“You don’t understand, Erica, if I show up without a date Gordon’s wife will literally find the next single person in the room and make us sit together for the rest of the evening. It happened to Quinn last year and the guy Mrs. Gordon selected had no interest in sitting with her for five hours and just got up and left, because no one outside of R&D knows how much pleasing Mrs. Gordon means to our job, and Quinn is still working 80 hour weeks in an attempt to get out of the red, like the negative score in Jeopardy only the thing in Jeopardy is our careers.”
“I’m going to the party with Boyd. Can’t you just... go be cute somewhere and invite the first person to approach you to the party?”
“What, like on a street corner?” Stiles asked sarcastically. “I think you have an elevated sense of my level of attractiveness.”
“I really don’t, I wish you’d look in a mirror,” she snarked casually. “How about the new guy?”
“What new guy?” Stiles asked. “Oh no, Erica don’t.”
“Hold on,” Erica said into the phone.
“I said hold on!” She snapped back, muting her headset. “Hey Derek, I have a friend.”
“He’s cute. Single. I wanted to do him all through high school and still would if I didn’t have Boyd.”
“Works down in Research and Development.”
“NO.” Derek answered emphatically.
“Come on, his name is Stiles and if you’d just meet him you’d see...”
“I’ve met Stiles. No.”
“He grows on you.”
“A fungus grows on you,” Derek rejoined. “No.”
“Stiles?” Erica said, unmuting her headset. “He said no.”
“Uh yeah, I heard all five times. Fungus. Not interested. Listen, Erica, you know that muting your headset using the button on the headset puts you on speakerphone, right?”
“OH FUUUU.... UUDGE ME!” she exclaimed, shooting a furtive glance towards her boss.
Derek Hale’s face pissed Stiles off. It wasn’t because Derek compared him to a fungus, but couldn’t the guy be less attractive if he was going to go around casting aspersions on someone else?
Though, Stiles decided, Derek Hale wasn’t all that. He didn’t seem to have a personality of his own, which was probably why he thought Stiles would grow on him. Stiles considered all this as he outlined the completed research he had done on the company’s newest project, flow charts on the SMARTboard behind him.
“...and while the project is an ideal representation of the sustainability clause in our 5-year plan, fiscally it won’t be possible until the next quarter,” Stiles finished, adjusting his tie. “On that note, Ms. McCallum requested I brief her in person.”
“See you, Stiles,” Erica called out as he left. Stiles gave a small wave in return.
“That was Stiles?” Derek questioned.
“The last time I saw him he was wearing a Zeppelin t-shirt.”
“Lucky asshole,” Erica said fondly. “He gets to participate in Casual Fridays.”
A YEAR LATER
“Stiles, I can’t do this anymore. You don’t talk to me!”
Stiles stared at his girlfriend – potential ex-girlfriend – and snorted. “Yeah, because my problem is keeping silent.”
“And I can’t take the sarcasm anymore.”
“But what about the annual Holiday Party?”
“I tell you I can’t take the sarcasm and that’s what you respond with?” Anna said, shaking her head as tears ran down her face. She turned on her heel, throwing his spare key towards him, not that she ever used it. He had basically given it to her to water his hibiscus while he was away, because of course Stiles would get the only houseplant in the world that needed more water than he did.
The door slammed behind her.
That was when he really started to feel a panic. “It wasn’t sarcasm!” He yelled after her. “What about the Holiday Party?”
Seriously, though, he’d break up with her afterwards because there was something very wrong with the fact the only reason he could think to stay in a relationship was so he didn’t have to be at Mrs. Gordon’s matchmaking table again this year.
What he really needed was a fake date, Stiles decided. Someone who was equally as desperate for a fake date over the holidays. Maybe there was a Craigslist section dedicated to it.
Maybe he should make one.
Maybe he could create a whole website: Fake Dates to Fool Your Relatives and Coworkers.com
Maybe he could make money off of it.
Maybe that was already a profession.
“You’ve got this look,” Erica said, gesturing to her face when he stepped on the elevator.
“I’m considering prostitution.”
“Anna broke up with you? I hear half the guys down in Mainframe hired escorts with some company online.”
“Damn, I knew it was already a thing,” Stiles bemoaned. “I would have made so much cash.”
“Wow, you were considering prostitution on multiple levels,” Erica said, impressed, picking at her nail polish as the elevator doors opened on the next floor and Derek Hale walked in. At this rate, Stiles was going to get home sometime around midnight. “Oh, Derek. I can’t drive you to the party. Boyd and I aren’t going this year, we have to pick up Nana from the airport.”
Derek shrugged. “I’ll call a cab.”
“You need to make more casual work acquaintances who actually like you enough to allow you in their vehicle.”
Stiles knew two things about Derek Hale. One, he owned a really hot car, and two he was the kind of staid, humourless guy who thought owning a nice car made up for the complete and utter void where his personality should be. Stiles had never seen Derek wear anything but an ill-fitting suit in a shade of grey with a matching scowl. Derek Hale was boring.
But, Stiles wasn’t one to miss on an opportunity being shoved right in his face. He might not like Derek Hale on a normal day, but there was nothing about this that was normal.
“What happened to your sweet Camaro?” Stiles asked.
“His sister borrowed it,” Erica said cheerfully. “Drove to Lake Tahoe for the holidays and left him here without transportation and fending for himself.”
This was... perfect, actually. Stiles needed a fake date and Derek needed a drive. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll drive you to and from the party and in return I get to tell Mrs. Gordon you’re my date.”
Derek leaned around Erica and eyed Stiles. “You won’t be wearing a Guns to Roses t-shirt, will you?”
Stiles gaped at him. “No, I sincerely doubt it.” Maybe because he didn’t know what a Guns to Roses was. Seriously, Derek Hale, Boring Extraordinaire? Seriously?
“Fine.” Derek nodded.
Yes! Stiles had a fake date to the Holiday Party!
Stiles probably wouldn’t regret this. Fake dating Derek Hale was probably better than being stared at in disapproval by Mr. Gordon’s sweet, satanic wife.
“Come in,” Stiles gestured to Derek, standing in his office doorway. Derek hadn’t unclenched yet, wearing his customary suit and tie combo. The only concession he had made to the fact he was going to a holiday party was the fact his nicely pressed shirt was the colour of an evergreen tree. “Sorry, I was just about to change.”
“Okay,” Derek said with a shrug.
Yeah, Derek probably thought Stiles was going to leave his office and go change in the bathroom because that’s what rational, dull guys like Derek did when they had to change at work, but Stiles had two walls full of windows and he sincerely didn’t care, so he grabbed his change of clothes and spread it across his desk. He’d reassessed his choices upon seeing what Derek was wearing and peeled back the protective plastic over his grey shirt and took it off the hanger, unbuttoning it carefully with his tongue peeking out of his mouth.
Then he stripped off his shirt.
He was standing there holding the expensive dress shirt when his Skype beeped.
“Oh no, Stiles!” Lydia said the moment she saw him. “I told you to wear the red shirt.”
“I can’t,” he told her, pulling on the dove grey one, “Derek is wearing green and we’d look like we matched on purpose in some misguided holiday cheer. I don’t think Derek even has holiday cheer.”
“I am wearing a green shirt,” Derek spoke up from where he was standing next to the door.
Aww, yes he was. At least he wasn’t colour blind.
“He’s there?” Lydia questioned, all faux interest as she assessed him in the grey shirt. “Do you have a green tie? A blue one might work.”
“Do you have a green tie,” He asked ridiculously, because yes he had a tie rack in his desk. Honestly. Did she expect him to just have a menagerie of clothing choices? He wasn’t Barneys. He was barely even Macys. Actually, if pressed, he couldn’t even cop to being Kohls. “I have a black one.”
“Maybe you can trade with your date?”
Stiles made a face at her. “Derek has an old man tie,” he whined. “And he doesn’t want us to match. Are you a crazy person?”
Lydia made a sound that indicated exactly what she thought of him. “Let’s see,” her eyes observed him critically. “You can pull off a slim fit. Now – pants.”
“I know!” Stiles snapped back, yanking down his work pants and scowling at her. “I hope you know that I can dress by myself,” he told her, pulling on his party pants. Though, the term ‘party pants’ made them sound awesome and they weren’t actually much different from his normal pants, unfortunately. It wasn’t like they had a neon tuxedo stripe down the side, which might be fun, if only to see the expression on Derek’s face. They were just a bit more fitted and made him look sleek. At least that was the word Lydia had used. Stiles thought they made him look like the world’s most uncomfortable male model.
Actually that was really flattering. Male model, yay!
Lydia waited until he was finished fastening the pants before she smirked. “You realize you’re not by yourself? Derek’s in the room.”
“Uhm yeah,” Stiles told her. “I just made fun of his tie.”
Lydia actually looked surprise, as though she expected him to be self-conscious of the fact he had just stripped down in front of Derek. Being self-conscious in front of Derek would be useless, because 1. Derek was not attracted to Stiles. Derek barely even tolerated Stiles. 2. Stiles was not attracted to Derek. Stiles barely even tolerated the way Derek couldn’t tolerate Stiles. 3. This was a fake-date. No need to worry about casual undressing on a fake date because it didn’t count.
