through his stupidly gorgeous curls. Seriously, did they only employ above-average looking people?

“It’s way past ten,” Derek tunes in, wiping his hands on his jeans after taking off of the gloves he was wearing.

“You shut up,” Isaac levels Derek with a look, “you don’t get to have an opinion. You volunteered to work on your day off.”

“You did?” Stiles raises his eyebrows high, turning towards Derek who just shrugs.

“Don’t pretend you did it for selfless reasons,” Isaac says with a smug grin. “I know exactly that you requested this tour bec….”

“I just like working on Saturday mornings best, okay?” Derek’s interruption is nothing but fierce and decisive. If Stiles didn’t know Isaac and Derek are, what he’d assume, friends, he’d wonder if some kind of bad blood was going on.

He also can’t help but to not drop the topic. It’s too thrilling, having Isaac poke Derek verbally over something that clearly hints at Stiles and Derek going out of his way for him. “You do?”

“No, he doesn’t. It’s just that he…”

“Your phone’s ringing.” Derek interrupts Isaac again who had been reaching into his pocket already anyway but for some reason, Derek is very eager to keep him from talking.

“Don’t worry, I won’t break your cool façade,” Isaac grins widely. “Sorry,” he says, holding up his phone but Stiles just waves it off so a second later, Isaac accepts the call, leaving the room.

“That’s his fiancé,” Derek nods his chin towards the hallway. “She’s living two hours down from Seattle, working on a project there at the moment and they’re constantly talking. I’m surprised he hasn’t run into a wall yet, given the amount of attention he sometimes pays to his phone compared to whatever’s around him.”

Stiles snorts out a laugh, running his hand through his hair casually. It’s a habit he has been cultivating since his early teenage years already and he sometimes doesn’t even consciously register himself doing it anymore. Derek follows his movements with his eyes intently so he thinks screw it and stretches his arms up just like Isaac did a few minutes earlier but compared to Isaac, who’s wearing his work attire overall, Stiles lets his shirt ride up just the faintest of bits. And given the look on Derek’s face, it was worth the gamble. “Sorry,” Stiles grins after he tugged down his shirt again, letting his arms fall back to his sides. “I’m not entirely on working level yet.”

“No, s’fine,” Derek shakes his head, mumbling.

“Want a coffee while Isaac’s on the phone? I mean, if your schedule allows it?”

“Yeah, I’d like one. It’s our breakfast break anyway. Otherwise, Isaac wouldn’t just wander off like that,” Derek says, following Stiles into the kitchen.

Stiles switches on the coffee machine when he passes it and gets a second mug out of the cupboard and places it next to his own that he’d abandoned upon the doorbell ringing.

“It looks nice. The kitchen, I mean. Lived in already.” Derek nods towards the general direction of the cupboard, his eyes taking in various details and what Stiles did to the kitchen.

“Thanks.” It prompts a genuine smile out of Stiles as he puts the cup down beside Derek who’s standing next to the kitchen isle. He also is motioning for him to sit down on one of the chairs while he himself hops up onto the cabinet next to the coffee machine. “I love it. It’s kind of an ideal kitchen and I may or may not have cried a bit when I’ve cooked the first meal in here.”

Derek chuckles. “What did you cook?”

“It was a tough choice but I ended up making oven vegetables with bacon-wrapped salmon and chocolate tarte as a desert.”

For a moment, Derek closes his eyes and hums quietly, clearly picturing said meal right that moment. “Sounds delicious. My mom makes a mean salmon too, if I may say.”

“Yeah? What kind?” Stiles had to ask because if he’s anything, he’s genuinely interested in cooking and people’s different approaches to it. And if it also means Derek chooses to share something from his life and about himself, he’s more than eager to ask for more.

“No clue. It’s her secret recipe but there’s limes involved and couscous and I don’t even know what kind of spices but it’s amazing. It’s one of my favourite dishes.” It was easy to tell how genuine Derek was reminiscing his mother’s food while he lifts his cup to take a sip of his coffee.

“You have no idea how much I want to get my hands on that recipe,” Stiles laughs into his own cup of coffee, welcoming the caffeine with open arms. “I tell you one thing and that’s to write down and save your mom’s recipes somewhere, man. I wish I’d have all my mom’s recipes somewhere. I do know the dishes because I’ve been eating them plenty back then but with most of them, I have no idea how to actually make them and that sucks and I wish I…. didn’t dive into this topic head-first. Sorry, this escalated quickly,” Stiles chuckles a little awkwardly and rubs the back of his neck with his free hand.

His push into this direction does surprise him though. He hardly ever talks about his mom this freely with strangers. He’s comfortable talking about her and loves doing it but he’s hesitant about it when it comes to people he doesn’t know because even after all these years, many people still get that look when they realise his mom is dead. The look that is a mixture of pity, being uncomfortable with talking about deceased people and as if they’re trying to find a way to exit the conversation as soon as possible.

Derek, on the other hand, still looks very relaxed and there’s no sign of him being uneasy. In fact, when he speaks up next, there’s not even a hint of him swerving away from the topic as soon as possible like so many others. “What’s your favourite dish from her?”

“Oh man, all of them to be honest. But if I had to choose, it’d probably be… her honey chicken. Yeah, that’d definitely be it. That was amazing. And she had that one super-secret ingredient like your mom with the salmon that I don’t have a single clue about but it gave the chicken that special Pow. It was amazing.”

“I bet.” Derek nods and sends a small but incredibly private smile towards Stiles.

Up until now, Stiles has felt a huge physical attraction to Derek, still does. But this talk changes things for him. It’s different. It’s not banter or flirting. It’s an intimate conversation about people close to them, memories they hold dear and letting the other one in. Call Stiles a dreamer but even though this is only the third time they’ve met, there’s this very real idea of something for Stiles. A something that could possibly be a future for the two of them, together. And yes, he may be getting way ahead of himself, may be thinking of something that will most likely never become a reality and Derek may not even be looking for a relationship or not a relationship with Stiles specifically. But if there’s the slightest chance he, in fact, is interested, Stiles won’t let that chance slip away. To see whether there could be a them. And this is a huge realisation. Going from ‘oh wow yeah, I totally have the hots for you’ to ‘I just had a mental image of us on the couch I just bought, on a lazy Sunday morning with bowls of cereal after a lie in because our date the night before took longer than expected’.

On the other hand, Stiles is also very hesitant about putting himself out there because he’s had a few quite embarrassing moments when he did just that in the past and those don’t belong to the ‘good memories’ box. He doesn’t regret them because they made him learn and it had always been worth a shot. He simply doesn’t want to ruin things with Derek by rushing into this. So he’ll have to plan this carefully. He doesn’t know how yet but he will figure it out. If he gets the chance to, that is.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice edges itself into his consciousness.

“Huh?” Stiles’ head snaps up. He must’ve zoned out over his mind venturing off into future-dream-land. Great. “Sorry. I do that sometimes. Zoning out, I mean.”

“No problem. I should get going, though. Our break’s not that long and I promised Isaac to drop by that one bakery four streets over before our next delivery.”

“No problem,” Stiles says when actually, his stomach falls the faintest bit over Derek having to leave. “Does he like coffee? I have paper mugs for my friends who, on a regular basis, think I’m a coffee shop and want to take their drinks with them when they leave. I could make him one for the way.” Stiles nods his head towards the coffee maker and jumps down from the cabinet.

“He’d love that, thank you.”

Stiles nods and shuffles over to the storage room where he keeps said paper cups, fetches one and prepares Isaac’s coffee, a comfortable silence hanging between them for as long as it takes for the coffee to be poured. “There you go,” Stiles eventually speaks up, handing Derek the cup after the lid locked itself onto the cup with a quiet plop.

“Thanks. Do you need any more help with the couch?” Derek has gotten off the chair by now, one hand easily slipping into the pocket of his working gear. He sounds genuine and Stiles has to actively remind himself that this, once more, is a service he’s paying for and not a friend from work coming over to help him.

Stiles waves off, tells him “nah, I’m good” and holds the door open for Derek. “Thanks. You go and get that boy a bagel.”

“I will.” Derek steps out of the apartment but turns back around instead of immediately heading for the stairs. “It was great talking to you.”

“Yeah, it definitely was. Thanks for the company, man.”

“You’re welcome,” Derek shakes his head slightly as if he’s chasing a silly thought off, smiling a small smile to himself and it’s a sight to behold. Just like moments before, silence falls over them and they’re looking at each other for a few seconds. It’s this special kind of tension you can almost grasp with your bare hands and Stiles, just like the first time Derek delivered something and they’d been parting, Stiles feels the question of ‘do you want to swap numbers?’ on the tip of his tongue when…

“Derek, break’s almost over and I still need my bagel.” Isaac’s voice floats up through the hallway way as he calls out, charging up the stairs two at a time. So much for having a moment.

“Calm down. You’ll get your bagel. You even got a coffee to go with it.” Derek holds out the cup in his hand towards Isaac who’s swiftly approaching them. It may only be Stiles but there’s a slight hint of disappointment in Derek’s voice but it could also be Stiles wishing things up. It’s usually a 50/50 chance for him with this guessing game.

Isaac blinks once, twice, his brain visibly catching up and processing this new piece of information but when it does, he beams. “Really? Oh my god, favourite customer of the month. You are the best.” The expression doesn’t last long, however. It makes way for another blink, this time confused however.

“What?” Stiles asks, a bit lost as to what’s happening inside Isaac’s mind.

“I don’t even know your name,” Isaac says raising his eyebrows upon his sudden realisation.

“Then I guess it was Derek who found my name on the doorbell earlier,” Stiles chuckles.

