Stiles is great at a lot of things. He can forge any signature, beat anyone at Connect Four, and identify every poisonous mushroom in America, just for example.
He is, however, an absolutely terrible receptionist.
“I need your signature on this,” says a voice somewhere on the edges of Stiles’ awareness. Stiles is about to beat his highest ever level of Angry Birds, though, and he’ll regret it forever if he stops now.
“Come on, you bitch,” he mutters at his phone, rolling his shoulders back in an attempt to show those pigs who’s boss. “This ends today.”
“I actually have places I need to be,” says the voice. It would be kind of a nice voice, Stiles registers vaguely, if it weren’t soaked in irritation.
“Yeah, just…” Stiles tilts his head at the screen until his neck’s bent at nearly a ninety-degree angle. “One second.”
A clipboard is suddenly slammed down on Stiles’ desk, and he jumps so hard he drops his phone. “Sign the damn form,” the voice says, and Stiles looks up to roll his eyes at whomever it is that just sabotaged his brush with greatness, but…
“Um,” Stiles says, awestruck. “Hey.”
“You can stop wasting my time any day, now,” says the guy, and his face is just a whole other level of attractive. It’s true that Stiles has seen other guys with big beautiful eyes, or sharp strong jaws, or awesome Zachary Quinto eyebrows; he’s just not used to seeing all of those things on the same face. It’s disorienting.
It doesn’t help that the face in question is glaring intensely at Stiles from behind a gigantic pot of bright pink tulips, which actually sort of complement his coloring.
The guy is raising his ridiculous eyebrows, slow and incredulous, and Stiles finally shakes himself out of it. “Yup, I can sign for those. Allison Argent?”
“I—” Gorgeous flower guy glances at the card, and then back at Stiles. “Yes. How did you know? We’ve never delivered here before.”
“My buddy Scott up in marketing placed the order; used to get them from the florist down the block until they closed down. He’s been sending Allison from advertising increasingly-massive bouquets every week since they got engaged.” Stiles smiles as he signs the form, soft and fond. “He’s such a doofus.”
Flower guy’s lips twitch as he sets the pot down on the desk, and Stiles notices that the uniform he’s wearing must be a size too small because the way the fabric stretches across his chest and arms… god.
“Sounds almost as bad as a receptionist who plays video games instead of… receiving,” flower guy says with a shadow of a smirk.
“Hey, I receive!” Stiles protests. “I’m an excellent receiver. I receive more people in one day than—okay, you know what, I’m bailing out of this word choice right now.” He pulls the tulips closer to himself, partly to give his hands something to do and partly so he doesn’t have to look flower guy in the face while his cheeks are burning with embarrassment.
He does, however, peek around the tulips to watch the guy walk away. The view is definitely worth it.
Next week, it’s gerber daisies in a rainbow of colors, spraying out from a tall blue-glass vase. Flower guy watches Stiles deal out a round of solitaire for who knows how long before he slams the clipboard down again to get his attention.
“Oh my god,” Stiles gasps, throwing his arms out wildly and just barely managing to not knock the vase over. “Why would you sneak up on me like that.”
“You seemed absorbed,” flower guy says, his beautiful face creased in its familiar frown. “I didn’t want to interrupt.” His frown deepens as he looks over the cards on the desk. “I think you need to re-shuffle those.”
“Damn it.” Stiles sweeps the cards together and then fans them out with a blackjack-dealer flourish—something he taught himself to do when he was brain-numblingly bored in one of his freshman lectures. “So what’s your name, anyway?”
“…What?” says flower guy. He’s still frowning down at the cards, watching Stiles’ hands move over them with an intimidating level of focus, and Stiles (of course) fumbles and ends up throwing them all over the place. One even catches in flower guy’s hair, and Stiles’ swears that his whole life flashes before his eyes.
“Ohgod. Sorry.” Stiles leans over the desk before he can think better of it, and he’s almost got his hand in that thick, dark hair when the guy flinches violently away. “Sorry,” Stiles says again, shaken and unsure and off-balance in every possible way.
“Derek,” says the guy. He’s frowning at the floor now, instead of at Stiles, and Stiles actually misses the glare now that it’s not aimed at him. “My name. It’s Derek.”
Then he turns around and stalks out of the lobby. He’s already gone by the time Stiles realizes he forgot to take the clipboard.
“You’ll want to use your nine there, I think,” Derek says, three weeks later. He’s already set down today’s arrangement (violets and yellow-and-white daffodils), and he’s behind the desk helping Stiles finish a sudoku puzzle. “No, not there.” He leans over the back of Stiles’ chair and braces a hand on the desk. Stiles has his dress shirt rolled up at the sleeves today, so when Derek’s forearm slides up against his, he feels it skin to skin.
“That row already has a nine,” Stiles says. He shivers a little, and then pulls his sleeves down so Derek will assume he’s just cold.