“Let’s see him, then,” she said with a put-upon sigh.
“Derek,” Stiles turned to argue with Derek to step into sight. He would physically move the webcam affixed to the top of his monitor if he had to.
It was unnecessary because Derek stepped up behind him.
Lydia frowned at Derek. “You weren’t kidding about the tie. Give him your black one and you can wear the white.”
“No,” Derek said.
And yeah, that was kind of his trademark phrase, wasn’t it?
“I appreciate you agreeing to come with me,” Stiles said, hands clenched on the steering wheel of his car. There was a parking attendant off to the side waiting impatiently for someone to make a move, and glaring at Stiles like it was assholes like him that made his job so much more difficult. “Just a heads up, because I know people in other departments don’t really get it. Our manager, Mr. Gordon, dotes on his wife. Dotes on her. Mrs. Gordon, on the other hand, has made it her life’s goal to find everyone around her a love story like her’s and because Mr. Gordon did us all the disservice of proposing to her at Christmas, she gets particularly... involved this time of year.”
“After last year the other departments are... aware,” Derek edged.
Yeah, of course. Right. No one was safe, that was why Derek agreed to this in the first place. Stiles flexed his hands on the steering wheel again. “Right. I think our best cover would be to just claim this is our first date, and then it won’t be weird that we don’t know each other, like, at all.”
“So the truth,” Derek said flatly.
“Now you’re catching on,” Stiles said with a grin, moving to undo his seatbelt. The parking attendant scowled deeply at him, so Stiles slipped him a ten dollar bill. Not counting the tip he should leave when reclaiming his car, that left him with exactly $35 to spend on drinks. Champagne was free along with the hors d’oeuvres, but any other drinks, alcoholic or not, were not. An open bar it was not.
Some people snuck flasks of whiskey/scotch/vodka/whatever into a party. Stiles seriously considered if a bottle of coke would ruin the line of his slim-fit suit.
Actually, he seriously considered how he could even hide it in the suit.
Maybe Derek would hide it in the voluminous, baggy fit of his outfit. Stiles had good money down on the fact Derek was attempting to hide a flabby stomach, rather unsuccessfully, with the fit of his shirt. There was no other reason to wear something three sizes too big, especially considering Hale seemed to pay a lot of attention to his personal grooming habits.
Stiles was a snob.
And Derek had ridiculous hair.
But seriously, Derek Hale’s face wouldn’t be terrible if he didn’t always look like he was one facial muscle away from sucking on a lemon.
Stiles sucked in a breath and squared his shoulders, preparing for the firing squad. Even though he had a date, he felt like he was alone in this.
Then Derek pressed his hand against Stiles’ back as they walked through the door of the party, and Stiles realized that each of them might be alone, technically, but they were in this together.
Stiles might not think much of Derek as an individual, but he was fantastic at his job, and right now his job was being Stiles’ date. He stayed by Stiles’ side, really selling the story with nary an eye roll as Stiles held animated conversations with coworkers who gave them both knowing looks as they looked between the two of them and Mrs. Gordon on the other side of the room.
Stiles just finished extolling the virtues of maintaining his botanical garden as a way to relieve stress – and by that he meant the hibiscus plant he had managed to keep alive for six months, which was basically unprecedented, and one of the main causes of stress in his life, when it happened.
“So Derek, what do you do?”
“I’m an engineer,” Derek informed the guy slowly, as though he didn’t see the man every day and work with him on a weekly basis.
“No, I meant outside of work,” Kyle said, clapping Derek on the shoulder with a laugh as though Derek’s complete lack of a personality was just Derek’s attempt at being funny.
Derek stared at Kyle until he backed off uneasily, taking his hand off Derek’s shoulder.
And Jesus, Stiles had been aware that Derek was really like an office drone, but that was cringe-worthy, eye-rolling, ridiculous. He needed alcohol, but he wasn’t allowed to drink unless he also wanted to allow the Terminator to drive his car, so he went to his standby for stress: eating.
Stiles reached across Kyle and snagged two canapés off a passing waiter, shoving both of them in his mouth without taking a good look at what he was eating. He didn’t have any food allergies, and his tastes were less than discerning, but not even Stiles appreciated the taste of stale pastry crust coated with eggs and spinach and eww.
Let the record show Stiles had actually enjoyed a quiche or two in his life.
These mini quiches were not included.
He spent a moment with them held on his tongue, prolonging his agony as he debated whether to swallow. And honestly, you’d think he would be better at rationalizing the swallow/don’t swallow issue these days after spending a decade as a bisexual male, but obviously that wasn’t the case, because try as he might, he couldn’t talk himself into allowing the food in his mouth to continue down his throat.
Derek huffed by his side, and for a moment Stiles thought he might help and pass over a napkin or something, but of course Derek wasn’t that in tuned to what was going on with Stiles’ gag reflex, because he reached over and tugged Stiles’ shirt back into place, smoothing it back into his pants in the back where it became dislodged from Stiles’ Olympic-level reach for the canapés from hell which were slowly fermenting in his mouth.
Not that it was a problem anymore, because the moment Derek’s fingers tucked beneath the band of Stiles’ slacks, Stiles choked down the mini quiches in surprise. Because wow, talk about taking liberties.
Derek couldn’t just put his hands down Stiles’ pants like that! Stiles thought indignantly. They didn’t have that kind of relationship.
Only, by the time his eyes stopped watering from the surprise swallowing of quiche, his shirt was fixed and his boss’s wife was standing in front of them, looking exceptionally pleased, and Stiles realized that he and Derek might not have that kind of relationship, but Derek was better at his job of being a fake boyfriend than Stiles was, because at least he was able to competently pretend they did.
All Stiles could do was bite back the urge to scowl and pull away from the way Derek’s fingers had deftly tucked his shirt back into his pants.
“Oh how sweet!” Mrs. Gordon crowed. “Have you two been together since I introduced you at last year’s holiday party? That’s just precious! Look honey! Look! Stiles and Derek are still together!”
Stiles cast a horrified look at Derek from the corner of his eye as Mrs. Gordon turned to tug at her husband’s arm. He could not remember Mrs. Gordon introducing them at all last year. He hadn’t been drinking and considering last year was about a week after Derek had compared him to a fungus, being introduced to him probably would have been the mildew to take the cake. He would have remembered being matchmaked with him. Matchmade? Matchedmake?
Whatever, it would have been the worst part of last year’s holiday party if that happened, and Stiles specifically remembered sitting next to Smelly Ryan for an hour, and while that had been bad, being forced on Derek would have been worse.
“Oh my dears!” She beamed happily. “That means it’s your anniversary too! You have GOT to come out to our mountain-side cabin this weekend to celebrate with us. It will just be a relaxing weekend between Frank and I and a few close friends.”
No, but wow.
Stiles cast around his brain for a good lie, and decided when in doubt, blame Derek. It wasn’t like their relationship would last that long. “We work Friday and Monday. I think Derek has a... plans. Derek has plans Saturday night that might be unwiggable out of.”
Mrs. Gordon laughed. “You’d get Monday off, wouldn’t they Frank?”
“If the boys drove up to the cabin after work on Friday, they’d get Monday off, wouldn’t they? I’ll never understand this need for businesses to remain open on Christmas Eve. It’s only half a day.”
Stiles, who up to that point would have done anything to get out of the weekend, suddenly saw little jolly Santa Claus figurines at the idea of getting that Monday morning off, even if he did have to spend the weekend with Derek.
He would do a lot of things not to have to work Monday morning and technically get a span of 5 days off. He hadn’t even taken that much vacation time all at once during the 2012 year, his social calendar too full of weddings and bachelor parties and babies being born. That shit added up.
“Of course, dear,” Mr. Gordon said. “You’d have to arrange it with Heather.”
“Oh psssft,” Mrs. Gordon waved aside, “Heather won’t mind.”
“Derek and I will have to talk about it,” Stiles assured her, hand on Derek’s arm. Derek hadn’t said a word for the entire conversation, not that Derek was a talkative person, he just normally had a few buzzkill things to say by a certain point in a conversation, and as far as Stiles was concerned, that point passed once they got invited into the mountains.
“Of course,” Mrs. Gordon demurred. “I’ll just go talk to Heather, shall I?” as though their answer was obvious.
“By Heather she means Heather McCallum, our CEO,” Stiles said in hushed tones once he dragged Derek out into the hallway. There was a piece of mistletoe above their heads, which meant that this section of the lobby was practically empty at this level of sobriety of party-goers at large and it was the perfect place to talk.
“I know,” Derek responded, staring at Stiles like he couldn’t believe Stiles was trying to school him, Mr. Perfect Employee, married to his job with no actual hobbies of his own. Stiles couldn’t really believe it either.
He also couldn’t believe he was trying to convince Mr. Perfect Employee to take a morning off work.
