Derek is scheduled to work a double shift at Hale or High Water on the night of his 30th birthday, which is an excellent encapsulation of how his life is going so far.
“It’s not a punishment, Der, god,” Laura tells him while he’s gazing sullenly at the schedule pinned up behind the bar. “You said you didn’t want to make a fuss for the big Three-O, remember? You told me you didn’t want any gifts; you just wanted money for your student loans.” She sweeps her arm toward the schedule with a flourish. “Ta-da! Big fat paycheck, plus overtime, plus the insane tips you’re gonna get from the college girls because you haven’t shaved in a week and you’re starting to look like Joe Manganiello.”
“It’s not a gift if I’m working for it,” Derek points out, rubbing his stubble self-consciously. “Wait, why do you have Stiles working these shifts too? He never works Fridays.”
“Nope,” Laura says, grinning. “Happy birthday, baby brother.”
“I’m telling you this for the last time,” Derek begins, but Laura’s already sashaying triumphantly over to the hostess podium.
Stiles is one of their busboys. He’s been around since they opened, practically, and Derek still has no idea why Laura hired him; the kid is smart as hell and a quick learner, but he’s terrible at staying on task. He’ll meticulously polish half of the silverware, and then wander off suddenly because he just thought of more efficient way to number the tables. Once, he popped up at the bar mid-shift to regale Derek with random facts about marsupials for no discernible reason. There was the time he couldn’t stop making dirty cocktail-related puns all day, and Derek kept accidentally overfilling pint glasses while trying not to listen.
Laura has this insane idea that Derek is ‘madly in love with him.’ It’s insane because Stiles is ridiculous, and he never makes any sense, and his hair constantly looks like it’s just been nested in by a family of restless birds. He’s irritating and persistent, like a fucking rash, and the fact that he looks sort of heartbreakingly handsome while he wipes down the bar with his sleeves pushed up over his elbows is just beside the point.
“Oh, hey!” Stiles says, sidling up next to him and poking his finger at the schedule. “We’re double-shift buddies this weekend. Up top!”
“I keep telling you I’m not a high-five person,” Derek sighs, returning it anyway. Stiles grabs and holds onto his hand instead of just slapping it, because he’s not a normal person and he refuses to follow even the simplest of social conventions.
(His thumb drags lingeringly down the inside of Derek’s wrist when he lets go, and Derek is mortified by the tiny sigh he lets escape.)
“You’re going to have to step up your game, Stilinski,” he says gruffly. “Friday night shifts are hell; you sure you can handle it?”
“I can handle anything with you by my side, baby,” Stiles purrs, exaggeratedly winking one of his big brown doe-eyes, and Derek just abruptly needs to go home and lift weights in his basement until the frustration stops boiling under his skin.
He’s gained a lot of muscle, since Laura hired Stiles.
“My shift ended ten minutes ago,” Derek says, backing up, as if physical distance from Stiles’ everything is going to protect him. “I’ll see you Friday. Don’t forget to clear those tables for the party of twelve coming in later. Good luck on your thesis defense tomorrow.”
“Oh, hey.” Stiles smiles, soft and warm. “You remembered.”
“Well, goodnight,” Derek says hurriedly, and then escapes out the back door.
He spends about ten minutes just idling in the parking lot and pressing his forehead angrily against the steering wheel, mentally devising cruel and lasting punishments for his sister.
Just because Derek can’t catch a fucking break, ever, Friday ends up being the slowest day they’ve ever had.
“Is there a big game on tonight or something?” Stiles is leaning on the bar, his chin in his hands, while Derek muddles mint leaves.
“You’d know better than I would.”
“Oh, I keep forgetting,” Stiles says, eyes sparkling. “You don’t even watch sports. Because you’re a nerd.”
“Says the History Ph.D. candidate.” Derek finds a jar of maraschino cherries under the bar when he sets down the mortar and pestle, and he slides it across the bar for Stiles. “Eat these, they’re almost expired.”
“Oh my god, yes,” Stiles moans, and the combination of that tone of voice and the particular twist of his wrist when he finesses the jar open is just…
“I’m calling Laura,” Derek says, feeling trapped. “It’s ridiculous for us to stay open for this. We’ve got one customer.”
Their customer is a sweet middle-aged woman sitting alone at the end of the bar. She’s an outrageous tipper, so Derek would normally be reluctant to send her home—except that Stiles is pulling cherries off their stems with his teeth, one by one, and it’s basically an emergency situation.
“No, this is perfect,” Stiles insists. “We’re getting paid to do basically nothing; we’ve got a fully-stocked bar, free reign over the jukebox, and we get to hang out together. We should party. Oh, how’s this: if I can tie this cherry stem in a knot within thirty seconds, you have to chug a beer. But if I can’t, then I have to drink.”