“That’s a four, Stiles,” Derek says, amused. “Your handwriting is barely legible.”
“Your face is barely legible,” Stiles grumbles. His arm is still tingling, and Derek’s breath is warming the back of his neck, and he’s having trouble actually remembering how these puzzles are supposed to work. “You got time for the crossword after this?”
“I’m supposed to be taking my lunch right now,” Derek says, and Stiles feels his face fall a little.
“Oh, well, if you need to—”
“Do you want to split a pizza?” Derek asks, pulling out his cell. “I’ll call out.”
“Oh.” Stiles can only hope that his expression isn’t reflecting any of the goofy happiness that’s going on inside of him. “Definitely. Meat lovers, because I brought the Sunday puzzle and we’re gonna need the protein to make it through this. I should find you a chair.”
“I’m good,” Derek says, and he uses his arms to push himself up onto Stiles’ desk. “I’m gonna get a large. Hope you’re hungry.”
“Starving,” Stiles says with a sigh.
“Don’t swing don’t swing don’t swing OH MY GOD YOU SWUNG, YOU ABSOLUTE FAILURE.” Stiles throws a kernel of popcorn at his computer screen. “I don’t believe this.”
“I told you this game would just upset you,” Derek reminds him. It’s been about two months since his first delivery, and Derek has finally managed to appropriate a chair (though Stiles isn’t going to ask where in the building he stole it from). He’s got his feet kicked up on Stiles’ desk, next to a Japanese peace lily in a ceramic pot. “You know they already lost this game yesterday. By a lot. It was pathetic.”
“Don’t talk about the Mets that way,” Stiles says sharply. “Only I’m allowed to talk about the Mets that way.”
“Why weren’t you watching this last night?” Derek reaches over and boldly steals a giant handful of Stiles’ popcorn. “I thought missing games was basically the eighth deadly sin, for you.”
Stiles groans. “Scott’s bachelor party. It was the worst. Music I couldn’t dance to and genuinely scary strippers and people doing body shots left right and center.” He locks his hands behind his head and arches into a long, hard stretch, sighing when he feels the tight, overtired muscles in his back give a little. “Luckily, nobody wanted to do any shots off my body.”
“Really?” says Derek. He runs his eyes up Stiles, beginning at his knees and stopping somewhere around his neck. “That’s surprising.”
“Ha, ha,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. He has zero patience for Derek’s sarcasm right now; the Mets have embarrassed him beyond recovery and he’s already stressing out about the wedding next week. “Do you mind if I read you my Best Man speech?”
“As long as you don’t make me watch you suffer through this game anymore,” Derek says morosely, and Stiles laughs and punches him in the arm.
A few weeks later, Derek shows up with Stiles’ favorite bouquet so far. It’s dozens of huge roses, a mix of vivid orange and pale, dusty purple, and they smell so good Stiles has to fight the urge to bury his face in them when Derek plunks them down on his desk.
“I need you to sign for these,” Derek tells him, oddly deliberate. He’s got an intense look on his face; Stiles would probably even find the expression scary, if he hadn’t spent an hour doing Mad Libs with Derek last week (it’s hard to be afraid of someone ever again, once you’ve seen them laugh until they shoot soda out of their nose).
“You okay?” Stiles signs the form without taking his eyes off Derek. “You look weird.”
“I’m, yeah. I’m fine. I just wondered…” Derek lets out a deep, gusty sigh. “I just wanted to give those to you.”
Stiles squints at him. “Okaaaay. And now you have. I’ll get someone to bring them up to Allison later. So, I’ve got Jenga today. It’s part of my plan to do increasingly disruptive things down here until my superiors finally notice. It starts with Jenga, and ends with croquet and/or lawn bowling down the hallway. You in?”
“Always,” Derek says.
Derek seems very preoccupied with the flowers during Stiles’ turns—always touching the petals lightly, or sliding them around on the desk, or fiddling with the little card that’s tied on with a swath of bright orange satin. He keeps it up until Stiles flags down a passing maintenance guy and sends the flowers upstairs with him. Stiles figures Derek’s just fascinated because the arrangement is particularly nice, and he forgets about it entirely once they figure out how to pull out most of the bottom blocks and manipulate their tower into a gravity-defying masterpiece.
At the end of the day, once Derek has gone back to work and Stiles is just finishing an in-depth online quiz that’s supposed to tell him what sort of lover he is (Wildcat! the quiz says, and Stiles likes the sound of that), Allison comes down to see him. She brings the flowers.
“I think you made a mistake, Stiles,” she says, setting them down and leaning her elbows on the desk.
“Hm?” says Stiles. He loves Allison, really, but it’s difficult to give her his full attention when he’s busy wondering which result Derek would have gotten on the quiz. Maybe Stiles can get him to take it next time he comes in.