Like that was possible. Derek Hale was probably excited at the prospect of working on Christmas Eve.
“Listen, I know we’re not... in a position to play loving boyfriends all weekend, but this,” Stiles gestured back towards the party. “This opportunity we’re getting. I mean, it’s at least an extra day off, paid, and saying no to that would be incredibly foolish, wouldn’t it?”
Derek stared at him. “You don’t need to spell it out for me, Stiles, I see the benefits of this just as well as you do. Have you thought of the pitfalls, like what would happen if we were caught?”
“Then we don’t get caught,” Stiles answered cheekily, tongue between his teeth as he grinned at Derek. “Obviously we’ve done ok so far. I know you love your job or whatever, but they won’t fire us. And if it comes to it, we’ll just lie. Lie more. More lying, it’ll be fine.”
Derek looked unimpressed. “So if someone notices we don’t know anything about one another, we say...”
“Booty call,” Stiles said firmly.
Derek closed his eyes with a grimace.
“The mountains, Derek, think of the mountains. The fresh air. No listening to Erica complain about Boyd’s grandmother. Missing out on those terrible fruitcake cupcakes the cafeteria tries to sell. Think about it.”
“Booty call,” Derek echoed faintly.
Stiles rolled his eyes.
Fake boyfriends were a lot of upkeep. That was why Stiles had no problem firmly slotting Derek into the ‘fake’ boyfriend role without any lustful crossover into ‘not fake makeouts’ territory, because Derek was the kind of person who got hung up over terms like booty call and probably didn’t know how to handle Stiles’ booty so he did any kind of calling.
“It’s all settled, boy – OH!” Mrs. Gordon looked up, stars in her eyes. “Mistletoe.”
She was probably the only person in the world happy to see mistletoe. Mrs. Gordon and perverts.
And seriously, fuck his life, Stiles decided without waiting for Derek to figure out what was happening before he grabbed Derek’s face and kissed him. Quickly. Like ripping off a bandaid.
“We’ll be happy to come to the mountains to celebr—“ Stiles started once he turned away from Derek, but he was cut off by Derek’s fingers closing around his wrist, tilting him back beneath the mistletoe as his mouth closed over Stiles’, warm and dry and soft and...
So good. Just the right kind of pressure for this kind of kiss, with tiny adjustments of the angle and really fantastic subtle drag of his lips against Stiles’ that gave really good friction, and...
Derek Hale could kiss.
Derek nipped playfully at Stiles’ mouth, hot and tantalizing as his thumb rubbed sparks into the sensitive skin above Stiles’ pulse point.
So Derek Hale could kiss? Stiles rationalized as he gently pulled away, licking his lips. At least they had gotten it out of the way and Derek had played his part as the attentive and less attractive boyfriend to a fitted tee (which would probably make him less frumpy – just saying).
It changed nothing.
Friday was long and boring, no one doing any real work and everybody conveniently ignoring the fact they had to come to work for four hours on Christmas Eve. There was punch on a table next to the water cooler and cookies in the break room, and Stiles couldn’t help but smile smugly at his coworkers and chant ‘weekend weekend weekend’ in his head.
So what if he had to spent it with Derek Hale? Derek was boring, he probably wouldn’t even break Stiles’ bad mood because that was impossible.
Did he mention weekend?
He counted down the hours until it was time to leave, his suitcase already in the back of his car. Now all he needed to collect was his fake boyfriend attaché.
Derek was wearing the clothes of the eternally boring when Stiles found him in the development area, bent over a table with a ruler and a pencil.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked.
“It’s only...” Derek looked at the time. “Five after. Ok, give me time to pack up.”
“Five minutes,” Stiles warned. “Because: weekend.”
“Five minutes,” Derek assured him.
“Ten minutes late already,” Stiles chided, “I expected more from you.”
“Five minutes, Stiles,” Derek said with barely veiled irritation.
And heh, now might not be the time to remember that the only personality trait he’d ever seen evidence of in Derek Hale was annoyance at Stiles Stilinski?
It was going to be a long weekend. “I’ll be in the car.”
“I said I’d be ready.”
“I’ll pull the car up,” Stiles assured him with gritted teeth. “It’ll be out front in five. Don’t forget your over-night bag.”
“Ohhhh,” Smelly Ryan said over the top of his cubicle, watching them interact with unabashed interest. “And here I thought your relationship was fake.”
Derek, true to his word, was striding out of the building in five minutes, still wearing his horrible, terrible, ugly suit. Stiles winced.
Stiles swerved into a Target about fifteen minutes into the trip. Derek had been more or less silent the entire time, listening to his iPod despite the fact Stiles had offered to play it from the car’s speakers. He was probably listening to something embarrassing, like One Direction or an audiobook of a romance novel, though that would mean Derek had actual interests, so it was probably an engineering podcast.
Not that engineering wasn’t interesting...
It couldn’t be all Derek liked, could it?
The idea made his head hurt.
Whatever. Stiles was half convinced he should put on the Guns N’ Roses discography and give Derek some schooling. Highway to Hell was always a high roadtrip point.
Though, shit, also AC/DC.
Stiles liked the band shirts more than he liked the bands sometimes. Terrible but true.
“Two hour car ride,” he responded to Derek’s raised eyebrow. “I need roadtrip snacks.”
“I brought granola bars.”
“Are you... you’re serious,” Stiles responded in a flat tone, because of course Derek had granola bars. Derek didn’t even consider changing out of his work clothes to be a priority and didn’t bring fun snacks with him, he brought granola. Derek was the most granola, boring, vanilla-y person Stiles had ever met. Everything about him was flat, like stagnant water.
“I need roadtrip snacks,” Stiles reaffirmed because there was no way he was getting through two hours in a car, and on a Friday afternoon on the weekend before Christmas it would probably take them more like three or three and a half with all the traffic leaving the city, without something to munch on. Munching left his mouth slightly more occupied, and while Stiles was known to have entire conversations with his mouth full, that was only if he deeply needed to say something.
Derek’s eyebrows caved in a bit in the middle. “We should stop for a proper supper.”
“Hey! That’s an awesome idea!” Stiles agreed as the red automatic doors parted in front of them. “Maybe on the way there.” Once he got so sick of being stuck next to Derek in a small space that he would prefer sitting across from Derek in a small space but in a more open room.
“I eat at six-thirty,” Derek said, looking at his watch.
Stiles stopped and stared at him. “Oh no,” he said with dawning horror. “You’re... are you one of those people? You know, the type who does everything at a certain time, right down to scheduled bathroom breaks.”
Derek narrowed his eyes at him. “There is nothing wrong with keeping to a schedule.”
“Well there kind of is if you make an issue of it when we’re guests in someone’s home.”
“I’ll eat supper,” Derek gritted out, “when there’s supper. But I would appreciate not relying on energy drinks and Doritos to get me through the evening. It has been a long week, and it will be an even longer weekend if I forgo sustenance.”
Stiles huffed. “You get cranky when you’re hungry.”
Derek rolled his eyes towards the ceiling as though wondering what he had done to get stuck with Stiles.
You said yes, Stiles wanted to inform him in self-satisfied tones. “Come on, we need to pick up a hostess gift anyway. You go find a gift bag with tissue paper and I’ll find a present.”
And then Stiles had what was probably his last Derek-free moment until Monday.
It didn’t last as long as he wished, because Derek found him a few minutes later standing in front of a wall of gift ideas, utterly baffled.
“Chocolates,” Stiles decided, looking at the wall of gift choices, Recommended for the Hostess by whatever hapless employee was given the thankless task of coming up with a wall of gift ideas.
Derek looked at the wall impassively. “There aren’t any chocolates,” he pointed out.
“Do you think slippers are a thing?” Stiles mused. “Wine stoppers in the shape of snowmen?” He looked even more uncertain. “What’s a Sherpa Throw?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, in your experience...”
“My sister is my only surviving family member,” Derek bit out, looking, if possible, even more uncomfortable.
“I was asking about your experience going to holiday parties,” Stiles said gently. “But that’s a thing we have in common. Half in common, anyway. My dad is the only one I have left, and he’d be no good at this.”
“Laura would bring booze,” Derek offered, which was an amazing idea.
“Merry Christmas!” Stiles exclaimed charmingly to Mrs. Gordon when she answered the door. “A thank you gift from Derek and me,” Stiles grinned, passing over the carefully wrapped box of imported chocolate and various other sweets.
Then he passed over the bottle of expensive wine both of them had decided looked horrible but suitably expensive and pretentious. They had picked it up right before going to supper, which actually hadn’t been bad. Derek had been marginally relaxed and food always made Stiles happy, and to make things a bit better, Derek had passed the boyfriend test, which was to not pass judgement on Stiles’ eating habits.
Though Derek had just looked amused, which was a huge step up from the possibilities Stiles’ mind had conjured, and he might have been particularly enthusiastic about his food just to press the issue, expecting Derek to make it one.
The fact that he didn’t -- well, Stiles wasn’t sure what that said about anything, being as Derek was not actually his boyfriend.
