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Occupational Hazard

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Normally, Stiles would be happy to see Derek first thing in the morning, looking perfectly handsome in his tailored suit. Honestly, it was one of the few things that consistently got him out of bed on time. But today’s appearance would have to be savored, because this was Derek’s last day as Stiles’ bodyguard.

He’d been part of Stiles’ protection team for well over six months, and Stiles had thought things were going well. Sure, it’d taken Derek a while to warm up to him and his unique charm, but eventually he’d gotten Derek to loosen up. Derek had started playing board games with Stiles in his hotel rooms (he was amazing at Scrabble), or he would sit nearby and quietly mock whatever mindless thing Stiles flipped to on tv. And it was pleasant, comfortable, or at least Stiles thought it was.

But then last week, out of nowhere, Derek had told Stiles that he was quitting, and that a new bodyguard would be assigned soon.

And though Stiles had known that it probably wasn’t personal—maybe Derek found a job with better hours, or maybe he had a family situation to see to—it had still hurt.

He was going to miss Derek studiously solving crossword puzzles while Stiles got dressed, was going to miss the smiles Derek gave him before he went off shift, like there was no better way for him to say goodbye. Would miss the way Derek made him feel safe more than any of the other bodyguards ever did.

Stiles had spent a lot of time working himself up to asking Derek if he was interested, but now it seems like he’s missed his chance.

Despite all of that, he’s not going to do anything ridiculous, like beg Derek to stay. He’s going to be cool, and enjoy the last bit of time he has with Derek.

“Hey,” Derek says casually, like everything’s the same as usual. “What are your plans for today?”

“Well, this is my day off,” Stiles says, and Derek nods, because of course he knows Stiles’ schedule. “So I figured I’d just relax, see the city a bit.”

“Sounds good,” Derek says, smiling. “Where to first?”

Stiles points out the hotel window, to a café a block away. “There,” he says.

He didn’t realize it from his vantage point, but the little café seems to be popular with the business types, and Derek in his suit blends right in. Stiles chats to Derek in line like they’re friends, and Derek seems happy enough to keep up the pretense, though he keeps a sharp eye on everyone around them.

Derek buys a couple of scones, and to Stiles’ surprise, actually sits down at the table to eat with him. Usually Derek stays standing, keeping vigilant, but they’ve managed to snag a corner booth that must make Derek feel safe enough. And Stiles appreciates that, because as much as he loves his fans, he doesn’t want to sign autographs or take pictures today—not when this is his last day to memorize the sound of Derek’s voice and the perfect, incredible color of his eyes.

Derek seems happier than usual today, smiling so his dimples are visible, and Stiles feels his heart sink at the thought that it’s probably because Derek’s ready to be gone.

But he just smiles back, eats his bagel, and manages to crack a few jokes that make Derek laugh. That makes him feel a little better, at least. He doesn’t want Derek to leave with awful memories of him.

When they’re done eating Stiles leads them to the river, not so much because he wants to see it, but because he’s heard Derek mention it a couple of times. They cross over the little arched bridges and crunch along gravel paths through flowers and shrubs, and laugh a few times at other tourists taking pictures while leaning precariously close to the water. The entire time Derek is at his shoulder, like always, but Stiles keeps finding himself wanting to reach back and take his hand.

He has to curl his fingers in tight to keep himself from doing it accidentally, feeling a low pang in his stomach as he does. He’s going to miss Derek a lot.

Normally he’d grab lunch and head back to the hotel room by now, to read or mess around on the internet or call one of his friends, but not today. He doesn’t want to waste any of the time they have. So he starts looking up restaurants on his phone, looks for other fun things to do around the city. He wants to make the most of today.

They wander around until they find a row of food vendors, and Stiles gets to watch Derek try to eat cotton candy without getting it in his beard. (He fails.) They ride a nearby carousel, and Derek, with a completely straight face, climbs onto the pinkest and sparkliest pony there is. Stiles laughs until he cries, then takes a bunch of pictures so he can remember this forever. After that, they head to a museum that’s completely interactive, and Stiles tries not to be too obviously gleeful about it as he plays with magnets and wind-up toys.

They have so much fun that Stiles finds himself continually forgetting that Derek isn’t his friend (or boyfriend), but is there in a purely professional capacity.

And as much as Stiles wants to drag out the day, he knows they need to get back to the hotel. That’s where Derek’s replacement is showing up, and Stiles is a little worn-out from trekking around the city anyway. He’s ready to flop down on his soft bed and enjoy some air-conditioning.

All the tiredness he was feeling evaporates when they get there, though, to be replaced by a gnawing anxiety.

Derek’s leaning up against the wall of his hotel room, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever, and Stiles can’t figure out what to say to him. He knows he’s running out of time, can feel the clock ticking closer to the shift change, but he doesn’t know how to convince Derek that—

There’s a quiet knock at the door, and another bodyguard leans in and says, “I’m taking over, and I’ve already logged you out. You’re good to go.” Then he gives Derek a little wink and closes the door, taking the usual post out in the hall.

That finally spurs stiles into action, and he quickly closes the gap between them, saying, “Derek, wait! Please don’t go, I—”

Derek just catches ahold of his shoulders and calmly reels him in, pulling Stiles into a kiss that shocks him into silence. It’s soft, lingering, and when Derek lets him go, Stiles can only gape at him, unable to form a coherent sentence.

“Stiles, thought you knew why I was quitting,” he says softly. “I didn’t want our relationship to be restricted to something professional.” He gives Stiles a wry smile. “When I took this job, I knew about the occupational hazards—the death threats, aggressive fans, and potential for bodily harm. What I didn’t expect was to fall for the person I was protecting. And I knew something had to change if I wanted a chance with you.”

“I—but,” Stiles sputters, because all of this is like something out of his dreams. He can’t believe this is actually real life. “What made you think that I knew? About any of that?” he asks, waving his hands helplessly.

“Well, you didn’t seem that bothered when I told you I was quitting,” Derek says, and Stiles winces, because he’d definitely been upset, he’d just done his best to hide it from Derek. “But it was today that really convinced me—everything we did seemed so much like a date, and I thought you were trying to tell me how you felt.”

“I kind of was,” Stiles says, shrugging. “I thought it was going to be my last day with you, so I wanted it to be amazing. I wanted you to know that I cared about you, that I wanted—” he cuts himself off this time. “You know what I want? To take you on a real, actual date tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Derek says, raising his eyebrows teasingly. “Not tonight?”

Stiles grins. “We’ve got other things to do tonight. For starters, you can kiss me again.”

“Yeah,” Derek says, pulling him in until they’re pressed tightly together. “I think I should.”

Stiles is perfectly happy to make out with his hot, amazing ex-bodyguard all night, and he loves every minute of it.

(He also loves the sight of Derek’s immaculate suit spread all across the hotel floor the next morning.)