Stiles has a mission. He has a mission and a list – a long list that details with bulleted subpoints all the things wrong with his apartment. Sure, he’s thankful for having a roof over his head (if said roof didn’t leak) and at a fair price (which was really the selling point, let’s be honest). But still, Stiles drops most of his measly paycheck on rent every month, and he’d like a place that wasn’t falling apart. That was only fair.
The building meeting is on the fifth floor. When he arrives, there’s only one other guy there, sitting on a blue couch. Stiles immediately heads over to the large window and starts pacing. “I feel kinda bad for the landlord,” Stiles begins, nervous energy buzzing through his limbs.
“Oh?” the man replies.
“Yeah, I’d hate to be in his shoes, being bombarded with complaints all night. But dude, my water pressure’s terrible, three panes in the window are broken and one has a hole in it, my garbage disposal smells like something died inside of it, and that’s just the top of the list.” Stiles spins around and finally looks at the guy on the couch. He’s never seen him around before, and Stiles guesses he could be considered attractive if you find bearded gym rats hot. Stiles refrains from rolling his eyes because the guy is obviously a douche. Just look at those eyebrows.
“What about you? Please don’t tell me your apartment is perfect, but knowing my luck and probably yours, everything works perfectly for you like it always has and I got the shit apartment.” The guy just stares at him and says nothing. Stiles rolls his eyes as he turns back towards the window, mumbling under his breath, “Typical.”
Stiles spins around again, mouth open in exaggerated shock. “Oh, you mean you’re actually going to talk to me? Words finally making sense to you now?”
The man’s mouth pulls down into a scowl. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “Look, I know it pains guys like you to talk to guys like me because it lowers your cool quotient or you only waste your breath on people as hot as you or something, but we do live in the same building. We’re neighbors. I was trying to be neighborly.”
The man glares at him for a few more beats, and Stiles holds his own and stares back, dammit, even though a part of him is terrified the guy is gonna toss him off the balcony. Before the man can open his mouth with what Stiles is sure would have been a stellar comeback, a few other people come bursting into the room.
The scary hot blonde Stiles has spoken to a few times at the mailbox. Her boyfriend who glares at Stiles every time he tries to talk to him in the laundry room or elevator. A guy with pretty blue eyes and an affinity of scarves that Stiles had made a plan to ask out until he saw scarf guy making out with a dark-haired girl. Stiles was 99% sure scarf guy was playing for Stiles’ team, but he was really glad he hadn’t made an ass out of himself, especially since dark-haired girl is now nestled underneath his arm on the couch. Kira walks in next and waves excitedly at Stiles. He’d met her the weekend he’d moved in, and they’ve been trading comics and playing video games ever since. Danny and his boyfriend come in after her, and Danny nods his head at Stiles before going to talk to hot blonde’s boyfriend, and then after that two guys who look like they just graduated from high school. Stiles wonders how he even got into this apartment building; apparently, only the hottest people in Beacon City can live here.
“You could have set out some food,” the dark-haired girl drawls. The guy glares at her, and Stiles suppresses a smile. “Some pizza, or hell, even a bag of chips. What did I expect, though? You suck.”
“Shut up, Cora.”
“She’s right, Derek,” the hot blonde chimes in. “You called this stupid meeting, and Boyd and I had to cancel our plans – “
“You didn’t have plans,” the guy, Derek, cuts in.
“We could have made them since the last time we talked.”
“Mason and I are missing lacrosse practice,” the fetus says. Stiles tries not to snort. The kid is Jackson 2.0, obviously. God, he’s glad Jackson’s now living on the East Coast somewhere being an asshole to a whole other region.
Everyone starts bickering, with scarf guy and his girlfriend (Cora) teaming up with the blonde (Erica) on Derek, while the others watch. It’s stupid, but Stiles feels kinda left out. Sure, he’s only lived in the building for like three weeks, but it’s obvious all these people are friends. Figures. Gorgeous people tend to stick to together. Maybe Stiles should just find another place to live, except there’s nothing within his price range this close to school and his job. Plus, the apartment is pretty freaking big. He doesn’t need all these hot assholes. He has Scott and Allison, who unfortunately live in Chicago now, and Lydia, who is with Jackson on the East Coast. He still totally has them, though.
A few minutes later, Derek gets up and faces the group. “Thanks for coming to the building meeting. I know I’ve been gone a few months, but if you give me a list of maintenance requests – “
Oh shit. Stiles has just been a complete dick to his landlord. Derek doesn’t miss the moment when realization dawns on Stiles. The fucking douche smirks at him.
