“Anyway, you can just tell this company is being grossly mismanaged,” Stiles tells Derek around the Twizzler he just shoved into his mouth.
"I agree,” Derek says, head buried in the side panel of the malfunctioning copier.
“Resources are clearly available,” Stiles continues, sounding like he’s pacing back and forth near Derek’s feet; “but they aren’t being utilized fully!”
“Mmhmm.” Derek smiles to himself. “I hear the Vice President never even went to business school. He even skips out on the budget meetings, most days.”
“What a hack,” Stiles sighs. “Hey, do you want some candy? What am I saying, look at you. Of course you don’t eat candy.”
Derek is grateful that there’s a plastic panel hiding his overheating face. “I prefer the grape ones, actually, but sure.”
"Eugh, gross.” Stiles has to crouch down next to him to give him the candy, pressing right into his side. “Like, for example: okay, you’re clearly really smart, I can tell. Despite your seriously gross taste in Twizzlers. They’re wasting you in this position.”
Derek coughs, trying to focus on locating the paper jam. It’s been so long since someone said anything like that to him that he can’t actually tell if Stiles is being sarcastic or not.
"Thank you?” he tries, after a too-long pause.
“Anytime,” Stiles says, palm warm between Derek’s shoulder blades. “Although, in a strictly literal sense, I have to admit that this position really works for you.”
Derek hits his head on the paper tray.
Derek isn’t sure why he let this charade go on for over three weeks, it’s just that whenever Stiles ends up calling his line he can’t help but talk to him; it isn’t actually too difficult to Google whatever problem Stiles is having with his computer or whatever, and it actually usually is something like "how do I take a screenshot” and “I got disconnected to the main server again,” which honestly happens to everyone, you just have to kick your router a little bit. And it’s more entertaining than budget meetings, that’s for sure.
It’s just that he really likes his conversations with Stiles. A lot.
Okay, maybe he just likes Stiles.
So Derek is surprised one morning when he’s finally decided he should just go ahead and ask Stiles out one of these days when he doesn’t get a call. Stiles usually calls in once or twice by noon at least, even if it’s just to complain about the coffee in the breakroom.
When Derek walks by Stiles’ desk and finds it empty, not just of Stiles, but in fact all his personal belongings have been swept into a cardboard box. Horrified, Derek raps on the cubicle next to him. “Hey, do you know where Stiles is?"
The guy, A. Greenberg by his nameplate, just shrugs. "Stiles came into work as usual and then he was flipping through the company phonelist, started freaking out about something and just packed everything up. He said he was going to HR."
Derek dashes towards the elevator, making it to the ninth floor where Human Resources is just in time. He barges in office after office, making quick apologies, and finally finds Stiles with an exasperated and bored looking Erica Reyes. Erica's official title is Derek's assistant, but he feels bad about her just sitting there with nothing to do, so she often helps out in HR. She's great at it, lending an empathetic ear while being firm about company policies, and she still has time to occasionally help Derek out in the rare case he needs it.
Erica is sighing, barely looking up from where she's examining her manicured nails.
"You can’t file a sexual harassment claim against yourself, Mr. Stilinski,” she’s saying. “Ah, hello, Mr. Hale,” she says when she sees Derek at the door.
Stiles turns, face flushing red. “Ah— I am so sorry Der— I mean, Mr. Hale, I really didn’t know, I mean, this morning all my phone presets were gone so I had to reprogram everything, and then when I called IT and asked for Derek’s line, they said they didn’t have a Derek, and then when I looked through the phonelist, I realized the only Derek was—"
"It’s fine,” Derek says. “Erica, can you just forget this—"
"Sure,” she says, grinning at him.
“Stiles—” Derek pulls him into the hallway. “Were you seriously trying to fire yourself for flirting with me?"
"Okay, believe me, if I had known you were the VP of the frickin’ company I would have never— I mean— at least suspend me or something. I made all those stupid—” Stiles scuffs his feet awkwardly on the floor.
“Look, you’re not in trouble—” Ugh, this was not the way Derek had planned today to go. “I liked it, okay? Our conversations, our jokes. I flirted back with you— just forget the whole thing, okay?"
Stiles nods, looking up at Derek, and then he blinks, as if the words are just registering. "Wait— you liked it?"
"Yeah,” Derek smiles. “I, um, actually went over to your desk today to tell you that your application to transfer to Research and Logistics was accepted, so you’re not even going to be in my department anymore, and I was gonna ask— "
"Mr. Hale,” Erica pokes her head out from her office. “Vanessa’s on the line, she wants me to let you know if you were still here that Osso Bucco and Skylight are booked solid for tonight but a reservation at Linetti’s can be made at eight o'clock but she needs a confirmation right away."
Sometimes Derek is a little scared of how efficient Erica is. "Um,” he says. “Can’t you give us a minute?”
Erica refuses to budge from the doorway. “Vanessa needs to know right now, sir."
"Linetti’s? You mean that swanky Italian place on Third Street that’s always booked for months?” Stiles says, voice breaking a little. “Whoa, I’ve always wanted to eat there."
"So yes, it’s a date, then?” Derek says, nodding at Erica who finally disappears back in her office, presumably to tell Vanessa to confirm the reservation.
“Wait, what?” Stiles asks. “You’re asking me out?”
“I thought that was pretty obvious,” Derek says.
“But you’re the Vice President,” Stiles says, a little in awe. “You’re wearing a thousand dollar suit. Oh my God— were you wearing a thousand dollar suit when I asked you to unjam the copy machine?”
“Probably,” Derek says. “Look, if you don’t want to, I understand—"
"No, no no, I definitely want to,” Stiles says, and Derek can’t help but smile, warmth blossoming inside him. They look at each other for a long moment, and Derek is trying to decide whether it would be awkward to ask Stiles if he could walk him back to his cubicle, when Stiles says, “This actually explains so much.”
"Why Twizzlers appeared in the all the office vending machines after I complained to you about never having any decent candy."