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Stiles crosses his arms in his chair. The people around him squirm, but just past them he can see an expectant crowd, an excited lull in the air, a semi-circle of rich and guilty anticipation.  Stiles returns his attention back to the people in front of him, keeping his voice low but not bothering to whisper. “I’m sorry,” he says, but he spits the word, too nice to come from a mouth like his. Venom floods through his teeth as he speaks. “Does someone want to tell me that again?”

He can nearly smell the fear in the room, a cold stench that rises from the three men in front of him. The one with white hair speaks first, brave. Maybe Stiles will spare him for being honest. “We’re sorry, Mr. Stilinski. There was nothing we could do.”

“Does ‘sorry’ bring him back?” Stiles says, eyebrow raising just slightly. “I had three of you on guard. How did this happen?” His eyes flicker back up at the crowd, watching as two men drag someone out of the room.

A second goon speaks, his crooked teeth on display. Stiles hates him and his dumbass ponytail. “He’s a government officer. He’s trained to get out of situations like these! He knocked one of us out and--”

Stiles sighs, brings up a hand to rub his temples, and this is easily enough to cut the goon off. He speaks softly and slowly, and he can sense the spike in fear. “I know he was a government officer. That’s why he was our fucking prized possession, cuntbag. Do you have any idea what you’ve done? How much does he know?”

“We--”

“I’ve changed my mind, I don’t care. Here’s what’s going to happen: two of you are going to get him back, and in the meantime, we do need someone to take his place.” Stiles lets a dark laugh fall out of his mouth. “The crowd is waiting. Who likes rock paper scissors?”

Ponytail Express loses to both other rats, Grandma and Neckbeard, and is escorted into the ring by two other expendables when Stiles snaps. Stiles adjusts the gold watch on his wrist with the sleeves of his red hoodie, calling for two of his Rooks before the Pawns go out in search. “Obviously, I can’t trust Gums and Reddit to do anything for me, so I need you two to get a job done.”

The Rooks nod solemnly, a small smirk spreading across the taller of the two’s face. “Sure, Stilinski.”

“I’ve got a fish out in the streets. These two bugs over here let a government officer get away, so I obviously need him back. Bring me him alive and I’ll reward you, but I wouldn’t mind his pretty head on a stick, either.” The chunky watch glints in the light. Blood money pays well. “Got it, Lahey? Boyd?”

“Our pleasure,” says Boyd, before he grips Grandma’s arm and motions for Lahey to do the same for Neckbeard.

“Hold it. Listen to me, Wrinkles; Cheetos. You two aren’t particularly important to me. In fact, imagine you are a beetle. A dung beetle, perhaps. If you two should misbehave, or God forbid, come back empty handed, I will not hesitate to crush you and wipe your guts from the wall. Ant,” he gestures to the human-shaped dirt in front of him, “Boot,” gesturing to himself. “Boyd and Lahey here are not your friends. Make me unhappy, and I will let them have their way with you -- whatever that may mean.” Stiles’ smirk spreads softly across his face. “Bye, boys. Have fun!”

Once the four are out of his sight, Stiles finally gets up, stepping into the ring for a moment. The crowd parts for him, and he watches closely as his goons strap Ponytail Express into the chair. Stiles glares at the poor rat as he says, “I hope you’re ready. You really pissed off that client back there when you pulled that stunt with his wallet last week. You know the one I’m talking about, right? Big shoulders, very gruff, very angry, solid set of brass knuckles?” He laughs again, circling the chair. “These boys need some entertainment after that F.B.I. Agent went missing. I’m willing to bet he’ll pay a lot to get a hit on you.”

And then Stiles stalks back to his chair, leans back and makes himself comfortable before he starts off the first bid.

*

“Special Agent Hale,” Stiles drawls as he strides confidently into the room, steel-toed boots making loud noises that echo against the walls as he walks. Hale, on the floor, visibly steels himself, trying not to squirm even from under his restraints. “That was a very interesting stunt you pulled earlier. I hate to say I’m impressed.”

Stiles pauses, waiting for Hale to say something, before moving on.

“You escaped me, Agent. That’s a difficult thing to do; a feat. Not to mention, you killed one of my bogs and blinded another -- I’m not happy, but I can do without them. You understand.”

Once again, Hale says nothing.

“You’re not very chatty, are you?” Stiles circles the agent on the floor inside a stand-alone cell, eyeing him and pausing between each phrase. He makes sure Hale is always visible between the bars as he walks. “Well, no matter. I’ll get you to speak soon enough. You’re very valuable -- Derek, is it? Nice name; strong, yet pretty. It suits you.” Stiles scans Hale’s face slowly, hands gripping the bars in front of him. “Listen, dude, I gotta skedaddle. You know how things are, being the boss isn’t all fun and games, right? I’ll come back for you. Try not to get in too much trouble while I’m gone, okay? I’ve already got your hands cuffed, I’d hate to restrain you further.” Stiles backs up to exit the room, smirk plastered on his face.