“I’m not going to chug a beer during my shift,” Derek protests, following the cherry stem with his eyes as Stiles slips it between his lips.
“So do a tequila shot,” he says—garbled, because he’s furiously rolling his tongue around in his mouth. “You got lime slices back there?”
Stiles ends up needing a whole minute to get the stem in a knot, so he tips his head back and chugs down an entire pint of Stella. Derek hurries away to refill their only customer’s water glass.
“Tequila shots next!” Stiles yells after him. “I’m gonna get decent some tunes going. You look like a man who needs to dance, Derek!”
Stiles’ idea of ‘decent tunes’ turns out to be a marathon of ABBA songs. Derek can’t believe he’s even surprised.
“Your turn,” he tells Derek, hopping up on the bar with a surprising amount of grace, considering that he dropped four of their best crystal tumblers on the floor last week. “Pick a drinking game. We’re gonna be wrecked by the time this night is over.”
“We have customers,” Derek reminds him.
“I don’t mind!” yells the woman at the end of the bar, and Derek immediately reconsiders his positive opinion of her.
“Thank you, Daphne!” Stiles calls back. “Daphne’s pretty cool,” he whispers to Derek, leaning in close so he can be heard over the the relentless baseline of ‘Does Your Mother Know.’ “She loves you. She called you a nice young man.”
“Christ,” Derek says, smiling involuntarily.
“She also said your ass was ‘extraordinary,’ but I promised her I wouldn’t repeat that,” Stiles continues, grinning when Derek fumbles the salt shaker. “Oooh, salt? For tequila? I knew you wouldn’t let me down.”
“One round,” Derek concedes. It’s his fucking birthday. He owes himself a gift, and that gift will be getting to watch Stiles lick salt off his arm. Seize the day. “Two truths and a lie—guess the lie, I do a shot.”
“Good luck, you’re a terrible liar,” Stiles says, kicking his feet gleefully while Derek lines up the shots and sets a little bowl of limes on the bar.
After four rounds of two truths and a lie, a game of quarters, and finally a makeshift attempt at beer pong (which Daphne actually ended up winning, probably because she was the only remotely sober person in the room), Derek is drunk enough to agree when Stiles suggests body shots.
“Okay, okay,” Stiles is saying, giggly and uncoordinated as he lays himself out on his back, balanced on top of the bar. It takes him a few tries to get up there, probably because his legs and arms are tired from bouncing around the dining area to ‘Waterloo.’ “Okaaaay, I’ve actually never done these before. Saw’t in a movie, though.”
Derek furrows his brows while he pours the tequila. It’s the really good stuff—he considers it financial revenge against Laura, for getting him into this situation—and he’s worried he’s going to slosh it everywhere. “Hand me th’ salt,” he orders, and licks his lips when Stiles arches back to reach the salt shaker on the bar behind his head. “Um, okay.”
“So where are you going to uhhhhhhhmm…” Derek pushes his shirt up and licks him, from his belly button straight up the middle of his abs. There’s a faint trail of hair there, darker than Derek expects, and he rubs it a little with his nose before he can stop himself. Stiles squirms so hard he almost falls off the bar, and Derek has to push him back up by his hip.
“Salt,” Derek forces out through his dry throat, and Stiles swallows and shakes the salt over his own stomach. Derek slows down for the second lick, making the huge mistake of glancing up into Stiles’ eyes while he does it. He keeps going a little too far, curling his tongue off to the side, following the curve of the surprising definition of Stiles’ chest.
Stiles makes a tiny noise and squeezes his eyes shut, and Derek pulls back, bypassing the pre-poured shot in favor of drinking straight from the bottle. There’s no physical way to be drunk enough to survive this, probably, but it can’t hurt to try.
“We forgot the limes,” Stiles says, his voice a deep, rough whisper. “S’posed to put a slice. In my mouth. Why won’t you kiss me, Derek?”
Derek freezes, mid-motion, as he’s reaching for the lime slices. “Why won’t I… what?”
“You like me,” Stiles says, clamoring up to his elbows, glaring at him accusingly. “I look at you and y’get a look on your face, like.” He waves his hands around his own face, vaguely, and then has to catch himself before he rolls off the bar. “But you won’t kiss me ever. It’s stupid, Derek. What’s wrong with me, that you won’t—”
“Nothing, no, it’s—” Derek’s hands slip on the bar, and he knocks over the bottle of really expensive tequila. “Fuck. S’me. I’m the wrong. I mean. I’m what’s wrong. The one who has. Wrongness.”
“Nnooooooo.” Stiles grabs his face with both hands, tugging him down as he falls back against the bar. “No. You’re great. You’re th’ best. What are you even.”
