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Flying Changes

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Derek makes his position pretty clear right off the bat.

"No," he says, and his body might as well be made out of stone, because he's not budging, literally or metaphorically. He's got amazing balance, by god, and he knows how to root himself to the ground.

"Oh, come on, Derek," Laura says, in the same tone of voice that's gotten him into endless amounts of trouble basically since he was born. "It'll be fun. Everybody will love it."

"No, you'll love it because you enjoy seeing me humiliated," says Derek. "You're talking about that trick rider, right? He sounds like an idiot. He's going to make me look like an idiot."

"You always look like an idiot," Laura points out. "Especially after that little meltdown at the Olympics. This'll be good for your image."

"Oh my god, is anybody ever going to forget about that?" Derek growls. He's not feeling quite so rooted anymore; he slumps down to sit on his tack trunk, because he needs to pull on his tall boots but also because he doesn't really want to look at Laura's stupid face anymore.

"No, nobody's ever going to forget it," Laura says. "Because it's on YouTube and the Internet is forever. And this kid's not an idiot. Seriously, have you seen him ride?"

Derek snorts, because he doesn't need to see the guy ride; he's read the Expo program, and that was quite enough. "He got his start at Medieval Times, Laura. It's a dinner show with fake knights. And then he moved up in the world by joining the actual circus. He's a joke. You think people are laughing at me now, it'd be ten times worse if I agreed to this."

"Or, maybe they'd see you having fun and people will realize you're actually human. Come on, Derek. It's not a big deal; you just let him teach you a few moves and then you guys do a little ride together at the closing show. You'll do great."

"Why don't you do it, then, if it's such a great idea?" Derek counters.

"Bitch, please," Laura scoffs, and actually tosses her hair like she thinks it's getting in the way of how awesome she is. "I play polo. People already know I'm a bad-ass. Plus I'm dating maybe the hottest guy on the planet. I have zero image problems. You, on the other hand... I was talking to Emily from Dressage Today earlier and she's considering an exposé about how you're actually secretly a robot. I promised to give her the inside scoop, maybe see if I could get a picture of you working on your wiring or something."

"I hate you so much," Derek says, but true as the statement is it's lacking heat due to frequent repetition. "I'm not going to do it, and I've got a demo to teach in five minutes, so this would be a great time for you to drop it."

His horse, already tacked and waiting, whinnies as if in agreement; Derek's glad to know that somebody around here is on his side. He pulls on his Hale Dressage jacket, gathers up his whip, and pulls the safety snaps to release Nestor from the cross-ties, leading him away by the bridle.

"Okay," Laura calls out after him, "but I don't know how you're going to ride anyway with that stick up your ass!"

He doesn't bother with responding because there is nothing that can be said to shut Laura down anyway, but he does give her the finger over his shoulder as he reaches the end of the barn breezeway.

"They'll have your ticket at the gate for the opening night performance," Laura hollers, and somebody's horse kicks out at the boards of its stall like it's trying to shut up the noisy neighbors. "You're coming to see me ride, asshole, don't think you can get out of it!"

"I'll be there, stop nagging!" Derek shouts back, and then he's out of the barn and blessedly out of range. He's also only got four minutes left to get to his demo, so he runs down his stirrup irons and swings himself up onto Nestor's back, crossing the Expo grounds at a long, loose trot, dodging oblivious pedestrians all the way to the arena.


The demo goes, if he's honest, kind of horribly.

It's been awhile since he's done one of these Expo gigs, and he'd almost mercifully forgotten what it's like to try to teach a lesson in front of a huge audience to a group of people who've all been training for years with different instructors, some of whom, if their students are anything to go by, are seriously just incompetent. There are three women all in their sixties who've obviously been training with Harry Oakley, and they're a delight. They take instruction well, they aren't afraid to look stupid, and they're perfectly happy just to learn. One of them keeps getting distracted with ogling him, but she's subtle enough about it that he can just give her a nudge to get her back on track and it's a non-issue.

His other two students aren't quite as easy to teach. The woman's mid-twenties and obviously aggressively competitive; she smirks every time another of the riders makes a mistake, and every time she screws something up herself she takes it out on her horse's mouth. The horse just ignores it, obviously accustomed to her hard hands, but Derek can't let it go; he wastes twenty minutes just trying to soften her up, hollering at her until he's half-hoarse to give her gelding a little release when he does the right thing, to loosen up her death-grip on the reins, to use a little more feel and a lot less spur.

She ends up storming off without a word halfway through the demo, which still leaves Derek with his other problem student, a middle-aged man who's over-mounted on a big, powerful, undoubtedly expensive warmblood mare who isn't very interested in putting up with the guy's weak riding. Derek works the guy through one of his problem areas, smoothing out the mare's transitions from walk to canter and back down, but there's only so much Derek can do with an hour, and when the guy starts asking about flying lead changes Derek's pretty sure he's insane. The mare looks ready to tackle it, a hard glint in her eye that says she'd like some help practicing her rider ejection techniques.

Once the public demo's over and Derek's microphone is turned off, Derek gives each of his students an individual word of encouragement, shakes their hands, and sends them on their way. The guy is the last, and he's obviously trying to find the courage to do something Derek's not going to like, possibly actually hit on him, so Derek shakes his hand and tells him that he ought to fire his trainer, find a more appropriate horse, and enroll in a strength-training program because there's no way in hell he's going to advance much without investing a little more time in training himself.

When the guy answers his voice is strangled enough that Derek can't even tell what he says, and he rides away like maybe he's crying.

Derek sighs, gives Nestor a little nudge to let him know he needs to exit the arena too, and they surrender the space to a group of men in full Spanish regalia riding some nice Andalusians.

Nestor doesn't even need to cool down, since Derek mostly rode him around at a walk while shouting at people, so it doesn't take long to get the horse's tack off, brush him down, and put him in his stall with his evening meal. Derek's not scheduled to ride again today so he changes out of his breeches and boots and into a pair of well-worn jeans, trading in his logo jacket for a more anonymous leather one. That leaves him with three hours to kill before he'll be obligated to attend the evening's entertainment, and he's determined to spend that time wisely by avoiding his sister at all costs.