“I have a bedroom all set up for you!” Mrs. Gordon said with a smile.
Stiles had expected that, but it was one thing to suspect you were going to spend the weekend sleeping with your fake date and another thing to be presented with your prison room with a flourish.
“Awesome,” Stiles said once she left, putting his overnight suitcase on the bed so he could unpack the few outfits he brought. “I had these horror images of a double sized bed in a rugged mountain-chic decor. I get splinters easily, that would have sucked. But we can manage this, right? This is less awkward.”
“I need to change,” Derek warned him.
“Ok,” Stiles shrugged. Derek stared at him. Stiles stared back, floundering for what Derek wanted him to say. They were (fake) boyfriends, modesty be damned. “Do you expect me to go wait in the hall, because believe me if we had the type of relationship the Gordons think we have I wouldn’t be in the hall. I’d probably be in here helping you.”
“I don’t need help from someone wearing a t-shirt with a Nintendo controller on it.”
“Look at you,” Stiles said, looking up at Derek from where he was digging in his luggage for the hoodie he had shoved in it that morning. “Recognising Nintendo controllers.”
Derek had already shucked his suit jacket and was pulling his button-up over his head without unbuttoning it. And if that was how he dressed and undressed, no wonder his clothing was so baggy.
Stiles yanked the hoodie free with a feeling of accomplishment. Yeees, he didn’t spill any of the socks or underwear running loose in his luggage because he didn’t pack until the last second and then had just tossed a bunch of things in.
Maybe he should become a magician and try out that tablecloth trick.
Then he paused, because holy shit.
Look at Derek.
Stiles couldn’t help BUT look at Derek.
He knew Derek’s arms had a little bit of added bulk to them, but the boxy suits Derek tended to wear made him think his Derek was just carrying a bit of added weight.
Yeah, weight of muscle.
Stiles didn’t really know what to do with that information.
Derek was hot.
Derek was super, super hot.
Derek had abs of granite. Abs of marble. Abs of... holy shit. Derek’s back muscles.
Of course Stiles had the hottest fake boyfriend to ever exist in the history of fake boyfriends.
Derek stood in front of him, shirtless, and completely unconcerned by it. His abs alone were enough to have Stiles stare for hours.
The whole package was frying his brain. Seriously frying it. Like bzzzt, your keyboard is done in by a mug of spilled coffee frying it.
Sizzle sizzle motherfuckers. Stiles had been so, so, so wrong and now he had to atone for it by watching Derek change, and sleeping in the same bed as him, and...
That was bad.
Stiles wasn’t sure why this was happening to him, but he thought it might be payback for changing in front of Derek in his office.
“Those are jeans,” Stiles asked inanely as Derek pulled a pair of pants out of his bag.
What happened to the chinos and a button up shirt tucked into a smartly buckled belt as casual wear? Stiles couldn’t be attracted to a guy wearing an outfit like that. Derek was only supposed to wear unattractive things because Stiles couldn’t be attracted to Derek. He had to sleep with Derek for the next two nights, being attracted to him would make things waaay awkward.
Or maybe really interesting.
Though, more than likely, awkward.
“I do own jeans,” Derek sneered. “I just believe there is a time and a place to wear them, and work is neither the time nor the place.”
Yeah, Stiles reflected, almost choked in horror. Because Derek wore his jeans so inappropriately tight that 1. He would definitely get a citation for inappropriate apparel from Human Resources, and 2. He wouldn’t be able to get any work done because he probably wouldn’t be able to move with the mobility needed to engineer, and with a bonus of 3. No one else would be able to get any work done either because they’d be too distracted. Someone would probably lose a finger on a laser when Derek walked by in those things.
“Besides,” Derek finished, buttoning his jeans over a flat stomach. “Not all of us have supervisors who encourage Casual Fridays.” He moved, shirtless, into the bathroom.
“Erica wears jeans to work,” Stiles reminded him inanely, almost following Derek through the door automatically, trying to keep him in sight. When Erica wore jeans, everyone wept with relief, because she had a leather pencil skirt in her arsenal and comparatively, the jeans were better for office sanity.
Derek stuck his head out the bathroom door and gave Stiles a flat look. “Only an idiot would discourage Erica.”
But then Stiles was beginning to be under the impression that only an idiot would discourage Derek, too, because Erica might be a leggy blonde but Derek was tall and dark and handsome and surprisingly hot.
And Stiles’ fake boyfriend.
Or not score as the case may be.
Once they were changed, Mrs. Gordon suggested a group outing to walk around the charming town of Big Bear Lake.
The town was just as charming and picturesque as it had seemed when they were driving in and Derek and Stiles had fought over the GPS directions telling Stiles to turn down what was clearly not a road (but maybe an extended driveway?). Derek had said that if the Gordons lived down a driveway which was that long, they would have said so and they would have plowed it.
Derek was right.
He was walking a bit in front of Stiles, making a clear concession for the cooler mountain air by wearing a leather jacket, and Stiles was feeling definitely like an anime character narrowing in on nose-bleed territory. Derek’s jeans were even tighter from the back, cupping an ass that Stiles would never have guessed, not in a million years, was under those goddamn ugly suits Derek wore.
He felt betrayed.
He felt tricked.
He felt like maybe ‘real but pretending to be fake’ makeout sessions were in his future.
And maybe sex if Derek was interested, because goddamn it, the only comfort Stiles had for Derek’s categorically turning him down and calling him a fungus last year had been that Derek wasn’t his type. He was boring and wore unattractively boxy suits.
Maybe Stiles had focused a bit too much on mentally assuming Derek was unattractive beneath those suits. Stiles may or may not have used the suits to cope about the fact that Derek had compared him to a fungus. Because that rankled. It stung. It was rotten and moldy and gross (like a fungus).
So what if Derek was hotter than the sun? He still didn’t have a personality to speak of.
Derek turned to make sure Stiles was still behind him, raising an eyebrow as he noticed how Stiles had fallen behind.
There were marble busts out there with less chiselled good looks than Derek’s profile, Stiles noticed, narrowing in on a full-blown panic. He managed to make a motion for Derek to continue before he slipped off the main street the group was walking on and fell onto the sidewalk in front of a closed store. He couldn’t even take a moment to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the scene in front of him, the street bracketed with lights leading down to the lake.
Instead he crouched on the other side of the snowbank, his glove clenched between his teeth as he navigated the menu of his phone. Speed-dial should not be this hard.
“What is it, Stiles?” Lydia questioned.
“He’s really hot!” Stiles said, getting straight to the point.
“Of course he is,” Lydia responded. “His face was attractive on webcam.”
“No, I mean... his body is perfect. His body makes Jackson look like he should try harder.”
“Hyperbole,” Lydia responded, a casual reminder.
“No. Understatement,” Stiles hissed.
“Really?” Lydia questioned, voice perking up slightly. “It’s a good job you’re dating him then. Bypasses all the phases you go through in the process of wooing someone you think is out of your league.”
“We’re not dating,” Stiles answered sullenly.
Lydia just laughed and hung up.
Stiles stared at his phone.
But he was having a crisis!
“Stiles?” Derek called out, backtracking to find him.
“Here,” he said, finally noticing his ass was in the snow, and it was cold.
Derek gave him a look of concern, bracing his hands on his thighs as he looked down at Stiles, offering a hand to help him up. This emphasized how his pants molded to his thighs and crotch and all that wonderful area that, if they were in better lighting, Stiles wouldn’t have to squint at him in a noticeable way. “Are you alright?”
“COULD YOUR JEANS BE ANY TIGHTER?” Stiles asked, almost gaping.
Derek raised a questioning eyebrow. “They could.”
By the time the group returned to the Gordon’s three story cabin-cum-mansion, Stiles could feel his balls again, though he wasn’t sure that was a good thing considering Stiles had snapped a picture of Derek along the way and sent it to Danny with the caption of ‘My fake boyfriend is really hot help’ and Danny, curse him, had texted back ‘you have all the luck, Stilinski.’
And whatever, he wasn’t freaking out over this anymore. Derek might be hotter than Stiles expected, but he was still Stiles’ fake boyfriend, and they didn’t exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things, so it was a moot point.
He was just going to go to bed and maybe by tomorrow things would look better.
Worse! Maybe he was tired from spending the day at work and then driving for almost four hours once supper break was accounted for. It was possible that he was seeing Derek through rose coloured glasses, almost the same phenomenon as beer goggles, but without the alcohol. Maybe in the morning Derek would be back to being entirely NOT Stiles’ type.
Also, maybe by morning Stiles would find out he won the lottery and would be set for life and could move to a private island and hire men more attractive than Derek to clean his pool.
His prospects for the morning were really looking up.
Stiles crawled into bed, wriggling around on the sheets and testing the bed’s surface. It was fine, a bit harder than he was used to, but the space more than made up for it and he sprawled along the width of it, arms in a starfish pose.
