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The Way to My Heart (French Insults)

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Derek Hale hates the world. Really, the only thing he hates more at the moment is his family – specifically Peter and Laura, the conniving bastards. He could be giving his favorite lecture to his Linguistics 321 students right now on the viability of the Chinese logographic writing system, but no.

When he’d discovered that the two of them had signed him up to be a potential ‘eligible bachelor’ on some stupid dating show, he’d done his absolute best to completely fuck up the interview. Unfortunately, the director had apparently taken his glares and grunts to mean that he was lonely and sorely in need of love. He also suspects that they wanted to capitalize on the publicity they’d gain from the fact that his mother is the CEO of HaleTech, and one of the richest women in the world.

Apparently his looks and trust fund fulfill the ‘eligible’ part of being an ‘eligible bachelor’ – sparkling personality not needed.

Of course, the director – Finstock or something – is beginning to look more and more like he regrets taking Derek on. After all, this is the fifth time they’ve had to retake his introduction.

“Everyone, take five!” Finstock yells, finally giving up. Score one for Derek.

Derek attempts to make off in a random direction – anything to get away from the cameras and annoyingly bright lights – but Finstock gets to him before he can go more than a few feet.

“Erik!” he calls, stomping over in Derek’s direction.

“It’s Derek,” Derek grumbles, but his glare doesn’t seem to have any effect on Finstock.

“Right,” Finstock replies, waving a hand dismissively. “I need you to cut it with the serial killer vibe.”

“Serial killer,” Derek repeats flatly.

“You’re supposed to be getting ready to meet the love of your life,” Finstock replies, prodding Derek in the chest with a thick finger. “Act like it.”

“I am acting like I’m about to meet the love of my life,” Derek grits out, still glaring at Finstock.

“Fine, then stop acting like you’re being castrated with a rusty spork,” Finstock retorts. “I lost my left testicle to exposure a few years back – I know that expression!”

Derek nods grudgingly and tries not to be sick at that mental image.

“Good,” Finstock continues, clapping a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “Take a moment to get your noggin in order and then I expect a perfect take.”

“Right,” Derek replies, grimacing. He makes a beeline for the bathroom instead, wondering how long he can lock himself inside before someone comes to find him.

It turns out to be six minutes.

“Uh, Mr. Hale?” a voice calls, a fist tap-tap-tapping on the bathroom door, making Derek look up from the latest issue of Popular Mechanics. (They’re filming at his apartment first, and he’d thankfully had to foresight to stash some essentials in various overlooked places, in case of emergency.) “Mr. Hale, are you in there?”

Derek frowns and wonders if he should answer or not.

“Dude, seriously,” the voice whines, a little bit of anger seeping into their tone. “We have shit to do today. Like, a lot of shit. You’re fully booked.”

Derek sighs, glancing down at his magazine and then back at the door.

“Look, I know you don’t want to be here,” the voice continues, catching Derek off guard, “but can you at least respect everyone else who’s working on set? I mean, this is our job. At least you’re getting pretty much a free vacation to a bunch of fancy resorts in foreign countries.”

Derek closes his magazine and opens to door to reveal a young man, probably in his early twenties. Idly, Derek can’t help but think that he’s kind of cute.

“My mother’s a billionaire,” he says, giving the guy an unimpressed look. “I could easily go anywhere in the world and stay at any resort, if I wanted.”

The guy blinks at him for a moment, surprised.

Then, he says, “Wow, you’re an asshole.”

Derek feels remarkably unapologetic. In fact, it’s almost a little refreshing. God knows none of his students have ever been brave enough to say that too his face, even though he knows that quite a few of them have thought it. Quite forcefully, in fact.

“Let’s get this over with,” he sighs, pushing past the guy.

“We’re all watin’ on you, buddy,” the guy mutters.

“Well, like you said, it’s not as if I want to be here,” Derek retorts as they make their way down the hallway. “Why can’t you just find someone else?”

“Not enough time,” the guy replies. “And trust me, after today I’m sure Finstock would get rid if you immediately if he could.”

“Trust me, we share the sentiment,” Derek grumbles, his expression growing dark. Peter and Laura are going to die as soon as soon as he gets away from this damn camera crew.

“Yeah, well, the sooner you get this right, the sooner we’ll be out of your hair,” the guy says, quirking an unimpressed eyebrow at him, and Derek has to admit that he has a point. “So get your ass into gear and go be charming. Your stupidly attractive face has to be good for something.”

Part of Derek can’t help but be pleased that a not unattractive man finds him “stupidly attractive.” The rest of his commentary makes Derek scowl, though.

Either way, he has the feeling it’s going to be a long, long day.

---

Of course, after gritting his teeth and fake smiling his way through his introductory video comes an even worse part – namely, meeting contestants vying for his love.

“Right, Erik! You’re going to stand here and look pretty and wait for the ladies and gentlemen to arrive,” Finstock barks, positioning him near the entrance to the extravagant house he’ll apparently be staying in for the next two godforsaken weeks. “Try to be polite.”

Derek’s pretty sure he hears a muffled snort from somewhere nearby. He turns to glare and really isn’t that surprised to find that the guy from earlier, the one who called him an asshole, is the culprit. He doesn’t even look like he’s doing anything productive, the bastard.

Letting out a long sigh, Derek turns away and braces himself for the next hellish filming segment. After all, apparently he’s going to have to smile while greeting twenty-five contestants. Twenty-five!

Shit, what if they try to hug him? Or, god forbid, kiss

He doesn’t get any further with that thought, because a limo pulls into the driveway.

He braces himself for the worst. The worst, who… actually doesn’t look that horrifying.

“I’ve been dying to meet you!” she exclaims as she catches sight of him.

Then, she flings herself at him and ensnares him in a bone-crushing hug.

Scratch that – she’s completely horrifying. And Derek’s pretty sure he can hear errand boy what’s-his-face laughing in the distance.

---

The cocktail party afterwards, in which Derek is supposed to mingle with his suitors, is quite possibly even worse.

“So, you’re a professor,” a man who’s all but dragged Derek out into the courtyard purrs. Derek’s willing to admit that he’s more than a little terrified by the glint in the guy’s eyes.

“Yes,” Derek replies stiffly, leaning away slightly. “Linguistics.”

Linguistics,” the guy (Tom? Tim?) repeats, leaning in enough to completely negate the small amount of personal space Derek had managed to regain. “Do you know any French? It’s the language of love, isn’t it?”

“Va te faire foutre,” Derek grumbles, trying subtlety to scoot away. The man passing out drinks nearby chokes on his laughter and nearly drops an entire tray of crystal champagne flutes. Derek squints at him, frowning, as he recognizes the guy from the bathroom.

“What does that mean?” Tom/Tim asks, his cheeks a little flushed.

