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Derek wakes up slowly, but not pleasantly.

His head aches and his mouth tastes of stale alcohol – but thankfully not vomit. There’s also a hint of bitterness at the back of his throat which he can’t quite place, but it’s mostly concealed by the tequila, vodka, and whatever else he’d drunk in a momentary lapse of judgment.

Carefully, he opens his eyes. And tries not to freak out.

After all, lying next to him, tangled in the rumpled, dirtied sheets, is a very familiar figure. A figure who he should under no circumstances be in bed with. Derek closes his eyes for a moment and hopes that when he opens them again, the president’s son (and the object of his affections for the past few years) will no longer be naked and in bed with him.

No such luck.

Derek can’t help but take a moment to admire Stiles, though. He knows it’s wrong, that he should get the hell out of dodge immediately, but Stiles has changed so much from the awkward, lanky sixteen-year-old he was when his father first took office. Derek’s unable to resist using the quiet moment to take in the constellations of moles dotting Stiles’ skin, running across his back, over his shoulders, and up his neck –

For a moment, Derek can’t breathe.

Because moles aren’t the only thing marring the pale skin of Stiles’ neck. Oh no, that’s –

– that’s a bond bite. A bond bite which Stiles definitely did not have yesterday, and which appears to have roughly the same dimensions as Derek’s own mouth.

Shit.

On instinct, he reaches a hand up to his own neck, but it’s… well, it seems like it’s exactly how it was the previous day. As in, there’s no new bond bite there.

Derek’s heart clenches and he feels a little like he’s going to throw up. Carefully, he removes himself from the bed, which is a rather difficult feat, considering how Stiles is sprawled out almost completely on top of him. Somehow he manages it, though, and all Stiles does is continue to snore softly.

He finds himself staring at Stiles again, but as soon as his eyes hit the bond bite, he looks away, that sick feeling returning. Because although Stiles was apparently drunk enough to accept the bond bite, he wasn’t quite out of his mind enough to give it.

It takes an excruciatingly long time for Derek to gather up all of his clothes – or, rather, to find them – considering they’re scattered all around the room, over furniture, under the bed, hanging off the door handle. He really wishes he could at least remember the sex now. He can’t even tell if he bottomed or not, because the throbbing pain of his hangover pretty much blocks out every other ache in his body.

Glancing back at Stiles’ sleeping form one more time, he opens the bedroom door and slips out.

Which is certainly more easily said than done, considering he’s trying to sneak out of the president’s son’s bedroom on the second floor of the Executive Residence of the White House Complex.

Suffice to say, he gets maybe five feet before someone notices him.

“Derek! What are you still doing here?” Kira Yukimura asks, striding towards him down the hallway. “I thought you were taking the week off.”

Derek freezes for a moment, unsure what to say. After all, shouldn’t Kira know exactly what he’s doing here at this hour of the morning? She is Stiles’ personal bodyguard. Really, Derek would be snapping at her about not doing her job if it wasn’t for the massive way in which he just fucked up. Sure, Scott Stilinski-McCall is technically his charge, but this is still a conflict of interest in a pretty major way.

“And have you seen Greenberg?” Kira continues, frowning. “He was supposed to take my late shift last night, but – ”

“I took over for him,” Derek blurts out, desperately clinging to the excuse. “You know how Stiles can get at parties. He’s too much for Greenberg to handle.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Kira replies, looking a little chagrinned. “I just – I wanted to be at Scott’s birthday party as a friend, not a bodyguard, you know?”

Derek highly suspects that she wants to be more than a friend to Scott, but he doesn’t call her out on it. It would be hypocritical of him, after all.

“Stiles is sleeping off a hangover now,” Derek says, wondering how he’s going to explain all of this when it inevitably comes back to bite him in the ass. Kira will know what happened as soon as she sees Stiles’ shiny new bond bite, after all. “I wouldn’t disturb him.”

“I need to make sure there’s no lasting damage,” she replies with a wry smile. “Not that I don’t trust you, but you’re looking a bit worse for wear yourself.”

“He can be a handful,” Derek answers simply. It’s not exactly a lie.

“Yes, he is,” Kira laughs, her smile turning a little brighter. “Anyway, I should probably let you get home.”

“Right,” Derek replies, mentally calculating whether or not he’ll be able to get out of the building before she discovers the bond bite placed neatly on Stiles’ upper neck. Maybe if he speed-walks.

In the end, he’s halfway to his apartment when he gets a call. As soon as he sees the number, he pulls over immediately, his heart sinking. After all, he’s sure nothing good is going to come from a personal call from President Stilinski-McCall himself.

“Sir?” he asks, bracing himself for – for what? The president has never been the type to yell or scream or make a scene, but then again, he’s never been faced with someone forcing a soul bond on his son and then making a break for it.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your vacation, but I need you back at the White House, pronto,” President Stilinski-McCall says, without preamble. He sounds tense, worried, but not angry, per say.

“Alright, Mr. President,” Derek replies, his palms already growing sweaty. “I’ll be there soon.”

“I’d rather not tell you about the situation over the phone, but I’d almost be willing to condone you breaking a few traffic laws if it got you here sooner,” President Stilinski-McCall replies, a wry lilt to his tone. The worry’s still there, though.

“I’ll be there,” Derek reassures him, his voice steady even though the ever increasing rabbit-thump of his heartbeat isn’t.

“Thank you, Agent Hale,” the president replies. “Meet me in Stiles’ room.”

Fuck.

---

When Derek arrives back at the White House, whatever lingering hope he has that this meeting isn’t about what happened between him and Stiles disappears. Kira’s hovering anxiously in the hallway outside of Stiles’ room, the worry practically radiating off her in waves. Her lower lip’s bitten plump and pink, but, well, she doesn’t go flying at Derek in a fit of rage as soon as she sets eyes on him, so hopefully the situation isn’t that bad.

Fuck, who is he trying to kid here?

“I thought you were going home,” she blurts out as soon as she sees him.

“I got called back in,” Derek replies, shrugging. He raises a hand to knock on the bedroom door.

“Stiles isn’t letting anyone in,” Kira says, before his fist can make contact. “Well, except for the president.”

“President Stilinski-McCall was the one who called me,” Derek informs her, a little relieved that she doesn’t yet know about the whole situation. She’ll find out eventually, of course, but by then, he’ll probably have been fired.

“Oh,” Kira replies, frowning. “I didn’t tell him about you taking over for Greenberg last night, though.”

Which probably means that Stiles remembers a lot more of last night than he does. Isn’t that just his luck? If he runs now, though, he’ll probably get arrested and not just fired. So he walks up to the door and knocks. If his hand wavers a little, Kira doesn’t comment on it.

“It’s Agent Hale,” he says, voice impressively steady.

“Come in,” President Stilinski-McCall replies. Derek braces himself or the worst and enters.

The president is sitting on the edge of the bed, turned towards a roughly human-shaped lump of blankets. Derek can only assume that Stiles is underneath them. His heart clenches a little at the thought that Stiles is so ashamed of this whole situation that he’s hiding under the covers like he’s sixteen again.

“Stiles,” President Stilinski-McCall says to the blanket-lump, his voice somehow both soft and stern. “You need to come out.”

“I came out last year,” Stiles grumbles, and Derek’s unable to keep himself from smiling a little at that.

“You know what I mean,” President Stilinski-McCall huffs. For a moment, Stiles stubbornly stays put, but then he pokes his face out from under his comforter. He looks like death warmed over, truth be told, clearly hungover and exhausted.

Their eyes meet, and Stiles freezes. Then, he lets out a strangled squawk and dives back under the covers.

“Dad!” he yelps, voice muffled by the blankets. “What’s he doing here?”

“I thought you’d already agreed to the plan,” President Stilinski-McCall says. Derek waits awkwardly off to the side, completely lost.

“Well, yeah, but I thought it would be Kira or – ” Stiles protests, and Derek feels a pang of hurt, even though he has no idea what plan Stiles is choosing Kira over him for.

“You know why it can’t be Kira,” President Stilinski-McCall sighs, reaching out to pet Stiles’ head through the covers.

“But does it have to be him?” Stiles whines, still refusing to reappear.

“Sir, I can leave if – ” Derek starts, but the president cuts him off with a wave of his hand.

“Stiles, you know Derek’s the only one who’s close to you and who I’d trust to keep this situation quiet,” President Stilinski-McCall says, coaxing Stiles out from behind his blanket barrier. “Now get out from under there and start acting like an adult. You’re twenty years old, for god’s sake.”

Reluctantly, Stiles emerges. He lets the blankets fall down off his shoulders and pool around his hips. Thankfully, for Derek’s sanity, he’s wearing a t-shirt now. It doesn’t do much – or anything, really – to hide the reddish, slightly swollen bond bite on his neck, though.

“Happy?” Stiles snaps, but he’s glaring at his father, not Derek.

“Agent Hale – Derek,” President Stilinski-McCall says, making Derek’s gaze snap back, a defense on his lips. “Stiles accidentally got bonded at Scott’s party last night.”

Actually, Derek was pretty sure it was after the party, but he doesn’t say so, just nods weakly, waiting for the yelling to start.

“The problem is, he doesn’t remember who he got bonded to,” the president continues, and it’s all Derek can do to not let out a sigh of relief. Which probably makes him an utter asshole, but at least he’s probably not going to get fired.

Fuck, he’s a horrible person.

“As you can guess, it would be dangerous for both Stiles and myself if this got out,” President Stilinski-McCall says, and Derek nods along.

“Basically we don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of weirdos claiming to be my mate for the fame or to assassinate my dad or something,” Stiles grumbles, hands fisting in the sheets. Which they probably fucked on last night. Jesus.

“So do you want me to vet them, or – ?” Derek asks, frowning as he tries to figure out how he fits into this equation.

Stiles lets out a pained sound and mutters something that sounds suspiciously like, “Kill me now.”

“No,” President Stilinski-McCall answers. “Your new assignment, affective until further notice, is to pose as Stiles’ mate.”

“… excuse me?” Derek replies after a moment.

“You and Stiles are around each other often enough that it’s feasible that you could have formed a relationship,” President Stilinski-McCall explains, although Derek’s head is still spinning at the thought of being Stiles’ fake mate. Ironically, it’s just sinking in that he’s Stiles’ actual mate, too.

“And because you’re Scott’s bodyguard, there’s less of a conflict of interest,” Stiles adds, grumbling and refusing to meet Derek’s eyes. “So, you know, we’ll spin it as some sort of weird whirl-wind romance and then break our nonexistent bond after a few months.”

“I’m sure we could find some other way to – ” Derek starts, a little panicked at the thought of lying to Stiles about being his actual bond-mate while being his fake bond-mate.

“Agent Hale, this is an assignment, not a request,” President Stilinski-McCall interrupts, his tone sharp.

“But what about the bond bite? I don’t have one,” Derek protests. “I’m not – you wouldn’t make Stiles – ”

“I’ve already called in Ms. Reyes,” President Stilinski-McCall says evenly, making Derek’s heart sink. Erica’s the White House’s personal make-up artist and Derek’s seen her touch up the president and first lady for important public appearances often enough that he’s certain that if anyone could fake a bond bite, it’s her.

“Alright,” Derek finally sighs, giving in. “What are my mission parameters?”

“Mission parameters,” Stiles snorts under his breath, and Derek would glare at him if he didn’t look so dejected and overwhelmed by the entire situation. Derek hates himself for doing this to him.

“Those are primarily for you and Stiles to negotiate,” the president replies, a hint of tiredness leaking into his tone. “I will stress that this should be kept between the three of us and Ms. Reyes. Otherwise, go about your work as normal, but take some time to do some… couple-y things together. Look like you’re newly bonded and in love.”

Which really shouldn’t be that hard for him. Boyd gives him judging looks whenever he ‘moons’ over Stiles, which seems to be every time they’re in the same room.

“I have a meeting to attend now,” President Stilinski-McCall announces, jolting Derek back out of his thoughts. “I’ll leave you two to sort the rest out.”

With that, he leaves, abandoning him and Stiles in awkward silence.

“So,” Stiles starts. He’s worrying his bottom lip with his teeth in a way which is positively distracting. “Um. Sorry?”

No, Derek thinks. I should be the one apologizing.

---

“Derek Hale,” Erica Reyes says, a wide, predatory grin spread across her face. “It’s been a while.”

Derek grunts noncommittally as she pushes him down into a chair in front of a set of three large mirrors and begins to fuss with a variety of tools Derek can’t even begin to name.

“So, congrats on snagging such a sexy little mate, loverboy,” she continues, earning her a glare.

“We’re not actually together,” Derek replies, his tone sharp as he redirects his glare at his own reflection.

“Yeah, but now you can do the whole ‘we need to make out in order to maintain our cover’ thing instead of just pining from afar,” Erica counters, tilting his head this way and that as she examines his neck. “Hell, you might even convince him to indulge in some no-strings-attached sex, if you’re lucky.”

“I don’t pine,” Derek protests, his cheeks heating slightly at the thought of making out with Stiles, even though, logically, he knows it must have already happened at some point.

“Boyd says otherwise,” Erica replies gleefully. Derek curses Boyd’s choice in mate, not for the first time.

Derek refuses to reply to that – partially because he knows that whatever he says will probably only incriminate him more. They fall into silence for a while as Erica begins to work her magic, plastering all sorts of sticky gunk on his neck.

“Now, you can’t touch any of my artwork, alright?” she says as she molds the clay or wax or whatever it is onto his skin. “I’m going to have to redo it every morning at the least, but I certainly don’t want to have to touch it up any more often than that. So if you and Stiles do decided that you need to have sex ‘for the mission’ or whatever, keep the necking to a minimum.”

Derek flushes and tries to avoid thinking about necking with Stiles. He fails miserably.

“Stiles and I aren’t going to – ” Derek starts, but Erica cuts him off with a disbelieving snort.

“Look, the two of you have been making eyes at each other for nearly four years now, and I’d be naïve to think that nothing’s going to happen during this… mission or whatever,” she says, pausing in her work to look Derek directly in the eye. “But if you break his heart, I’ll castrate you with a rusty spoon. If you just hurt his feelings, I’ll kill you.”

“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” Derek grumbles.

“No, getting castrated with a rusty spoon is worse than being murdered, I think,” Erica muses, turning her eyes back on Derek’s fake bond-bite and examining it critically.

“I didn’t mean that,” Derek mutters, trying not to think about how there’s no way he could break Stiles’ heart – not really. That would require Stiles to have some sort of emotional investment in him.

“Well, I’m going to give Stiles the same talk next time I see him. Don’t worry, I’m defending your honor, too, sweetcheeks,” Erica says, a lazy grin spreading across her face. “Now, what do you think?”

She steps aside so that Derek can fully see himself in the mirror.

“Not bad, if I do say so myself,” she announces, preening, as she hold up the Styrofoam bite impression she’d gotten from Stiles to design the mark. It matches perfectly, and if Derek didn’t know any better, he’d think that Stiles had given him the bond bite himself.

He swallows thickly and tries not to want it so much. If even drunk, out of his mind Stiles didn’t want to bite Derek, why the hell would sober Stiles?

“It’s good,” he finally manages, tearing his eyes away from his reflection in the mirror.

Excuse me,” Erica huffs, shooting him an annoyed look. “It’s better than good. In fact – ”

Wow,” a familiar voice interrupts. Derek’s head snaps around so quickly he’s half afraid of whiplash, and he lays eyes on Stiles standing in the doorway. He looks a little dazed almost, his eyes fixed on Erica’s makeup masterpiece. “That’s – wow. Very convincing.”

Derek feels a sudden burst of something, a complex rush of feelings he can’t quite identify – and ones that don’t entirely feel like his own. He freezes, his eyes going a little wide, but beyond the conflicted expression on Stiles’ face, there’s no indication he’s feeling the same thing.

Or, rather, that he’s feeling the same surprise Derek is.

He’s heard about it happening, of course – emotion bleeds between bonded pairs. He supposes it’s not entirely surprising that Stiles doesn’t seem to be feeling it. After all, theirs is incomplete. Derek clenches his hands into fists, bile rising in his throat as he’s overcome with how skeevy this all is, him spying on Stiles’ emotions.

“The bite needs to look convincing,” Derek finally says, his jaw clenched. “We’re going to be under the scrutiny of the entire nation in a matter of days.”

“Look, it’s not – alright so it’s a lot my fault,” Stiles retorts, his face turning a little red. “But you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I can get my dad to assign someone else. It’s not too late.”