“No, I do know your last name. But I don’t know your first name. This is incredibly unprofessional but you made me coffee to go and I don’t know but it feels weird to thank you and then say goodbye, using your last name, you know,” Isaac shrugs.

“It’s Stiles.”

“Pardon?” Isaac blurts out.

“My name is Stiles. Well, my nickname but everybody calls me that. So, it’s Stiles.”

Isaac just nods, murmuring out something that sounds a lot like ‘the more you know’.

“Bagel. Now,” Derek interjects after a few beats of silence.

“Yeah, good idea. Bye, Stiles,” Isaac lifts his hand in a parting gesture before heading for the stairs.

“Bye,” Stiles waves back at him shortly.

“Have fun with your couch,” Derek says, already following Isaac towards the stairs and if Stiles didn’t know better, he’d say Derek’s expression is glum in some way. Ashamed.

It’s not like he’s got a chance to address it anymore, though, so he chooses to slip on an easy smirk and answer “oh, I will,” instantly giving himself a mental head slap for sounding like a walking innuendo. “It seemed to be an awesome couch for long movie nights and don’t even get me started on how I will destroy Scott in our gaming nights thanks to my new furniture asset.” Okay, at least he tried to save it.

“See you around, Stiles.”

“Yeah. See you,” he offers weakly because whoa, he could get used to Derek saying his name so casually. Reluctant to let go of the moment just yet, it takes him a bit to close the door. It’s only then, when he leans against it for a second, closing his eyes, drawing in a deep breath to regain his composure, that he realises… he never told Derek his name either. And Derek hadn’t asked. It’s a bit ridiculous how it only fully hits him now. Especially because he’d been referring to Derek as Derek for most of the time they’ve known each other, albeit mostly mentally.

It’s like puzzling together all the small moments and situations they’ve had, like a detective in his own past, whether he’d just forgotten Derek calling him by his name. But the longer he explores, the more it becomes apparent that, no, he didn’t. When they’d bumped into each other in the store, Derek had called out with ‘hey’. Before, they never addressed each other by name and simply talked to each other directly because, most of the time, they were facing each other already anyway.

Maybe that’s where the expression on Derek’s face derived from. The look of subtle shame, despite shame being a strong word. A realisation crawling up on you so quietly that it hits you when it’s there. Not with enough force to take the wind out of you. But enough to give you the haunting feeling of ‘….oh’.

Maybe Derek’s had his ‘….oh’ earlier on. Seeing how they’ve shared these quiet moments with each other shortly before only to then notice that he never knew his name. Okay, technically, Derek knew Stiles’ name. It’s on all deliveries. He simply didn’t know it through introduction by Stiles himself and how did they jump to first name basis anyway? When did that happen? Or did they? Was it maybe just Stiles that, subconsciously so, decided that he’s totally gonna refer to this one with his first name because it sounds much nicer and never looked back after?

Heading back into the living room, he makes his way to the window to let some fresh air in because the thing about new, store-bought furniture is that it’s truly magnificent and gives you a high. It however, also smells awful for at least a day most of the time.

Stiles is about to turn around and go back into the kitchen to get another coffee when he hears familiar voices travel up from the sidewalk.

“Was that really necessary?” That’s unmistakably Derek.

“What? I’m positive you would’ve found a way to chicken out of it without my help perfectly well, too. It was nothing but a friend helping out a friend,” Isaac says, sounding incredulous. The sound of car doors being opened float to Stiles ears and if he thinks about it now, Isaac’s voice did sound a bit like it was vanishing behind some large object, getting hard to depict over the noise from the street.

“A friend that didn’t ask for help, mind you,” Derek retorts.

“Oh shut up, you took the extra shift for him. It’s your day off, Derek. Don’t even try to tell me you’re…” And that’s the last thing Stiles is able to hear before both car doors fly shut with a bang. He could bite his foot about the timing. The talk has been reaching an absolute crucial point and now Stiles had no way of finding out how it was going to proceed.

After practically running into the bedroom, Stiles types away a message to Scott at lightning speed because what he’s in serious and urgent need of right now is his best friend.

 

To: Scott [10:59]

Help I think Derek may be into me

 

And because Scott is an awesome and highly reliable friend, he replies not two minutes after Stiles texted him.

 

From: Scott [11:01]

U alrdy knew that dude

 

To: Scott [11:01]

that was an assumption but there r srs hints now but I dont know how to get back to him bc I dont have his number

 

From: Scott [11:03]

calm down, if hes rly into u, things will fall into place

 

Stiles groans into his pillow, having thrown himself back onto his bed when he started texting with Scott. The thing about Scott is that, unlike what people think, he does have a realistic view on the world but he simply chooses to put his positivity goggles on (a term he made up in seventh grade and used ever since. Stiles may have mocked him a bit for it, but never too seriously. He himself thought it was rather fitting).

But right now, he needs a bit more than ‘the universe will take care of things don’t worry and get your bucket of ice cream’.

 

To: Scott [11:05]

Ur not being helpful rn. Ever considered applying to astro tv? Maybe they could make use of ur seemingly endless positivity

 

From: Scott [11:09]

Allison told me the same once but I’m good being a vet :))) gotta run now. skype tonight?

 

To: Stiles [11:10]

I’ll call u at nine. Say hi to Allison

 

From: Scott [11:13]

Sounds good. Will do. Love you buddy

 

To: Scott [11:14]

love u 2 bro

 

Smiling to himself, Stiles tossed his phone aside. He is glad he texted Scott because, in the end, Scott did manage to make him feel better. And it’s not like Stiles didn’t already have a plan in mind to see Derek again. He’s his father’s son, for crying out loud.

Peeking over into the living room to appreciate his new couch a bit more, Stiles groans. He was so busy with ogling at Derek earlier on that he forgot to ask them to take of the celluloid wrapping and now he had no clue whatsoever how he was supposed to lift that damn couch on his own to get the thing unwrapped completely. Well, fuck.

Letting his head fall back into the pillow, Stiles decides that it’d be absolutely okay to go back to sleep for a little while, putting the couch unwrapping issue off for a little while longer. He had better things to do right now anyway. Remembering Derek smile, for instance. Or how he laughed at Stiles’ jokes. Or how he looked at him in that serious yet fond way when Stiles told him about his family. Or how he, without fault, had been looking at Stiles too whenever Stiles snuck a glance at him. Definitely all of these things needed to be thought about again. And again.

“I’m so screwed,” Stiles murmurs to himself and he’s positive that that didn’t even begin to do his situation justice. Attraction was maybe not entirely convenient at times but manageable. But a crush… a crush was an entirely different debacle.

 

---

 

“Stiles, don’t be ridiculous. You don’t need any more furniture. Your flat is full.” It’s one week later and Stiles is on a Skype call with Lydia whose unimpressed reflection is hitting him from his computer screen.

“How do you even know? You’re on the other side of the country,” Stiles huffs, behaving a bit like a grumpy child.

“I was in your apartment less than a month ago. It doesn’t need any more furniture. You have everything you need,” she says. “And not to mention that your plan has so many holes and possible dead ends, I’m actually starting to doubt your smarts.”

“Sometimes, your foundation is not as solid as you’d like and this may be one of those times,” Stiles admits. “But I only have to find something this apartment needs that I can’t stuff into my own car and h….”

“You can do better, Stiles.” She cuts in, looking highly disappointed as if she, indeed, is a bit offended by Stiles coming up with this particular, admittedly, not so foolproof attempt to see Derek again.

“Yeah? Then tell me how to see him again. And no, I’m not doing something illegal,” he blurts out and that Lydia actually shuts her mouth again is a testimony to how badly he needs to find new friends as soon as possible.

“I still don’t understand how you didn’t ask him for his number when you had the chance,” she sighs deeply, pinching the bridge of her nose. “What would you even get? You can hardly order another couch. Or a kitchen, while we’re at it.”

“A) one can never have too much kitchen in their house.” When Lydia’s about to protest, he raises his hand, stopping her from doing so. “And b) probably something like a large bookshelf. Or so. I don’t know yet. Maybe I should order an interior design magazine to look for inspiration.”

“Only you would order an overpriced magazine to look at pictures of pretentious rich people’s houses to get into someone’s pants.” She sounds oddly unsurprised. “Ever heard of the internet? Use Google or Instagram or even Pinterest.”

“You’re so smart. What would I be doing without you? Besides, don’t even try to deny you’d accept the offer of being featured in one of those magazines,” he remarks.

“Of course I wouldn’t. But unlike the rest of them, my home will be classy.”

“Okay,” Stiles huffs out a laugh. An entirely good-hearted one though because there’s a reason Lydia and him are as close as they are now. A substantial chunk of that reason is him loving her sassy and confident ways because she’s not, as many people say, ignorant, arrogant or narcissistic. She’s just self-confident. That self-confidence, Stiles knows, grew every time someone commented on how cute she looked or commented on nothing but her looks or how proud her boyfriend must be to have such a beautiful girlfriend, limiting her to her exterior and to being someone else’s partner instead of her brilliant mind. That’s when Lydia’s determination had sparked up und she showed them what she was capable of until no one limited her to what she looked like and to when people stopped seeing her as merely someone else’s only.

Lydia smirks, too and for a moment, they’re silent. She’s the one to speak up first, asking Stiles about his current project at work which leads them to fall into an easy conversation for another thirty minutes until it’s getting too late for Lydia to stay up because time zones suck.

Closing Skype, Stiles looks at his screen, lost in thought. It would be very easy to just go with the ‘order furniture and hope for the best’ option but there’s still the chance of Derek not even turning out to be the one that delivers it. Like his dad always says. ‘One’s an incident, two’s a coincidence and three’s a pattern.’

