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Constantly on the Cusp

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Stiles is having a shit day at the end of a shit week. He’s on the tail end of a twenty-four shift that has seen him nearly brained with a platform heel during a domestic dispute, clawed by an irredeemably evil cat that he gallantly rescued from a sewer drain, and called an impressive and creative slew of insults by a couple of skate punks in the park he ticketed for underage drinking. He’s exhausted, irritable, smells terrible, and wants nothing more than to go home, tear off his uniform, and sleep for the next forty-eight hours he has off.

So of course, just as Allison is turning their patrol car into the station so they can do paperwork and clock out, the dispatch radio crackles. Drunk and disorderly at Earl’s, the diviest of dive bars in Beacon Hills’ small but respectably disreputable warehouse district, injuries reported, paramedics en route. Stiles groans and Allison, who was spared the shoe and the demon cat, punches him softly in the arm as she circles the lot and pulls out, flipping on the lights and the siren. “You can make it through one more call,” she smiles.

He side-eyes his partner of nearly five years warily. “Have I ever told you that your aggressive positivity is disgusting and possibly even suspicious?”

“Of course you haven’t, because you know I can kill you and make it look like an accident," she smiles sweetly.

Stiles snorts a laugh and shakes his head, sipping back the dregs of his umpteenth cup of coffee this shift. “Let’s go take care of this bullshit so I can get some damn sleep.”

They get slowed down by construction traffic on Dexter, taking much longer to get to the scene than Stiles would like, further agitating him. When they get to Earl’s, a Beacon Hills Fire Department ambulance is already parked in front of the bar, lights on but no siren, back door closed.

“I hate it when the paramedics get here first,” Stiles mutters to Allison while they walk to the door, hands on their holsters. “They always get in the way.”

Allison rolls her eyes. “Yeah, how dare they do their jobs so efficiently.”

It’s controlled chaos inside – controlled, Stiles sees with confusion and surprise, by a paramedic he’s never seen before, a tall guy with dark hair, a truly spectacular beard, and an incredibly intense scowl. He’s standing between two drunk truckers, a hand on each of their chests, holding them apart as they thrash and bellow, trying to get at each other, trying to go through him to do it. There’s another rough-looking guy sitting on a barstool a few feet away, blood gushing from a head wound that Reyes, the paramedic Stiles does know, is patching up.

“Nice of you to finally show,” the new paramedic growls at them, loud enough to be heard over the slurred, shouted insults of the two drunks.

“Hey, why don’t you fu–” Stiles starts, having absolutely no patience to take any shit from a damn paramedic, but Reyes cuts him off.

“Deputies Argent and Stilinski,” she calls out. “Welcome to the party. Meet my new partner, Derek.” She jerks her head, blonde ponytail swinging, toward the guy keeping the two drunks from strangling each other. The guy – Derek – nods slightly towards them, but his scowl doesn’t soften, settling with a disturbing intensity on Stiles. He’s intimidating as hell, with a shock of black hair that contrasts sharply with his vibrant green eyes. There’s a rigidity to his stance, a bearing that suggests a history of law enforcement or military, and Stiles has the distinct impression that this guy could be extremely dangerous if he wanted to be.

Stiles cautiously approaches the drunk closest to him, the bigger of the two, hands raised in an attempt at calm appeal. “Alright, buddy let’s try to settle down a bit, huh?” He takes another step forward and reaches to take the guy’s arm, but the guy on the other side of Derek lunges then, yelling even louder and grappling at Derek’s shirt, making him turn towards him in kind, with an even more intimidating glare; the guy Stiles is trying to subdue takes advantage of Derek’s distraction and twists from his grip, lurching towards Stiles with an ugly snarl and wild flailing of limbs.

It’s such a rush of chaotic motion that Stiles isn’t quite sure how exactly he ends up with the trucker’s arm in his face, his elbow landing with a skull-rattling crack on his nose, so hard his vision goes momentarily black and flares with sparks of light, a hot gush of blood bursting from his nostrils. It’s utterly disorienting, and Stiles trips backwards, stumbling into a clattering table and chair, blinking hard and getting his vision back just in time to see Allison expertly bring the guy who hit him to the floor, facedown, cuffing his hands behind his back.

Still blinking hard and trying to ignore the pain radiating from his nose, he looks over to where Derek has the other guy in a similar position, wrists pinned, apparently just as skilled as Allison in physically subduing someone. He’s looking up at Stiles, scowl replaced by arched, expectant eyebrows. “Cuffs?”

He steadies himself, head spinning a bit, and hands his handcuffs to Derek, who gets them snapped on the guy and hauls him to his feet. Erica tosses Stiles a towel for his nose, and Allison mirandizes the two truckers. Stiles helps her get them outside to the squad car, one hand still clutching the towel to his face.

He slams the backdoor of the squad car closed and turns back towards the bar, coming up short when he sees that Derek is standing there by the door, apparently waiting for him. He jerks his head towards the ambulance.

“I’ll take a look at your nose,” he says curtly, stalking away, not waiting for Stiles for answer.