“Hey.” Allison flicks his ear, and he yelps and bats her hand away. “Read this,” she orders, tapping the pretty little embossed card attached to the flowers.
“Fine, jeez.” Stiles leans across the desk and squints at the calligraphy. “Dinner tonight—not pizza,” he reads, frowning. “Don’t you and Scott have dinner every night, though?”
“Oh my god.” Allison drops her head onto the desk and bangs it a few times. “Stiles. The flowers aren’t mine.”
“But.” Stiles bites his lip. “What? No. Of course they are. They’re always yours. ”
“Scott didn’t send them; I asked. He also didn’t send that orchid last week, but.” She winces. “Sometimes I forget to specifically thank him. You know. It’s a lot of flowers.”
“But.” Stiles’ head hurts. “If Scott didn’t order them, why would Derek bring them?”
“I actually called the shop, and they said they didn’t have an order from us on file. Scott and I are pretty sure he brought them for you.” Allison shrugs, as if this conclusion doesn’t rock the very foundations of Stiles’ existence. “Didn’t you see a name on the delivery form?”
“I never read the form, why would I read the form? They’re always yours.” Stiles is thinking of Derek’s voice, the strange emphasis he put on I need you to sign for these, and he can barely breathe. “Why would he?”
“You’re kidding me, right?” Allison is giving him her oh you sad innocent puppy look, usually reserved for Scott. “Stiles. I see you two messing around down here like every single Friday. I came back from lunch last week and he was all over you.”
“He was showing me how to make a seven-ten split in hallway lawn bowling,” Stiles explains. “It was perfectly innocent.”
Allison snorts. “Yeah. Except that he’s so completely into you that it’s not even funny anymore.”
“Into me.” Stiles really wishes this conversation could have happened before 3pm, because he’s working through a haze of caffeine-crash at this point and everything is connecting very slowly.
“Yes, wow. Did you honestly not notice the way he was looking at you that day you showed up in that sweater you shrunk in the wash? He looked like he was in actual pain, Stiles.”
“But if…” Stiles flings his arms out in frustration. “Then why didn’t he just say so?”
“He did,” Allison says patiently, gesturing at the roses. “He brought you flowers and asked you to dinner. He was probably just trying to be subtle about it.”
“Well, that’s really fucking dumb,” Stiles declares, jumping out of his chair and slinging his workbag over one shoulder. “Can you put those in some water for me, Allison? I’m taking thirty minutes.”
“Why do they even pay you?” Allison asks, picking up the roses again. “Do you do actual work, ever?”
Stiles doesn’t have time to address this really rather valid question, though, because he’s on a mission.
“Where’s Derek?” Stiles demands as he bursts through the door.
“Good afternoon, welcome to Laura’s,” says the the pretty, smirking woman behind the register. “You must be Stiles. Aw, man, you are cute.”
“Uh.” Stiles feels a little of his righteous determination drain out of him in response to her obvious amusement.
“My brother is sulking in the back room,” the woman says. “Go put him out of his misery, he’s got deliveries to run.”
“Got it,” Stiles says, and he accepts her offer of a high five as he slides past the counter.
He finds Derek slumped over a table, viciously yanking the petals off of a wilted carnation. “That looks productive,” Stiles says. “You might give me a run for my money in the slacking department.”
“Stiles,” Derek says. He won’t look Stiles in the eye. He looks nervous.
“Wow, okay.” Stiles grins, bouncing on his toes a few times, because holy shit Allison was right. “So I wanted to ask, where am I taking you for dinner tonight? If we’re not allowed to get pizza, I mean.”
Derek drops the carnation. “It doesn’t, uh.” He clears his throat. “Anywhere. It doesn’t matter. It can be pizza. I was only joking.”
“Good to know,” Stiles says, making his way around to Derek’s side of the table. He hops up onto it, sending little wilted flower petals scattering everywhere. “You know, it’s not always easy to tell when you’re being serious. Sometimes you have to clarify.”
“All right.” Derek stands, and Stiles bravely opens his knees so Derek can move in between them. He leans down, bracing a palm on the table by Stiles’ hip. “Stiles?”
Stiles feels raw and oversensitive all over, yearning so hard that it actually hurts not to be touched. He watches as one of his hands reaches out and slides up the back of Derek’s neck without his conscious permission. “Derek?”
And then Derek is kissing him—a frankly shocking open-mouthed take-no-prisoners kind of kiss, considering how shy and circumspect he’s been up to this point. Stiles just wraps his arms around his neck and holds on, whimpering in an embarrassingly desperate way when Derek grabs him by the waist and yanks him closer to the edge of the table.
“I’m being serious,” Derek says when he pulls back, panting. He’s smiling at Stiles like he’s never seen something so wonderful in his whole life, and Stiles becomes instantly and cripplingly addicted to that expression.
“Yeah,” Stiles says, watching raptly as the laugh-lines deepen at the corners of Derek’s eyes. “So am I.”