Stiles stares at his face in the rear-view mirror, trying to convince himself that he isn't about to die in just under thirty minutes. He has fifty thousand dollars, cash, in the back seat of the rental and it's making him fucking nervous. Stiles hasn't come this close to having this much cash on him since his first year of university and he paid his tuition fees in twenties because his dad didn't know how to do it electronically.
Don't get him wrong, this isn't his first rodeo. He's brought kids back to their parents, soldiers to their spouses, and during one memorable case, a herd of Wagyu cattle back to their tearful rancher.
Except, he's usually the guy behind the scenes. The voice on the phone, negotiating demands and making sure the kidnappers don't kill the hostages. He's the guy who orders the pizza if the kidnappers want pizza, but he's also the guy who can mobilize a SWAT team with the snap of a finger. The whole entire point is that he's physically far from the situation at hand, allowing him to hold some power over captors. The whole point is that he's not supposed go out in the field.
Except this time.
Stiles is just about to walk into a metaphorical den of wolves to rescue an actual werewolf. Because, oh yeah, this isn't actually a hostage exchange.
This is an IOU someone took two years to cash out. And now it's coming back to bite Stiles in the ass.
He wipes a bead of sweat from his brow and takes a deep breath, flexing his fingers and resisting the urge to tug at the wire taped to his chest. It's okay, theoretically he's prepared for this. Stiles didn't undergo years of training at Quantico for nothing.
He got into hostage negotiation to help people. At first, he intended to become a cop like his dad. But then Stiles discovered he had a certain affinity for convincing people to do things he wanted them to do. After that, all it took was a recommendation from his training officer at the academy, a few late nights where he developed a carnal relationship with the beautiful coffee bean, and then poof, instant hostage negotiator.
Honestly, it's been so long, he hardly even remembers what he owes Erica Reyes for anymore. But knowing him, it was probably for disappearing the plethora of unpaid parking tickets Stiles owes at any given time. He's a impulse parker. It's a curse.
Stiles' brain is running so fast right now, it's making him feel like puking. So understandably, when his phone rings, he nearly jumps a foot into the air. He's about to pick it up just after the first ring, but at the last moment, remembers his training. He waits the standard two more rings, and clears his throat before answering.
"Do you have the cash?" A harsh, guttural voice, sounding like it had been run over with a steamroller fifteen times only to try and reform itself after, speaks through the line, ending the question with a hacking cough. And that, kids, is what smoking does.
"I have the fifty grand." Stiles confirms in a clear, concise voice, the opposite of what he feels at the moment. He's like a lemming right before it takes a nose dive off a cliff. He's just hoping the waters below aren't dotted with sharp rocks, sharks, or, you know, guns.
"Excellent." The now wheezing voice says, a smile evident in his tone, "We've left the door open for you, Bertram will take your coat."
See what Stiles means when he says this isn't a hostage negotiation? It's a buy. For a slave. A werewolf slave.
Stiles walks up to the front door of the mansion, his hand wrapped tight around the briefcase, the only sign of how nervous he actually feels. He walks with confidence in his step, dressed casually in an expensive suede jacket he didn't buy, screaming of disposable income. He wears the smile he practiced in the mirror until he could pull it off while Blurred Lines played in the background. It screams of rich, entitled douchebag. Someone with enough money in the bank, they could afford to spend fifty grand on a werewolf slave.
Regular old douchebags go to the local red light district to get their fucked up werewolf fantasies on since slavery is now illegal. Ever since Congress passed a bill criminalizing the slavery of any supernaturals, (a bill a fucking ridiculous long time in the making), only the most rich, the most depraved, the ones who think they can get away with it, attempt to wean their way into the underground market.
And now Stiles is attempting to play at being one of those assholes.
See, the thing is, Alpha Talia Hale was fine with cracking down on the underground slave market using legal measures for years, working in tandem with the government as Alpha of one the largest packs of wolves on the west coast. And it worked, she successfully ended three global slave rings, one which even involved a corrupt Senator and an actual Sheik. It got her the front cover of the Time a few years ago.