Derek spits on the ground as close to Stiles as he can get while he walks away. Of course, Stiles simply laughs. “Feisty. I like it.” He winks, if only to make his prisoner uncomfortable. “Catch you later, Hale.”

Last night’s bid raked him in enough dough to pay off a new shipment, but Stiles is going to have to meet up with another leader soon. He can’t do all his dealings on his own, and this leader he’s going to meet up with -- Argon or something stupid -- is a potential buyer. Business is the name of the game.

*

Stiles pushes open the cell bars, snapping at Whittemore to close them behind him. Now is not the time to circle around the bars from the outside -- no, he has to be inside the cell. “Hello, Hale. Nice to see you again.” Nothing from the Agent. “Listen, I’ve got a few favours I need from you, so I’m coming back here later tonight and we’re going to take you somewhere special, okay? Sound good?” Hale scoffs. It’s probably the most sound Stiles has ever heard from the guy.

“Look, I get it, you don’t like me. You’re probably on a mission to take part of my cartel down and bring me, kicking and screaming, back to Father Confederation Sir President, Sir. I understand that, I really do. It’s just that I don’t particularly care. I know for a fact all of you thought McCall was running the show. See, I don’t mind telling you anything, because I know you’re not going to get away again.” Stiles laughs, because fear tactics are fun. What can he say? He likes it when Hale’s eyes get blown wide in horror. “Where did we catch you last time? An old woman’s house? That’s very cute, Derek. Very cute. I just thought you should know she only screamed a little when she died, very peaceful. Mostly painless.” He smiles, mock kindness. “Mostly.”

Pure satisfaction floods through him when Derek’s eyebrows knit together and his cheeks flush. He’s very pretty, very precious. “Oh, come on. You can’t be so gullible as to think we’d let her live, can you? Please, as soon as you stepped on that granny’s lawn she was breathing her last breath. We put her house to good use, though, so thank you for that.”

If Stiles didn’t know any better, he’d say Derek was growling at him. “Okay, okay,” Stiles says, putting his hands up in mock-surrender. “I’m leaving. I’ll be back later for you. Stay just like that -- it looks good on you. I’m bringing my camera next time.”

Hale looks so furious that Stiles just laughs and backs out of the room. This is the most fun he’s had in weeks, and that’s including  the bid for the guy under witness protection that happened last Tuesday. That was a riot, but this guy? Infinite fun. A bottomless pit of adrenaline and arousal. Stiles really lucked out on this one.



Later, Stiles comes back to his favourite cell with Boyd and Lahey. “Hey again, stranger,” Stiles says, all smugness and confidence.

“Don’t worry, we’ll be careful with you,” Lahey hums as he and Boyd waltz in, each grabbing one of Hale’s arms while Stiles unlocks his cuffs from the floor. The iron around his wrists looks like it’s rubbed the skin underneath raw, and the chain link, once released from the cement floor, drags on the ground and produces the most awful sound. Hale winces, but the other three don’t even blink. Stiles motions Boyd and Lahey to pull Derek in front, out of the cell, and then he instinctively picks up the chain on the ground and follows behind.

“Hey Hale, be a good boy, okay? Don’t bark now.” Stiles laughs at his own joke, and he can see Lahey and Boyd snickering in Derek’s ear. “Get it? Like this is your leash,” Stiles spits the last word, punctuating it with a hard tug on the chain. Hale, whose hands are restrained behind his back, whimpers in pain. It sends something electrifying down Stiles’ spine, maybe a little to the pit of his stomach. It’s a good thing he’s immune to being disgusted by his own actions at this point. He’ll leave the feelings of disgust to his precious prisoner, now glaring behind him directly into Stiles’ eyes.

He doesn’t have to pretend that’s not arousing.

“Alright, Pup, have a seat,” Stiles says, motioning to the metal chair usually used for bids. The cold room is empty, though, because Stiles has taken Hale off the buyers’ list, and there’s no bidding tonight. From this point forward, no one lays a finger on Hale without Stiles’ express permission -- and he certainly won’t let someone else have their wicked way with him for a bid. Stiles watches with a smirk as Lahey and Boyd lock Derek’s chains to the chair and restrain his legs. He instructs them to keep the trolley of “tactics” in place, and he tallies in his head the number of clean weapons on the table ready for use. You know, just in case.

“Thanks boys,” Stiles says, shooing them. “Stay outside the door for me, will you? I’ve heard this one’s slippery.” They nod, laughing to each other as they exit the basement, steel door slamming shut behind them.

Derek spits at Stiles before he can even say anything.

“Come on, now, Derek, we’re friends! You’re precious to me, and I’ve saved you from the outside world as well as this one. No one’s going to touch you unless I say so. Why do you repay me with such an insult?”

