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It all starts when catering runs out of coffee.

Or, well, technically it starts when Stiles Stilinski, a student at UCLA, manages to land a small part on The Beat, an up and coming crime drama. Granted, his role might not be the most glamorous on the show – and boy hadn’t that been awkward when his dad had insisted on watching his debut episode as an actual paid actor – but it’s actually kind of nice. Tommy’s a flirty hooker and sometimes informant, and not to toot his own horn, but Stiles plays the role well. Well enough to get written into extra episodes, even.

The costumes, though, are hell. Which is why Stiles is trying not to fidget too much as he waits in line at the local Starbucks. He can feel multiple pairs of eyes on him as he adjusts his low-slung jeans. Not that it does much good – they’re tight enough that he’s pretty sure they’re restricting his circulation, so they’re not about to budge.

Instead, he has to settle for crossing his arms over his chest and the thin fishnet shirt covering it. (Although maybe “covering” is too generous a word for the flimsy material.) He sighs and wonders if coffee is really worth it.

He yawns and decides that yeah, it really is.

Or, well, it is until he gets to the register as sees who’s manning it.

Derek Hale, a fellow student in his French 300 course, is staring at him, looking more than a little shell-shocked.

“Heeeeey Derek,” Stiles says with an awkward, strained laugh. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“What are you wearing?” Derek blurts out, continuing to stare.

“Oh, it’s, uh,” Stiles stammers, his face heating. “It’s for work. I mean, like, this isn’t how I normally dress! I don’t just – with the fishnets and the – ”

“Work,” Derek repeats, his voice just the wrong side of strangled.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, cheeks flushing even brighter. Not for the first time, Stiles wishes he’d landed the part of a police officer, or – or a murderer or something. At least then people might be able to take his acting career seriously.

“Right,” Derek manages, posture oddly stiff. “Right. What would you like today?”

Stiles blinks at him. It takes a moment for the dots to connect in his mind, before he stammers out an, “Oh! Oh, just a grande – it’s grande, right? – light roast coffee.”

He fumbles for his wallet as Derek nods, ringing up the order. Only, as Stiles pulls his wallet from his pocket, something else comes flying out along with it.

Stiles watches in horror as a condom packet skitters across the counter and comes to rest right in front of Derek.

It’s only a prop, really. He’d completely forgotten it was even there, left for the scene where he’s supposed to taunt Jason – the show’s hero and heartthrob – about all the fun they could have together if Jason wasn’t such a stickler for the law.

It’s supposed to be used for comedic purposes, but right now Derek Hale’s staring at it like it just insulted his dead family.

… or, well, maybe that’s too harsh, but Derek sure as hell doesn’t look happy to see it.

“How about we just forget this ever happened?” Stiles squeaks, stuffing the condom back into his pocket and shoving a wad of dollar bills at Derek.

“Right,” Derek says, his tone gruff and awkward. “Let’s forget about it.”

In his haste to hightail it out of there, Stiles almost forgets his coffee.

---

Stiles isn’t entirely sure how to play things in French class, two days later. He and Derek don’t actually talk much, but it’s a small class, and it’s not like they can avoid all contact without it being purposeful.

Which, alright, maybe Stiles is kinda sorta purposefully avoiding Derek.

He makes sure to stroll on into the classroom exactly on time, to avoid any non-class-related conversation, and he nonchalantly chooses the open seat on the opposite side of the room from Derek, even though he normally sits directly behind him.

(No, not because he likes to spend the more boring parts of class staring at Derek. That would be creepy.)

Still, he can’t help but notice the glances Derek keeps sneaking at him all throughout the period. Stiles would be flattered if he didn’t know that Derek was probably just thinking of him as an embarrassing carnival sideshow instead of a sexy actor.

He spends the entirety of class counting down the minutes instead of actually paying attention to the professor ramble on about past participles. (Which is probably going to come back to bite him in the ass later – he’s horrible at French. Fucking language requirement.) By the time the period finally ends, he practically jumps out of his seat in an attempt to get away from Derek Hale’s unsubtle looks. He had enough of being the class weirdo in high school, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, before he can make it more than a few feet down the hall, Derek yells, “Stiles!”

Stiles pretends not to hear him.

“Stiles,” Derek says again as he manages to shoulder his way in front of Stiles and block off his escape route. Stiles opens his mouth to snap at Derek, but the words dry up in his mouth as he gets a proper look at Derek’s face and the strangely concerned expression there.

