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Alpha of the Runway

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“You’re a model,” Scott started as he fiddled with the lens of his camera. “You’re not supposed to like your own shoots.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “It’s not that I don’t like the shoots. I don’t like who you have me shooting with.”

“Hey, I’m just the photographer,” Scott innocently answered. “Lydia’s the one who books your shoots.”

“I know,” Stiles whined. “And if she wasn’t terrifying, I wouldn’t be here complaining to you,” he explained as he deflated against the couch in the middle of the set.

“Look, give Derek a shot,” Scott stated as he stood up, securing the camera strap around his neck. “He’s not that bad of a guy once you get to know him.”

“That’s rich, coming from the man who said he couldn’t stand how he directed your shoot,” Stiles scoffed as he let his head rest against the back of the couch. “He’s a prima donna. He thinks he’s so perfect because his family owns the magazine.”

“The fact that he’s won several fashion awards and Model of the Year a few times in a row has nothing to do with it?” Scott asked with a knowing smile.

“He’s getting old,” Stiles grumbled.

“And you don’t find him attractive in the slightest?” Scott questioned as he looked at Stiles. He knew the truth, knowing that Stiles actually revered Derek when they were younger—constantly idolizing him.

Stiles practically fell into the life of being a model when Scott initially landed his internship at Hale & Wolfe instead of Agent & Company. Scott used Stiles in his portfolio, sparking Hale & Wolfe’s interest in him, which lead to him being interviewed and landed some of the higher end jobs. Lydia took her place as Stiles’ agent, scoring him better contracts than half of the models his senior. She was the one who pushed for Stiles to sign the initial contract that landed him in his current predicament—a contract that put Stiles in an experimental one time photo shoot with Derek Hale, the premiere model for all beginning models to shoot with. Hale jumpstarted almost every other model’s career who shot with him, which made Lydia twist Stiles’ arm until he said yes.

Stiles was still bitter about it, not wanting to be caught in close proximity to the man he had been hardcore crushing on for the past few years. He had run into Derek on one other occasion, having stumbled by him in the hallway. He tried to act natural, before ultimately slinking away when Derek merely arched his judgmental eyebrows at him.

“Derek Hale is overrated as a model,” Stiles stated as he looked up at Scott. His entire stomach twisted, his face paling slightly as his eyes widened.

“Dude, you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Scott commented with a small laugh.

“I’m glad to hear I’m overrated,” Derek dryly stated from behind Scott, causing him to jump and flail as his camera sloshed around his neck on the strap.

“Shit, Derek,” Scott muttered as he looked at him. “Are you, uh, ready?” He awkwardly questioned as he rubbed the back of his neck. He looked back and forth between Derek and Stiles.

“Yeah, let’s get this over with,” Derek finally snapped as he uncrossed his arms, moving past Scott to sit on the other end of the couch, away from Stiles.

“Okay,” Scott dragged out as he looked down at his camera.

Stiles stood, pulling on the jeans the wardrobe department squeezed him into. He turned from side to side as he tried stretching out the material.

“Stilinski, don’t even think about stretching those out,” Jackson snapped from behind Scott as he busied himself with other articles of clothes.

“Maybe you could have given me a pair that actually fits,” Stiles snapped back. He tried to keep his attention from drifting to Derek, seeing him out of the corner of his eye as Erica did a last minute fix on his make-up and hair.

Erica smirked as she fluffed Derek’s hair with one hand, her other running her makeup brush along the contours of his facial features. Her eyebrows waggled, as if they were suggesting something she had previously discussed with Derek. She pursed her lips, comically batting her eyelashes at him when he scowled at her.

“Knock it off,” Derek snapped under his breath.

“You need to get laid,” Erica stated with a sigh.

Derek glared at Erica, and Stiles was certain most people would be cowering on the receiving end of a glare like that.

Stiles stifled a laugh when Erica merely bopped her brush on the tip of Derek’s nose before moving out of the camera’s light. He turned to look at Scott with hope that he’d actually manage to direct both of them.

The shoot went on for what felt like hours, Scott being completely unable to get Stiles and Derek to agree on anything. Whenever Scott tried to get Stiles situated, he always complained about being the passive body. Derek merely rolled his eyes in response as he sat back and ignored Scott and Stiles arguing.

“You’re being a little brat,” Scott finally huffed as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I’m always the passive body, Scotty,” Stiles stated as his legs knocked against the couch, standing next to Derek.

“It’s one shoot, Stiles,” Scott complained. “Just straddle Derek’s hips, put on a fake smile, pretending to enjoy yourself, and then I’ll snap the photo.”

Derek finally released an aggravated huff of annoyance when he grabbed Stiles’ wrist, yanking him over to him. Stiles stumbled from the suddenness of Derek’s actions, his entire body collapsing against Derek’s as he landed as a mass of limbs in Derek’s lap. He would have growled, maybe even yelled at Derek, if he didn’t hear the furious clicking of Scott’s camera.

“Stop being overrated,” Derek lowly stated, resting his arms back against the couch as his eyes actually smirked at Stiles’ shock.

It took Stiles a moment before he reacted. He clucked his tongue slightly as he settled his legs around Derek’s hips. He stretched his arms out by Derek’s head, his hands resting on the back of the couch. He arched his back, pressing his chest against Derek’s as he leaned in to speak against the shell of Derek’s ear. He pressed his hand down Derek’s chest, his fingers dancing along the buttons of his shirt.