“No, it’s – ” all my fault “ – alright with me,” Derek sighs, glancing at his new, fake bond-bite in the mirror one more time. “I can do this.”

“Yeah, well, first we should probably negotiate what you’ll actually have to do,” Stiles replies, running a hand through his messy hair. He’s changed out of the clothes he’d thrown on haphazardly that morning, but his hair still makes him look like he just rolled out of bed.

Derek sighs and shoots Erica a significant look. She rolls her eyes but packs up her stuff, before sauntering out of the room, leaving Stiles and Derek alone. Derek finds his gaze lingering on Stiles’ neck for a moment, but he quickly looks elsewhere.

“So,” Stiles says, awkwardly perched on the arm of a chair a substantial distance away from Derek.

“You asked if this mission makes me uncomfortable, but if you – ” Derek starts.

“No!” Stiles interrupts, cheeks flushing again. “No, I’m fine. Totally fine. No issues here. At all.”

Derek eyes him skeptically, but nods, deciding not to press the issue.

“So,” Stiles repeats, fiddling with the hem of his shirt. “How are we gonna do this? Because I actually have to work on Monday.”

“Your summer internship?” Derek asks, frowning. “With the Washington Post?”

“Yeah,” Stiles answers, his hand going up almost absentmindedly to stroke over the mark high on his neck. “There’s no way I’ll be able to hide the bite for long. Everyone I work with is fucking nosy.”

“They’re reporters,” Derek snorts. “It’s their job to be nosy.”

“Derek, you’re not trying to imply anything about me, are you?” Stiles asks, mock offended. The corners of his lips quirk up slightly, forming the first smile Derek’s seen from him since this whole situation went to shit.

“Would I do that?” Derek drawls, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles, whose smile grows slightly wider.

“Anyway,” Stiles says, clearing his throat and looking away. “We should, ah, probably make an announcement or something beforehand.”

“And how are we supposed to do that?” Derek asks, frowning. He gets a strange, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach as he imagines Stiles flashing his best fake smile at some reporter as he lies about how in love they are.

“I was thinking we could go on a date?” Stiles answers, almost shyly, looking over at Derek with wide, amber eyes. “Or something? Like, you know, go out in public, and if someone gets pictures, they get pictures.”

“Oh,” Derek replies, the tightness in his gut easing. “Alright. Kira will have to be there, though.”

“But I’ll have you to protect me,” Stiles whines, expression dangerously close to a pout.

“I’m compromised, remember?” Derek says, indicating his own fake bond-bite.

“Doesn’t that mean you’re supposed to be even more concerned about my health and safety?” Stiles counters, eyebrow quirked in challenge.

“It also means I won’t necessarily be thinking rationally,” Derek replies – not that he’s ever been able to think rationally about Stiles.

“Yeah, but it’s not like we’re actually bonded,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. Derek somehow manages to suppress a flinch.

“It would reflect badly on your father if it appeared that he was allowing your safety to be neglected,” he replies, his tone carefully neutral.

Stiles is silent for a moment.

“Yeah, I suppose I’ve done enough for my dad’s image already, haven’t I?” Stiles says, surprising Derek with the bitterness in his voice. “At least he’s already been re-elected and all that.”

“Stiles, it’s not – ” Derek starts, but Stiles cuts him off with a sharp laugh.

“C’mon, Derek, really?” Stiles snorts. “I mean, what sort of idiot gets blackout drunk at their brother’s birthday party and wakes up fucking bonded? And whoever I got bonded to didn’t even stick around.”

“They’re an idiot,” Derek blurts out, his hands clenching into fists.

Stiles shoots him a questioning look.

“Your bondmate,” Derek clarifies, fingernails digging into the palms of his hands. “Maybe they woke up and realized who you were and that they weren’t good enough for someone like you.”

Stiles’ expression softens slightly, and he gives Derek the barest hint of a sad smile. A heavy weight of foreign emotion bears down on Derek, and he has to hold himself back from sweeping Stiles up into a hug.

“That’s so sweet of you, but you’re also an idiot,” Stiles sighs. “The only thing even remotely intimidating about me is the fact that I’m the president’s son, and if they were at Scott’s party, that’s probably something they’re used to by now. I mean, I appreciate the sentiment, but, you know, facts.”

Derek opens his mouth to protest, but someone knocks on the door, interrupting him.

“Who is it?” Stiles calls, turning towards the door.

“It’s Kira,” the person replied, a slightly nervous lilt to her voice. “I, uh, the president explained the situation to me, and – ”

“Come in,” Stiles sighs, cutting her off, and the door swings open a moment later, revealing a rather flustered looking Kira. As soon as her eyes land on Derek, however, her expression goes steely. Derek feels like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car as she stalks over towards him.

“I can’t believe you!” she hisses, her tone low as she pulls Derek a little further away from Stiles and out of earshot.

“Kira – ” he tries.

“How could you just bond Stiles and then try to leave?” Kira hisses, her eyes flashing bright with anger. Derek’s chest seizes up with fear as he realizes that she’s put two and two together – that’s she’s probably told –

“Did you – ?” he starts, unsure what he’s even trying to ask. His gaze flickers over to where Stiles is looking over at them curiously. He doesn’t approach, though.

“I didn’t tell President Stilinski-McCall that you tried to sneak out,” she sighs, crossing her arms tight over her chest. “He’s under the impression that you two have been seeing each other in secret, and I didn’t want to tell him that…” She purses her lips. “Were you sober?”

“What?” Derek asks, thrown off guard.

“If you took advantage of – ” Kira starts, frown deepening.

“No! No, I wasn’t… it was my night off, and so I let myself drink,” he sighs, running a hand over his face. “I wouldn’t take advantage of Stiles like that. I don’t know what happened – ”

“Derek, I – sorry, I know you’re not that sort of – ” Kira stutters, looking suddenly tired and overwhelmed. “This is my fault.”

“Kira, it’s not – ”

“It is my fault,” Kira says, her tone sharp and high. “I should have been there to – ”

“Did I hear you say this is your fault?” another voice says suddenly, Stiles breaking into the conversation. “Because if this is anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”

“Stiles, Kira and I – ” Derek starts.

“Uh, no,” Stiles interrupts, scowling. Derek feels a hot flash of his anger. “I let you two have a few minutes of secret agent time, but I’m really not the sort of person who’s polite enough to let people discuss me in private while standing, like, ten feet away.”

“I’m sorry, Stiles, I just – ” Kira says. Derek shoots her a significant look. “ – I was mad at Derek for not telling me about you two.”

“But you’re not mad at me, right?” Stiles asks, giving Kira his best puppy-dog eyes. They’re not quite as lethal as Scott’s, but they’re pretty damn close.

“I want to be,” Kira retorts, her lips pressed into a thin line, “but I suppose I should have expected it to happen at some point.”

“Expected it?” Derek asks, frowning as he watches Stiles’ face turn bright red.

“I mean, you two have been pining after each other for – ” Kira starts, but before she can finish, Stiles lets out a loud squawk and a stream of, “No, nope, please, please Kira, do not finish that statement – ”

Derek opens his mouth to try and intervene, but before he can say anything, a sharp knock on the door interrupts him.

“Come in!” Stiles yells, his tone a little desperate almost, apparently more than happy for the excuse to derail the conversation.

The door clicks and swings open smoothly, revealing Lydia Martin, her hair perfectly curled and arranged and her heels sharp enough that Derek found himself wondering how she got the past security.

“You know, Stiles,” she starts as she prowls forward, a dangerous glint in her eye, “when I was originally offered this job, I almost turned it down. I didn’t think a position as a White House publicist would be challenging enough unless I was working for the president directly, but you, you just have to prove me wrong again and again, don’t you?”

“Hey! I mean, it’s not completely – ” Stiles protests.

“A wild night with a secret service agent, I could do,” Lydia continues, barreling over Stiles. “A whirlwind romance or bonding after a night of passion, I could manage. But you just have to make things difficult.”

“Sorry?” Stiles tries, looking a little sheepish.

“And you, Hale,” Lydia snaps, turning on Derek, making him go stiff and on edge. “When the president informed me of the situation, I never imagined you’d be careless enough to get yourself involved. I thought you were more responsible than Stiles. At least you’re pretty. That should make PR marginally easier.”

Derek opens his mouth to respond, but before he can say anything, Lydia’s gaze lands on Kira, who, at the moment, is looking less like the confident secret service agent Derek is familiar with and more like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.

“Kira, honey,” she says, her expression softening slightly, “I’m going to do my best to make sure you don’t get dragged through the dirt for this – and that, ideally, you don’t get mentioned at all – but can’t make any promises.”

“No, I – it’s my fault,” Kira replies, her cheeks flushing in shame. “I neglected my duties and – ”

“I’m going to stop you right there,” Lydia interrupts, holding a finger up. “If you start internalizing that, it’s only going to be easier for whatever shit the media says to get inside your head. The blame for this situation lies solely with these two idiots.” She glares at Derek and Stiles. “Understand?”

“Look, Lyds, I know this is a mess, but – ” Stiles starts.

“A mess?” Lydia repeats, her eyes narrowing. “You got blackout drunk and bonded with your twenty-seven year old bodyguard. This is nothing short of a PR nightmare. Which is why I am going to carefully craft everything you say from here on out.”

“It’s not – ” Stiles tries.

“Yes, it is,” Lydia says, her tone finite. “We’re going to go to my office now and I’m going to outline exactly how you’re supposed to act and exactly what you’re supposed to say.”

With that, she turns on her heel and heads for the door, clearly expecting them to follow. Derek hesitates for a moment, but then gives in.

---

“So,” Stiles murmurs, sidling up to Derek as they make their way to Lydia’s office. “What’s our story?”

“Our story?” Derek asks, his brow furrowing in confusion.

“Yeah, like how long have we been together, how’d we get together, all that jazz,” Stiles replies, slowing his gait somewhat to put more space in between them and Lydia.

“Scott’s appendix,” Derek says suddenly, making Stiles give him a quizzical look.

“What about Scott’s appendix?” Stiles asks, his lips turning down in a slight frown.

“When it ruptured last year we spent a lot of time together at the hospital,” Derek explains, remembering how Stiles had worried himself to exhaustion, gotten onto one of his Wikipedia binges and panicked about how Scott could die. Derek had finally managed to calm him down by rucking up his shirt to display a tiny scar from when he’d had his own appendix out back when he was in high school.

“I guess that’s a good balance of sob story and cuteness,” Stiles concedes. There’s another flux of emotion that goes along with it, something almost akin to wistfulness, but once again Derek can’t quite place it.

“And we’ve been sneaking around ever since then,” Derek concludes.

Stiles opens his mouth to add something, but he’s cut off by Lydia’s sharp, “Hurry up! You’re wasting valuable time.”

“We’re coming!” Stiles calls, speeding up his pace a little. He also shoots Derek a commiserating eye roll, though.

“Sit,” Lydia commands once they finally reach her office, motioning towards the two chairs opposite her desk.

Derek and Stiles do as they’re told, but Derek can’t help how stiff he is, uncomfortable and rigid.

“First of all, from here on out I don’t want you talking to any reporter who I haven’t pre-approved,” Lydia announces. “No matter how much they harass you, you will give the standard ‘no comment’.”

Stiles mutters, “Right,” and Derek nods.

“Second, you need to straighten your story out. Make it consistent,” Lydia continues, lacing her fingers together and leaning forward on her desk. “And please, for the love of god, tell me this wasn’t some one-night-stand gone wrong.”

“Nope. Absolutely not,” Stiles says, a bit too quickly perhaps. “Do I look like the sort of person who’d do that?”

Lydia glares at him.

Fine. Does Derek look like the type of person who’d do that?” Stiles sighs, his expression dangerously close to a pout.

“How long has this been going on for?” Lydia asks, not bothering to answer Stiles’ question.

“About a year,” Derek says. “Since Scott was in the hospital for his appendix.”

“That long?” Lydia questions, a hint of suspicion in her tone.

“We can be subtle,” Stiles protests. Derek bites back a smile, because Stiles is anything but subtle. Still, Lydia doesn’t question them further on that front.

“And you can promise me nothing happened before then?” she asks, looking over at Derek this time, her gaze piercing.

“Absolutely,” Derek replies, firm.

“For your sake, I hope that’s the truth,” Lydia says, but her expression softens slightly. “Once this hits the press, they’re going to tear apart your entire history. The fact that the two of you have known each other since Stiles was sixteen is certain to come up and with the seven year age gap between you two, there will certainly be people who will question exactly how long this has been going on.”

“I know,” Derek replies, his hands clenching into fists against his thighs.

At least he can truthfully say that his eyes never strayed around sixteen year old Stiles. Back then he was still too awkward – too childish – with his horrible buzz cut and his limbs too long for his body to properly control. His mouth had even less of a filter that it does now, a constant and easy reminder that Stiles was still so young.

When he came back from his first year of college, though – that was when things started getting difficult.

“Please, no one was attracted to sixteen year old me,” Stiles huffs, rolling his eyes. “And even if they were, I swear, sometimes it feels like Kira lives to cockblock me.”

“She’s just doing her job,” Derek says automatically, mind going to all the times he’s had to pry a tipsy Scott off of an equally tipsy girl of guy.

“Well at least we don’t have to worry about vetting your dates anymore,” Lydia says with a sharp smile.

“Right, so, we’ve been sneaking around for about a year,” Stiles announces, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “What else do we need to sort out?”

“Living arrangements,” Lydia replies, not missing a beat.

“Living arrangements?” Derek repeats, wary.

“As I’m sure you two are well aware, bonded couples commonly live together. And by ‘commonly,’ I mean that if you two aren’t living together the media will make it into an entire scandal,” Lydia explains, a hard edge to her tone. “Seeing as we wish to keep you as safe as possible from reporters and paparazzi, it would be most logical for you, Hale, to move into the Executive Residence.”

“What, like into my room?” Stiles blurts out. Derek feels a spark of panic or anxiety through their bond and he has to bite his cheek to resist the urge to place a comforting arm around Stiles’ waist.

“Do you take offense to sharing a bed with your bondmate?” Lydia asks, her eyes sharp as she awaits Stiles’ answer.

“No! No, I just,” Stiles answers quickly, his cheeks going pink. “It’s kind of weird sharing a bed in the same building as my dad.”

“Well maybe it’ll teach you to think more before jumping headfirst into sex,” Lydia replies, eyeing the bond bite on Stiles’ neck pointedly.

“We’ll be more careful,” Derek assures her, finally daring to make contact with Stiles, resting a comforting hand between his shoulder blades. Stiles relaxes minutely, and Derek has to bite back a sigh of relief.

“Does everybody here just want me to go celibate?” Stiles whines. Derek’s half tempted to say yes, because at least then he wouldn’t have to deal with their bond transferring Stiles’ arousal and pleasure.

“Don’t be dramatic,” is what he says instead.

Stiles opens his mouth to reply, but Lydia cuts him off, saying, “Back to the topic at hand. Hale, I want you settled in by the end of today. Be discreet about it, though.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Derek replies automatically, posture going stiff again.

“And Stiles, you’re interning with the Washington Post, yes?” Lydia asks, turning on Stiles, who nods. “Are you close to any of the writers?”

“Uh. Well. Danny Mahealani’s cool,” Stiles answers. “He’s my supervisor.”

“Would you be comfortable doing an interview with him?” Lydia continues, giving him an assessing look.

“Sure, but the Washington Post isn’t – ” Stiles starts, but Lydia cuts him off again.

“It’s not a gossip rag, which is precisely why I want you to interview with them first,” Lydia explains. “As much as you seem to dislike it, you’re still a political figure. They’ll want a story like this and, because you have an in with them, they’re less likely to screw us over. Additionally, they’re more reputable, so whatever they print, the public is more likely to believe it over what other sources say.”

“I’ll contact him,” Stiles relents with a sigh. Derek can’t help his urge to rub soothing circles against Stiles’ back.

“Actually, I will,” Lydia replies. “I’ll set up the interview. I don’t want him to know what this is about until he enters the interview. Additionally, I’ll need him to sign certain libel forms and such.”

“That sounds fine,” Derek says, his tone carefully neutral as he continues to rub his hand over Stiles’ back, subtly soothing the tension in his shoulders. “Anything else?”

“Not at the moment,” Lydia answers, and Derek can’t help but notice that her expression has softened slightly. She looks almost thoughtful instead of stern as her eyes track the movement of Derek’s hand over Stiles’ shoulders.

“Right,” Stiles announces, standing up and shrugging off Derek’s touch. “Let’s get you moved in, honey.”

Part of Derek wants to grimace at the endearment and another part wants to preen.

