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We've Got Chemistry

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Here is the amazing gifset by Tumblr user Sterek that inspired this fic!  There's a part 2 also that I'll include in the relevant chapter.

Lydia snapped open the roman shade, her lipsticked mouth pressed into a firm line.

“The sunlight!” Stiles croaked dramatically, throwing up an arm.  “It buuuurns!”

“Enough.”  Lydia said, grabbing the bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos right out of Stiles’ hand.  “You’re moping.”

“Rude,” Stiles said, but even he could tell his heart wasn’t in it.

“You’ll come up with something,” Lydia said, with the supreme confidence of someone who always came up with something in the end.

“Or I won’t.”  God knows his own success rate veered wildly from “disastrous” to “phenomenal” with apparently no happy medium.  “I’ll be one of those people who peaked before age 25. Like that kid in all those movies, you know the one with the catch phrase — what was it?”

“Pull yourself together, you’re pathetic,” Lydia said.

“No, that wasn’t it.  Something more like…”

And then sharp fingernails were under his chin, tilting his head up.  Lydia’s green eyes met his.

“You’re deflecting.  And avoiding. And...and eating yourself into some kind of self-pitying additive-and-preservative-based coma.”

Stiles looked away.  He couldn’t actually deny any of it.

“For god’s sake, Stiles, at least shower.  Go outside, get a little sunshine. Staring at a blank screen is getting you nowhere.  And this ... growth you’re developing...”

Stiles scratched at his scraggly chin.  “Do not mock the beard. It has tender feelings.”

“It has Cheeto crumbs.  And it’s a disgrace.”

“I’m a disgrace, you mean,” Stiles mumbled.

“Stiles.”  How Lydia managed to sound affectionate and exasperated at the same time was beyond him.  “You’re just in a slump. And by popular vote I was the one designated to come over here and kick you out of it.”

“You do have the pointiest shoes,” Stiles acknowledged.

“Here’s what you’re going to do.  Go brush your teeth. Change out of the Hello Kitty pajama pants.  At least run an errand, or visit someone, have a new neighbor, you know.  Why don’t you go say hello? Here…”

Lydia was off and rummaging through the pile of unsorted mail on his dining table.  “You still have this gift basket from Samsung that you haven’t opened. Take it over and welcome him to the neighborhood.”

“I’m not really a gift-basket-giving kind of guy, Lyds.”

Lydia crossed her arms and pulled out her trump card.  “He’s hot.”

Stiles snorted.  “You think Allison’s dad is hot.”  And, granted, Chris was kind of a silver fox, but seriously...Allison’s dad.  Stiles might be open to a lot of kinks, but that was definitely not one of them.

“Stiles.”  Lydia’s voice was icy.  “I’m meeting Jackson for coffee, and then afterwards I am going to text you.  If you haven’t made it out of the house by then, I’ll...I’ll call your dad.”

“Ouch.”  Stiles winced.  “That’s cold.”

“Then don’t make me.”  Lydia blew him a kiss, and then she was gone in as much of a whirlwind as when she had arrived.

Stiles wiped his orange-dusted hands on his Hello Kitty pajama pants and sulked for a few more moments, but he couldn’t refute any of what Lydia had said.  To be honest, he was kind of disgusting even himself. He forced himself to his feet, feeling like he had become a part of the couch after so many hours of sitting.  He stretched his back, and then wandered into the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of cold water, and chugged it all.

He walked through the empty house, making the long trek to his bedroom, the only other room he used.  Once again, he cursed this stupid near-mansion he had bought when he was still giddy with his sudden wealth.  He had bought it mostly for the in-law suite, thinking his dad would come to live with him. Instead, his dad had promptly moved in with Melissa.  And Stiles wished them well, he absolutely did, but it didn’t comfort him much when he was rattling around in this giant empty place. Sometimes the size of the house felt like a weight on his shoulders, pressing him down with a constant burden of hiring landscapers and pool cleaners and repair people and now that he thought of it, he should probably do something about the fact that his dishwasher hadn’t worked in a couple of weeks besides eating all his food from crinkly bags...

He had finally made it to his bedroom.  He changed out of the orange-streaked pajama pants and into some cargo shorts, but drew the line at changing his shirt.  He had probably changed it yesterday anyway. The day before, at the very least. He brushed his teeth, and rinsed the Cheeto crumbs out of his beard.  It was coming along nicely, no matter what Lydia said. At least the bottom part was filling in nicely. Or it would, in just a few more days. His hair was sticking up in all directions, but he shrugged.  A shower was a little too much to ask of himself right now.

