Derek stands outside of the bar with his badge in his pocket and his gun hidden away. He doesn’t know if he’s wasting his time here – he has a lot of work to do – but this is the place he can find Stiles after a rough day.
He shouldn’t care so much that Stiles is upset and Derek certainly shouldn’t know where to find him.
Derek sighs and walks inside anyway. He hears Stiles talking to the bartender, arms moving wildly as he tells his story.
“And then – and then the chief walks in,” Stiles hiccups, “And he says that I’m on desk duty and that Hale gets the promotion! It doesn’t matter that I was the one to decipher the code.”
Stiles pouts, and his brown eyes look hopeless.
Derek wonders if he should leave. He doesn’t want success at Stiles’ expense, but he did all the right things. He followed orders and didn’t take any unnecessary risks.
“Hale,” Stiles says again, running a hand through his hair. “He – he didn’t fuck up. Of course he got the job.”
Derek watches the way Stiles stares at nothing. It’s like he’s given up his dreams for a better career.
Stiles looks up, and almost falls off the bar stool. Derek thinks sometimes that he’s not cut out for field work, the amount of clumsy accidents there has been, but Stiles definitely knows how to kick Derek’s ass in training.
“Um, hi, Derek,” he says. His drink spills onto his shirt as he speaks.
Derek wrinkles his nose.
“What?” Stiles says. “Are you here to gloat? Are you here to tell me about your new job and that you get to run a team of agents?”
“Two months of desk duty isn’t that long.”
Stiles snorts. He throws back his head and finishes his drink. “Yeah, because you totally know what you’re talking about.”
Derek takes a breath. He honestly doesn’t know how to say this because he doesn’t know if it’s a good idea. It might be the worst idea he’s ever had.
“We have to send someone undercover,” he says quietly. “To the modelling competition.”
Stiles doesn’t say anything.
Derek looks at him and sees his too long hair and the layers of clothes he hides behind. Stiles is wearing plaid and a graphic t-shirt with an eggplant on it. He hasn’t shaved in a week and there’s highlighter pen at the corner of his mouth, from where he’d been chewing on it earlier.
He is a mess.
“What if I could get you off desk duty?” he finally says.
Stiles looks up, eyes wide. “Can you? Please, please, please. I’d love you forever.”
Derek’s heart skips a beat. “We need you to go undercover as a model.”
Stiles starts laughing instantly. His grin is bright, his voice is loud, and Derek waits for him to calm down.
“Me?” he says. “A model? Shut up.”
He laughs again.
“You can’t be serious. Have you seen me?” Stiles asks.
“Yes,” Derek replies faintly.
“Remember my broken nose after the coconut incident?” Stiles says, prodding at his own face. “It’s crooked now!”
Derek scowls. “Your nose is fine.”
Stiles gets to his feet, still shaking his head. His lips are turned up in a smile as he pays for his drinks and at least there’s a light in his eyes that wasn’t there before. Derek follows him out of the bar and it’s colder outside. Stiles shivers.
“I mean,” he says, swaying on the spot. “If anyone has to be a model, it should be you.”
“Stiles,” Derek says, reaching for him. He circles his hand around Stiles’ wrist and tries to keep him away from the side of the road.
He’s a bit too forceful because Stiles laughs, once, and then he twists Derek’s arm and pushes him against the brick wall outside. Stiles comes closer to him, their noses almost brushing. Derek can smell the alcohol on his breath.
“You’re so funny, Hale,” he says. He hiccups. “Me. A model.”
“I’m serious,” Derek says. Stiles opens his mouth to speak and his grip goes slack. Derek turns them both around, and this time Stiles’ front is against the wall. Derek holds him there with his chest.
Stiles struggles against him, his breaths heavy.
“Is there a reason why we’re fighting this time?” Derek asks tiredly.
Stiles turns his head to the side and grins. “I like to keep you on your toes,” he rasps. “You’re a federal agent, you should know how to handle it.”
Derek steps closer to him. He hears Stiles’ breath hitch.
“I want you to be my model,” he says.
Stiles shakes his head.
“No desk duty.”
“I still think you’re joking, dude.”
Derek turns around and lets go of him. He’s left feeling cold. “Stiles,” he says. “You’re not – you’re not the most conventional choice. But I need someone I can trust.”
Stiles turns and takes a step forward. He runs a hand through his hair and looks angry, frustrated. “No,” he says. “No way.”
Derek grits his teeth together. “Please.”
Stiles spends half an hour – with a hangover – doing desk duty before he changes his mind. Derek sighs in relief, but then he notices Stiles’ unwashed hair and the pathetic excuse for a moustache he has on his face.
“Soo,” Stiles says, wiggling his eyebrows. “Still think I look the part?”
Derek stares at him and wonders if he’s made the biggest mistake of his life.
“Is that the shirt with the stain on it?”
“Wow, I didn’t know you had memorized my entire closet.”
Derek closes his eyes briefly. He gets to his feet and leads Stiles down the hall, to where they’re setting up the operation. They have surveillance and security organized. Every person there knows what they need to do – except Stiles.
