“Derek Hales is finally going down!”
Stiles grins triumphantly as he sits down at the lunch table and waves the piece of paper he’s holding in Scott’s face. Oh! Cheetohs. He grabs one from Scott’s plate and munches on it.
Scott chokes on his ham sandwich and stares at Stiles. “Going down?” he asks once he can breathe again. “Like going down on you? I can’t believe you two actually did something about the UST. Damn, I lost the bet because I thought you’d at least make it until Christmas. Mistletoe and senior year seemed a solid bet.”
Stiles frowns. “Bet?” Then he makes a face. “Also eeew. Derek Hale is not getting his scruffy face near my junk, Scotty.”
“That seems to be the problem,” Scott mutters, shaking his head as he takes the paper from Stiles. “I’d even willingly lose the bet if it meant an end to this awkward courtship you’ve got going on with him.”
“If you keep being sassy, I’m totally taking back the best friends forever title and giving it to someone more deserving,” Stiles warns, kicking Scott’s leg beneath the table. “I can’t stand Derek Hale. We’re rivals, Scott, not courting.”
“Right. That’s why you stare at his ass when you think no one is watching, and the reason he’s actually run into a wall because he’s been staring at you so intently. Rivalry not lust.” Scott rolls his eyes. “And my title is safe because you love me, and no one else could put up with you like I do. I’m the best.”
It’s tempting to continue disputing Scott’s allegations, it’s slanderous!, but Stiles knows Scott would just believe he’s protesting to cover up some secret crush. Ha! As if he’d ever be so cliché as to fall for his big rival at Beacon Hills High. “Yeah, you are, which is why you’re trying out with me again, aren’t you?” Stiles flutters his eyelashes and gives Scott his best puppy dog look, which actually looks more deranged than successful puppy dog.
“No. No way. I told you after the spring play that I’m done spending my time working on a show just so I can listen to you mutter about Derek Hale and whatever role he’s playing and obsess over him,” Scott says firmly. “This is senior year, and I’m trying out for lacrosse. I’m not the theatre geek you want me to be, Stiles.”
“I don’t obsess. I just know I should have been given the role of George Gibbs because I have more emotional range and I could have had the audience in tears at the end.” Stiles is still bitter about his lost moment. “Derek Hale only got that part because he’s handsome and Coach’s favorite.”
“Stiles, you were the main character. The Stage Manager was in every scene nearly.” Scott rubs the bridge of his nose. “Not to mention that you were the lead for Damn Yankees last fall, and he played the devil.”
“That’s because, Scotty my boy, Derek Hale can’t sing.” Stiles’ excitement is back when he remembers why he knows Derek Hale isn’t going to win the next round. Sure, the Stage Manager is the main character, but it isn’t an emotional role. Stiles is good with musical theater, has been since he was seven year olds and watched High School Music with his mom and decided he wanted to be in plays just like they were in the movie. All through middle school, he got the starring role without any competition. It’s his niche, the thing he’s good at and geeks over and makes this whole school experience worth it. Then freshman year, Derek Hale went and turned from the hot jock that made Stiles realize he’s bi to his arch nemesis when he gave up basketball and lacrosse to join the drama club. Since then, they’re always competing for the lead roles, from the big productions all the way to the smaller shows they do throughout the year.
That rivalry has extended into other areas of their lives, too. They share multiple AP classes because, of course, he isn’t just burning hot like the sun and surprisingly good at comic and dramatic timing on stage, but he’s also super smart and can debate Stiles until he’s flushed and ready to punch Derek Hale’s face with either his fist or his mouth. Stiles knows it’s ridiculous, that he lets it get to him, but he can’t help it. Derek Hale gave up the jock glory to try stealing Stiles’ piece of the high school pie, and that’s just unforgiveable, regardless of how hot he is and the fact that Stiles jerks off thinking about hate sex a lot now.
“So?” Scott just doesn’t get it. Stiles is so disappointed in him. “No offense, but Derek is a lot better at the romantic lead thing than you, whether he can sing or not.”
“There is so much offense!” Stiles gapes at his former best friend and no longer brother from another mother. “How can you even say that? Sure, he’s got the kaleidoscope eyes and charming smile and whole scruffy ‘look I can shave now’ five o’clock shadow thing happening this year and the body is definitely showing results of a summer in the gym I’d assume but I am way better at everything on the stage. Theater is in my blood, Scotty. My mom passed it on to me, and you know how proud she was of me.”
Scott nudges his leg with his foot. “She’s proud now, wherever she is,” he whispers, giving Stiles a crooked grin that immediately makes him move back into the best friend slot. “Anyway, you really need to stop the whole Derek Hale thing. It really does make you sound obsessive when you say both his names like that all the time. You even do it in your head, don’t you?”
“Just shut up,” Stiles mutters. He takes the paper from Scott’s hand and waves it in his face. “Ms. Morrell stopped me in the hall and gave me this. It hasn’t been announced yet, but the fall musical is going to be Kiss Me Kate. There’s no way Derek Ha----Derek will be able to play any major role because everyone sings. Finstock won’t be able to cut the songs for the characters like he did for Applegate in Damn Yankees or like he did for Pirates or Oklahoma the previous years.”