But then someone kidnapped her son and left a note basically saying she would never see him again. No ransom demand, no insisting she step away from her activism. Nothing, nada, zilch. It was plain and simple what they wanted, and it wasn't money. It was power. They figured the emotional strain of losing her son would cause her to shrink, become less of the woman she is.
Unfortunately for those assholes, that plan is about to backfire epically. It just made her more determined. After all, that's what happens when people try to fuck with kick-ass, no nonsense women. They ask one of their betas whether they can call up a favour on the guy they befriended back in uni, who eventually became a hostage negotiator, and who is also a staunch supporter of supernatural rights.
Stiles knocks on the door and waits. He checks his smile one last time in the shiny door knocker, that looks like the hundred year old butler who finally opens the door, presumably Bertram, polishes on a daily basis.
"Good day, sir." Bertram says in a heavily posh British accent with a trace of underlying Cockney, speaking of a lower class childhood in London, but also a learned accent later in life, probably after he discovered Americans have certain stereotypes when it comes to the British.
Quantico offers many, many courses, and Stiles has always had an affinity for languages, something he took up to please the archaic Latin lover Lydia Martin, but which he developed his own love for after some time.
Fully in character, Stiles walks right past Bertram into the house without even a by-you-please. It makes the manners his mother hammered into him at a young age cringe, but then he remembers Bertram is fully aware of all that goes down in this house, and well, that makes Stiles quite a bit less sympathetic. Bertram doesn't say a single word while closing the door. He probably gets a lot of this from the guests his employer entertains.
"Ah, Mr. Spencer, it's wonderful to finally meet you in person." Gerard Argent, the king of all dicks, descends dramatically down the grand staircase. It's slightly less dramatic considering Argent is dinosaur old and is hobbling down slower than a goddamn snail.
"Mr. Argent." Stiles holds out the hand of Stephen Spencer, android app mogul and trust fund baby extraordinaire. "It's great to finally meet someone who shares my views on those hogwash laws the damned Democrats keep throwing our way."
Argent grins like a snake. "Come now, boy. The help has set up some tea and sandwiches in the solarium.
The solarium. Oh my god, Stiles feels like projectile vomiting at the level of pretentiousness in that one sentence. Heck, he swears he will if the sandwiches are tiny and have their crusts cut off. Oh man, rich people.
However, instead of tiny sandwiches, what he sees when he walks into that room, makes him want to puke for a whole other reason.
Derek Hale, the man this layered sting operation is for, sits half naked on the floor, a blindfold covering his eyes, his hands bound with wolfsbane laced ropes behind his back. They cut into his skin so rivulets of blood trail down tanned flesh, pooling on the floor.
Stiles remembers reading in a report that Derek just completed his PhD in botany. It's such a strange thing to recall, but it helps Stiles remember that this is a man with hopes and dreams. Dreams that will mean nothing if he fails here today. The thought strengthens Stiles' resolve tenfold. He's going to bring Derek home to his family, even if it kills him.
"What do you think?" Argent gestures to Derek who flinches, viably recoiling from the man. Stiles shudders to think what Argent had to do to Derek to turn a joyful, ambitious guy in love with life, into someone who would recoil from an old man who erupts into a coughing fit every few minutes.
"A fine piece of wolf-flesh," Stiles comments, walking closer. Derek freezes at the sound of his voice, and his nose flares, smelling him to see if he's come across Stiles before. It makes Stiles hold his breath. If Derek catches the scent of his pack on Stiles and he causes a scene, the gig is up, and they can both say bye bye to anything but a six foot deep grave dug by Bertram out in the backyard.
Fortunately, Derek does nothing but sit back on his heels, brow slightly furrowed in confusion.
Bertram hands him a cup of tea, and Stiles is pleased to notice the sandwiches on the nearby table still have crusts on them, but a select few do have sturgeon caviar piled on top. Once again, Argent does not surprise him.
"Does it come with a name it responds to?" Stiles questions.
"I've been calling it Derek for sentimental reasons," Argent says with some pleasure, "but I'm sure it can quickly learn what you want, they're supposed to be reasonably intelligent."
Stiles is sorely tempted to inform Argent that Derek holds a PhD, while Agent didn't even finish his undergraduate. A fact which makes Argent the least educated person in the room. Even Bertram is the proud owner of a Masters in art history.