The agent’s brows furrow even further. “What do you want with me?” It’s the first thing Stiles has heard him say, and his voice is spectacular. It’s hoarse, probably from lack of use in the last few days, and it’s admittedly very, very hot.

Stiles can only smile. “Everything.” Hale doesn’t look pleased with the answer, so Stiles continues. “You’re a well of government information, Special Agent Hale. There’s so much I can get out of you! And I have to admit,” Stiles says slowly, “your cheekbones are incredible.” He brings up a hand to run across Hale’s face, who flinches and moves his head as far away from Stiles’ hand as possible. “Ah, ah, ah. You’re mine now, Hale, and you’re going to let me touch you one way or another. Why not start off easy, hmm?”

The fury in Hale’s eyes only makes everything better, and he tries to bite the hand that Stiles still has outstretched to touch him.

Stiles can only yank his hand back and slap it across Hale’s face. “Bad dog,” Stiles scorns, mock-frowning at the agent in front of him while a red welt slowly rises on his face. It makes Derek look better. “Jesus, those cheekbones really are something, aren’t they? I could cut my hand on those.”

“I’ll never tell you anything,” Derek says, venom in his voice.

Stiles circles around to the back of Derek’s chair, backing up so he can take in the full picture. It’s a beautiful view -- he should get a camera. Maybe his sketchbook? He’d love to capture Hale like this forever. “Listen, Pup -- I hate to break it to you, but you don’t really have a choice anymore. You’re valuable to me and everything, but if that value suddenly decreases -- by way of you not giving me what I ask for -- I will get rid of you like I would dogshit from the bottom of my shoe.” Derek grits his teeth, visible even from the back. Exciting! “There are a couple ways this could go -- number one: you surrender to me, obey me, behave yourself, and I reward you. Number two: you don’t give me the information I want, so I force it out of you, at which point you then surrender and we go back to option number one. Number three: you don’t give me what I want, you disobey me, you make me angry, I use you as leverage, and eventually you are killed.”

Derek doesn’t say anything, so naturally, Stiles moves on.

“Honestly, I’m good with all three options, so it’s your choice. Just know that I would have the time of my life cutting you apart.” Stiles walks around to the front again so he can make a pointed glance toward the Tactics Trolley, and he laughs when Hale’s gaze follows his own.

After swallowing, Hale says, “And what about your information?”

“Tsk tsk, Derek, weren’t you listening? If you choose option three, I have other ways of getting intel. It’s just that they take longer, and my rats aren’t as pretty as you are.” Stiles can’t help circling the chair again. Derek struggles, but it’s bolted into the cement floor below them. “You won’t survive to option three, I can tell you that now. Though, I would very much like to keep you, so I would personally advise against that pick.”

“They’re looking for me.”

“And they’ll be looking for quite a while. How long did it take you to even get close to finding us? We’re untraceable, Pup, that’s kind of the point. No one can save you, Derek,” Stiles says from behind Hale’s back, and he moves up to whisper in the agent’s ear, “ you belong to me now .”

A shiver goes down Hale’s spine, and Stiles is delighted to see it. Hell, maybe the thought turns the Pup on as much as it does Stiles. Of course he’ll have to experiment with that later.

“Just let me go,” Hale huffs out, almost a whisper, the smallest whine in his voice. It’s a weakness he hasn’t shown yet that completely gets Stiles going.

Stiles moves around to the front again, crouching in front of Derek to get to eye-level. He smiles, pats his hand on a knee the agent can’t move, flinch, or pull away from. “I’d love to, really, I would.” He stands back up, walking away and tossing his hands up in the air, yelling. “It’s just that this is so much more fun !”

Derek spits on the ground again, maybe less of an insult than before.


Stiles refuses to hurt Derek any more than the slap and tug (which, oddly, sounds like code for a handjob). He needs the government info on his cartel, yes, but it’s not worth it to lay a hand on Hale, not when he’s this pretty. He hates so admit this sort of weakness to his pawns, but he really almost cares for the agent. Though he’s the head of everything going on down here, Stiles never really deals with prisoners one-on-one, and rarely does he do beatings for himself. He’d rather make money letting others do it for him -- the perfect system of getting money for other people doing his dirty work. He instills the right amount of fear in the people who work for him, and makes a business out of it, too. It’s a win-win.

But this one -- no. No one is to touch him. Stiles tells himself it’s because Hale belongs to him, not because he wants his prisoner to actually be safe. Admitting that to himself would be a new level of weakness. One he eventually would not be able to hide.



*


It happens once every few days, like clockwork. The kid, always wearing a red hoodie -- whoever he is, Derek still doesn’t know his name -- will come in, haul him out with people he calls Boyd and Lahey, strap him to the metal chair and talk to him for a while. He makes pointed looks toward a tray with weapons every so often, but never uses them. The kid has picked one up once or twice, just for weight in his hands, but has only made himself bleed -- he doesn’t touch Derek.