Derek has been the one to bring his furniture twice which means Stiles is at a crucial point right now. He could stake everything on one card or he could find a different way to get back to Derek. A small voice nags at the back of his mind, saying Lydia’s been right. Why didn’t he ask for Derek’s number when he had the chance to? But there’s another voice, much louder than the other one, saying that he did the right thing. That asking for his number would not have been the right way to go about this.

And Stiles may be insecure sometimes but he does believe in things eventually falling into place. So far, the important ones had, even if not in the way he had anticipated them to. Most of the time, at least.

Stiles frowns, staring over at a framed picture of him and all his high school friends smiling brightly into the camera. “See? Your positive thinking has lurked its way into my mind, Scotty,” he tells the much younger looking version of his best friend and he can practically see Scott giving him his goofiest and happiest smile upon Stiles admitting to this. It makes Stiles smile in turn.

 

---

 

Sometimes, life’s a b…it more complicated than Stiles would like for it to be. His new stove broke. He had it less than two months and it broke.

Yes, he did cook on that thing every day but he wasn’t one of those violent cookers that endangered at least five people’s lives when they got too close to electric cooking devices. Scott used to be one of those people way back when he didn’t have a patient Allison who had taught him how to not accidentally kill something or someone when preparing food. Stiles, and probably everybody else, were infinitely indebted to her.

But Stiles, by all means, didn’t strain the thing and yet, it doesn’t work anymore and the half a century he’d spent on the customer support hotline didn’t solve anything either which meant he had to get a new one. It isn’t the money he is worried about since the warranty is still intact. It’s the time he would have to invest in getting a new stove. Time he doesn’t have at the moment because he’s covered neck deep with work and all he wants to do when he comes home is cook a nice dinner and slump down onto his couch (he came to love it deeply by now) to binge-watch whatever show or movie he obsesses over at that point of time.

Apparently, though, Karma denied him that simple pleasure for extended amounts of time so here he is, sitting on said beloved couch, waiting for an employee to hopefully answer his call on a Thursday evening.

“Hello, customer support service, you’re talking to Caitlin. How can I help you?”

“Hey. My name is Stilinski and the stove I got from you for my new kitchen less than two months ago broke and I need to get a new one. I’m calling to find out how we’ll go about this circumstance,” Stiles explains, hoping Caitlin’s someone who’s got these kinds of situations covered so the both of them will be out of this as soon and as efficiently as possible.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr Stilinski.” Huh. She actually did sound genuinely sorry. Definitely a good start. This may, after all, be over and done with sooner than he feared. “Do you still have the receipt for the stove you purchased?”

“Yeah, I do. Well, it’s the receipt for the kitchen as a whole if that’s okay.”

“Yes, that will work just fine,” she replies before running Stiles through the procedure. Less than fifteen minutes later, they’re done, with only the date of delivery up for discussion.

“Thank you, this was not half as horrible as I anticipated,” Stiles is sure to let her know, letting out a relieved sigh.

Caitlin, in return, laughs. “I’m glad I could help. I just checked and the stove you picked out is actually still in stock so all we need to fix is an available date of delivery. The calendar tells me that there’s a tour of deliveries in your area tomorrow, late afternoon. I could schedule you in as the last delivery so there’s time for the assembly. That usually doesn’t take more than twenty minutes. Will that be okay for you?”

“I’ll be back from work at half past five. I don’t know if that’s too late,” Stiles says, worrying his bottom lip, hoping that it won’t be too late. Having his new stove tomorrow already would be great.

Luckily, Caitlin confirms that “it would still fit the schedule, Mr Stilinski but I’ll make an additional remark as well”.

Stiles lets out a deep sigh of relief. “Awesome. That’s great. Thank you.”

“I’ll schedule the delivery to be at your place at a quarter to six, then.”

He exhales deeply, eyes closed as his head falls back against the back of the couch. “Yes, thank you. Thank you for all your help.”

“You’re very welcome. Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr Stilinski?” Caitlin asks dutifully.

“No, there isn’t. Thank you. Have a good night.”

“Thank you, you too, Mr Stilinski,” she says before a quiet click resounds through the earpiece.

 

---

 

A quarter to six sharp the next day, the bell rings, making Stiles groan in something that’s about fifty percent relief and fifty percent frustration. Relief because new stove and frustration because he came home less than five minutes earlier and is in urgent need of a shower. Out of all the days it could’ve happened, the management department had decided this Friday would be ideal for them to be moving around their office supplies because Feng Shui or whatever it was that made them think unplanned exercise should be a thing. For once, Stiles didn’t really care about the reasons, to be honest.

Of course he likes a good atmosphere in his office and he genuinely likes his new bosses, but he is sweaty as hell and probably still flustered, as he just ran a half-marathon, sprinting down to the street to get home in time for the delivery.

That’s also why the voice on the other end of the intercom takes him by total surprise after he pants a breathless ‘lo?’ into the speaker.

“Delivery for Stilinski,” Derek’s smooth voice speaks up and Stiles’ breathing stops altogether for a second.

“Uh… yeah, sorry. Of course. Come up,” Stiles blurts out and hits the buzzer, knocking his head against the door, cursing silently over his smooth ways.

A curt knock shakes him out of his daze after what feels like only seconds. Stiles hurries to open the door, not caring about how he looks anymore because there’s not really anything he can do anyway so he might as well stop thinking about it. “Hey,” he says, the familiar buzzing excitement returning the second he lays his eyes on Derek.

Derek, on the other hand, doesn’t say anything. He just stands there, looking a bit flustered and a lot dumbstruck. His eyes travel down and back up Stiles’ body until he stops, his gaze fixed on Stiles’ chest where his undone tie is loosely hanging around his neck, two or three buttons undone. The air is getting thinner and Stiles has a hard time breathing correctly because this is easily the sexiest thing that happened to him in months and he’s been to a Chippendales show (Lydia forced him, he will swear an oath on this if needed).

So sorry to interrupt but could we maybe move?” Isaac groans out. “This thing is not the lightest and we’ve had a long day.”

Only then, Stiles sees the shoulder straps Derek’s wearing and the huge package attached to it. “Sorry,” he steps aside quickly to make way for the two men to step into his apartment. “I guess you know the way to the kitchen by now.”

They do, indeed, so Stiles simply follows them, heading straight for the fridge. “Do you want anything? Coffee? Water?”

“Glass of water would be great,” Isaac pants, wiping off sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.

“Sure.” Stiles nods and turns to Derek, thinking how similar this is to the first time they’d been here to install his now broken stove.

“Water too, please,” Derek says, taking off his gloves. He looks so ridiculously like every wet dream Stiles has ever had, he actually has to turn around to make sure he won’t tent his already too tight office pants. All that sweat makes them stick everywhere and a boner would be so painfully obvious, he wouldn’t get out alive.

The three glasses are fetched from the shelf easily as is the bottle of water he stored in the fridge. He pours them all a refreshing cold drink and adds a bit of chic with ice cubes and leaves of mint that he snatched from the small plant standing on his kitchen isle. Abandoning his own glass, he takes the other two and walks over to where Isaac and Derek are disassembling his old stove from the worktop. “There you go,” he says, handing each of them their glass.

“Thanks.” Isaac grins upon seeing this admittedly fancy make up of a water glass and starts to drink right away, not minding his work for now.

“Thank you.” Derek sounds more solemn, looking Stiles right in the eye and Stiles’ heart jumps. He loves having these moments with Derek where they’re looking at each other like this, like the air is buzzing around them, both refusing to look away first. But it also makes him so nervous he feels like his skin is crawling. It’s like being 16 again, talking to Lydia when they were paired up for a chemistry project for the first time. But this is different and probably a lot better than back then because this is real and the chance of it becoming something is palpable, even though Stiles, or Derek for that matter, have yet to make a move.

“You’re welcome,” Stiles answers, smiling and is about to say something when he spots Isaac out of the corner of his eye. The other man is just standing there, the glass and the hand that’s holding it hanging in mid-air, his right eyebrow raised significantly. And, more important, there’s this knowing smirk on his lips as he alternates between looking at Stiles and at Derek.

“Sooo…,” Isaac starts out but Stiles doesn’t give him a chance to continue because he fears disaster is about to unfold.

“I- uh. Shower. I need to take a shower. Is that okay with you? It probably is, right? Great. I’ll—bathroom.” He’s out of the kitchen in record time, heading down the hall, without looking at them twice and his own glass of water abandoned on the counter of the kitchen isle. It is somewhat embarrassing but what could’ve happened if he would’ve let Isaac talk could’ve been worse. By far.

 

---

 

He showers for a good ten minutes, clearing his head as best as he can. Showers usually manage to do just that, so by the time he reaches for the towel, he cooled down his erratic thinking to a point he can function well enough to not make a complete fool of himself.

He dries himself off, gives his hair a half-assed run-through and brushes his teeth because the taste of that sandwich he had for a snack today still lingers in his mouth. Yay for pickles but not when the taste sticks for too long. It’s only when he’s about to head to his bedroom to throw on some track pants and a random shirt that he realises he’s got nothing but a towel for him to wear in here. Nothing, unless he wants to put the sweaty work clothes back on but that isn’t really an option because all the showering would’ve been absolutely pointless if he does.

Stiles doesn’t particularly mind wearing a towel in front of other people. But it’s not just any other people. It’s Derek. And they’ve seen each other less than a handful of times and Stiles is proud of his body but that doesn’t mean he’s not a tiny bit self-conscious about it either when confronted with the person he’s massively crushing on. Healthy and reasonable reaction, if anyone asks him. But it’s not like he’s having that much of a way out of his little misery so he might as well get over with it now.