In the end, he just sighs and follows Stiles out of the room.

---

When Derek finally gets back to his apartment, he sags against the door, utterly drained. He stands there for a moment, eyes squeezed shut, and tries not to think about Stiles. It’s a useless endeavor, of course. Even before this entire incident, Stiles was constantly on his mind and now, with the almost-bond, he keeps getting short bursts of emotion. Most of them he can’t identify, but they’re enough to keep Stiles in his head.

Finally he pushes himself away from the door and heads over to his bedroom. He grabs a duffle bag from his closet, but pauses when he opens the top drawer of his dresser, staring into it blankly.

He has no idea how long this is going to last. President Stilinski-McCall had said “until further notice,” which could mean anything – a week, a month, a year. If he lives with Stiles that long, insinuates himself so fully into Stiles’ life, he’s not sure he’ll ever have the courage to leave, not after having a taste of what he really wants.


Then again, this isn’t about him. He feels a wave of sickness overcome him again as he wonders how long it will take Stiles to come to resent him, someone unwanted encroaching on his space, his freedom.

Of course, he could just tell Stiles.

But what would that really accomplish? Stiles would hate him; that much is certain. They could get the bond broken, and although Stiles wouldn’t have to worry about someone claiming to be his mate anymore, the PR fallout would likely be nasty.

Derek tries to ignore the uncomfortable feeling in his gut as he tells himself this is for the best. He’ll play the dutiful boyfriend for a while, help Stiles get through this, and then they’ll break up. No harm, no foul, and Stiles never needs to know the truth.

He pushes those thoughts from his mind and continues packing. He shoves what he can into his duffle bag, whatever’s essential. If he needs anything else, he can always come back to get it later. He’s only moving in with Stiles temporarily, after all.

He’s getting his razor from the bathroom when he feels it.

It starts off as a mild flush, a wave of heat. It travels across his chest, down his body… lower. The moment he realizes the source of the heat, though, he feels a wave of embarrassed arousal which is all his own. His cock is at a half-chub in his jeans as his traitorous mind supplies him with all sorts of images of what Stiles might be doing at that very moment.

After a moment of conflicted indecision, Derek stumbles back into his bedroom. He digs around in the top drawer of his bedside table (cliché and obvious, he knows) before coming up with a tube of lube and collapsing down onto his bed.

He feels guilty, oh so guilty, as he does it, but images of Stiles flood his mind as he pops open the button on his jeans. A secret thrill runs through him as he realizes he’s feeling every spike of Stiles’ pleasure as if it were his own.

As he strokes himself to full hardness, he can’t help but wonder exactly how Stiles is pleasuring himself. Is he in the shower, jerking off mechanically, as per routine? Or is he spread out on his bed, teasing himself, belly up and neck bared? Is he fucking his hand, desperate for something hot, tight, real to bury himself in, or is he opening himself up on his fingers, screwing them up inside himself and wishing they were more, longer and thicker?

Derek kicks off his jeans fully before grabbing the lube and slicking up his fingers. He lets his eyes slip closed as he presses the first one against his hole, thumbing the head of his cock with his other hand. He can’t remember when he last took the time to do this as he slowly presses a finger inside himself. He massages the muscle slowly as he sinks his finger in further. Already he wants more, though, and he has to make a conscious effort not to roll his hips and force his fingers in further.

He opens himself carefully, trying not to rush. All the while, he can’t help but imagine it’s Stiles, whispering soft praise in his ear while loosening him, massaging his prostate and screwing overly slick fingers up inside him.

Derek comes quickly with those thoughts in his mind, spilling over his hand and stomach. He lies there in his bed for a moment, taking deep, labored breaths as he stares up at the ceiling, still high on endorphins.

It doesn’t take long for the guilt to hit him, though. He feels dirtier than ever, having taken advantage of their bond and Stiles’ arousal. He feels like a stalker, an unwanted voyeur.

He screws his eyes shut and wonders how the hell he’s supposed to get through this.

---

When Derek finally makes it back to the White House, it’s dark out. Waiting for security to check all of his luggage takes even longer, and by the time he finally makes it past them, he feels almost dead on his feet from such an exhausting day.

“Hey,” Stiles says as he opens the door to his room, his cheeks flushed and his hair wet from a shower.

“Hey,” Derek replies, unsure what else to say. He adjusts his grip on his duffle bag awkwardly.

“Come on in and, uh, make yourself at home, I guess,” Stiles continues, stepping aside to let Derek pass. “The layout’s pretty much the same as Scott’s, which you’ve probably been in, like, a billion times, so.”

Derek nods and sets his bag down on the bed, taking a moment to survey the room. He’s never spent too much time in the West Room – he’s never exactly had cause. It’s essentially a mirror image of Scott’s room, the East Room, though. Stiles’ bookshelves and desk are more cluttered, but all the furniture is positioned in the same way.

He’s always thought of Scott’s bedroom as that of a teenager, and his cheeks flush with heat as he realizes that Stiles’ is the same. Stiles may be freshly twenty, but all Derek can think about is the fact that he’s had sex with Stiles on his childhood bed. Not that he can actually remember it, but it’s the principle of the matter.

“Right, so, I cleared out a drawer for you,” Stiles says, forcing his way through the awkwardness as he walks over to a dresser and pulls open the top drawer. “If you need more space – ”

“It’ll be fine,” Derek replies, shaking his head. He unzips his duffle bag and starts unpacking, desperate to have something to focus on other than the fact that he’s moving in with Stiles.

It only takes him a few minutes to shove his clothes into the dresser. Stiles hovers next to him the entire time, mouth opening occasionally as if there’s something on his mind he’s not entirely sure he wants to say. Part of Derek wants to make him just say it already, but the rest of him is too afraid of what Stiles is going to tell him.

However, Stiles finally breaks the silence when Derek tugs the sleeping bag out of his luggage.

“Why do you have that?” he blurts out, his brow furrowed and his lips turned down in a frown.

“I need somewhere to sleep, you know,” Derek snorts. He studies the carpet, trying to determine the best spot for it.

“Well, yeah, but I thought – ” Stiles starts, but he cuts himself off, his cheeks turning pink. A hint of what Derek’s coming to realize is embarrassment leaks through their bond.

“You thought what?” Derek asks, frown deepening.

“That we’d, you know, share,” Stiles mumbles, motioning awkwardly towards the bed.

“It’s not professional,” Derek replies, feeling his own cheeks heat at the suggestion.

“Dude, you’re pretending to be my bondmate,” Stiles snorts. “I’m pretty sure we left professional waaaay back in the dust. We don’t want people to think we’re already having relationship issues, do you? And I may be bi, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to perv on you or anything.”

Derek suppresses a wince, because he’s all too aware of how not attracted Stiles is to him without the influence of large quantities of alcohol.

“I didn’t think you would,” Derek finally replies, his tone carefully neutral.

“Great, then put away your sleeping bag,” Stiles says, arching an eyebrow at him. Derek presses his lips into a thin line and stares back, but finally relents, shoving the sleeping bag back into his duffle bag. “You can have the bathroom now, if you want.”

Derek nods stiffly and makes his retreat, grabbing his toiletries and pajamas before ducking into the private bathroom. He probably spends twice as long as he normally does brushing his teeth, but he’s not trying to avoid Stiles. Really.

When he finally leaves the bathroom, though, he finds himself frozen as he surveys the scene in front of him. Stiles is clad in soft looking pajama pants and a worn t-shirt, sitting on one side of the bed with his laptop resting on his thighs and his glasses perched on his nose. It shouldn’t be as affecting as it is, but somehow Derek finds himself barely able to breathe.

“Ready for bed?” Stiles asks, breaking Derek abruptly from his thoughts.

“I sleep on the left,” Derek blurts out. He resists the urge to punch himself as soon as the words leave his mouth, though.

“My bed, my rules,” Stiles retorts, narrowing his eyes as closing his laptop with an audible clack.

“If I roll over on you in the middle of the night, you have only yourself to blame,” Derek snorts, carefully sliding under the covers on the other side of the bed as Stiles puts away his laptop and sets his glasses on the bedside table.

Derek watches as Stiles wiggles around for a moment, making himself comfortable. They lie there, sneaking awkward glances at each other, before Stiles finally says, “I got in bed first. You’re supposed to get the light.”

“You’re closer,” Derek huffs, but after only a few moments of Stiles staring at him with big, whisky-brown eyes, he relents and pulls himself back out from under the covers.

Getting back in bed the second time is no less awkward than the first. Derek finds himself shifting, rolling over onto his back, and then to his side, and then onto his back again. He almost falls off the edge once, because even though Stiles’ queen sized bed is more than large enough to fit them both, it still feels like he barely has enough room to breathe, this close to Stiles.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says suddenly, breaking the silence.

“For what?” Derek asks, staring up at the darkened ceiling as he lies on his back.

“For getting you into this mess,” Stiles answers. Derek glances over at him, able to make out enough of Stiles to tell that he’s also on his back, glaring holes in the ceiling.

“It’s fine,” Derek replies, tearing his eyes away from Stiles. “It’s not entirely your fault.”

“But I – ” Stiles starts, but Derek cuts him off.

“It takes two to get bonded, alright?” Derek sighs, trying to ignore the wave of sadness that washes over him – emotions that make his heart clench as he realizes they belong to Stiles. “And we’ll get through this. It’s only temporary.”

For some reason, that almost seems to make the sadness spike.

“Yeah, I get it, just – sorry,” Stiles mumbles, pulling the covers up higher.

“Stop apologizing. It’s unnatural,” Derek snorts, which earns him an unexpected kick in the leg.

“Just for that, I’m going to hog the covers,” Stiles huffs. Derek’s lips turn up in a small smile.

He’s not smiling when he wakes up an hour later, cold and lying next to a small mountain of blankets.

---

Like every morning, Derek wakes up on the left side of the bed. Unlike every other morning, though, he wakes up sprawled out on top of one Stiles Stilinski.

“First day on the job and you’re already trying to kill me,” Stiles mutters, startling Derek, his voice thick and rough with sleep.

“Kill you?” Derek grunts, rolling off of Stiles and trying to ignore the lingering warmth against his skin and the feel of Stiles’ body under his.

“Dude, you’re heavy,” Stiles whines, rubbing his eyes and blinking at Derek sleepily. “I could have suffocated in my sleep.”

“I’m not that heavy,” Derek grumbles, shooting Stiles a half-hearted glare.

“You’ve got at least thirty pounds on me, and it’s all muscle,” Stiles protests, poking at Derek’s chest for emphasis. “You could absolutely suffocate me.”

“I’m starting to seriously consider it,” Derek retorts, batting Stiles’ hand away and dragging himself upright and out of the bed.

“Aw, Der-bear, is that any way to treat your bondmate?” Stiles asks, pouting slightly as he gazes up at Derek, still sprawled out over the bed.

“You know what, how about you let me have the left side of the bed tonight and we won’t have to have this argument again,” Derek counters, arching an eyebrow at Stiles.

“But then I’ll be the one suffocating you,” Stiles replies.

“I thought we already established that you’re too small,” Derek huffs.

“Not where it counts, honey,” Stiles says with a wink.

Derek feels his face flush hot and he quickly turns his back to Stiles to dig through the dresser for a clean set of clothes, perhaps a bit more aggressively than strictly necessary.

“Erica’s gonna be here in about half an hour to touch up on your makeup,” Stiles says, and Derek turns around again to see him looking at his phone, glasses perched on his nose again. “She says if you need to shower, you should do it now and make it quick, because she has no qualms about barging in on you.”

“Tell her that if she does, I have no qualms about taking her out,” Derek retorts, grabbing his clothes and stalking into the bathroom. Stiles’ amused snort is muffled by the door as it swings shut.

Derek resolutely avoids looking at the fake bond bite as he strips and steps into the shower. He also tries to avoid thinking about it, but on that front he has far less success.

---

“And there you go,” Erica says, spinning around Derek’s chair so that he’s facing the mirror. “My work is flawless as always, of course.”

“It looks very realistic,” Derek grunts. That’s as much as he’s willing to concede.

“Oh, stop being pissy because you’re sexually frustrated,” Erica pouts, making Derek’s scowl deepen. “Or just suck Stiles’ dick already so you can properly revel in my glory.”

“I’m not going to suck Stiles’ dick,” Derek growls through gritted teeth.

“Fine, then ask Stiles to suck your dick,” Erica huffs, packing up her makeup supplies. “I’m sure he’d say yes.”

“This is just a mission,” Derek snaps. Erica, however, appears unfazed, merely rolling her eyes in response. “Stiles and I aren’t – ”

Derek!” someone yells from Stiles’ room, loud enough that Derek can hear them in the connected cosmetology room.

“I do not envy you right now,” Erica says with a low whistle, while Derek grimaces.

After all, he’s ninety-nine percent certain that it’s Scott McCall yelling his name. And he doesn’t sound particularly happy.

“Dude, you can’t just get bonded and not even tell me!” Scott’s saying to a very chagrined looking Stiles when Derek enters the West Room. “You’re my brother.”

“Yeah, well, it’s wasn’t exactly planned, bro,” Stiles sighs, trying to placate his step-brother.

“You still had, like, all of yesterday to tell me and you didn’t,” Scott counters, his tone becoming less angry and more hurt. Derek really hopes he doesn’t use the puppy dog eyes. No one can avoid feeling guilty when faced with Scott’s kicked puppy look.

“I didn’t know how you’d take it!” Stiles protests. “Because, you know, it’s me and…”

“I know,” Scott sighs. “I mean, I’m happy for you, bro, but did it have to be Derek?”

“Nice to know you care, Scott,” Derek says dryly, finally announcing his presence, both men turning to face him so quickly they look in danger of whiplash. Scott’s eyes flash with a dangerous sort of emotion and he stalks over to Derek, anger in the set of his shoulders.

“You spend months telling me I can’t ask Kira out because it’s a ‘conflict of interest’ and then you go and get bonded to my brother?” Scott snaps, and Derek has to suppress a flinch.

“I – it is. I should – ” Derek starts, unsure how to explain himself.

“Don’t you dare say you shouldn’t have gotten bonded to Stiles,” Scott hisses, voice low as he pulls Derek in close so that Stiles, on the other side of the room, won’t overhear. “If you hurt him, I’ll kill you and I’m pretty sure I’ll have the President of the United States on my side.”

“I wouldn’t,” Derek replies automatically, swallowing down a wince at the lie, because even though he desperately doesn’t want to hurt Stiles, he’s afraid the damage has already been done.

“You’re a good guy,” Scott says, his expression softening slightly, “but Stiles is my brother, you know? I’ll always choose him.”

Derek nods stiffly, unsure how else to reply.

Scott mirrors his nod before backing up again and rising his voice, adding, “Oh, and Mom wants to see both of you at dinner tonight. No backing out.”

Derek feels a rush of panic at that, half his own and half Stiles’. At least he’s not alone.

---

“Right, so our first point of business is the interview,” Stiles says around a mouthful of cheerios as they sit in the President’s Dining Room. Derek idly wonders if Stiles picked the West Room over the East Room because it’s closer to the dining room and kitchen. He certainly wouldn’t put it past him.

Those thoughts do little to distract him from the fact that two of his colleagues are standing by the doorway. They must have been briefed on the situation and neither make a single comment, yet Derek can’t help but feel judged. He’s that agent now – the bodyguard cliché who slept with his client instead of doing his job.

“ – so I don’t think it’ll be that bad, but we should still – are you even listening to me?” Stiles asks, bringing Derek suddenly back from his thoughts to the situation at hand.

“It’ll be fine, Stiles,” Derek sighs, because even if he wasn’t entirely paying attention, he can guess Stiles’ anxiety well enough.

“If I fuck this up and Lydia comes after me, I’m blaming you,” Stiles says with a scowl which honestly looks more like a pout.

“You know the guy, don’t you?” Derek asks, picking at his toast.

“I mean, sure, Danny and I have been working together for, like, a month now, but is that long enough to really know someone?” Stiles whines. “Also I think he thinks I’m annoying.”

“He’s not alone,” Derek snorts, which earns him a kick in the shin under the table. He jolts but manages to swallow down an embarrassing yelp.

“I thought you were supposed to be nice to me, mate,” Stiles says, flicking a cheerio at Derek.

“You knew what you were signing up for,” Derek shoots back, wiping the cheerio off his shirt.

Stiles doesn’t reply, though, his expression going a little blank, and Derek tries not to visibly wince as he realizes what he’d just said. He shoves the rest of his toast in his mouth, suddenly all too aware of the two other secret service agents in the room. He wants to apologize to Stiles, but this is hardly the place to do it.

