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Brutalist Masterpieces

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The allen key snaps in half. Derek looks at the two little pieces of metal in the palm of his hand and blinks, just to make sure. Yeah, it’s definitely broken.

The half-assembled desk in front of him lists sadly to one side, in desperate need of completion. It figures the day Derek finally decides to face the do-it-yourself furniture is the day he breaks the only necessary tool. He stares at the pile of cheap wood that’s currently mocking him with its missing screws, and goes to find the nail gun.

-

“What the hell is that?” Stiles barges into Derek’s apartment without so much as a by-your-leave, dropping a stack of books on Derek’s new coffee table and bending down to have a look, poking experimentally at where a nail went in at the wrong angle.

Derek had just sighed and bent it out of the way, figuring as long as it stayed up it didn’t matter what the damn thing looked like. Now, though, Stiles’ judgemental stare is irking him. Derek takes offense at someone whose dad still does their laundry criticising his furniture.

“Are you here for a reason?” Derek decides not to answer Stiles’ question, because even Stiles should be able to tell what he’s looking at is a low table, built to put random shit on. Not that Derek has all that much random shit, but then, Peter’s always muttering about works in progress.

Derek should call him. He doesn’t want to.

“Uh, books? I thought we could do a true-or-false session. Don’t worry, you only have to say one word at a time.” Stiles flashes him a shit-eating grin, and Derek tries and fails not to roll his eyes.

-

Derek’s still got a cartridge full of nails. He looks at the shipping crates left empty after moving a few things out of storage and decides he could use some shelves. It doesn’t take him all that long to disassemble them and nail some of the better planks to the wall. He thinks it looks okay, and now he’s got a place to put books. Maybe it’s time he started re-stocking his collection.

Isaac eyes the shelves dubiously when he comes over, but Derek’s too pleased by the fact that he drops onto the second-hand couch and watches TV as if he’s got nowhere else to be to care.

-

“Stiles says you’re nesting.” Erica’s got what appears to be a slightly burned pie and an expression of terrifying curiosity. Derek lets her in because the pie smells like apple and she’ll only mock him gently.

“I’m not nesting,” he insists. “Everyone kept telling me I needed a real place. I bought a real place.”

“Did you lose a fight with the Ikea instruction manual?” Erica raises an eye at the desk under the window, taking in the half-screws, half-nails assemblage.

“I’m allowed to be creative,” Derek snaps.

Erica laughs and fishes around in the kitchenette for forks, throwing herself into his only chair and digging right into the pie. Derek leans against the counter and joins her, reminding himself to buy enough food for snacks in case anyone else decides to stick their nose into his business.

-

Boyd organises the housewarming, in the sense that he shows up to ask Derek about something and raises an eyebrow at the less-empty-than-it-used-to-be apartment, then calls everyone to tell them Derek’s going to buy pizza and beer. Derek doesn’t argue; he figures he kind of owes them pizza and beer after the year they’ve had.

Stiles shows up with a Carpentry For Dummies book and puts it on one of the plank shelves, testing the load-bearing capacity by pulling on it.

“Huh, that’s pretty solid,” he mutters, poking at the wood. He takes out his phone and snaps a picture, looking speculative.

“It’ll do.” Derek eyes the book and resolves not to take it personally.

-

“Did you build that?”

Derek’s sitting on a chair that used to be a crate, and Stiles is pointing at it, pausing in his rampant raiding of Derek’s fridge.

“Yeah. Remind me why you’re here?” Derek catches the cheese stick Stiles tosses at him, but doesn’t open it. He’s not a huge fan, but Stiles seems to like them. It doesn’t hurt to have something he’ll eat on hand, because most of the time, if he’s eating, he’s less derisive.

Stiles swallows his mouthful. “Oh yeah. Scott wants to know if you’re planning on asking Dr. Deaton about an exchange of information, or if he should just go ahead and talk to him.”

Derek’s not sure why Scott’s even bothered to send Stiles to ask, because he’s fairly unlikely to listen to whatever Derek has to say, but a tiny part of him appreciates the courtesy. “He’ll do what he wants anyway,” Derek says, because there’s not much point hedging his thoughts about Scott around Stiles. Stiles knows Scott better than Derek ever will.