Stiles hums. "Well then. Derek, to your feet." Stiles orders.
Derek slowly rises, unsteady on his feet, looking like he's been drugged on so much wolfsbane, it'll take hours to get out of his system. Stiles wants to wrap him up like a burrito and tuck him away someplace bad men will never ever find him.
"I'm sure its assets are sufficient, going from the pictures we sent you."
Stiles remembers getting those emails alright, he had to get up from his desk and walk a circuit around the room before he was sure his laptop wasn't in danger of being thrown at the wall. No person deserves to have their body photographed like they are a prized stud, to have their privacy violated in such a manner.
"It's not as if the front is going to be of any use to me." Stiles shrugs, acting nonchalant, "It's really the back I'm interested in."
Even Argent looks surprised. So much so, he snorts and whispers under his breath, probably thinking Stiles can't hear him. But Stiles happens to be really good at reading lips and the phrase 'disgusting fag' is really difficult to miss. Nothing like a dose of casual homophobia on top of everything else Argent is selling to really establish the brand.
Stiles pretends his didn't hear Argent and takes a sip of his tea before handing it back to Bertram. He walks a cycle around Derek pretending to study his features, when in reality he's simply looking for signs of harm. Stiles knows it's futile, Argent could have done anything short of cutting off a limb, and Derek would be flawless a few hours later.
He waits until he's bent over, examining the tattoo on Derek's back, hiding his mouth from Argent's view, before whispering so only Derek can hear. "Don't react to anything I tell you."
Stiles waits, and when Derek doesn't move a muscle, he continues. "Your mother sent me to rescue you. The plan is for me to purchase you, a transaction which will be caught by the wire I'm wearing, when we are safely off the premises away from harm, a team will go in and arrest Argent. I smell like your pack because everyone who could, touched me before I came here as proof that I mean you no harm." Stiles licks his lips nervously. "Blink twice when I remove your blindfold in a few moments so that I know you understand." At that, Stiles straightens out and reaches for the knot holding the blindfold closed at the back of his head.
"Wait." Argent says, stepping forward. "I don't want it to see me, or my home."
Stiles raises a brow at that. How amusing, it means that Argent knows Derek is a risky prisoner to hold onto, and he's taking measures to prevent himself from being identified. The risk factor is probably the whole reason why he's selling Derek is the first place. But he did manage to forget Derek is in possession of a perfectly working nose. What an idiot.
"I want to see its eyes, you could be selling me a blind one for all I know."
Argent grits his teeth before sighing in resignation, "Fine, but Bertram and I are leaving the room. Just don't get too close to its teeth, I won't be held responsible for any missing fingers." At that, Argent does as promised and closes the door with a click. Quick as a fiddle, Stiles rips off the blindfold and is confronted with the most beautiful hazel eyes he's ever seen, marred with thick shadows underneath.
"I'm guessing you don't need me to blink twice now?" Derek says in a rusty, disused voice.
Stiles smiles gently and reassuringly, "Nah, dude," He lightly pats Derek on the shoulder, "You're good."
"Don't call me dude." Derek says, brows furrowed like that, out of everything Stiles has said to date, offends him the most.
"Will do, buddy." Stiles nods, but Derek just scowls even harder before looking away, a blush decorating the tips of his ears.
"I can't believe I got myself kidnapped and my mother had to bring in a complete stranger to rescue me." Derek says self depreciatingly, but also like he's questioning Stiles' qualifications which is an incredibly impressive feat if he does say so himself.
"Don't worry, Derek. I have experience, you don't have to worry about your safety." Stiles helpfully leaves out that he's never had field experience before.
"It's not my safety I'm afraid of. What my mother was thinking bringing a human into this, I don't know." Derek looks Stiles over like he's judging him for the slaughter. "You can't weigh more than 150 pounds."
"147 pounds actually, of pale skin and fragile bone." Stiles corrects.
"Yeah, I can see that." Derek says.
Stiles crosses his arms, "Hey, now is not the time to disparage my awkward looks , now's the time for escaping."
"You don't look awkward." Derek says with a gleam in his eye, like he maybe wants to eat Stiles for lunch.