“And you talk about Derek being Coach’s favorite while Ms. Morrell is clearly biased,” Scott points out.
Stiles narrow his gaze on him. “It’s too bad you aren’t going to try out. I heard Allison Argent talking about possibly trying out for Lois slash Bianca.”
“Allison Argent?” Scott looks up at him and makes actual heart eyes. Then he frowns and sighs. “I can’t sing, Stiles.”
“Well, you could help out the crew and do background parts, like usual,” Stiles suggests, not even pushing when he stops focusing on beating Derek to the lead enough to realize Scott’s right. He’s even worse than the braying cat sound Derek made when he auditioned for Pirates freshman year. “I bet Boyd would love the help.”
“Okay! Can I still try out for lacrosse? My asthma’s been so much better that the doctor thinks I should be fine as long as I have my rescue inhaler.” Scott looks so hopeful that Stiles nods, knowing it’s not likely that the schedules will work well together but, really, he can be magnanimous right now because he’s feeling great about the show and knows he’s got the lead no problem.
Everything sucks and the world is horrible and evil.
Stiles tightens his grip on the auditorium seat in front of him as Derek Hale stands on stage and sings his audition piece for Kiss Me Kate. There’s no cat braying evident at all. His voice is a low tenor, which is somewhat surprising considering his speaking voice is higher and soft. He has taken on the persona of Fred Graham so effortlessly that Stiles is conflicted. He wants to hate him even more but the theater nerd in him is fighting down a boner because it’s just that good of an audition.
All of the confidence and excitement he’s been feeling the last two weeks is just gone in an instant. He can even see Ms. Morrell sitting up and listening intently, and she’s usually his biggest fan. It’s not too difficult to realize that Derek has beat him this time. Damn it. That means he’s going to be stuck as Bill, the gambling somewhat comic relief type, which just figures. He’s never going to get to be the romantic lead when someone like Derek is around. That’s just a metaphor for how life is always going to be, unfortunately.
After wrapping up his song, Derek Hale (the last name is totally back, the asshole) actually looks right at Stiles in the audience and smirks. He smirks! Stiles snarls back at him, any earlier respect and admiration immediately replaced by anger and frustration. People are actually cheering, and Stiles glares at all of them because they’re supposed to be on his side. He notices Scott clapping, and puts his hand over his heart. “Et tu, Brute?”
“I thought you said he couldn’t sing,” Scott whispers, totally missing Stiles betrayed expression. “He’s really good. Not as strong as you are, he lost his notes a couple of times, but still really good.”
“Tune, not notes.” Stiles is trying not to sulk but failing. Derek Hale might have bested him this round, but Stiles still has his audition ahead of him. Since there’s no way the fawning masses will ever accept him as Frank after Derek’s audition, he decides to scrap his original idea and plan ahead. He has been trying since freshman year to get Morrell and Finstock to put on Cabaret, so maybe this is the perfect opportunity to make them consider it.
It’s his mom’s favorite play, they actually went to see it when he was ten, going to Broadway in NYC after she found she was dying, and he had sat there with wide eyes the entire time. Looking back, he knows he was probably too young to truly enjoy it, but his goal has been to be the Emcee since she died. Sure, Cliff is the lead, but the Emcee is larger than life and so flamboyant and dances around the stage like he owns it. Stiles wants to feel that kind of thrill, and the latest versions tend to go darker near the end, so it gives him a chance to play drama, too.
With that in mind, he takes the stage when his name is called. He goes over to Greenberg and switches his music, going so far as to take off his flannel shirt and t-shirt so he can get into the role. There are a few wolf whistles and catcalls from the audience, Erica’s loudest amongst them all, and he turns to wink at them, already in character. He starts to sing Willkommen, the German words rolling off his tongue as he dances and sings and pretends he’s surrounded by lovely ladies from the Cabaret. He puts everything he can into the performance, knowing it’s probably his last chance to get Morrell and Finstock to consider the play for their spring performance.
When he finishes, he’s sweaty and his hair is sticking to his face, but he’s also grinning because he managed to pull off the whole thing without any rehearsal. He scans the clapping audience and finds Derek, who is just staring at him with a dumbfounded expression on his face. He smirks at him and winks before picking up his shirts and exiting the stage. Damn, that was fun, but reality comes crashing back after he’s off stage. Even if he can somehow persuade the teachers to put on Cabaret next term, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s going to be boring old gambler Bill who is just a supporting character.
Auditions are over for the day. He’s the last one to go, and they’re focusing on the male roles today since the females auditioned yesterday. Tomorrow will be the second call tryouts, and he knows Morrell is going to ask him to read Bill’s lines off the Bianca auditions even before she approaches him as he’s leaving back stage. She does at least compliment him on his Emcee audition, and there’s a twinkle in her eye as she mentions that they’re still debating the play for the spring, but it doesn’t mean that much when he still has to make it through Kiss Me Kate.