“Yup.” Stiles smiles around a mouthful of pretzels and kicks the leg of Derek’s seat, smirking. “This caveman furniture is working for you, man. I can see you starting a trend.”

Derek is pretty sure trends require large-scale exposure to get off the ground, but he doesn’t share his theory, choosing instead to give Stiles what he hopes is a “your business here is done” look until he leaves.

Stiles rolls his eyes and steals a bag of potato chips on his way out.

-

“Is this Derek Hale?”

Derek stares at his phone, wondering why anyone he doesn’t know would be calling him. He debates hanging up, but he’s already made the mistake of answering, assuming it was a pack thing.

“What do you want?” he demands, hoping his tone will be enough to get the stranger to hang up.

“I was wondering what you’d charge to do a set of custom tables? I really love your stuff and your website said your prices were very competitive.” The guy doesn’t sound like he’s pranking him, but then again, he could just be going for a postmodernist crank-call instead of the traditional bad joke.

“Wrong number.” Derek hangs up on him and grabs his laptop out from under a stack of bills.

-

“Explain.” Derek hasn’t bothered with the door, figuring if Stiles can invade his privacy, all current agreements re: “not being a creeper” are off.

Stiles grins broadly, sprawling over his bed like an asshole, hands laced behind his head. “Aw, you came in my window. It’s just like old times.”

Derek unclenches his fists and points at Stiles’ computer, open on his desk. “Web design copyright S. Stilinski?” Derek is unduly upset at having to Google himself.

“Hey, I just thought I’d see if you could capitalize on your hobbies! Seeing as you don’t have a job and people tend to think that’s, y’know, weird.” Stiles doesn’t seem the least bit ashamed. “Did somebody call you?”

Derek decides leaving is the better part of valour. He’s already home before he realises he forgot to tell Stiles to take the website down. He takes a look around his living room and curses himself for being too shortsighted to just fucking buy furniture.

-

Derek has thirteen missed calls. Apparently “competitive prices” means “call any time.”

“You’re going to give yourself a bad professional reputation,” Stiles tells him, sneaking a glance at his screen. Derek turns his phone off. Stiles laughs at him. “C’mon, how bad could it be? Just show up with some planks and a nail gun and do what you’ve already done to your own shit. Give the people what they want.” He gestures around Derek’s apartment, feet up on Derek’s very solid coffee table like he owns it.

“What I want is for you to shut up,” Derek tells him, kicking him out.

-

“What?” he says to the next person who calls him. “Uh. Hello.” He’s working on it.

“Hi, yeah, uh... how much for like, a corner bookshelf?” Derek has a very intense debate with himself before answering.

“I’ll have to look at the space,” he hears himself say, wondering what the hell he’s talking about.

“Great!” His first customer rattles off a time, and Derek realizes he’s made an appointment to nail some shit together for money. He resolves never, ever to tell Stiles. He can find out for himself.

-

“Oh my god, they called you a ‘local artisan’!” Stiles crows, waving the magazine gleefully. “This is gold.”

Erica snatches it right out of Stiles’ hand, skimming a few lines before cackling madly. “You’ll never get the hipsters out of your hair now.” She folds the page back to show Boyd the picture of Derek working, face in profile. It was the only shot that didn’t have eye flare, but it has the unfortunate effect of making him look “artistic,” according to the damn photographer who’d followed him around for a few hours.

Boyd snorts, obviously trying not to laugh. Isaac doesn’t even bother doing him that courtesy, letting out an unattractive giggle before grabbing the magazine and reading it for himself, Scott looking over his shoulder.

“Laugh it up,” Derek mutters, “this is all Stiles’ fault.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who decided to solve my Ikea problem with rage and a nail gun,” Stiles shoots back, reclaiming his trophy. He folds it up and puts it back in his bag, grinning. “Look on the bright side, they called your neanderthal frankenfurniture ‘brutalist masterpieces’!”

Derek throws a pillow at his head.