He hides himself in the crowds milling through the main pavilions, where there are vendor booths selling everything from tack and videos to barns and automatic waterers. There's even a booth with a mechanical horse that "gallops" at the push of a button, and its huge beady plastic eyes kind of freak Derek out a little, so he wanders his way down the hall, through the equestrian-themed art show and then into one of the booths selling clothing because he's thinking about punishing Laura by gifting her some truly hideous cowboy boots. He'll do it in front of their parents, of course, so Laura will be obligated to wear them at least once, and Derek will have an opportunity to take her photo and put it on Facebook so everybody else can laugh at her, too.

He's inspecting a pair of particularly offensive boots in blinding pink and fluorescent green when somebody behind him says, "Holy shit, you're Derek Hale!"

He turns around and there's a guy standing there with the kind of look on his face that means Derek won't be able to escape without suffering some level of awkward human interaction. He raises an eyebrow at the guy as if to say, Yes, and? and the guy sticks his hand out. While Derek's automatically shaking it, the guy says, "I'm Stiles. You are just -- that exhibition ride you did this year at WEG? The one where you rode without a bridle? I cried, man. Real tears. It was awesome."

Derek's automatic response to anybody saying pretty much anything to him is to scowl, but somehow he feels his mouth turning up at the corners instead, because that performance was... controversial, to say the least. Lukas Haas called him a disgrace to the art of dressage and Kate fucking Argent said he was pandering to the natural horsemanship crowd because he wasn't a good enough dressage rider to draw in students who wanted to learn real horsemanship.

Just, fuck her, seriously. Derek still shudders every time he thinks about the years he spent as her working student and the nights he spent in her bed and he sincerely wishes that he'd told somebody at the time so she could've spent some time in jail for statutory.

"Marie-Elise Dupont implied that I was just drunk and forgot to put all of my tack on," Derek points out, putting Kate Argent firmly out of his mind. He's pretty sure that this is actually the first time somebody who is not obligated to support him due to genetic relation has actually said to his face that they liked that exhibition ride.

"Yeah, well, when she learns to ride without a crank noseband and a neck-breaking headset I'll start listening to what she has to say," Stiles says. "Except that's a lie because she's a total asshole and I don't generally listen to assholes."

"Good policy," Derek agrees, because she seriously is an asshole. Not quite as evil as Kate, but definitely cattier. "You really liked it?"

"Tears of joy, cross my heart," Stiles swears. And it might not especially count for much because he's young and he's wearing a sport coat with a t-shirt and jeans, and possibly he's never even seen a horse in person before this weekend. But he's completely sincere and he's beaming at Derek like Derek's the best thing he's ever seen in his life, and Derek's had a hell of a long day already so it's just kind of nice, really. Usually people avoid him because he has a tendency to snarl, apparently. According to Laura.

So Derek just takes the compliment for what it is, and then just to completely break every behavioral pattern he's cultivated over the past decade, he finds himself saying, "I was about to get something to eat, you hungry?"

Stiles looks at him like it's a foregone conclusion that he wants to eat, or maybe just that he wants to hang out with Derek, which is how they end up sitting in a courtyard next to the massive Wrangler tent, eating corn dogs and watching men in cowboy hats shopping for new jeans they can iron a crease into. Some of them even come pre-creased; it makes Derek uncomfortable.

"I saw your demo today," Stiles says, after he's swallowed down his first massive condiment-slathered bite of corn dog. It leaves a little bit of mustard at the corner of his mouth, which he cleans up with the tip of his tongue. "That guy on the warmblood? Man, I thought for sure he was going to wind up in the dirt. Like either his horse was going to dump him or that blond girl was going to just shove him right off in a fit of pique. She looked like she was thinking about it every time the dude opened his mouth."

Derek shakes his head, and actually finishes chewing on his own food before he answers, even if Stiles doesn't seem to be standing on that much ceremony. "I'm sure his trainer talked him into that horse, and probably got a percentage of the sale on it from both ends, too. Shameful, but not very unusual."

Stiles nods his agreement even as he's shrugging one shoulder in a helpless sort of a gesture. "Still, nice horse," he says. "I'd love to see her go with you aboard."

Derek tilts his head, considering, but she's not the sort of horse he prefers, and riding her sounds like more of a fight than he's interested in. "She's got pretty nice movement, but I'd call her a better prospect as an eventer. She's got a lot of power and I don't think dressage alone is enough for her. I'd love to see her try a cross-country course."

Stiles nods like that makes sense to him, although whether he has any idea what Derek's talking about or is just nodding along, Derek isn't really sure. "So what kind of qualities do you look for, in a dressage horse?"

"Well, they have to have the mind for it, first off," Derek says. "They have to be willing and eager to do what's required of them. Then you need balance, strength, symmetry. For me, I usually just know what I want when I see it; there are a lot of faults I'm willing to overlook when that something is just there. I know a lot of people shop for a horse based on presence and that 'wow' factor when they walk into the arena, but in my experience it's often the ones that look a bit unassuming at first that really turn into something special after you've put the work in."

"Are we still talking about horses?" Stiles asks, with a smirk, and it takes Derek a second to realize the kid's actually coming onto him, because people don't usually do that, really. It's part of the reason Derek doesn't mind that people tend to be kind of scared of him; it sort of balances out his face. "I personally possess all of those qualities and I think we both know you were thinking of me that entire time you were speaking. I'm available by private treaty only, just so you know."

Derek raises his eyebrows and surprises even himself when he says, "I don't know, I'm not sure you can offer me the kind of ride I'm looking for."

Stiles sits back and stares, his mouth hanging open, and he's speechless for just long enough that Derek thinks about it. He can't help it, with the perfect O of Stiles' mouth and the shadowed line across his throat and the way his jacket stretches over his shoulders like maybe there's something more beneath those layers than is immediately visible. The guy's pretty fucking attractive, and he's... well, Derek usually knows what he wants when he sees it with his one night stands, too. Now that he's thinking about it, he's harboring a strong suspicion that Stiles is really good in bed.

"That was... wow, well played, Mr. Hale," Stiles finally says. "I mean, you're totally wrong, you have no idea what you're missing, but I salute your comeback, that was impressive." He laughs and polishes off the last bite of his corndog, and he doesn't even seem to be annoyed at being rebuffed.