Stiles wanted to groan at how ridiculously cliché the entire shoot was. Derek was dressed as some sort of business man, Stiles being forced into being some lovesick, down to earth boy tripping all over him. He was thankful that Derek at least had his shirt on, not wanting to be compared to the tanned marble glory that was Derek’s bare chest.

“I’m not the one getting old,” Stiles whispered into Derek’s ear. He pulled back far enough to look Derek in the eyes, his nose gently brushing against the stubble gracing Derek’s cheeks.

“I think I got it,” Scott announced as he looked at his camera.

Derek easily moved to stand, unceremoniously dumping Stiles off of his lap and onto the couch. Without another word, he made his way out of the room, causing several assistants to practically dive out of his way.

Scott looked at the door Derek shoved open before disappearing through, his gaze quickly making it back to Stiles. “Dude, what the hell did you say?” He asked as he practically cradled his camera in his arms as if it was a precious puppy.

“I merely stated that he was getting old,” Stiles answered as he stood.

“You do realize he could get you fired,” Scott answered. “Fired, as in, never working in the industry again. He has the power to have you blacklisted.”

Stiles wrinkled his nose, refusing to admit that he didn’t know that. He firmly stood that it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t know that, merely that he was at fault now if Derek saw it fit to have him banned from anything.

Scott sighed. “I’ll ask Kira to talk with him,” he stated as he moved to sign off on something. “You do know Lydia is going to have you by the balls for this, right?”

Stiles rolled his eyes as he started to head out to his room, prepared to change out of the ridiculous jeans Jackson squeezed him into. “I don’t fear her anymore, Scott.”

That was a horrendously enormous lie.

Stiles was shrinking in his chair as Lydia angrily clacked the heel of her Jimmy Choo against the gorgeous tile of her office.

“Look, I didn’t know he was going to get pissed,” Stiles started, silencing himself the second Lydia held up her hand.

“I get it, Stiles,” Lydia answered. “You’re pissed that I forced you to do this. But do you have any idea what happened to Kira’s career after doing a shoot with Derek? Danny’s? Any of the other countless previous nobody’s who are now impossible to book?”

Stiles groaned, slouching in his chair.

“Doesn’t matter,” Lydia replied. “I have the fax that Hale sent over,” she stated as she waved a packet up to place it on display.

“Derek faxed you?” Stiles incredulously asked.

“Cora, his sister and agent, faxed me,” Lydia answered as she flipped through the packet.

“I thought his sister was an actress,” Stiles replied.

“His older sister, Laura, is an actress,” Lydia stated.

“Whatever. Just … it isn’t a restraining order, is it?” Stiles sighed in question.

“A restraining order would be hard to deal with, considering this is a proposal for you and Derek to do four seasons of cologne ads together,” Lydia dryly replied.

“What.” Stiles’ voice was soft, completely taken off guard. “Wait, what the hell does that mean?” He finally questioned as he started to get the wheels in his brain turning again.

“It means,” Lydia started, not looking at Stiles as she signed the lines that required her signature. “That I don’t care how much you hate him. That last photo shoot produced pure gold.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Stiles asked as he sat up, peering over Lydia’s desk to see the contract.

“You haven’t seen the photo?” Lydia asked as she looked up.

“I didn’t know it was out yet,” Stiles answered, catching the magazine Lydia tossed at him. He noticed it was the recent issue of Alpha, realizing that Lydia was letting him see the photo in the safety of her office opposed to having to suffer in discovering it in public. He flipped through it until he came to the centerfold, knowing that it was where their photo was meant to be.

And Stiles was going to kill Scott.

Derek was reclined on the couch, his head almost arched back as he looked up at Stiles. His arms weren’t resting on the back of the couch like Stiles had remembered, because when did Derek’s hands clasp Stiles’ hips? One of Stiles’ hands was digging into the material of Derek’s shirt, pulling against the buttons as the other had slipped from the couch to settle in the hair at the base of Derek’s neck. From the angle of the photo, it looked like Stiles was about to kiss Derek, which was a horrible lie—except for in Stiles’ dreams, which he would never admit out loud because fuck Scott for inevitably teasing him. They both looked completely captivated by each other, staring into each other’s eyes as if they weren’t on a photo shoot.

“This is—”

“—wonderful,” Lydia cut him off. “All you have to do is recreate that magic for four more seasons, and you’ll be winning all the awards.”

“I think you mean Derek will win all the awards,” Stiles huffed as he tossed the magazine onto the desk. “I’m a lowly human model to his insanely attractive Alpha model body.”

“Are you being speciesist?” Lydia questioned.

“No,” Stiles snapped. “You know I’m not. But you also know that werewolves tend to sell better because they have their natural attraction. I don’t want to be compared to that for the rest of my life.”

Lydia arched her eyebrow, pursing her lips as she debating with telling Stiles the truth. “You haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?” Stiles asked as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Derek’s retiring,” Lydia replied. “The rumors were going around before your photo shoot with him. Hale & Wolfe announced it yesterday.”

Stiles stared at Lydia, his heart sinking in his chest. “Fuck,” he cursed as he ran a hand through his hair.

“What did you do?” Lydia asked with a knowing sigh.

“I was an asshole,” Stiles replied.

“Nothing new,” Lydia replied as she set the contract on the desk in front of Stiles. “You sign this? You get Derek’s last photo shoots—something other models would kill for, by the way.”