Stiles is so going to be homeless tomorrow.
So, Stiles doesn’t get kicked out of his apartment. He also doesn’t vocalize his list of complaints, either. Despite the fact that Derek is a huge douche with a face Stiles kinda hates with his stupid beard, Stiles still feels like an ass ranting about his landlord abilities behind his back (even though it was totally to his face). The other tenants complain about a few things, and Derek says he’ll get on it, and after the meeting is over, half of them stay around Derek’s loft to watch a movie.
Stiles books it out of there.
Much later, Stiles is marathoning Psych when there’s a knock on his door. Confused, he pauses Netflix, crosses the room, and pulls the heavy door aside. His pulse skyrockets when he sees Derek standing on the other side. He might start to panic.
“Look, dude, hear me out,” Stiles starts, holding his hands out towards Derek. “Don’t kick me out. I mean, yeah, this apartment is in serious need of repair, but I actually like living here. I’m sorry I bitched about you to you, but your landlord bedside manner could use some work, and I really can’t afford to find another place to live.” He stops talking, out of breath despite standing still.
Derek lifts his eyebrows. “You finished?”
“I came by to inspect the apartment and to get that list of maintenance requests,” Derek says.
“Yeah,” Derek huffs through his nose. “Now, can I inspect your apartment?”
Stiles steps aside and lets him in. He’s not getting evicted; he’ll call that a victory.
A few days later, Stiles is working on his thesis when there’s a knock at the door. Derek’s standing in the hallway, dressed in paint-covered jeans and a dirty white t-shirt. “Hi?”
“I’m here to fix your garbage disposal,” Derek states.
Derek glowers at him. “Would you rather I come back some other time?”
“Yeah, that’d be great, I’m in the middle – oh, you were joking.” Derek uses his eyebrows to tell Stiles he thinks he’s an idiot as he pushes past him and into the apartment. “Guess I’m going to the coffee shop down the street,” Stiles says as he starts packing up his books and laptop.
“You can use my loft,” Derek says, crouched on the floor and halfway inside the cabinet under the sink.
“If you don’t want to go all the way to the coffee shop. My loft’s unlocked. This will take a few hours.”
“No, it’s okay. The coffee shop is – “
“Do what you want. Doesn’t matter to me.”
Yep, still a douche, Stiles thinks as he hefts his messenger bag over his shoulder. When he’s walked down two flights of stairs (because of course the elevator is broken), Stiles realizes he doesn’t want to go all the way to the coffee shop. That’s how he ends up with his books and notes spread across Derek’s dining room table a few hours later. He’s immersed in a paragraph, his headphones securely in his ear. A hand falls on his shoulder, and he jumps and screams in fright.
Derek looks at him in amusement, so Stiles yanks his earbuds from his ears. “Oh my god, you scared the crap out of me.”
“What are you doing here?” Derek asks. He walks into the tiny kitchen area and sets boxes of take out on the counter.
“You told me I could work in here, unless I dreamed that, which would be a really odd thing to dream.”
“I finished your apartment two hours ago. I’ve been working on Isaac’s smoke alarm.”
Stiles grabs his cell phone and checks the time. It’s almost 7 p.m. “Shit, how did I lose track of time?” He bolts out of his seat and starts packing up his stuff. “I am so sorry.”
“Want some take out?”
Stiles lifts his head. Derek’s loading a plate with bar-b-queue. “I’ve got enough for two people.”
“Thanks, but I should really stop imposing on you.”
“You’re not imposing,” Derek says. Stiles is about to accept the food when Derek shuts the containers and says, “But suit yourself.”
Stiles grunts his goodbye and leaves.
Stiles is downstairs, getting his clothes from the dryer, when someone enters the laundry room. He doesn’t look up, but sees the black boots from the corner of his eye.
“Stiles, right? The new guy on the top floor?”
“Yeah.” Stiles finishes removing his laundry and straightens. Cora’s leaning on the washing machine, studying him. “Cora, right?”
She doesn’t say anything else, and Stiles hesitates before saying, “Nice meeting you. See you around.”
“Hey,” Cora calls out. Stiles pauses and glances over his shoulder. “We have weekly movie nights in Derek’s loft on Tuesdays. Which is today.” She arches an eyebrow, and wow, déjà vu. “You should come.”
“No, really. I make sure Derek caters food for these things, instead of being a cheap ass like he has a tendency to do.”
“It’s Derek’s turn to choose the movie.” Cora smiles. “He has terrible taste in movies, but it’s usually fun to spend two hours mocking him.” Stiles nods, and then exits the laundry room to get away from the weird conversation.