He checks the towel twice before he unlocks the door. The last thing he wants is to have it drop when he hurries through the living room and have him exposed completely. Because that’s a thing he has to do. The bedroom is enclosed to the living room which is hardly if at all shielded off from the kitchen. There’s no way Derek won’t see unless he’s got his head stuck in one of Stiles’ cupboards again. God, Stiles truly hopes he does and hushes the small voice at the back of his head that tells him this could very well serve as a jump start for Derek and him. Stiles wouldn’t want Derek to think he’s this desperate.

Stepping into the hallway, Stiles makes his way into the living room and is already halfway over to the bedroom when Isaac howls out a loud “Derek what the hell”.

Another curse, this time certainly from Derek, follows suit and just as Stiles steps into the kitchen, he hears Derek apologise vigorously to Isaac who’s rubbing his foot, his face scrunched up in pain.

“Are you okay? What happened?” Stiles isn’t sure what exactly happened but mentally scrambles to remember if his first aid kit is as up-to-date as it should be.

“Derek dropped the edge of the stove onto my foot because he saw y…”

“My hand slipped,” Derek blurts out, cutting off Isaac not for the first time since Stiles first met them. “Happens.”

“Never to you,” Isaac moans as if he knows something’s off. “You’re like the sturdiest of all of us, man. It’s only because you’ve just seen one of your wet d….”

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, Stiles,” Derek interrupts his colleague yet again, his voice a pitch away from lowkey frantic, and Isaac looks as if he’s about to strangle Derek who, on the other hand, pointedly keeps his eyes locked to the floor. Stiles doesn’t miss the red flush spreading across Derek’s cheek though and it sends a thrill of epic proportions through him.

“Nah, it’s okay. Just wanted to check if you’re fine. Do you need some ice or anything for your foot, dude?” Stiles nods his chin in the general direction of Isaac’s foot, one of his hands holding onto the towel like a lifeline to assure that there’s no kind of accident happening whatsoever.

“No. I’m indestructible. And it actually didn’t hurt all that much,” Isaac waves it off but Stiles does see the look he throws Derek. As if there’s something going on Stiles has no clue about yet and that bugs him to no end.

“Okay, I’m going to put some clothes on,” Stiles nudges his thumb towards his bedroom door.

“Do you need help? I’m sure Derek wou…,” Isaac starts out but Derek, literally, shoves him into the big pile of packaging next to them before he can finish his sentence. Stiles, in return, just stands there, looking at Derek with a sort of bewildered amusement.

“That uh,” Derek starts out, his finger pointing at nothing in particular, but closes his mouth after a few seconds when nothing comes out, like he himself didn’t understand completely what just happened. However, the blush on his ears is turning into darker shades of red by the second.

It’s enough for Stiles, however. It sealed the deal for him, proved to him, once and for all, that Derek is as attracted to Stiles as Stiles is to him. All he has to do now was find a way to take the next step. It would sure as hell won’t be easy but when’s anything ever easy when it’s worth the effort?

Stiles shoots Derek a bright smile, looking at him even though Derek’s still looking at everything but him. Stiles knows he can see it nevertheless.

“I give up,” Isaac’s resigned voice resonates from somewhere under three layers of bubble wrap.

 

---

 

It’s about ten minutes later that Stiles steps out of the bedroom again, now dressed in sweats and a random superhero print shirt, rubbing the towel through his hair to dry it some more.

He steps back into the kitchen, glancing towards his new stove before looking at Derek and Isaac. “Hey, how’s it looking?”

“Good. We’re about done,” Isaac says, putting away some tools into the box on his right.

“Awesome!” In his excitement, he skips towards them a bit to look at their work and the way the new kitchen device matches the look of the rest of the kitchen. Yeah, he really likes this already.

“What did you do to the old one, anyway?” Derek asks while he leans over to the wall to install one of the last wires.

Stiles huffs and crosses his arms in front of his chest. “Just to get this straight, I didn’t do anything to it. It broke on its own.”

“You had it less than three months. Must’ve been trying to find a way to get out of here.” Derek throws him a smirk over his shoulder. Cheeky bastard, that’s what he is. Not that Stiles could deny that he likes that about him. How he’s bounced back into his humorous side when less than fifteen minutes ago, the air between them had been so filled with sexual tension, you could’ve almost sliced through it with a knife.

“I happen to be great company and if my stove thought so otherwise, then it’s best we parted ways. I showed him nothing but love and affection. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll redirect you to my best friend Scott who’ll assure you what a good person I am to be around,” Stiles pushes his chest out.

“I don’t even have your number and you want me to talk to your best friend?” Derek’s tone is amused but there’s also challenge in there.

“Well, that’s not my fault, now is it?” Stiles shoots back, sounding rather level-headed. His heart, however, is beating a mile a minute because this? This clearly is Derek flirting with him on a serious level. Like, ‘I wouldn’t mind if you gave me your number’ level. This is the feared all-or-nothing situation, at last.

He waits for Derek to keep their bantering up but the other man just smiles at him mischievously which is as infuriating as it is thrilling. Stiles himself is about to say something to keep the conversation going when Isaac clears his throat.

Both Stiles and Derek turn their heads towards him, throwing him expectant looks.

“Sorry to interrupt your little ‘chat’ which is all kinds of endearing but I have a date tonight with Cora and Derek just screwed up the wiring again,” Isaac comments drily. Derek curses under his breath, indicating that he, indeed, screwed up the wiring. Isaac, on the other hand, is clearly unimpressed by all of this and adds that “if he keeps on doing that, I’ll also be late for the delivery which I’d like to avoid”.

“And I’d like to have a stove that’s not some kind of hazard to my health. Maybe I’ll just cook outside on a campfire from now on, instead,” Stiles muses.

“I won’t let this thing blow you up, Stiles. Relax,” Derek grunts as he’s still leaning over the stove to fix up the cables and contacts but relaxing is not something Stiles is doing right now because Derek’s now saying his name with such casualty it sends chills down his spine.

“Yeah you better. Otherwise, you’d have to come over every night to cook for me so I won’t be put in the line of fire,” Stiles comments. “Literally.”

“Nice to know you’re so willing to put me in danger to save yourself.” Derek mocks him, attempting to sound reproachful but failing entirely.

“Actually, I wouldn’t. You said it first.” Stiles smiles just in time as Derek straightens back up, meeting his eyes and his breath catches in his throat. Derek looks as if he’s experiencing the same feeling while being better at concealing it. Stiles himself is a bit taken aback by how honest his statement was because no, of course he wouldn’t let Derek walk into the line of any fire like that. But the one of the real questions Stiles is asking himself now is ‘when did I start to care for him more than I cared about 99.9% of all my other crushes?’.

“Oh god,” Isaac interrupts them with groan. “I think I may be sick. I’m going to bring down the packaging and some of the tools while you guys keep on… whatever it is that you’re doing,” He grabs as much as he can carry and waddles towards the kitchen door.

Derek hums indistinctly, leaning back over the stove, fumbling with two cables.

Stiles hesitates for a second before speaking up, looking for change of topic he could work out a way to subtly ask Derek for his number without looking like a tool. “Uh,” he starts out eloquently. “Delivery?”

“What?” Derek’s face is turned away and he’s talking more to the stove than to Stiles, his head still halfway buried in a mountain of cables. No ordering a high-tech stove next time, Stiles mentally notes. It makes the conversation with crush drag.

“Isaac said he didn’t want to be late to The Delivery. So I uh, wondered- what delivery?”

“Oh. That. Cora’s pregnant and her due date is in two days. Isaac is calmer than I thought he’d be by now, to be honest. I mean, I myself am pretty excited so it’s good to see he’s taking it in stride. God knows Cora wouldn’t like seeing him turn everybody around him into a ball of nerves.”

“You know Cora?” Stiles asks even though it’s pretty obvious by now that Derek does.

“Yeah, she’s my youngest sister,” Derek nods and pockets one of the screwdrivers back into his toolbelt.

“Huh.” Stiles’ eyebrows rise in surprise. This is a turn of events he didn’t see coming. “That’s news.”

“Not to me.”

Stiles clicks his tongue and rolls his eyes. “Yeah, duh.” It makes Derek chuckle as he emerges from behind the wiring and exclaims “done”, swiftly turning some of the buttons on and off to see if everything’s working fine.

Stiles loves how easy this conversation between them is. How casual. Casual enough in fact that, while they fall silent when Derek starts checking the buttons, Stiles is in the very apparent process of mustering up enough courage to ask him for his number.

It's almost comical, the way Stiles inhales, opens his mouth to finally seize the moment, a split second away from asking, when Derek's walkie-talkie crackles. Isaac’s voice filters through the speaker. “Derek!” He sounds frantic. Stiles is tempted to go to the window to check whether their transporter is still there.

Derek pushes the intercom button, still checking on all the stove’s functions working properly. “What’s up?”

“Delivery! It’s happening!”

That makes Derek halt as if shock-frozen on the spot. He looks irritated, brows furrowing so deeply Stiles wonders how exactly that’s physically possible. He can almost see the wheels in Derek’s head turning.

“What?”

“Cora’s on the way to the hospital. We gotta go!”

That spurs Derek into action. “Oh my god.” Stiles is not sure Derek realises that he’s not actually talking to Isaac, seeing as the intercom button isn’t being pushed any longer. He’s about to tell Derek when the other turns around and blinks at Stiles.

“I gotta go.”