"Are you going to the opening show tonight?" Derek asks him, because his sister's performing and nobody else actually likes him -- his sister doesn't like him either, come to think of it -- and he wouldn't mind having somebody to sit with.

Stiles snorts and says, "Yeah, I'm--" and then he checks his watch and his eyes go wide and whatever he was going to say is lost to his immediate flailing panic. "Oh shit, oh shit," he curses, and jumps to his feet, throwing his trash into the nearest bin, his eyes darting around the courtyard like he's trying to get his bearings. "I've got horses to get ready, I was supposed to start like a half an hour ago, I was going to be ready early for once!"

There's not much Derek can do besides watch him freak out, because he's still got actual food in his hands -- Stiles eats like he's expecting somebody to snatch his meal away at any moment -- and he has no idea what Stiles is looking for. He'd offer to help Stiles out since he's got nothing better to do himself, but he doubts that Stiles' employer would be too happy about a stranger working on their horses just because their groom has no concept of time.

"I've got to go, I'll see you later, though?" Stiles asks, and then he darts off before Derek can even answer. He disappears into the Wrangler tent, which Derek thinks is maybe a breathtaking display of Stiles' really bad sense of direction because obviously his horses aren't in there, but then Stiles comes back out again with a ballpoint pen he's probably stolen. "You should call me," he says, as he's trapping Derek's hand with his own and writing his number across the outside curve of Derek's thumb. "If you decide you'd like to personally evaluate my riding skills. I'm really very good, but I don't expect you to just take my word for it. I'd be more than happy to give you a hands-on demonstration."

"You've carried this metaphor too far," Derek tells him, while he's looking down at the blocky numbers and the places where the blue ink is seeping along the lines of his hand. "Now I feel like all you want to do is get into my stirrup irons."

"Oh my god, you are seriously too adorable for words," Stiles tells him, staring at his face, and it's maybe the first time anybody's called Derek adorable since he was like three and learned how to really frown effectively. "I really do have to go. Maybe I'll see you at the show tonight."

And then he's gone.


Derek usually avoids the big opening-night event at these things, because they tend to just be kind of boring. He's already studied the schedule so he knows which demonstrations and which riders he wants to see, so actually watching the show, for him, is a little redundant. Mostly the opening show is a chance for the various big-name presenters to flaunt their goods so that people will turn up to their demos or their booths or wherever the punters can most effectively hand over their cash.

This year they're leading with a demonstration of the different disciplines represented at the show, which mostly means that there are going to be a bunch of people doing five-minute rides to give a taste of sports that Derek's already seen in more impressive venues. But his sister and her boyfriend are riding in a polo demo which, as Laura describes it, sounds hilariously like croquet, and he doesn't even need the threat of death at his sister's hands to make him turn up to see that. So he sits more or less patiently through barrel racers and western pleasure peanut-rollers and an obnoxiously star-spangled drill team that carries in the colors for the national anthem. There's stadium jumping and "eventing" over laughably low fences, then three of the combined driving entries rocket around the arena so fast that they have people standing on the backs of their vehicles just to counter-balance their weight through the corners.

Derek visits the port-a-johns while Kate and her new beau Karl are doing their Grand Prix dressage demonstration, because he always figures the less he sees of Kate the better, and he doesn't really need to watch the way she rides with her horse's chin cranked all the way down to his chest to know that she sucks as a person.

There's a quick demo of tent pegging, which Derek hasn't actually ever seen before in person, and then the ring joust, and a beautiful five minutes of doma vaquera where the rider doesn't even touch his horse's reins. It turns out that Laura and Rodrigo's polo demo does look exactly like horseback croquet, with pole bending equipment set up in a little course for them to shoot their ball through. Derek records it on his phone and posts it on Facebook, and he'd like to laugh at them but they never miss their targets.

One of the last demonstrations is a top reining rider, and he runs through an entire pattern, complete with high-speed spins and sliding stops. Derek's sure it's impressive but it's not really his sport, and if he leaves now that his brotherly duty is discharged he'll be able to get out ahead of the worst traffic. But when he glances down at the little program flyer he'd been handed on the way in, just to see what's left, it turns out to be the trick rider that Laura had been trying to talk to him about before.

And next to the name of the demo, it gives the name of the rider, which happens to be "Stiles Stilinski."

Derek wants to tell himself that it can't be the same guy, but there's no possible way that two people at the same event have a name like "Stiles," because that isn't even a name.

By the time he looks up from his program, Stiles is already in the arena.

He's traded in his geek chic for a pair of extremely well-fitted breeches, tall leather boots, and a knee-length jacket like something out of The Lord of the Rings, high-collared and embroidered and well-cut to show off his broad shoulders and slim waist. He looks... actually really good, like maybe Derek needs to copy down this number that's scrawled across his thumb before it gets worn away.

Stiles comes in on foot, but he's got four horses trailing along behind him, all well-matched Spanish types, two black and two white, none of them with so much as a halter on. He puts them through their paces with little more than the guiding sweep of a whip and the occasional hand gesture, and it looks a little like something out of the circus, but it's not really what Derek's been expecting, either. The horses clearly know their jobs and look to their handler eagerly, but when one of them goes off-script, streaking off from the neat circle they've been describing in the center of the arena, Stiles just goes with it, running off to chase and be chased, and his horses go nuts, obviously excited to be playing a new kind of game. They run around the arena like the whole show's just falling apart, but it's only moments before they're all circling back to Stiles, like he's the epicenter of their world.

He tells them to rear, and they all do it at once, like they're playing a massive game of Simon Says. They spin and bow and even lay down on command, and then Stiles climbs onto one of them, bareback and bridleless, and the whole mob gets up and goes streaking around the arena that way, with Stiles in the lead, like it's all a big game of tag in front of hundreds of people, like this is just what he does for fun. And apparently he hasn't even gotten started yet.

After the first lap he brings all the horses up until they're running abreast, shoulders jostling, and then he stands up on the back of his horse, does a few flips up there and manages somehow to land on a moving animal like it's as easy as solid ground. Then he puts one of his feet on the next horse over and rides Roman, one foot on each horse's back like it's absolutely nothing. They go over a few jumps that way, do a few tight circles, and then Stiles cues the other two horses to drop back. As they're roaring down the center of the arena, he does a backflip off of one pair of horses and lands flawlessly on the pair behind.