Stiles hesitated before taking the pen from Lydia’s outstretched hand. The pen felt heavier than he thought as he quickly scratched his signature across the paper, ultimately hitching his fate to the shooting star that was Derek’s fame.

~*~

Stiles paced in front of the shower stall, his heart hammering as he fully regretted signing the contract. He forgot to ask Lydia what the contract said about nudity. He by far wasn’t a prude, but he had a deep-seated fear of his body being compared to others. Which was ridiculous, given his chosen profession. He especially didn’t want to be plastered against Derek’s body—a body professionals and public alike waxed poetry about.

“You’re early,” Scott announced as he fiddled with his camera.

“Yeah,” Stiles answered, quickly marching up to Scott and snatching the schedule from his back pocket. His eyes flickered across the paper as he worried his bottom lip. “This doesn’t say if there’s nudity in it,” he finally blurted out as he turned the paper over.

Scott’s eyebrows raised, his eyes scanning Stiles as he took in his friend’s worried state. “It’s for the body wash,” he finally stated. “At least your torso has to be naked if you’re going to be lathered in it.”

Stiles turned to look at Scott. “I’m going to be lathered in it? Why not Derek?” He wasn’t proud of the way his voice cracked.

“That’s the visual I got to work with,” Scott offered as a shrug. “Dude, you’ve never had a problem with nudity before. I have a whole roll of negatives in my apartment from my college portfolio that actually has shots of your junk.”

“I’ve never been put in a shower and lathered up,” Stiles challenged.

“You’re suddenly shy?” Scott incredulously asked. “You’ve never been shy. You practically flaunt your sexuality whenever we go out. You even made that fake petition in college about having casually nude Sundays.”

“I was drunk when I made that up,” Stiles defended himself.

“Wait a minute, is this about Derek?” Scott asked, understanding dawning on his face when Stiles turned away from him. “Holy shit, it is. You don’t want to be naked around Derek.”

“I’m 147 pounds of pale skin and fragile bones,” Stiles replied. “Put me up against all 200 pounds of tanned perfection that is Derek Hale, and I’m going to look like a gangly mutant.”

“Stiles, you were 147 pounds in high school, and you’ve put on some muscle since then,” Scott answered as he leaned against the wall of the shower.

“Yeah,” Stiles sighed, handing the schedule back to Scott.

“You ready?” Erica asked as she holstered her brush, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Where’s Derek?” Scott asked.

“He’s being all judgmental in the makeup room,” Erica answered as she nodded her head towards the closed door. She moved towards Stiles, taking it upon herself to unbutton his shirt.

“Hey—”

“Would you prefer Jackson undoing your clothes?” Erica questioned as she put her hands on her hips.

Stiles grumbled when he saw Jackson give a look of disgust, yanking the material from his body as he dropped the shirt in Erica’s hands. He hesitated when his hands touched his pants. He looked up at Scott who gave him an affirming nod. He sighed as he pushed his pants down, stepping out of them to hand to Erica.

“Well, at least you’re wearing underwear,” Erica stated with a smile as she folded his clothes.

Stiles released a small huff of laughter, nodding in response. He moved to stand in the shower, reaching a hand out to touch the cold tile. He gently drummed his fingertips against the tile as he waited for Derek. “It’s freezing in here, Scott,” he commented as he looked up at his friend. He pretended to not notice Derek finally exiting the makeup room.

“Hey, Derek,” Scott greeted him, ignoring Stiles’ complaint about temperature. “I had a few ideas for this shoot, and I hope you don’t mind,” he started.

Stiles missed the rest of what Scott was saying, screeching loudly when Erica unexpectedly turned the showerhead on. “That’s cold!” He nearly yelled as he looked at her.

Erica laughed through her smile as she turned the knob all the way up, the water instantly heating up.

“Thanks,” Stiles quickly said, turning the knob back down in order to avoid his skin blotching. It remained stable at a lukewarm temperature as he ducked his head under the spray. He closed his eyes as he ran his hands up through his hair, wetting the locks as he pushed them back. He wasn’t sure what it was, but the water made him calmer, soothing away his nervousness.

“Really?” Scott said in an excited tone, catching Stiles’ attention. “Okay, perfect.” He turned to look at Stiles, giving him a confident nod.

Stiles turned his body around to face Scott and Derek, his eyes darting around the room to catch sight of the other people scurrying about the set. His eyes immediately honed in on Derek shrugging out of his suit jacket, unbuttoning the top few buttons as he toed out of his shoes.

This is happening. I’m going to be up against Derek Hale in nothing but boxers. In a shower. With his hands rubbing cologne scented body wash into my skin. I’m screwed. Stiles took a deep breath, looking over to Scott.

“Okay, just start out where you’re comfortable,” Scott started, his camera moving to cover his face. “Stiles, push closer to the water, angle it so it falls down your left shoulder.”

Stiles moved to face towards the showerhead, aware that Derek was nowhere near him. He took the glass vial from Erica, rolling his eyes at just how pretentious the cologne company was. His fingers fumbled with the top, clumsily dropping it.

“Keep going, ignore it,” Scott stated as he took a few shots.

Stiles turned his head to glare at Scott.

“Don’t look at me,” Scott added.