“Clearly,” Stiles tells him and smiles encouragingly. When Derek mentioned he’s excited for the delivery and the arrival of the new family member, Stiles didn’t take him for being this kind of frazzled excited. It’s endearing in a way.

Derek’s almost out the kitchen door when he remembers. “Tools.” Watching Derek turn around and reach for the toolbox and the remaining tools is like watching Monty Python’s ministry of silly walks segment. Expressed turns and exaggerated movements to, as quickly as possible, reach for everything still missing to be out the door in the shortest amount of time.

“Derek!” Isaac’s voice exclaims another time.

Stiles doesn’t even have time to tell Derek that his “coming!” won’t reach Isaac because the intercom on his side isn’t on. Derek beats him to it and holds out the form for Stiles to sign. Stiles does and barely has handed Derek his pen back before he is out the door and in the hallway in the blink of an eye.

“Sorry, Stiles. Bye!”

And with the sound of the door closing, Derek’s gone. For a moment, Stiles just stands there and blinks, sorting through what exactly just happened. Then, he walks over to the stove and turns the oven part Derek’s left on during his impressive exit off. Stiles dearly hopes that if Derek ever receives the news of the imminent arrival of his own kids one day, he won’t be near, let alone using, any supplies that should really rather be turned off before leaving hours in a frenzy.

It’s moments after, the sound of the van purring to life and pulling away downstairs, floated up and through Stiles’ kitchen window that he remembers.

Crap. Derek’s number.

 

---

 

“You are. Pathetic.”

“Gee, thanks, Lydia.”

He doesn’t even have to see her to know she’s raising her eyebrows at him through the phone.

“It’s been two days and you’ve already considered breaking one of your cupboards so you can order a new one and have it delivered.”

“That is pretty pathetic, bro,” Scott hums but is quick to add “in a cute way.” Lydia tells him that no, it isn’t cute.

“Well... he was out the door, just like that. And I was this close to finally asking him for his number. And then his sister called and… well, okay she’s not at fault here. Their baby is.”

“Low, Stilinski. Low. Don’t blame a new born for your inability to ask your crush out.”

“I wasn’t planning to ask him out, Lydia. Pay attention.”

“You were going to ask for his number which is pretty much the same thing,” Scott throws in.

“No, it’s not. It is not. It’s much more than asking him out.”

Lydia sighs but indulges him. “Why’s that?”

“When you have each other’s numbers, you are not just going on a date and try to not embarrass yourself too much. You are in possible constant contact, agonising over the question of ‘should I text them now?’ and ‘will that annoy them?’ and ‘which emoji should I use to sound casual?’ and ‘is picture messaging a thing we do?’ and-“

“You really are in real good, aren’t you?” Lydia interrupts but chuckles fondly.

He replies with a groan, his face buried into the pillow while his phone is wedged between his shoulder and his ear. “Yeah. Yeah, I am. And I haven’t even met him that often.”

“So what?” Asking the valid questions, Scott, seeing as Scott himself had decided after one day that he would someday marry Allison. Allison hadn’t been on the same page for quite a while but that hadn’t made Scott waver. He wouldn’t have tried to persuade her or force something that wouldn’t have been natural. But… well, but.

“I’d just like to know whether we’d…. work, I guess?”

“If there’s the amount of tension you’d talked about it’d at least be a great shag,” Lydia points out and Scott snorts.

Stiles just groans and rolls his eyes for the nth time in the last couple of days. “I wouldn’t say no but it’s not what I’m aiming for.”

“What are you aiming for?” Scott, once more, with the good questions.

“I don’t know?” Stiles whines. Which… is not entirely true. “Okay maybe something more than just shagging. Domestic stuff, banter… having someone. Being an ‘us’.”

“Turning into a poet, hm?”

“Stop mocking me.” Stiles’ ego is battered enough as is.

“I’m not mocking you, bro,” Scott is quick to answer. “Just. I like how you turn all gooey and desperate.”

“Thanks,” Stiles deadpans. Lydia snorts out a laugh.

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles waves off. Not that the others could see it, the Skype connection on Scott’s end being too bad for sound and video, but they probably know either way. “I have to forge a different plan, don’t I?” He feared he had to. The hope that Derek would turn up at his apartment was shallow and faded with every passing day. That sounded rather dramatic, seeing as it’s been only two days since Derek hastily rushed out of Stiles’ kitchen because his sister had been about to give birth. Cutting the guy some slack.

“Okay.” Stiles heaves out a breath of air. “Okay, if he didn’t turn up here or left a message by Wednesday, which is in three days, I’ll uh…”

Several seconds of silence pass before Lydia clears her throat. “You do know where he works, don’t you?”

“I do… but isn’t that a bit… I don’t know.” He gestures his hand around in circles, looking for the right words. “Creepy?”

“Well, not if you’re classy about it,” Scott supplies and Stiles knows he’s right and had that epiphany at least yesterday himself but couldn’t come up with a witty plan so far.

“He did forget one of his screwdrivers.” Stiles worries his lower lip, brows furrowed in concentration, turning around thoughts like an ever-ticking clockwork.

“There you have it.” Lydia sounds exactly like she did when she solved a math equation. Maybe not an overly complicated one, but the underlying achievement is still audible. “Return it. Ask for his number.”

“And kiss him senseless,” Scott preens. “Not necessarily in the proposed order.”

“He works in storage, though. Customers don’t go there. They’re not allowed. And I don’t want to awkwardly hover around in the bistro area all day all in the vain hope he’ll pass by there.”

“You totally would, though,” Scott snorts out. Stiles tells him to shut up, hating how right he is.

“Let me sum this up for you then.” Lydia continues, in the meantime, and Stiles knows he’s in for a talking-to even before she says anything else. He’s known her long enough. “You want to meet him. You want to take things further with him. You want to date him, possibly. But once you need to sweat for it some, you bow out?”

“Nooo.” A rather small sound similar to his earlier whine escapes him and his head hits his arm with a quiet thud. “I just don’t want him to, like, think I’m a creep.”

“Why should he?” Scott sounds like he genuinely can’t think of a single possible negative reaction Derek could give Stiles. Stiles can think of a dozen, at least. Bless them.

“Dunno…”

“Stiles. It’s worth it. He’s worth it.”

“I know he is,” Stiles cuts in but doesn’t have the chance to say more as Lydia continues vigorously in the same breath

“If it fails, what are the odds of you ever having extensive contact with him again? Unless you start working at the same store. You gotta take the plunge here.”

Scott adds in a more soothing way that “if he’s been genuine in his actions so far, and I think he probably was, he’ll welcome you with open arms.”

Stiles ponders over his friends’ comments, already knowing full well they are right. He’s about to answer when his phone vibrates, screen lighting up with a message from… his father? Stiles unlocks the screen quickly and jumps to the message app.

 

From: Dad

Lydia just texted me. Go for it and take the plunge, son, I’m sure it’s worth it.

 

“You texted my dad?” Stiles asks incredulous.

“I never said I played fair.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles groans and lets his forehead hit the headboard.

 

---

 

So Derek hasn’t turned up at Stiles’ flat and it is now Thursday.

Stiles, for his part, is now standing in the furniture display of the furniture store Derek works in, shuffling around the same plant for the at least tenth time. He’s so close to the storage pickup area and to where Derek potentially is. If he’s even working today. Who the hell knows?! Stiles certainly doesn’t. After overthinking everything, his plan, the entire ‘mission’ he has, Stiles is still in the very same spot. There’s no use in chickening around any longer, Stiles scolds himself under his breath. It earns him a weird look from a mother that ushers her kid away and towards the general direction of the exit.

Inhaling deeply, Stiles starts out towards the warehouse section of the store, Derek’s screwdriver clasped in his hand for moral support. Only a moment later he realises how he must look like a maniac in full attack mode and briskly shoves it into the pocket of his jeans.

Fifty-six steps, Stiles counts, until he’s at one of the gates separating the area with the high shelves the customers fetch their desired furniture out of and the section only the employees are allowed to enter. No one’s in sight of course. Let alone Derek himself.

“Here goes nothing,” Stiles huffs out and looks over his shoulder to check whether another employee roaming the area might see him. No one’s near him, not even another customer, so Stiles grips the top of the gate and, in one halfway swift movement, hops over it.

“I should’ve thought of another potential furniture supplier beforehand. In case this gets me banned.” He mumbles as to not draw attention to himself. Not that that would help him with anything in case someone sees him. Which, miraculously, doesn’t happen for another roughly two minutes as Stiles roams the aisles in search for Derek. By the end of the two minutes, Stiles would take kind of anyone who could point him to Derek because there’s only so much illicitly roaming the employee-only area of a furniture store Stiles would like to engage in. It’s by far not the most ballsy thing he’s ever done, for sure, but there’s a lot more at stake here. Derek’s opinion of him, for one.

There’s bustling surrounding him, an array of multiple sounds such as alarm beeps of forklifts, people calling out about orders needing to go here or there and the general commotion of a busy storage. He’s passing by a huge palette of, according to the label on the stacked boxes, sideboards when a person rounds one of the corners and Stiles’ first instinct is to jump and dive into hiding. He almost does, funny sound and everything when he recognises him. It’s Boyd, Derek’s colleague from the earliest delivery.

Stiles considers going into hiding, still, because even though he knows Boyd, if only very fleetingly so, it’s not a given it won’t get him into any trouble. But, of course, all the pondering and contemplating takes this short second too long and Boyd spots him.

A variety of expressions crosses over his face while Stiles wears only one. Hopeful desperation in form of eyebrows raised and an apologetic smile that desperately tries to be nonchalant but probably misses it by a mile.