He agrees to be Bill because there’s not much choice. It’s not the lead, but it at least has a real part to it. Sure, the actual assignments will go out next week, but he’s been in theater long enough to read the writing on the wall. When he gets back to the auditorium floor, Finstock is talking to Derek Hale, who looks surprised but happy. His smile is the big one that makes his eyes crinkle. It fades slightly when he notices Stiles staring. Stiles shrugs a shoulder at him before walking towards Scott.
“Dude, what was that?” Scott asks him excitedly. “With the hips and thrusting and geesh. I thought Erica was going to go hoarse screaming for you, and I didn’t really need to know your hips could move like that.”
“My audition.” He grins. “I figured there’s no chance in hell of beating Derek for the lead, so why not do a number I’ve always wanted to do on stage?”
“Derek was really good, but you’re amazing,” Scott says faithfully. He slings his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and kisses the top of his head. “The naked hip stuff was traumatizing, but you were like someone else. I just love watching you perform.”
“I knew I’d make a theater nerd out of you one day.” Stiles laughs as he slugs Scott playfully, turning slightly when he feels someone staring at him. Derek Hale is watching him, lips parted and eyes intense, and Stiles arches a brow because he’s not sure why Derek is staring. He got the lead, even if it won’t be announced until next week, and Stiles is once again stuck playing supporting. He follows Scott out of the auditorium, knowing his night is going to be spent memorizing Bill’s dialogue and songs so he can be appropriately supportive to the females on callback tomorrow.
It’s a freaking train wreck.
Every single callback for Katherine is just awful. Stiles tries to be nice and encouraging when it comes to theater, but these girls should never have even made it to second call. Of course, it’s not really their fault. They’re supposed to be acting totally unaffected by Derek Hale, which is impossible for anyone with a pulse who likes men. Sure, Frank and Lilli are exes who still have feelings for each other, but the whole point of the play is the animosity that is reflected during the performance of Taming of the Shrew. It’s like inception stage style, and no one seems to understand that at all.
He’s sitting on the corner of the stage watching, and he’s got a view of Derek Hale that makes it slightly difficult to pay attention, but he knows from the faces that Derek keeps making just how bad it must be from that end. When Stephanie Miller takes the stage and starts singing ‘I Hate Men’ in a kittenish breathless tone, he’s just done. It doesn’t even enter his mind to stop and take a deep breath or to just ignore it. No, he groans so loud that it interrupts her performance, if you can even call it that, and he’s on his feet crossing the stage before he even realizes it.
“That’s so wrong,” he says, frustration evident in his tone. “You aren’t trying to seduce him, Stephanie. He’s your ex-husband who is trying to screw around with your co-star in this place, and you still love him, but you hate him, too. That needs to be there, in the song, or it changes the entire meaning and tone of the play.”
“Maybe you should just shut up and sit back down,” Derek suggests, his eyebrows doing an angry dance as Stephanie’s bottom lip starts to wobble.
“Maybe you should respect the source material enough to know when something needs criticized,” he snarks back. “I know you just joined drama on a lark or whatever, tired of mindlessly throwing balls around, but some of us are here because we care and we love what we do.”
“You don’t know anything about me, Stilinski, even if you like to sit around acting so superior and better than everyone just because you’ve been doing this longer.” Derek is practically in his face now, and Stiles refuses to get distracted by the beautiful color of his eyes up close.
“Why don’t you show her how it’s done, Stiles?” Greenberg suggests from the piano. He starts to play the opening to the song, and Stiles sneers at Derek.
“I hate men.” He snaps the words out, singing the song with the emotion that he imagines Lilli feels at that time, remembering that Lilli is playing Kate, too, and taking over the stage as he really gets going, treating Derek---Frank---the way he should be, as contemptible and annoying and so damn hot it’s ridiculous. He changes the lyrics as he sings, making it gender neutral, getting the other people trying out involved with the sly smiles and confiding bits. Then, at the end, he’s back at Derek, staring at him intently as he sings the last note. “I still hate men.”
Derek is breathing hard, his fingers curled into his palms, and his jaw is incredibly intense. He moves slightly, and, for a moment, Stiles isn’t sure if he’s going to hit him or kiss him. Well, the former is most likely with the latter just being wishful thinking. Not that Stiles ever wishes for that. No way. Derek Hale is his greatest rival in the history of rivalry, and he’s not letting good looks and a smart brain defeat him.
“Stiles, you’re awesome, but step away. Boyd doesn’t like it when blood is spilled on his stage,” Erica says, moving her arms around his waist and tugging him away from Derek. “You should remember that from sophomore year when you had that nosebleed.”
Stiles lets Erica pull him away from the tense situation, and he glances out into the auditorium to see Morrell and Finstock having a heated discussion. God, he hopes he hasn’t done something that’s going to get him kicked out of the show. He should have kept his mouth shut and, if not that, he definitely shouldn’t have let Greenberg play his ego to goad him into singing. The thought of getting kicked out of the play has him nervous for the rest of callbacks. He plays Bill as well as he can, feeling no real connection to the character but acting because that’s what this was all about anyway.
Fortunately, he isn’t told to stay behind so they can chastise him for his behavior, but he won’t know that it’s okay until the cast list goes up next week.
It’s been bound to happen sooner or later.