The silence is finally broken by the buzz of Stiles’ cellphone. He checks it quickly and then shoves one more spoonful of cheerios into his mouth before getting up from the table.

“Kira’s escorting Danny up,” he announces, making his way over to the kitchen. “We should probably get going.”

“The Green Room?” Derek asks as he places his dishes in the dishwasher.

“Yup,” Stiles replies, popping the ‘p.’

They make their way down one floor, Stiles practically skipping down the stairs. Derek’s lips twitch up into a small smile as he remembers chewing Stiles out way back during the first month of his stay at the White House for recklessly jumping down the stairs and nearly running over the Turkish ambassador.

“Heeey, Kira-kitsune,” Stiles says, announcing the endearment with a bright grin as he spots her in the doorway to the Green Room.

“Sleep well?” Kira asks, smiling back for a moment before she realizes the connotations of her statement and flushes pink. “I mean – ”

“Oh yes, Derek and I slept very well,” Stiles answers with a wink. Derek’s own cheeks heat and he shoots Stiles a glare.

“TMI, Stiles,” Kira huffs, her cheeks still pink as she shepherds them into the room.

“Stiles,” the man waiting in the Green Room says, standing to greet him. Derek tries not to hate him on sight, but the way he smiles at Stiles sets Derek on edge. He’s handsome and his dimples only serve to make him more attractive. Stiles ducks his head slightly, cheeks turning pink, and Derek can’t quite help the way he moves forward to slide a possessive arm around Stiles’ waist.

“You must be Mr. Mahealani,” Derek says, his smile containing a few too many teeth to be considered welcoming or even polite.

“Call me Danny,” the man replies, his smile dimming somewhat. His eyes dart between the matching bond bites on Stiles and Derek’s necks and the smile slips off his face completely, his eyes widening somewhat.

“Right, so,” Stiles says, softening the tension somewhat. “This is Derek Hale. My bondmate.”

“When did that happen?” Danny asks, turning to Stiles, eyes once again fixed on the bond bite on Stiles’ neck.

“Either very early yesterday morning or very late Friday night,” Stiles admits, sitting down on one of the couches and dragging Derek down next to him. Danny takes a seat in an armchair across from them and turns on a recorder, setting in down on the table between them. “Which, you know, is kind of the reason for this interview.”

“No one else knows?” Danny asks, serious, but his tone betraying a little of his surprise.

“My family, some secret service agents,” Stiles replies, shaking his head. “Otherwise no one.”

“Why bring it to me?” Danny questions, frowning.

“Stiles trusts you,” Derek answer, but there’s a hint of warning in his voice. “Figured you wouldn’t screw us over and turn this into a scandal.”

“A scan – ” Danny starts, but clearly something clicks in his mind. “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your profession, Mr. Hale?”

“Agent Hale,” Derek corrects, but he suspects he doesn’t really need to. “I’m the lead secret service agent assigned to Scott McCall’s protection detail.”

“So you two have known each other for a while,” Danny replies. It’s not a question.

“I have held the same position since President Stilinski-McCall was voted into office, yes,” Derek concedes, sliding his arm around Stiles’ waist again.

“You two see each other often, then,” Danny says, flipping open a notebook and producing a pen from his bag.

“About as often as I see Scott,” Stiles snorts, finally relaxing into Derek’s hold. “That’s kind of how all of this happened. When Scott had to stay in the hospital for his appendicitis, Derek and I ended up seeing a whole lot of each other. We… bonded isn’t quite the right world, but we connected, I guess.”

Danny lets out a hum of agreement, jotting down something in his notebook.

“Sorry about this,” he says as he writes. “I couldn’t exactly prepare questions beforehand.”

Derek nods stiffly, his fingers digging into Stiles’ side, making Stiles squirm. It earns him a glare and an elbow to the stomach. He shoots Stiles his best apologetic look.

“So you’ve been in a relationship for, what? A year?” Danny finally asks.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, tearing his gaze away from Derek. “I mean, I had this ridiculous teenage crush on him for forever, but he just thought I was an annoying klutz until I came back from college, all hot and mature.”

“Mature is debatable,” Derek snorts, which earns him a glare and a light head-butt.

“Really? Absolutely nothing happened before Scott’s stay in the hospital?” Danny presses, and Derek can’t help but bristle a little at that question.

“No,” he answers firmly. For some reason, though, he feels a sudden wave of emotion from Stiles – unhappy and cloying. He frowns over at Stiles, but nothing is betrayed in his expression.

“The two of you getting bonded, that was unplanned?” Danny asks, but he has to know the answer already. Everyone would have known already if they’d had a bonding ceremony, and no upstanding couple gets bonded without one – not unless the bonding is unplanned.

“I mean, we’d been building up to it for a while, I think, but yes, it was unplanned,” Stiles replies, nodding. “Not that I regret it.”

He beams at Derek then, reaching over to twine their fingers together. It’s painfully sweet and domestic, and Derek hopes that his own smile doesn’t look too pained or forced.

“We were at Scott’s birthday party and it was my night off. I guess the two of us just got a little too caught up in our own world,” Derek continues, squeezing Stiles’ hand, perhaps a touch too tightly. “We got too tired of waiting.”

Danny’s expression softens slightly at that and Derek internally sighs in relief.

The subsequent questions are all softball ones. Derek’s age doesn’t come up again and all the ones concerning Derek’s profession are simple, friendly, non-accusatory. Danny’s respectful and sweet, and although Stiles had claimed that he thought Danny found him annoying, Derek doesn’t see the slightest trace of contempt.

Of course, it’s almost worse this way. Derek can’t help but feel guilty as he thinks of how much happier Stiles would be with someone kind and respectful like Danny.

“So,” Stiles says once the interview’s over and Kira’s escorted Danny back out of the Executive Residence. “We’re official.”

“Yeah,” Derek agrees, hoping his tone doesn’t sound as wistful as he feels. “We’re official.”

---

Derek spends all day trying not to think about the impending dinner, which is harder than it should be. That’s partially due to the fact that he’s been fully reassigned and can’t occupy himself with following Scott around all day. Then again, maybe that’s for the better considering Scott’s threats earlier that morning. Still, he spends a good hour doing a thorough background check on Scott’s new bodyguard. He hasn’t worked much with Isaac Lahey, but he seems like a good kid. Still, you can never be too certain.

Of course, that only takes up some of his time.

“What are you doing?” he asks, frowning as he peers over Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles squawks, jolting upright from where he was hunched over his desk.

“Nothing!” Stiles exclaims, slamming his laptop shut.

Derek gives him an unimpressed look.

“I was researching,” Stiles protests, still holding his laptop firmly shut.

“What were you researching?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow at him in challenge.

“Stuff,” Stiles replies stubbornly.

“Stuff,” Derek repeats, his tone flat.

“Look, it doesn’t matter. It’s stupid,” Stiles insists, his lips set in a tight, unhappy line.

“If it’s stupid, then why are you so defensive about it?” Derek counters, equally unwilling to back down.

Stiles glares at him for another long moment, but then he yields, the fight draining out of him. He suddenly looks so much more tired and Derek has to fight the urge to do something ridiculous like drag him into an unwelcome hug.

“I just – I was reading about soul bonds,” Stiles admits, lips twisting into an unhappy frown, “and every source says that I should be getting some sort of emotional runoff. Flashes of whatever my bondmate is feeling. But I haven’t felt anything – at least not anything strong enough to be conclusive.”

“Oh,” Derek says, unsure how else to respond.

“And the only explanation I’ve found is that the bond isn’t complete,” Stiles continues, “which means that my real bondmate hates me.”

“What?” Derek asks, thrown off guard. “Back up for a moment. Why do you think your bondmate hates you?”

“Well, bonds only take if the person is completely willing, right?” Stiles says, looking over at Derek with big, whiskey brown eyes. “And clearly I was all slutty for it and it worked on my end – ” He motions to the prominent bite on his neck. “ – but I’m not getting anything from the bond, so that must mean it didn’t work. Which means that my bondmate didn’t want me, not really.”

It’s impossible for Derek to respond how he really wants to, because he does want Stiles – sometimes so much that it almost physically hurts. He wants to reassure Stiles that there’s nothing wrong with him, that the bond is incomplete because Derek’s the undesirable one. Of course, that would require telling Stiles what really happened, facing the disgust and the rejection.

So, like a coward, Derek doesn’t tell Stiles the truth.

Instead, he just says, “Anyone would be lucky to be your bondmate.”

“Who are you and what have you done with Derek Hale?” Stiles blurts out, doing a double take.

“I’m serious,” Derek growls, his cheeks flushing. “You’re very smart, protective of your loved ones, hardworking, and not too hard on the eyes, either.”

Stiles is staring at Derek openly now, lips parted in surprise or maybe even awe. Derek fights not to fidget under Stiles’ gaze, a flush rising high on his cheeks as he hopes he hasn’t completely shown his hand.

“Dude,” Stiles finally says, punching Derek lightly in the arm and ducking his head to hide his blush. “Who knew you were such a sap?”

But it’s true, Derek thinks. He satisfies himself with the small, pleased smile he sees playing on Stiles’ lips.

“You should keep it up during dinner,” Stiles continues. “Mel will think it’s cute.”

“She’s going to kill me,” Derek mutters, grimacing.

“Oh, trust me, if she’s going to kill anyone it’ll be me,” Stiles snorts. “And anyway, she likes you because you’ve done a good job keeping Scotty safe.”

“Scott’s really not that difficult,” Derek says, shrugging. “You on the other hand…”

“I wish I could be offended by that, but Kira found her first gray hair last week,” Stiles replies, sending a jolt of amusement through their bond. “She should really get a raise.”

“I have it on good authority that she gets the biggest bonuses,” Derek snorts, making Stiles crack another smile.

“Whenever I get particularly annoying, she tells me that when she retires she’s going to write a tell-all autobiography,” Stiles admits. “But hey, at least I’m not Justin Bieber, right?”

“You could be worse,” Derek agrees, unable to hold back a soft smile. For a moment he’s tempted to lean in and close the few inches of space between them, but all too soon Stiles is turning away, breaking the tension between them.

“I’m gonna go take a shower,” he mutters, standing up from his chair abruptly.

“Right,” Derek says, frowning. It’s barely after noon and Stiles normally showers before going to bed, but Derek can’t pretend to understand all of Stiles’ eccentricities. “I think I’ll go for a run, then.”

Derek tries not to get too caught up in his thoughts as he runs, with mixed results. Occasionally he gets little waves of emotion from Stiles, which makes him suspect that Stiles mainly decided to take a shower as an excuse for some privacy. Not that Derek’s offended by that – he understands better than most that sometimes people just need space, and Stiles certainly has a lot to process at the moment.

By the time he gets back, he has just barely enough time to shower and make himself presentable before dinner.

“Dude, you look like you’re being walked to your execution,” Stiles says, quirking an eyebrow at Derek as he watches him adjust his shirt collar yet again. “I mean, come on. It’s not like you don’t know anyone who’s gonna be there.”

“Yes, but never as your bondmate,” Derek counters, scowling. “It’s different.”

“Well, at least my dad knows it’s fake,” Stiles replies, shrugging, “and Scott already interrogated you this morning. Really, it’s only Mel you need to worry about.”

“She’s the scariest,” Derek says without hesitation.

“I – ” Stiles starts. “Yeah, that’s kind of true. But hey, I’ll help protect you.”

“I’m sure you will,” Derek replies dryly.

“Alright, come on,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “We should head over or we’re going to be late.”

“We’re not going to be late. The dining room is literally next door to your room,” Derek huffs, but he follows Stiles anyway.

“Hey, just be grateful we’re using the regular dining room instead of one of the formal ones downstairs,” Stiles replies, shooting Derek a look over his shoulder. “It’ll be way less stuffy and intimidating.”

“I know my way around the dining rooms, thank you very much,” Derek grumbles, resisting the urge to drag his feet and avoid the dinner altogether.

“Yeah, but you’ve never actually had to suffer through a full meal in any of them,” Stiles retorts. “God, that dinner with the Polish ambassador last year, who wouldn’t shut up about how wonderful my legal name is, was horrible. I swear, after that dinner, he’s said it more times than my own father has.”

“I kind of like Przemysław,” Derek says, which earns him another glare. He can’t quite keep a straight face as he says it.

“I’m still mad at you for learning how to pronounce that monstrosity.”

“It’s been nearly five years.”

“Still. Mad.”

Derek sighs, but it’s more fond than annoyed. However, as soon as Stiles pushes open the doors to the dining room, all amusement leaves Derek. His posture goes stiff as he takes in the three figures already sitting at the table, and although none are openly hostile, he can’t help but feel like he’s trapped in a lion’s den.

“Derek,” President Stilinski-McCall greets him, a warm smile on his face, which unfortunately does little to alleviate Derek’s nervousness.

“Mr. President,” Derek replies with a curt nod as he takes the seat next to Stiles.

“We’ve known each other for nearly five years and you’re now bonded to my son. I think you can call me John, Derek,” President Stilinski-McCall says. Derek does his best to force a polite smile.

“So how long has this been going on for?” First Lady Melissa Stilinski-McCall asks, and although her tone is pleasant, Derek can’t help but feel like there’s a certain sharp edge to her.

“About a year,” Stiles answers, probably going for casual, but even Derek can hear the nervousness in his voice.

“A year?” Scott exclaims, gaping at Stiles, looking horribly betrayed. “Dude, it’s been going on for that long and you didn’t tell me?”

“I didn’t want Derek to get fired!” Stiles whines, flailing a little in response. “And, I mean, it wasn’t like it was a direct conflict of interest, because he’s your bodyguard, not mine, but – ”

“But bro, I even told you about what happened last summer with – ” Scott interrupts, puppy dog eyes going full force.

“Boys!” the President and First Lady say simultaneously. Scott and Stiles both fall silent, but that doesn’t stop Stiles from looking at Scott with ‘forgive me’ eyes, which Scott returns with his classic kicked puppy expression.

“So, Derek,” Melissa finally says, breaking the silence. “How are you settling in?”

“It is a privilege to stay in the White House,” Derek replies with a stiff nod.

“Son, relax,” President Stilinski-McCall – John – laughs. “We all know that Stiles hogs the covers.

“Hey!” Stiles squawks, his cheeks turning pink, and just like that the tension is broken.

Well, maybe it’s not completely broken – Derek still picks at his food more than he eats it, and he can see Stiles and Scott arguing nonverbally across the table – but it’s not bad. Not nearly as horrible as he anticipated, at any rate. Melissa’s tense smile relaxes into something a little more genuine when Stiles steals a green bean off Derek’s plate and earns himself an annoyed but fond look, and the stiff set of John’s shoulders eases when Derek is unable to hold back a snort of laughter at one of Stiles’ bad jokes.

Still, the dinner isn’t much more than polite, but it’ll have to do for the time being. Derek just wishes they’d actually have the time to warm up to him.

---

Derek goes about the next morning deliberating on whether or not to read the morning paper. In the end, though, he doesn’t have much choice, because Lydia Martin slaps down a newspaper on the dining room table in front of him and says, “Read it. Memorize it. Prepare for the oncoming assault.”

Derek opens his mouth to respond, but he’s not quick enough.

“And later, I want the two of you – ” She looks between him and Stiles. “ – to come to my office so I can quiz you on probable media questions and correct your answers.”

Neither of them get in a word edgewise before she’s leaving the room like a whirlwind again.

“So,” Stiles says after a moment, breaking the silence. “Front page?”

“Front page,” Derek confirms. It’s not exactly front and center, but it’s close enough.

“Well, let’s bite the bullet,” Stiles sighs, pulling his chair up next to Derek’s. Derek lets out a little grunt of agreement and tilts the paper so that Stiles can read it too.

They hunch together in silence, Derek turning the pages as Stiles indicates him to. The article itself is fairly straightforward – a little reserved, almost, which Derek appreciates. It does mention his age and profession, of course, but it never strays into gossip or speculation. It does not shy away from the fact that their bonding was quick and unexpected, a subtle hint of judgment to its tone, but it does mention that they’ve known each other for around five years now, which balances out the one-night-stand feel somewhat.

All in all, it’s not entirely a bad article.

Which, of course, means it’s all downhill from here.

Derek’s phone starts ringing. He pulls it from his pocket, but freezes, his body going cold, when he checks the caller ID. Stiles shoots him a questioning look as he stands up from his chair, putting some distance between them to give himself some privacy.