“This is the restricted section,” Boyd lets him know, ever so calmly. It’s probably what’s running through his veins. Pure calm. “Something in your face tells me you already know that.”

“I kiiind of do…” He rubs his hand over the back of his neck awkwardly and shuffles a step or two closer to Boyd who’s casually leaning onto the handle of his pallet truck and everything about is stance and the way that he holds himself so relaxed tells Stiles that Boyd assumes that, whatever Stiles will hit him with now, will be good.

“I’m sort of on a mission.”

“A mission?” One eyebrow lifts further up while the rest of Boyd’s face stays unshakingly set in the small smirk.

“Yeah,” Stiles hums and reaches into his pocket to fish out the tool he shoved in there earlier. “I gotta return this.”

“A screwdriver.” First, Boyd sounds highly amused as if Stiles completely takes the piss out of him. Then, however, something must’ve puzzled itself together in his mind and he grins. “Oh I see. That’s how it is.”

Stiles contemplates playing it down or possibly denying it altogether but where’d be the use in that in the long run? Nowhere, that’s where. He grins, a tad of self-deprecation in there, and shrugs. “Yeah. So I waited and thought maybe he’d retrieve it himself but he didn’t so far and I’m an impatient person so here I am.”

“Just to return a screwdriver.” The tone is the definition of deadpan.

“Are you really going to make me spell it out for you?” Stiles whines.

“Sure.” Boyd’s arms are crossed and he looks so amused it’s unfair. How much does a man have to suffer?

“So it’s th—” he starts but is interrupted by someone calling out his name. Both Boyd and he turn around, of course already knowing who it is.

Like a knight in shining armour, or in this case in blue-yellow tracksuit work gear that Stiles will most definitely tease him for if he gets the chance to after infiltrating their work space like the complete nutter he is, Derek appears from around a corner roughly thirty feet away from them.

Now or never. This is the key moment. Ultimate turning point. No way back.

No pressure.

“Derek!” Starting with the obvious. Safe bet. Good one, Stiles.

Derek moving towards them stirs him into motion, though, as well and he walks towards Derek, past Boyd into the other isle. The sounds are still bustling around them and this forklift alarm beeping is really notorious, Stiles thinks and wonders how on earth the people around here don’t go bonkers after an hour.

“I was here to-,“ Stiles starts but Derek calls out his name, looking rather alarmed. He wonders why for a fraction of a second before there’s a solid blow to the side of his head and he goes down, everything going blurry.

 

---

 

“How many fingers am I showing?”

“Twenty,” Stiles groans and squeezes his eyes shut which sparks another bout of pain shooting through. He’s lying on the ground, three people looking down to him as they lean over.

“That’s not correct, I fear.” It’s Derek, kneeling next to him.

“Yeah, no shit.” Good. The sarcasm is still running so how bad could it be. Not that Stiles fully comprehends what just happened.

“He’s fine,” Boyd snorts and straightens himself back up.

“We’re still having him checked out,” Derek counters, still kneeling next to Stiles. His hand is on Stiles’ stomach and even through his jumper, Stiles feels the warmth radiating off the other’s skin.

“Oh, you already checked him out plenty.”

“Boyd! This is not funny, he could be injured.” Derek didn’t sound one bit amused. Stiles, even more now, wonders what took place that has Boyd so amused and Derek worrying for his well-being.

“What happened?” Stiles asks when, in the same second, Boyd tells Derek that “it’s a bit funny, you gotta admit.”

“We’ll tell you in a moment. You’re first gonna be checked through by the paramedics, you reckless idiot.” The thing about Derek and him is that Stiles didn’t know him well enough yet to know whether Derek meant this in a fond way or if he was genuinely upset with him. Or a mix of both. So he chose to stay quiet for the time being as his vision slowly returned to normal and Boyd helped him up against fierce protests on Derek’s side. He’s led to a bench in a backroom and soon enough, two paramedics file in. If this isn’t a low-point in his life, he doesn’t know what is. Charging into battle to woo his crush and then being knocked out by something he has yet to identify.

The check doesn’t take longer than five minutes and the result is ‘not even a concussion but do take a painkiller or two’ and he’s supposed to see a doctor again in case ‘the headache won’t subside within two to three days’.

Stiles fumbles around with the screwdriver he held onto during the entire ordeal, not sure whether or not he should just leave or if a police man will follow the paramedics to escort him out in a moment. Someone does come in but it’s no police man. It’s Derek. His expression is unreadable and isn’t that great, Stiles thinks. All the while he’s been checked and had been waiting for the paramedics, with and without Derek, he’d been turning around all the events leading up to where he was now. And all that it could spark up. Him possibly ruining his chance of the ‘us’ he’d been talking to the others about. Could there have been a different way of meeting Derek again? Did Derek even want to see him again. What if he deliberately didn’t come by Stiles’ place to pick up his tool or chat with Stiles or give him his number or whatever it was Stiles had been agonising over. This is of course not the first time he’d asked himself all these questions but it’s the most pressing out of them all. Because right opposite of him stands Derek who could ask him to walk out of his life for good in a matter of moments. And it’d be no one but Stiles’ own fault.

“How are you feeling?”

“Horrible. Humiliated. Foolish. Low point.” Stiles shrugs and looks up at him timidly.

Derek sighs and pulls up a chair, sitting down opposite of Stiles. “I meant physically. But thanks for that update.”

“Fine enough. Will probably get a killer headache in a bit.”

“Figured as much,” Derek hums and pulls out two little plastic packages of what turns out to be painkillers. “You should take these so it won’t even get that bad.”

“Thanks.” Stiles takes the packages and rips them open. They are the kind that don’t require any water for the intake. Those that are particularly nasty and force out a small retching sound upon swallowing.

“It’ll help,” Derek tells him and thanks. Isn’t that helpful.

“Why don’t they make one with, like, chocolate flavour? Would be such a hit with everyone.”

“Gotta earn those. People who get themselves knocked out like you only deserve the regular one,” Derek says but, finally, Stiles can detect a shade of the fondness he was missing earlier.

“Hey,” he whines. “Don’t make fun of me when I still don’t even know what even happened.”

“You got knocked out by a pile of sideboard boxes my now very spooked colleague Jordan transported on a forklift from one end of storage to the other.”

“So that’s the beeping sound I heard,” Stiles groans and nods his head slightly. He regrets that instantly when a smaller wave of nausea hits him and his groans again, but more one the self-deprecating side this time. “I definitely owe him a drink.”

“Or three,” Derek counters, returning from the fridge with an icepack wrapped in a towel. “Here.”

“Thanks.” Stiles accepts it gratefully and only winces a little bit when he places it against the side of his head where the box must’ve hit him. “How deeply am I in trouble?”

“Not overly. Officially, at least.”

“How’s that?”

“I’m the head of storage here in this facility and I had a word with myself and decided to let it slide. I have to report it, of course, for insurance reasons but I won’t ban you from the store for a lifetime.”

Stiles is mortified. And confused, to be honest.

“You’re head of storage but you still do delivery runs?”

“Every now and then. I like to overlook every part of the process to keep the service efficient and optimal. And I like working with Isaac and Boyd. Funny that that’s the first thing you ask out of the two.”

“Curious by nature,” Stiles replies. “Also good at ignoring a problem until it goes away by itself.”

“Some problems won’t go away by themselves.”

“No. They hit you in the head instead.”

It makes Derek snort out a laugh. One that makes his eyes crinkle.

“I am sorry, though. Genuinely. I didn’t mean to spook you like that. I reckon now that it’s been a horrendously stupid idea.”

“Apology accepted.” Their gazes meet as Derek smiles and, yeah, he’s not mad at Stiles. Maybe at Stiles’ reckless behaviour but not at Stiles in total. Not when he’s looking at him like this.

Silence engulfs them for a long moment in which neither of them breaks eye contact. It’s the longest they’ve ever looked at each other. Like this, at least, and Stiles finds that even at his age, he can still feel like a giddy teenager that’s sitting right opposite of his crush who’s paying attention, who’s looking straight at him. It’s a prickly feeling all over, tell-tale butterfly-in-stomach sensation.

Derek’s the first to speak but seemingly only does so reluctantly, not wanting to break the moment. Curiosity must’ve gotten the better of him in the end. “What were you looking for back there anyway?”

“Wanted to give you back your screwdriver,” Stiles answers. Derek looks so unimpressed he doesn’t even have to say it out loud for it to be clear he doesn’t believe a single word of it. “No, I really did want to. Still do, by the way, after I managed to thankfully not impale myself on it when I fell earlier.” He holds out his hand that still carries the item in question and waits for Derek to take it. Who eventually does.

“And what else did you want?” The anticipation in Derek’s voice is palpable, Stiles can almost feel it seeping through the air.

“You.” Okay. That was more straight-forward than planned. “I mean. Your number, maybe. To… keep in touch.”

“To keep in touch?” Derek asks, amused but also, for the lack of a better word, Stiles would say endeared.

“Okay, to ask you out on a date eventually. Or right away. Depending on how long it would’ve taken me to uphold my composure. And seeing as you didn’t come back for it, I thought… well, I kind of had nothing to lose here apart from my dignity.”

“Or your head.”

“Slow down, Queen of Hearts.”

“It’s you who got hit in the head. Not me that put your head there,” Derek points out.

“Details,” Stiles counters with a grin. He’s slowly back to normal, shaking the shock of what happened more and more the longer they talk. “Anyway, you didn’t come back so I wanted to come here to not, at one point think the all-famous What If.”