Clearly, the man is absolutely insane. The crowd goes nuts. Derek's on his feet and moving before Stiles and his horses have even made it out through the gates and back into the warm-up arena. Stiles doesn't notice him hanging over the edge of the arena wall anyway, but Laura does; she and Rodrigo are sitting on their horses, watching the show from there.

When Derek says, "Tell them I'll do it," Laura just smirks, and for once manages not to gloat out loud.


Privately, Derek is certain the whole thing is going to end in tears. Specifically, his tears. Mostly because of the broken bones.

Derek knows how to ride, how to vault on and how to do an emergency dismount in any number of ways, but he doesn't know how to do what Stiles does without also inventing some form of anti-gravity technology, because he's pretty sure that Stiles is defying some laws of physics. Either that or he's cheating somehow, like with super powerful magnets hidden under his horse's saddle blanket or something.

The Expo's only on for four more days, so it's not like anybody's expecting Derek to be doing backflips off a horse when he's only going to be able to squeeze in a few lessons with Stiles, but he's still nervous, when he walks into the little indoor arena that Stiles has reserved for them. He hasn't talked to Stiles at all, though he sent a text last night that said, I want you to know that if I'm killed in some sort of freak acrobatics accident, I'm going to haunt you, and Stiles had texted back, Are you trying to tell me you want us to move in together? and then followed it up with a meeting time and place.

When Derek gets there, Stiles is just finishing up a lesson with a group of slender girls in leotards; there's a whole line of them standing against the wall with their hands clasped behind their back and their little ballet-type shoes in the arena dirt, watching avidly as another three of their number balance precariously on top of the horse that's cantering slow, steady circles around the center of the arena. Stiles is standing in the center of the circle with the longe line in one hand and a whip in the other, and the horse is one of his too, one of the blacks from his performance the night before.

Stiles sees him when he comes in, grins, and hollers to his pupils, "Okay, show-offs, give me your best dismounts."

The kid who's furthest back does a backflip off the horse's rump and she's already running when she lands, going to take her place in the line-up against the wall. The second rider, the only boy in the group, dismounts to the outside, doing the kind of complex spin that should really only be done off of a diving board. The last girl somersaults forward over the horse's shoulder on the inside, and just as she touches ground and Derek starts thinking it's a little anti-climactic, she bounces up again, does a freaking hand stand on the horse's back, and then cartwheels off the animal's hind end.

It's ridiculous. Derek feels old just watching them.

Stiles is laughing, though, clearly happy with the result, and his horse comes to an easy stop in response to a signal Derek doesn't even see.

"I hope you're not expecting me to be able to do that," Derek says, low enough that the rugrats can't hear him, as they file out the door.

"What are you using all those muscles for, if not for gymnastics?" Stiles asks, and pokes at the bulge of Derek's bicep. Stiles had instructed him to swear something form-fitting, but Derek's already beginning to regret the tank top because Stiles is staring really a lot.

Derek shrugs and says, "Athletic sex, mostly," and enjoys the way that Stiles' whole face flushes red, even the tips of his ears.

"You're not going to throw me off my game, buddy," he finally chokes out, pointing an accusing finger. "We've only got a couple of days to teach you to ride like a stuntman. This is serious business. You know how to vault on?"

"Sure," Derek says, and when Stiles makes a show-me gesture Derek turns around to the horse, strokes one hand down the gelding's neck to make sure he's okay with this, and then swings himself up onto the animal's back without the benefit of a stirrup. The surcingle that the vaulters were using is helpful because it has handles, but mostly it's a little awkward; Derek is more accustomed to doing this maneuver with a more naked horse. Still, Stiles' horses are shorter than the big warmbloods Derek usually rides, and Derek really is in good shape, so it's not like it's difficult. Maybe, he thinks, this whole thing won't be as hard as he'd imagined.

"Nice," Stiles says, although he doesn't sound particularly impressed. "You ever done it while the horse is moving?"

"No," says Derek, and slides himself back down to t he ground.

"We'll start at a walk," Stiles says, and then takes off the longe line and cavesson, throwing them in the corner and muttering, "We won't need those," at Derek's questioning look.

They don't need them, of course, because Stiles' horses are ridiculous and this particular one is no exception. Stiles cues him on at a walk and the animal just sticks to his predetermined circle, moving along at a brisk but utterly predictable pace, while the two of them walk alongside and Stiles coaches Derek through vaulting on while the horse is moving.

Stiles gives him a boost the first few times, his arms wrapped around Derek's calf, so Derek can land lightly on the horse's back. Stiles is absurdly strong, which really shouldn't be a surprise after Derek has seen what kind of athletics he's capable of, but it's still something else entirely to feel that body pressed against his own, those arms working against his leg. He nearly slides right off the other side of the horse on his first try, just because he's distracted by the heat of Stiles' body.

He gets his head back into the game, though, and after he's got the maneuver down at a walk they try it at a canter. Derek feels completely absurd, matching his own legs to the horse's gait, but it does help; he's able to spring up on his second try, and although his legs are absolutely burning by now, it still feels easy somehow.

"You're a natural," Stiles tells him, laughing as Derek swings himself down against the inside shoulder in a slightly awkward running dismount even as the horse is still cantering. "Tomorrow we'll turn it up to eleven. Tonight, I think you're probably going to be sore enough, so we can leave it there."

The horse curves in off its circle and trots up to Stiles seemingly of its own accord, and Derek watches them for a moment, Stiles' broad hands cradling the horse's face. Derek thinks about those hands on his own body, and then he goes to pick up his jacket from where he left it draped over the arena gate. When he comes back he's got a ballpoint in his hand.

"I'm pretty sure I am going to be sore tonight," he says, and he crowds right into Stiles' space, between him and the horse, takes Stiles' hand and writes a number across the base of his thumb. "You probably owe me a massage. Or, I could return the favor and see how sore I can make you."

"I-- what?" Stiles says, staring at Derek's face and then down at the digits on his hand. "This isn't a phone number."

"No, that's my room number," Derek says, and smirks, and then turns and walks away.