Of all the tasks Lydia had presented him with, meeting his neighbor sounded like the least amount of effort.  

Stiles made the long trek back.  He snagged the gift basket from the dining table.  Wine, caviar, pâté...ugh.  No wonder he hadn’t opened it yet.  Why didn’t these mega-corporations ever send something he would actually want?

He grabbed his phone and keys and headed for the door.  He put the gift basket down on the bench by the front door while he slid on his Converse.  Then he headed out, down the long, winding drive.

About three-quarters of the way down, he realized he had left the gift basket behind.  He cursed and looked back, and then shrugged. He had come too far.

Eventually he made it to the bottom of his drive, and reluctantly slumped his way over to the neighbor’s drive.  Stiles was at the end of the hill, which meant he had great views — if he ever got around to opening the curtains — and just one neighboring house.  It had been empty for more than the year he had lived there.  Apparently the people who owned it had been living abroad, and just got around to selling it.  If Stiles hadn’t been in such a funk, he probably already would have put Danny on researching who the new owner was.

Stiles toiled up his neighbor’s equally long, winding driveway, cursing Lydia the whole way.  He reached the front door, huffing and puffing, sweat gathering in his armpits. He rang the doorbell and then stood back.

He waited long enough that he started to doubt that his neighbor was home after all.  What day was it even...Wednesday? Just when he was starting to give up, the door swung open, and the little introductory speech Stiles had formulated on his way over flew completely from his mind.

Lydia had said that his new neighbor was hot.  What she hadn’t said was that he was a jaw-dropping, breath-taking, too-good-for-this-world work of art.

Stiles stood there open-mouthed, his eyes darting between the man’s beautiful seaglass eyes, his razor-sharp cheekbones, the perfect thick beard going just a little grey at the bottom in a way that was absolutely adorable...  

The man was talking now, but Stiles was still taking in the broad shoulders, a waist so trim that it made Stiles want to cry, and — oh, the man was turning away now — an ass that was eminently biteable.

By the time Stiles snapped back into awareness, he was following the man into the shadowed hall on autopilot.  “Right this way,” the man was saying. Oh, he must have offered Stiles a tour of the place.

They made their way through a living room, still scattered with boxes, and out a pair of double french doors to the backyard.  It was very similar to Stiles’ — a terra cotta patio surrounding an oval pool, drought-resistant landscaping at the borders.

The man was looking expectantly at Stiles, and Stiles looked back before realizing that he was expected to say something.

“Oh.”  He looked at the pool again.  “Very nice,” he said dutifully.  He wondered if it was too soon to ask the man out for a drink.  Neighbors did that kind of thing, right? And maybe if the evening ended with Stiles licking his way down the man’s neck, that’s something that neighbors did too, right?

“So, uh,” the man was saying, and Stiles realized he was probably making a very bad first impression.  He tried to gather his wandering thoughts. He had been in a bit of a dry spell, alright? It’s not his fault he couldn’t restrain his libido when presented with this adorable man-god with bunny teeth and sticky-out little ears and god help him horn-rimmed glasses like the most adorable breathtaking nerd in the history of nerd-dom.

“So…”  The man was at the door to a shed now.  “The previous owners left everything, so I think there should be everything you need.  But let me know if you need me to pick up anything, or if you prefer, you can buy it and I’ll reimburse you…”

“Everything I need?” Stiles repeated.  He had obviously missed something.

“You know.”  The man smiled again, a little more cautiously.  He was looking at Stiles as if he were a bit mentally-challenged.  “To clean the pool.”

“To clean the pool,” Stiles repeated.  He looked around. Then he looked down at himself, taking in his stained shirt, cargo shorts, and raggedy Converse.  

“Oh!” he said.  “Because I’m the pool guy.”  And that’s not what he meant to say at all.  He meant to say, “You think I’m the pool guy.”

“Yeah.  So.” The man was backing a few steps away.  “I don’t know how long it usually takes to get it ready, but I’m really looking forward to swimming — I’ve never had a pool before, and the a/c hasn’t quite kicked in inside yet — so if you think it’s going to be soon, then I might go ahead and get changed —”

“Oh.  Yeah.”  And Stiles had no idea what possessed him, except maybe the thought of seeing this man in a wet swimsuit.  Okay, come to think of it, that was explanation enough.