Fuck off, Derek thinks, behind a painfully fake grin. He doesn’t even care that he’s probably being filmed right now.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Derek improvises.

“Oh! Let me try,” Tom/Tim replies. He proceeds to butcher the French language. Derek isn’t even French and he’s offended.

Meanwhile, halfway across the courtyard, Bathroom Guy has set his tray down on a nearby table and looks like he’s about to keel over from laughter. And, for the first time that day, Derek’s smile softens to something almost genuine.

“I’m more of a sociolinguist, actually,” Derek says, his smile turning a little more pained as he focuses his attention back on Tom/Tim.

“Ah,” Tom/Tim replies, nodding. His expression is a little blank.

“I study how society affects languages,” Derek explains. Idly, he wonders if launching into a detailed description of his current research will drive the guy away.

Probably not, actually. He knows that there are a handful of students every year who take one of his lecture courses just to stare at his ass the entire time.

He’s almost glad when another contestant comes to whisk him away.

It continues like that for god knows how long. He gets passed around from suitor to suitor like a soccer ball, but just as he begins to think he can’t take it any longer, the mingling comes to an end. Not that all of them were completely horrible – Jennifer, the high school English teacher, seemed nice enough.

“I have to what now?” Derek asks, frowning at Finstock as he waits outside of the room all of the contestants have been corralled into.

“Rose ceremony, Erik!” Finstock exclaims, waving him in the direction of the room.

“Rose ceremony?” Derek repeats, lost. Unfortunately, Finstock has already marched off to join the suitors, presumably to explain the ordeal to them. Looks like he’s just lucky, then.

“You’re supposed to pass out roses to eighteen of the candidates to decide who gets to stay,” a voice supplies, and Derek turns to find that the guy from the bathroom and the courtyard has sidled up next to him. For a moment, he’s distracted by the guy’s large, whisky-colored eyes, but then his words sink in.

“What, in front of all of them?” Derek asks, scowling.

“Hey, you didn’t seem to have any trouble telling them to ‘va te faire foutre’ earlier,” the guy replies, a small smirk on his face.

“Point,” Derek concedes, his lips twitching up into the barest hint of a smile. “You speak French?”

“College langue requirement,” the guy answers, his tone a little flippant. “Oh, and as much as I’d love to see you make an ass of yourself on national television, there are at least two girls and one guy in there who’ve also learned French.”

“How’d you know that?” Derek asks, arching an eyebrow.

“I may or may not have snuck a look at some of the applications,” the guy replies.

“Coquin,” Derek says, his smile growing a touch wider.

“Sorry, but my vocabulary’s pretty much limited to ‘va te faire foutre’ and ‘merde’,” the guy answers, his tone wry. “Now you should probably get going if you don’t want Finstock ripping you a new one. Va te faire foutre.”

“Va te faire foutre, yourself,” Derek shoots back, flashing the guy his first, fully formed, genuine smile of the night.

However, as soon as he spots the tray of roses sitting on a small table in front of him, the smile slides off his face. He stands awkwardly in front of the women and men lined up in neat rows. It’s not like he’s ever had trouble rejecting people before, it just feels like he’s been lured into a wolf’s den, surrounded by a pack of suitors who’ve spent the entire night treating him like a piece of meat.

He forces another fake smile and braces himself for the proceedings as Finstock finishes his vaguely menacing spiel about seven contestants getting sent home.

In the end, he gives out roses almost at random. There are a few who made very negative impressions who he’s sure to avoid, and even fewer who made marginally positive impressions who he’s sure to include, but most were just neutral, nebulous, and Derek struggles to even remember their names.

Tom/Tim does not get a rose, and not just because Derek can’t recall his actual name.

Va te faire foutre, indeed.

---

Bright light assaults Derek’s sleeping face.

“Up and at ‘em, sunshine,” an annoyingly cheery – and unnervingly familiar – voice crows from somewhere to Derek left. He grunts and blinks his eyes open, squinting at the intruder. It takes him a moment to orient himself, but as soon as he lays eyes on the guy, everything comes flooding back.

“What do you even do?” he wonders aloud, still squinting at the guy. “Or is your job just to torment me?”

“Please, if my job was to torment you I’d be doing a much better job,” the guy snorts. “And I’m an intern, thank you very much.”

“So you’re a gopher,” Derek translates, earning him a look from the guy which is dangerously close to a pout.

“Shut up,” he shoots back, while Derek pushes himself up into a proper sitting position on the edge of the bed. He runs his a hand through his hair and tries not to grimace at the thought of what he must look like right now. No one’s seen him unkempt as he rolls out of bed since… well, since he and Braeden called it quits. Which is kind of sad, actually, considering that was nearly a year ago.

“Dude, we have a full day of filming ahead of us, so hurry up and get your ass out of bed,” the guy says, shooing him along in his pre-coffee daze. “Chop, chop.”

“Jesus, are you always this annoying?” Derek groans, but he reluctantly gets up and wanders over to the chest of drawers.

“This is me on a good day, honey bear,” the guy replies with a sharp smile.

“Don’t call me that,” Derek grunts, stripping off his shirt before rummaging through a drawer for another. “What’s your name anyway?”

“Mine?” the guy asks, and maybe it’s just Derek’s imagination, but his voice sounds a little strangled.

“No, I’m talking to the other guy who dragged me out of bed at – ” He glances at the clock on the bedside table. “ – seven in the morning.”

“Har har,” the guy replies, and Derek can hear him rolling his eyes. “It’s Stiles.”

“Stiles,” Derek repeats, glancing back over his shoulder to give the guy – Stiles, apparently – his best skeptical look. “Your parents named you Stiles.”

“Fuck, no,” Stiles snorts. Derek’s momentarily distracted by the way the soft light filtering through the window makes his eyes look bright and whisky colored. “But you wouldn’t be able to pronounce my first name, ergo.”

“I’m a linguistics professor,” Derek replies, his lips quirking up into a smirk. “Try me.”

“Uh, no,” Stiles shoots back. “I’m not that easy, buddy boy. Now get some pants on so I can hustle you over to hair and makeup before they start screaming murder at me for letting you take too long.”

“Derek,” Derek says, Stiles shooting him a confused look. “It’s my name. Try using it.”

“Sure, big guy,” Stiles replies, a glint in his eyes just the wrong side of mischievous. “How about you get your ass in gear so we can get you ready to meet your adoring fans?”

“I’ll pay you to figure out a way to get me off this show,” Derek says, fastening his belt securely. He doesn’t miss the way Stiles’ eyes dart down to track the movement for just a moment.

“And miss the expressions you make whenever someone gets into your personal bubble?” Stiles snorts, finally turning his back to Derek to lead him out of the room. “Also, this is a paid internship, so I’m doing okay.”

“I guarantee I can pay you more,” Derek replies, following him and trying not to feel like he’s being marched to his own execution.