Stiles knows he’s an asshole, a cynical smartass with a quip for every moment, but he’s always managed to just skirt the edge of consequences his entire life. That’s obviously done now. The cast list is going up this afternoon, but he’s received a summons to Ms. Morrell’s office during lunch, which means she’s probably going to scold him for what happened last week and kick him out of drama club. His entire senior year will be ruined, and it’s all because he let Derek Hale get under his skin.
When he arrives at her office, he takes a few deep breaths before knocking. He can feel a panic attack stirring inside, but he’s gotten pretty good at fighting them off if he has a chance beforehand. Ms. Morrell isn’t alone. Coach Finstock is leaning against the window, and Derek Hale is sitting in a chair, his knuckles white from where he’s gripping his knees so hard. He looks surprised to see Stiles, which means he hasn’t called this meeting to complain or something.
“Thank you both for giving up your lunch period to meet with us,” Ms. Morrell says. “As you know, we are posting the cast list this afternoon.”
“Before we post it, we needed to speak with you,” Coach Finstock interrupts. “You see, this last week, we’d been going back and forth, and we’ve done some rewrites to the play.”
“It’s a more modern approach yet still set in the same era,” Ms. Morrell explains. “However, we wanted to discuss it with you before we proceed in case there are any objections.”
“It’s going to be amazeballs, but you two have to agree because Principal Martin is willing to back it against the likely complaints and school board fuss, but only if you two are all in and ready to deal with the backlash.”
Amazeballs. Stiles could have gone the rest of his life without hearing Coach use that word. “What’s going on?” He frowns as he looks between the two of them. “What kind of rewrite?”
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to put on a brilliant production,” Derek says, totally brownnosing without even knowing what’s ahead of them. He really should know better. Finstock is crazy and Morrell is always willing to push the envelope to shake things up.
“I’m glad to hear that, Derek.” Ms. Morrell looks at Stiles and just shakes her head when he arches a brow at her and gives her a distrustful look. There’s a fond smile on her lips when she holds out the script. “Here’s the direction we’d like to go.”
Stiles takes the play from her and blinks at the title. “Kiss Me Kit?” He starts to scan it, his eyes widening when he realizes they’ve turned Lilli into Luke and Katherine into Kit. “Seriously? You’ve given Lilli a sex change?”
“Why not? The stage is meant to be an interpretation of material and should adapt as society does,” Ms. Morrell explains. “Gender and race shouldn’t be an important part in casting. You were amazing as Katherine, and you and Derek have the right chemistry for this production.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of pushing boundaries, and I actually don’t see many parents being outraged. We’ve got an awesome LGBTQA community here, very supportive, and I think it actually adds an interesting dimension to the play, but I don’t know,” Stiles says, glancing at Derek, who is still reading even though the tips of his ears are red. Maybe if Derek refuses then Stiles can still get the lead? And, hell, if he accepts, Stiles will be playing lead anyway. It’s a win-win situation except having to play so closely with Derek. “You know, I’m bi, so I’m totally cool with playing, uh, Luke. What about you, Derek?”
Derek snaps his head up to stare at Stiles. “You’re bi?” he asks, totally missing the entire point of the conversation.
“Yeah, but don’t worry. I won’t infect you with it or anything if we have kissing scenes.” He puckers his lips and blows him a kiss.
“I’m not worried.” His tone is annoyed and dry. He looks at their teachers and nods. “I think it’s an interesting take on the material, and, honestly, Stiles is better than anyone else who auditioned.”
“Really?” Stiles blinks at him, not used to Derek Hale ever giving any kind of compliments, much less to him.
“You know you’re talented,” Derek mutters, frowning down at his copy of the script.
“Well, yeah, but I didn’t know you knew I was talented.” Stiles studies him a moment before clearing his throat. “So, who is going to Bill then?”
“Lahey. He’s not as strong as you, obviously, but he’s got spunk. He and Argent will make a good Bill and Lois.” Ms. Morrell is smiling a creepy little smile when Stiles looks at her. “Be sure to read through the rewrites. You’re both going to have to set aside your rivalry in order for this to be a success, you realize?”
“Rivalry? What rivalry?” Stiles flutters his eyelashes and gives his most innocent expression. “Derek, do you know of a rivalry?”
Derek rolls his eyes. “Not on my part, but it sounds pretty familiar.” He looks back at Finstock and Morrell. “Is that all? I’d like to grab some lunch before class starts.”
“Not on my part, my ass,” Stiles grumbles as they’re dismissed. He grabs Derek’s arm outside Morrell’s office, fingers stroking that hard bicep a little more than necessary but, hell, who could blame him? “You live for our rivalry, so don’t even pretend otherwise, Derek Hale. I see the smirks and smug looks and constant way you try to beat me at everything, including poetry units!”
“You sure seem to see a lot to be so blind, Stiles Stilinski,” Derek tells him, jerking his arm away and glaring. “You don’t me, you don’t even try to know me, so stop putting words in my mouth or motives to my actions. I’ll see you at rehearsal Friday, wifey.”
“Hey, who says I’m the wife?” Stiles yells after him, listening to him chuckle as several of their classmates stare at them.