As much as Stiles would love to see the kind of crap Derek picks for movie night, he meets up with a few people from class for a beer instead. He’ll totally deny it if someone asks him if it was to make sure no one could come knocking on his door and forcing him to movie night, even though that’s totally what it is.
Derek shows up at his door the next morning. Stiles lets him in, and Derek goes over to the window to inspect the broken panes. “You didn’t show up for movie night,” Derek says as a greeting. “Cora said she invited you.”
“Yeeeah,” Stiles says, scratching his head. “Um, I went out with some people from school.” Derek doesn’t respond, just looks inside his toolbox. “What’s up with Cora, anyway? I know she’s lived here a lot longer, but it’s kinda weird how she bosses around her landlord.”
Derek chuckles softly. “I’m not her landlord. I’m her brother.”
“Oh,” Stiles says. Derek glances over his shoulder. “So, is she my landlord, too?”
Derek shakes his head. “I own the building. She lives with Isaac, who rents from me. She bullied me into giving him an apartment, like I was going to turn him away.”
“You are pretty scary,” Stiles admits, and Derek lifts an eyebrow in amusement.
“You clearly haven’t spent much time with Cora.” Derek stands up and brushes his hands on his jeans. He’s wearing a grey tank top, and Stiles tries not to stare at his biceps. He has standards, and douchebag gym rat landlords are not his type. At all. “I, uh, wanted to apologize.”
Derek glares at him, and it looks like it pains him to get the words out. “When you moved into the building, I was out of the country. The apartment should have been in better condition. Honestly, it should never have been rented to you.”
“Whoa, dude, you’re not kicking me out, are you?”
Derek rolls his eyes like being in the same room with Stiles is the most difficult thing ever. “No. I’m not kicking you out. I wanted you to know that I will fix everything on your list as soon as I can.”
“Um, thank you.” Stiles is kinda speechless. He was not expecting this, not from Derek.
“I have to buy the glass for these windows, but I’ll get it fixed today or tomorrow.”
“No problem, really.”
Derek nods and leaves. Stiles stands there, trying to ignore the way Derek suddenly makes his pulse race.
Stiles comes home from class to find Derek standing shirtless on a ladder in his living room. Stiles almost falls over himself. Derek’s replacing the overhead light fixture, so his arms are raised above his head, drawing attention to his waist and the expanse of sweaty skin, his jeans riding so low on his hips that Stiles can see the top of his underwear and the sharp angles of his hipbones. And damn, when did Stiles start finding armpits sexy, because he kinda wants to bury his face in the dark hair there and on Derek’s chest.
He shakes his head and clears his throat.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Derek says, craning his head to look at Stiles. “I used my key to get in so I could knock out some work today.”
“As long as you didn’t steal my stuff,” Stiles jokes, draping his messenger bag on the table.
“That’d require you to have something worth stealing.”
“Ouch,” Stiles replies, and he notices the small smile on Derek’s face as he focuses on the light. Stiles goes to the kitchen and grabs a bottle of water and a snack. “Want anything?”
“Water if you have it.” Stiles grabs another bottle and stands beside the ladder, watching Derek work. Suddenly, Derek asks, “Why did you think I wouldn’t talk to you the day we met?”
“In the loft, when you were ranting about how terrible the apartment – “
“To be fair, I didn’t realize you owned the building,” Stiles defends. Derek glances down at him with a look of disbelief. “Yeah, I would have totally bitched about you behind your back to the other tenants, I’m not going to lie.”
Derek shakes his head and goes back to the exposed wire. “You said I wouldn’t talk to you because it’d lower my cool quotient.”
“I can’t believe you remember that,” Stiles says quietly.
“I also seem to remember you implying that I was some brainless hunk. Something about finally beginning to understand words.” Derek glances at him, but he looks amused instead of angry.
“Yeah, about that – “
“Why did you think I’d treat you like that?”
Stiles watches as Derek’s large hands delicately twist and maneuver the small wires. The movement is so subtle, so graceful, that Stiles wonders briefly what Derek’s fingers would feel like on his skin. “I haven’t had good experiences with guys like you.”
“What do you mean, like me?”
“You know, the fray boy type.”
“You think I look like a frat boy?” Derek chuckles.
“Totally. Buff, hot, never turned down in their life, everything always going their way.”
Derek is quiet, and Stiles fights the urge to babble and fill the silence. Finally, Derek quietly says, “Things have definitely not gone my way in life.” Stiles doesn’t know how to respond to that. Thankfully, Derek speaks again. “Wasn’t in a frat, haven’t had as many relationships as you assume, and know quite a bit about words.”