“You’re on my half,” Derek said from the doorway of the bathroom, arms crossed over his chest and biceps bulging beneath the cotton shirt he was wearing. His pajama bottoms were thick flannel, which was good because... well, reasons. Reasons that had to do with the fact that this whole thing was fake, and the thicker the pajamas between him and Derek the better.
“There’s a lot of half,” Stiles said gleefully. “King bed.” Which was really, really, really awesome because it made the chances of them rolling over and accidentally having sex in the middle of the night so much slimmer.
“And yet,” Derek responded, an eyebrow winged high in judgement.
“Fine,” Stiles huffed, rolling over onto one side. He stayed there as Derek put away the clothes he had worn, tucking everything back in his duffle bag. As Stiles attempted to get comfortable, he realized the bed being slightly too large for the room had drawbacks, drawbacks such as the air vent he was now directly under shooting hot air right in his face.
“Nope!” he exclaimed as Derek finally made it over to his designated side of the bed, rolling over into the space Derek was about to occupy. There was a lot of bed to navigate, so he ended up rolling about four times until he was stopped by Derek’s knee on the mattress. “Change sides,” he pouted up at Derek balefully.
Derek looked at him. His face took on a particularly pained expression, like he didn’t want to take Stiles’ shit anymore, but he was stuck here for another two days so there was an end in sight for him to look forward to so he didn’t murder Stiles with the lamp cord.
It was good to know Derek had that kind of control over his fight or flight instincts. Stiles felt much safer.
Derek finally made his way over to the free side of the bed and climbed in. Stiles could tell the exact moment he felt the hot air from the ceiling vent because he sighed, aggravated, and shuffled over a bit.
Stiles did his best not to laugh out loud, but he was sure Derek could feel the vibrations of his chortling through the mattress. This was not one of those mattresses where you could have a glass of water on one end a drop a bowling ball on the other.
Still smiling, Stiles turned on his back to sleep.
And opened his eyes immediately.
“Nope,” Stiles said. “Change sides with me.”
“Are you serious?” Derek growled.
“There’s light streaming in from the Disneyworld quality light display outside and it’s hitting me right in the eyes,” Stiles whined.
“You’re serious,” Derek deadpanned. “How am I supposed to sleep with light in my eyes? You were the one who insisted on changing sides in the first place. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it!”
With that, Derek turned over in a very dramatic fashion, like he enjoyed the fact he was getting a hot breeze from the forced heat over the fact Stiles had 2000 watt fairylights shining in his eyes.
Stiles scowled at him, throwing an arm up over his eyes.
Then it hit him what Derek said. Derek had made a joke. Derek had made what seemed like a very deliberate joke, at Stiles’ expense, in that entirely flat way he had of speaking.
Stiles had a lot of time to think, considering he’d never sleep with the fucking Vegas Strip of holiday lights shining in his eyes, and he thought over the things Derek had said to him and came to the conclusion that somehow he missed the fact Derek had a sense of humour.
Derek spoke sarcasm fluently. He had a skill for stealth sass, something Stiles should be intimately familiar with because it was the language of his people. How had he missed something so huge?
Did that mean Derek had a personality?
Stiles was fucked.
But not literally, because FAKE BOYFRIEND.
Unfortunately, because wow, he could really like Derek Hale and it sucked.
But not literally, because FAKE BOYFRIEND.
Luckily, he and Derek didn’t have fake boyfriend not!sex in the middle of the night. Stiles woke up with one of his arms thrown over one of Derek’s arms, which really wasn’t the end of the world all things considered. King sized beds were awesome.
Unluckily, Derek showered and changed first, and Stiles’ first sight of the day was Derek Hale wandering back into the bedroom with a towel around his hips, held in place with long fingers. So, so uncomfortable, Stiles thought as he tried not to watch Derek too closely. It wouldn’t do to start fully lusting after his fake boyfriend.
He was watching Derek bend over to grab his suitcase, all flexing back muscles and the possibility of the towel falling out of place from where it very tentatively clung to the curve of Derek’s ass.
Stiles swallowed because it was far, far too late to take back the fully lusting after Derek. Possibly it had been too late before they even entered into this sham weekend, and back then he hadn’t known what Derek had looked like shirtless, which was far better than even his wildest imagination could conjure.
Just as Stiles was thinking that maybe Derek’s reason for walking around in a towel was some kind of payback for the bed situation the night before, Derek found whatever it was he was looking for in his suitcase and went back into the bathroom.
Stiles relaxed, grateful Derek was out of sight once again.
Then Derek re-emerged in a pair of jeans that were, if possible, even tighter than the ones from the night before.
And, well, Derek had warned him, hadn’t he?
“Are you real?” Stiles asked, trying to discern whether he could see the outline of Derek’s abs through his thin white ribbed undershirt. Maaaaybe.
“Why are you confused?” Derek asked, pulling on Stiles’ foot. “Mrs. Gordon said breakfast was at 8. Get out of bed or you’ll be the one who risks insulting our hosts.”
“Eugh,” Stiles grunted, rolling to the floor with a flurry of blankets dragging with him. He wandered into the bathroom and was halfway through his shower before the full impact of Derek’s hotness hit him.
He finished up brushing his teeth and changing, opening the door to find that Derek had remade the bed and was waiting for him to finish in the bathroom with a handful of hair products in his hands. “It’s all yours,” Stiles said with a smirk and a flourish, brushing his hands deliberately against Derek’s ass as he walked by. Derek turned with narrow eyes to stare at him, and Stiles held his hands up cheerfully. “Sorry,” he chirped. “Accident.”
Within seconds Derek had him pressed back against the door frame, kissing him again.
That was not what Stiles had expected, but only a fool would complain against the way Derek kissed, all intent and focused and hot, with just the right amount of pressure with his mouth.
Stiles grasped at Derek’s shoulders as Derek’s hands fit around his hips, pressing hard against the bare skin exposed between his jeans and his t-shirt, still slightly damp from his shower-flushed skin. Derek dragged his hands up Stiles’ flank, a hard pressure trailing up his sides and pushing his shirt up around his chest, trapped between them as Derek pressed Stiles closer against the door and dragged his hands back down Stiles’ sides, harder than the ascent as his thumbs pressed against the hollow of Stiles’ hipbones.
Derek stepped back, leaving Stiles’ mouth stinging slightly from teeth and cooling against the air. “Sorry,” he smirked. “Accident. I slipped.”
Then he closed the bathroom door and left Stiles to pick up the pieces of his sanity, because god, what kind of fake boyfriend teased and kissed like that? It was totally unfair.
It took Stiles longer than it really should have to realize that the pounding he was hearing in his head wasn’t a psychotic break (and/or the echo of Derek pressing him against the wall).
It was actually the door.
Terrible timing or great timing, Stiles wondered as he crossed the room to answer it, making sure his clothing was all back in place. He swung the door open to find the secondary cause of all his problems beaming at him like she knew exactly what he and Derek were getting up to in her guest room.
“Christmas sweaters!” Mrs. Gordon announced happily. “It’s a family tradition today.”
Thank god, Stiles reflected, neither he nor Derek packed anything like that. Derek was too boring to even own a Christmas sweater, even if he kissed like a sex god, and Stiles just hadn’t thought of it. “Sorry Mrs. Gordon, we didn’t know.”
“Oh, of course I didn’t expect you to know, dear,” she said with an even wider smile as she brought out two hangers from where she was using the doorframe to hide them. They both held equally ugly knit sweaters in patterns that looked like a combination of snowflakes and the decorations on tree ornaments. Stiles, if pressed, would take the one with the shades of green evergreen trees as the base, despite the fact it would look ballin’ on Derek due to his eye colour.
Of course, maybe he could play the hero. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “Are those made out of wool? Derek is terribly allergic to wool. He could maybe last an hour in one before his nose started to run, his eyes got watery and itchy, and he had trouble breathing. I don’t think I should expose him either...”
“I understand,” she leaned close to him. “Mr. Gordon is allergic to the perfume I wear when I want some alone time, but your relationship is young and it’s Christmas, so I know you want to spend every moment together.
Well, spending every moment with Derek was a small price to pay for not having to wear the sweaters, he decided. “Thanks for being so understanding,” he grinned.
“Of course,” she patted his cheek. “We wouldn’t want to put either of you in an uncomfortable position.”
Ha! Stiles thought closing the door as Derek wandered back into the bedroom with his hair styled and his hotness complete.
“Who was at the door?” he asked, and it was a horribly domestic line for someone who wasn’t real.
Really his boyfriend?
“Mrs. Gordon,” Stiles answered. “When we get back to LA do you want to go out with me?”
Derek scowled at him. “I am going out with you.”
“No, I mean... like to a movie, or something.”
“A movie? Seriously?” Derek questioned, putting his hair products back into his luggage. “We’re up in the mountains and that’s your best option for a follow up outing?”
Wow, Stiles wasn’t entirely sure what was happening with this conversation. He was saved by another knock on the door. Stiles threw it open, glad for any excuse not to either be staring at Derek or trying to figure out what Derek meant, because seriously, was that a “yes” to dating him or a “no”?
