“Lydia,” Stiles groans, looking at her with his best pleading eyes. “Please don’t make me go. I’m begging you. I will literally get down on my knees if you don’t make me go.”
“Hmmm tempting,” Lydia says, her tone flippant. “But no. I enjoy money more than oral.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Stiles sputters, his cheeks turning red.
“What sort of erotica novelist misses that sort of innuendo?” Lydia snorts, and Stiles can’t help but pout a little.
“Does it really matter if I go to this convention or not?” Stiles sighs, slumping back into the couch in Lydia’s office. “I mean, I’ve never gone before and my books are still super popular.
“Jennifer Blake,” Lydia practically sneers the name, “outsold Starstruck with her latest drivel.”
Stiles winces. It’s a bit of a sore spot – Jennifer Blake’s always come in second, at least since Stiles’ books started getting popular.
“Okay, but sci-fi romances are generally less popular than period ones,” Stiles points out.
“Your name should be enough to sell any book,” Lydia sniffs. Part of Stiles wants to point out that he goes by a pseudonym – A. Schneemann – but he manages to bite his tongue. Lydia doesn’t seem like she’s in the mood for technicalities.
“I just don’t understand why you think me going to this romance novel convention is going to help with my book sales,” Stiles whines. “You know I hate these things because I’m socially awkward and large groups of people make me anxious.”
“Sometimes,” Lydia tuts, “people need to put a face to a name. They get more emotionally attached that way.”
“Right, because people are going to get so attached to my weird-looking face,” Stiles says, his tone flat.
“You’d be surprised,” Lydia replies with a smirk, and Stiles feels like he’s missing something. “But this argument has gone on long enough. I expect you to be there, or I’m dropping you as a client.”
“Lydiaaaaa,” Stiles whines. “But you’re my agent! You can’t just leave me! How would I survive?”
“Go to the convention and you won’t have to find out,” Lydia says primly. Stiles groans. “Now, I have another meeting in fifteen minutes. Go block off your schedule – I’ve already booked the hotel and plane tickets.”
“You’re evil,” Stiles mutters, narrowing his eyes, but he drags himself up off of Lydia’s couch.
“I prefer the term ‘ruthless’,” Lydia replies idly.
Stiles rolls his eyes and walks out of the office.
He tries not to think too much about the convention on the way back to his apartment, but it’s stubbornly lodged at the front of his mind. It’s true what he told Lydia, that he doesn’t want to go because he gets anxious around people, but that’s not his only reason.
He likes the anonymity, the security it provides. Likes that there are entire forums dedicated to speculating about his identity: his gender, his sexuality, his age.
Of course, there’s one thing they all seem to agree on: he’s some sort of sex god.
Which is really, really awkward, because he’s a twenty-three year old virgin.
It’s not that he’s embarrassed about it, really. First it was just because it wasn’t the right time, and then it was because he was waiting for the right person, and then, well. By that time he’d written so much porn that he’d become sure that any actual sex he had would be… disappointing.
But he’s watched porn – so much porn – and has a veritable treasure trove of sex toys for solo use, so it’s not like he’s completely ignorant about sex. A hell of a lot of sexually experienced people like his books, at any rate.
Which, of course, is precisely the problem. People seem to assume that he’s great at writing sex because he’s great at, uh, having sex. He’s terrified that as soon as someone starts talking to him at the convention they’re just going to know and the whole illusion will be shattered. His whole erotica empire is going to crumble.
He really needs a how to guide, or something. How to Pretend You’re Not a Virgin. Or maybe How to Pretend You’re a Sex God would be better.
Maybe he could just pretend he’s really into virgin roleplay?
Maybe this won’t be quite as bad as Stiles had feared.
… alright, maybe he’s only thinking that because he’d seen some of the cover models checking into the hotel at the same time he was. Somehow Danny Mahealani looks even hotter in person than he does on the cover of Stiles’ third novel, Hibiscus Sunset.
And Stiles has spent a lot of time staring at that cover.