“I’m sure you could,” Stiles says easily, not even batting an eyelash. For some reason, though, Derek doesn’t even feel that bad about giving up on convincing him.

Or, at least, he doesn’t feel bad until he’s ushered into a room with more makeup in it than he’s ever seen in his life, and he remembers Cora’s goth faze. Vividly.

“Well, well,” a woman with bright red lips and wavy blonde hair says, looking him up and down in a way which makes him feel like a slab of meat (more so than normal, at least). “It’s good to know that I won’t have to do much work this season.”

Derek narrows his eyes and glowers at her, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to deter her much.

“Get your impeccable buns of steel in that chair. We don’t have all day,” the woman continues, indicating the seat in front of the large mirror. “I’m Erica, and I’ll be your personal makeup artist for the duration of filming.”

Derek grunts but doesn’t give any further response as she sets to work painting his face with all sorts of gunk he can’t begin to put names to.

“While Erica does her thing, I’m gonna need you to pick out who you’re going on your first date with,” Stiles says, producing an overstuffed binder from god knows where.

“What’s the date?” Derek asks, a wave of dread washing over him as he imagines the horror before him.

“What’s the date?” Stiles parrots, his nose scrunching up in a way Derek refuses to find mildly cute. “Dude, you’re the one who made the list.”

“The list,” Derek says, his tone flat.

“Yeah, you know. When you got accepted as the bachelor you had to fill out all those forms about date ideas and likes and dislikes and stuff,” Stiles explains, frowning. “Normally we have to change around the dates a bit because Finstock complains about them being too boring, but he thought all of yours were good enough, which is why we haven’t had to discuss them with you.”

“Fuck,” Derek mutters, his scowl deepening.

“So I take it you didn’t come up with these,” Stiles says, holding up the list. The first bullet point says ‘beach volleyball’ and Derek has to resist the urge to audibly groan.

“No,” he replies through gritted teeth. “My sister and uncle probably did.”

“Well, I’m afraid there isn’t much we can do about today’s dates,” Stiles says. “We already have everything set up. I can talk to Finstock about getting the later ones changed, though.”

“I hate sand,” Derek mutters, trying not to grimace as Erica starts to attack his eyebrows with a pair of viciously sharp tweezers.

“If you’re doing beach volleyball today, you’re going to need a wardrobe change,” Erica announces as she pulls back for a moment to admire her handiwork. Derek has to admit that his eyebrows look a little less intimidating, but then again, he kind of prefers intimidating, particularly considering the crowd of camera-mongers he’s about to face.

“Wardrobe change,” Derek repeats, already disliking the direction this conversation is going in.

“That shirt definitely needs to go,” Erica replies, a wicked grin on her face, “and you better have brought swim trunks.”

Derek had, but only because he’d been forced to take nearly his entire wardrobe. Really, he’s lucky that he caught Laura trying to switch them for a speedo before he left. Trust his older sister to try and completely humiliate him on national television.

“Why can’t I wear a shirt?” Derek asks, crossing his arms over his chest defensively.

“I mean, you could, but Finstock’ll have you take it off to raise viewership, so,” Stiles butts in, shrugging.

This is how Derek finds himself standing on a beach, shoeless and shirtless and surrounded by overzealous suitors in similar states of undress. He’d done his best to pick the least annoying ones, but he’d had to make a few guesses, considering he’d forgotten at least half of the contestants’ names.

The fact that Stiles is lounging just out of the camera’s view on the side of the court in a folding chair doesn’t improve Derek’s mood at all – particularly when Stiles catches him glaring and retaliates with a cheeky grin. It’s surprisingly difficult for him to prevent himself from doing something immature, like sticking out his tongue at Stiles.

“I assume everyone knows the rules of volleyball,” Derek says, clearing his throat. “We’ll be playing casually, though.”

“Teams?” one of the men asks (Danny, Derek thinks his name is).

“We’ll go four on four,” Derek explains. “The team which wins will get to have dinner with me.” He tries not to grimace as he explains the second part, but judging by the amused expression on Stiles’ face, he’s not terribly successful.

“You can just count off,” Derek finishes. He doesn’t want to aggravate anyone by trying to pick teams himself.

He zones out for a moment while they organize themselves. Thankfully he’s not too worried about embarrassing himself in this event, because even though he’s not anything close to an expert, he can play most sports passably. Peter and Laura probably just put it on the list so that his suitors would be more forgiving of his prickly personality with his half-naked body on display.

The game itself doesn’t start too horribly. It’s clear that a few of the contestants don’t have much experience with volleyball, and Derek feels a momentary pang of guilt as Jennifer – one of the only suitors he’s actually liked so far – takes a nose dive into the sand while going after the ball.

“Are you alright?” he asks, as he helps her up.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” she replies with a small, embarrassed smile. “I just overestimated my skills, I suppose.”

“You’re doing fine,” Derek grunts, which is about the closest to praise anyone here will likely get. Jennifer seems to understand this, if the pleased look on her face is any indication.

When Derek turns around to get back in position and continue the game, though, he finds Stiles standing directly behind him, holding the ball. Stiles tosses it to him, and he catches it easily, raising an eyebrow at Stiles.

“Got tired of lounging around?” Derek asks, his lips quirking up into a slight smirk.

“Yeah, well, technically I’m supposed to be retrieving the balls which go offside so the camera guys don’t have to keep swiveling around to capture all the action,” Stiles answers, crossing his arms over his chest.

“You must be pretty bored so far,” Derek says, his amusement growing. “Maybe I should start making your job more interesting.”

“You wouldn’t,” Stiles replies, his eyes narrowing. Derek shrugs nonchalantly.

His next shot goes wide. The sour look on Stiles’ face is priceless.

“Consider it payback for dragging me out of bed this morning,” Derek says as Stiles shoves the ball into his hands, his voice too low for anyone but Stiles to pick up. The annoyed look Stiles gives him is almost endearing.

It’s remarkably easy for him to ignore the bickering and infighting between the contestants when he instead focuses on making purposefully difficult or bad shots in order to keep Stiles running back and forth. Stiles, of course, seems less than amused by it, but the only part Derek feels bad about is how often his eyes end up drawn to Stiles’ nicely shaped buttocks whenever he bends over to get the volleyball.

“I hate you,” Stiles wheezes, collapsing on the sand when Derek calls for a short break.

“Like I said, payback,” Derek replies, but he drops a cold bottle of water on Stiles’ chest as an offering at the same time.

“Dude!” Stiles squawks as the cold bottle hits him, making his eyes fly open again as he flails. “Give a guy some warning!”

“What, like how you woke me up?” Derek asks, his tone falsely innocent. It earns him another glare from Stiles.

“Fuck you,” Stiles grumbles, unscrewing the water bottle cap. “It’s my job.”