“I dug up some shirts without wool!” Mrs. Gordon announced, very pleased with herself as she passed over the hangers. “See you at breakfast!”
Stiles closed the door behind her with a definite feeling of his life unravelling at the seams. “Do you want the shirt with the light up Christmas tree?” Stiles said, showing it to Derek, that feeling turning into one of glee as Derek took in the shirt with horror. “Or the one with the Rudolph nose pompom right in the middle of the chest.”
Derek scowled at Stiles like this was his fault.
Technically it was, because the wool ones? Yeah, they were classy compared to this.
“Non-negotiable,” Stiles said cheerfully, because Derek was looking at him like he was under the impression that Stiles had planned this on purpose. “Mrs. Gordon says so.”
“Rudolph,” Derek answered gruffly, grabbing the hanger from him.
Derek ended up wearing the light up Christmas sweater because Rudolph was too small for him, not fitting over his the muscles in his shoulders and chest. It had been entertaining to watch him struggle with it, stubbornly against the idea of wearing twinkle lights from collarbone to hipbone.
When Stiles saw him in it, he had laughed until his stomach hurt, because up to the day before he’d been under the impression Derek wouldn’t wear anything but a button up shirt buttoned to the collar, the only variety in his wardrobe being a myriad of dull colours of the same shirt. Stiles, of course, wasn’t under that impression after he had seen Derek in a v-neck t-shirt and jeans so sinfully tight, no truly boring person would be caught dead in them.
There was a difference between looking like a male model and being caught dead in a holiday sweater, though. A very huge difference.
“Look!” Stiles said with glee once he stopped laughing. He poked at Derek’s chest, a manic smile on his face. “I can turn you on!”
Derek bared his teeth at him. “No,” he growled before leaving the room to join everyone for breakfast.
Stiles laughed and trailed after him, the red pom pom of Rudolph’s nose bouncing slightly as he walked.
“Doesn’t he look great?” Stiles asked jovially as they entered the dining room, pressing the on button so Derek lit up, flashing like gay club strobe lights.
Derek glowered harder.
Best Christmas ever.
Breakfast was delicious, and though Stiles expected Derek to be sulky and gloomy all through it, he was on his best behaviour in front of all the managers of their workplace. He laughed along with them at his sweater, smiling and joking and being charming.
Derek was a big faker.
Which... was actually something for Stiles to think about, because he had never really seen that kind of behaviour from Derek, and their (fake) relationship should be worth the effort of some faux charm.
Derek had never really tried to charm Stiles, and Stiles was feeling left out.
After breakfast Stiles had agreed to string some cranberries and popcorn for the tree outside, and his fingers were busy quickly working through the respective bowls of each with nimble fingers. Derek was sitting next to him, spending more time watching what Stiles was doing than he was helping.
Maybe he could make Derek give him some of that Hale charm.
“It’s my hands, isn’t it,” he asked, leaning into Derek’s space and pitching his voice low. “I used to practice on the net of my lacrosse stick back in high school. Let me tell you, I make a mean knot.”
Stiles sat back with a smirk, giving Derek a challenging look.
“Of course I find you attractive, Stiles,” Derek said, reaching out and dragging his chair closer, reeling Stiles in. “Let me be a little distracted by you.”
And yeah, there it was. Stiles was totally done in for because he wanted to just jump Derek and drag him back to their bedroom and keep him there for hours. For days. “I think,” he said, licking his lips, “I can find a way to better distract you.”
Derek pulled back slightly. “Not here,” he said, nodding towards the people sitting in the parlour almost directly in their line of sight.
“Right... I...” What was Stiles doing? Trying to seduce his fake boyfriend? That was a terrible idea. Thank goodness Derek had more sense than he did. He got back to work, focusing entirely on the bowls in front of him and thinking of all the birds he could feed with the stringed popcorn/cranberry combo.
He was starting to think he and Derek were invited for some kind of enforced labour.
“Mrs. Gordon, incoming,” he murmured to Derek a few minutes later, nodding towards the doorway.
“You two work so well together! And you’re so festive and attractive. You know what would be perfect for you?” Mrs. Gordon cooed ambiguously. “A Santa Hat!” She then dropped it on the table in front of them and practically skipped off.
Stiles looked towards Derek and raised his eyebrows meaningfully.
Derek shook his head slightly.
Stiles gestured to the reindeer nose on his sweater as if to say ‘sorry, doesn’t match.’
Derek used both hands to point emphatically towards the multicoloured lights of his sweater. As if to say ‘isn’t this penance enough, asshole, I don’t even like you that much and here I’m your fake boyfriend and I’m wearing this hideous sweater, so you better take the hit on this one.’
No can do, Derek, Stiles’ eyes narrowed in return. Stiles was under the impression that Derek really needed to work at being unattractive again, and he should start now.
Stiles grabbed the hat off the table, reaching towards Derek with the intent of forcing it on his hard head.
Derek’s response was a sour ‘no’ face.
Stiles gave ‘yes’ eyes, wide with delight and intent as he moved forward.
Derek planted his large hand over Stiles’ face to keep him at bay. In retaliation, Stiles slapped Derek’s face with the pompom on the end of the hat.
“Euuulgrrrr,” he sputtered as Derek pushed him away even harder, fingers groping with the material on Derek’s chest until he found the on switch. His vision was compromised with the blinking lights from Derek’s shirt as he regained his grasp on the fuzzy white border of the hat and used it to bring the entire thing up and smack Derek in the face with it again.
Derek’s fingers squeezed until his thumb and forefinger were pinching Stiles’ lips awkwardly up towards his nose.
“No for duckface!” Stiles exclaimed, but the D came out muffled against the palm of Derek’s hand, sounding more like “No for fuckface.”
Derek might have solidly built arms and hands that looked like they were more suited to almost any other job than working in an office, but Stiles had one advantage – his fingers were longer. He used that fully to his advantage, groping Derek’s face until he managed to hook his fingers around Derek’s ears.
“Say uncle!” Stiles said, pulling on Derek’s ears.
Derek jammed his fingers up Stiles’ nose.
It was awesome, only because Stiles managed to drag Derek down to acting like a five year old, and it was a good look on him, all flushed skin and sulking glowers that went really super awesome with Stiles’ crowing sense of smug accomplishment.
Derek glared at Stiles, Santa hat over his forehead at a jaunty angle, flattening his hair, which was possibly the funniest part of the whole thing.
Either that or the fact that Stiles had just finished pulling it down over Derek’s head when Mrs. Gordon walked in with her BFF Heather and both of them looked so delighted at Derek in the hat that he hadn’t been able to take it off.
“You’re a terrible person,” Derek insisted, pressing his mouth against Stiles’ ear to hide the fact he was scowling from the CEO of the company they worked for. They were currently being dragged into a conversation in front of the fireplace, eggnog abound.
“Hey, I’m a fun guy. A fungi. Get it?” Stiles chortled.
Derek glared at him, unimpressed.
“Maybe if I wrote it out for you.”
“You’re the devil,” Derek insisted, arm around Stiles’ shoulder in proper boyfriend technique.
Was this the same as Derek’s fake charm? Stiles wondered.
“I’m the devil?” Stiles questioned. “You were the one who promised Mrs. Gordon we’d make wreaths tonight while everyone went to play bridge.”
“How hard can it be?”
“Harder than bridge!” Stiles snapped. “Do you even know how to make wreaths?”
Derek shrugged. “Do you know how to play bridge?”
“Let’s not argue about it anymore,” Stiles said.
“Because you know I’m right?” Derek questioned with a smirk.
“No, because everyone is listening to us,” Stiles answered, gesturing towards the group of people sitting around the parlour, most of them watching Derek and Stiles intently.
Stiles made a show of snuggling more firmly into Derek’s grasp and turned to Mr. Archer on his left. “Derek’s like a toddler, he never got out of the terrible twos. He says no to everything. Everything,” Stiles explained, wincing as Derek pinched his shoulder.
“My wife likes to nag me about my smoking habit,” Archer croaked, obviously trying to commiserate.
And, well, that was just wrong on so many levels.
If Stiles did one thing really well, it was finding something to talk about, so he was extolling the virtues of the Mets with Archer, emphasizing his displeasure at the last season with wide arm gestures, the stupid Rudolph sweater riding up his back with each movement. He could feel the waistband sliding up, and up.
Then Derek’s fingers were warm on his back, brushing his shirt back down, and Stiles turned to scowl at him, ready to silently convey his displeasure that Derek couldn’t just let it be. So what, Stiles liked to emphasize emphatically when he was talking about something he was passionate about? So what, Derek was too uptight to let him sit there rumpled until he adjusted his own damn shirt?
But when he turned to Derek, he was deep in conversation with the manager of Human Resources and had been for some time.
Stiles’ scowl turned into a frown and an intent look, because why would Derek pull his shirt down if he wasn’t even paying attention to him, and then leave his fingers tucked into the material as Stiles continued talking, hand light and yet such a heavy weight against his back?