He presses his lips into a tight, uncomfortable line and accepts the call.

“I can’t believe you,” Laura Hale hisses as soon as he picks up. “You got fucking bonded and you didn’t even think to tell me? I had to find out through the newspaper, Derek. The newspaper!

“Laura – ” Derek starts, but she cuts him off sharply.

“Don’t you ‘Laura’ me,” she snaps, making Derek wince. “This is huge. I thought family meant something to you.”

Laura,” Derek says, louder this time, more insistent. “I’m not bonded to just anyone, alright? The President of the United States asked me to keep this quiet.”

“The article said this has been going on for a year, though,” Laura replies after a pause. “A year, Derek, and this is the first I’m hearing of it. I mean, you talk about Stiles all the time, and it was pretty clear you had a thing for him, but you never even hinted that you were dating someone.”

“It’s not that simple,” Derek sighs, shoulders slumping.

“It’s as simple as picking up the phone, you asshole,” Laura huffs, and Derek winces.

“I would have told you if I could,” Derek insists, but he can tell that Laura isn’t properly placated. “But I couldn’t, Laura, you have to understand that. If I had actually hinted at it, you would have harassed me until I told you or you would have figured it out when I said that it was a security issue.”

“You couldn’t have told me before the papers, though?” Laura say softly. “No, ‘Hey, heads up, I’m gonna be in the newspaper tomorrow because I accidentally got bonded to Stiles’ sort of thing? I think it could have kept it quiet for a couple of days, thank you very much.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek sighs. “Things were hectic. I was focused more on convincing President Stilinski-McCall not to kill me than anything.”

“I suppose that’s understandable,” Laura huffs, but there’s a hint of amusement to her tone. “Still, you should have told us. Oh, and Mom and Dad are already planning a proper ceremony, just fyi.”

“Ceremony?” Derek asks, his voice going a little strangled.

“Hey, better late than never, right?” Laura says, and Derek can already see the beginnings of a grin on her face. “It’s a proper shotgun wedding. Or, well, almost. You didn’t knock Stiles up, did you? Or did he knock you up?”

“I’m hanging up now,” Derek announces, his cheeks going bright red.

“Don’t forget to call Mom, okay?” Laura says, making Derek grimace. He knows he’ll have to do it eventually – and it’ll be better to do it sooner rather than later – but he’s certainly not looking forward to it.

“I will,” he sighs.

“And say hi to Stiles for me,” Laura continues. “Also, tell him that if he hurts you, all the Secret Service agents in the world won’t be able to protect him.”

“You know, I’m obligated to arrest you if I think that’s a viable threat,” Derek says dryly, making Laura laugh a little.

“Oh, it’s a viable threat, Der-bear,” she replies, amused, but there’s a certain sharp edge to her tone.

“I’ll put someone on the case right away,” Derek snorts, a hint of a smile on his face.

“Yeah, yeah,” Laura says. “Now go tend to your mate, loverboy.”

“Goodbye, Laura,” Derek replies dryly.

Derek hangs up and stares down at his cell phone for a second. He supposes they’ll just have to make him the bad guy instead of Stiles when they break it off. Hopefully his family will forgive Stiles eventually.

---

Press swarms the White House later that day – or at least they try to.

Derek and Stiles stay cooped up inside for the most part. Derek listens to Stiles bitch about having to miss his internship, before he goes down to the workout room to relieve some stress by pounding out a few miles on the treadmill.

Of course, halfway through his workout, Derek makes the mistake of turning on the TV.

“ – the free world was shocked awake this morning by a startling claim by the Washington Post,” the CNN newscaster says, the front page photo of Derek and Stiles blown up and plastered on the screen behind her. “They announced that First Son Stiles Stilinski had gotten secretly bonded, late Friday night.”

Part of Derek wants to change the channel or just turn off the television entirely, but morbid curiosity keeps his eyes glued to the screen.

“As of yet, although the White House has confirmed that the photograph of the First Son and his bondmate was not photoshopped, President Stilinski and his son have refused to comment further on the situation,” the newscaster continues.

Derek’s lips turn down in a slight frown, wondering who, exactly, has fielded those calls. He hasn’t gotten anything on his cell phone, at least, but he wonders how long that’ll last.

“Of course, this is not the first time the First Son has made rash decisions in his personal life,” the newscaster says, her voice dipping in a way which raises Derek’s hackles. “After all, who could forget his coming out story?”

The Picture – the one of Stiles practically in the lap of the son of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs – flashes onto the screen behind her, and Derek has to resist the urge to growl.

“However, this time Stiles Stilinski has truly outdone himself,” the newscaster goes on. “One can only imagine what poor Daddy Dearest must be thinking after finding his son unexpectedly bonded after a night of passion with a Secret Service agent seven years his senior.”

Derek presses his lips together in a tight line as she seems to almost sneer as she says “night of passion.” Although he and Stiles were careful to avoid mentioning any alcohol consumption while giving their interview, it’s only a matter of time before someone questions their sobriety at the party – which abruptly reminds Derek that Stiles isn’t even old enough to drink yet, not legally.

“Of course, maybe phrasing it as a single night of passion isn’t wholly accurate,” the newscaster continues as a new photo comes up on the screen behind her.

Derek doesn’t think he’s ever seen this one before, though, and the visual of it throws him off guard. Stiles is obviously sixteen in it, his hair buzzed short, and Derek can’t quite suppress a cringe at the way Stiles is pressed up against him like an overlarge cat. Although Derek’s own pose in the photo is stiff and professional, it’s not a difficult shot to misinterpret.

“After all,” the newscaster says, “Agent Hale became the head of other First Son Scott McCall’s security detail when President Stilinski-McCall took office. It’s clear that he and Stiles have also been close for quite some time. One has to wonder if the two of them have really had the whirlwind romance they claim, or if Agent Hale’s resolve is weaker than – ”

“You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself.”

Derek startles, nearly losing his balance and careening off the treadmill as he looks over to find Kira standing in the doorway of the workout room.

“Doing what?” he asks gruffly, slowing the treadmill to a stop.

“Watching this crap,” she replies, gesturing to the TV. “They don’t know anything about you or Stiles.”

“ – if President Stilinski-McCall can’t even control his son, let alone his employees, how can America expect – ”

Kira turns off the television with a click of the remote.

“They have a grain of truth to them,” Derek retorts, tearing his eyes away from the now blank screen.

“What do you think of me, then?” Kira asks, catching Derek off guard.

“What?” he asks, frowning.

“You know how I feel about Scott – ” Kira starts, but Derek cuts her off sharply.

“That’s completely different,” he says, tone harsh.

“So you’re saying if I got drunk and accidentally bonded with Scott, you’d let the media – ” Kira continues, mouth set into a firm, stubborn line.

“But you didn’t,” Derek protests, but Kira doesn’t back down.

“Everyone who matters knows that you love Stiles,” Kira retorts, and Derek has to suppress the urge to cringe.

“Why are you even here?” Derek snaps, regretting it as soon as the words leave his mouth.

“I was worried about you,” Kira answers, frown deepening. “I’m worried about both of you, but Stiles is talking to Scott about it, at least. I just thought that if you needed someone – ”

“It’s fine, Kira,” Derek sighs, running a hand through his sweaty hair. “I’ll get through this.”

“But you don’t need to do it alone,” Kira says, like every movie cliché ever. Then again, Derek supposes he’s acting like one, too.

“Fine, how about you distract me, then,” Derek replies, grabbing a towel and wiping the sweat off his brow as he walks over to Kira. “Tell me about the latest Scott drama.”

“You’re a jerk,” Kira says, but there’s a small smile tugging at her lips.

“I know you’re dying to tell someone,” Derek teases.

“Fine, but you asked for it,” Kira replies, grinning at Derek. “And you have to dish on the Stiles drama in return.”

“Fine, fine,” Derek huffs, but he can’t help the smile that tugs at his lips.

---

Somehow, Derek thought that maybe sharing a bed with Stiles would get easier after the first few nights. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to, and not just because Stiles hogs the covers and rolls over onto him in the middle of the night.

“Stop thinking,” Derek growls after Stiles turns over for what feels like the millionth time.

“I can’t,” Stiles whines, turning over yet again, this time to glare at Derek. “That’s like telling you to stop glaring or something.”

“I don’t glare all the time,” Derek protests – glaring.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Stiles snorts.

“Just go to sleep,” Derek sighs, turning away from Stiles to look at the ceiling.

“I’m trying,” Stiles protests, “but I just – I can’t stop thinking.”

“About what?” Derek asks automatically, wincing as he realizes that he’s all but encouraged a late night rant.

“Stuff,” Stiles mumbles, which makes Derek… concerned. Because Stiles not wanting to talk? Is not a good sign in any situation.

“Very descriptive,” Derek replies. “Care to expand on it?”

“Look it’s just – I shouldn’t have googled myself today, alright?” Stiles sighs, which makes Derek look over at him immediately, squinting a little in the darkness. “They made it seem like I’ll go after anything with legs and I haven’t even…”

“Haven’t even what?” Derek asks, frowning.

“It’s stupid,” Stiles mutters, not meeting Derek’s eyes.

“If you’re this worried about it, it can’t be that stupid,” Derek replies, arching an eyebrow at Stiles (not that he can probably see it in the darkness).

“Oh, it is,” Stiles snorts, staring up at the ceiling. “Look, I’m not a virgin, alright? Because the idea that only penetration counts as sex is stupid and heteronormative, but I haven’t… done that.”

“Really?” Derek asks, the words spilling past his lips before he can hold them back.

“Fuck you,” Stiles mutters, but Derek is hit by a wave of Stiles’ embarrassment, not anger. “And it’s not like it’s my fault. I wasn’t kidding when I said that Kira’s practically a professional cockblock. I can barely even make out with someone without them needing to submit to an entire background check.”

“It’s for your safety,” Derek protests, feeling a little sick at the wave of possessive pleasure that he feels, knowing that no one’s touched Stiles like that.

“Oh my god, I’m pretty sure I can find someone to hook up with who’s not going to slit my freaking throat or whatever,” Stiles huffs. “At this point I’m gonna die without fucking anything other than a fleshlight or getting fucked by anything other than a dildo.”

“Then find someone to date seriously. They’ll go through the security screening once and you’ll have someone to mess around with regularly,” Derek replies, trying to ignore the way the thought of Stiles actually dating someone makes him want to kick a wall.

“But I can’t do that anymore, because I’m fake bonded to you,” Stiles whines, and really, a punch to Derek’s face would have been kinder.

Derek grunts in response, not trusting himself to try and form any actual words. They fall into silence for a moment, and as it stretches on Derek is lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that Stiles has finally drifted off.

Then, Stiles asks, “Do you find me attractive?”

“What,” Derek answers, more of a statement than a question.

“Like, hypothetically, if I asked you, would you be, you know,” Stiles continues, finally looking over at Derek, “down to fuck?”

Derek gapes at him.

“I mean, because I don’t see myself getting laid at all while we’re still doing the whole bonded spiel and then it’ll take me even longer to finally get someone past all the stupid security checks Kira’s got,” Stiles babbles, sending another rush of runoff embarrassment through Derek, “and that’ll take years, so I’ll probably be, like, thirty or something before I finally get – ”

“Stiles, we’re not – if your father found out – ” Derek stutters, cheeks heating.

“But you’re supposed to be my bondmate, right?” Stiles says, looking over at Derek with big, whiskey brown eyes. “We’re supposed to be all over each other – it’s not like he’d realize.”

“Stiles – ” Derek starts, his tone practically a whine.

“Just once? Please? No one would ever have to know,” Stiles interrupts, moving closer to Derek so that their faces are only inches apart.

Derek tenses as he feels Stiles tentatively run a hand over his stomach, palm hot even through the thin layer of Derek’s pajama shirt. He’s tempted, oh so tempted, but he’d be taking advantage of the situation, wouldn’t he? That’s difficult to remember, though, when Stiles is right here, pliant and willing.

Then again, it’s not like he can do much more to fuck up his job than he already has, and the chance to be with Stiles again when he can remember it, even if it’s just once… it’s difficult for him to bring himself to let that go.

“I’d let you fuck me if you want,” Stiles murmurs, hand dropping lower to play with the elastic of Derek’s pajama pants. “However you want, just – ”

“No,” Derek says, taking in a deep breath. Stiles’ face falls. “No. If we’re going to do this, you should fuck me.”

“What, really?” Stiles blurts out, his eyes going wide. “You want – are you sure?”

“If you don’t want to – ” Derek starts, already leaning away from Stiles.

“No, no! I do! I just… I don’t want it to be bad for you, and I don’t really – I’m not always the most coordinated person, and I’ve never even done this before, so – ” Stiles babbles, and Derek suspects that his cheeks have gone pink, but he can’t tell in the darkness. Still, Derek’s encouraged by the secondhand arousal he feels from Stiles.

“Well, someone has to be your first,” Derek replies, carefully not mentioning how, if the way Stiles moves his hips while dancing is any indication, he shouldn’t have too much trouble learning the ropes. Stiles really doesn’t need to know how much Derek watches his him.

“You’re not technically my first,” Stiles grumbles.

“I will be in this respect,” Derek says casually, trying to ignore the way his heart rate speeds up a bit at the thought.

“So are we going to do this or… ?” Stiles asks, tone simultaneously indignant and tentative.

“Yeah,” Derek breathes.

Stiles hesitates for a moment and Derek decides to take initiative, leaning forward to capture Stiles’ mouth in a kiss. Stiles makes a noise of surprise, but fists a hand into Derek’s shirt, grasping at him and pulling him closer. Slipping a thigh between Stiles’ legs, Derek goes with him, allows himself to be pulled in. He tilts his head, deepens the kiss and licks into Stiles’ mouth.

“This is great and all,” Stiles says when they finally break apart for air, breathing labored, “but I don’t really want to do this under the sheets with the lights out.”

Derek snorts out a laugh and kisses Stiles again briefly before shoving the covers off them and clicking on the bedside lamp, enough light to illuminate them, but not enough to attract any of the on-duty agents monitoring the floor.

For a moment, Derek considers searching for the lube right away, but instead decides to lie back on the bed and pull Stiles down on top of him. Stiles lets out a little squeak of surprise, but goes with it, sprawling out on Derek and moving to recapture Derek’s mouth.

Derek lets him control the kiss this time, tilting his head and opening his mouth as Stiles directs him. He does his best to draw it out, wants to have Stiles for as long as possible. Stiles moans into his mouth as he brushes a hand up under Stiles’ shirt, over the smooth skin of his stomach. He slides his other hand over Stiles’ ass and down his thigh, wishing there were fewer layers between them, despite the fact that thin cotton is all that separates them.

After a beat of hesitation, Stiles puts his own hands to use, rucking up Derek’s shirt. Derek pulls it off the rest of the way himself while Stiles scrambles to do the same with his own shirt.

Derek stares for a moment at the smooth planes of Stiles’ chest. He hasn’t seen Stiles shirtless in years, not since before some gossip rag made a stupid comment about Stiles’ “scrawny, boyish figure” and he began to bury himself under as much plaid armor as possible.

A wave of secondhand self-conscious embarrassment hits Derek as Stiles notices him staring.

“Never mind. This is a bad idea,” Stiles mutters, scrambling to put his shirt back on, but Derek stops him, curling a hand around his waist.

“You’re stupidly attractive, do you know that?” Derek asks, holding Stiles’ gaze and infusing as much sincerity into his tone as possible. He wishes, not for the first time, that their bond went both ways to prove to Stiles just how much he means what he’s saying.

“Flatterer,” Stiles grumbles, ducking his head. He relinquishes the shirt to Derek, though.

“I’m really not,” Derek murmurs, rolling his hips against Stiles’, enjoying the little gasp it draws from Stiles. He repeats the motion, gratified when Stiles mirrors it, bucking down and grinding them together.

“We should really get this show on the road unless you want me to come in my pants,” Stiles groans, gazing down at Derek with a slightly dazed look.

“I think you need to learn to appreciate the value of foreplay,” Derek retorts, dragging Stiles down to bite at his neck. Stiles groans and returns the favor, sucking at a spot under Derek’s jaw with determination. Derek scratches his nails lightly down Stiles’ back and arches his spine, earning him another jerky hip thrust from Stiles.

Finally abandoning the spot on Derek’s neck Stiles had been worrying with his teeth and tongue, he starts moving down Derek’s body, nipping and licking at whatever spots catch his interest. Derek hisses as Stiles finds a particularly sensitive area in the groove of his hip, which Stiles proceeds to take full advantage of.

