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you ain't a beauty (but hey you're alright)

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"Oh, no no no no no," Stiles says, before the door is even open all the way, "no. What do you want? Keep in mind the answer's no."

Derek stands there looking entirely too innocent for a man who recently let his ten-year-old cousin drive Stiles's car in a high speed chase through downtown Shanghai while shooting at gangsters out of the back window with terrible trigger discipline, like, honestly. "I don't want anything," he says, and Stiles scoffs. "I just wanted to check on you."

"Oh, now you come to check on me," Stiles says. "Now that we're in a freaking palace you want to check on me, but when we're sleeping in the freaking jungle I'm supposed to 'man up, Stiles, it's just a python!' What a concerned, gentle soul you have."

"It wasn't a python," Derek says, irritated. "It was a saw-scaled viper."

"Oh!" Stiles throws up his hands. "Okay, that makes all the difference. I feel much better knowing I almost died because of a saw-scaled viper."

"Okay," Derek says, "I can see you're still upset."

"Upset?" Stiles shakes his head. "No. Why would I be upset? I love being dragged along on treasure hunts with crazy people. One of my favorite hobbies, actually."

"It's okay," Derek says magnanimously. "You've had a rough couple of days. I'll just take this with me and go - "

"Wait," Stiles orders, "is that fruit?"

Derek shrugs, holding the platter out with one hand.

"Okay, you're forgiven, get in here," Stiles says quickly, "fast, before someone comes by and tries to make me eat monkey brains again."

"I hear that's a delicacy," Derek says mildly, allowing Stiles to usher him into the bedchamber.

"We're in the middle of the Indian jungle, clean water is a delicacy, are those grapes?"

Derek plucks a perfect, purple oval from the bunch and pops it into his mouth. Stiles watches hungrily - the grape. He watches the grape hungrily. Nothing else. "They fly in fresh fruit from Cochin every week," he says, picking another from the vine and holding it out to Stiles with his long, calloused fingers. "Apples, mangos, bananas...cantaloupe - "

A wordless sound of desire erupts from deep in Stiles's throat, something he'd be totally embarrassed by if he hadn't been living off snake meat and roasted bugs for the past three days.

Derek steps closer, his eyes glowing blue in the flickering light from the torches. "You want some?" he asks. His voice is deeper than usual, Stiles notices dimly.

Stiles reaches out and snatches a fistful of grapes in lieu of actually answering.

"I had to bribe the kitchens to give me this," Derek says, his little staring habit back in full force. Stiles shivers slightly, not actually minding it as much as he did before. "I had to give them my hip flask."

"You mean that gross ratty thing made out of sheep guts?" Stiles asks.

"Sheep bladder," Derek corrects. "It was a gift."

"Romantic gift," Stiles drawls.

"And I suppose your clients," Derek sneers, "have better taste?"

"Don't make me sound like a hooker," Stiles protests, because whatever, Ma Ling Yang gives really awesome presents because she wants to, and not just because he sleeps with her. Derek can go to hell.

"I thought you were a hooker."

"Exotic dancer," Stiles protests, "and you can get the hell out if you're going to speak to me like that."

"Like what," Derek says, amused, "like someone who trades services for goods?"

"Legal services," Stiles says a little breathlessly, annoyed at Derek's proximity and his reaction to Derek's proximity and how he can't stop eating Derek's fruit and basically his entire life situation at the moment, "services performed while standing upright. Mostly."

"We're standing upright," Derek comments.

Stiles stares at his mouth and nods.

"But we're not in public."

"No," Stiles agrees, "we're in a bedroom. A huge, lavishly decorated bedroom, with...firelight, and fruit, and big, heavy doors that lock - "

"A bed," Derek says.

"With a canopy," Stiles agrees. "I like canopies."

"Not that we need it," Derek says, picking a slice of mango from the platter delicately and slipping it in-between Stiles's teeth. It goes down smoother than sin. "Because you wouldn't come near me with a ten-foot pole. Remember?" He taps Stiles's bottom lip, looking smug and amused and like everything Stiles never knew he wanted.

"Of course not," Stiles babbles, "because you're reckless and stupid and way too many people want you dead - "

Derek nods, sliding his hand down Stiles's throat, brushing his knuckles against the pulse point.

" - and you're too smart for your own good and you're arrogant and I just don't need this sort of complication in my life right now. And your hat's stupid."

"Don't talk about my hat," Derek protests, moving his hand to the small of Stiles's back. Stiles makes another embarrassing sound that he won't admit to later, and distantly, he registers the sound of the plate of fruit, clattering to the ground.

"It's a stupid hat," Stiles says weakly, and wow, Derek has very strong shoulders, how did his hands get up there?

"But I did bring you fruit," Derek points out, "and that is, technically, a good."

"Mmhmm," Stiles says, distracted by the scratch of Derek's beard against his palms.

"And according to the rules of fair trade," Derek continues, turning his head to speak the words into Stiles's hands, "you now owe me a service."

"Seems so," Stiles says, "I could do your laundry?"

Derek huffs out a breath that almost sounds like a laugh.

"Or I could," Stiles says, leaning in close to trace the lines of Derek's eyebrows, to tap lines down his cheekbones, "shine your shoes?"

"I wear boots, not shoes," Derek murmurs.

"Well, then." Stiles steps into the circle of Derek's arms, head spinning pleasantly. Derek ducks his head to press his cheek against the side of Stiles's face, his shoulders moving deeply underneath Stiles's hands. "I suppose I'll just have to - " he trails off to swallow thickly, acutely aware of Derek's mouth, a warm point of heat on the outer shell of his ear. " - show you the secret passage I found behind the chiffonier?"

Derek freezes, his hands clenching on Stiles's hips. When he pulls away, there's an honest to God grin on his face.

"What," Stiles says innocently, "did you think I was going to say something else?"