It's not like he isn't expecting Stiles to turn up. He knows Stiles is going to turn up. But it's still kind of a surprise, somehow, when he opens his door and Stiles is there, wearing loose jeans and a t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops, his hair still wet from the shower, like he's dressed down to the bare minimum because he knows he's just going to be taking it all off again.

Derek is suddenly certain that Stiles isn't wearing anything under those jeans.

"Hey," Stiles says, and walks in when Derek holds open the door for him. "Did you want to--"

He doesn't get it out, whatever the question is, because the moment Derek's got the door shut he's also got Stiles shoved up against it, his hands buried in Stiles' short, damp hair, biting his way into that grinning mouth and pressing himself in close. He can feel the press of Stiles' half-hard cock against his own hipbone and he fists one hand into the back of Stiles' t-shirt, wanting to pull it off, while his other hand grabs the waistband of Stiles' jeans to hold him exactly where he is. Those fingers meet only hot, bare flesh, and there is definitely nothing underneath the jeans.

"Whoooooooah-kay," Stiles breathes out, when Derek finally lets go of his tongue in favor of mouthing the ridge of Stiles' neck. "I was going to ask if you wanted to get dinner but now I have different questions."

"Like what?" Derek asks against his collarbone, thoughtfully, and then bites there, his teeth closing carefully around the bone.

"Like what position you'd like to start with and how quickly you can get naked," Stiles gasps out.

Derek hums against his skin, as if to say that those are really excellent questions and he's going to need to give them some thought. He pulls Stiles away from the door, spins him and walks him backwards until they're both tumbling down onto the bed; Derek's already pulled the blankets back, did it while idly imagining Stiles spread out against the sheets, thinking about holding him down and doing... he doesn't know. Everything.

He thumbs open the button on Stiles' jeans, carefully eases down the zipper and puts his hand inside, wrapping his fingers around Stiles' cock like that's just how his people say hello. The noise Stiles makes is encouraging, but Derek pulls back, sitting up far enough that he can pull his own shirt off and scramble out of his jeans.

He might also have dressed with undressing in mind. He's glad they're on the same page with this.

"Jesus, it's like you're not even real, I think I might be hallucinating," Stiles says, but he apparently doesn't mind having sex with hallucinations because he's shoving down his pants and trying to pull off his shirt simultaneously.

He ends up with his shirt rucked halfway up his torso and his jeans trapped somewhere around his knees, and he looks simultaneously ridiculous and impossibly beautiful. Derek stops Stiles' squirming with one hand spread flat across Stiles' chest, pinning him to the bed, while the other curls around one sharp hip and presses that down into the mattress, too.

Apparently this is a thing for Derek, having Stiles tangled and half-trapped in his clothes, the cloth framing the perfect bare flesh of thighs, hips, cock, stomach, sides. The hand he's already got on Stiles' hip slides up to touch all of it like he can't quite believe this is real either, can't quite believe that he wants this when his libido hasn't really revved up like this since he was a teenager, can't believe that Stiles wants him back, that Stiles seems ready and willing to give him anything.

"I might need some help," Stiles says, even as he's trying to arch his hips up into Derek's touch, trying to get his cock into Derek's hand. "With my jeans. Well, with everything else. But I seem to have lost all of my skills of coordination."

"Not even possible," Derek says, and decides he wants to cover this newly-explored country with his mouth, too, ducks down to trace the ridges and valleys of Stiles' abs with his tongue. "You're so-- the way you look on a horse, Jesus, I can't even handle it."

Stiles laughs and buries his fingers in Derek's hair, pressing Derek's face tighter against his stomach, like he wants more but he doesn't know exactly what he wants more of. "You have no idea," he says, breathless. "I've been beating off to YouTube videos of your competition rides for years. You have to let me fuck you sometime when you're wearing the top hat. Maybe the boots, too."

"Kinky little shit," Derek says, but he's not sure Stiles hears him because Stiles just laughs again, and Derek's mouth is tracing the lines of his ribs, anyway.

"That's not a no-ooooo," Stiles says, sing-song, and twists himself against Derek's tickling tongue.

"I want you just like this," Derek tells him, and pushes the shirt up just enough so it leaves Stiles' chest bare, over Stiles' head but still bunched around his biceps, trapping his arms above him. Stiles could get out of it without any effort at all -- he's strong as hell, and his body's even more muscular and defined than Derek would have imagined, for all that he's still slender against Derek's greater bulk -- but that isn't the point.

"Can't even wait for me to get my clothes off?" Stiles says, but he's only teasing; he's not making a move to get himself out of the position he's been put in, even stretches himself out a little like a sunning cat, to show off the lines of his body to their best advantage. He should look a little ludicrous, snared by his own clothes, his jeans a trap now around his knees, but mostly he just looks completely debauched.

Which isn't right, because Derek has hardly even begun to debauch him.

It only takes a moment for him to scoop up his discarded jeans and pull the condoms out of the back pocket; there are six of them, he was maybe being really optimistic. There are single-use packets of lube, too, and he scoops them out of the other back pocket and okay, maybe he's being extra stupid here, because he's actually so prepared that all of it spills out of his hands when he gets to the bed, scatters across the sheets like some sort of safe-sex confetti.

Stiles just laughs, though, and says, "Shit, we better get to work here, you obviously have some expectations I'm really going to enjoy trying to meet."

Derek picks a condom that's not lubricated, because in his humble opinion lube tastes fucking horrible. He considers trying to roll the rubber on with his mouth, but on a scale from That's Completely Sexy to Making Himself Look Like An Idiot, he figures he's going to come in closer to the second one, so he just adds some lube to the inside and then rolls it on with his hands. Stiles doesn't seem to mind, staring down at Derek's hands rolling latex onto his cock like Derek's performing some sort of miracle.

Derek is determined to get this right, to make sure it's at least as good as everything he's been imagining since last night -- he has a really kind of amazing imagination and he might've spent half the night beating off thinking about Stiles' mouth -- so he applies himself to the task with the same dedication that's taken him to the Olympics four times, which mostly means that he takes all of his meticulous attention to detail and his obsessive approach to technical perfection and applies those qualities to the area of orgasms.