“You’re gonna be a doctor and I’m. I live in a gross studio apartment and I work for my sister, Stiles.” Derek runs his fingers along the wet strip of Stiles’ skin, unable to stop himself, and Stiles pushes up into the touch and bites his lip. “Stop it, god, you’re so…”
“I’m not gonna be a doctor doctor,” Stiles protests, sliding his hands up into Derek’s hair and petting a little. “And your chocolate martini is the best chocolate martini in th’ entire world though, so there.”
“But all my margaritas always turn out way too sour,” Derek says sadly, and Stiles gives this hysterical laugh and just hauls him all the way down.
Derek gives up immediately, because he’s an expert in self-denial but he has limits, all right, and Stiles is kissing him with this devastating combination of frantic lust and sheer, plain tenderness, moaning deep in his throat and holding onto the collar of Derek’s shirt to keep him from getting away.
“Y’know, ‘mmmmm really sad my lips are so numb right now but also you feel really good,” Stiles murmurs against Derek’s cheek. He spreads his hand across Derek’s chest and rubs a few slow, firm circles before he grabs his shirt again and kisses him deeper.
Derek isn’t sure if he’s about to get his heart shattered or not; Stiles is drunk as fuck, and he never said anything about being serious. For all Derek knows, Stiles is one of those people who goes around kissing his friends when he’s drunk. Lots of people do that. (People with much looser boundaries than Derek himself, but still. He doesn’t judge.)
Derek doesn’t care right now, though. Stopping just isn’t worth it. He pulls back long enough to haul himself up onto the bar, stretched out on top of Stiles, and then goes right back in, tasting beer and salt and tequila and trying hard to ignore the insistent irony of ABBA blaring from the jukebox and warning him to not to go wasting his emotions.
“Um…. should I leave?” asks Daphne loudly. Derek pulls his face out of Stiles’ neck and sees her holding her purse and hovering uncertainly next to the bar. “It’s just, I haven’t gotten my check?”
“On the house, get out please,” Stiles says, and Derek hums and bites his lip.
“We’re very drunk,” Derek says after Daphne leaves, because he feels like someone ought to point that out.
“Not too drunk to rock your world, birthday boy,” Stiles retorts, pushing a knee up between Derek’s thighs. “Wait, should we… flip over the CLOSED sign, or?”
“How… I didn’t tell anyone.” Derek tries to hold himself up so he can look at Stiles, but his head is too heavy and he has to lean it back down against his shoulder. “That I’m thirty. Today.”
“Old man,” Stiles says with a dirty chuckle, throwing an arm around Derek’s waist and rolling up against him. “I stole your wallet during a shift once so I could check. I wanted to get you somethin’ special... hah. But I totally did get you a present. It’s in your jacket pocket, go look.”
“Right now?” Derek asks, grabbing onto Stiles’ bird's-nest hair on the next roll of his hips, and Stiles squeaks.
“Nope, no, later,” he says, throwing his hand back to grab the edge of the bar and knocking over the pretzel bowl. “Don’t leave. Don’t leave ever.”
“Okay,” Derek breathes, and means it very literal sense.
Derek wakes up with the worst hangover of all time.
It’s not even the headache (though that’s pretty bad, in its own right). It’s the gnawing uncertainty of knowing he got Stiles for one night—got off with him, actually, right on top of the bar, wild and intense and right through their clothes like he hasn’t done since he was a teenager—and not knowing what it means.
Well, what it means to Stiles, anyway. Derek already knows what it means to him. It means he’s probably going to want to cry every time he sees a bottle of tequila from now on.
“Hey,” someone croaks from the doorway of his bedroom, and Derek sits up because oh, right. Stiles crashed in his bed last night, because they shared a cab. It seemed easier at the time, for some reason. Derek feels a little resentful that those details are fuzzy, now, but every single second of making out with Stiles is branded onto his brain in sharp, oversaturated detail.
“I made you coffee; your machine is awful,” Stiles continues, setting two mugs down on the dresser. “Also, I got your birthday present for you, because I think you forgot about it. And it’s important. I worked really hard.”
Stiles waves toward the nightstand, where an envelope with his name on it is propped up against the lamp. Derek expects a card; instead, it’s one of those tacky homemade coupons, painstakingly filled out with red and purple markers:
“Is that…” Derek smiles, cautiously relieved. “Is that an infinity symbol?”
“Well, I do mean lots of dates,” Stiles says, beaming and throwing himself down onto the bed next to Derek. “You haven’t got many years left, sadly. We’ll need to make the most of the time we have.”
“Fucker,” Derek says, elbowing him in the side and grinning an embarrassing amount. “I’m cashing in right now; let’s go to the Waffle House and eat disgusting amounts of hash browns.”
Stiles groans longingly. “Can you make me a bloody mary first? Don’t stir it, though, use your cocktail shaker. I like it when you shake for me.”
“Oh god,” Derek says, covering his eyes. “I changed my mind, I want the awkward hug.”
“No exchanges,” Stiles says, but he hugs Derek anyway.