Stiles wanted to punch Scott as he turned back to the shower. Part of him felt like he was in a very badly plotted porno—the kept boyfriend of some business mogul. But if he had to have a businessman sugar daddy, at least Derek was gorgeous. He was surprised he didn’t tense when Derek placed his hand over his. He turned his hand to offer the vial to Derek, barely tilting his head enough that he actually caught a glimpse of Derek still in his trousers and shirt.

Derek didn’t seem to care that he was getting the designer clothes wet—much to Jackson vocal dismay. He took the vial from Stiles, his eyes carefully watching him as Stiles placed his hand against the tile, pressing his weight into it. He yanked his hands back when Stiles made an unclear vocal noise, his back jumping at Derek’s touch.

“It’s cold,” Stiles stated. “I’m always cold,” he added, uncertain if Derek really understood the hardships of not being a self-sufficient furnace.

“I’ll give it a few seconds,” Derek answered, cupping his hands together.

Stiles ran his head through the water once more, hoping it would help counter his blush, or at least give him an excuse for it. He couldn’t help thinking it was sweet that Derek—an Alpha werewolf—was warming something because Stiles thought it was cold. Maybe he’s not an asshole, he thought as he became intently aware of the clicking of Scott’s camera.

Stiles rotated his body, allowing Derek to run his hands along his back. He was thankful Scott was directing Derek, giving him room to improvise when needed. He tried to not focus on the way Derek’s hands glided across his skin, the body wash easing the way. He left his hand against the tile as he supported his body, his other hand reached behind him to clasp hold of Derek’s hair at Scott’s insistence that they show a bit more intimacy. He released a sigh of relief when Scott announced that he got all the pictures he needed.

Stiles turned around in the shower, allowing the water to rinse the body wash off of him. He tried not to stare at Derek’s shirt—his eyes were focused on just how see through one of Jackson’s precious designer shirts was when soaked down. He wasn’t sure if he appreciated Derek keeping his clothes on, positive that a drenched clothing look worked extremely well for Derek. He was grateful for the towel one of the assistants handed him, drying himself off as he kept his back to Derek. He waited until Derek disappeared, towel wrapped securely around his torso before talking with Scott.

“Did you tell him to keep his clothes on?” Stiles almost whispered.

“No,” Scott stated. “He suggested it. I was asking him about maybe switching roles, but then he suggested that we just shoot it but keeping his clothes on. Which, isn’t really done on most shoots involving water, but I’m telling you, I got some awesome shots.”

“It’s not done on shoots because designer clothes shouldn’t be treated that way,” Jackson yelled from across the room, still annoyed with what transpired.

Scott rolled his eyes. “Go complain to Danny about it,” he snapped.

“Do you think,” Stiles started, pausing as his eyes moved towards the door to the makeup room where Derek disappeared to. “Do you think he heard me talking to you?”

Scott’s eyes widened, his jaw slightly dropping. “That’s totally possible. I can hear you when you are walking up the stairs to my apartment. It’s totally possible that he …” he paused, turning his head as if he was honing in on something. “Yeah, he heard us.”

Stiles arched his eyebrow at Scott.

“He just said he heard us,” Scott motioned a hand back towards the door.

Stiles groaned as he moved to grab his clothes. He waited until he was dressed before he knocked on the makeup room door.

“Hello, sunshine,” Erica greeted him as she opened the door. She made a move to walk by him, leaving Stiles to speak with Derek alone.

“So … you heard me talking to Scott,” Stiles commented as he leaned against the doorframe. He wasn’t surprised when Derek didn’t look up, offering no excuse. “You didn’t have to change the shoot.”

“These are my last shoots, Stiles,” Derek finally stated as he looked up at him. “I don’t care how much my uncle wants to keep the ‘Dominant Alpha’ image circulating. Alpha is read by just as many humans as werewolves.” He shook his head before bending his knee up to his chest, resting his foot on the edge of his seat as he tied the laces. “If you’re not comfortable with something, we shouldn’t be shooting it.”

Stiles thoughtfully nodded. “Regardless … thanks.”

Derek looked up at Stiles, pausing his actions. He gave him an affirming nod. “We unfortunately have to get used to one another for the next year,” he added.

“My charm hasn’t won you over yet?” Stiles asked. “Because your warm welcome has me swooning at the knees.”

Derek shook his head as a small smile graced his lips. “Haven’t you heard? I’m a spoiled brat of a prima donna.”

“I said overrated,” Stiles corrected him.

“You did,” Derek agreed. “Argent & Co. paints another light entirely.”

Stiles furrowed his eyebrows. “You did modeling there for like, one season. And it was one of your earliest bookings.”

Derek looked up at Stiles in surprise. “You know my modeling history?”

Stiles looked at Derek, releasing a giant sigh. “Okay, you caught me, you’re kind of the modeling guru. Everyone worships the ground you walk,” he paused before quietly adding, “even me.” He waited for Derek to laugh at him, maybe even growl how stupid he was. He was surprised when Derek looked down at the ground, as if he was processing it all. “Any model would kill to be you—more importantly, I have a number of models that I think are trying to kill me in hopes they get my spot. You’re modeling perfection.”

“Tanned perfection?” Derek looked up with a knowing smile pulling at his lips.

“Okay, stop fishing for compliments,” Stiles snapped in response, hoping it covered the blush creeping up his cheeks.

Derek stood up, the small smile still settled over his lips. He was about to say something when Erica leaned into the room.

“Alpha of mine,” Erica sang. “Are you joining us for drinks?” She put her arm around Stiles, pulling him close. “You too, Stilinski.”