“You’re like a trophy, Pup,” he says, always circling the chair. Derek has never tried to follow the kid with his eyes -- he doesn’t stay still long enough for him to. “I don’t want to tarnish you. Some would say you’re more valuable beaten up, like a vintage toy model car.” He smirks and drags a finger across the top of a hand Derek can’t move. “I disagree. I say you’re prized china.”

Sometimes he just says “I will get something out of you eventually.”

The other strange thing is -- it’s not all intimidation. Once, the boss pulled up his own chair, straddled it facing Derek, and spent twenty minutes ranting about the hardships of his job. He looked stressed, at that point, and maybe Derek should have made that his moment of escape but he couldn’t bring himself to. Maybe they’ve been drugging his food, or not feeding him enough or something but… it seems almost like this kid cares about him, and he couldn’t find it in himself to make the effort to leave. The kid keeps repeating how no one will hurt him, but at this point Derek knows that.

The kid puts up his hood, eyes hidden in the shadows. “I’ve made it clear multiple times that no one lays their hand on you but me. You’re a preserved memento, Hale. You’re a toy that only I get to play with.”

Derek eyes the red hoodie the boss wears, loosely hanging off his pale skin. He’s the terrifying kind of beautiful, the kind of death that kisses you first. Derek hates him.

Not only all this, but eventually things start appearing in his cell -- a mattress, at first. Dirty, just foam, generally more scary than it is appealing. But Derek has been sleeping on a cement floor for three weeks now, and at this point he’ll take what he can get. He almost refuses to sleep on it for as long as he can, simply out of spite, but with a back like his, there’s no realistic point.

The mattress shows up a few days after Derek was permitted to attend an auction -- maybe an intimidation tactic -- almost as if it were a reward for behaving. The small boss in red comes by his cell, days after it’s dropped off, and asks him how it is. Derek just sneers, because he doesn’t want to tell him how much better it is than the floor. The boss doesn’t have to know he’s been using the gift.

“I have eyes everywhere, Hale. Don’t pretend like you don’t appreciate my hospitality. I’m being very kind to you -- I have the ability to stop any time.” Red’s hands grip the bars, and he narrows his eyes. “I can take what I want, if I feel like.”

The kid licks his lips and the inflection of his voice makes Derek want to vomit.

Two weeks later is a proper meal. No more saltines and water. Boyd arrives with a plate that has mashed potatoes and steak on it, and as much as Derek wants the satisfaction of not touching it, he digs in as soon as Boyd is out of the room.

Red, of course, follows that gift as well. One day, it’s him who brings in the dinner. He refuses to set it on the ground like Boyd and Lahey do, instead insisting on making Derek come get it. He must know, even the first time he comes, that Derek’s chains don’t reach that far, because he doesn’t seem surprised when he has to resort to making Derek take the plate between his teeth. The dog jokes would be painful even if they were in an innocent newspaper, but for some reason they’re worse in this situation.

Derek loathes the envelope-sized slot in the bars almost as much as he hates the floor he’s chained to.

Three weeks after that, Derek gets a blanket. They seem to come a couple days after the boss has one of his metal chair talks, another reward, prizes for being a good pup. The psychology of this red hoodie boss kid is fascinating ; Derek almost wishes he had more training in the area so he could really understand it.

The chair talk had been the first where Derek actually purposely gave something away. Little Red had paced back and forth, running his hands through his buzzed hair and over his face, even while wielding a knife. He had looked unbearably stressed, and maybe Derek shouldn’t have worried about it but he did anyway.

“We didn’t think McCall was leading the operation. We thought he was a victim. Agents were investigating his father. I don’t know if they still are since I’ve dropped off the map.”

The way Little Red’s face lights up is almost worth betraying his own work, family, and partners. He immediately tries to hide the reaction, but the way his grey-rimmed sullen eyes light up is impossible for Derek to ignore.

“Thank you, Pup,” Little Red says, in the softest tone Derek has ever heard from him, and he leaves the room yelling for his rats -- probably to regain a sense of power. Boyd and Lahey take him back to his cell, barely touching him.

 

That’s the other thing: Boyd and Lahey are strangely friendly with him, and Derek can’t really say he’s complaining. They sit on the floor outside his cell sometimes, listening while he tells them vague and altered stories of his endeavours in the F.B.I. Apparently they were both interested as kids, but grew up on the wrong side of town. The federal agency isn’t exactly keen on training the sons of drug lords and felons.

Derek hates to say it, but he almost… he likes Boyd and Lahey. He feels protective over them. He feels like he needs to save them from the boss, from this life, from their choices.