“Derek,” Stiles finally replies.

“I know you told me to forget about it,” Derek says, his lips thinning into an unhappy line. “But I can’t.”

“Look, Derek – ” Stiles sighs.

“We’re hiring,” Derek interrupts. “At Starbucks. I can put in a good word for you, so you don’t have to continue doing… that.”

“What?” Stiles blurts out, giving Derek an incredulous look. “Hey, I actually like my job, thank you very much!”

Derek gives him a dubious look.

“I mean, I know it’s not exactly as glamorous as I thought it would be,” Stiles continues when Derek’s expression doesn’t show any signs of brightening, “and my dad’s not exactly thrilled, but he’s glad I’ve got some sort of work, at least – ”

“Your father knows?” Derek asks, his tone choked.

“Well, yeah,” Stiles answers, frowning. “And, I mean, it’s not actually that bad. My coworkers are cool, and, sure, the boss rides us hard, but it pays off.”

Yeah, the producer and head writer, Victoria Argent, can be kind of an asshole, but she gets results. She’s the main reason why the show is doing as well as it is. Then again, Stiles been reliably informed that there’s a group on tumblr who seem to only watch for his ass in tight pants. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Derek’s a member.

“Stiles,” Derek says, a pained look on his face. “I don’t know if this is because of your family situation, or – I just want to say that I know that sometimes you get yourself stuck in a bad situation, but you don’t have to do this.”

Which, wow, he can’t be comparing Stiles taking a job as a TV hooker to losing his entire family in a house fire, can he? Maybe he just has some sort of weird vendetta against the entire profession. Holy shit, did an actor kill his family or something?

“Look, man, it’s sweet that you’re concerned, I guess, but I’m fine,” Stiles sighs, brushing a hand through his messy hair. “I need to get to class now, alright?”

Derek doesn’t reply, but he doesn’t stop Stiles from leaving, either.

---

Another problem with being a hooker on a crime procedural is that most of his scenes have to be filmed after dark. Somehow he’s managed to avoid any early-morning classes this semester, but he still doesn’t appreciate finishing up so late. His sleep schedule is beyond fucked by now.

“You heading out now?” Danny Mahealani, who plays the protagonist, Jason, asks as Stiles shrugs on his sweatshirt.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, a little muffled as he tugs the sweatshirt over his head. “I have a ten am class tomorrow.”

“Ouch,” Danny says, wincing sympathetically. “That sucks, man. Be careful on your way home.”

Stiles rolls his eyes.

“It’s only eight blocks,” Stiles huffs, gathering his backpack.

“I don’t know, a pretty thing like you shouldn’t be out this late,” Danny teases, a smirk spreading across his lips. “You still have some eyeliner on and everything.”

“Shut up,” Stiles grumbles, his cheeks pinking. He scrubs at his eyes, trying to remove the residual eyeliner, but he suspects he just makes it worse, if Danny’s amused expression is anything to go by.

“Seriously, though, be safe,” Danny says, the smirk falling off his face.

“Yes, dad,” Stiles huffs. “I’ll see you on Wednesday.”

“See you,” Danny echoes.

The late night-early morning LA air is cool against his skin as Stiles steps out onto the street. Truth be told, he does get a little freaked out walking home at this time of night. It’s not like he’s a girl and has to worry about all the shit associated with that, but it’s still a little freaky sometimes.

Which is why, when a car pulls up beside him and the shotgun side window rolls down, Stiles prepares to bolt as fast as his scrawny legs can carry him.

However, before he can, he hears a familiar voice say, “Stiles?”

“Derek?” Stiles replies, pausing. He leans forward a bit and squints into the car to find that it is, in fact, Derek Hale being a creeper at stupid-o’clock in the night. Or morning. Whatever.

“What are you doing out this late?” Derek asks, his lips turning down in a frown.

“What are you?” Stiles retorts, quirking an eyebrow at Derek.

“Some nights I bartend at the Jungle,” Derek replies, studying Stiles carefully. “I just got off work.”

“Well, me too,” Stiles says, self-consciously rubbing at his eyeliner again. Derek probably gets flooded with invitations to go home with hot people out clubbing, while Stiles probably looks like some trashy knock-off. Which, granted, was sort of what the show was going for with his character, but still.

Stiles glances up again to find Derek looking like he’s just sucked on a lemon.

“Get in,” Derek order suddenly, startling Stiles.

“Sorry, what?” Stiles asks, staring.