“I don’t think—” Stiles started, unsure if Derek would be comfortable seeing him outside of work.

“Scott’s going,” Erica added. “Plus, you haven’t seen Derek’s fun side. You need to see it if you’re going to survive four seasons worth,” she stated, laughing when Derek scowled at her.

“Leave him alone,” Derek finally stated as he grabbed his jacket.

“Well, that means you’ll have to come with us to make sure I don’t harass him,” Erica stated with a wink before exiting.

“You don’t have to come,” Derek finally stated.

Stiles shrugged. “Could be fun,” he answered. “Plus, Scott becomes a mess when drinking wolfsbane tequila.”

“He’s one of those drunks, huh?” Derek replied as he moved to follow Stiles out after the others.

Derek ended up helping Stiles carry Scott up to his apartment.

Stiles laughed when Scott practically flattened him against the stairwell, snuggling into him. He pretended to not be impressed when Derek pulled Scott up, easily putting him into a fireman’s carry.

Derek gestured for Stiles to lead the way.

“You could be a firefighter,” Stiles stated as he tried all the keys on Scott’s key ring.

“I didn’t make it in modeling, so I should run into buildings that are on fire?” Derek questioned, jostling Scott’s weight to get a better grip on him.

“It’s not that you didn’t make it. Just imagine how well your calendar would do,” Stiles answered as he finally got the door to open. He held it open for Derek to walk in, both of them ignoring the incoherent noises Scott made.

Derek easily deposited Scott into his bed, looking at Stiles for a confirmation that it was adequate to leave him there. He moved out of the way when Stiles walked forward, tucking the blanket up around Scott.

“He’s like our baby,” Stiles joked as he walked out of the bedroom with Derek.

“I’d hope our baby wouldn’t be a drunk,” Derek replied.

“Dude, our kid would be gorgeous!” Stiles announced.

“Don’t call me dude,” Derek replied. “Also, anatomically, we can’t have a kid.”

“But can you imagine the possibilities?” Stiles spoke as he started to lay down on the couch, his sleepiness overpowering him in his drunken state.

“Good night, Stiles,” Derek stated as he made a move to unfold a blanket over him.

“Good night, sexy,” Stiles groggily said, a satisfied smile covering his features as his hand reached out to practically pet Derek’s shoulder. “You be careful of strangers out there.”

“They’ll want to steal my virtue?” Derek jokingly asked.

“You are too pretty to go out alone,” Stiles replied. “You need someone to look out for you and your pretty face.”

“Not a whole lot of people out there want to look after me,” Derek answered as he tried to get out of Stiles’ grip, leaving him to sleep.

“I do,” Stiles yawned into his pillow. “I’ll protect you.”

Stiles and Derek actually became friends after that night, their attitudes towards each other significantly improving as they started to spend more time with each other outside of their shoots. Derek actually laughed at some of Stiles’ jokes, and Stiles even learned more about Derek—his interests, hobbies, even speaking about his sisters here and there. Derek rarely spoke about his past unless Stiles asked, which was mostly about his experience on different shoots, never prying for detail. Part of Stiles was saddened whenever he thought about it coming to an end—almost feeling guilty for just starting his career path as Derek ended his.

Even after all their sharing, Stiles still didn’t know a great deal about Derek’s past. It all, inevitably, came to a tipping point.

On their next shoot, Stiles discovered that Derek didn’t like his abdomen being touched. It was mostly touch and go for their photo shoots, but this one caught both Stiles and Derek off guard when it happened.

They were on the beach, both in ridiculously tight jeans—something Stiles was going to yell at Jackson about. Although, Stiles was kind of grateful for how low Derek’s jeans were as they clung to his hips, accenting his Adonis belt perfectly.

It happened when Scott told Stiles to mount Derek’s legs (“Seriously, Scotty? Mount? Could you be any more creepy?” “Just shut up and straddle Derek’s legs.”). Stiles crawled up Derek’s legs, his hands pushing through the sand by Derek’s hips as he lowered himself. He thought he saw something flare in Derek’s eyes, but when he asked to continue, Derek gave him the okay.

Stiles was annoyed with Scott’s directions as they became increasingly vague. He should have asked Derek, but he let it slip from his mind as he recalled their earlier conversation: Derek stated that he was fine with whatever Stiles threw his way. Stiles realized that it was a guarded lie when Derek barrel rolled out from under him, harshly tossing Stiles to the side as he almost stormed off towards the trailer.

Stiles stared after him, blinking several times as he replayed what happened. He looked to Scott for a hint about what happened only to receive a bewildered look.

“Um, everyone take five,” Scott finally stated, dismissing the rest of the crew. He moved to stand by Stiles, offering him a hand to stand. “Dude, you made him wolf out,” he stated as he helped Stiles brush some of the sand off.

“I have no idea what happened,” Stiles stated. “I didn’t knee him in the crotch, did I?” The more he tried to focus on the events that just happened, the more he couldn’t recall them clearly—Stiles couldn’t recall things clearly whenever he was in Derek’s presence.

“No,” Scott stated. “You did kiss his abs, though,” he added.

“Lips grazed his abs, Scott,” Stiles stated.

“You kissed them, Stiles,” Scott plainly stated.

“Fine, I kissed them,” Stiles sighed in defeat. “They’re gorgeous abs, sue me.”