He can’t, though. He’s going to get out of here eventually, and he’ll have a million things to tell his superiors, and he’ll take this red hoodie down. He’ll be ruined for all the people he’s had killed, all the horrible things he’s done, all the people he’s imprisoned. Maybe then Derek will come back for them.

A month or so after the blanket, Boyd and Lahey arrive at his cell, like usual, but they don’t sit down. Boyd unlocks the door to Derek’s cell, and Lahey walks in to unlock his chains from the floor. He doesn’t take off the cuffs, but then, Derek doesn’t blame him. Little Red isn’t with them this time, so honestly Derek’s a little confused as to why they’re letting him out of the cell. Especially after his attempts at escape.

It must show as they’re walking out of the cell, because Lahey says, “Boss said it’s okay if we take you for a walk around the building. Your legs must be dead, man.”

“Why?” Derek asks, because there’s no reason for Little Red to trust him.

“I don’t really know,” Isaac replies, like he didn’t even question it.

Without hesitation, Boyd says, “He trusts us.”

Derek can’t help himself. “You two?”

“No, all three of us.” There’s no uncertainty in Boyd’s voice.

Isaac only scoffs, basically voicing Derek’s thoughts. “That’s nuts. Poor guy doesn’t trust anyone. He’s probably manning the Nannies right now.” He sticks up a hand to wave and smirk at the nearest ceiling corner, giving it a wink. “I think it’s probably a test.”

Boyd shakes his head. “Probably both.”

They walk around for a bit, into parts of the underground building Derek didn’t even know existed. To be fair, he’s only ever seen the way out when he escaped, his own cell, and the cold room with the metal chair, but this place is bigger than it looks. There are hallways filled with more cells, not all of them empty, and hallways filled with beds that actually look quite comfortable.

If there were ever a mob boss to actually care about the comfort of his workers, Derek’s last bet would be on it being Little Red. And yet -- the rooms look like suites. Down another hallway are a series of hangouts, couches and average-sized TVs and fridges. It’s almost like this place is a Crime Vacation.

The last set of rooms are very peculiar. On one side, no doors, only curtains, and a closet beside each room with a lock on the handle. The curtains are red velvet, and across from each there’s another room (door included). Apparently, this is their stop.

Lahey knocks on the wall beside a door. It’s not gentle, but it’s not aggressive either. “Yo Reyes? Guess who!”

“The president,” a sarcastic voice calls from inside the door. “Piss off, Lahey.”

“Come out, we want to play.”

“Fat chance.”

“You love us, Reyes. Come on.”

Boyd finally speaks up. “Erica?”

A sigh sounds from the closed door and Derek feels his eyebrows knit together. Then the knob is turning and someone is walking out. “Fine.” Her hair falls in waves across her shoulders, and she looks surprisingly happy to see them for what her tone implied. She wears cargo pants and a tank.

“Not working today, huh?” Isaac says, eyeing her pants. She shrugs, and Isaac continues. “This is Derek, by the way. We were hoping you had a day off to walk around with us.”

She immediately looks to Boyd, whose face remains nearly unchanged. “Yeah, sure. I’ve got nothing better to do, all the other girls are working.” She finally makes eye contact with Derek, seeming to realize who he is. “You.” She doesn’t seem afraid to point.

Derek doesn’t say anything.

“You have to be who Boss was talking about. Derek, huh? Hale? They said you were pretty, I never knew they meant gorgeous. I’m not surprised he wanted to keep you as a pet.” She reaches out to him, and Derek thinks it might be the first touch in this place that he hasn’t shied away from. “You’ll be okay. You’ll learn to survive this place. The boss won’t let anything happen to you.”

Derek means to ask why, why Little Red cares about him, why he doesn’t want Derek to be hurt. He means to ask why him, why he was captured, why he’s being kept, why he’s not killed or turned into a goon. He means to say something, anything. But nothing comes out.

They walk into an empty parking garage connected to the basement tunnels, lit with cold and distant lights that only serve to make the place more eerie. There’s a patch of fake grass set up on the floor, along with a couple rusty clubs and two buckets of golf balls, three golf balls on the floor beside. No, two golf balls on the floor and something that looks like a golf ball--

Derek doesn’t want to think about it. They drive golf ball and golf ball-resembling objects into the dark of the garage and everything goes away for a little while.

Eventually they leave, and Derek has to go back to his cell, but Isaac hands him a shot before he goes and Derek doesn’t dwell on the bad. He’s always had an unshakeable sense of morals, even when looked in the face by death, famine, murder accusations, everything. He can make the best of this. He knows everything here is wrong but -- maybe he can learn to live with it.

Maybe he doesn’t want to leave as much as he wants to survive. He wants to know he can.

Later, Derek will find out that Erica is a prostitute, that he shouldn’t have been given her real name because usually she wears cat ears, a leather skirt, and uses the name Selina with people she doesn’t know. Derek tries not to feel honoured that he knows the real person.