Jackson Whittemore is playing Harrison Howell.
The gender flip only happened to Lilli, so Stiles now has the most obnoxious asshole in the school playing his two-timing fiancé. He’s got to kiss Jackson Whittemore. It’s enough to make him reconsider accepting the part. The only benefit is that Derek seems to dislike Jackson as much as Stiles does, so it’s proving to be fun watching that alpha male bullshit unfold. Jackson is handsy, which is a problem, and he doesn’t seem to mind kissing a guy even when his girlfriend, the redhaired goddess that is Lydia Martin, is right there watching.
The script they’re using has him and Jackson singing From This Moment On together, and their voices blend relatively well. It’s the first song that Stiles sings that they’re practicing. The last two weeks have been learning lines, getting characters down, figuring out the direction to take for each scene. As he and Jackson sing, Derek is working with Isaac, though not that well considering he’s spent the entire time watching Stiles and Jackson. Every time Jackson gets close to Stiles or touches him, Derek seems to get tense. It’s like Jackson’s whole presence is offensive.
As soon as they wrap the song and get feedback from Morrell, Finstock is actually coaching a game tonight, Stiles grabs a bottle of water to take a drink. He really enjoys the film version of this play, who wouldn’t like Howard Keel, but he’s glad their version is going for a more modern take on the song style because his classmates definitely couldn’t pull off the almost operatic approach in the film. Neither could he, really, even if he did take voice lessons when he was a kid.
“We should go next.” Derek is standing beside him, intense gaze focused in a way that makes Stiles almost forget they’re enemies. They might have a tentative truce right now to get through the play, but as soon the final curtain happens, he knows they’ll be back to competitive one upmanship that defines their relationship.
“Which one do you want to rehearse?” Stiles is ridiculously excited about having a chance to sing with Derek. He wants to hear how their voices blend, if they even do, and he wants to show he can hold his own regardless of what Derek did to get his voice improved.
“So In Love,” Derek decides. “It’s a duet, and we have to act like we’re in love, so it’ll be the biggest acting part we have.”
“Sure. Tell Greenberg, and we can do it.” Stiles watches him walk over to the piano, reluctantly raising his gaze from his ass. He sticks his tongue out when he notices Scott wagging a finger at him as if saying ‘told you so’. Sometimes he thinks he really does need new friends.
“Ready?” Derek’s question is almost daring, as if he somehow thinks Stiles can’t do this. Stiles narrows his eyes, which makes Derek huff out a laugh. “You’re supposed to be in love with me, not plotting my murder.”
“Maybe I can suggest another rewrite,” he says sweetly. “Darling.”
“You’re such an asshole,” Derek mutters. His lips curve into a slight smile as he leads Stiles to the piano. “It’s all an act, isn’t it?”
“Nope,” Stiles drawls out the ‘p’. “I really am just an asshole. Scott is rainbows and puppies while I’m a jerk that people don’t understand or don’t want to know. That’s why we’re such good friends, oddly enough.”
“Even if someone wants to know you or wants to try to understand you, you don’t let anyone get too close,” Derek points out.
“Damn, Hale. Are you taking Psych or something? Is this analyze Stiles day?” Stiles shakes his head. “Stop trying to distract me. I’m going to give you so much love that everyone here will think we’re having a secret affair because I’ll be just that good.”
“I’ll be even more convincing,” Derek promises, intense instead of smug.
Stiles starts singing, playing the part of Luke who used to be married to Frank, whom he still loves despite being engaged to someone else. He looks at Derek as he sings about the stars in the sky and arms enfolding him. Then Derek joins in, their voices blending better than anyone Stiles has ever sung a duet with in the past. It’s exhilarating for the actor part of him, the one who wants to be the best he can be and wants his shows to do really well regardless of his role. For the human part of him, it’s rough because they’re not even friends so he can’t even compliment Derek for being so good without feeling like he’s aiding the enemy.
Derek is looking at him like Stiles holds his entire world, his life, in his hands, and it’s so convincing that he has to dig deeper and tap into more emotions to compete. He thinks about lost love and second chances, about lust and infatuation, and he thinks about Derek and the feelings he’s had since he was thirteen that got pushed into the corner of his mind and locked away when Derek came to his theater and tried to take over his life. Scott might be right about his stupid infatuation, but Stiles hates dealing with his emotions, which is why he’s so good at theater, and he subscribes to the ‘ignore them until they go away’ philosophy.
When Derek touches his face, thumb dragging across his jaw, Stiles leans into the touch. They’re standing even closer together now, so close that Stiles just has to lift his hand to place his palm over Derek’s heart, the soft fabric of his Henley pressing against his hand as Derek breathes. During a break in the song when Derek is singing, Stiles licks his lips, feeling warmth spread across his cheeks as Derek’s beautiful eyes glance down to watch his tongue. Stiles looks at Derek’s lips as he sings the next part, swaying slightly towards him.
