A Start

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The kitchen is a mess. There’s cake batter dripping off the front of the fridge, and flour is all over the counter and floors. Stiles has egg yolk in his hair, and Derek’s got Maraschino cherries smooshed into his beard. He can’t really remember what exactly started their argument. No, that’s a total lie. Derek’s been making comments all evening about Stiles’ new partner at work that are pretty rude and uncalled for. Lisa’s very nice, and Derek only met her for a few minutes during briefing before he and Jordan went on patrol. Since Stiles got there to help make Scott’s birthday cake, he’s had to hear about Lisa’s predatory gaze, her over familiarity with Stiles considering they just met, and a dozen other stupid pointless things.

It’s petty, mean, and completely ridiculous. Lisa has fifteen years of experience in law enforcement, has a very loving wife at home, and is old enough to be Stiles’ mother. If he isn’t muttering about Lisa, he’s glaring at Stiles silently, resorting back to Derek circa five years ago. Derek’s hostility when he and Lisa were introduced was unwarranted, not that Lisa really said anything about it beyond asking Stiles if he and Deputy Hale were close, and his near constant attacks on her character when they’re supposed to be relaxing and making a cake is annoying.

Derek sounds like a jealous boyfriend, which would actually be kind of adorable if not for the fact that they aren’t dating. Stiles wishes they were, has been infatuated for longer than he cares to admit (is love at first sight really a thing? Because he thinks it is), but it took a while for them to even become friends, and Derek never responds to Stiles’ outright flirting, so he knows when to back off. Since they started working together at the sheriff’s department, they’ve become really good friends, and he’s not going to risk losing that by getting his feelings all over the place.

Their friendship is on a tenuous thread after Derek’s childish behavior tonight, though. The argument that started it all. It had finally reached a point when Derek crossed a line, insinuating that Stiles is unprofessional enough to take her up on her obvious offer during their lunch break, and Stiles had grabbed a handful of flour and thrown it at his face. After a moment of stunned disbelief, Derek had broken an egg on Stiles’ head, and it had escalated from there.

Now, Stiles is standing in Derek’s kitchen and feeling like maybe he’s been the childish one. Derek is breathing hard, jaw tense, lips pursed, and there’s flour on his eyelashes. Stiles watches one of the cherries slowly slide down his chin until it falls on the floor. That does it. He lets out a giggle, quickly biting his lip, but to no avail. Now that he’s started, he can’t stop. He laughs until he’s practically crying, the egg yolk dripping down his cheek. Derek just shakes his head, but his lips are twitching, and it just takes Stiles reaching the snorting laugh point in his hysteria for Derek to breakdown and start to laugh.

“You’re an asshole,” Stiles says in between laughs, once he’s past the worst of the laughing fit.

“I didn’t start this,” Derek points out, grabbing a dishtowel and walking around the table to where Stiles is standing.

“Whatever.” Stiles rolls his eyes. “You’ve been attacking Lisa since I got here. She’s a nice woman, and you’re a rude jerk.”

Derek scowls. “You smell like her perfume. I don’t like it.”

“I didn’t smell like her perfume when you first met her. Try again,” Stiles says, tilting his head so that the egg can drip onto the floor. He’ll clean it up in a minute.

“I didn’t like the way she was eyeing you when your dad introduced you,” Derek mutters, rubbing the towel over Stiles’ head to get some of the yolk out of his hair. “Like a cougar sighting prey.”

Stiles looks up at that, blinking at Derek because did he really make a cougar joke? The tops of Derek’s ears are red, and his scowl is even worse now as he avoids looking into Stiles’ eyes. “She’s got a wife. I highly doubt she was planning to seduce me as soon as we met. I mean, I know I’m awesome, but let’s be real.”

“Oh.” Derek licks his lips, one of the crushed cherries snagging on the tip of his tongue. He sweeps it into his mouth as he finally looks at Stiles. “Happily married?”

“Yes, very from how she sounds.” Stiles arches a brow. “So she’s not hunting for attractive and witty deputies at the moment, or awkward ones like me, either.”

“You aren’t awkward.” Derek wipes the corner of the towel across Stiles’ cheek, his knuckles ghosting over his skin.

“Why did it bother you, Der?” Stiles asks quietly. “Why were you so unprofessional and downright rude to a new colleague? Even if she had been interested in me, you aren’t usually that big of an ass to people.”

“I don’t know,” Derek admits, shrugging a shoulder. There’s a Stiles’ size hand print on his black t-shirt, Stiles notices, not remembering touching his chest during their little food fight. “I just didn’t like you getting a new partner, I guess, and I didn’t like how she was looking at you during briefing.”

“I can’t keep borrowing you or Jordan all the time,” Stiles points out. “I have to get someone to be my very own partner. Being solo gets old, you know? Lonely.”

“I, uh, I’d asked your dad, about trading, but he refused.” Derek’s ears are red again, and the avoidance is back. “Said it’d be the dumbest thing he ever did if he partnered us up full time.”

“Seriously? Why the hell would he say that? We’re a good team.” Stiles is a little annoyed that his dad refused Derek’s request. Of course, having to work with him every day, sharing a car, yeah, that might be a good thing Dad refused, after all. Stiles is pretty good at compartmentalizing his feelings when he’s around Derek to avoid any awkwardness, but he knows he’s not strong enough to have to do it eight hours a day at work constantly.

Derek looks at him. “I assume he thought I couldn’t remain professional if I were working closely with you all the time. I didn’t argue with him because it was already rather humiliating to have my boss, the father of the man I have feelings for, call me on said feelings in a rather direct manner. Alright?”

“Dad wouldn’t ever humiliate you intentionally. You’re his favorite. I think he likes you even more than he likes me some---wait. What feelings?” Stiles stares at him. “There are feelings? For me? Unprofessional feelings?”

“No, I normally behave like an irrational child whenever I meet a new coworker,” Derek deadpans. “We both know about my infatuation with you, and I’d appreciate if you continued to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist so that our friendship isn’t affected by my conduct today. I’ll apologize to Deputy Martin tomorrow.”

“You’re assuming a lot, Derek.” Stiles clears his throat as he reaches over to wipe crushed cherries out of Derek’s beard. If he lets his hand linger, well, who could blame him? “I didn’t know. Not until just now.”

“You don’t have to lie to make me feel better, Stiles.” Derek looks at him but doesn’t swat his hand away from his face.

“I think maybe I’ve been too focused on keeping my own feelings for you secret that I didn’t realize maybe they weren’t as unrequited as I believed,” he says, licking his lips and tasting flour on his tongue. “So, yeah. There it is. Wow. I’ve keep that held in for several years now. But, anyway, you’re the only deputy that I want to strip out of his uniform and do depraved things with during my lunch break.”

“That’s, uh, why your father refused to transfer me,” Derek tells him, lips curving into a slight smile. “He made some comment about the squad car and unsanitary conditions and sexual fluids being tough to get out of the upholstery.”

“I’m going to have to ask him how he happens to know that,” Stiles mutters, making a face. “You wouldn’t happen to be interested in doing depraved things when we aren’t working then, would you?”

Derek leans forward and kisses his nose before rubbing their noses together. “Why don’t we start with a date first then we can talk depravity and debauchery?”

Stiles snorts, grinning as he licks a cherry off Derek’s jaw. “I think that sounds like a great start.”