He spends an obscene amount of time with his mouth on or around Stiles' cock, licking and suckling and mouthing and sometimes just breathing, while Stiles moans and begs and writhes beneath him. He watches the slow clench and release of Stiles' abs and the way Stiles' breaths shudder through his chest. He draws it out until his own jaw aches and his chin is slick and the taste of latex fails to seem even remotely unusual in his mouth, until Stiles is almost sobbing, until Stiles' voice cracks and his eyelashes are wet and he blinks at Derek like he's not even sure where Derek came from or where they are or what's even happening. When Derek finally lets him come just the look on his face is maybe the best thing that's ever happened to Derek, ever.

"That was the best thing that's ever happened to me," Stiles says, dazedly, when he finally finds his voice again. "Oh my god, your mouth. I'm no longer capable of higher thought. Literally all I can think about is your dick. How have you not come yet? You're like Superman, if Superman were some sort of standard-setter when it comes to sexual performance which actually he seems kind of virginal so I take it back."

Derek has literally no idea what Stiles is even talking about, but he's busied himself with taking the used condom off Stiles' dick and whatever Stiles is saying probably isn't as important as that, anyway. "I need to--" Derek says, and can't even finish the sentence.

It doesn't matter, because Stiles is saying, "Yeah, yes, sure," and he's utterly biddable in Derek's hands when Derek finally pulls Stiles' shirt and his jeans the rest of the way off. He just sprawls across the bed and radiates contentment and watches Derek from beneath his hooded eyelids and looks, essentially, like somebody who's way too well-adjusted to be here doing this with Derek. But if he hasn't realized, Derek isn't going to tell him.

Derek's too busy, anyway, squeezing more lube out onto his fingers and pressing them to Stiles' hole. He uses way too much and he's clumsy and he's pretty sure he's too rough, but the sounds Stiles makes aren't objections, and it isn't very long at all before Stiles sits up and gropes for one of the condoms -- there are enough of them scattered across the bed that he finds one pretty much immediately -- and rolls it on to Derek's cock with hands that are trembling a little. Derek's on his knees between Stiles' legs, over-thinking the mechanics of how he actually wants to do this, but Stiles seems to be finished with his afterglow so that's all of Derek's plans out the window.

Stiles pulls and prods until Derek's settled against the headboard, and then he drags Derek's knees up a bit and makes a satisfied noise like he's just done a really good job of rearranging the furniture and he likes the new feng shui. He straddles Derek's hips, slathers a little more lube onto the condom, and Derek gets with the program just in time to grip the base of his own cock and hold himself steady as Stiles sinks carefully down.

It's fucking incredible, and Derek is seriously resisting an impulse to inform Stiles that they need to just stay like this forever and he won't even mind when his ass goes numb. He doesn't say that, thankfully, and Stiles just sighs and settles, like he's only sitting in Derek's lap and they're not actively engaged in any actual fucking at all. Derek's upraised knees give Stiles a nice backrest and he sort of lounges there for a moment, looking pleased with himself, while the inside of his body flutters around Derek's cock and makes him want to do any number of insane, wonderful things.

"I brought myself off last night thinking about you," Stiles says, dreamily, and Derek's not even sure that Stiles actually realizes he's speaking out loud. Stiles doesn't pull himself up, but he does rearrange himself a little, drapes his weight forward now against Derek's chest and then finally starts moving, these little undulating rolls of his hips that are maddeningly incredible and not enough.

"I did, too. Thinking about you, I mean," Derek confesses, awkwardly. His brain's kind of misfiring; he's amazed he's even speaking intelligible English anymore at all. His thumbs are rubbing random patterns against Stiles' hips while he manfully resists the urge to just grip that flesh and drive himself up as hard and deep as he can manage.

Stiles just hums against his temple, his hands clutching at Derek's shoulders, his neck, his ears, pretty much anything Stiles can reach.

"Thought about your back, the way you hold yourself so straight when you're riding," Stiles whispers. "The way the hair at your nape looks under your top hat. The way your legs wrap around a horse, Jesus, I want to just touch your calves for like an hour, just that."

"Can we do that after the fucking?" Derek whines, and he's not restraining himself anymore, he's trying to push his hips up and bury himself in the grip of Stiles' body but he doesn't have any leverage at all, and Stiles' weight is kind of pinning him across the hips.

And that's when he realizes exactly how slow and torturous he made that blow job, knows with a blinding flash of clarity that Stiles is returning the favor, that he's going to drag this out forever.

Derek whimpers against Stiles' lips and Stiles just kisses him, slow and dirty and deep, deeper than he's letting Derek's dick go. When they finally break apart Stiles murmurs, "Now you're getting it," against Derek's ear and Derek wants to die.

Not really, though, because it's cruel the way Stiles rides him so achingly slow, dragging the pace nearly to a standstill every time Derek gets really desperate, but it's also really good. It's so good that Derek is helpless to do anything but lie there and take it, slow inch by slow inch, as Stiles fucks himself with minute exactitude on Derek's cock.

Stiles finally takes mercy on Derek right around the time that Derek starts feeling like he might have an actual stroke. Stiles pulls himself off completely, pushes Derek's legs out of his way, and just flops onto his back with his head at the foot of the bed, splayed out like some kind of romance novel heroine waiting to be taken.

Derek doesn't need an invitation; he crawls onto his hands and knees (his ass seriously was getting numb), arranges Stiles' hips where he needs them, hooks his elbows behind Stiles' legs, and drives himself back inside. Behind every thrust is the force and frantic, half-panicked energy that Stiles has been denying him, and it doesn't take long for him to come, grunting and panting against Stiles' throat like a wild animal, completely insensible.

When he collapses onto the bed, sweating and panting like he's just run a marathon, Stiles just grins dopily at the ceiling and gives them both a minute. Then he reaches over and takes care of the condom, snags his own t-shirt -- it never made it all the way off the bed -- and uses it to towel the sweat from Derek's chest and the hollow of his throat the same way he might wipe down a lathered horse.

"There were things I was going to do," Derek says mournfully, after he's had enough time to come back to himself. "Sexy things. You're an acrobat, Stiles."

Stiles just grins and leans in to taste the sweat still beading Derek's upper lip. "Such a cliche," he says, fondly. "You wanted to see how flexible I was, didn't you?"