As the last words of the song are sung, Derek is cupping his jaw, thumb continuing to stroke his skin, and Stiles is gripping Derek’s shoulder, fingers splayed out to touch soft hair at the back of his neck. The piano stops playing, and there’s just silence. The only sound reaching his ears is their breathing. It takes him a moment to remember where they are, what they’re doing, and he feels so stupid for forgetting, even for just a few minutes, that this is just a role and Derek’s just acting. He looks away, catching sight of their classmates, his fellow theater nerds and the ones who do theater to fulfill a credit, staring at them like they’re putting on a performance.
He pulls his hand away from Derek quickly, running it over his fast as he pushes past him. Derek grips his arm, but he shakes it off. “I’m taking five,” he tells Ms. Morrell as he hurries down the stairs and off the stage. There’s the sound of footsteps following him, and he walks faster, exiting the auditorium and sucking in a few deep breaths. When the doors open soon after him, he feels so fucking stupid for thinking it’s going to be Derek when he sees Scott looking at him with a concerned expression on his face.
“Dude,” Scott says, reaching over to pull Stiles into a hug. He doesn’t have to say anything else because they’re brothers, and Stiles knows what he’s thinking without needing to hear the words.
Stiles is a professional.
Even if he’s just a seventeen year old high school student, he has an amazing work ethic, so he throws himself into his part and the play and doesn’t let his guard down like that again during rehearsals. Derek has tried talking to him a few times, but his friends, who he’ll never trade ever even if they’re annoying sometimes, are perfect at running interference. Scott has some weird something developing between him, Isaac, and Allison (go bro!), so they’ve even been recruited to the cause, much to Stiles’ chagrin. Erica hangs on him during any breaks when Scott isn’t there, and she gives Derek dirty looks that leave him looking confused and almost hurt.
Ms. Morrell actually tries talking to him about it, to find out what’s wrong, but he deflects like an expert and plays it off as senior blues and uncertainty about college and shit. Since becoming an actor isn’t practical at all unless he wants to starve and wait tables his whole life, he plans to major in education and drama so he can become a teacher. He also thought about becoming a cop like his dad, but his love for theater is in his blood from his mom, and he knows that’s where his heart really lays. Morrell doesn’t seem to believe him, but she lets him leave her office anyway.
Dress rehearsal goes horrible. It never fails. The worse it is, though, the better opening night seems to be. This play has so many set changes and costume changes that it’s ridiculous, and he’s glad he’s got Heather in the wings to help him get changed each scene or else it would be even worse. Isaac flubs a song, Allison trips on the length of her Bianca dress, Derek is acting like a robot who can’t express any emotions for fear of being killed, and Stiles ‘accidentally’ punches Jackson in the nose when he has the audacity to grope his ass during their musical number.
All in all, it could have been a lot better, but, hey, at least no one literally broke a leg this time (Liam).
Since opening night is on a Saturday, Scott shows up bright and early with McDonald’s and OJ. They proceed to kill everyone they can during a marathon round of COD, which helps take Stiles’ mind off tonight. His dad is going to be there, switching shifts so he can make sure he’s off tonight, and it’s his next to last full production of high school. It makes him feel sad, in a way, almost nostalgic like the old men who sit at Pop’s Diner talking about the good old days.
Erica and Boyd show up around two with burgers and curly fries, and the four of them eat while talking about the play and previous plays. Derek is never mentioned, fortunately, nor is Stiles’ lapse from a few weeks ago. He appreciates Boyd hanging with them considering he’s Derek’s best friend, but he knows Erica will likely be going to Derek’s after lunch for the same pre-show ritual and pep talk. They all have their own routines, after all. Despite the fact that he’s dating two of the show’s leads, Scott stays with Stiles all day. He’s the best bro to ever bro without a doubt, and Stiles shows him how much he loves him by letting him have the last of his curly fries.
They get to the auditorium at six. That gives them time to get ready and run through any parts they want to do pre-show. The stage looks awesome as do all the sets, which isn’t surprising considering Boyd has been doing stage work almost as long as Stiles has been acting. They’re the old school theater geeks from middle school, two of the last remaining who didn’t branch out to concentrate on sports or dance or academics. Heather and her group did great with the costumes, and Stiles likes the way his first suit fits. He admires the way his ass looks in it and the way it makes his shoulders look broad.
He catches sight of Derek backstage, looking gorgeous in an actual tux that’s required for the first scene. He’s clean shaven, cheeks smooth, and he’s smiling like he’s not at all nervous. Stiles stares a moment waiting to see Derek’s tell. There it is. The quick drum of his fingers against his thigh and the pursed lips as he looks at the curtain. Content that all things are as they should be, Stiles crosses the stage to take his position in the wings while Greenberg and Derek get situated on the stage.
“It’s a full house,” Scott whispers excitedly in Stiles’ ear. “That whole protest actually seemed to get us more publicity.”
“It could have been worse if Jackson hadn’t gotten his dad involved.” Stiles has to give credit where credit is due, even if he hopes Jackson’s nose is still sore. Derek looks at him then, and Stiles doesn’t look away for once. Instead, he focuses on the show and gives Derek a crooked grin. ‘Break a leg’, he mouths to him with a thumbs up. Derek blinks and ducks his head before giving Stiles a shy smile.