Why would Derek do such an automatic gesture without thought or concern or even awareness? Why did Derek do anything at all? If Stiles really wanted to analyse Derek’s actions, he had to take into account that according to Stiles’ definition of Derek, Derek shouldn’t be there at all, because Derek always said “no” except when Stiles bargained with him.
Stiles’ gaze softened and he looped his arm around Derek’s back in return. “Hey,” he said when Derek broke off his conversation and turned to look at him.
Then he pressed his mouth against Derek’s, the angle only allowing just the corners of their lips to touch. He smirked when Derek looked surprised, turning back to the conversation he’d been having before the realization that to Derek this situation might be slightly weird and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t fake.
Because Derek had said yes to dating Stiles, and not once had Stiles thought to voice the assumption that it wasn’t real.
And he was smart enough to know he never should.
It was a bit more awkward climbing into bed with Derek knowing they were actually dating, but if Derek could manage it so could he.
In the end he just ended up jumping in on his side after finishing with a quick shower to rid himself of the scent and sticky residue of pine and/or whatever that was cloying against his skin, and brushed his teeth. Derek didn’t even have time to put his book down from where he was lounging against the back of the headboard, completely unconcerned about spending a second night in the same bed as Stiles while Stiles freaked out for the first time.
“Bathroom’s free,” Stiles mumbled into his pillow, hiding his face from ostentatiously the light shining through the window, which he was sure was bright enough for Derek to read by, but in reality from looking at Derek too closely.
He was sure Derek thought he was strange, but then if some part of Derek hadn’t realized that already and liked it, Derek wouldn’t even be there. Stiles had been so sure Derek was some staid, stuck up, fun-sucking, boring adult type person, but he was also sure that kind of person would be driven absolutely mad by Stiles instead of whatever exasperated/intrigued fondness Derek seemed to have adopted towards him.
Stiles vowed to himself that he was going to find the side of Derek that secretly liked everything Stiles was and draw it to the surface, because the guy had to have a smile somewhere that used both sides of his mouth.
Large beds worked for some people who didn’t want to touch their bedmate. The human body only naturally took up so much space and even on his back, Stiles still could sleep on a razorblade edge if he could find the right balance, so he wasn’t too worried about getting all up in Derek’s business.
Most large beds weren’t bookended by Christmas display lights that could illuminate a whole football field and the hot emissions of dragon’s breath, so naturally both Stiles and Derek met in the middle.
It wasn’t as awkward as it could be when Stiles woke up pressed against a sleeping Derek. He took a moment to appreciate Derek’s features up close, relaxed in sleep, and he couldn’t help but smooth a quick kiss along Derek’s jaw before rolling out of bed to shower. It was supposed to be a busy day, the whole group breaking up for various winter activities. Archer had said: Do you ski, Stilinski? Because based on your name, I think you do.
Derek had responded with “I’d like to see your skills at archery, Archer,” across the line of Stiles’ shoulders.
So they were maybe going skiing, and Stiles didn’t know anything about how to strap two pieces of wood on his feet and plummet down a hill.
It sounded like so much fun.
But Derek seemed to think it might be, and Stiles thought it might be fun if he was with Derek, which just showed him how much Derek had managed to wriggle beneath Stiles’ skin and become someone who mattered in only the space of a few days.
Derek, who he was actually dating and Stiles found he didn’t mind the fact he’d been wrong. About everything.
Of course, that didn’t mean he was going to make things easy for his boyfriend, because Stiles was anything but easy.
Case in point: they didn’t quite make it to the car before Stiles started up another fight.
“Hey Derek!” Stiles yelled, and lobbed his snowball as Derek turned to look. Years of playing high school lacrosse finally paid off as the snowball sailed through the air and hit Derek right on the forehead. The snow scattered across his face and into his eyes and Derek shook his head, dispelling most of it except for a few pieces clinging to his hair and eyebrows.
Stiles started laughing as Derek glared at him. He was still bent over, almost in tears, when the first snowball hit his ass.
“Hey!” Stiles yelled indignantly, unable to keep a stern face with any level of realistic severity as he scowled back at Derek. Derek, for all the world, looked completely innocent of any wrong doing. He was slowly edging forward, getting closer to Stiles with every casual shuffle of his feet, not looking like he was in a hurry at all.
Stiles narrowed his eyes, because Derek wasn’t the kind of person to meander. Sure, he sauntered sometimes, but never without purpose.
Derek definitely had purpose. Derek was a big old faker.
Stiles gathered another handful of snow, just getting a good grip on a lump that could generously be called a snowball but was more like the grabby hands of a desperate person, when Derek finished moving towards him, casually, so casually Stiles ended up blinking in shock without doing anything to intercept, grabbing Stiles around the legs and lifting him in a fireman’s hold.
It was kind of impressive given that Stiles was about 150 pounds of skin and what only the most generous person (or a doctor) might refer to as musculature. On top of that he was wearing about ten pounds of winter gear, layers upon layers of shirts beneath a thick down jacket, and getting any kind of hold on that level of squish should not be easy.
But then Derek had strong, wide shoulders and didn’t seem to have any trouble throwing Stiles over one of them so his ass was sticking in the air and his nose would have hit against Derek’s majorly superior oblique muscles if the combination of scarf and the eight layers of clothing over his chest didn’t cushion him enough that Stiles probably couldn’t even touch his nose to Derek if he tried.
His arms were dangling over Derek’s back, but somehow, somehow he still had the snowball in his mitten. “Ahahah!” Stiles cackled with manic glee as he shoved his hand against Derek’s butt, mashing the snow right into his jeans.
Derek bounced him in retaliation, Stiles stomach hitting against the corner of Derek’s shoulder, but he didn’t notice it as much as he normally would thanks to the sixteen layers of clothing he had on. Winter was excellent for padding, he decided, because he was warm all over and his lunch wasn’t even threatening a return from Derek’s jostling.
“I’m a little disappointed,” he told Derek. “I would have placed good money on your ass being so hot that the snow just melted right off of it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Derek chided, throwing him into a snowbank.
Stiles laid there for a moment, expecting it to be so much colder. Then he wriggled a bit and laughed, mouth open wide. “Real winter clothing is wonderful! I don’t even feel it! Look Derek!” Then he did the shimmy and arch combo he had on good authority could melt the brain of even straight guys. Of course, with the thirty two layers of clothing Stiles was wearing, the effects were probably muted a bit, but Derek’s eyes were still on him so Stiles had to take that as success.
While Derek was distracted by his hips, Stiles stealth-hit him with a foot hooked behind his knee, arm reaching out quickly while Derek was off-kilter and bringing him down into the snowbank with him.
Stiles laughed as Derek hit the snow next to him, but he had the sneaky suspicion Derek allowed himself to be pulled down.
“If you don’t want to go to the movies, what do you want to do?”
“I’m serious,” Stiles said in grave tones. “We should get to know each other a bit better and do all those dating compromises where we expose each other to things we like and just hope the other one can hold on.”
“And we already did what I like to do. We ate together, and you were wonderful. You didn’t once mock my eternal antagonistic relationship with a straw.”
Derek turned towards him in the snowbank. “We should go skiing.”
“But I don’t know how!” Stiles protested.
Derek smirked. “I’ll show you.”
Best idea ever, Stiles thought, thinking about Derek patiently guiding him down the ski hill, gloved hands clasped around Stiles’ hips.
Yeah, and maybe then Stiles could pretend he couldn’t get the hang of it and they could go into the lodge and make out away from the speculative and appreciatively giddy glances of Mrs. Gordon.
Skiing turned out to be the worst idea ever. Stiles ended up renting a snowboard and challenging Derek to a race, because he might not know how to ski but he was kind of awesome on a snowboard and his pride couldn’t take the hit of allowing Derek to teach him how to do something he was actually marginally good at.
Of course Derek knew how to ski. Of course Derek was like a professional grade skier and kept looking at Stiles like he thought Stiles was lucky that he knew how to strap on his snowboard, all smirky face and raised eyebrows.
That was where the race came in, after Derek had insisted on guiding Stiles onto the chair lift, coaching him through where to place his snowboard relatively to where Derek’s skis were. The entire ride up, cold air biting at Stiles’ eyebrows, Derek explained the general theory behind snowboarding. How to stop, how to curve the board to change directions, with his hands moving to illustrate.
It was kind of lovely to watch Derek use his hands to do anything, even if they were covered in gloves.
“Crash course, emphasis on crash?” Stiles asked, hitting his shoulder against Derek’s. He could barely feel them touch through layers of clothing.
“That depends,” Derek said, preparing to get off the ski-lift.
“How good are you at thinking on your feet?” Derek asked, pushing off the seat first, allowing the snow and gravity to carry him away from the ski-lift. He turned, likely fully expecting Stiles to fall on his face trying to disembark from the chair, but instead Stiles was already next to him, strapping in his free foot.
“I’m better with my hands,” Stiles assured him, grabbing at Derek’s arms and pressing a quick, cold kiss against his mouth. “I’ll race you,” Stiles said with a challenging smile.