Derek lets out a noncommittal snort and takes a sip of water.

“You should put some more sunscreen on,” he says, looking down at Stiles, who’s still sprawled out on the sand. “Your nose is getting red.”

“Your face is getting red,” Stiles retorts. Derek rolls his eyes. He’s about to reply when he catches sight of the contestants starting to make their way over to him. Some of them have disturbingly predatory glints to their eyes and, not for the first time, Derek wishes he was anywhere but here.

He ends up restarting the game in an attempt to avoid actually talking to anyone, but he knows he’s avoiding the inevitable. He distracts himself by making Stiles run to retrieve the ball until he’s flushed and panting. And for a moment, Derek almost wishes Stiles was a contestant.

---

Somehow he survives the rest of the week. It’s far from the best week of his life, but it could be worse, he supposes. His one-on-one date with Jennifer was even kind of nice, although during certain lulls in the conversation he couldn’t help but let his eyes stray to wherever Stiles was, zipping about the sidelines as he brought crew members equipment.

The next week, though… well. The stakes are getting higher, so contestants are bound to get more competitive, more aggressive.

Which is why Derek is currently hiding in his room.

It’s not exactly dignified, but Derek could honestly care less about dignity at the moment. He can barely walk five feet without getting accosted by someone. They’re practically throwing themselves at him – and he means that literally.

“Derek!” a familiar voice calls, followed by a loud burst of knocking on his door. “You have a two-on-one date with Kira and Harrison in half an hour!”

Derek tears his eyes away from the TV screen for a moment to stare at the door, but he doesn’t bother to respond. Kira seems nice enough so far, but he just can’t deal with people clinging to him anymore today. He’s also pretty sure that Harrison is the one who keeps trying to fellate random objects in a (failed) attempt to be sexy.

“Dude,” Stiles continues, frustrated. Derek feels a little bad about that. A little. “C’mon, seriously? I get that most of them are like leeches or whatever, but Kira’s sweet.”

On screen, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader engage in a lightsaber duel. Which, really, is far more interesting.

Behind the door, Derek hears Stiles mutter something impolite, but he also hears the telltale sound of footsteps moving away from the door and fading in volume. Mission accomplished.

Or at least it is until his window creaks open and Stiles comes tumbling through. Derek blinks at him dumbly for a moment, staring at the way he’s splayed awkwardly on the floor under the windowsill.

“Okay, first of all, fuck you,” Stiles announces, pointing an accusing finger at Derek. “Second of all – ” He cuts himself off, gaze drawn to the TV screen. “Are you watching Star Wars?”

“No, I’m watching Dora the Explorer,” Derek snorts, tensing slightly as Stiles drops himself down on the bed next to him, eyes still fixed on the screen.

“Watch it or I’ll tell everyone that it’s your favorite show,” Stiles replies idly.

“Whatever it takes to get them to stop harassing me,” Derek says. He can’t help but feel strangely pleased as Stiles lets out soft snort of laugher.

“Seriously, though, as much as I’m a fan of blowing off everything to watch Star Wars, Finstock will have my head if you don’t get to that date on time,” Stiles sighs, tearing his eyes away from the movie momentarily.

“I thought the whole point of reality TV was to create false drama,” Derek snorts, scowling. “Won’t me not showing up do that?”

“Sure, but that’s not the sort of drama Finstock wants,” Stiles replies, shrugging. “He wants romantic drama. You’re supposed to be angsting over who you’re truly in love with, not completely indifferent.”

“Well, then he chose the wrong bachelor,” Derek retorts.

“Tell me about it,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “You’re such a pain in the ass.”

Derek has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling at that. The two of them sit there on the bed for a moment, watching as Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan with one smooth swing of his bright red lightsaber.

“Alright, let’s get you over to Erica,” Stiles says, looking away from the screen where Luke is screaming and shooting at the Stormtroopers. “Consider the rest of the movie a reward for making it through the date without maiming anyone.”

“And if I do maim someone?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles.

“Then you’ll probably be kicked off the show, so congratulations,” Stiles replies, a lopsided grin on his face. “Then again, you’ll probably also get arrested, so…”

“I’m pretty sure I’d prefer Jail at this point,” Derek snorts.

“Wow, you really do hate this,” Stiles says, scrunching his nose as he frowns at Derek, a considering look on his face.

Derek gives him a look which translates roughly to, You think?

“Right, well, I’ll try to help you out if anyone starts getting too handsy again, okay?” Stiles continues.

“You’ll have your work cut out for you,” Derek replies, a hint of bitterness in his tone.

“Couldn’t you at least be a little bit grateful?” Stiles huffs, his expression almost a pout. “I’m trying to help you out.”

“I’ll be grateful when you actually succeed,” Derek retorts. “They’re more difficult to deal with than you’d think.”

“Alright, alright,” Stiles replies with an eye roll. “I’ll keep that in mind. We have, like, ten minutes to get you read for your date, though.”

Derek manages no to complain as Stiles pushes him out the door.

As for the date itself, well, Stiles is right about Kira being sweet, but the only time Derek actually cracks a genuine smile is when Stiles ‘accidentally’ spills ice water all over Harrison’s lap while he tries to seductively eat a carrot.

---

The show moves to Denmark for the following week. Derek’s never actually been to Denmark before, and he’d be thrilled to wander the streets of Copenhagen all day, but unfortunately he’s been on a bit of a tight leash lately. He resigns himself to another torturous week.

That is, until he finally manages to take the date ideas into his own hands.

“A running tour of Copenhagen,” one of the contestants repeats, his tone flat.

“It should be around a ten kilometer circuit, so hopefully all of you heeded my advice when I told you to wear clothes you can exercise in,” Derek said. He eyes a woman in high heeled tennis shoes dubiously. She also looks like she’s regretting her choice of attire.

Matthias, their guide, also looks like he’s not entirely sure taking on this group was a good idea. Derek can’t really blame him.

“Alright,” Matthias says, his smile a little forced as he gathers everyone. “I’ll try to keep the pace relatively relaxed because we appear to have a variety of skill levels here. The tour should take about an hour and a half, and we’ll be hitting all the main sights, such as City Hall, the National Museum, and the Opera House.”

Derek tunes out for a moment as Matthias explains a few more rules about sticking together to the group, instead scanning the crowd for Stiles. Unfortunately, he’s unable to catch sight of him anywhere before the tour commences.

“So, Copenhagen,” someone says, distracting Derek from his thoughts. “Have you ever been before?”

He tears his eyes away from the boats lining the side of the canal in order to address the speaker, a little disappointed when he finds that it’s Danny jogging beside him instead of Stiles.

“No. Have you?” Derek asks diplomatically, although truthfully he doesn’t really care about Danny’s answer. Sure, he’s one of the nicer contestants, but Derek generally doesn’t have that high an opinion of people who try to find their significant others via reality television.