“Yeah, you go right ahead,” he said, smiling with what he hoped was easy confidence.  “I’ll just...skim this sucker first, and then —” He cast another look at the pool. It wasn’t too green.  Probably.  He didn’t think.  “While you’re swimming I’ll just measure up the chemicals, and, know.  Check the levels. And that kind of thing.”

“Oh.  Okay.”  The man smiled again, and Stiles was once again dazzled stupid by the bunny teeth.  “Great.”

“Yes,” Stiles said, warming to his role now.  “You can swim with confidence, now that I’m on the job.  ‘When you have scummy tiles, call for Stiles.’ That’s what they say.  Y’know. In the biz. The pool biz.”

“Stiles?” The man said.

“Yes?”  Stiles waited patiently.   Your wish is my command.

“No, just — you said ‘Stiles’?”

“Oh!”  Stiles held out his hand.  “Sorry, skipped that part. I’m Stiles.  Stilinski. Poolboy Extraordinaire. At your service.”

The man’s grip was warm and solid, and Stiles had to force himself to release his hand in a remotely reasonable time scale.  

“Derek,” the nerdy man-god said.  “Hale.”

“Nice to meetcha, Derek,” Stiles said breezily.  “Now, don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll have you all set up in no time.”   Stilinski-Hale, he was practicing in his head.  Or Hale-Stilinski?  Stale? No, that’s awful.  Haleinski?

With a final smile and an awkwardly adorkable little wave, Derek retreated into the house.  Stiles watched him go, sighing dreamily. Then he blinked, shook himself, and made his way to the shed.  The dusty interior was crammed to the rafters with various tools, chemicals, and equipment. Stiles shrugged mentally.  How hard could it really be? He pulled out his phone and googled ‘pool maintenance.’

By the time Derek came back out, in some unfortunately not-very-revealing swim trunks and a t-shirt — Would it be too much to ask for a Speedo?  They were more hydrodynamic! — Stiles had brushed up on the three C’s of pool maintenance and was assiduously skimming the surface of the pool.  This part he had down, he watched his own pool guys do this all the time, zoning out while he was supposed to be programming.

“All good?” Derek asked, and Stiles straightened up.  

“Absolutely.  Good to go.” Stiles watched, mouth watering, as Derek peeled off the t-shirt, revealing a delightfully hairy chest and shoulders Stiles wanted to rest his cheek on and never leave.  “Although —” Stiles said, thinking rapidly.

Derek stopped with the t-shirt in his hands.  “Although?”  Those deliciously thick eyebrows of his furrowed endearingly.

“I might have to make more frequent visits in these first few weeks.  Y’know, just to … um, balance the alkalinity, and, um, make sure that the circulation and, pH, and all are...up to snuff.  Like, maybe daily visits.”

Derek still looked concerned, and Stiles hurried to clarify.  “No extra charge! It’s all, like, covered under the contract.”

Derek’s brow furrowed further, and Stiles just wanted to kiss it smooth.  “I didn’t sign a contract, I thought this was just an assessment…”

“Oh, no!”  Stiles waved his hands, as if that would distract from his nonsensical words.  He thought furiously, and then inspiration struck. “The previous owners’ contract, I mean.  They’re paid up through the end of the year, so of course we’ll, like, honor their contract. No charge unless you wanna extend.  If, y’know, you’re happy with our services.”

“Really?”  Derek’s blue-grey-green gaze was intense, and Stiles felt himself sweating under the force of it.  “No charge?”

“Absolutely,” Stiles croaked.  “On the house. Gratis.  Besplatno.”

Derek’s gaze seemed to intensify to 11, and Stiles started to feel a little light-headed.  “You speak Russian?”

“Um…”  Stiles squinted up at the sky, rubbing the back of his head.  “Bitcoin billionaires gotta get their pools cleaned too?”

Derek just looked at Stiles for another long minute, and then finally looked away.  Stiles sucked in air as if he had been smothering.

Derek threw his t-shirt to the side, and in one fluid motion dived straight into the pool.  Stiles watched, mouth agape, as he settled into a controlled, perfect breaststroke, a mesmerizing tattoo between his shoulder blades flexing and bobbing enticingly with every stroke.

“Yeah,” Stiles breathed to himself.  “This is gonna take a lot more visits to sort out.”