“What if Derek never got his screwdriver back and was miserable for the rest of his life?”

“Exactly. I couldn’t have looked in the mirror, knowing you went through such agony. Would’ve totes been your fault but still.”

“My fault? Why?”

“Well,” Stiles clears his throat. “You didn’t come back. For neither the screwdriver or me.”

Derek actually looks the slightest bit abashed, eyes going from one point of the room to the other end and back before he manages to face Stiles again. “I meant to come back. For the both of you.”

“What kept you?”

“First, me being pretty infatuated with my little niece.” It’s adorable how Derek’s face goes all soft and fond over merely mentioning her. Stiles would love to actually see the two of them together in the same room. “And then, hesitation over me being pretty infatuated with… you.”

That… was not what Stiles had expected.

“Wow.”

Derek’s eyes squint the tiniest fraction, fuelled by insecurity and anticipation equally. “Wow good or wow bad?”

“I got myself almost run over by a forklift for you, what do you think?”

“I have an inkling but I like for things to be spelled out.”

A beat of silence passes in which Derek looks slightly more reassured but not entirely so. Stiles’ face, on the other hand, splits into a smile, his lower lip worried between his teeth. Yeah, he’s pretty gone on this one, he thinks and the giddy feeling coursing through his veins is incredible.

“Wow amazing.”

Stiles distantly, somewhere at the back of his mind, thinks to himself that it really is a shame he hadn’t seen Derek smile up until this point because it looks beautiful and not simply because Derek’s a handsome man. It looks genuine, open and heart-warming all together and it makes him look captivating.

And then, one of those rare moments take place, when no words are needed. Where intention and thoughts are clear, don’t need a verbalisation. It’s sparked by Derek’s eyes flickering down to Stiles’ lips and the butterflies in Stiles’ stomach doing their own rendition of a Riverdance show. If someone would ask Stiles later who moved first, he genuinely wouldn’t be able to tell them. They both do, kind of at the same time.

Derek is the one to close the distance, however. It’s a multiplicity of emotions and sensations hitting him. Derek’s hand on his lower arm, his thumb that strokes his skin. The tip of his nose that gently brushes against Stiles’ own, the way eyes flutter shut and Derek lets out a sigh when their lips touch. It’s all so much and exciting, exhilarating, and Stiles wants to bottle it up to take with him wherever he goes.

As far as first kisses are concerned, this one’s a competitor for all-time champion and Stiles can almost picture Scott swoon over how much this is like a Hollywood romcom but Stiles has to agree. It’s perfect. Ironic and funny and hilarious how it came about but so simple and wonderful and, well, perfect, in the way that it is happening now.

Their lips brush against each other, first in explorative pecks and shy kisses and then, growing surer of themselves, longer and deeper.

“Hey, Derek, did you--”

They part, Derek sitting back up straighter instantly, slipping back into boss-mode and Stiles blinking at the guy who walked in on them who, under his breath, mumbles “oh for the love of Christ,” and walks right back out.

Derek, for his part, gets up off the chair and jogs after the guy, laughing all the way until Stiles can’t hear anything but muffled voices from outside. He’s almost glad for the moment of quiet alone time. Or as quiet as it’s gonna get in a furniture store’s storage section.

So he broke into the backstage area of a furniture store. And he managed to find Derek. Or be found by Derek. Semantics. Only to then be hit and knocked out by a box of furniture right in front of Derek. To then assuming they were done for to then, not ten minutes later, experience the most incredible high of feelings when being kissed by one and the same Derek he thought he’d lost all his chances with for long moments before.

Okay.

Okay.

Derek pulls him out of his thoughts as he returns. He looks amused still as he settles back onto the chair he was sitting in earlier and, just like that, reaches for Stiles hand. He doesn’t quite link their fingers but opts for linking his index finger around the first of Stiles fingers he reaches while his thumb absently strokes the side of Stiles’ hand. Yeah, he could definitely get used to this.

“What just happened?”

“He wanted to ask me about the insurance. That was Jordan, by the way.”

“Oh,” Stiles says and his expressions turns both sympathetic and apologetic at the same time then. “Maybe not just three drinks but an entire four course meal, then?”

“Probably,” Derek chuckles. “Speaking of which. Would you… Do you have plans later?”

“Kept the evening free in case I had some serious self-pity session to attend.”

“Ice cream tub and The Notebook?”

“Nah,” Stiles waves off. “Ice cream and You’ve Got Mail.”

“F. O. X.” Derek quotes as an answer with a wide grin, clearly a lover of the movie himself, and Stiles is this close to kissing him right then and there again.

“Could you be more perfect?”

“Probably.” Stiles likes how even the gesture of the shrug Derek does when saying this oozes off modesty.

Seconds pass of them not speaking up, of just looking at each other and grinning, drinking up the feeling of excitement and this unique sensation of the moment. You and your crush, bantering, post-kiss bliss, feeling how the connection between each other clicks over and over again.

It’s Derek, once more, who speaks up again first. “I’ve got an idea. But… it’d need a bit of logistics and planning. Would you… would you mind waiting here for a while? It hopefully won’t take longer than half an hour.”

“Uh… sure. Not like I’ve got to get to the pity party now, do I?”

“No,” Derek smiles. “Not as far as I’m concerned.”

“Me neither,” Stiles assures and wow, this is… wow. Wow enough to rid him of any eloquence and wit for the time being.

Not that he needs it, all by himself now after Derek left with the promise of being back shortly and a lingering kiss. Or two.

 

---

 

“Hey.”

He’s being nudged awake, pulled out of his slumber. He must’ve fallen asleep on the couch Derek left him on, the painkillers making him all pliant and drowsy.

“Whussat?” he murmurs out and blinks his eyes open.

“I said hey.”

What’s going on,” Stiles finishes in a still somewhat groggy sing-song voice and sits up, rubbing his hands over his face.

Derek just looks confused. “Come again?”

“4 Non Blondes? What’s Up? One of the most iconic songs ever? That lead to one of the most iconic scenes in cinematographic history ever?”

“Which is which?”

“Oh my god,” Stiles cries out and yeah, the painkillers are truly doing their magic because that notion didn’t strike up more than the faintest of dull throbs in his head. And even that was nothing more than an afterthought. “Sense8? Hello?”

“Never seen it.”

Stiles, for a solid five seconds at least, can’t muster up anything but expressive gesturing that then result in his hands held up in an appeasing gesture. “Please. Please. I beg of you. Give it a try.”

“I will.” And Stiles believes him. If Derek’s anything, he’s genuine in his statements, Stiles has learned. He can’t wait to, hopefully, freak out over the show with him. Despite him not quite yet seeing Derek freak out like Stiles does. But things can always change, he figures.

“Now,” Derek continues in an attempt to steer back to his original purpose. “How’s your head?”

“Okay enough. Doesn’t hurt if I don’t move rapidly. Fell asleep on the cooling pad so that’s good too.”

“You’ve been asleep for a bit so my plan, thankfully, worked out and it’s all set up already too.”

Ever the curious one, Stiles asks what’s set up but Derek simply shakes his head. “I won’t tell you yet. You’ll have to see for yourself.”

“How long do I have to wait for that?”

“Not long if we head on up now.”

“Okay,” Stiles agrees and is already half out the door when he stops and fishes into his pocket. “Let me quickly shoot the others a text that I’m alive.”

“Would they otherwise send the national guards?”

“Knowing Lydia, and actually Allison… yeah, they would.”

“Go on and text away then. Don’t want another security case opened today. Especially not after closing time.”

“Oh god, it’s that late? I’m surprised I’ve only received two messages by now and not two hundred,” Stiles murmurs out as his fingers fly over the keyboard to compose a message to their group chat.

 

To: [enter name]

hey, am still alive and well. Found and got kissed by Derek!! :DDD also got knocked out by a piece furniture >:( but am fine!! will tell you all about it later xxx

 

“Okay, good to go.”

Derek nods and leads the way out of the employee area towards the showroom area. As they walk, Derek slips his hand into Stiles’ and intertwines their fingers. “This okay?”

“Brilliant, actually,” Stiles beams at him and squeezes Derek’s hand.

The walk feels endless and also a bit eerie with not a single customer in sight. Stiles is grateful for Derek’s colleagues still being around because no one being left would be a tad too spooky. He’s close to asking Derek where exactly they’re heading to when the reach the top of the stairs and make their way into the restaurant area. And then, it’s quite obvious where Derek’s taking him.

“No way,” Stiles bursts out, for a lack of a better expression and out of sheer surprise.

The usual layout of the restaurant with various tables all around the dining area has been altered to make room for a single table in the middle. On it are lit candles, flowers that look suspiciously like the plastic ones you can fetch close to the end of the store’s plant section and scattered decorative shells and fake gems. Everything, from the deco to the tablecloth, the cutlery, glasses and the plates is from the store’s own ranges and this is a picture-perfect candlelight dinner put up in the most unusual setting Stiles could’ve ever thought of. No. Actually, to be honest, even his wandering mind wouldn’t have been able to come up with this.

“Shut up.”

“You like it?” Derek asks and it’s almost timid. As if he hadn’t been sure whether this had been a good idea.

“This is sick. I love it!” He grins at Derek once more before swiftly walking to the table to take in more details and to marvel at what Derek has put up in such a short amount of time. “How did you do this? This is, like, so cool!”

“Pulled a few strings, asked for a few favours. Having pretty great colleagues.”

“I can assure you of that,” Stiles nods his head multiple times, not even really thinking of his injury over the sheer excitement he’s experiencing. “I have to take a picture of this. Can I? Please?”