“You shouldn’t be wandering around late at night,” Derek answers, unlocking his car doors with a click. “I’ll take you home.”

“I – we barely know each other,” Stiles protests, although that’s not really true. They may not exactly be friends, but generally they’re friendly. They’ve been in class together for more than half a semester, at least.

“We did that project on French prepositions together,” Derek says, after a moment.

Stiles is silent for a moment, studying Derek carefully.

“Alright, fine,” he sighs, opening the car door and sliding into the plush leather seats of Derek’s swanky Camaro. “I’m just five blocks down. It’s a straight shot.”

Derek nods and pulls away from the curb, and Stiles is half tempted to make an embarrassing noise as the car’s engine purrs. Idly, it occurs to him that he, a fake prostitute, just got picked up off the street by a man in an expensive sports car. Really living up to his role, isn’t he?

“You know, the offer still stands,” Derek says, finally breaking the silence as they pull up in front of Stiles’ apartment building. “The job offer. I could see about helping you get something at the Jungle, too, if you’d prefer that.”

Stiles frowns, his insides going a little cold.

“And just when I thought you were finally being nice to me,” Stiles huffs, swinging the car door open with perhaps a little more force than necessary. “I’m not gonna change my entire career just because you have some sort of issue with it.”

“Stiles – ” Derek starts, but Stiles slams the door on him and stalks away, silently fuming.

Who the fuck does Derek Hale think he is, anyway?

---

The next day in French class, Derek sets a cardboard Starbucks coffee cup down on Stiles’ desk. Stiles blinks at it sleepily for a moment, before frowning up at Derek.

“I’m sorry,” Derek says, although it sounds like he’s only barely managing to pull the words out of his throat. “About last night.”

Stiles eyes him for a moment, and then reaches forward to take a sip from the cup. It’s just how he likes it, although god knows how Derek knows how he takes his coffee. He’s only ever gone to Starbucks when Derek was on shift maybe three times before.

“Apology accepted,” Stiles finally replies, setting down the cup again.

“We should study for Friday’s test together after class,” Derek says, once again surprising Stiles. It’s not like he and Derek have never seen each other outside of class, but they’ve never actually made specific plans to do so. Stiles feels a flurry of butterflies flutter around in his stomach as he wonders about the implications of Derek’s newfound interest in him. Maybe the fishnets and tight jeans do more for him than he gives them credit for.

“Alright,” Stiles says with a small smile.

Class proceeds pretty much normally from there, which Stiles is grateful for. However, as he’s starting to pack up his things afterwards, his phone buzzes with a text.

“Huh,” he says after he reads it, frowning down at his phone screen.

When he looks up, he finds Derek giving him a quizzical look.

“I’m afraid I’m gonna have to call for a rain check on studying,” Stiles says, shoving his phone back into his pocket and slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “My boss wants to talk to me about something.”

Derek’s expression turns sour at that.

“I’ll see you later?” Stiles says, but it comes out more as a question. If Derek has such an issue with his job, he doesn’t see how they’re going to be able to hang out much more.

“Yeah,” Derek replies, though, the tension draining out of him so that he looks more resigned than angry. “I’ll see you later.”

---

The meeting with Victoria Argent actually isn’t nearly as bad as Stiles anticipated. It’s great, actually, because apparently Victoria wants to renegotiate his contract to make him part of the main cast. Apparently he’s something of a fan favorite, which, holy shit, him? A fan favorite? What alternate reality has he fallen into?

He has a certain spring in his step for the entirety of the next week. He tells his dad about it, of course, but the information still feels like it wants to burst out of him, and more than once during his study session with Derek he finds himself opening his mouth to share the good news before closing it again as he remembers Derek’s less than favorable stance on his acting career.

However, Stiles doesn’t understand quite how much Derek hates his profession until a few days later.

They’re filming late again, only a couple blocks away from the Jungle, actually.

“You lied to me,” Danny – or, rather, his character Jason – hisses, shoving Stiles up against the alley wall.

“Would I do that?” Stiles replies, his smile sharp.

“I thought you were trying to go straight,” Danny says through gritted teeth.

“Oh, babe, you should know by now that there’s nothing straight about me,” Stiles murmurs, rolling his hips as Danny squeezes his wrists tighter. His grip isn’t actually all that tight, but Danny and Stiles know how to work in tandem to make it look worse than it is, and Stiles is sure that the make-up team will paint angry-looking bruises on his wrists later.