Stiles gapes, "Are you flirting with me?"
Derek quirks a brow, "Is it working?"
Stiles' mouth drops open and when Derek's eyes fall to it he snaps it shut, "There is a time and a place." He says scandalized, "a time and a place when and where we are not being recorded for something that will be played back in a court of law."
Derek just smirks, "Oh yeah?"
"Okay I get you're a playboy and all," and he's fucking ridiculously glad Argent didn't manage to beat Derek's sense of humour out of him. "But honestly, can this conversation be filed away for later, pretty please?"
Derek winks, "I'll be sure to take you up on that."
Stiles is about to reply, but then Argent knocks on the door. Stiles quickly ties the blindfold back on, stepping back from biting distance of Derek's teeth for believability's sake.
The door opens to reveal the two crotchety men in all their rampant glory, which is to say no glory whatsoever.
"Satisfied with the product?"
Stiles makes sure to plaster on his patented douchebag smile, "Very much so."
All that's left for him to do is hand over the money, somehow get Argent to say the word slavery and Derek in the same sentence, and then they'll be home free. Easy fucking peasy.
Even though slavery is illegal, the American judicial system says the slaver had to confess to it before they can be charged. Because when confining someone against their will isn't enough, a taped confession will do just fine.
And people wonder why he has so little faith in the system when it comes to his parking tickets. He is, after all, one eighth warlock on his mother's side. It's so diluted his status as a supernatural doesn't have to be declared on any legal documents, preventing visible discrimination. But he still has a bit of a spark, just enough to release and set mountain ash lines. And be really fucking good at convincing people to do things. Or in this case say things.
Stiles lifts up the briefcase, taking it over to the table and sitting down, Argent moving to sit opposite him. Opening the case, he picks up each stack of ten thousand dollars, placing them down on the table until he has all five of them line up in a neat row.
"There you go," He gestures to the stack, "That's fifty thousand for the purchase of Derek."
Argent smiles, hand twitching, just itching to reach for the money, "Enjoy your sex slave."
"Oh, I will." Stiles says with a triumphant smile. "I will indeed." He rises from the table, walking over to Derek with a swagger in his step. He just has to grab Derek and head back to the rental, and then they're home free. He can almost taste it.
"Did you really think I was that stupid?" Argent says abruptly, and it makes Stiles freeze mid step.
Shit, just keep calm. Cool like a cucumber, act like you don't know what he's talking about.
Stiles spins around, plastering a big smile on his face. "Well, I wouldn't know, it's not like I know the results of every single standardized test you've done in your life." Stiles does know, though. Talia Hale is very thorough.
Argent makes a face like he's sucking on a lemon. He's pulled a gun from god knows where and has it levelled towards Stiles. "I bugged this room before you got here, thinking I might need some leverage on you in case you decided not to buy, who would have thought it would be useful for a whole other reason altogether?"
Derek makes a noise of distress, and Stiles spares him a glance of worry. He moves in front of Derek, blocking him with his body. He knows it's a stupid thing to do, but Derek is his responsibility, and the SWAT guys should be preparing themselves soon once Stiles says the code phrase for hostile gun.
He raises his palms in the air, "Now what do you think you're going to do with that smoking gun?" He says, the code falling easily off his tongue. He has no way of hearing their response, but unless things have gone terribly wrong, they should be bursting through the front door the moment Stiles says the code, indicating the gun has been disarmed. There would be nothing worse for SWAT to burst through the door, only for Stiles to get shot anyway. Bullets moves much faster than dudes in kevlar, after all.
"Oh this," Argent says sarcastically, pointing to the weapon, "I was thinking of putting it right between your eyes." He gets up from his chair, walking over to Stiles and levelling the gun to his forehead. Stiles can hear a low growl coming from Derek, but he ignores it in favour of concentrating on the one pound of steel hovering only an inch away from his brains. "And maybe pulling the trigger."
Stiles swallows heavily.
Argent smirks. "Take off your clothes."
"Excuse me?" Stiles says, voice slightly higher pitched than normal. "You want me to what?"
"Take. Off. Your. Clothes." Argent repeats.