(On the other hand, not a lot of men come to romance novel conventions except for the cover models, which means that Stiles is definitely going to rediscover all of his old body image issues before the five days of the con are up.)
“Sir?” someone says, brining Stiles back down to earth and making him tear his eyes away from one of the other cover models walking by.
“Uh, yes?” Stiles replies, eyes landing on a petite woman with a staff lanyard around her neck.
“I’m afraid only authors setting up their tables are allowed beyond this point today,” she continues. “The convention doesn’t officially start until tomorrow.”
“Oh, right, yeah,” Stiles says, slinging his bag down off his shoulder and rummaging around in it for a few moments until he manages to come up with his name badge, letting out a triumphant noise. The woman looks surprised when he presents her with it, and her small eyes widen even further when she leans in to read it.
“Mr. Schneemann,” she stutters, her cheeks going a little pink as she looks back up at Stiles. “I’m so sorry, I just wasn’t really expecting – ”
“Hey, no worries,” Stiles laughs, running a hand through his hair a little nervously. “It’s not like I’ve ever been to any of these, so. But, uh, I should go set up my table.”
He makes a break for it before he can say anything else awkward, but he can feel the woman’s eyes on him the entire way. God, this is awkward. Maybe these people really do have virginity radars.
In fact, as Stiles starts unpacking his books and setting them up on his table, he becomes more and more certain that the other people at the convention really do have some sort of sixth sense about his lack of sexual experience. People keep staring at him.
Of course, it could be due to the fact that he’s pretty sure he’s the only guy in the room. They’re probably wondering if he got lost or something, considering he’s definitely not attractive enough to be one of the cover models.
“Excuse me,” someone says, making Stiles flinch and nearly drop the poster he’s been trying to situate. “Do you know when A. Schneemann is going to get here?”
“Yes?” Stiles replies, turning to find an attractive woman in maybe her early thirties behind him.
She continues to look at him expectantly.
“Uh, I’m A. Schneemann,” Stiles says, tapping on the poster in his hands with his fingers, so he doesn’t just explode with nervous energy. “I mean, that’s my pseudonym. I normally go by Stiles. Can I help you?”
“Oh,” the woman replies, looking a little shocked. “Wow, sorry, I wasn’t expecting – ”
“Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot,” Stiles says, a wry smile on his face. “Not as impressive in real life, I guess.”
“That is really not the problem,” the woman breathes, and something shifts in her expression. It puts Stiles a little on edge, but he can’t quite tell why. “I just wasn’t expecting you to be quite so… young. Or male.”
“Uh,” Stiles replies. “Thanks?”
“I actually just wanted to tell you how much I love your books. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Glass Slipper,” the woman continues, and she suddenly seems a lot closer than she was before. “Maybe we could talk about it more over dinner.”
“Oh, uh, sorry, but I have to meet with my agent tonight,” Stiles stutters. He takes a step back, only to feel his ass hit the edge of the table. “I’m glad you like my books, though.”
“Well, if you want to stop by my room after, we could always order room service,” the woman replies, her eyes raking over him. Stiles has to consciously prevent his mouth from dropping open in surprise. “Here’s my number if you need it.”
She slips a small piece of paper in one of the front pockets of Stiles’ jeans, fingers lingering for just a moment too long. Then she winks at him and turns on her heel to leave, her hips swaying.
It takes Stiles a moment or two to recover from the shock.
It then takes him another moment to figure out what just happened. Suddenly it makes a lot more sense why Lydia keeps insisting on ‘putting a face to a name’ for his novels. He’s not vain by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s one thing for his readers to imagine some sixty year old shut-in writing their favorite erotica, as opposed to a twenty-something guy who looks okay-ish in the right light.
A twenty-something guy who they think is some sort of sex god. Oh shit.
Stiles kind of hates Lydia.
The first official day of the convention is, well. Stiles is one part embarrassed, one part aroused, and one part terrified. Apparently word has gotten around that A. Schneemann is both a man, and a good ten years younger than everyone’s estimates, and people have decided they need to see for themselves.
Or flirt for themselves. One of those two.