*

After having Derek with him for three months, Stiles finally gets a message from “Argon,” or whatever. He wants another deal, but for once isn’t asking for steel and flesh. Stiles, intrigued, agrees to meet with him. The dude always asks for the same thing -- targets, weapons, and occasionally a few willing girls -- so Stiles is automatically inclined to hear his request when it differs.

Of course, he’s very careful about giving or lending girls to anyone -- he has to know the client first, and even then he offers it as a volunteer position for the girls. Stiles knows his workers are as much his equals as anyone, and he treats them well. They have a right to make their own decisions about their bodies.

Lydia, his partner, oversees communication and sets up a meeting. A gas station, a state over, using their usual code. Of course, Stiles doesn’t go, but he watches, feeds, and listens to the conversation through the camera and mic built into McCall’s glasses -- precaution is important. Argon knows what Stiles looks like anyway, visits the Underground often, but it’s different out in public.

“Indeed,” Argon says, very calm as he pumps gas into his car. “It’s a small world. You know, it’s funny -- I’ve been looking for a few things and I thought you might have some I could buy off you.”

“Of course,” Stiles says into his mic -- and hears Scott repeat on the other side -- because this is routine. It’s tedious, but necessary. Scott selects regular and pulls the nozzle off the holder. “What were you looking to buy? I’m always happy to help out a friend.”

Argon -- is his name even Argon? -- makes a thoughtful face, squinting just slightly across at McCall. “Government books. There’s some research I need to do, and I was wondering if you had any I could borrow.” His eyebrow raises just slightly.

Maybe Argon’s surprised at how little time it takes for Scott-Stiles to understand what he’s saying, because his eyebrows raise as Scott voices Stiles’ reply. “I don’t have anything right now, actually. Are you looking to borrow or keep?”

“That’s funny,” Argon says, but there’s a fire in his eyes. “I heard you got some a few months back. I just want to read a few pages, nothing major. It’s related to a family incident.”

Stiles feels his brows knit together just slightly, eyes narrowing. He doesn’t know why he’s entertaining Argon, other than genuine curiosity and to answer the question of what the hell does he want with Derek?  “Are you going to tear those pages out like last time? You may have to go to the library, I haven’t gotten anything.”

“Old friend,” Argon spits, and Stiles curses Scott for turning away instead of staring him right in the face like he should. “You’ve got to have something I can borrow. I’ll return it to you unharmed.”

They walk into the gas station together to pay cash, and Argon waits for Scott-Stiles’ reply. “I don’t think I have what you’re looking for.” Stiles says it into Argon’s back while he pays, praying that he’ll leave when he gets his receipt. He doesn’t. He waits by the door for Scott.

“I went to Britain recently, I could trade you some of that rare incense you like?”

“I have nothing to trade, friend, honestly. If I did, I would not hesitate to give it to you for a few days -- but I don’t have anything.”

Stiles watches through the Nanny while Argon’s face scrunches up like he’s eaten something sour. “I see.” He walks back to his own car, and Stiles is glad Scott is in too public a place to be hurt. “Maybe another time, then.” Argon hops into the driver’s seat and zooms away.

“Dude,” Scott whispers, knowing it will be picked up. “What the hell was that about?”

“Hale,” Stiles says seriously, still thinking.

Scott starts driving back to their base, and Stiles figures he can stick around for a few hours to keep him company -- with breaks to check on the Underground, just in case. “Why didn’t you hand him over? We’d probably get coke out our asses if he’s the kind of agent you say he is.”

“He’s not for sale.”

Scott scoffs a little into his mic. “But Stiles--”

“I’m not selling him, Scott. He’s valuable to us. He’s given me information on two government rats within the system already, I’m not going to let him go.” He lets his words sink in. “He’s mine.”

Scott just nods, the angle of the Nanny shifting with his head. “Yeah, dude, I know. And I guess it would be pretty sketchy handing him over to Gerard of all people. Dude gives me the creeps.”

Stiles laughs. “I can’t argue with you there. He even freaks me out, honestly.”

“What are you going to do if he comes for one of the auction hits? Won’t someone be talking about Hale?”

“Even if they did, I’d never give the pup away. I don’t really care if it turns business partners into enemies. Argon can’t afford to lose me anyway.”

“Is that his last name?”

“Who the fuck knows.”


*


Six months of deals, negotiations and meetings pass. S.A. Derek Hale is still in Stiles’ possession. He no longer lives in the cell, and has been instead moved to Stiles’ quarters. Hale is free to do, be, and go wherever he wants, whenever he wants, without supervision.

Stiles trusts him, and surprises himself with that.


Hale must know, too, how weak Stiles is for him. He walks through one of the auctions, standing behind Stiles’ throne. He places a hand on Stiles’ shoulder and whispers something, purposely to drive Stiles wild. He strolls around in tank tops, tight Henleys, tight jeans, staring at Stiles whenever he can.