“Oh, do you now?” Stiles asks, interested. What he really wants to ask about is Derek’s relationships, but he thinks that it might be weird to ask his landlord about his relationship past. Even if he did technically bring it up.
“I have a master’s in history,” Derek explains. He finishes up with the wires and climbs down the ladder.
Derek nods. “Buff, hot, never turned down in their life frat boys can also be smart.”
Stiles snorts. “You’re kind of an asshole.”
“Takes one to know one.”
Cora corners Stiles in the laundry room Tuesday morning. “You’re coming to movie night.”
“How did you even know I was down here?” Stiles exclaims.
She smirks, and now that Stiles knows she’s Derek’s sister, he can see the resemblance. “No excuses, Stiles. You will show up, and you will bring sodas or water, whatever you prefer. Just no alcohol. We banned it after Erica got a bit too drunk and tried to make out with Derek, Isaac, and Liam while Boyd watched.”
“Ugh, okay?” Cora smiles and slaps Stiles’ cheek so hard it stings. “Hey, can I ask you a question?” Cora shrugs. “Derek mentioned the other day, and…um, well…what’s his story?”
Cora tilts her head to the side, her eyes sweeping over his face. “You’ll have to ask him that.”
Stiles contemplates not going to movie night, but he’s kind of afraid Cora will kick his ass if he doesn’t show up. So, he buys a few 2-liters and knocks on Derek’s loft door.
Erica grins widely at him when the door rolls away. “Stiles! You finally made it!” She grabs his arm and drags him inside. Cora and Isaac are cuddled in an armchair, Liam and Mason are sitting against the couch, Kira’s in a papasan chair, and Danny and Ethan are on a loveseat. Stiles looks everywhere for Derek, but can’t find him. He’s surprised by the disappointment he feels.
But a moment later, Derek and Boyd walk down the spiral staircase, and Stiles’ face breaks into a wide smile when he sees Derek. It might be his imagination, but Derek seems happy to see him, too.
“You sit here,” Erica says, pulling Stiles down into the middle of the couch. “Beside me. We’ll either make fun of the movie or distract each other. It’s Danny’s week, and it’ll be some pretentious art house, indie bullshit.”
“Hey!” Danny exclaims, and Erica smiles sweetly at him.
Stiles looks down at his arms, where he’s still holding the bottles, and then gets off the couch. “Where are you going?” Erica gives him puppy eyes and pokes out her bottom lip. “Why are you leaving me?”
“I don’t want to cradle 2 liters all night,” Stiles laughs as he walks towards the kitchen. Boyd passes him and Stiles speaks, which Boyd ignores. “Cold, Boyd. One day, you will be my best friend.”
Stiles shakes his head as he enters the kitchen area. “Boyd is so cruel to me,” he says to Derek.
Derek chuckles quietly. “I’m glad you could make it tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m here against my will, really. Cora forced me.”
“No, dude, it’s great. I’m, uh, I’m glad I came.”
Derek turns to him, a small smile on his lips, and Stiles feels his heart flipflop in his chest. He makes himself a cup of soda and then sits back on the couch, surprised when Derek takes the empty seat beside him.
The film sucks, but Stiles doesn’t mind, because his knee is pressed against Derek’s, and every so often, their hands brush against one another.
A few days later, Stiles works in Derek’s loft while he’s fixing the oven. When Derek returns later, Stiles pulls out his earbuds and inhales. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Burger and fries,” Derek replies.
“Man, you’re making me hungry. I wonder if there’s a burger place that delivers.”
Derek drops the bag in front of Stiles. “I fully expect to get tipped.”
“Did you – ohmigod, are there curly fries in here?” Stiles pulls out a wrapped burger and an order of curly fries. “How did you know?”
“I do listen when you talk.”
Stiles looks at him. “I didn’t know that.”
Derek rolls his eyes as he takes his food to the couch. He grabs the remote and turns on his TV, and Stiles wonders if he’s supposed to take the food to his room, eat it at the table, or join Derek on the couch. But as soon as he hears the Jeopardy! theme song, he’s on the couch.
During a commercial break, Stiles hesitantly asks, “So, what’s your story?”
“What do you mean?”
“Master’s in history, yet you’re a landlord slash handyman. And the other day, you said you weren’t some frat boy with a charmed life.” Stiles chews his lip as he watches Derek’s reaction. “Tell me to butt out if I’ve overstepped.”