“Sorry, my handwriting’s kind of a mess,” Stiles laughs nervously as he hands yet another woman a signed copy of one of his books. The one good thing that’s come out of this mess is that he is, actually, selling a lot more books than anticipated. Lydia apparently had the right idea.
“Oh, don’t worry, mine’s so much worse,” the woman replies, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “See, look at that!”
For what must be at least the tenth time today, Stiles finds himself holding a strip of paper with a phone number on it.
“Uh,” Stiles says.
“You know, my favorite scene in this book is when Leone and Felix visit the amusement park,” the woman continues, tongue darting out to sweep over her lower lip. “There’s a Ferris Wheel not too far away, actually, if you’d like to help me reenact it.”
“Uh,” Stiles repeats. That’s probably the most graphic scene in the entire book. “I think my phone is ringing.”
However, as he rounds the corner out into the hallway, looking back over his shoulder to make sure no one’s following him, he runs into what feels like a wall.
“Ow,” Stiles whines, and turns his head back to see what he hit.
Or, rather, who he hit. At least now he knows that Derek Hale’s chest is exactly as firm as it looks on the cover of Glass Slipper. And Mr. Arissen. And Hot Blood. And Starstruck. (Stiles may or may not have a thing for plastering Derek Hale’s naked chest on the front of his novels. It’s a problem.)
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Stiles blurts out, his cheeks flushing.
“You in a hurry to get somewhere?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles.
“Um,” Stiles says for about the millionth time that day. “No?”
“Really?” Derek drawls, looking back over Stiles’ shoulder into the author’s room. “Because there are a lot of people staring at you.”
“How do you know they’re not staring at you?” Stiles snorts, before his brain to mouth filter kicks in.
“No, it’s definitely you,” Derek replies, a smirk spreading across his lips. Stiles is pretty sure his brain shorts out for a moment. “They get to see enough of me.”
Stiles opens his mouth to reply, but before he can, he’s interrupted by someone exclaiming, “Oh my god, are you A. Schneemann?”
Stiles has to bite back a groan as he turns to find yet another eager looking young woman next to him clutching a very familiar book.
“And you’re with Derek Hale!” the woman continues, holding up a copy of Hot Blood, Derek’s oil slick chest plastered all over the cover. “Although I have to say, now that I finally know what you look like I’m kind of surprised you’re not the one on the cover.”
There’s a predatory glint in her eye, and Stiles has to resist the urge to hide behind Derek.
“Thanks?” he finally squeaks.
“Do you think I could get a picture – ” the woman starts, but before she can finish, Stiles feels someone put their arm around his shoulders.
“Actually, I’m afraid Mr. Schneemann and I were just about to head out for lunch,” Derek interrupts, and holy shit, Derek Hale’s arm is around his shoulders. “We’re almost late for our reservation.”
“Oh,” the woman replies, sounding disappointed. “I better let you two go, then.”
“Thank you, miss,” Derek says with a smile Stiles is ninety-eight percent sure is fake, as he steers Stiles down the hall and away from the woman.
“Thanks,” Stiles finally manages when they’re safely around the corner and out of earshot.
“So, you’re A. Schneemann?” Derek asks, and Stiles has to bite back a sigh.
“Stiles, technically. And please don’t tell me that I’m not what you were expecting,” Stiles groans. “I’ve heard that about a million times already today.”
Derek laughs. Well, it’s actually more of a small, amused snort, but Stiles definitely wants to hear it again. Ugh, he’s starting to sound like one of the characters in his books.
“Then we’ll have to think of something else to talk about over lunch,” Derek replies.
“Lunch?” Stiles sputters. “I thought that was just an excuse to get away from that lady.”
“Have you eaten yet?” Derek counters, quirking an eyebrow at Stiles.
“I – no,” Stiles admits reluctantly. He glances down at his watch, surprised to find that it’s already one thirty.
“And neither have I,” Derek replies. “Also, this way I can try to get on the cover of your next book before anyone else has to chance to apply.”