Stiles has already had to fight off three potential buyers, all offering way more than Stiles has ever gotten in a single sale of -- damn , of anything. Derek is a rare commodity, a former government agent with all the intel, continued connections into official databases, now comfortable in an illegal setting.

When Stiles says fight, he means both physically and in a business setting. The first two potential buyers were webs, and tried to threaten him with cutting off all their suppliers if Stiles didn’t hand Hale over. The last tried to break into the Underground and steal him. Derek held his own, though he had clearly already inhaled some of what was on the napkin over his mouth. It was Stiles who rushed in with his altered baseball bat and broke the guy’s femur. No one else is going to repeat his mistake.

Derek has been nearly completely integrated into the Underground; he is respected, treated well. He supplies Stiles with information and advice, not to mention protection. A bidder two weeks earlier had gotten upset with the subject, came over to “give Stilinski a piece of his mind.” Normally, Stiles would ask a few of his goons to escort the man out of the conscious world, but this time Hale broke in before Stiles could even open his mouth. He gave the bidder a good hit before dragging him outside and coming back fifteen minutes later with blood on his knuckles.

Stiles had never been so turned on.

But Stiles has never taken from Derek, nor any of his girls. Occasionally he borrows girls from other buyers, of course only if they’re willing, but he hasn’t actually gotten laid in almost a year. His morals are just a little too straight for a mob boss. Luckily, no one’s actually figured that out yet, and if he keeps bringing out the bat and coming back with bloody knuckles, no one will.

He was a lot more violent before Hale, and he hates to admit it, but he’s definitely… changed his ways a little. Because of Hale. Stiles had so many plans for him, back when he didn’t care.

And he still doesn’t.

Stiles has killed people. Lots of people. He can’t care for the pup. Derek found him -- and subsequently, Stiles found Derek -- because the government wanted to arrest him, maybe put him on death row, take down his entire 17 years of business -- well, technically, 11 years of business, because he was brought into the Underground at six, but whatever. Semantics -- there’s no way it’s reasonable for a criminal mob boss like Stiles to care about a F.B.I. agent like Derek.



Finally, two years later, Stiles forces himself to make a decision.

“You’re free to go,” Stiles says one day, when Hale enters the cold auction room, now empty after a recent bid. Stiles knows his eyes are narrowed and he’s gritting his teeth, and Derek will know too as soon as he sees Stiles’ face.

He walks slowly into the large space, taking in Stiles’ words. “I know,” he says, to Stiles’ back.

Stiles lets a bitter laugh fall out of his mouth. It’s nothing like the evil one he used to give Derek back in his cell. “No, you don’t understand.” He might be yelling a little. Or at least speaking very forcefully. “I’m letting you leave. I don’t care what information about us you have, I just-- just go, Hale.”

“No.”

That’s when Stiles whips around. “Why? Give me one reason for you to stay. I’m giving you a chance here, Pup-Dog. Take it or leave it.”

“Boyd and Lahey, Reyes,” Hale replies, without hesitation. Stiles begins to circle him, analyzing, but Derek stands his ground.

“This is the only opportunity I’m going to give you, Pup. If you choose to stay here now, that’s on you. You will return to being my possession.” Stiles manages to finish speaking in front of Derek, staring directly into his eyes. He takes a few steps forward, just to see if Derek will step back.

He doesn’t. He holds strong. “I understand.”

“Perhaps you better think on it. Consult Lahey and Boyd, if you must.” Stiles is aware of his eyebrows drawing together.

He almost turns to walk away, before Derek speaks. “Why do you care?” It’s soft as it falls out of Hale’s mouth, and if Stiles hadn’t been paying attention, he would have missed it.

Stiles can only sigh. They’re closer now than they have ever been. “Don’t misread me, Hale, I don’t care for you. My one concern is the rukkus and trouble you’re causing me. The only reason I’ve kept you so long,” Stiles says, raising a hand to Derek’s jaw. For once, Derek lets Stiles touch him. “Is what you’ve done for me, Pet. Not that you’re hard to look at, either.” Again, Stiles sighs. He rubs his thumb across Hale’s chin. “But now, you’re more effort than you’re worth. I’ve probably milked you of all the information I’m going to get, not to mention the business ties and security measures I’ve had to compromise just to keep you alive and mine. You’ll always be my prize, Hale, but I don’t want you taking up space if you don’t want to be here.” He steps back from Hale, pulling his and away. “Go back to the pound, my pup. Let the government congratulate you for surviving a gang. Tell them who I am and watch them throw all of us in jail five years from now.”

“Why?” Is all Derek says, minutes later when the silence has echoed through the auction room.