Stiles glares at him, "You know, for a homophobic old man, you sure as heck want to gander at my skinny body, don't you?"
Argent snarls. "I want to check you for a fucking wire." he says, cocking the gun for emphasis.
Stiles hops to it. But a plan is already forming in his mind. Taking into account where everyone is positioned in the room, he removes the expensive suede jacket, but instead of dropping it into a pile at his feet, he holds onto it.
Argent waves the gun in his face, "Hurry the fuck up." He says, a hint of impatience crawling into his tone.
"Alright, alright." Stiles bends down slightly like he is about to gently place it on the floor, just so the gun clears his head. Only then does he move. Quick as a fiddle, he loops the jacket around the back of Argent's wobbly knees and tugs sharply on both ends. Argent loses his balance, falling backwards and throwing his hands up in the process. The gun goes off, but the bullet simple wedges itself into the ceiling, raining plaster down on Derek like a snowstorm.
Argent goes down hard like a sack of bricks, and Stiles hops right after him. Straddling the older man, he wrestles the gun out of his slack grip and holds it up to Argent's forehead, echoing their position from before. "Move one muscle," Stiles says, addressing the slowly approaching Bertram, "And your boss gets it." His words stop the butler in his tracks, but he glares venomously at Stiles like he regrets ever letting him drink tea from Argent's fine china. Personally, the tea wasn't that great anyway.
Smiling in triumph, Stiles levers himself off Argent's body, keeping the gun steady with both hands as he walks out of reaching distance of both men. "I think now's the time for you to say, 'and I could have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids.'"
Argent looks like he does not appreciate Stiles' finely honed sense of humour.
"Seriously, nothing? You're not even going to give me a stereotypical fist shake." Stiles sighs, "How typical. They just don't make good villains anymore."
"Fair enough." Stiles shrugs, "The banana's out of the sundae, repeat, the banana's out of the sundae." He says the code, just as SWAT kicks the front door open, clearing their way through the house. Finally, one walks through the door of the solarium, catches sight of them, and proceeds to talk into his radio something about foxes and wolves being wrangled. Code talk, man, never gets old.
After that, Stiles lets the boys and girls take it from there. He hands the gun over to one of the girls and walks over to Derek.
"Hey there, buddy." Stiles says, pulling the blindfold off Derek's face. "Any newly made holes?" He asks, smarmily, knowing exactly where the bullet ended up.
Derek licks his lips, "Only the two I was born with, unfortunately." He says just as Stiles unties the wolfsbane ropes.
Someone groans behind them. "Can someone please stop them? This is painful."
"Shut the fuck up, Isaac." Derek says, glaring at the SWAT guy he knows by name, huh, who knew Derek frequently hangs around law enforcement?
Isaac gasps dramatically, "I'm telling the Alpha," He says mockingly before all sarcasm flows out of his expression and he smiles, "glad to have you back, bro."
"Glad to be back."
"Awesome, now if you could just keep the flirting to a minimum while I'm around, I'd gladly appreciate it."
Derek picks a sandwich off the nearby table and chucks it at him with his newly healed arms.
Stiles rolls his eyes, taking Derek by the shoulder, "Come on, big guy, let's get you checked out for wolfsbane poisoning." As Stiles leads him to the ambulance out front, they pass right by Argent, glaring daggers at them. Derek flips him the double bird.
Stiles thinks he might be in love.
So of course he fucks it up.
He packs Derek away in an ambulance, cutting him off when he sounds like he's about to ask for Stiles' number, because Stiles is nothing but awkward around the people he develops sudden yet devastating crushes on. Just look at Lydia and Danny, and both of those cases resulted in him making a fool out of himself on a daily basis.
So before Derek can ask him out for dinner or lunch or any number of awesome things he would surely enjoy, Stiles firmly shakes his hand, all professional like, wishes him a good day and tells him he was glad his country could be of service. Which makes absolutely no sense considering Stiles doesn't work for the United States government but an independent contractor, but it's not like Derek knows that. Or will ever know that, because Stiles is a complete and utter idiot.
He's sitting on his couch with a melting spoonful of chunky monkey in his mouth, watching Mortal Kombat because apparently there's a guy who looks a little too much like his dad playing Johnny Cage. Stiles is curious, okay? Even though it ends up being a terrible film, watching his dad's doppelganger punch a large four armed dude in the nuts might have just made his day.