“Sure,” Derek chuckles and he’s looking at him with such fondness, Stiles can’t help himself. He walks over and reaches for Derek’s shirt, holds onto the fabric as he leans in and kisses him. Not for long, not as self-indulgent but hopefully enough to get across what he wants to express.

“Thank you, this is really great.” Since Derek said he liked having things spelled out.

“You’re welcome.”

Derek reaches for Stiles’ hand once more and leads him to the table and, like a true gentleman, pulls the chair back for him so he can sit. It makes Stiles all flushed and he can’t help himself but to look at Derek as he sits down himself like he hung the moon. And, in the most brilliant turn of events in the recent weeks months years, Derek meets his gaze with the same sentiment, hopelessly gone for each other.

They couldn’t have sat much longer than a minute when Isaac steps out from somewhere behind them, carrying a tray, walking up to them. “Good evening, sirs.”

“Hey, the fresh daddy. Congrats, man!”

Isaac grins and murmurs out a ‘thanks’, slipping out of his role for the briefest of moments only. Derek grins, chuckling over the whole situation. He himself brought this about, and very earnestly so as well, but he probably, like any of them, recognises the comedic potential all of it holds.

“What may I serve you as a refreshment?”

“Uhh… what are the options? The regular drinks you can get here?”

“Pretty much, yeah,” Derek tunes in, a smile playing over his lips. “There’s only so much improvisation I can come up with.”

“Oh, no no, definitely not what I meant. No judgement at all,” Stiles is quick to tell him. He doesn’t want to, at all costs, risk Derek thinking this is anything but incredible. “I’ll have a coke then, please.”

“Coming right up.” Isaac nods with the slightest hint of a bow and turns to Derek, asking whether it’ll be the usual fizzy water for him. Which it is. Huh. Stiles didn’t take Derek for someone who had such a ‘plain’ drink.

What follows is something deriving from countless great comedies and is slapstick genius. Stiles struggles to keep the giggles down, keep them from bubbling out by clearing his throat a grand total of three times, the back of his hand in front of his mouth. Isaac, with the dedication of a true character actor, takes their glasses and walks over to the refreshments and beverages dispenser, puts down one of the two glasses and, still upmost concentrated, pushes the glass against the little metal pointing from the bottom. The sound it makes is simple yet effectively so funny, Stiles can’t hold it together any longer when Isaac does it for at least five times to fill Stiles’ glass.

It’s more of an outburst rather than a regular laugh, perhaps because he’s been so set on not letting any of it escape. It prompts Isaac to almost spill the liquid and for Derek to join in. He is more mellow, a deep chuckle, compared to Stiles. What captivates Stiles, though, as his laugh rides out, is the way Derek looks at him. Truly focuses on Stiles. He carries a look of wonder and a sparkle in his eyes. It’s sound awfully kitschy but that’s what it is. There’s no better words to put it. Sparkle.

Stiles smiles at him. It’s small and private as it is fleeting, with Isaac having his back turned but being about to face them again any moment. Not that Stiles is ashamed of showing his feelings and emotions this openly but he likes it for what it is. Slightly more thrilling, more special, because it’s shared between just the two of them. Derek meets his smile with one of his own and the fondness on his face is so apparent, Stiles quietly marvels at it.

How did we get here? He thinks back to where they were not longer than a week ago and is amazed by all of this. The dinner, the awkward way Stiles got here, the way both of them feel giddy and heady with feelings over one another. Falling fast.

“There you go.” Isaac has returned with their glasses, unbeknownst to Stiles who was too immersed in Derek’s everything to notice. Derek must’ve felt similar as he, too, blinks a couple of times like you do when you’re pulled out of a thought.

Both of them mumble out their thanks and Isaac adjusts the napkin over his arm. Nothing but dedicated to the role, this guy.

“I’d offer you a menu but the only choice, basically, is steak with a side of mash and Broccoli. Unless you’re vegetarian. Then we have veggie steaks. Same sides. Please don’t be a vegan, though. That’d be a tad uh… plain options wise.” Isaac scrunches up his nose in a half apologetic, half precautious notion that makes Stiles bark out a laugh and waving his hand in a dismissive motion.

“No worries, we’re good on the vegan front. I’m taking the steak.”

“Of course,” Isaac nods and turns to Derek. “Same for you?”

“Yeah, sounds good,” Derek nods but not in a dismissive way. More like he genuinely doesn’t mind either option presented to him. Isaac, on his part, nods again and scurries off to the back of the kitchen and out of sight and a moment later, the sounds of plates and cutlery being moved around float towards them.

Stiles turns to Derek with a grin and rests his chin in his hands. “I do wonder what you owe him for doing this.”

“Babysitting Eileen for two nights. Not that that’s something I’d be dead-set against. It’s actually doing me a favour.” Derek chuckles, instantly fond when talking about his niece, Stiles assumes, and it’s the most endearing thing.

“I bet. You seem like the kind of guy who’s really great with kids.” And boy, does he. If someone looks this taken with by just talking about someone else’s kid, niece or not, they must be total goners on their own.

“Oh, well-,” Derek shrugs and actually looks slightly abashed. “I do like kids, yeah.”

“Good.”

That makes Derek perk up and look at Stiles with a lingering question in his expression. “How do you mean?”

“Well, isn’t it kinda good to know the guy you’re crushing on is also good with kids since you, one day, want a couple of your own?” It’s quite out there, to slip in this not-so-subtle confession, Stiles knows. But once Stiles is sure of his feelings, he’s usually not one to withhold it for too long. Okay, Derek was a harder case for Stiles but he came around, didn’t he?

And, in fact, Derek looks startled. It’s a to-be-expected reaction when all of their encounters and the thorough shy hesitation are taken into account. For Stiles to be this direct was most likely not something Derek expected. Maybe he even painted a different picture of the man opposite him entirely. Shy, tongue-tied around people, heavy on the puns. Stiles should set that image straight and clarify that he was only being tongue-tied because it was Derek. Not any guy. Which had, of course, been a revelation for Stiles himself as well.

“I can be direct, you know? But, apparently, it is you that made me a bit tongue-tied at first so it took me a while.” To accentuate, Stiles nudges Derek’s knee with his own.

It steers Derek into a reaction again. “Thank you.” It’s followed by a beat of silence that Derek seems to use to collect his thoughts and arrange his words. “For telling me so outright, I mean. I appreciate it.”

It’s a good thing Stiles is very sure of their mutual affect by now because this was clearly a statement of someone letting someone else down easily. Stiles, however, also suffers from anxiety and being the torturous condition it is, he doesn’t want to feed it and aims to drive the point home. “You’re with me there. If I’m not mistaken?” Let’s not give the anxiety any fertile ground from the get-go.

“I am. Definitely.” Derek sounds so sure and so genuine, it sends goose bumps all over Stiles’ body and makes his entire face split into a grin. Derek follows suit and soon enough, they’re sitting there and shyly, still in a way, share this moment of knowing they hold potential. For a future together, for something magical and wonderful head of them.

The moment is sadly broken by Isaac coming into view and shortly after putting two plates down in front of each of them. “I promised I didn’t puke into them despite this sickeningly cute scene you two make up.”

It amuses Stiles, Isaac putting up this indifferent slash unimpressed façade, but he can’t help but to ask. “What is it with you and romance, I wonder?”

“It’s nothing. I like romance.”

Derek snorts out before taking a sip of his water.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Yeah, you do like romance but you’re doing a bang-up job of giving the impression to Stiles,” Derek explains and puts down his glass as he preens up at Isaac.

Stiles is quick to agree by nodding his head and pointing at Derek.

“I enjoy romance,” Isaac says, facing Stiles, and turns to Derek then, telling him “there. Fixed it. Now, please enjoy your dinner, before it gets cold and all goes to waste.” And with that, he left them.

Stiles blinks at Derek, half amused, half in wonder. “He’s an intense guy, I must say. Where did you find him?”

“Same place I got Boyd from. Was a discount.” For a total of two seconds, Derek manages to keep a straight face before both of them break out into a chuckle that only dies down slowly when Derek reaches for his glass and motions for Stiles to do the same. “Let’s have a toast.”

“Definitely! To what shall we toast?”

Derek thinks for a moment. “How about to bumpy starts, flirting in kitchens and the future?”

“Sounds ideal,” Stiles agrees and already raises his glass to toast when Derek speaks up again.

“Let’s add not being knocked out by boxes anymore. Just in case.”

“Oh, that I’m definitely toasting to.”

So they do, the sound of glass clinking together filling the space around them while Stiles and Derek don’t manage to break eye contact even during drinking to their toast.

What follows is the most comfortable and most memorable date Stiles has ever had. They talk for hours about their life, their families and friends, their hobbies and what movies they like and which Harry Potter book and comic movie adaption are their favourites, all the while laughing and sharing private glances, complete with shy smiles and rosy cheeks. The cherry on top is the kiss they share as Derek drops Stiles off at his car in the now empty parking lot.

 

---

 

Several years later, both Stiles and Derek still agree that one of their favourite parts of their house is the living room corner that is home to the very sideboard that Stiles has been hit in the head with upon trying to woo Derek in the storage area of a furniture store. On top sits The Screwdriver he’d tried to return but even more so to use an excuse to see Derek again. Alongside is a framed picture of their wedding with Jordan (that may have been picked in part to apologise for the two consecutive shocks Stiles caused him on the day he went after Derek) and Scott as their respective best men, all beaming into the camera. And another picture frame is holding the two flowers Stiles and Derek carried in their buttonholes on their wedding day. A red carnation for Derek and for Stiles, a blue carnation. A name their daughter still has troubles pronouncing.