“This is the first time I’ve been out of the country, actually,” Danny replies with a smile. Derek’s never had much of an opinion on dimples, but Danny’s are sort of cute, he supposes. “My family’s lived in Hawai’i since before it was a state, though.”

“I’ve been once,” Derek says. “It’s a beautiful place.”

“Hey, well if I’m still around in four weeks you’ll get to visit again while meeting my family,” Danny replies with a wink.

They chat for the rest of the tour, and Derek has to begrudgingly admit that Danny isn’t completely horrible. He’s… nice. Of course, a small voice in the back of Derek’s head can’t help but point out that ‘nice’ isn’t exactly his type. The memory of Stiles saying, ‘Va te faire foutre’ flashes through his mind, but he pushes it away.

Invariably, though, there’s some drama when one of a member of the camera crew realizes that the woman with the high heeled tennis shoes is missing, probably because she wasn’t able to keep up with the pace. Finstock doesn’t look very happy when Derek has a less than sympathetic reaction to her getting lost. It’s not like it’s his fault, after all.

Derek and the rest of the contestants are herded back to the hotel while Finstock sends out a search party for the missing girl. Over the next couple of days, Finstock’s sure to keep a close eye on the whole group, apparently not eager to have to keep them in line. Derek’s pretty sure he hears him make a muttered comment about how they fight like cats and are about as easy to keep track of.

Which is why Derek hasn’t been allowed out on his own yet, and he’s starting to stir crazy. Scratch that – he went stir crazy a while ago, and now he’s gotten to the point where he’s contemplating trying to escape via window. His room is on the fifth floor.

“Oh my god, what are you doing?” Stiles’ (now all too familiar) voice exclaims as Derek leans a little too far out over the balcony railing.

“I haven’t been allowed out without supervision for the past four days,” Derek snorts, looking over at Stiles, who’s out on the balcony of the room to his right. “I’m going to end up doing something I’ll regret if I’m not able to get away from everyone for at least a few hours.”

Stiles is silent for a moment, giving him a contemplative look.

“I, uh. I might be able to help you with that,” he finally says. Derek frowns, skeptical. “Look, just – I mean, if you don’t mind me hanging around with you I should be able to bust you out for a bit. As long as I know where you are, it should be okay.”

“They’ll just let us walk out?” Derek asks, unconvinced.

“Hey, I never said my plan wouldn’t involve a few white lies,” Stiles answers, leaning over the balcony edge, bringing him a little closer to Derek. “If you’re okay with that.”

“I’m okay with anything as long as it gets me out of here,” Derek snorts.

“Right, well, grab your stuff and meet me in front of your room, then,” Stiles replies, his lips turning up in a small smile. “We have a city to explore!”

This is how Derek finds himself trying to sneak down the back stairway with Stiles. They actually manage to make it as far as the lobby before anyone stops them, which is much better than Derek had originally anticipated.

What can he say? He’s not exactly an optimist.

“Stilinski! What the fuck are you doing?” one of the cameramen asks, his eyes flicking between Derek and Stiles suspiciously.

“Finstock needs him for an extra interview thingy,” Stiles improvises, his tone impressively casual.

“Trust me, I wouldn’t spend extra time with him voluntarily,” Derek adds, his voice deadpan.

“You wound me, buttercup,” Stiles replies, mock offended. “I know I’m secretly your favorite.”

“Right,” Derek snorts, which is apparently enough for the cameraman, because the tension goes out of his shoulders.

“I can believe that,” he laughs, but his words make a bit of annoyance swell up in Derek. As difficult as Stiles can be, he’s really not that bad overall. God knows he’s better than the vast majority of the contestants on the show.

“You didn’t have to sound so sincere,” Stiles grumbles, elbowing him in the stomach as the cameraman walks away. Derek just shrugs, a small smirk on his face.

“Please,” Derek snorts as they make their way out of the hotel. “As if you enjoy spending time with me any more than I enjoy spending time with you.”

“Well, maybe I do enjoy spending time with you, asshole,” Stiles mutters, a small, pink flush spreading across his cheeks. Derek stares at him for a moment, unsure how to respond.

Then he says, “Let’s go. There’s a place I want to visit.”

He takes Stiles by the hand and drags him along.

“Dude, what is this place?” Stiles asks once they reach their destination. There’s a hint of awe in his voice as he gazes up at the large glass and metal building, and Derek can’t help but smile a little at such a positive reaction.

“It’s the Danish Royal Library,” Derek answers, taking his time to look over the beautiful architecture himself.

“Oh my god, you’re such a nerd,” Stiles laughs, but there’s nothing cruel or mocking about his tone. “You would sneak out to go visit a library.”

“It’s an amazing library,” Derek protests, walking towards the entrance to the building.

“I don’t doubt it – I just…” Stiles starts, trailing behind him. “Most people probably wouldn’t sneak out to see something like this.”

“Most people are idiots,” Derek retorts, drawing another short bark of laughter from Stiles.

“I can’t argue with you there,” he replies, his tone wry. “The only problem with this setup is that I can’t read Danish.”

“I can,” Derek says, smirking at Stiles.

“So that means you’re gonna translate everything for me, right?” Stiles asks, his tone faux-innocent as he bats his eyelashes overdramatically.

“Half the fun’s the architecture,” Derek says, shrugging. “I also want to take a walk through the garden outside of the old library building.”

“Sounds good,” Stiles replies as they enter the atrium. A small smile stretches over Derek’s face as he watches Stiles crane his neck to look up towards the ceiling of the atrium, his mouth hanging open. He continues to gape as they make their way up the ramp to the upper levels, and Derek can’t help but find it a little endearing.

“One of the more famous librarians was known for stealing books from monasteries and other libraries to add to the collection,” Derek says as they walk through the more modern section of the library. It’s amusing to watch Stiles as he alternates between peering into reading rooms and then zipping over to the other side of the walkway, looking down into the atrium below.

“Is that you trying to convince me that you’re not actually boring?” Stiles snorts, pulling back from where he’d been leaning a little too far over the railing for comfort. (Derek appreciates it. He was five seconds away from pulling Stiles back from the edge himself, and that would be a little too Titanic-like for his tastes.)

“I’m not a librarian. I’m a linguist,” Derek replies, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles in challenge.

“So what you’re saying is that you are boring,” Stiles retorts, grinning cheekily.

“Va te faire foutre,” Derek shoots back, trying his best not to smile. He fails, but it’s not much of a loss.

They wander through the rest of the new library building before moving on to the old one. The calm atmosphere relaxes Derek, although Stiles’ energy level seems to be about the same as normal. Still, Derek can’t help but notice that he seems more settled, in a way.

