"Derek." Stiles stepped back, gesturing for Derek to come into the house. Derek just stood there on the front stoop in the rain, already soaking wet, shoulders slumped. "Do you want a towel, or—" Or a hug, Derek looked like he could use a hug. Not that Stiles was in the business of giving Derek hugs, he wasn't, but Derek looked absolutely pathetic.
"No," Derek said. He shoved something at Stiles and headed for his car, sighing so loudly it was audible over the rain.
Stiles was holding a bouquet of flowers. No: he was holding the crappiest bouquet he'd ever seen. They were the cheap dyed daisies he'd seen near the drug store checkout, only they looked like they'd been left out to wilt, then run over by a car and thrown into a storm. The whole squished, drooping mess of it was dripping water all over him, leaves shriveled, petals bent and cracked.
"Hey," Stiles shouted. Derek stopped and turned around, squinting at him. "What the hell is this?"
Derek's mouth tightened, his gaze lowering to the sidewalk.
"Because it kind of looks like you brought me flowers," Stiles continued, gesturing at the flowers, then at Derek with the flowers. "You did come here and ... give them to me. These flowers." Derek didn't say a word. "Oh my god, you did, you brought me flowers, why did you do that?"
"Erica said," was all Derek got out before he half-turned away from Stiles, rubbing at the back of his neck. "Forget it."
"Erica said what?" Derek didn't look at him, didn't walk away, didn't do anything. Stiles sighed, poking at the flowers. "Is this a — a symbolic gesture? Are you trying to tell me something?" Derek turned toward him, looking almost hopeful. "Something creepy, about how you can — squish me like a flower — a dead flower—" Derek scowled. "Help me out here, man, I've got nothing."
"They were in my car for three days," Derek said, glaring at the sidewalk.
That explained the wilting. "Did someone sit on them?"
"Yes," Derek grumbled.
"And then you decided to give them to me." Stiles made a keep going gesture. "Because..."
"I want them out of my car," Derek said.
"And you couldn't just throw them away?"
"No," Derek said, ducking his head again. "They're yours. Are you done? Can I go?"
"Mine because you bought them for me." Stiles eyed the pathetic huddle of flowers in his hand. "Me. You bought me flowers." Me, he mouthed, gesturing at himself. "Me. You bought—"
"Erica said I should bring you flowers when I ask you out," Derek said with the air of someone giving very bad news, tense and rushed and desperate for it to be over.
Erica said — wait, Derek wanted to ask him out? Holy mother of — that —why? Derek didn't even like — they got along better than they had when Stiles was a teenager, they were friends now, sort of, but that wasn't the same as, wow, Derek liked him? Derek like-liked him. Derek obviously liked him; Derek hadn't been able to throw away the crappy flowers he'd gotten Stiles, because he'd gotten them for Stiles. That was—
That was sickeningly cute. Those weren't words Stiles normally associated with Derek, and yet there was Derek standing on Stiles' sidewalk with his hair flattened by the rain, nervous and trying to hide it, eyes a little too wide. And the flowers — oh, god, the flowers.
Stiles was nervous too, suddenly. It wasn't funny anymore. Okay, fine, it was funny, but Stiles was happy Derek wanted to date him. Happy! There was a weird little flippy feeling in his stomach, even. He thought Derek was cute, when had that happened?
"I'd bet real money she was making fun of you," was what came out of Stiles' mouth. Derek looked startled, then angry, then horribly embarrassed in rapid shifts, staring at the flowers in Stiles' hands like he could set them on fire with his eyes. "The part I really don't understand is, Erica told you to bring me flowers and you did it? Didn't Boyd or Isaac or someone tell you she was—"
"Boyd said it was a good..." Derek heaved a frustrated sigh and swung around, stomping off toward his car.
"Hey, wait, where are you — gak," Stiles said, realizing belatedly he'd just hurried out into the rain. "Wet — stop, would you stop?"
"You gave me your sat-on half-dead flowers," Stiles said, waving them at Derek's back. "Are you going to ask me out, or what?"
Derek curled and uncurled his fingers at his sides, shoulders tensed.