“I got you a new ID,” Derek tells him, handing over a driver’s license and passport. Stiles reads it and immediately complains. Derek shrugs. “You look like a Paul.”
Stiles looks at him. “If I have to put up with this crappy name then I need a codename. Roscoe.”
“You named your jeep that.”
Stiles smirks a little. “Hmm, I didn’t know you remembered that.”
The tips of Derek’s ears go pink. He doesn’t acknowledge that he remembers almost everything that Stiles says to him. “You can’t name everything Roscoe.”
“I can try,” Stiles says defiantly, and they arrive at the room. Stiles looks more hesitant than he usually is and Derek thinks that he’s the last person that should be modelling in this room. Stiles stands there awkwardly and neither of them know where to start.
“Walk,” Derek finally says.
Derek waves his hand about. “You know. Like a model.”
Stiles rolls his eyes and almost stomps down the room.
“That was awful.”
He shrugs. “Yeah, probably.”
“Do it again,” Derek insists. “You’ll have to be walking on several runways in the next few days.”
Stiles says nothing and walks to the end of the room. It’s a little less aggressive than the first time, which is good, but it looks hopeless all the same. Derek suddenly remembers that Stiles can’t eat with his mouth shut, he probably can’t strike a pose, and he certainly doesn’t care about his appearance.
Half an hour passes. Stiles doesn’t get any better.
“Could you please take this seriously?” Derek says through his teeth.
Stiles’ smile falters.
“Just because you have to learn how to walk on a runway, doesn’t mean this isn’t a serious operation. There is a bomb threat, Stiles. We’re here to try and protect people,” Derek tells him.
Stiles huffs. “You care more about your job than innocent bystanders.”
Derek lets out a breath. “I do care about my job,” he manages, trying to ignore the looks the rest of the team is giving him. “But you obviously don’t care if I keep it.”
“Oh my god, Derek. You can’t be serious about this whole thing. I’m not cut out to be a model. Look at me.”
“You’re not unattractive, Stiles,” he says flatly.
He scowls. “Yeah, you could say that a little more enthusiastically. I don’t want to be a tap dancing freak!”
Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. He’s been wanting to run his own team for years but Stiles doesn’t look like he wants to cooperate. The modelling competition is in three days and Stiles… he really isn’t a model.
He’s about to yell at Stiles when someone clears their throat. They both turn to the doorway and a beautiful redhead stands there.
“Hello boys,” she says, a smile pursed on her lips. Stiles gapes at her.
“Who are you?” Derek snaps.
She rolls his eyes. “I am everything you need,” she says. “But you can call me Lydia.”
Derek is thankfully left alone for the rest of the morning. He doesn’t have to listen to whining and he manages to contact the modelling company and secure Stiles a place in the top ten finalists.
He hopes that whatever Lydia is doing will make Stiles appear like he belongs there.
Lydia steps into his office. She smiles. “I have him ready for you,” she says.
“How bad is it?”
She narrows her eyes. “I admit that Stiles is a challenge, but I am the best, Agent Hale.”
She walks away and makes Derek follow her. He can’t imagine what Stiles might look like right now even though Lydia has promised to work her magic on him. They arrive at a room, and Stiles is hiding behind a door.
“Stiles?” Derek calls out.
“Don’t laugh at me.”
“Why would I laugh at you?”
“Because I look stupid!”
“You’re a federal officer, Stiles,” Derek tells him. “Get over yourself.”
Lydia smirks at the edge of the room.
“Fine,” Stiles says, and then he takes a deep breath. Derek waits, hardly knowing what to expect, but then Stiles steps into view.
His hair has been swept back and his cheeks are pale, smooth. Stiles’ brown eyes look even deeper with smoky black around them, and he’s wearing a very tight pair of dark jeans. His white shirt hugs his chest and stomach and a leather jacket is draped around his shoulders.
Derek’s mouth goes dry.
“Is he a good enough model for you, then?” Lydia asks, looking smug.
Derek nods once. He opens his mouth to speak, but he’s struggling to form words. Stiles looks so different. But better, definitely better, and they look at each other.
Stiles starts to fidget. “Um,” he says. “What do you think?”
Derek licks his lips. “You, um, yeah.”
Stiles lifts the corner of his mouth. He seems to know that Derek is affected – or maybe just surprised – and he winks at Derek before almost sauntering out of the room.
Derek looks after him as he leaves.
Lydia hums. “If only he could walk like that all the time.”
Derek smiles at her. “Nice work.”
“Thank you,” she says, “But I’ve barely started.”
Time passes by quickly. Stiles is at the modelling competition, equipped with an earpiece and a video camera. He gets to go to the places Derek can’t, gets to talk and gossip with the people who might know something.
Stiles does his job well. He gets things done and finds connections that no one else knows to look for. He doesn’t let the rules get in his way and he doesn’t take no for an answer.
He just – he doesn’t normally look this good while he’s doing it.