Danny opens his mouth to recite his retort, but before he can say anything, he’s interrupted by a loud, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

Before Stiles can even really register what’s going on, Danny’s being shoved aside, and Stiles is suddenly face to face with a very pissed off Derek Hale.

“Dude, what the fuck – ” Danny starts, but Derek cuts him off with a glare, strategically placing himself between Danny and Stiles.

“You – get lost,” Derek demands, looming in a way which looks thoroughly intimidating. “And if I ever see you come near him again, I won’t be so nice.”

“Derek – ” Stiles starts, placing a hand on Derek’s shoulder to get his attention.

“Are you alright?” Derek demands, turning to face Stiles. “Here, let me see – ”

Stiles watches on in confusion as Derek gently brings up his wrists to inspect them, as if looking for actual bruising.

“Did he hurt you?” Derek asks, his expression stony. “Do you need me to take you to – ”

“Dude,” Stiles interrupts, finally finding the wherewithal to pull away from Derek. “What the fuck?”

“I saw him attack you and I thought – I was trying to help,” Derek says, his expression all endearingly sincere. “Unless it was – it wasn’t a sex thing was it?”

“A sex thing,” Stiles repeats, more than a little lost.

“You don’t let people – because even if I can’t get you to stop, you should at least be safe,” Derek continues, his hands clenching into fists by his sides. “If you really need money, I can help you. Letting men hurt you like that – ”

Someone clears their throat very pointedly behind Derek.

“Sir, I’m sorry to interrupt your – ” Victoria Argent looks between them, her gaze cool and unreadable. “ – conversation, but we need to finish filming today in order to keep to our scheduling.”

Derek looks more than a little confused and disoriented.

“Filming?” Derek repeats, clearly lost.

“Uh, do you think you could maybe give us one quick moment?” Stiles says, trying out his best puppy dog eyes on Victoria Argent. They don’t seem to have much impact, but she sighs and waves them off.

“Dude, what the fuck,” Stiles hisses, once he’s finally dragged Derek off to the side.

“You’re an actor,” Derek says, sounding a little numb.

“Uh, yeah,” Stiles replies, his brow furrowing as he frowns at Derek. “What did you think I was?”

Derek looks strangely guilty.

“Holy shit,” Stiles blurts out as realization dawns on him. “Holy shit, you thought I was an actual hooker!

“It wasn’t – it seemed logical at the time,” Derek protests, but Stiles honest to god sees his ears turning pink.

Holy shit, Derek Hale thought he was an actual hooker.

“So when you were trying to get me a job – ” Stiles starts, flailing a little. “And when you drove me home – ?”

“I was…” Derek pauses. “Concerned.”

“Oh,” Stiles says, deflating a little. “So you weren’t – you know.”

“Weren’t what?” Derek asks, his brow furrowing.

“Interested in me,” Stiles mumbles, frowning down at his scuffed boots.

“I am,” Derek says, a little too quickly, making Stiles look up. “I am interested in you. I just didn’t think it would work.”

“You didn’t think it would work because you thought I was a hooker,” Stiles fills in, his tone a little incredulous.

“I don’t share,” Derek replies, his eyes darkening in a way which sends a shiver down Stiles’ spine.

“Oh,” Stiles says, his voice dangerously breathy.

“I really was trying to help, though,” Derek adds, his expression softening slightly.

“Alright, uh, well,” Stiles stammers, swallowing thickly. “Well, I’m decidedly not a hooker. Not an actual one, anyway. I’m also free tomorrow after French class, if you wanted to grab coffee. Unless you’re totally sick and tired of coffee because you work at a coffee shop and – ”

“Coffee sounds good,” Derek interrupts.

“Good, great, that’s – that’s awesome,” Stiles says with a shy smile. “I’ll see you – ”

“Stiles!” he hears Danny call, interrupting him. “We need to keep filming! Make up with your boyfriend later.”

“I’m coming,” Stiles hollers, a little disgruntled.

He starts to turn to head back towards the others, but then turns back for a moment and darts in to plant a quick kiss on Derek’s lips.

“The next one costs you five bucks,” Stiles whispers with a wide grin. Derek looks vaguely like he was just smacked in the face with a two-by-four and Stiles can’t help but laugh as he jogs back over to Danny.

---

Stiles makes Derek watch The Beat a week later, and is pleased to discover that he is in fact a member of the only-watches-for-Stiles-Stilinski’s-ass-in-tight-pants club.