After a few moments, though, Stiles gets distracted again – this time by the way Derek’s chubbed up in his sleep pants. Stiles nuzzles against it through the fabric experimentally and Derek has to bite his lip to ground himself and keep from coming right then. It would hardly be the first time he’s imagined coming on Stiles’ face, but right now the thought of coming on Stiles’ cock is much more tempting.

Stiles hooks his fingers in the band of Derek’s pants and boxers and finally pulls them down over Derek’s cock, reaching over to pump him tentatively at first, but then with more confidence and obvious experience. Derek watches, eyes half lidded, as Stiles ducks his head then and mouths at the tip.

The sight of his lips, plush and swollen from kissing, wrapped around Derek’s cock, has Derek bucking his hips a little, pushing his cock in deeper. Stiles sputters a little but recovers with relative ease, his eyes fluttering shut as he takes more of Derek into his mouth.

All too soon, though, he’s pulling off again. Derek feels a mild pang of disappointment, but when Stiles says, “Can you hand me the lube?” all traces of it disappear from Derek’s mind.

“Where is it?” Derek asks, already propping himself up on his elbows and scrambling to comply.

“Under the mattress, left side,” Stiles answers.

Derek twists around and digs around for it, coming up a moment later with the half used bottle and a condom which was lying on the floor below it.

“Where’d that come from?” Stiles asks, scrunching up his nose as Derek presents him with the condom, though. Derek realizes a moment too late that there’s really no reason for Stiles to have a condom in his room, considering his lack of sex life. He’s chilled as he realizes that it’s probably his, from that one night they spent together.

“I guess this means Kira approves,” he snorts, guilty about lying, but amused by the wave of secondhand embarrassment from Stiles which washes over him through their bond.

“Can we please not talk about Kira when I’m trying to have sex with you,” Stiles whines, his cheeks a little pink.

“Trying? I thought we were having sex,” Derek snorts, making Stiles scowl at him and snatch the lube.

“Stop being a smartass,” Stiles grumbles, slicking up his fingers.

Derek falls silent then, other than the way his breath hitches as Stiles circles his hole with steady fingers. He looks up at Derek, unsure, but Derek nods and shoves back against his fingers. Stiles goes slowly, working his fingers into Derek one at a time.

“You can go faster,” Derek says, clenching down on the finger Stiles has crooked inside him. “I’m not going to break.”

“I just want it to be good for you,” Stiles replies, licking a stripe up the underside of Derek’s cock as he adds a second finger. Derek has to bite his lip to avoid telling Stiles that it’ll be good no matter what, because it’s him.

“Stop doubting yourself,” Derek manages, his voice a little breathy as Stiles skims his fingers just over Derek’s prostate, a feather light touch that has Derek rolling his hips sharply, chasing the feeling.

Stiles catches on quickly when Derek does that, twisting his fingers to press at the spot again, rubbing at it and making Derek shiver. Stiles wraps his lips around the head of Derek’s cock again, lapping up the precome gathering there as he continues to fuck Derek carefully with his fingers. When he finally adds a third finger, Derek feels like he’s about to fall apart.

“I need you in me now,” he finally manages, voice more of a raspy growl than anything else.

“Alright, alright,” Stiles says as he scrambles to comply, removing his fingers and stripping out of his pajama pants. Derek kicks off his own pants which are still caught around his ankles so that they’re finally naked together, clothes on the floor and sheets pushed to the side.

Stiles rolls on the condom with shaky hands before looking back over at Derek, who spreads his legs in invitation. Derek watches, heart pounding, as Stiles crawls up the bed towards him until he’s fully braced over him. He still looks uncertain, so Derek takes him in hand and carefully guides him in, eyes fixed on Stiles’ expression the entire time.

When Derek’s taken all of him, Stiles’ mouth falls open in a little ‘o’ of surprise, hips twitching in an unconscious thrust. Derek’s nearly overwhelmed at the wave of Stiles’ pleasure which surges through the bond, immersing him and heightening his own.

“C’mon,” Derek murmurs, dragging Stiles down into a kiss and rolling his hips, thrusting himself back on Stiles’ cock.

Stiles lets out a choked moan and tentatively thrusts, hips rolling smoothly. Derek lets out a gasp of encouragement. Stiles adjusts his position slightly and tries again, harder and a little more confident this time in a way which has Derek’s back arching and his hole clenching.

“Just like that,” Derek groans as Stiles thrusts a third time, skating directly over his prostate and lighting him up in all the best ways.

“You feel amazing,” Stiles moans, burying his face in Derek’s neck and rolling his hips again, finally beginning to establish a rhythm.

“Just like that,” Derek repeats, meeting Stiles’ thrusts as the pace picks up, not always hitting his prostate, but filling him up in just the way he needs.

“Fuck,” Stiles moans, hips rabbiting again as Derek clenches down on him after a particularly hard thrust.

“C’mon,” Derek says, his voice rough as he scratches his nails lightly down Stiles’ back in encouragement, rolling his hips again. Stiles thrusts again, smoothly this time, sliding in at the perfect angle and sending sparks up Derek’s spine. Derek’s cock leaks thick pre-come onto his stomach as Stiles thrusts into him once, twice, three more times at that same, amazing angle.

“Derek, I’m gonna – ” Stiles gasps, his hips stuttering as his rhythm falters, breath hot against Derek’s neck. “I have to – ”

“Then come,” Derek says, clenching around Stiles, who does just that, moaning long and loud as his hips stutter through his orgasm.

Derek pets his hair, slightly damp with sweat, and reaches a hand down to finish jerking himself off, but Stiles beats him to it, pulling out and ducking shakily down Derek’s body to take him into his mouth again. He slides a couple of fingers back into Derek’s loose hole, and the combination of the sloppy, wet heat around him and the steady, long fingers in him has him coming with a gasped, “Stiles – ”

Stiles swallows most of it, just a little bit of come spilling out of his mouth and down his chin.

“Wow,” Stiles says, collapsing half on top of Derek. He licks at the bit of come on his lips in a way which almost makes Derek’s spent cock twitch in interest. “That was awesome.”

“Yeah,” Derek agrees, the only response he can manage.

“Thanks for that,” Stiles continues, his expression softening. “I know it was probably better for me than it was for you, but, just – thanks. For helping me out with this. I promise I won’t be weird about it, because, you know, one time deal and all that, but I do really appreciate it.”

Derek’s smile turns a little brittle, chest suddenly feeling remarkably empty as he’s reminded that this didn’t really mean anything, in the grand scheme of things. It was just a favor – a one time deal.

“You were good,” he still finds himself saying, and the soft smile Stiles gives him is worth it.

And if he finds himself pressing up close to Stiles and looping an arm around his stomach after Stiles has drifted off, well, it’s the closest he’ll ever get to the real thing.

---

“Oh. My. God.”

“What,” Derek grumbles, looking at Erica blearily and wondering why she’d paused in applying his makeup. He didn’t get nearly enough sleep the previous night. Not that he regrets it too much. As much as it hurts to know that it’ll never happen again, he got to have Stiles once and that – it’ll have to be enough.

“You have hickeys everywhere,” Erica informs him, making Derek’s eyes go wide and his gaze snap towards the mirror.

He hadn’t noticed them while brushing his teeth that morning, but now that his attention has been drawn to them – all four of them – they’re all he can see, standing out against his skin.

“You can cover them, can’t you?” he asks (demands, more like), mind already racing as he tries to come up with any way to explain them away to the president.

“Of course I can,” Erica snorts, giving him an annoyed look. “What do you take me for? Some amateur? What I want to know, however, is how you go them.”

Derek presses his mouth into a thin line, grasping for a proper excuse.

“Oh. My. God,” Erica says again, eyes lighting with realization. “You know, when I said this was your opportunity to have sex with Stiles, I was joking.”

“It wasn’t – it just – ” Derek starts, his cheeks going red.

“So are you two, like, together now or something?” Erica asks, crossing her arms over her chest and giving Derek an expectant look.

“It was a spur of the moment thing,” Derek retorts, jaw clenched. “Stiles was upset about what the media was saying – ”

“So you decided to comfort him with your dick?” Erica snorts, unimpressed. “Boyd’s told me about a lot of stupid decisions you’ve made, but I’m pretty sure this one takes the cake. The whole one-night stand thing only works if it’s not with someone you have to pretend to be in a relationship with. And certainly not someone you’re in love with.”

Derek opens his mouth to make some sort of excuse – any excuse – but Erica barrels on over him.

“And did you forget that Stiles has an actual bondmate out there somewhere?” Erica continues, her words like a punch to Derek’s chest.

“Stiles’ mate – ” Derek starts.

“Fucked off to god knows where, yeah, I know,” Erica huffs. “But as someone who’s bonded, let me tell you, there’s no way they didn’t feel you two getting it on through the bond last night and, really, it’s only a matter of time before they come crawling back – ”

But before she finishes, Erica cuts herself off, her brow suddenly furrowing in thought. She looks at Derek, examines him carefully. Derek stiffens under her scrutiny and something must show on his face, because Erica’s whole posture shifts.

“You know,” Erica starts slowly, her gaze fixed on Derek the entire time, “Boyd told me that Greenberg was Stiles’ primary protective detail the night he got bonded.”

Derek tenses further and hopes to god that this conversation isn’t going in the direction he thinks it’s going.

“Funny thing, I’m ninety-nine percent certain I saw Greenberg passed out on the couch halfway through the party,” Erica continues, her eyes and tone sharp. “Of course, at the time I didn’t realize he was supposed to be looking out for Stiles, so I didn’t even really think about it. But now that I’m considering it, I didn’t see you at the party much either. I thought it was because you were lurking in some dark corner being a party pooper, but now I’m wondering.”

“I don’t have a bond bite,” Derek protests, his whole body going cold.

“Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not bonded,” Erica points out, cocking her head slightly, arms still crossed. “It would explain why you haven’t been throwing yourself into hunting down Stiles’ bondmate.”

“I have a different assignment,” Derek says, but he can already tell that none of his excuses are going to sway Erica.

“So you’re saying that if Stiles was bonded to someone else you wouldn’t currently be hunting them down to throw them into an interrogation room and demand to know what they want with Stiles?” Erica counters, unwavering.

For a moment, the room falls quiet as they stare at each other, stuck in a stand off.

“I didn’t mean to,” Derek finally answers. “I was wasted. I don’t even remember any of it. All I know is that I woke up in bed with Stiles.”

“And then you ran,” Erica finishes, her gaze going cold.

“I panicked, alright?” Derek snaps.

“So Stiles doesn’t know,” Erica summarizes. It’s not a question.

Derek shakes his head, averting his eyes.

“You should tell him,” Erica says. “You need to tell him.”

“Erica, I can’t,” Derek protests.

“Why the fuck not?” Erica demands, and for a moment Derek thinks she’s going to slap him.

“I’d lose a friend. I’d lose my job,” Derek says, hands clenching into fists against his thighs. “Stiles would hate me.”

“Please,” Erica snorts. “Stiles would be over the moon if you were his bondmate. He’s like a middle schooler with a crush around you.”

“Then why didn’t he bite me?” Derek snaps, gaze hardening as he looks back at Erica.

“I can’t answer that,” Erica says after a moment. “But you know who can? Stiles.”

“I’m not telling him,” Derek replies stubbornly.

“Then maybe I will,” Erica snaps.

“Erica – ” Derek starts, panic swelling in him. “Erica, please don’t. Look, this way is easier. We’ll break it off in a few months and he’ll never have to know.”

“You’re making a huge mistake,” Erica says, lips pursed. She doesn’t head into Stiles’ room, though.

“Maybe,” Derek concedes. “But don’t tell him. Please.”

Erica stares at him for a long moment.

“Fine,” she snaps, yanking another bottle of concealer from her makeup bag. “But I reserve the right to say I told you so when this blows up in your face.

---

“I need to get out of here or I’m going to claw my fucking eyeballs out,” Stiles groans when Derek comes back from getting his bond bite makeup applied.

“Please don’t,” Derek snorts, trying desperately not to think of his conversation with Erica as he looks at Stiles, sprawled over the chair in front of his desk.

“What, go outside or claw my eyes out?” Stiles asks, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“Which do you think?” Derek retorts, matching Stiles’ eyebrow raise.

“Honestly, with you it could be either,” Stiles replies. Derek doesn’t admit that he has a point. Out loud, at least.

“We’re going to get swarmed by press if we try to go out,” Derek points out, which for some reason seems to make Stiles’ eyes go brighter.

“We can disguise ourselves,” Stiles says, looking far too excited about the prospect.

“No,” Derek says, scowling.

“Oh, come on,” Stiles whines, looking over at Derek with big, pleading amber eyes. “You can’t tell me you’re not practically clawing at the walls, too.”

He’s right, but Derek’s not about to admit that.

“So you want to, what? Walk around the city for an hour while surrounded by ten extra Secret Service agents?” Derek asks.

“But I already have you to keep me safe,” Stiles says, fluttering his eyelashes at Derek mockingly.

And look at how badly I’ve fucked that up. Derek thinks.

“If you want to go out, you’ll have to ask Kira, not me,” Derek replies, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Challenge accepted,” Stiles says, smirking slightly. “Kira loves me.”

“Oh really? And how much will she love you when I tell her you called her, what was it? A ‘professional cockblock’?” Derek counters, a small smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“You wouldn’t,” Stiles says, narrowing his eyes at Derek.

Derek opens his mouth to reply, but he’s cut off by a knock at the door.

“Come in!” Stiles calls, looking all too happy to divert the conversation.

Of course, the person who walks through the door is Kira.

“Kira!” Stiles says quickly, before Derek can get a word in edgewise. “Hey, so, hypothetically, if I wanted to get out of this godforsaken prison for a bit, how many bodyguards would I be saddled with?”

“I’m kind of surprised this didn’t come up earlier,” Kira says, smiling in amusement. “Did Derek foil your escape attempt?”

“What? No. Would I try to escape?” Stiles asks, turning his wide brown eyes on Kira this time. Thankfully she seems to have built up more of an immunity than Derek has.

“I’ll have to clear it with the president first,” Kira replies, tone fond, “but if it goes through, I think Boyd, Allison and I should be sufficient.”

“Ha! Derek said I’d have to have ten agents,” Stiles says, looking at Derek with a smug expression.

“I suppose we can only spread our resources so thin,” Derek snorts, and Stiles sticks his tongue out at him. Derek’s momentarily distracted by the memory of that tongue in his mouth and on his cock before he manages to tear his eyes away, face heating.

“Right, so, let’s blow this popsicle stand,” Stiles says, shooting Kira a wide grin, who returns it with an indulgent smile.

“I’ll ask President Stilinski-McCall,” she says.

Which is how, half an hour later, Derek finds himself at the International Spy Museum, because Stiles has a very particular – and very annoying – sense of humor.

“Can we do the mission simulation?” Stiles asks, eyes bright behind his bulky hipster glasses. Apparently he wasn’t satisfied with just the navy blue beanie pulled down over his gel-spiked hair, disguise wise.

Not that Derek’s own disguise is much better. Kira had taken great joy in stuffing him into a thumbhole sweater, claiming that his typical black leather or suit would make him stand out too much. At least he doesn’t have to wear the touristy “I <3 DC” baseball cap she’d forced Boyd into. At least Allison was lucky enough to get stationed outside the building, monitoring the entrance and exit.

“No, we can’t do the mission simulation,” Derek grunts, making Stiles narrow his eyes.

“You know what, I just realized that you have no say in what I can and cannot do now, because you’re not technically part of my protective detail,” Stiles huffs, trotting over to where Kira is examining a display of poison umbrellas. Derek sighs and follows him.

“We should make these standard issue,” Kira says thoughtfully, looking at a sedate black umbrella. Sedate looking, at least.

“What, are you planning an assassination?” Derek asks, frowning at the close range weapon.

“She’s assigned to Stiles. Of course she is,” Boyd answers dryly, which earns him an offended, “Hey!” from Stiles and a giggle from Kira.

“Back to the topic at hand,” Stiles huffs, still looking at Boyd with an expression dangerously close to a pout. “Mission simulation?”

“They’re not very realistic, you know,” Derek grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest.

“So?” Stiles asks, arching an eyebrow at Derek.

“So what’s the point?” Derek counters.

“To have fun? Is that a foreign concept to you?” Stiles says.

“Read about poison umbrellas. That’s fun,” Derek replies, waving a hand at the sign next to the umbrella’s case.

“Yeah, but what about doing both?” Stiles counters.