Before Stiles can think anything about it, the curtain rises. To the sound of applause, the opening night of Kiss Me Kit begins.
The next two hours pass quickly. Everyone is perfect, no one forgets a line, Jackson doesn’t grope, and Derek acts and sings like Stiles is the only thing he wants in the world. The audience loves it, even with their two male romantic lead twist, and he knows they’re having the best theatrical experience of their lives ever even as they perform it. He acts his ass off, wanting his dad to be proud, singing the best he’s ever sang, dancing and playing coy and flirting and kissing Jackson without punching him and romancing Derek so well that everyone watching knows why Derek would want to win him back. Because he’s just that awesome, obviously.
There are four different times when he and Derek almost kiss. It’s set up that way deliberately, always something happening to interrupt them, whether it’s arguing or Lois or gangsters or whatever, and each time, it seems that Derek’s mouth keeps getting closer. Considering everything that happened during that first song rehearsal, they’ve never practiced the kissing, and he wonders, in retrospect, if they should have. It might have made it easier to deal with this, Derek ghosting their lips together, leaning in and touching his face, looking at him like he’s a starving man and Stiles is a chocolate cake. His acting is so damn good tonight that Stiles would actually believe him if he were watching it from the audience. Of course, that just makes Stiles act even harder, and, together, they’re really amazing, if he does say so himself.
They’re reaching the last scene of the final act. On stage, they’re doing the wedding scene from Taming of the Shrew, and everyone’s wearing costumes over their modern clothes. Inception definitely. Stiles goes out at the last moment, joining the scene late like he’s supposed to, and this is the part where he and Derek are supposed to reconcile their real relationship as Frank and Luke without even saying a word. He sings his song for the wedding as Luke playing Kit, looking at Derek as Frank playing Petruchio as he sings. Derek is looking back at him with such a besotted expression that it makes his heart beat faster.
The end of the play in the play comes, and they take their bows, the chorus singing a reprise as Isaac and Allison kiss. Derek walks over to Stiles, his gaze not even breaking when one of the extras almost knocks into him. Stiles is waiting for him, his breath catching at the way Derek looks at him. It’s Frank looking at Luke, he tries telling himself, but he’s not entirely sure he believes that anymore. Not after tonight. Not even Derek is that good of an actor. He tilts his head slightly even though they’re the same height, and he licks his lips as Derek leans in to press their mouths together.
The script calls for a passionate kiss.
Derek and Stiles surpass that script direction with the first press of wet lips against chapped. Stiles moves his mouth, bumping their noses together and scraping his teeth against Derek’s upper lip, but Derek just keeps kissing him. Not to be outdone, Stiles parts his lips and flicks his tongue out, nudging at Derek’s closed lips. When they part, he takes immediate advantage by sweeping his tongue into Derek’s mouth. Derek makes a soft broken sound before he’s suddenly holding Stiles against him, deepening the kiss, gripping his hair and his ass as their tongues curl and suck while the cast sings around them.
It takes Scott, who is playing one of the non-singing extras, to bump them hard enough to get their attention to break the kiss. Stiles remembers where they are and blushes, taking a moment to try to catch his breath before he faces the audience for their actual bow. Derek is holding onto his hand, tight enough that he knows he won’t be running off to avoid discussing what just happened. The audience is applauding, and he can’t stop grinning now that it’s over because tonight was amazing. He really hopes Ms. Morrell was recording like usual because he’s definitely going to want his own copy.
When the curtain falls, Derek curls his fingers around Stiles’ and tugs him off stage away from everyone else. Stiles follows because, well, he wants to know what’s about to happen. What he doesn’t expect is for Derek to push him against the backdrop for the alley scene and say, “I joined drama club because of you.”
“Wait. What?” Stiles is confused.
“Don’t…don’t interrupt, okay?” Derek sighs. “I might not make it through if you do. I’ve been practicing it, you know?”
“No, I don’t know, but I’ll try to be quiet.” Stiles knows that it’s likely impossible but it doesn’t hurt to try.
“Eighth grade, Boyd was working on sets, and I came by after basketball practice because it was the only way to see him during a production. Anyway, you came on stage and it was between rehearsal or something because you started singing that song from the Wizard of Oz to McCall and Erica.” Derek swallows as he raises his hand to Stiles’ face. “You were beautiful. Boyd made so much fun of me for just staring at you like that. I’d seen you around, shared classes with you, but I’d never really seen you until that day.”
“I wasn’t beautiful in eighth grade. I was skinny and hyperactive and weird looking. You’re crazy,” Stiles mutters even as he feels a warm flush spreading down his neck.
“You were. You are.” Derek strokes his knuckles down Stiles’ cheek. “I snuck into the auditorium every chance I could get that year to watch you. That summer, I talked it over with my parents and quit basketball and lacrosse so I could join theater. It wasn’t just for you, because I was hooked by then, and playing a different person was so much better than running around on the court. They never asked why, but my sister, Laura, knows, and she’s the one who helped me practice. Got me singing lessons when it was obvious just how bad I was. She’s out there tonight, waiting to kick my ass if I wimp out again on telling you how I feel.”