“Think you can take me?” Derek questioned with a smirk of his own.
“Is that an invite?” Stiles asked, pushing off the top of the hill and aiming for a triple diamond slope.
It didn’t take Derek very long to pull ahead, and Stiles allowed him to have a slight lead for half of the slope, laughing as he followed behind Derek’s wake.
He could win this.
And of course Stiles got cocky and ended up cutting Derek off, accidentally forcing him off the trail.
Of course they were finally doing something fun as real boyfriends and Stiles had to go and make things into a competition.
Better Derek know now, he supposed, because Stiles could be kind of a jerk when he got competitive.
“Are you ok, sweetie?” Stiles called, vaguely mocking, peering over the side of the trail for his boyfriend. “Derek?” he called out, actually worried when he didn’t see him.
Derek’s pulled out of the woods part-way down the hill from where Stiles was looking for him, snapping a tree branch back like a whip with the speed he was going at through the powdered snow. “Motherfucker,” Stiles exclaimed, speeding after him.
It was too late, because Derek reached the bottom of the hill before Stiles did.
And he was laughing.
Stiles tried to look put-out, but he couldn’t help but smile. “Again?”
“I won’t go easy on you this time,” Derek said, eyes clearly amused.
“Why would I want you to?” Stiles asked, raising his chin in challenge.
The next day, they were finally on their way home. Stiles ached in places he hadn’t since the last time he had gone snowboarding, and driving for 3 hours should have been torture, but he had Derek at his side, laughing as Stiles deliberately sang the wrong lyrics to Christmas songs, and reading out trivia questions from an app on Stiles’ phone.
Derek knew most of the science and history questions, and Stiles owned at the popular culture questions, and they were both equally as bad at the Literature questions. Stiles was already coming up with possibilities for a night playing pub trivia, since Derek seemed so opposed to going out to a movie.
Before he knew it he was pulling up to Derek’s house, their weekend away officially over, and he couldn’t help but wonder when the next time he’d get to spend some actual time with Derek would be.
Derek reached behind him to grab his bag, his shoulder brushing against Stiles’. Stiles looked at the front entrance of Derek’s duplex, on a street of very similar duplexes, in a suburb of cookie cutter boutique houses that gave Stiles a bit of the heebeys. Along the street some of the houses were strung with lights, some more overtly festive than others, some with major religious overtones and others that simply took joy in a festive display. Some duplexes, like Derek’s, were dark and impersonal.
It struck Stiles as cold, so cold compared to the three days they had just spent warmth yuletide goodness, with family that wasn’t their own. Stiles thought about the sad little tree he had to go home to, the smallest turkey he’d bought that would still feed him for a week, and how lonely his couch would feel when he drank hot chocolate with eggnog on Christmas Eve in the company of the looped fireplace channel from his cable provider.
Stiles wondered why either of them would want to go home to that. “Come home with me,” he blurted out.
Derek turned to look at him, now halfway out the door, one foot touching the ground. His eyebrow quirked. How Stiles could have ever thought Derek was humourless was beyond him.
“Come on, dude, I think we’ve reached beyond awkward and came out the other side, and I’m not really looking forward to spending Christmas alone, so what do you say? What’s one more night?”
Derek stared at him.
“Let me get some fresh clothes,” he conceded finally.
Stiles celebrated a bit, grinning after Derek as he opened his front door.
Then he started freaking out, wondering if he had left any weird and incriminating things out in the open in his apartment. He’d been in a hurry Friday morning, so he knew that there could be a small mess, but nothing too major because Stiles actually tried to keep his living space clean.
He stopped worrying about it when Derek slid back into the car with him, and the air immediately seemed warmer. Stiles was so, so fond of Derek already. It felt amazing in ways he forgot relationships could be.
“Home sweet apartment complex,” Stiles said, pulling into a parking lot a few minutes later. “I’ve got food, but if you want anything specific we can take a run to the store.”
“No,” Derek said, getting out of the car. “I’m fine.”
Derek was in his home, and there was absolutely nothing weird about it. In fact, the thing that registered as the strangest to Stiles was the fact that Derek clearly didn’t know which door opened into the bedroom and which was the bathroom, or where he kept the mugs in his kitchen.
The thought was slightly strange, because Derek had never been in Stiles’ apartment before, and yet Stiles accepted him there without thought or condition.
“I think this is a sherpa throw,” Stiles mused, opening the present Mrs. Gordon had presented them with when they left and tossing it towards Derek sitting on his couch. “Is it just a throw?”
“I think your hibiscus is dead,” Derek said, head nodding towards the plant drooping in the planter. “You’ll have to come up with another fake hobby to tell coworkers about to make yourself seem interesting without giving away too much of yourself.”
Stiles stared at Derek.
Ooh, Derek had caught on to that, because obviously Derek had his own coping mechanisms when dealing with nosy coworkers. “Or I could just tell them nothing. It works for you.”
Stiles’ Christmas Eve went exactly as he thought it might, sitting on the couch with a hot chocolate and staring at the fireplace channel on television, but it was far, far better with Derek warm at his side, laughing softly at his jokes, and allowing Stiles to be slightly obnoxious with the various ways he came up with to get in Derek’s space.
There was tons of time for he and Derek to discuss the heavier topics in their lives, so Stiles spent the evening talking about some of the terrifying (in retrospect) stunts he and Scott had pulled throughout the years. He spoke fondly of Beacon Hills and his time at university, and poked and prodded Derek with questions until Derek was telling Stiles about his sister and her pet dog, and how she had temporarily moved in with him eight months ago after a break up and never left.
They talked until it was technically no longer Christmas Eve, and Stiles was hiding a yawn behind his forearm as Derek looked at him and smiled softly in the lights from the small tree in the corner and the television display, nudging Stiles to his feet and navigating him into the bedroom.
Stiles’ mind and body told him it was time for bed, but it also told him that Derek was standing in front of him in a pair of boxers to sleep in. Ones with little reindeers on them. He was sure Derek had been wearing pajama bottoms up to this point.
“Woow,” because fuck it, his boyfriend was hot, and he wanted to appreciate the view.
"What?" Derek questioned.
"Nothing," Stiles answered innocently, eyeing him with interest. "Those are nice boxers, but weren’t you wearing pajamas earlier?"
"It's Christmas," Derek scowled, attempting to convey his displeasure that Stiles had called him on his boxer choice just as they were about to get in bed.
“It is,” Stiles teased, “and I guess I know what you want as a present.”
“Do you?” Derek asked, one knee braced on the bed as he lunged forward, managing to get one hand on the front of Stiles shirt so he could drag him forward. They met halfway across Stiles’ bed, Stiles’ hands clasped on Derek’s shoulders for balance as they kissed. Stiles expected the kiss to be fierce and full of intent based on the way Derek had dragged him forward to participate in it, but instead it was teasing with a hint of a challenge, an extension of banter using words.
“What I want for a present,” Derek told him, mouth dragging deliciously across Stiles’ jaw, a mixture of the stubble on Derek’s chin and soft, soothing lips.
“Yes?” Stiles asked, a breathless and hopeful combination as Derek’s hand slid down his chest, fingers curving to fit along the sharp bone of Stiles’ hip. He would gladly be a Christmas present for Derek. He would let Derek open him up as quickly or as painstakingly as he wanted to, and then he could play with his present hours and Stiles wouldn’t even mind.
In fact, Stiles would encourage it.
“What I really want,” Derek groaned, muffing a yawn as he pressed his forehead against Stiles’ shoulder, “is to sleep in.”
“Alright,” Stiles yawned in return. “Yeah, that’s a good Christmas wish. I think Santa can arrange that,” he said, digging his sheets up from where they were tucked in around the mattress.
“Seriously, I don’t want to wake up before 11 AM.”
Once they were both settled, Stiles turned to Derek, watching as his eyelashes fluttered closed. “What I’d really like for Christmas is sex.”
Derek’s eyes flew open.
“A day of it, all day, after the sleeping, but hopefully not too much sleeping because sex. What do you think?”
“10 AM,” Derek bargained.
Stiles awoke slowly, noticing in increments how he and Derek were sleeping, tucked around each other in a cocoon of warmth. First he noticed the tip of his nose nudged against the hollow of Derek’s neck, his mouth pressed against Derek’s shoulders. His fingers were snug, tucked up beneath the cotton of Derek’s shirt.
Lastly, he noticed the ways Derek was touching him in return, his arm tight around Stiles’ waist, keeping him in place, and their feet were curved together intimately, leading up to the press of calves and thighs, not as tightly wound, leaving room for both of them to shift and move around each other.
Stiles flexed his fingers over Derek’s stomach, and reached for his phone. It was just a little after 7 AM and certainly not even close to entering the territory of sleeping in, so he slid his hand back against Derek’s warm abs, feeling the muscles twitch as he settled, sensing every deep, dreamland breath Derek took through his fingertips. He could definitely give Derek his Christmas wish.
Hopefully, Derek would return the favour.