“How about we go through the rest of the exhibit and then we’ll see if we have time,” Kira suggests, cutting in between them. “I’d love to try the simulation, but the president wants us back before one.”

“See, Kira knows how to have fun,” Stiles says, grinning at Kira, who rolls her eyes at him.

“I’m going to read every single plaque in here,” Boyd mutters as Stiles drags Kira off to the next display. Derek nods in solidarity.

In the end, though, they don’t have to slow down Stiles and Kira much – at least when they reach the 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit.

How have you not seen Skyfall yet?” Stiles demands, staring at Derek with wide eyes.

“It hasn’t been a priority,” Derek answers, shrugging as he reads a plaque on Auric Goldfinger.

“What do you mean it hasn’t been a priority? What could be more important than watching the new Bond film?” Stiles asks, looking at Derek with wide, fierce eyes.

“I prefer the older films,” Derek admits, which doesn’t seem to sway Stiles’ stubborn expression at all.

“But Daniel Craig,” Stiles protests, his voice going a little breathy for a moment in a way which makes Derek clench his jaw in an unconscious movement.

“What about him?” Derek asks, crossing his arms over his chest defensively again.

“He’s so hot,” Stiles replies, eyes going a little glazed, and Derek feels a now familiar flush of secondhand arousal. “I should be his bond girl in the next film. They should hire me to kiss Daniel Craig.”

“You’re bonded,” Derek says, his tone dipping to something akin to a growl.

“Aww, are you getting jealous, babe?” Stiles asks, fixing Derek with a mischievous look.

“No,” Derek snaps, which only seems to increase Stiles’ amusement.

“Fine, you know what? How about we watch Skyfall when we get back so I can convert you and then we can negotiate a threesome?” Stiles says, leaning a little closer – suddenly all too entrenched in Derek’s personal space.

“I highly doubt I’ll be converted,” Derek replies, forcing a dry tone and resisting the urge to step back too obviously.

“We’ll see about that,” Stiles says with a smirk.

Derek tries to ignore the butterflies in his stomach as Stiles walks away to go admire the Dr. No exhibit with Kira.

---

Unfortunately, when they arrive back at the White house, they’re ambushed by Lydia before they can go watch Skyfall.

“I need a list of relatives you’re on good terms with,” she says crisply to Derek, without preamble.

“Why?” Derek asks warily, narrowing his eyes.

“We’re having a party to formally present you as a couple, in lieu of a proper bonding ceremony,” Lydia answers, not looking up from the tablet she’s tapping at. “Of course, if your family would like an additional private ceremony that can also be arranged. The gala next week will be a little more, well, political than social.”

“Next week?” Stiles asks, scrunching his nose in distaste.

“It’s a little short notice, but the public is getting impatient,” Lydia admits. “You’re lucky you managed to sneak around today without getting noticed.”

“I’ll get you a list,” Derek sighs.

At least Laura should be pleased about this.

---

Derek manages to pester the president into putting him on threat assessment for the next week to keep him from getting too bored and restless. Mainly he just reads President Stilinski-McCall’s hate mail to see if any of the threats are legitimate, but at least it gives him something to occupy his mind. Well, something other than Stiles, that is.

Stiles himself is apparently helping Danny Mahealani with research for a few articles – the sort of research he can do remotely, at least. They still see a lot of each other, though, and Derek’s a little glad there isn’t a set time he has to wake up at anymore, considering how long it takes him to fall asleep with Stiles curled up only a foot or so away from him.

“Right, so,” Stiles says, sitting himself down on Derek’s desk and startling him from the (frankly disturbing) hate mail he’s reading. “We need a plan of attack.”

“A plan of attack?” Derek asks, brow furrowing as he looks over at Stiles.

“For the party thing,” Stiles clarifies, swinging his legs so they tap against the wood of the desk. “You know, how much PDA is expected? Do we split up or stay together? Will you be able to sneak me some champagne?”

“I’m not enabling you,” Derek huffs.

“You’re making me sound like some sort of alcoholic,” Stiles whines, expression dangerously close to a pout.

“Remember what happened last time you drank?” Derek asks, pinning Stiles with a pointed look. Stiles grimaces and deflates.

“Right, but last time I didn’t have you to chaperone me, did I?” Stiles says, looking over at Derek with big, brown Bambi eyes.

Derek doesn’t know how to reply to that.

“I’m not giving you anything alcoholic,” Derek finally grunts. “Your father would kill me. And we’re not splitting up.”

“Alright, stick together,” Stiles replies, nodding. “Cool. Strength in numbers and all.”

Derek doesn’t say that it’s actually because he wants to be able to keep an eye on Stiles.

“That way we won’t tell any conflicting stories, either,” Stiles continues, still swinging his feet against the desk. “Of course, that probably means PDA. Arms around each other’s waists and stuff. Not that I think we’ll have any problem with that, considering. You know. Not our first kiss.”

He breaks eye contact, gaze skittering down to fix on the floor awkwardly. They haven’t talked about it at all – the night they spent together. There’s been no hint of it, no innuendos or flirtatious looks. Sometimes Derek wonders if it even happened or if he’d just dreamed it up. God knows he’s had enough similar dreams.

“It’ll be fine,” Derek finally says, clearing his throat. “In fact, if you’re going to worry about anything, worry about meeting my family.”

“Shit,” Stiles breathes, his eyes going wide. “Shit, I completely forgot. I mean, I’ve talked to Laura on Skype before – ”

“When did that happen?” Derek asks, frowning. Stiles’ expression goes decidedly shifty.

“Uh,” Stiles answers, biting his lower lip. “So there is a possibility that Scott and Laura may Skype occasionally. To talk. About you.”

“What?” Derek blurts out, the word spilling out of his mouth before his brain can fully process it. “How did – ”

“I have no fucking clue,” Stiles says, shaking his head. “They just kind of gossip. And, you know, complain about you.”

Typical Laura, Derek’s brain supplies automatically.

“I’ll deal with that later,” Derek mutters, rubbing his temples.

“So who in your family is coming?” Stiles asks, a note of curiosity in his tone.

“My parents, Talia and Adam,” Derek answers. “My sisters, Laura and Cora. Laura’s older than I am, and Cora’s younger.”

“What about your uncle?” Stiles probes, making Derek’s brow furrow and the corners of his lips turn down.

“Peter? How do you know him?” Derek asks, and Stiles shrugs.

“You and Laura have both mentioned him before,” Stiles answers easily, his legs finally slowing to a steady swing which no longer taps against the wood of the desk. “I mean, mainly you complain about him, but.” Stiles shrugs again.

“I don’t think he’s coming,” Derek says. “You never know with Peter, though.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Stiles asks, arching an eyebrow at Derek.

“It means that Peter is unpredictable and has a few screws loose upstairs,” Derek answers simply.

“Duly noted,” Stiles snorts. “How do I impress the rest of your family, then?”

“Why does it matter?” Derek asks, frowning. “It’s not like we’re actually bonded.”

Stiles’ expression goes a little strange at that, a little blank, and Derek feels a surge of emotion he can’t quite place. Distress maybe, with a hint of hurt. A hint of bitterness, maybe. But just as quickly as it came over him, it disappears, packed back tightly and ruthlessly squashed with a strange sort of proficiency.

“I get that,” Stiles finally says, eyes darting back down the fix on the floor. “But, I mean, I don’t want to be the bad guy when we break this off. Well, any more than I have to be, you know? I don’t want to them to hate me because they think I was an asshole who broke your heart. I want it to be at least semi-amicable.”

Derek stares at him for a moment, unsure what to say to that. It’ll be worse, he knows, if his family likes Stiles. They’ll probably love him, actually, and Derek will forever be tormented by his parents referring to Stiles as “the one who got away.”

Then again, it can’t possibly be any more painful than his feelings for Stiles already are.

“Alright,” he finally says. “Let’s start with Laura.”

Stiles beams.

---

The night of the party, the instant Derek sees Stiles he knows he’s doomed.

“I hate suits,” Stiles mutters darkly, fiddling with his cufflinks. “Hate them.”

“You know, if you want to be a Bond guy, you’ll probably have to wear a suit,” Derek says with a small smirk, earning him a dirty look from Stiles.

“Well, some things are worth the sacrifice,” Stiles huffs, still fiddling with the cufflinks. Derek bats his hands away and then hesitates for a moment before linking their fingers together and squeezing Stiles’ hand to still it.

“Are you saying my family’s not worth it?” Derek asks, arching an eyebrow.

“That’s not what – ” Stiles protests, and Derek feels another small spark of secondhand embarrassment.

“You only have to wear it for a few hours,” Derek interrupts, absentmindedly tracing circles on Stiles’ hand with his thumb. “You can make it that long. And anyway, you look good.”

“I look like a waiter,” Stiles mutters, jaw clenched.

“I thought you were just talking about being a Bond guy,” Derek says, frowning at Stiles’ tone. He hates it when Stiles gets like this, self-deprecating and vulnerable.

“Yeah, I said I wanted to be one, not that I could be one,” Stiles retorts. He tries to pull away from Derek, but Derek’s grip on his hand holds firm.

“I think you’re hot enough to be a Bond guy,” Derek says with the utmost seriousness.

Stiles stares at him for a moment before he lets out an amused huff of laughter.

“Alright, big guy,” Stiles replies once he’s stopped laughing. “Does that make you James Bond, then?”

“The name’s Hale. Derek Hale,” Derek answers, arching an eyebrow at Stiles and extending his arm to Stiles, who grins and loops their arms together, side pressed flush.

“Well, lead the way, Agent Hale,” Stiles says with a flirty smile. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand.”

“You ruined it with the last part,” Derek sighs, trying to hold back a smile.

“Shut up,” Stiles grumbles, elbowing Derek lightly in the side.

Kira joins them in the stairwell. She’s dressed in a crisp pantsuit, molded perfectly to her slim frame. It’s black, clean cut, and professional, but Derek doesn’t miss the her one indulgence, shimmering purple stud earrings, which makes it seem a little more like she’s going to a party than work. Of course, as a Secret Service agent, most parties they attend tend to be work-related.

“You’re looking very handsome, Stiles,” Kira says, smiling as she moves to adjust Stiles’ bowtie slightly.

“You’re supposed to be protecting me, not suffocating me,” Stiles grumbles, tugging at the bowtie Kira just fixed. Kira eyes it like she wants to adjust it again, but apparently she recognizes it for the lost cause it is and lets it go.

“Your earrings are nice, Kira,” Derek says, squeezing Stiles’ hand in warning.

“Oh, thank you,” Kira replies, a slightly bashful smile on her face. “Scott gave them to me for my birthday.”

Of course he did. Derek wonders whether he should start encouraging Kira to put in a department transfer. If Kira and Scott continue on like this he’s pretty sure everyone around them is going to suffocate from the romantic and sexual tension.

Derek thinks he hears Stiles mutter, “Idiots,” under his breath.

“We should head downstairs,” Derek says, encouraging them along. “We’re going to be late.”

“You know, fashionable lateness is a thing,” Stiles replies, reluctantly following Derek, and looking like he’s being marched to his execution. “We should absolutely be fashionably late.”

“My mother hates lateness,” Derek says dryly. He feels a little spark of something akin to anxiety through their bond, and Stiles speeds up.

“Low blow,” Kira laughs. “Threatening Stiles with the in-laws.”

“At least my mother isn’t the President of the United States,” Derek points out.

“True,” Kira says, still smiling slightly.

“She’s the director of a wolf sanctuary, though,” Derek continues, smirking slightly as he feels Stiles stiffen next to him.

“Oh, so you’re literally throwing me to the wolves,” Stiles whines, pining Derek with a glare. “Some bondmate you are.”

“She’ll like you,” Derek reassures him, squeezing his hand gently.

Wolves, Derek,” Stiles hisses, and Derek has to bite back a laugh.

“You’ll be fine,” Derek repeats.

Stiles looks less than convinced, but he doesn’t protest any further, because they’ve arrived at the entrance to the East Room. There’s already a reasonably large crowd milling about inside, and Derek feels Stiles’ grip on his hand tighten reflexively.

“Let’s go say hi to Scott,” Derek says when he spots Scott talking with Agent Lahey in the far corner of the room. Stiles nods and lets himself be guided along – which, truthfully, is a little disconcerting for Derek. Normally Stiles is the one pulling him along.

“Hey, Stiles,” Scott says, eyes lighting up as they approach. He darts in to give Stiles a one-armed hug, and Derek is gratified to see some of the tension drain out of Stiles’ shoulders. “Have you met Isaac yet? He’s my new bodyguard.”

“We met before,” Isaac cuts in. Derek feels a spark of confusion from Stiles, though. “At your birthday party.”

“Ah,” Stiles says, in the tone of someone who clearly doesn’t remember.

“I mean, I think we talked for a couple of minutes before you went to go make out with Hale or something,” Isaac adds, making Derek’s heart freeze in his chest.

“Ah,” Stiles repeats, but this time there’s a hint of something like panic in his tone.

“I mean, you were pretty wasted at the time, I think,” Isaac continues, and Derek contemplates slapping a hand over his mouth before he says anything else. “And if I’d known letting you leave with Hale would result in a national incident, I would have tried to wake Greenberg up – he was passed out on the couch – ”

“Derek!” a voice exclaims, making Derek turn around, and he’s never been happier to see his sister in his life. And she once saved him from falling out of the treehouse in their backyard and probably breaking his neck.

“Laura,” Derek greets her, subtly coaxing Stiles away from the group and towards his family.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us, Der?” Laura asks, looking over at Stiles pointedly.

“You already know who he is,” Derek replies, shrugging. “And I’ve been informed that you two met on Skype at some point.”

“Busted,” Laura sighs, but the corners of her lips twitch up into an amused smile. “Not that I’m planning on stopping.”

“Of course you’re not,” Derek mutters, but he doesn’t protest. He knows a lost battle when he sees one – particularly when it comes to Laura. Or any of his family members, really.

“Derek!” Another voice exclaims, making Derek glance away from Laura to see his parents and Cora making their way across the room.

“It’s so good to see you,” his father says, engulfing Derek in a tight hug. “And you must be Stiles.”

Derek watches his dad sweep Stiles up in a hug, too. Stiles looks startled for a moment, eyes wide as he glances over at Derek, like he’s asking Derek what he’s supposed to do. Derek raises an eyebrow pointedly and Stiles takes that as his cue to carefully wrap his arms around Derek’s father and pat him lightly on the back.

“It’s so good to know that Derek finally did something about that ridiculous crush of his,” Talia Hale says, giving Stiles a warm smile. Derek, meanwhile, wishes that he could just sink into the floor and disappear. “I can’t say I approve entirely of the way the two of you went about it, but we’re very happy for you.”

“Uh, thanks,” Stiles replies with an awkward smile.

“Alright, well Mom may have forgiven you, but I’m still pissed you didn’t tell me sooner, Der,” Laura grumbles, giving Derek a pointed look. “Seriously, a year? You couldn’t find any time during the past year to tell us?”

“That’s my fault,” Stiles says, before Derek can answer, an apologetic smile on his face. Derek can easily tell that it’s fake, but his family doesn’t know Stiles well enough to know better. “I mean, you know what happened when I came out. I didn’t want Derek to have to deal with that.”

Derek takes that little sob story as a cue to slide his arm around Stiles’ waist, pulling him close. Stiles stiffens for a moment, but then relaxes into him, melting against his side, all soft and pliant.

Stiles’ statement seems to have a similar effect on his family. Derek can already see their edges softening, and Laura’s giving them a look which she usually reserves for videos of baby animals. Cora, off to the side, still looks a little short of convinced, but even she looks less steely than normal.

The conversation flows more naturally from there. Kira and Scott join them a little later, and Derek is content to make vague noises of agreement while actually more focused on the feel of Stiles under his arm, happy and relaxed.

“Derek,” Cora says softly, bringing him back down to earth. He frowns at her, brow furrowing. “Can we talk for a moment?”

Warning bells are ringing in Derek’s head, but he nods. He slips his arm out from around Stiles’ waist, and Stiles shoots him a questioning look as soon as he registers the loss of contact.

“We’re just going to get drinks,” Cora says quickly, making Derek even more concerned.

“Grab me some champagne then, babe?” Stiles tells Derek, looking at him with wide, brown eyes, a puppy-dog look Derek’s sure he practiced in the mirror at some point. There’s no way something that cute and pleading is natural.

“Nice try,” Derek snorts, leaning in to brush a light kiss over Stiles’ lips. He tries to ignore the way his heart skips a beat as he does so. “I’ll get you some apple cider.”