“It’s fine. The building belonged to my parents. It got willed to my older sister, who now lives in England, so she signed it over to me. I like working in the building.” Derek takes a bite of his hamburger while Stiles shoves curly fries in his mouth. “My parents died when I was sixteen. My older sister Laura was eighteen, and Cora was only eleven. It was difficult for awhile.”
“My mom died when I was nine,” Stiles whispers. He picks at the top of his bun. “I know it’s not the same – “
“Still just as important,” Derek responds quietly. Stiles lifts his eyes and holds Derek’s gaze for too long. He doesn’t turn away until he hears the show come back from commercial. His cheeks are burning and his heart pounding. “So, Double Jeopardy round. I’m gonna kick your butt.”
“Stiles!” Derek calls from the bathroom. Stiles rushes inside, to find half his wall gone and Derek shirtless, his arm disappeared inside the wall. “I need your help.”
“What, to put my bathroom back together?” Derek glares at Stiles, though the effect is lessened by the sweaty chest and the awkward position.
“Just get over here.”
“Ooooo-kaaaay.” Stiles climbs into the tub, trying to erase all the images that swirl through his head that deal with bathtubs and Derek on his knees in front of Stiles. He shakes his head. “Whatcha need, boss?”
Derek tries to move back enough so that Stiles can see into the hole in the wall. “See the pipe I’m touching? I need you to grab the lever next to it and gently rotate it.”
Stiles faces Derek, immediately realizing that he’s going to have to be basically pressed against him to get his arm into the hole. He looks towards the ceiling and definitely not at Derek, but it doesn’t matter. He can feel Derek’s chest pressed against him, feel his arm sticking to his as he fumbles for the lever. “I can’t get…I just keep stroking the pipes.”
The moment Stiles realizes what he’s said, and the whole absurdity of the situation, he looks at Derek. Derek’s eyes are wide, and when Stiles looks at him, they both break into laughter. “This is all quite…phallic and sexual,” Stiles says between laughs. “All it needs is a good fisting joke.”
“Is that a challenge?” Derek asks, raising an eyebrow.
“No, because I think if you start talking about fisting, I’ll die on the spot.”
Derek chuckles and tries to verbally direct Stiles to the lever. When Stiles finally grabs it, he flips it. The showerhead sputters, and then Derek and Stiles are being drenched. “Wrong lever!” Derek yells. “I told you the second one!”
“I’m doing all this blind! How the hell am I supposed to know which fucking lever to grab? I’m not a plumber, and I’ve got my arm shoved inside a wall and now I’m completely soaked!”
“Move!” Derek barks, letting go of whatever he was holding. He reaches over to the levers and apparently finds the correct one, because the water suddenly shuts off. But the damage is done; they are both soaking wet. “Good job.”
“How is this my fault?” Stiles yells. “Maybe if you got an actual plumber instead of trying to be Mr. Perfect Fix It, then we wouldn’t – “
Stiles doesn’t finish his sentence because he’s being pressed to the wall, Derek’s lips on his. He doesn’t even think; he just wraps his arms around Derek’s neck and pulls him closer. Derek moans when Stiles touches him, and Stiles opens his mouth in encouragement. Derek licks into his mouth, and Stiles moans himself when their tongues touch. He can’t believe this is happening.
Derek’s skin is slick with water, and Stiles slides his palms along his shoulders and arms, trying to touch as much skin as possible. Derek’s shoved his hands underneath Stiles’ wet shirt, his thumbs brushing lightly over his nipples. When Stiles exhales a soft moan, he drops his head back against the wall. Derek immediately attaches his mouth to Stiles’ neck, and Stiles thinks he might die right here on the spot.
They kiss until Stiles’ clothes start getting uncomfortable. “Derek,” Stiles says, reluctantly pulling away. Derek looks sort of like a kicked puppy, flat, damp hair, reddened lips, and a pout. Stiles smiles and curls his fingers around Derek’s neck. “Dude, I so want to keep with the kissing, but these clothes are so uncomfortable and they’re starting to chafe. And chafing is so not sexy.”
Derek nods, and Stiles kisses him against just to drive his point home. “I need to finish this anyway.” Derek turns his head to look at the hole in the wall. “I’ll call Boyd. At least he can count levers when I tell him.”
“Hey!” Stiles exclaims. “I counted two levers, I think that you – “ Derek cuts him off with a kiss, and well, Stiles is okay with that.
“Dinner tonight?” Derek asks against his mouth. “A proper dinner? You choose the restaurant.”
“Or,” Stiles says, dragging his index finger over Derek’s chest. “We could order pizza and make out all night.”
Derek smiles, and Stiles feels it like a punch to the gut. “I like the way you think,” Derek says, and kisses him again.
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