"Yes," Derek says. "I had a lot of thoughts about that. They might not have been original, but they were mine."

"Hmm," Stiles says, and runs his hands over Derek's pecs, down Derek's sides to the muscled grooves at Derek's pelvis, and then lower, and lower, until he's actually crawled between Derek's legs and is suddenly kneading his fingers into Derek's calf muscles.

Derek is actually pretty sore from their practice earlier, used muscle groups he hasn't really abused that way before, and he does still feel like Stiles owes him a massage.

The fucking made Stiles half-hard, but he doesn't look like he's ready to go again yet, and Derek still needs a little time to catch his breath. So when Stiles says, musingly, "I am really flexible, now that you mention it," and his thumbs sweep against Derek's shins, all Derek can do is sigh because his entire lexicon of frowns is gone, making way for the all the stupid glowing happiness that's suffusing his entire body.

"Sleep is for the weak," Derek informs him, solemnly, but he still manages to fall asleep halfway through the massage that Stiles ends up giving him after all. He sinks deep and hard into an exhausted and dreamless rest, and doesn't realize until morning that Stiles has stayed, curled around his back like a question mark.


During his demo the next day -- this one mercifully free of students, thank god, just Derek riding Nestor through a few tests and talking theory, specifics, techniques, and he can do that all day -- he doesn't look for Stiles in the crowd, doesn't want to be distracted by the sudden memory of the taste of Stiles' skin. Just the thought of it is enough, though, and he completely loses his train of thought halfway through a monologue about proper engagement of the hindquarters.

He plays it off with a joke, something incredibly juvenile about hindquarters that spills right out of his mouth before he can think better of it, and his audience actually laughs. There's a collective sense of relaxation like they've all just realized that he's not going to choose some unsuspecting person in the crowd to devour for his breakfast, and Derek gives maybe the best public demo of his life, after that. A few people even come up to him after to tell him that what he said about this or that made them understand it in a way they never had before.

So he's still riding that high when he gets Nestor back to his assigned stall and finds Laura waiting there, sitting on his tack trunk.

"Yesterday you made a guy cry at your demo," Laura says. "Today you're cracking jokes. That must have been a fucking magical lesson you had with Stilinski last night."

Derek shrugs, pulling Nestor's bridle off and replacing it with a halter, clipping the horse into the cross-ties. Laura gets off his tack box before he has a chance to shove her off with his boot, which is a shame. "The lesson was fine," he says. "We've got another one scheduled in a couple hours."

"Just fine?" Laura says, raising an eyebrow skeptically.

"It was... good?" Derek amends, more question than statement. "Stiles is a good teacher, I had a good time, everything was pretty, uh... good. I'm not going to be ready to join the circus by the end of the weekend, but I think I did, well, um. Good."

"I'm going to give you an award," Laura tells him. "I'm going to make it out of construction paper and it's going to be a huge gold star that says you did good I guess. And then I'm going to beat you with it until you actually die of paper cuts."

Derek sighs, unbuckling the girth and pulling the saddle gently from Nestor's back. "I'm not sure what you want me to say here, Laura."

"You are completely hopeless," Laura tells him, and throws up her hands in defeat, which isn't actually any kind of answer. He doesn't have a chance to ask her why she's acting even more insane than usual, though, because she just stalks off down the barn aisle, muttering to herself.


It's a relief in pretty much every way when, a few hours later, he arrives for his lesson with Stiles and gets to put the rest of the day aside, for awhile. The lesson itself starts in a promising way, too, because Stiles begins by catching Derek by the mouth and not letting him go for a good five minutes.

When they come up for air, Stiles says, "You ever ridden double?"

"Not since I was a kid," Derek replies, and just gives himself a moment to contemplate the horror of riding snugged against Stiles' back and trying not to get hard.

"This is going to be great," says Stiles, earnestly, right into Derek's mouth so he can taste the words as well as hear them. Stiles has apparently had coffee recently. "I've come up with a plan. Our ride is going to be totally awesome."

Derek is helpless to do anything except smile against Stiles' skin and clutch at his hips and mutter, "Whatever you want. Will you stay with me again tonight?"

He feels like an idiot.

But Stiles just runs his hands up the back of Derek's shirt and says, "I was kind of planning on it?" So that's okay, that's all fine.

Stiles rides as easily as he ever did, rides like a guy who didn't have Derek's dick up his ass for an excruciatingly extended period of time last night, and it's not as impossible as Derek thought it would be, riding pressed against his back and resisting the urge to tumble him into the dirt and take him apart.

Stiles makes it worth his while, anyway, because he makes Derek practice a few of the new maneuvers that night in bed, where he has a mattress to land on and Stiles to catch him. And maybe Stiles laughs his ass off, but Derek has ways of shutting him up.


Derek isn't nervous about the closing show. At all. He's mostly relieved because he's finished his last demo of the day and the whole Expo's nearly over and he's going to be able to go back to his normal life for awhile where he develops his horses and works with his own students and generally turns himself into a recluse for at least eighty percent of his day. It's going to be great.

It's going to be even greater this time, though, because everything about Derek's life is greater. He's having mind-blowing sex on a regular basis and if he's honest it's doing a lot to impact his mood. A lot. He'd been a little worried, before, that this whole thing with Stiles would end with the Expo, like some sort of summer camp romance, but when he'd said something about it in bed last night, feeling wildly insecure, Stiles laughed and kissed his mouth open and said, "You know we're both from Beacon Hills, right? I'm thinking about a property in town. Might build my own circus tent. Over the bed."

And then Stiles pressed him down into the hotel mattress and started pressing into him and that was the last Derek thought of it, but he's been feeling warmly reassured ever since.

He could probably be watching the rest of the closing show from the stands, but he isn't really interested, if he's honest; there are three other pairs who've been cross-training just like Derek and Stiles have been doing, and it could be a precious opportunity to see Kate fall on her ass, but Derek doesn't think it's worth it, when this is his alternative option.