Someone bangs on his door and he sighs, pausing the movie. He gets up, bringing his ice cream with him. It's only been a few days since that clusterfuck with Argent and Derek, and he's so not ready to part with his chunky monkey.
He checks the peep hole, because he's smart like that, and almost has an aneurysm when he sees Derek on the other side of the door. Stiles seriously considers pretending he's not home but then Derek has to go and ruin it by saying, "I can hear you breathing, open the door."
"Oh heeey, Derek." Stiles greets, opening the door with a smile. Derek ignores him and shoulders his way inside. Stopping when he's halfway into the living room, he turns around to face Stiles, folding his arms over his chest.
"You never told me your name." He says.
Derek shakes his head.
Derek rolls his eyes. "I know, you idiot. If you think my mom didn't spend hours gushing about you, you're wrong."
Stiles scratches his head, blushing slightly. Talia was very grateful, pulling him into a minute long hug after which she paid him what she promised, on top of a crazy large tip.
"So, why are you here?" Stiles asks but Derek ignores him.
"You know what I find funny?" He asks, but doesn't wait for Stiles to respond. "That I'm the only client of yours who didn't get a follow up meeting."
"You don't know that, you don't talk to my clients, you don't know my life." Stiles says petulantly.
Derek doesn't look impressed, "I went to your office, the receptionist was very helpful."
"Dammit Scott." Stiles whispers under his breath. His best friend, the traitor.
"So now, here I am, wondering why a professional, such as yourself." Derek gestures to Stiles, "Wouldn't do something so standard to his professional practice."
"Well, funny story that is-"
Derek interrupts him, "But it turns out what he did for me was something so fucking brave and so fucking ridiculous because he's never actually done it before." Derek steps closer to him, his hazel eyes boring right into Stiles'. "He put himself in danger to get me out of a terrible situation. He saved my life."
Stiles shrugs, "I was an IOU."
At that, Derek bursts out in laughter and Stiles stares on in wonder as he chuckles full bodily, wiping tears out of the corner of his eyes. Scratch all previous statement from the record. Stiles knows he's in love.
So in true Stiles fashion when he makes a move to step towards Derek, he trips on the edge of his area rug and falls forward. He expects to crash on his chin and maybe bite the tippy tip of his tongue off again, but instead he lands in Derek's arms. The other man catching him without even an oof.
Stiles stares up at hazel eyes, blinking rapidly in succession, "You're a strong one, aren't you." He remarks somewhat breathlessly.
Derek raises a brow, "Werewolf." He says simply.
Stiles is ashamed to say he may giggle a bit like Nick Offerman on helium, but the blinding smile it cracks on Derek's face makes it all worthwhile.
Eventually, Stiles swallows the ball in his throat, and decides to take the plunge. After all, what's the worst that could happen? "I could still offer you that follow up meeting? If you'd like?"
Derek hums, tapping his finger against the side of his jaw. "My schedule is a tad packed..."
Stiles viably deflates. Turns out, that's the worst that could happen. "Oh."
"But I've cleared everything for the rest of the day, so...?"
Stiles' mood instantly lightens and he grins like the sun, "It's a date."
"Oh, is it then?" Derek teases.
Stiles rolls his eyes and pushes Derek towards the couch, "I was getting bored watching Mortal Kombat, anyway. There comes a time when you watch your dad beat up so many different people and have way too many atrocities done to his sunglasses, you become desensitized to it."
Derek just looks confused, but Stiles shakes his head, "Don't ask."
Derek just chuckles fondly, and walks over to Stiles' DVD shelf. After some consideration, he holds up season one of Parks and Recreation.
"I never managed to find time to watch it." Derek says.
Stiles rubs his hands together and takes the case out of Derek's hands, pushing him towards the sofa, "Boy, have I got a treat in store for you."
Halfway through the season Derek reaches for Stiles' hand, bringing it over into his lap.
On the first episode of the second season, he presses a light kiss to Stiles' cheek.
Stiles is really looking forward to seeing where the third season takes them.