Scott released a small snort under his breath. “Dude, I can smell your attraction to him. But whatever it was, it made him wolf out, and not in a good way. He went into defensive mode,” he explained. “It was like you attacked him.”

Stiles groaned. “I’ll go talk to him,” he finally stated as he trudged off to the trailer. He paused outside, taking a deep breath before finally heading in. He paused when he saw Erica standing next to Derek, rubbing small circles in his back.

Derek was hunched over the makeup counter, deep breaths causing his chest to expand and deflate faster than was normal. Whatever Erica was mumbling was too quiet for a human to hear, but it seemed to calm Derek down. She turned her head to see Stiles, her eyebrows knitting together in a disapproving look, making Stiles want to deflate.

“I’m fine,” Derek finally stated to Erica, gently taking her hand to pull away from him.

Erica waited before she finally nodded. She gave Derek’s hand a tight squeeze before turning to exit. She passed by Stiles, giving him a look that could appear as polite, but spoke levels of intimidation.

“I’m glad Erica was here,” Stiles started.

“It’s nice to have one of my Betas around,” Derek stated.

“So, Erica’s not your girlfriend?” Stiles asked, glad that they were at least small talking.

“No,” Derek stated in a firm tone. “Betas can’t help but be … intimate when their Alpha is agitated.”

“Oh,” Stiles weakly uttered. He lingered by the door, uncertain what to do with himself. “I’m sorry,” he finally confessed as he took a small step forward, hesitating when he realized he didn’t know just how close he could get without spooking Derek.

“It’s not your fault,” Derek replied, turning to lean his body against the counter. “I should have told you I have a hair-trigger when it comes to my abs.”

“I still should have thought about it,” Stiles replied. “You’ve always been fine when I … touch your torso, and I just jumped to assumptions.”

“I had a girlfriend that … she’s the reason for it,” Derek explained, his grip on the counter tightened to the point that the metal groaned in response, and Stiles was certain Derek’s handprints were going to be permanently bent into the counter. “It sounds ridiculous, coming from someone whose profession is to be objectified at every turn, but I don’t like to be objectified in a relationship. Kate …” He bit his lip, as if saying her name was somehow hurting him. “She saw me as nothing but a piece of meat, something suited more towards being looked and touched, but never heard. She liked having an Alpha that submitted to her.”

“Bitch,” Stiles muttered under his breath. He knew Derek heard him when he looked up. “There’s nothing wrong with submitting,” he stated, feeling the need to correct any misconceptions Derek may have had about his vocal display of distaste for Kate’s actions. “When it’s consensual—when the person wants to submit to the other because they trust them. That’s different than having a sadistic kink and twisting your significant other into doing it.”

Derek remained silent as he watched Stiles.

“Why don’t we switch roles on this shoot?” Stiles finally asked. “I’ll just talk to Scott—the shoot didn’t come with specifics so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“What happened to not wanting to be passive?” Derek asked, finally answering Stiles.

“I’m okay being passive with you,” Stiles admitted. He watched the way Derek’s features softened. “You’re not an asshole about it, thinking you’re better than me because I’m some lowly human,” he explained as he ran a hand across the back of his neck. “I thought you were going to be one of those assholes when I first met you, but then you took my insecurities and ran with a way to avoid them. This is me, running with your insecurities.”

Derek hesitated, his eyes carefully scanning Stiles before he finally nodded. “Okay.”

And that was how Scott got the photo that had Lydia’s phone being called nonstop with offers to book Stiles. The ad was placed on the biggest billboard Hale & Wolfe had, overlooking Times Square. Stiles almost tripped when he saw it.

The ad was glossy, the color vibrant and real as it showed just Stiles, Derek, and the sand around them. Stiles was on his back, arching off the sand as Derek’s hands clasped just above his hips. He remembered Derek helping him to elevate his hips appropriately, creating the illusion of an inhuman arch in Stiles’ spine with the angle. He was looking up at the camera, his eyes heavy lidded, his lips barely parted. His hands were buried in Derek’s hair, holding his head against his stomach. He nearly held his breath when he saw the slightest hint of Derek’s fangs, his lips parted as they appeared to motion towards placing the faintest of kisses against Stiles’ navel.

Stiles loudly swore when he saw next month’s cover of Alpha. ‘All Hale Stilinski?’ was printed across the top of the ad they were now using as the cover. It was accompanied by an article detailing Stiles’ rise from a nobody model to sharing shoots with Derek. It wrote about Derek retiring from modeling due to his age—which made Stiles mad because Derek hadn’t even turned thirty yet. It also talked about Stiles being able to “subdue the Alpha model in a delightful game of cat and mouse during the shoots.” The article even brought up the times they went out for drinks or caught up over a meal, always twisting it into a question of what they were doing. (Stiles won’t lie, he would like to know what they were doing, too, but that was his and Derek’s business, not some magazine’s).

Stiles was nervous when he called Derek to apologize, feeling as if the article was going to trigger him.

“I just wanted to apologize,” Stiles stated after the awkward few interactions. “Because after what you told me—I just wanted to make sure you’re okay with it. And know that I don’t feel that way.”

“I’m glad you don’t feel like you’re enslaving me,” Derek answered in a lighthearted tone.

“Funny,” Stiles answered. “It’s just … Scott told me you wolfed out before you left the set,” he started, not wanting to admit that he kissed any part of Derek without his permission. “And I didn’t know if being in that position during the shoot still brought up bad memories.”