“Oh,” Stiles says, simultaneously relieved and disappointed. Derek Hale may be hot like the sun and the star of more than a few of Stiles’ most vivid fantasies, but he’s honestly had enough of people hitting on him right now. “Alright then. Where to?”
Which is how Stiles finds himself sitting across the table from Derek Hale in a small Italian restaurant, trying to figure out how to eat pasta gracefully. He’s not very successful, he thinks.
“Do you know what your next book is going to be?” Derek asks, and Stiles has to remind himself that this is just shop talk for Derek, and doesn’t mean he’s actually interested in Stiles’ writing. He just wants to know if there’s a chance for him to get on the cover.
“I was actually planning on focusing more on my Queen Alyssa series, which, um, I don’t think you’d really be the right fit for the cover,” Stiles answers, trying to resist the urge to fidget in his seat. “Not because you’re not attractive enough or anything! It’s just that I, um, was going to focus more on her relationship with Lady Gwendoline.”
“Well, my sister will be happy, at least,” Derek replies, surprising Stiles. “She was cursing your name for a week after you ended the last installment with Alyssa dancing with Sir Sterling at the ball.”
“Hey, no telling your sister,” Stiles says. “I don’t want to see any spoilers posted online either.”
“The only spoilers I care about are for your sequel to California Weekend,” Derek retorts. Stiles is pretty sure his brain short circuits for a second.
“You’ve read that one?” Stiles sputters, his cheeks going red. It’s one of his more popular novels in the M/M fiction genre, and he knows he shouldn’t stereotype, but he’d certainly never imagined Derek Hale reading it.
“Multiple times,” Derek replies casually.
“I’m not giving you any spoilers,” Stiles says, biting his lower lip. “But I will say that I’m introducing a new character who you might be able to portray on the cover. If you’re interested.”
He carefully does not mention that he may or may not have been imagining Derek when he first came up with dark, handsome Alexis. Well, not Derek Derek, but Derek’s body, at least.
“I would be very interested,” Derek says with a smirk.
“I’ll mark you down for it, then,” Stiles replies, his cheeks heating. “As thanks for saving me earlier.”
“You don’t owe me for that,” Derek protests, his lips turning down in a frown. “I know I joked about it, but I didn’t actually help you because I was expecting any sort of compensation.”
“I still wanna thank you, though,” Stiles says, shrugging. “Honestly, I don’t know how you can deal with it. People must throw themselves at you all the time.”
“It’s not as bad for me,” Derek replies. “Everyone at the convention is very aware that I’m getting paid to sell them a certain fantasy. It’s much worse for you because you are the fantasy.”
“Uh,” Stiles says, blinking at Derek. “I’m the fantasy?”
“You’re an attractive young man who has a very successful writing career and you’re producing some of the hottest porn on the market, quite a bit of which is geared towards women,” Derek explains, his lips twitching up into another small smirk. “You are definitely their fantasy come to life.”
“But I’m – I have social anxiety, and I talk too much, and I get winded going up a single flight of stairs, and Lydia’s always telling me I have a horrible taste in fashion, and – ” Stiles babbles. “I mean, I’ve built my entire career on writing sex, but I’m still a freaking virgin!”
Stiles’ brain finally manages to catch up with his mouth, and he feels his face slowly turning red as he replays his last exclamation in his mind. From across the table, Derek is staring at him, looking a little dazed.
“You – so you’ve never had penetrative sex?” Derek asks, his brow furrowing.
“Oh my god, kill me now,” Stiles groans, burying his face in his hands. “The closest I’ve gotten to sex was a five second long kiss with Kathy Johnson in tenth grade.”
“But your books – ” Derek starts, still sounding dazed.
“I watch and read a lot of porn,” Stiles grumbles. “And I masturbate a lot. Sex toys are a virgin’s best friend.”
“Ah,” Derek says.
A few moments of awkward silence pass, and Stiles is starting to wonder if there’s any way he can escape and never see Derek Hale again, when Derek says, “Would you like to have sex?”
“What, like in theory?” Stiles asks, wrinkling his nose.