Stiles walks away, lets himself fall back into his throne. “I’m tired, Derek.” He closes his eyes, leaning his head back onto the seat. “I’m nineteen, and I’ve been doing this since I was six. Did you know that? Six years old. I could barely tie my own goddamn shoelaces.” A sad and bitter laugh comes from him, and he loathes how weak he feels. “I’ve had a good couple years, I’ve gotten rich and gone on cruises and maintained my anonymity. My chess pieces are good and mostly safe, I’ve helped save a lot of people from more cruel mobs. I’m done. Five years from now, two years from now, tomorrow -- whenever you let them find us… I’m ready. If there’s someone who gives us up, I want it to be you.”

His voice echoes throughout the room, and it’s sad. He can’t help hating himself. Derek moves closer and Stiles doesn’t have to open his eyes to know. “I’m not leaving.”

“Look, dude, I get that you hate me. I find that quite reasonable, seeing as for a while there I robbed you of your freedom, humanity and sense of self, but seriously. Do me a solid.”

“I’m not leaving,” Derek repeats.

Stiles slams his hand down on the armrest, eyes blowing wide and his voice raising. He doesn’t want to scream at Derek, and yet he does. “ GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.

“I’m not leaving.”

Fuck you, Hale .”

“I’m not leaving.”

“Why? Why, Pup? Because you have a crush on Lahey? Because you feel like you need to save Boyd and Reyes? Because you don’t know what’s good for you and you have become used to living with things that make you hate yourself?”

Derek’s eyebrows pull together in the biggest display of emotion Stiles has ever seen from him. He looks shocked and hurt -- maybe because he didn’t expect Stiles to know so much -- and Stiles can’t find it in himself to care. Derek spits his words in a low tone when he finally speaks. “Fuck you.” And then he turns on his heel to exit the room. But no, Stiles can’t have that.

“You love to torture yourself, don’t you, Hale?”

“You don’t know a fucking thing about me,” Derek growls, and he goes to leave, but stops. He breaths heavily in the metal doorway for a long minute. “I’m doing it for you,” he finally says, turning around. “You’re right, I do hate you. I don’t even know your name. But you’re the lesser of all evils of this ‘business’ and I’d rather you be in charge than anyone else.” He’s been punctuating his low-spoken words with steps on the cement floor, advancing on Stiles, and he’s very close when he says the last of it. “You’re protecting people. If you give up on this, they will be jailed, stolen, mistreated, raped, or killed. Are you prepared to be responsible for that?”

Stiles grabs Derek’s neck, faster than Derek can put himself together to stop him. “I am much more terrible than you think, Pup. It would do you good to show some respect.”

“I am showing respect, Boss.”

Narrowing his eyes and dropping his hand, Stiles softens his tone. “And why is this my job, huh?”

Derek doesn’t answer. They’re still very close. Stiles turns his head to look back at Derek, and his sunken eyes and sharp cheekbones are exaggerated in the cold light.

“I have shit to do.” Stiles turns his face away again, walking away as he speaks. “If you don’t change your mind before tomorrow afternoon, you belong to me. Ta-ta!”



*


Derek can’t make himself leave. The next afternoon, he says nothing, and Stiles takes him by the neck to their shared quarters, where Derek sleeps on a small cot in the corner.

“You are mine now, Pup.”

Derek nods.

“I want you to prove it.”

Derek swallows. “How?”

Stiles hums, thoughtful. He stares Derek in the eyes when he speaks. “However you want, babe. Give me something, tell me something, show me something, do anything. I’m kind of curious to see what you choose.”

Derek chooses to give himself to Stiles in the best way he knows how.





It’s during the act that they realize who they are to each other. For two years, they’ve been poisoning each other, Derek with his kindness, the softness he brings out in Stiles; Stiles with his fierceness, his determination, the toughness he’s taught Derek to embrace. They’ve grown to care about each other more than they originally planned.

Derek has not fallen in love with his captor; he has fallen in love with a different man that he helped shape.

Stiles has not fallen in love with his prisoner; he has fallen in love with what grounds him, and what he tries so faithfully to protect.


*

Six months later, Derek stands behind Stiles’ chair while another auction goes through. More justice is happening here than Derek thinks he’s ever seen in the force, and he thinks maybe he’s always belonged in a safe haven from evil. He and Stiles protect who they can, avenge who they cannot, and punish those who deserve it.

Stiles is known as the youngest and most successful mob boss in the country, and eventually the continent. Whispers of Little Red and his pet run wild in the underground organizations all through the country, fear for the people who disobey or upset the Stilinski gang. Hope for somewhere they can escape to, be saved.

In the Underground, all the members are aware that Derek is Stiles’ official right hand. The King to Stiles’ Queen. They are unbeatable. Stiles controls the game, but without Derek, it is over.

However, only the Bishops, Scott and Lydia; and the Knights, Reyes, Lahey and Boyd, are aware of their relationship.

That is, until two years later, when it is revealed that the two most dangerous mobsters in the country are together, more powerful than ever.