"On a date." Stiles moved closer, tapping Derek's right shoulder with the flowers. "Right? We're dating now, that's the gist of it? That means you can come inside, I can get you a towel, maybe I'll put your awful flowers in water or something. I'm not sure they'll even remember what water is, but—"
"I didn't ask you," Derek pointed out.
"You did, dude, I think we both know you did, it just took me a minute to catch up, I mean," he gestured at Derek, then at himself, then back at Derek. "Plot twist."
Derek turned, giving Stiles a searching look.
"In the future," Stiles said, taking a step backward, hoping Derek would follow, "don't take dating advice from Erica."
Derek matched him step for step, slowly following him up the path to the house.
"Okay," Derek said cautiously. He reached out to touch Stiles' arm, fingers sliding down rain-slick skin until they curled around his wrist, his grip light, tentative.
Stiles twisted his hand in Derek's grip, palms dragging against each other, fingers realigning until they were almost — almost — holding hands. That felt weird as hell, but Derek looked so pleased that Stiles just went with it.
"You're lucky I know you—"
"I know," Derek said before Stiles could finish. Stiles missed a step, flustered. Derek tightened his hold, steadying him.
"Anyone who didn't know you would have hit you with these creepy flowers and run away." Stiles pulled Derek into the house. The door swung shut behind them, sealing out the rain.
"You don't have to keep them," Derek said, reaching for the flowers. Stiles yanked them away, out of reach.
"No, they're mine, no take-backs," Stiles said, because Derek was dating someone with the emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old. Whatever, like dating Stiles was the first terrible life choice Derek had ever made. "Where?"
"Where?" Derek let go of Stiles and scrubbed a hand through his wet hair, scattering raindrops everywhere.
"Are you taking me," Stiles said. "On the date we're going on."
Derek was clearly stumped.
"So, just to clarify, this is less you asking me out for dinner and more you asking me to go steady." Derek looked like he was regretting the whole thing already. "What, don't look at me like that, you're the one who wants a piece of this." He pointed at the stairs. "Go dry off, I'm going to put my hideous flowers in water."
"You could..." Derek cleared his throat awkwardly. "You should probably dry off, too."
"That was the most awkward pass anyone has ever made at me," Stiles said. "And we've been dating for about thirty seconds, so no. Dinner and a movie—" Were they doing this now? It seemed like they were doing this now. He had, what, frozen dinners and something that looked awful from Redbox. Good enough. "And then we can fool around on the couch."
"Fine," Derek said, making one of the grumpiest faces Stiles had ever seen. Aww. Aww? Jesus.
Stiles escaped to the kitchen, put the flowers in a mason jar that could almost pass for a vase, and stuck them under the tap, grabbing a dish towel to dry his hair. In better light, the flowers weren't that ... they were ... they could almost look like they weren't flattened and dying. If he squinted.
As he watched, a garish pink one fell off its stem, landing face down in the sink.
Worst flowers ever. How Derek managed to make being the worst seem sort of sweet, Stiles had no idea, but he was willing to admit — now, if not ten minutes ago — that he was into it.
Another flower dropped off into the sink.
"I'll get you new ones," Derek said from the doorway, startling him. He — whoa, Derek's biceps were murdering Stiles' sweater. Stiles was witnessing a sweater homicide in progress.
"No more flowers," Stiles said. He had to draw a line on crappy romantic gestures somewhere. "Please."
Derek's mouth twitched, somewhere between exasperated and amused.
"Dinner and a movie?" He closed in on Stiles, taking the dish towel out of his hands and tossing it on the counter.
"Dinner and a movie," Stiles said firmly, putting a hand on Derek's chest to keep him at bay. He needed the two hours that would buy him to process the fact that Derek wanted into his pants. "Okay?"
"Okay," Derek said, leaning into his touch, muscles flexing under Stiles' hand.
"Okay," Stiles repeated, snatching his hand away. Derek smirked. "No. Nope. Dead drugstore flowers guy doesn't get to give me crap today. Go sit on the couch."
Derek sulked his way out of the kitchen, giving the flowers one last glare on his way out.
Another flower fell off into the sink.