As he listens to Stiles try to read from a randomly selected book – absolutely butchering the pronunciation – he realizes that this is probably the best date he’s ever been on.

Not that it’s actually a date.

---

By the time they’re down to six candidates, Derek’s already realized that none of them are going to cut it. Sure, Kira is sweet and Danny seems like a nice guy. Jennifer is easy to get along with, too, and, really, none of the remaining contestants are horrible, but they’re also…

They’re just not right. (Derek tries not to think too hard about why they’re not right.)

Apparently, though, now comes the time for the remaining candidates to meet his family. In Beacon Hills. Derek really isn’t sure how he’s going to survive this week which such a disastrous combination.

“Home sweet home,” Stiles says as they get off the plane, stretching in a way Derek finds thoroughly distracting.

“That’s one way of putting it,” Derek snorts as they walk towards the baggage claim area. Technically they’re not quite in Beacon Hills yet – they’re a few towns over, because that’s where the closest airport is located – but they’re close enough, he supposes.

Stiles hums noncommittally, and Derek can’t quite tell if it’s in agreement or dissent. They gather their bags and start heading over to the limo, which will take them the rest of the way to Beacon Hills, but Derek pauses as he realizes that Stiles has veered off in a different direction.

“Stiles?” he calls out, frowning. “The limo is this way.”

“My dad’s picking me up,” Stiles replies, gesturing to an idling police cruiser.

“Your dad?” Derek repeats, confused.

“You’re not the only Beacon Hills native, you know,” Stiles answers, shooting Derek a slightly lopsided grin. “My dad’s the sheriff.”

“Sheriff Stilinski?” Derek asks, surprised. “How have I never run into you around town before?”

“I mean, I’ve been off at school, and even before that I looked pretty different,” Stiles says with a small laugh. “I had a buzz cut and everything.”

“I’m having trouble imagining that,” Derek replies, mirroring Stiles’ smile.

“Yeah, well, my dad has plenty of photographic evidence,” Stiles admits. “Not that you’re ever going to see it.”

“Oh, now I have to see those photos,” Derek says, his tone a little teasing.

“Nope,” Stiles replies. “Not gonna happen. You’ll be too busy running interference with your family and adoring suitors anyway.”

“Don’t remind me,” Derek snorts. “You’re still going to be around this week, won’t you?”

“Yep. I wouldn’t miss your baby pictures for the world,” Stiles laughs, a wide grin stretching across his face. “I’m sure you were adorable.”

“No one’s going to be seeing any baby pictures,” Derek huffs, watching over Stiles’ shoulder as a man in a police officer’s uniform steps out of the squad car.

“Wanna bet?” Stiles asks, quirking an eyebrow at him in challenge. Derek tries not to grimace and avoids thinking about how no, he really doesn’t want to bet, knowing his family.

Behind them, the limo honks.

“Enjoy the two hour drive surrounded by your adoring fans,” Stiles says, far too cheerfully for Derek’s tastes. Derek huffs and rolls his eyes.

“At least I won’t have to spend the entire time in the back of a police cruiser,” he quips, making Stiles let out an indignant squawk.

“Hey! I get to sit up front, thank you very much,” Stiles huffs, his expression almost a pout.

“What was that about you sitting up front, kiddo?” an older man in a police officer’s uniform asks, coming up behind Stiles and clapping him on the shoulder. Stiles’ whole face lights up in a way that Derek’s never seen before, which really shouldn’t be that surprising, considering they’ve only known each other for a handful of weeks. Still, Derek can’t help but feel a bit out of place as Stiles turns to sweep the man into a tight hug, gripping him so hard that Derek almost wonders how he can still breathe.

“Derek’s just being mean to me,” Stiles says as he pulls away, but his tone is light.

“And I’m sure you did absolutely nothing to annoy him,” Sheriff Stilinski counters, smiling.

“Moi?” Stiles replies, mock offended. “C’mon, dad, you’re supposed to be on my side!”

“John Stilinski. Nice to meet you,” Sheriff Stilinski says, ignoring his son as he extends a hand for Derek to shake. “I hope my son hasn’t been giving you too much trouble.”

“Sheriff,” Derek replies, gripping Sheriff Stilinski’s hand firmly. “Derek Hale. And don’t worry about Stiles. At the very least, he makes things interesting.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Sheriff Stilinski laughs. For a moment, Derek feels pleased about having made a good impression on Stiles’ father before remembering that Stiles’ family really isn’t the one he should be focusing on.

Behind him, the limo honks again.

“Sorry, but I – ” Derek starts, but Sheriff Stilinski cuts him off with a wave.

“It’s alright. We shouldn’t be holding you up. Stiles keeps telling me about how busy the filming schedule is,” Sheriff Stilinski replies. “I would invite you over for dinner, but from the sounds of it, you don’t get much time to yourself. If you’re ever in town again, though, we’d be glad to have you.”

Derek glances over a Stiles, a little confused. There’s a hint of red coloring Stiles’ cheeks, and Derek can’t help but wonder how much he’s talked to his father about them – if he’d mentioned Derek specifically by name or if he’d just come up in passing.

“I’ll certainly remember that,” Derek says, nodding respectfully. “I’ll see you later, Stiles?”

“Yeah,” Stiles answers, his face still a bit red. “In a few hours, probably.”

“Oh, a few hours. I’m not sure I can make it by myself that long,” Derek says, his tone dry. It earns him an eye roll from Stiles, along with a shoulder nudge.

“Can’t survive without your wait staff, princess?” he snorts, but there’s no malice to his tone.

“Just for that I’ll start hanging out with Erica instead,” Derek replies, trying not to smile.

“Please, she’s even more difficult to deal with than me,” Stiles retorts, which is actually a valid argument.

“I’ll see you later,” Derek finally says.

“Bye,” Stiles replies. Derek starts to turn to head over to the limo, but before he can make it more than a step, Stiles darts in and gives him a quick, one-armed hug. Derek barely has time to register it before Stiles’ back is to him as he drags his dad back to the squad car.

A warm, fuzzy feeling stubbornly warms his chest for the entire drive to Beacon Hills.

---

“So,” Laura says, five days into the family week. They’re sprawled out in front of the TV in the living room, Firefly playing almost as background noise. “You’ve got the hots for intern-boy.”

“What?” Derek asks, stiffening as his eyes dart around quickly, looking for ever watchful cameras. “I do not.”

“Please, you spend twice as much time with him as you do with your actual suitors, which shouldn’t even be possible, considering the scheduling,” Laura snorts. Derek wonders how many other people have noticed, if they’re being so obvious.

“Don’t worry, it’s not that noticeable,” Laura assures him. “I just know you too well. Although I have to say, when Peter and I signed you up for this dating show, we thought you’d fall for one of the contestants instead.”

“You really thought I’d fall in love with someone on a dating show,” Derek retorts, his voice flat.