“No, with me,” Derek answers. Stiles’ brain short circuits again.
“Oh,” Stiles stutters. “Oh, uh.”
“Unless you’re not attracted to me, of course,” Derek says quickly. “I just assumed.”
“No, it’s – you’re, uh – I mean – ” Stiles flounders, his cheeks turning red. “It’s just that part of why I’m still, you know, is that I don’t do casual sex.”
“Alright,” Derek replies, nodding. “Just thought I’d offer.”
He sounds so nonchalant about it that Stiles can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Clearly Derek was just trying to be a Good Samaritan and isn’t actually that interested in Stiles, either sexually or romantically. Story of his life, it seems like.
They fall into another awkward silence for a few moments, Stiles wracking his brain for something non-awkward to say. But really, what’s he supposed to say after telling a super hot guy that he’s a virgin and then shooting down said hot guy’s proposition?
“So, I have to know,” Derek says, breaking the silence. “Are Queen Alyssa and Lady Gwendoline going to get together in the end?”
“Dude, I told you no spoilers,” Stiles groans, but he can’t help the way the corners of his lips twitch up into a small smile.
“Come on, I won’t tell anyone,” Derek presses. “I just want to tell my sister I know, so I can lord it over her.”
“That is cruel and unusual punishment,” Stiles laughs. “I feel so sorry for your sister.”
“She once read my diary aloud to my other sister when I was fourteen,” Derek huffs. “She deserves it.”
“Oooh, were you going through an angsty teenage phase?” Stiles teases, and he thinks he can see the barest hint of pink coloring Derek’s cheeks.
“Maybe,” Derek admits.
“Alright, fine,” Stiles sighs. “Yes, Alyssa and Gwendoline are endgame.”
“Laura will be happy,” Derek says, smiling softly. He looks stupidly pretty like that, Stiles can’t help but think.
“Hey, now remember, you can’t tell her,” Stiles huffs, narrowing his eyes at Derek. “Even when Gwendoline’s ex-lover comes back into town in the next book and makes things look like Queen Alyssa and Sir Sterling are going to get married.”
“Oh no, I plan on enjoying her pain,” Derek replies, his smile turning into a smirk. “I don’t suppose I can get you to spoil the sequel to California Weekend for me, though.”
“Nope,” Stiles says, popping the ‘p.’ “You’ll just have to wait for that one.”
“I look forward to it,” Derek replies, and there’s something about his gaze that does funny things to Stiles’ insides.
For a moment, Stiles regrets not taking up on his offer of sex.
“Lydiaaaaa,” Stiles whines, phone pressed to his ear. “Why did you make me come to this convention? What sort of heartless monster are you, throwing me to the wolves?”
“The kind who wants you to be able to pay your rent,” Lydia replies primly.
“Liar,” Stiles huffs. “I could pay my rent just fine before this.”
“Well, now you might be able to move out of that crappy apartment of yours and get someplace nice,” Lydia sniffs.
“Hey, my apartment is fine!” Stiles retorts. “And it beats getting hit on by half the freaking convention.”
“Well, I hear you have a knight in shining armor saving you from all those pesky suitors,” Lydia replies, making Stiles go rigid.
“What? How do you know about – ” Stiles sputters.
“Twitter,” Lydia replies easily. “Congratulations, by the way.”
“It’s not like that,” Stiles sighs, trying not to think about Derek’s stupidly attractive face. “He just saw me getting overwhelmed and decided to help. He felt sorry for me.”
“Which is why he took you out to lunch,” Lydia says, her tone dry.
“He wanted spoilers for some of my books,” Stiles protests.
“He could have easily pestered you about spoilers without buying you lunch,” Lydia replies, which, alright, might be true, but Stiles is pretty sure Derek’s just a nice guy. “He’s definitely interested in you.”
“He offered me pity sex,” Stiles blurts out. For a moment, Lydia’s silent on the other end.
“And you…?” Lydia prompts.
“Told him I don’t do casual sex,” Stiles groans, resisting the urge to smother himself with a pillow. “And anyway, he only offered because I told him about being an awkward virgin. He felt sorry for me.”