He's waiting with Stiles instead, both of them claiming just a small corner of the busy warm-up ring for themselves. They're riding Stiles' horses -- Stiles on one of the grays, Derek on one of the blacks -- and really the entire routine they've come up with depends upon Derek's horse being able to do the bulk of the work for him, but that's alright. Derek might be known for his standoffish attitude, but he has absolutely no ego where this performance is concerned; he's in it mostly just to make Stiles happy, to see him grin when Derek nails a move that Stiles has taught him. The riding itself isn't bad either, though; Stiles' horses are a pleasure, and the one he's riding now is a comfortable presence beneath him, responding to the smallest of cues from Derek's body, soft and willing.

He and Stiles are just circling in opposite directions, and all Derek has to do is change directions at the same time Stiles does. It's a lazy exercise, but it's a whole new level of interesting with no tack at all on the horse, trying to be precise in the way he asks the horse to move so he can get the animal to roll neatly back over its hindquarters even when he has no line of communication at all with the horse's mouth.

"You look good like that," Stiles says, and rides up alongside so near that their knees brush. He leans over and puts his hand against the withers of Derek's horse so he can get closer, their shoulders bumping. Derek takes that hand with his own and steals a kiss, since Stiles is right there. They haven't really discussed whether this thing between them ought to be public, but since Stiles sort of mauled him yesterday right outside the main exhibition hall and Derek returned the favor in an open barn aisle, it's become kind of a non-issue.

"Like what?" he asks, and nips at Stiles' jaw.

"Bareback," Stiles says, and then hastily adds, "That wasn't supposed to be a double entendre. Safe sex is the best sex. I just mean... without all the equipment and the expectations. You just look relaxed. It's a really good look on you."

"I am relaxed," Derek points out. "I don't feel like I should be because I'm about to go out there and make an ass of myself, but--"

"But you're going to make an ass out of yourself with me," Stiles finishes for him. He's doing it to be obnoxious but it's more or less what Derek was going to say anyway. "You liiiiiiike me."

Derek just hums his agreement, and then one of the arena assistants -- as far as Derek can tell this kid's job is pretty much just to open and close gates for people -- runs up and tells them they're on as soon as the riders currently in the arena exit.

"You ready for this?" Stiles asks him, and gives Derek's hand one last squeeze before he straightens himself up on his horse's back.

"Sure," Derek says, and shrugs, and for once he's telling the truth about it. He's not nervous at all.

If he falls, Stiles will help him up.

He doesn't fall, though, which is partly to do with Stiles' really solid routine-planning skills, and partly to do with Derek's riding skills which, he's not going to be modest about this, are awesome. The routine is two parts riding and one part comedy, with the both of them riding around the arena and performing a few fairly advanced maneuvers without the benefit of any sort of tack. Derek's practiced this sort of riding plenty, just because he's always looking for ways to solidify the foundation that his horses are trained on, his super-star Nestor in particular, but for the most part here he just has to trust in his own balance and in Stiles' horse knowing its job.

When they pass each other in a cross in the middle of the arena, both at a fast canter, passing just a hairsbreadth apart and doing simultaneous flying changes, the crowd goes a little nuts. Then they throttle it back into something more collected, and it's not truly refined or anything but it's a bridleless pas de deux and even Derek's a little impressed with it, with how they must look. They circle each other in the center of the arena, the horses settling into an almost-piaffe, and then Derek's horse just stops and lies down, like it's bored, and Stiles' horse starts rearing like he's had enough of this bullshit, and the crowd laughs like they think maybe this is what it looks like to see a show go horribly awry.

It's all part of the plan though, of course, because Stiles' horses are more professional than most humans Derek has worked with. Derek makes a big show out of trying to get his horse to stand up again, until the horse lowers himself completely onto his side like he's tired and just wants a nap. Stiles and his gelding use the recumbent horse like a jump standard, flying right over the top, and right as they stick the landing he holds out his hand to Derek.

They've practiced it a hundred times already, just in the last two days, and it's easy as anything for Derek to grasp Stiles by the forearm, bouncing himself off the ground and onto the back of Stiles' horse, his arms wrapping automatically around that familiar body. They gallop once more around the arena, this time with Derek's horse in hot pursuit, and then Stiles gives him another hand as the two horses run abreast, and Derek actually pulls off the tricky maneuver of jumping from the back of one moving horse to another, and somehow he's still alive and in one piece as they do one last tight circle together and then ride out to what really sounds like thunderous applause.

When they get back into the warm-up arena, Stiles is laughing his head off, flush with the high of a performance gone right.

"You lived!" he says, and like an absolute maniac jumps right off his horse and on to Derek's, which doesn't seem to surprise the horse at all. Stiles' hands run up under Derek's shirt, curling around his abs, and Stiles starts mouthing at the back of Derek's neck like he's planning to take him right there on top of the horse. Which seems, if Derek's honest, kind of really unfair to the horse.

"You say that like you weren't expecting me to survive it," Derek says, doubtfully.

"I was planning to visit your grave and weep," Stiles says, cheerfully. "I had a whole mourning outfit picked out, and then I was going to rebound with somebody barely legal, and then--"

Derek turns around just enough to push Stiles right off the horse, but it's disappointing because Stiles just rolls with it, slides completely gracefully off the horse's rump and lands on his feet.

"Hm," Derek says. "I don't know how to do that move yet. We might need to continue with the private lessons for awhile."

"I think you're right," Stiles agrees. "Like really private."

He pulls at Derek's shirtfront until Derek leans down enough for them to kiss, and then he pulls Derek right down to the ground, and Derek doesn't land quite as gracefully as Stiles, ends up on his back in the arena dirt, laughing while Stiles straddles his hips and leans in for a kiss.

The music's still blaring over the loudspeakers as the rest of the closing show goes on, and Derek's pretty sure he can hear Laura shouting something uncomplimentary at him from outside the warm-up ring, something about family and communication that Derek doesn't actually care about. The same twitchy arena assistant comes over and starts freaking out about inappropriate PDA and children could be watching and their horses are both loose they could run wild and it's totally not safe (it's not like they're going anywhere; one of them's taking a nap and the other one's standing over its humans, nuzzling Stiles' back pockets looking for snacks). Derek ignores it all, holds tight to Stiles' hips while the horse starts nosing at his hands, too, and Stiles is breathing against his throat, laughing, helpless with it, so Derek just stays, and holds on, and is happy.