“Yeah, well, you met your last two girlfriends at bars, so I think it’s a step up,” Laura counters. Derek glares at her.

“And look at how well those turned out,” Derek mutters, lips turning down in a scowl.

“Hey, I like Braeden! And you’re still friends, aren’t you?” Laura replies, indignant.

“You like Braden because you have a crush on Braeden,” Derek retorts, trying not to grimace as he remembers the one time Laura had crashed one of their almost-dates and spent the entire time making eyes at Braeden across the table.

“Shut up,” Laura grumbles, hitting Derek with a throw pillow. “She’s nice.”

“Cora thinks she’s nice too, but she doesn’t try to initiate eye-sex whenever she’s in the same room as Braeden,” Derek argues, blocking another pillow hit with his arm and grabbing a throw pillow of his own for retaliation.

Fine, you know what?” Laura says, eyeing Derek’s pillow-weapon warily. “I bet you fifty bucks that I can gather the courage to ask Braeden out before you can tell Stiles…”

She trails off, her gaze fixed somewhere behind Derek’s shoulder.

“Ask me what?” an all too familiar voice inquires.

“Nothing!” Derek says, practically shoving the pillow into Laura’s face in an attempt to keep her from saying anything.

“Right, well, Finstock wants you to – ” Stiles starts, giving Derek an odd look.

“You know what, this sounds like a really important conversation, and I really shouldn’t be intruding,” Laura interrupts, clapping Derek on the shoulder. “I’ll leave you guys to it.” She leans in close to Derek. “Don’t forget the bet we have.”

With that, she all but prances out of the room. Derek glares after her.

“Your sister’s weird,” Stiles says after a moment. “Cool, but weird.”

“Take out the ‘cool’ part and I’m inclined to agree,” Derek snorts, making Stiles crack a small smile of his own.

“It’s nice to know it’s not just me you’re mean to,” Stiles quips, moving to plop himself down on the couch next to Derek. “Is it how you show affection?”

“If it was, I’d be a lot nicer to you,” Derek snorts.

“Wow, big guy, you wound me,” Stiles replies. “And here I thought we had something special.”

“Depends on your definition of ‘special’,” Derek counters, trying to focus on their banter and not how close together they’re sitting.

“Ugh, whatever,” Stiles huffs, rolling his eyes. “Seriously, Finstock did want me to talk to you about something, though.”

“So are you actually going to tell me or do I have to go ask him myself?” Derek asks.

“Smartass,” Stiles mutters. “He wanted to tell you that you need to kiss someone within the next few days.”

“Kiss… someone?” Derek repeats, blinking at Stiles owlishly.

“Yeah, you know, it’s a thing where you press your lips to someone else’s. Sometimes there’s tongue involved,” Stiles replies, snark uninhibited.

“I meant why?” Derek huffs, folding his arms over his chest.

“I don’t know. Something to do with viewership and drama,” Stiles answers, shrugging. “Seriously, though, I’ve watched some of the other seasons and there are makeouts starting in, like, the first couple of days.”

“I thought this was a dating show, not a hookup show,” Derek grumbles. It’s not that none of the contestants are attractive, he just has no desire to make out with someone on camera. He’s not a porn star, thank you very much.

“Yeah, well, apparently a lot of people overvalue sexual compatibility, so,” Stiles says. “Not that sexual compatibility isn’t nice and all.”

“I can find out if someone’s sexually compatible with me after we start actually dating,” Derek replies firmly. He tries not to think too hard about the fact that he’s talking to Stiles about sexual compatibility.

“Right, but what if you get to the end of the show and there are two people you really like and you’re having a hard time deciding, but then you pick one and they turn out to be a furry?” Stiles says. It comes out all in one breath. Derek’s morbidly fascinated.

“Why, is anyone here a furry?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles in question.

“How would I know?” Stiles retorts.

“Well, I’m not actually planning on dating anyone from the show once it’s over,” Derek replies, making Stiles frown.

“What about Jennifer? You seem to like her,” Stiles says. There’s a certain edge to his tone Derek can’t quite place.

“She’s nice, but I’m not sure,” Derek answers, shrugging. “Cora doesn’t like her, and neither does Laura.”

“Huh,” Stiles replies. “Well, according to Finstock, you still have to kiss someone.”

“Anyone?” Derek asks.

“Well, yeah, I mean – ” Stiles starts, but he’s cut off when Derek leans over presses their lips together for a long moment.

“There, I kissed someone,” Derek says when he pulls away.

“But that – that doesn’t count!” Stiles sputters, his face turning bright red. “I’m not – ”

“Um, excuse me?” Derek looks up sharply, drawing back from Stiles, to see Kira standing tentatively in the doorway.

“Kira,” Derek says, heart pounding as he wonders how much she saw.

“I, uh, was wondering if I could talk to you for a moment.” She glances at Stiles. “In private.”

Derek opens his mouth to ask her how important it is, if they can talk about it later, but Stiles is already standing up from the couch.

“Right, I’ll let you two – ” He waves a hand between them vaguely. “ – talk or whatever.”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt – ” Kira starts, but Stiles cuts her off with a wave of his hand.

“Nah, it’s alright. I shouldn’t be here anyway,” he says and walks out the door. Derek feels like he’s been slapped.

“What did you need to talk to me about?” Derek finally asks, nodding for Kira to sit next to him on the couch (in Stiles’ recently vacated spot).

“Right, um, so you’re a really nice guy – ” Kira starts. Derek gives her an unconvinced look. “No, really, you are! I like you! I just don’t think that we’re really, um, compatible.”

“I’m not going to take offense if you point out that I’m an asshole,” Derek replies, a little amused.

“Well, I mean, you kind of are, but you’re nicer than people give you credit for,” Kira says with a soft smile. “You’ve always been polite to me, along with Jennifer and Danny, and I completely understand you snapping at some of the, um…”

“More aggressive suitors?” Derek supplies, making Kira blush a little.

“Yeah,” she agrees. “I just – I was in town today and I ran into the guy. Like, I literally spilled my coffee all over him, and I just…” She pauses, a slightly wistful look on her face. “I don’t really believe in love at first sight, but we hit it off. He’s really sweet, and I – ”

“Kira, if you want to leave the show, that’s fine,” Derek reassures her.

“Thanks,” she says, smiling shyly. “Do you think we could still be friends, though?”

“Sure,” Derek replies, a little thrown by the request. He likes Kira in a friend sort of way, but he hadn’t really expected the sentiment to be mutual. He hasn’t exactly been at his friendliest over the past few weeks. “Do you mind if I ask who you met, though?”

“His name’s Scott,” Kira answers, her face brightening. “He’s going to college at UC Davis and is back for the summer to work with the local veterinarian.”

“Oh, Dr. Deaton?” Derek asks, nodding. “He’s a good judge of character.”