“I might kick your ass if you don’t get on with it,” Stiles mutters, unable to believe that Derek’s somehow been crushing on him for years. “You’re a competitive prick who deliberately shook up my life. We’re rivals, Derek!”
“I never wanted to be your rival, Stiles! You just lashed out at me the first time I auditioned, and it’s been that way ever since. No matter what I did to get your attention, I couldn’t get through to you.” Derek rubs his thumb over Stiles’ lips. “I’m too much of a coward to have confessed sooner, but I can’t keep going on like this. I want to date you, Stiles Stilinski. I want to hold your hand and steal kisses and go to the theater with you and hold you all night and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t think I can actually say without getting too embarrassed. But, yeah. There it is.”
“There it is?” Stiles snorts. “Nearly four years of getting the roles I want, of debating me in English over the actual interpretation of poetry, of trying to beat me in every single class we have together, and that’s your big explanation. There it is. You couldn’t have just pulled a Troy and actually told me how you felt from the start so I wouldn’t waste all this time trying to hate you with your talkative eyebrows and bunny teeth and scruffy man beard and beautiful eyes and hot bod.”
“I refuse to sing High School Musical, and I’m not Zac Effron,” Derek mutters, actually getting the reference and making Stiles hate (love) him a little more.
“No, you’re hotter.” Stiles realizes what he’s said and shoves Derek’s (well-built, firm, he wants to touch it again) chest. “Don’t think you get to just come in here with your whole romantic declaration after that awesome kiss and just sweep me off my feet and woo me so effortlessly. I’m not that easy, Derek Hale.”
“You’re the furthest thing from easy that I’ve ever seen,” Derek agrees. “I’ve been trying to get your attention for four years, and I actually had to write a speech in order to get you to understand. Erica said you’re oblivious and pining so I’d better do something about it or she’d castrate me with her fingernails.”
“Erica’s a great friend. And her fingernails are fearsome.” Stiles wants to play hard to get longer but, really, he is easy when it comes to Derek fucking Hale. “When I was thirteen, I realized I was bi after seeing play basketball in a pair of booty shorts and nothing else.”
Derek makes a strangled noise. “What?” He stares for a moment then the top of his ears flushes. “Oh God. I lost a bet to Whittemore. That’s why I still can’t stand the jerk.”
“You’re the reason I had a sexual identity crisis. Are you even listening to me? Some suitor you turn out to be. Where’s the whole besotted adoration and attempts at wooing, Derek Hale?” Stiles demands, snapping his fingers.
“Why do you constantly say my name like that?” Derek’s lips are twitching slightly. “I used to hate it, but now I find it pretty adorable.”
“I don’t know why. Because it seems appropriate to call my greatest rival by his full name in order to protect any Dereks who might be in the vicinity from my ire.” Stiles shrugs. “And I’m not adorable. You said I’m beautiful, remember?”
“You can be both,” Derek informs him. “So, you think I’m hot and wanted to bone me when you were thirteen. Is that a good foundation to build a relationship? Or do I have to write you poetry?”
“It’s not very solid for a foundation,” Stiles points out. “Pretty physical, really, and you deserve someone who can appreciate how smart you are and knows that you volunteer at the senior center every month and realizes that you suck at talking about emotional shit without having time to prepare a speech, Oh My God, Derek, really, a practiced speech, like you had to rehearse this.” He ducks his head and glances up from beneath lowered lashes. “Fortunately for you, I know someone who fits that description rather well who wants to date you and argue about novels versus adaptations and wants to meet this sister who is so supportive and wants to do all those naughty things that you think about that make you blush.”
“McCall isn’t my type,” Derek deadpans, laughing when Stiles slaps his arm and pouts. “It looks like I’m not the only who isn’t good at the emotional shit. Maybe we can both be bad at it together?”
“I don’t know. That kiss might have been an anomaly. The lights and audience and our characters---“ His words are captured by Derek’s mouth, soft and gentle against his lips. He wraps his arms around Derek’s neck and deepens the kiss, letting who knows how much time pass as they explore each other’s mouths. When they finally come up for air, he rubs his nose against Derek’s. “My dad and I always go for pizza on opening night. Scott and the others join us. You wanna come with us?”
“That depends.” Derek is playing with his hair, fingers rubbing against his scalp. “Will it be as your co-star or your boyfriend? Also, my family is here, so they have to come with us, too.”
“Of course they can. And I think potential boyfriend is the best option,” Stiles decides, smiling against Derek’s mouth. “We need to date and make sure we don’t kill each other before making things all official. Besides, my dad would kill me if I suddenly introduced a boyfriend that I hadn’t even mentioned dating.”
“Well, we don’t want your dad to kill you. Potential boyfriends is good. I know I’ll have the part in no time anyway,” Derek says confidently. “My best performance ever will be in the role of Stiles Stilinski’s boyfriend because I won’t have to act at all.”
“Maybe so, but I’ll still totally be a better boyfriend than you,” Stiles promises, leaning in for another kiss before Derek can object. Soon enough, Scott will come looking for them, and they’ll have to go back to reality and deal with parents and friends and high school. For now, they can lose themselves in kisses and gentle touches as they leave their rivalry behind.