“Stiles, I have been reliably informed that Derek Hale is not in the habit of feeling sorry for people,” Lydia replies.
“And who is your ‘reliable’ source?” Stiles huffs.
“Laura Hale,” Lydia answers simply.
“Ah,” Stiles replies, unsure what to say to that.
“Just ask him out already, you baby,” Lydia snorts. “Worse comes to worst he says no and you never have to see him again.”
“But he’s my favorite cover model, Lydia,” Stiles whines. “He would never agree to be on one of my books ever again if I asked him out and he said no!”
“Would you want to see him on the covers of your books if he rejected you?” Lydia counters, which, okay, is a pretty good point.
“I hate when you make sense,” Stiles mutters.
“You’d be lost without me,” Lydia says airily. “Now go put on your big boy pants and ask Derek Hale out.”
“Yes, Mom,” Stiles sighs.
The only problem is, Stiles doesn’t really know how to find Derek again at the convention. It’s a pretty big event, and there are so many attendees Stiles doesn’t know where to start.
So for now he’s stuck at his table, laughing awkwardly when people try to flirt with him and gazing forlornly towards the door, as if that will somehow make Derek magically appear. He hasn’t had any luck so far.
However, at around noon, a vaguely familiar looking woman makes her way towards his table. There’s something amused about her expression, like she knows something that he doesn’t, and it puts Stiles a little on edge.
“A. Schneemann,” the woman says, extending a hand for Stiles to shake. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“Uh, hi,” Stiles replies, taking her hand and hoping his palm isn’t too sweaty from nervousness. “Call me Stiles.”
“Stiles,” the woman repeats, practically purring the word. “Laura Hale.”
“Laura – oh wow, hi, hello,” Stiles flounders, flailing a little. “The convention is quite something. Thanks for having me.”
(Did he mention that Laura Hale runs the entire convention? And a publishing house?)
“My brother was right,” she says, her smile sharp. “You are cute.”
“Derek talked about me?” Stiles blurts out before he can stop himself.
“Oh, did he,” Laura replies, a mischievous look on her face. “He could barely shut up about you, which is quite an accomplishment for Derek. He’s normally not much of a talker.”
“Wow, well, I hope it was all good,” Stiles says, laughing nervously. He really hopes Derek didn’t spill the virginity beans, too.
“He also mentioned that you told him some spoilers for the Queen Alyssa series,” Laura continues, leaning a little farther over the table, towards Stiles. “I happen to love those books.”
“Oh, I was – it wasn’t anything important,” Stiles lies, trying not to shrink under Laura’s intense gaze.
“Really? Then you wouldn’t mind telling me, too?” Laura asks, an almost-innocent look on her face.
“Wouldn’t it, uh, be more fun to read it for yourself and find out?” Stiles hedges.
Laura’s quiet for a moment, studying him carefully. Stiles tries not to fidget, although he’s not terribly successful. Laura Hale is a pretty intimidating woman.
“I like you,” she announces suddenly, grinning. “My brother has good taste.”
“Uh,” Stiles says. “Thanks?”
“He’s in Ballroom A right now, doing a photo op,” Laura continues. “You should go check it out.”
“Okay?” Stiles replies, a little confused.
“I hope to be seeing a lot more of you, Stiles,” Laura says casually. “Now, could you sign my book?”
Stiles nods and accepts the book, feeling a little dazed, and like he’s still missing something. Is this Laura telling him to go ask out her brother or something? Or is she just trying to finagle spoilers for his next book? Stiles is kind of hoping that it’s the former.
Laura beams at him when he hands the book back to her, and then turns on her heel to sashay away. Stiles feels a little bulldozed.
He only stares after her for a moment, though, before realizing that he now knows where Derek is. Which means he can go ask Derek out now. He debates asking someone to watch his table for him, but then decides that enough people are watching it with hawk-eyes as it is.
He starts making his way to Ballroom A.
Of course, upon arrival he realizes that Laura failed to mention one key fact. Namely, that it’s a shirtless photo op.