“Well, I’m glad to know you approve,” Kira teases, nudging him with her shoulder. “I like him a lot.”

“He still likes you after you dumped your coffee all over him?” Derek asks, eyebrow raised.

“Hey!” Kira protests, her face going red again. “I apologized and helped him clean up! He said it was alright.”

“I’m joking,” Derek huffs, but his lips twitch up into a small smile.

“Yeah, well, I expect you to, like, text me more jokes or something when we’re no longer forced to be around each other twenty-four/seven, alright?” Kira tell him, her voice firm.

“Alright,” Derek replies. “You go have fun with the man you’re leaving me for.”

“I will,” she laughs. “We’re having dinner tonight.”

“Already?” Derek asks, surprised. “You scheduled dinner before you even told me you were leaving the show?”

“Sorry,” Kira replies, sounding a little sheepish. “I have to go now, though, if I don’t want to be late.” She leans in and brushes a light kiss over his cheek before bouncing up from the couch. “I’ll see you later!”

“Have fun!” Derek calls out after her, and she flashes him a bright smile, which Derek can’t help but return.

But it slips off his face once he’s alone again and Stiles’ parting words come back to him.

---

Stiles is avoiding him. There’s no other way of putting it.

Derek’s been whisked around between each remaining candidate’s hometown with barely enough time to breathe in between, and Stiles has been nowhere in sight. The few times Derek has managed to catch a few minutes with him Stiles has always cut it short, citing some duty or another. Derek can hear his excuses getting thinner and thinner every time.

Basically, it’s time to stage an intervention.

“Oh my g – ” Stiles yelps as he opens the door to his hotel room to reveal Derek standing there. Derek shoves his way inside, closing the door firmly behind him. “What the hell are you doing here? Get out!”

“Not until you tell me why you’ve been avoiding me,” Derek says, his voice unwavering. He crosses his arms over his chest, standing stock still.

“I’m not – ” Stiles protests weakly, a flush rising on his cheeks. Derek shoots him an unimpressed look. “Why does it matter?”

“Besides the fact that I thought – ” Derek cuts himself off. He thought what? That Stiles liked him? That they had something together?

“What, that I was down for fooling around with a guy who’s about to get freaking engaged to someone?” Stiles asks, slouching in on himself defensively.

“What?” Derek answers, caught off guard. “What do you mean I’m getting engaged?”

“Dude, this is kind of how these shows work,” Stiles snorts, a certain bitter quality to his tone. “I mean, you don’t technically have to get engaged, but you have to pick someone. That’s the whole point of it.”

“Well maybe I don’t want any of them,” Derek snaps.

“Then what the fuck do you want?” Stiles yells, throwing his hands up in the air.

You, alright!” Derek exclaims. “I want you.”

Stiles stares at him for a moment, wide eyed and slack jawed. He finally manages a meager, “What?”

“Look, do you know what the best date I had on this trip was?” Derek asks. “When we went to the library together in Copenhagen.”

“That wasn’t a date,” Stiles protests.

“So two people who are romantically interested in each other spending time alone together isn’t a date?” Derek counters, frowning at Stiles.

“Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure that to qualify as a date, the participants have to know that it’s a date beforehand,” Stiles says, crossing his arms over his chest in a way that’s less defensive and more like he’s trying to comfort himself.

“Did you not want it to be a date, then?” Derek asks, the fight draining from his as he wonders how he’d managed to misread the situation so spectacularly.

“I mean, yeah, I do, I just – are you sure this is what you want?” Stiles replies, making Derek frown, his brow furrowing. “Danny and Jennifer are pretty amazing.”

“They’re not you,” Derek says simply. Stiles blinks at him for a moment, gaping.

“Oh my god, that is seriously the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard,” he finally says, and although he’s biting his lip to keep from smiling, he’s less than successful in concealing his amusement.

“Va te faire foutre,” Derek mutters, his cheeks flushing red.

“I’m pretty sure you just told me you didn’t want me to va te faire foutre,” Stiles replies, openly grinning now as he finally moves closer to Derek, right up in his personal space. For once, Derek doesn’t mind sharing it.

“So is that a yes?” Derek asks, anticipation swirling in his gut.

“To what?” Stiles replies.

“To dating me when I finally get off this fucking show,” Derek says, reaching out to place a hand on Stiles’ waist.

Stiles stares at him for a moment, examining his expression carefully, before leaning in and pressing a light kiss to his lips.

“Yeah,” he replies as he pulls back. “Yeah, that sounds – amazing.”

“I’m warning you, I’m even more of an asshole during finals week,” Derek says, rubbing small circles on Stiles’ waist through his t-shirt.

“You think we’re going to make it an entire semester?” Stiles asks, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“God, I hope so,” Derek replies. “We at least have to get through the rest of the Star Wars trilogy together. That should take a few dates at least.”

“Uh, no, that’ll only take one date,” Stiles counters, shooting Derek an unimpressed look. “Only the weak watch movies over a series of days instead of marathoning them.”

“That’ll only work if we don’t get distracted,” Derek murmurs before pulling Stiles in for another kiss.

He plans on learning all the best ways to distract Stiles.

---

It’s the final day of filming and tensions are high.

For everyone but Derek, that is.

Not that he isn’t a little tense, of course. Danny and Jennifer both seem nice and he doesn’t think that either of them are going to go into hysterics, but, then again, he’d thought Kate was nice too. Still, as he catches Stiles’ eye across the room, he can’t help but smile.

“Alright, Erik! Tell me you’re ready for this,” Finstock booms, far too loud considering the fact that he’s standing right next to Derek. Derek still finds it mildly amazing that they’ve been filming for over a month and Finstock still hasn’t figured out his real name.

He catches a glimpse of Stiles laughing in the background. Derek glares. Stiles winks back.

“Now, we’re definitely not doing any second takes,” Finstock announces. “So get your emotions in order! I know you generally have the emotional range of an ice cube in the arctic, but make it count!”

The cameras start rolling and Derek realizes that he probably should have spent his time coming up with a speech instead of making out with Stiles.

Not that he regrets it all that much.

“Danny,” he says. He sees Jennifer tense. “Jennifer.”

He grips the rose in his hands a little tighter.

“You both seem like wonderful people,” he continues, trying to think of something more polite to say than ‘you’re just not my type.’ “But I’m afraid that this rose isn’t for either of you.”

Derek’s pretty sure the only reason the entire crew hasn’t started murmuring is because they cameras are still rolling.

“This rose is for Stiles,” he finishes, and all of the cameras swivel with his gesture.

Stiles is staring at him, wide eyed, with half a doughnut sticking out of his mouth.

“Oh my god, you asshole!” Stiles squawks, his face going bright red. “I already said yes!”

Derek grins and dodges the other half of Stiles’ doughnut.