There was a pregnant pause before Derek spoke.

“What made you think that?” Derek asked.

“You’re a bit wolfed out in the photo,” Stiles commenting, his eyes catching the magazine sitting in the middle of his bed. “It’s just your fangs and eyes, but I still wanted to make sure.”

Derek was quiet for a few moments before he finally answered. “You had your hands in my hair,” he finally admitted.

“Jesus, Derek,” Stiles harshly sighed. “I told you to tell me if there was anything else! I can’t believe you didn’t stop me.”

“Stiles,” Derek firmly stated, halting Stiles’ rant. “There are other reasons for werewolves to wolf out.” He paused, part of him hoping Stiles would fill in the blanks.

“Other reasons—” Stiles cut himself off, understanding causing his face to enflame in a deep blush. “That’s one of your turn ons and you let me do it? That’s still like sexual harassment, Derek.”

“It didn’t bother me,” Derek finally stated. “I’m sorry if it bothers you. I thought you knew when you didn’t bring it up.”

Stiles worried his bottom lip, partially turning around in circles. “It doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you,” he finally admitted.

There was another silence before Derek answered, “Okay.”

“Okay,” Stiles echoed him. “Um, about the article,” he started, hoping to smoothly change subjects. “Are you okay with it? Because we could make a statement, or something.”

“My uncle did it on purpose,” Derek explained. “Once I retire, he won’t have anyone to fill my shoes as an Alpha model. And even if he … dislikes humans, he knows potential when he sees it.”

“And let me guess, I’m potential,” Stiles stated as he paced in front of his bed.

“You’re the first human to increase a magazine’s month based on one ad alone,” Derek replied.

“You were in that ad too,” Stiles argued.

“Most werewolves don’t buy Alpha because they want to ogle the werewolf models,” Derek answered.

Stiles stopped his pacing. “Are you telling me that werewolves, globally, purchased Alpha to ogle me?”

Derek snorted on the other end. “Now who is fishing for compliments?”

“I just … wow,” Stiles stated. “I’ve had drunk Alphas grab my ass before, but not actually actively take pleasure in staring at me.” He wasn’t certain, but he thought he heard a faint growl come through the phone.

“Unfortunately, our ads are more about objectifying both of us instead of selling the cologne,” Derek finally replied.

“You mean that awful cologne isn’t worth buying?” Stiles partially laughed.

“We both still stink like it, weeks later,” Derek droned. “It’s a curse.”

“I can only imagine what it does to your nose,” Stiles stated. “It burns the hell out of mine.”

“Lights mine on fire,” Derek commented.

Stiles laughed, running his hand through his hair as he began pacing again. What he thought was going to be a minute phone call turned into a little more than an hour. There were a few times, Stiles was positive, that Derek actually flirted back with him. It gave Stiles something to look forward to elaborating on.

~*~

Stiles was surprised when he walked on set to find Derek already there. He was even further surprised to find him arguing with a blond hair woman. She was pretty, but definitely too old to be a model. If the modeling world thought Derek was old for turning thirty, this woman was considered old a while ago. Stiles would never admit that his observations were all biased when they came to Derek.

“You need to leave before I have security walk you out,” Derek snapped at the woman, catching Stiles’ attention.

“Come on, Der,” the blonde smiled as she placed her hand on his chest. “We had some good times, don’t ruin it by being an animal about it.” She made sure to lower her hand to Derek’s abdomen, her fingers almost digging in.

Stiles hated the woman. His face made a sour expression as he debated stepping in and stopping it.

“Leave, Kate,” Derek growled, not making an attempt to removed Kate’s hand from him.

“I will. I’m not here for you, anyway. Once I meet the new talent,” Kate practically leered. “I’ll leave”

“I think you should go,” Stiles found himself snapping, causing almost everyone to turn and look at him, including Derek and Kate. He couldn’t stop himself once he heard Derek call her Kate. And if this Kate was the Kate, she needed to remove her hand before Stiles broke it. He stalked forward, owning his no filter-to-mouth tendencies as he came to stand beside Derek. “Nobody wants you here,” he stated, his eyes flickering over to her hand that was still on Derek.

“I heard you had attitude, kid,” Kate started.

“Back off, Kate,” Derek practically barked at her.

“I’m having a friendly conversation,” Kate replied as her fingers snagged on the buttons of Derek’s shirt.

Stiles reacted before he knew what he was doing. His hand snatched Kate’s, shoving it away from Derek and into her, practically pushing her back. “We at Hale & Wolfe would like to extend our warmest gratitude for you stopping by, however, we suggest you leave before an incident occurs,” he sarcastically stated with a mock smile, shifting his body to make a small obstacle between Derek and Kate.

Kate looked surprised by Stiles’ actions, briefly flicking her eyes from Derek to Stiles. “Oh, that’s rich,” she scoffed. “I guess a human works with wolves for a while, they start acting like one.”

“Wow, that’s original,” Stiles snapped as his blood began to boil. “Werewolves are just as human as humans. Maybe not in your case.”

“Take it from someone who once knew Derek intimately,” Kate practically sneered as her eyes flickered to Derek.

Stiles wasn’t a werewolf, and he could feel Derek flinch from Kate’s implication.