“Asshole,” Stiles mutters into the towel hanging over his mouth, but follows him anyways. He tries, and fails, not to check out Derek’s ass, which is superb, cupped by snug uniform pants, round and perfect enough to make him momentarily forget about the hot throbs of pain in his face. He lets his eyes trail up his back, impressed by the breadth of his wide shoulders and the muscle under his dark blue uniform shirt. The guy may be an asshole, but goddamn, he’s a hot asshole.

Derek opens the back doors of the ambulance and gestures for Stiles to sit down, but he still doesn’t say anything as he goes about opening a large case of supplies and pulls on a pair of blue latex gloves. Without preamble, he steps between Stiles’ thighs and cups his face, pulling the towel and his hand away.

“We got a bleeder,” he finally mutters, mostly to himself. This close, Stiles can see that his eyes are an array of unbelievably vivid colors, jeweled greens and ocean blues and glittering golds, framed by long, dark lashes and those ridiculous wild eyebrows. Elongated rectangles of red light from the top of the ambulance cross over his face in a steady rhythm, making him seem even more aloof and mysterious.

Stiles is fascinated by him.

Derek reaches for his kit and pulls out something small and plastic-wrapped along with a pair of medical scissors. “Is that a tampon?” Stiles asks incredulously.

“Yep,” he answers, pulling off the plastic and cutting the tampon in half lengthwise with quick, practiced moves. Derek pulls the towel away from Stiles’ face again, this time tossing it aside. Quickly, but gently, Stiles notes, he slides a tampon half up each of his nostrils, far enough until they’re stuck, half sticking out, cotton string on one side hanging down and tickling his lips. He feels utterly ridiculous, but it is, he admits reluctantly, a very effective way to stanch the bleeding.

“You learn this trick in paramedic school,” Stiles quips, sliding his eyes up to meet his.

“Afghanistan,” Derek replies, matter of fact, reaching up again to examine Stiles’ face, cupping his fingers around his chin and gently prodding his nose and cheeks with his thumbs. “They’re great for bullet wounds too.”

“Army?” Stiles tries not to wince too much at the flashes of pain in his face, tries not to get too distracted by all those damn colors in Derek’s eyes, by the wide, stern curve of his mouth.

“Marine Corps.” Derek doesn’t offer any more details, just keeps examining his busted face with deft fingers and a neutral, infuriatingly difficult to read expression that Stiles can’t help but study. His beard really is something else, perfectly sculpted, soft-looking but still maybe a little rough.

Dammit. Stiles is on shift, is fucking bleeding profusely, but all he can think about is what that beard might feel like on the inside of his thighs, against his ass, tickling his balls while Derek deep throats him. Fuck, he’s known the guy for fifteen minutes, during pretty much all of which he’s looked like he wants to murder Stiles, but apparently that doesn’t matter to his cock. Or hell, maybe that’s exactly why he’s getting inappropriately hard while Derek patches him up, contemplating the thrills of bringing a guy like him to his knees.

Derek secures a metal splint over the bridge of Stiles’ nose. “I don’t think it’s broken, but you might want to get it x-rayed just to be sure. The bleeding should stop soon.” He activates an ice pack by folding it half and hands it to him. “Keep this on for a bit to help with the swelling. Want anything for the pain?”

“Whaddya got?”

“Ibuprofen, morphine, and fentanyl.”

Stiles shrugs. “Nah, I think I’ll just grab a bottle of whiskey on the way home. Thanks, though.”

“Good plan.” Derek actually smiles at that as he snaps off the gloves – or something like a smile at least, a little twitch at the corner of his mouth (fuck, his fucking mouth).

He’s still standing close, looking down at him, even though he’s done fixing up Stiles’ nose. Derek’s eyes track over his face, expression dark, eyes lingering on Stiles’ mouth, which is starting to crust with drying blood. It sends a rush of heat through his chest, hot and twisting, surprise and excitement at Derek’s apparent interest in him.

“You could join me,” Stiles says, doing the best he can to look alluring with a tampon sticking out of his nose and his uniform shirt covered in blood. He lets his knee fall to the side a bit, enough to rub against Derek’s thigh, clear in his meaning. “We could have some fun,” he adds, licking his lips, ignoring the bitter copper taste he finds there.

Derek starts and steps back, angry scowl returning. “What the fuck?”

The excitement in Stiles’ chest sours to dread. Fuck. He rarely makes this mistake, but when he does, it never goes well. “Shit man, I’m sorry. I thought you were gay too.” Derek’s scowl deepens, and even in the midst of this awkwardness, Stiles can’t help but be impressed. He’s downright terrifying, and what the fuck, that turns him on even more.

“Why?” Derek demands.

“Huh?” Stiles tries to straighten his shirt, feeling incredibly awkward and desperately in need of an exit strategy.

“Why do you think I’m gay?” There’s a tightness in his jaw and in his voice, a slight pause before the word gay.

Well. That tells Stiles everything he needs to know about Derek. He rolls his eyes. Fucking homophobes.

“Forget about it, man,” he says. “My mistake.” He stands up and grabs the ice pack. “Thanks for your help in there. And with this,” he adds, waving vaguely towards his face. Derek steps back again, giving Stiles a wide berth, like he’s not going to risk them touching again.

Stiles sighs and shakes his head. “See you around, Derek,” he says, not bothering to hide his disdain as he walks away from him, hating himself for wanting to look back.