(Then again, maybe that didn’t even occur to Laura as something she should mention. After all, it is a cover model photo op.)
Derek’s currently posing with a woman, and it takes Stiles a moment to realize they’re reenacting the cover of Glass Slipper. It’s remarkably accurate – the woman seems to have brought a lot of props. Stiles is kind of flattered, actually.
Of course, there’s a substantial line of people waiting to take a picture with Derek, so Stiles mostly hangs off to the side and watches as women – some of who are extremely attractive – hang off of Derek’s bare chest and arms. With each passing moment, Stiles begins to wonder if trying to ask Derek out is a mistake. He clearly has a lot of admirers, and Stiles is just… Stiles.
“Here for a photo?” someone asks, startling Stiles slightly. (A lot of people seem to be sneaking up on him, lately.)
Stiles whirls around to see a man standing behind him, bare chested like Derek and wearing what could generously (very generously) be called a gladiator costume. Stiles vaguely recognizes the man as one of the cover models he’d considered for Hot Blood.
“Not really,” Stiles manages, feeling his face heat. “I just – ”
“Came to enjoy the view,” the gladiator says with a smirk. “Because I could offer you a free photo, if you want. We don’t get a lot of guys at these conventions, and certainly not ones as cute as you.”
“I’m waiting for Derek,” Stiles blurts out. The gladiator’s expression darkens.
“Of course you are,” he huffs. “Have fun trying to melt the iceberg.”
He stalks away before Stiles can reply.
Thankfully, before Stiles can overanalyze the gladiator’s “melt the iceberg” comment, he hears a familiar voice say, “Stiles?”
“Derek!” he replies, looking over to see Derek walking towards him. “Fancy seeing you here!”
“Did Laura put you up to this?” Derek asks, frowning, his brow furrowing, and Stiles’ heart sinks a little bit. Maybe Laura really was over exaggerating Derek’s interest in him.
“I mean, she told me you were here, but she didn’t force me to come or anything,” Stiles replies, rocking on his heels nervously. “But I wasn’t expecting the – ” He waves a hand at Derek’s general lack of clothing.
“Did you need to talk to me about something?” Derek asks, frowning.
“Um, actually yeah,” Stiles replies, taking a deep breath. “I was wondering if you want to get dinner with me tonight.”
“Dinner?” Derek repeats, looking a little surprised.
“Like a date,” Stiles adds. “If you’re interested in that! Or if you’re not it could always be, like, a friend dinner or – ”
“A date sounds good,” Derek interrupts, a small, amused smile on his lips.
“Really?” Stiles blurts out, unable to keep the surprise from his face.
“Did you expect me to say no?” Derek asks, frowning.
“I mean, kind of?” Stiles admits, fidgeting with his hands. “You’re kind of – ” Stiles waves his hand at Derek’s general everything. “ – and I’m just – ”
“I thought we went over this yesterday,” Derek snorts. “I sell the fantasy, you are the fantasy.”
“Well, I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate, but if it gets you to date me, I’m sold,” Stiles replies, and Derek cracks a smile. “I, um. I’m still kind of nervous about the sex thing, though.”
“I don’t put out on the first date,” Derek says with a smirk.
“That’s not what I – ” Stiles sputters, his cheeks flushing red. “Okay, maybe that was sort of what I – but, I mean – ”
“Don’t worry about it,” Derek interrupts, but his tone is soft. “We’ll figure that out when we get to it. I’m fine with just dinner tonight.”
“Thanks,” Stiles replies.
“But I wouldn’t be opposed to reenacting the motel scene from California Weekend, at some point,” Derek adds with a smirk.
Stiles can’t do much more than flounder at him, his mouth hanging open.
“But like I said,” Derek continues, still smirking at Stiles’ expense, “baby steps. Dinner at seven?”
“That would be nice,” Stiles manages. “And maybe if you’re well behaved you’ll get a kiss.”
“And how well behaved do I have to be to get an early release of the next installment of California Weekend?” Derek asks.
Stiles just laughs.