“He’s more animal than man,” Kate continued. “Some of the things he’s into—”

Stiles never prided himself on his impulses. He never prided himself on his calmness when it came punching both men and women when they stepped over the line. All Stiles knew was that his arm was moving, ready to lash out at Kate when a warm, calming hand clasped his wrist to stop him. He turned his head to see Derek’s eyes burning red as he glared at Kate, all his hostility focused on her and not Stiles.

“I’ve seen all I need,” Kate sighed. “Make sure to keep your bitch on a leash,” she stated as she looked at Derek, enjoying the way Stiles angrily bristled.

“It’s time for you to leave, Ms. Argent,” Scott’s voice broke the tension. “I’ve alerted security and they will—”

“I’m leaving,” Kate curtly replied. She turned back to look Stiles up and down before commenting, “It’s a shame, Bambi, but we could have made millions together.”

“I’m already making millions,” Stiles snapped back at her retreating form, hoping that no one would vocally correct him.

Everyone took a collective sigh of relief when Kate finally disappeared.

Stiles turned to look at Derek, letting him keep his hand wrapped around his wrist. “Hey,” he softly said, reaching his other hand up to touch Derek’s cheek, moving his head to look at him. “She’s gone,” he stated. He didn’t bother hiding the fact that he enjoyed the way Derek pressed into his open palm, welcoming his touch.

“We could cancel the shoot,” Scott spoke, feeling slightly on edge for having to deal with Kate. “Ask your uncle why the hell someone from Argent & Co. was here.”

“She was here for Stiles,” Derek stated as he leaned out of Stiles’ touch, but still kept hold of Stiles’ wrist as if he was using it for an anchor.

“Gross,” Stiles crinkled his nose in response.

“Argent & Co. would want to sign you as soon as your contract with Hale & Wolfe expires,” Derek explained. “If Hale & Wolfe lost you—”

“With you retiring, there go their two best models?” Stiles finished as he looked up at Derek.

“Something like that,” Derek replied.

“Well, I’d never sign with Argent & Co., not in a million years,” Stiles stated. “Besides, we have a shoot to do, right?” He turned to look at Scott for the okay. “Lets try to top the last one,” he added with a playful wink to Derek as he slipped his hand away from Derek.

Surprisingly, their final shoot ran the smoothest. Scott stated that he got the photo rather early on, taking both Derek and Stiles by surprise. Stiles felt awkward as he dressed, his mind flitting back to Derek and the anger he felt at seeing Kate lay a hand on him. He adjusted his shirt as he turned to look at Derek.

Derek was already dressed, looking down at his phone, as if he actually had a reason to be looking at it. He finally looked up from his phone when Stiles moved to stand beside him.

“I’ll walk you down,” Derek offered.

Stiles nodded, not trusting his voice. He walked beside Derek in silence, almost thankful that the elevator filled with people on their way down.

It wasn’t until they were outside the building, on the bustling city sidewalk, that they finally turned to one another.

Stiles ducked his head, uncertain what to say. He looked up, his eyes partially widening in question when Derek offered him his hand.

“It was fun to share my last shoot with you,” Derek commented, his hand easily slipping into Stiles.

“You make it sound so final,” Stiles stated, his fingers firmly wrapping around Derek’s hand, a small attempt to keep him from parting. “What are you … what are you going to do now?”

Derek looked out along the streets, catching sight of the busy crowd and endless ads lining the streets. “Maybe I’ll go on a vacation,” he stated in an amused tone. “Laura’s been after me to go to California.”

Stiles’ heart sank, his hand reluctantly slipping from Derek’s. “So, this is goodbye?”

Derek’s eyes scanned Stiles’, searching for something to tell him otherwise. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Stiles hopefully looked up at Derek. “I used to live in California, you know. My dad still lives there. Maybe … maybe I’ll see you around.”

Derek took a moment to think about it before finally nodding. “Maybe.”

Stiles took a deep breath before nodding back, giving a small, half-wave as he turned to head down the sidewalk opposite Derek. He was almost to the crosswalk when he heard Derek call his name.

“Don’t become one of those overrated models,” Derek stated, a knowing smile crossing his lips.

“I’m too young for that,” Stiles called back, a similar smile crossing his lips. And with that, Stiles felt better with parting ways from Derek. Something told him it wasn’t the last time he’d see of him.

~*~

One Year Later

Stiles hated walking red carpet events. They almost all ended with every interviewer asking the same three questions.

Do you think you’ll win again this year?

What are your next projects?

Is it true about Derek Hale?

Stiles always smiled, cracking a joke or keeping his answers light and friendly as Lydia instructed him. But this time was different. He knew there was only going to be one question this time.

How long have you and Derek Hale been together?

Stiles turned his attention away from the window as their limo pulled up to the drop off, a comforting hand squeezing his own. He smiled as he threaded his fingers with Derek’s.

“If you want, I can hang back and walk in later,” Derek offered.

“And let the return of Derek Hale steal my thunder? No way,” Stiles answered, turning Derek’s hand in order to lay a kiss on his knuckles. “Let’s go make a huge commotion.”

Derek smiled as he ducked his chin, the small bobbing of his head was all the confirmation Stiles needed.

Stiles gripped the door handle, his eyes focused on Derek as he pushed the door open. He still clung to Derek’s hand as they exited the shelter of the limo. He wasn’t surprised by the suddenly increase in flashing bulbs as more cameras turned towards them in order to capture every second. He smiled when Derek leaned in and kissed him, pushing against him as they both gave the cameras exactly what they wanted.