“You’re no fun,” Stiles grumbles, but Derek can tell he’s not seriously annoyed or disappointed.

Cora’s starting to look a little impatient, though, so Derek just smirks at him and then follows her away from the group towards a more secluded corner.

“You know, when I first heard about you and Stiles, I wasn’t actually that surprised,” Cora says, her gaze flickering back to Stiles for a moment before settling on Derek. “I mean, everyone knows you’ve had a thing for him for forever.”

“I – ” Derek protests, but Cora cuts him off with a shake of her head.

“You’re really not subtle when you like someone, Der,” she snorts, and Derek feels his cheeks heat. “I was surprised, though, when I heard you’d been hiding this from us for a year.”

“I guess I can be more subtle than you give me credit for,” Derek replies, shrugging as he tries to ignore the lump of anxiety in his throat.

“I know you lied,” Cora says bluntly.

Derek’s heart freezes in his chest.

“What do you mean?” he asks, tone harsh. He crosses his arms over his chest defensively.

“You called me the night you and Stiles bonded,” she answers, and Derek feels like he can’t breathe anymore. “You were pretty drunk at the time. You wanted me to convince you not to sleep with Stiles. Apparently I wasn’t able to get through to me.”

Derek stares at her for a moment, studying her carefully.

“It is what it is,” he finally says.

“It is what it is?” Cora repeats, her tone incredulous. “Derek, I don’t care what sort of scandal it would cause, it’s not fair for you to be forced to be bonded to someone who doesn’t care about you like that.”

Her words sting more than Derek expects them to, but there’s nothing about them that’s untrue, not really.

“It’s not fair to Stiles, either. This is my fault – I can’t just abandon him to deal with the fallout on his own,” Derek sighs, low and frustrated. “It’s not his fault that I can’t control himself and that I have… feelings.”

“I just don’t want to see you get hurt,” Cora says, an unhappy expression on her face.

“I think it’s too late for that,” Derek admits, looking over to where Stiles is still talking to their parents and Laura, a wide grin on his face as he motions with exaggerated hand gestures. There’s a distinct surge of happiness through their bond as Talia Hale lets out an amused sound at Stiles story and Laura doubles over in full belly-laughs.

“Promise me you’ll transfer,” Cora blurts out, dragging Derek’s focus back to her. “After this is over, promise me you’ll transfer somewhere far away from Stiles.”

“Cora, I – ” Derek starts to protest.

“This is killing you,” Cora insists, her gaze intense as she stares up at Derek. “Promise me.”

Derek studies her for a long moment, conflicted.

Then, he says, “I promise.”

---

Eventually, Derek and Cora make their way back to the rest of the group. They swing by the drinks table almost as an afterthought, Derek making sure to snag a glass of apple cider for Stiles, already feeling fond at the thought of Stiles’ sour look at the offering. He resolutely ignores the pointed look Cora gives him when she takes stock of his expression.

However, when they get back, Derek pauses, frowning as he surveys the group.

“Where’s Stiles?” he asks.

“He went to the bathroom,” Scott answers, nodding towards the door. “Kira’s with him, though.”

Derek nods in understanding. The knowledge that Kira’s with Stiles soothes him somewhat, but there’s a certain uneasiness prickling at his spine, a paranoid wariness. He clutches the glass of cider a little tighter.

He tries to focus on the conversation, but his focus keeps straying back to that uncomfortable feeling itching at him. He rolls his shoulders, restless, as his eyes dart back to look in the direction of the bathrooms.

“Is everything alright, Derek?” his mother says, startling him back to the present situation with a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m fine,” he replies, tearing his eyes away from the door. His mother studies him carefully, though, her lips pursed.

“Go find your mate,” she finally says, pushing him gently towards the door. “The party will survive without you for a few minutes.”

Derek considers protesting – he’s probably just being paranoid – but in the end he just nods and says, “I’ll be back in a moment.”

He makes his way down to the bathrooms at a brisk pace. He comes to a brisk halt, though, when he sees Kira standing in the hallway ahead of him, her shoulders rigid as she talks quickly into her comm.

“Derek!” she exclaims as she catches sight of him. “Have you seen Stiles?”

“You lost him?” he asks, his tone a growl. He regrets his harshness as soon as he sees Kira’s posture tense even further, though.

“There was a disturbance in the entrance hall,” Kira explains, her lips pursed. “Someone was trying to schmooze their way in – your uncle, I think.”

Derek resists the urge to grimace. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility. He wonders if he was wrong to not invite Peter, because at least if he’d been officially invited they could keep an eye on him.

“Stiles was still in the bathroom when I left,” Kira continues, her expression pinched. “I already have Boyd and Isaac going through the East Room, but they haven’t come up with anything yet.”

“Tell Allison to check the upper floors,” Derek directs. He reaches into his pocket to fish out his phone, but frowns as he realizes that he’d left it up in Stiles’ room. Calling Stiles won’t do much good anyway, because Stiles’ phone is still upstairs, too. Derek feels bad now for insisting that they leave them behind to avoid distraction.

“I’ll check the kitchens,” Kira says, nodding. “You can take the rest of this floor.”

Derek had actually been planning on checking the kitchens, because he’s found that they generally seem to be Stiles’ favorite hiding place, but he’s willing to relinquish the duty to Kira. If anyone knows Stiles better than him, it’s her (and Scott, of course).

“Keep me updated,” Derek replies – needlessly, but the familiar action comforts him.

“Will do,” Kira answers with a tense smile.

As soon as he hears her footsteps disappear around the corner, Derek loses what little composure he still has. The uneasy sensation encroaching on his mind feels stronger now, and for a moment he thinks he feels a surge of anxiety through the bond.

Derek freezes as he feels it. Tentatively, he closes his eyes and refocuses on the emotion, trying to pin it down. He latches onto it as he feels it again. He’s heard stories of bondmates who were so connected that they could tell exactly where their mate was at all times. Not that he has much hope for him and Stiles – their bond isn’t even complete.

After a moment of concentration, Derek collapses back against the wall with a frustrated growl. All he can get is a vague sense of panic and dread. Stiles is in some sort of trouble and he can’t – he’s just –

Derek squeezes his eyes shut and tries again.

He takes deep breaths and latches on again. This time he seems to get a better hold on the connection, more nuances apparent in Stiles’ emotions. He grits his teeth, pushes himself a little farther, and falls fully into the bond.

The first thing he registers is the feeling of wood and metal against his palms – a door and doorknob, he thinks. He’s also hit by a sudden wave of claustrophobia. Stiles is in a small space, then.

He moves without even thinking about it, making his way automatically down the hallway and across the floor until he comes to the end of the hallway. Sitting innocently in front of him is a storage closet.

“Stiles?” he calls, knocking on the door.

In reply, he only gets a muffled jumble of sound which was probably at some point an actual sentence, but even though Derek can’t understand the individual words, he would recognize the cadence of Stiles’ voice anywhere.

He tries the doorknob, but it doesn’t budge – jammed, probably. Briefly, he considers telling Stiles to stand back, but judging how little he understands of what Stiles is saying, he can’t imagine it’ll do much good.

So he stiffens his stance, gets a firm grasp on the doorknob, and yanks.

For a moment, he thinks the door is going to hold, but then it creaks and swings open. Derek manages to regain his balance for a moment, but then he hears a loud squawk and looks up to see Stiles falling forward. He reacts on instinct, reaching out to steady Stiles, but his own stance is unstable enough that both of them come crashing to the ground.

“Oh my god, thank you so much,” Stiles babbles, scrambling to get up off of Derek. “I thought nobody was ever going to find me and I was going to die in that closet, all alone – ”

“What were you even doing in there?” Derek asks, wincing slightly as he picks himself up off the floor.

“Uh, well,” Stiles says, then stops. Derek looks at him expectantly. “Right, so I might have been… hiding.”

“Hiding,” Derek repeats, his tone flat.

“I just wanted to get away from everyone for a little while,” Stiles replies, worrying his lower lip with his teeth. “You know I’m not good with this sort of stuff, and you abandoned me with your wolf-tamer mother! I can’t – I kept sticking my foot further down my throat every time I opened my freaking mouth and – ”

“My mother is not a wolf-tamer,” Derek grumbles, rubbing a hand over his temples. “And she likes you. All of my family members like you.”

“I just can’t do this,” Stiles murmurs, fixing his gaze firmly on the ground. Derek tries to ignore the way his heart sinks at that – the knowledge that Stiles can’t even tolerate pretending to be in a relationship with him.

“Stiles – ” Derek starts, but he can barely get a word in edgewise.

“I thought I could do it, but then every other thing I said to your parents was about how much I – and your sister, Cora, has to know, right? Because she took you off to the side to talk to you, and it must be so obvious to everyone that you don’t – that the bond is fake, it’s so fucking fake.”

Stiles stops then, his face flushed red and his eyes shimmery and wet. Derek reaches forward to touch him; he has a deep urge to comfort Stiles somehow, but Stiles flinches away and Derek drops his hand.

“I’m sorry,” Derek finally says, his voice rough.

“It’s not your fault,” Stiles replies, shaking his head.

Derek wants to protest that yes, it is, but instead he just says, “Let’s go back to the East Room. Kira’s worried about you.”

“Shit,” Stiles mumbles, grimacing. “I didn’t mean to – ”

“We know,” Derek replies, carefully placing an arm around Stiles’ waist to guide him along back in the direction of the party.

“How’d you even find me?” Stiles asks, frowning at Derek, who stiffens.

“Luck,” he answers simply. It’s not entirely untrue. Stiles looks at him for a moment, examining him carefully before nodding.

They run into Kira on their way back to the East Room and she calls off the search, a relieved smile on her face as Stiles apologizes. By the time they rejoin Derek’s family, Derek’s managed to relax somewhat, but his arm around Stiles’ waist is still a cruel reminder.

“You’re alright, Stiles?” Talia asks as they rejoin the group, making Derek stiffen. “Derek had a bad feeling.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m fine,” Stiles answers, giving her a sheepish smile. “Just got myself accidentally locked in a closet for a bit. Long story.”

Derek’s mother hums in consideration, bright eyes boring into Stiles, who begins to fidget under her gaze.

“You and Derek have a strong bond,” she finally says. “Not many couples could sense each other’s distress that quickly or easily.”

“Uh,” Stiles says, awkward as he glances over at Derek. “Thanks.”

Talia Hale’s lips twitch up into a small smile of approval and Derek wonders if she’ll ever forgive him when this whole thing crashes and burns.

---

Stiles is strangely quiet through the rest of the evening. He also keeps sneaking glances at Derek – glances which Derek suspects he’s not supposed to notice – so by the time the party’s almost fully shut down, Derek starts feeling a bit anxious.

They don’t talk until they’re safely tucked away in Stiles’ bedroom, though.

“You know, I’ve been trying to figure out why my bondmate didn’t come forward for a while now,” Stiles says slowly, sitting down on the edge of his bed, hands fisted in the covers. “I mean, I figured that even if they didn’t want me, they’d still want their five minutes of fame, right?”

Derek doesn’t reply.

“But then your mom said the thing about our bond being strong,” Stiles continues as Derek just stands there, waiting for everything to start crumbling around him. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And then there’s what Isaac was saying, too – about me looking for you at the party. Not to mention the fact that Kira’s absolutely convinced that you’re my bondmate and she should be the most suspicious of it. So that leaves me with one conclusion.”

Stiles looks up at Derek expectantly, eyes large and questioning.

“I’m sorry,” Derek finally says.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Stiles asks, his voice soft.

Derek’s throat feels tight, choked, as he tries to figure out what to say. He’d prepared himself for anger – a screaming, knock-down-drag-out fight. He has no idea what to do with this Stiles, quiet and resigned.

“It was easier,” Derek admits, trying to make his tone as even as possible.

“Oh, easier,” Stiles spits, a sudden malice to his voice. “Easier to get rid of me when you didn’t have to deal with me anymore?”

“What?” Derek blurts out, his brow furrowing. “No – you just – I know you don’t want me like that, so I didn’t want to pressure you.”

“Like that?” Stiles asks, frowning in confusion. “Like how?”

“You don’t love me,” Derek manages, the words bitter in his mouth. He hates hearing them aloud.

Stiles stares at him for a moment, and Derek can feel a surge of surprise through their bond.

I don’t love you?” he finally says, still staring at Derek with an expression close to incredulous. “Then how would I have a bond bite on my neck, huh?”

“You were drunk,” Derek protests.

“I am so fucking in love with you it’s kind of embarrassing,” Stiles admits. For a moment, Derek wonders if he’d heard wrong, because there’s no way – how could he have missed – ? “And you’re the one who doesn’t have a bond bite.”

“You didn’t bite me,” Derek insists, a little desperate now. “If you’d bitten me it would have taken. If you’re in love with me, why wouldn’t you bite me?”

Stiles is quiet for a moment. Then, softly, he says, “Why bother, when you know it won’t take?”

“Bite me,” Derek blurts out, making Stiles look up at him sharply.

“What? I – ” Stiles stutters, thrown off guard.

“If you want me as your bondmate, you’ll bite me,” Derek says, his voice steady. “I promise it’ll take.”

“Don’t you think you should, I don’t know, think about this or something?” Stiles asks, sending a surge of anxiety through their bond. “This is a huge commitment – ”

“Stiles, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve been bonded ever since I bit you,” he interrupts, utterly serious. “I’m not going to change my mind.”

Stiles studies him carefully before saying, “Let’s get that makeup off,” which is how Derek finds himself sitting on the toilet seat while Stiles scrubs his skin clean. There’s a bottle of makeup remover which Erica left in the other room which leaves Derek’s skin smelling of artificial chemicals. It can’t be all that appealing to bite, but Stiles just towels it dry before giving Derek one last questioning look.

“Do it,” Derek murmurs.

Stiles leans forward from where he’s kneeling between Derek’s legs and bites.

It starts with a prick of hot pain before fading under a rush of endorphins. Derek feels a little dizzy from it for a moment, fisting one hand in Stiles’ hair and the other in his shirt to try and keep himself upright.

“Oh,” he thinks he hears Stiles say, brown Bambi eyes all dazed and hooded at the bonding rush.

“Come here,” Derek demands, dragging Stiles up to slot their mouths together in a kiss. Stiles whines into his mouth, all desperate and overwhelmed, and Derek just kisses him harder.

When they finally break apart, Derek’s panting loud and heavy. Stiles is matching his breaths exactly.

“So we’re bonded,” Stiles pants, still kneeling in front of Derek.

“Brilliant deduction,” Derek replies, and in that moment all the tension between them is broken, a grin spreading itself across Stiles’ face.

“You’re such an asshole,” Stiles huffs, slumping up against Derek, face buried in his chest.

“Yeah,” Derek says simply, expression going serious again. “I should have told you.”

“I – ” Stiles starts, but then pauses. “Yeah, you should have, and it’s going to take me a while before I’m not pissed at you about it anymore. But I get why you did it. I mean, I don’t get how you missed that I’m completely fucking gone on you, but I get why you didn’t say anything.”

“You’re not as easy to read as you think,” Derek murmurs.

They stay like that for a moment, slumped against each other, as many points of contact between them as possible. For the first time in weeks, Derek feels relaxed and truly content.

Then, Stiles says, “You get to explain this to my dad.”

---

Three months and Derek doesn’t know why he’d ever lied to Stiles about being his bondmate.

“Your uncle terrifies me,” Stiles says, sidling up to Derek and pressing their sides together.

“He’s not that bad,” Derek protests, earning him a skeptical look from Stiles.

“He gave me this look,” Stiles insists. “I don’t know why you invited him to our bonding ceremony.”

“He’s family,” Derek answers, shrugging. “That and he’d probably try to break in otherwise. He’d find a way.”

“Point taken,” Stiles concedes. “Next time I’m assigning someone to keep an eye on him, though.”

“Already done,” Derek replies, earning him a surprised look from Stiles. “Agent Argent is keeping track of him.”

“Alright, now I feel safe, knowing that it’s Allison,” Stiles says with a small grin.

“So you don’t feel safe with me right next to you?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles in challenge.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Stiles answers, a cheeky smile on his face. “I think you have a tendency to get distracted when I’m around.”

“Well maybe if you weren’t actively trying to distract me,” Derek grumbles, but lets Stiles pull him into a kiss. He lets his eyes slide shut as he sinks into the kiss, opening up easily for Stiles. Too soon for Derek’s liking, though, Stiles pulls back.

“Dance with me,” he says.

Derek drops a kiss down onto Stiles’ bond bite and lets Stiles guide them onto the dance floor, hands clasped tightly together.