Derek looks at the video feed of the photoshoot. He can’t take his eyes off Stiles and he hates it. Stiles should be bad at this; he should struggle with being a model. But he smirks for the camera like he knows Derek’s watching, and he sways his hips when he walks down the runway.
“How did you do it?” Derek chokes.
Lydia turns to him. “Easy,” she says, stepping closer. “I told him to imagine a certain someone while he does all these things.”
“Oh,” Derek says, looking down at his hands.
Lydia sighs and they both look at Stiles on the screen. He’s doing a photoshoot in what looks like a broken bathtub and there’s water everywhere. Stiles’ clothes are clinging to him and drops of water glint off of his skin.
“Stiles talks about you a lot,” Lydia tells him. Derek freezes. “I thought you would be broodier.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks, scowling.
Lydia pats him on the arm. “It means Stiles can’t shut up about you, even when he’s trying to figure out the best place to shoot you.”
“Derek,” Stiles hisses.
He’s hiding in one of the dressing rooms, talking into the earpiece. Derek can’t see anything over the video feed and he’s immediately alert.
“Stiles? What’s wrong?”
“Everything,” he snaps. “Get over here now.”
Derek leaves the rest of the agents behind and rushes out of the room. The dressing rooms are a only few minutes away, but Derek can’t leave Stiles alone for a moment longer. He might have gotten into trouble – there was a reason why Stiles was supposed to be on desk duty for two months.
Derek barges through to the dressing room. His mouth drops open.
“Stiles!” he says, cheeks going red.
Stiles is wearing nothing but pink underwear. It leaves little to the imagination, and Derek has to look away.
“I thought this was an emergency,” Derek says, hissing at him.
Derek glares at him and tries to get out of there, but Stiles doesn’t let him leave. He pulls Derek inside the dressing room and locks the door.
There’s not much space between them.
“What’s the problem?” Derek asks in a flat voice.
“I can’t go out like this,” he says, hysterical. His eyes are wide and frantic. “Look at me.”
Derek, very carefully, does not look down. He doesn’t want to see Stiles’ naked, pale skin. He doesn’t want to see the moles scattered across his body.
Stiles covers his face with his hands.
“I can’t do this,” he says, “I can’t do this.”
Derek tries to take a step back. He isn’t sure how to be around Stiles while he’s wearing so little clothes.
“I am so fucking tired, Derek,” he says. “It’s like I’ve been sleepwalking every day this week! I feel like I’m a zombie strolling through a graveyard on that runway sometimes. Lydia keeps me up all night and makes me do these stupid things.” Stiles lowers his voice. “She made me shave down there.”
Derek did not need to know that.
“I can’t do the underwear shoot, Derek,” he says. “I may have grown hot overnight but my confidence needs a little more time.”
Derek reaches for his hands. He brings them together and pushes Stiles against the door, pinning his hands above his head. Stiles is forced to slow down, look him in the eye.
“We need you,” Derek tells him. “You’ve already gotten us so much intel being undercover. We need you to stay in the competition, Stiles.”
He turns his head to the side. “I – I know,” he says, looking frustrated.
“You look fine,” Derek says quietly.
“What if something happens?” Stiles says. “I can’t carry a gun in this underwear!”
Derek risks a glance down. “Did – did you try?”
“No!” Stiles says, horrified. He slaps Derek’s hands away and pushes at his chest. “That’s my dick, you idiot.”
Derek’s cheeks flush. He stammers and doesn’t know what to say.
Stiles looks to the ceiling. “I can’t have any more awkward naked conversations with you,” he says. “Go away.”
“You’re not naked,” Derek says faintly.
Stiles glares at him and Derek flees.
Derek has to stop in the corridor and take a deep breath. His hands are shaking and now he knows it was definitely a mistake bringing Stiles here.
Derek squints at the camera. There’s someone at the edge of the room who they haven’t seen before.
“Stiles? I’m watching the cameras –”
He grumbles under his breath and glances at the security camera. “Are you seriously watching us all having pillow fights in underwear?”
“Shut up. Who is that to your left?” Derek asks.
Stiles is momentarily distracted by a flying pillow. He quickly dodges it and looks around. “I’ll find out.”
Derek waits, a little impatiently, as Stiles starts whispering to one of his new friends. He’s charmed so many people at the competition, taking them out for pizza and beer to get more information out of them.
It’s been helpful – but Stiles seems to genuinely like them. They’re always offering each other little pieces of advice.
“Derek? His name is Matt Daehler,” he says, barely moving his lips. “He’s the son of one of the producers.”
“He hasn’t come up on any of our searches before. I’m running a new one with that name now.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him.”
Derek pauses. He can see how sharp Stiles’ eyes are with this new piece of information, he can see how capable he is at his job.
Stiles grins suddenly. “No problem, Hale.”
It’s the night they announce the winners and they still haven’t gotten rid of the bomb threat. Matt Daehler has been acting suspiciously, but they don’t have enough evidence to accuse him of anything. They all wait anxiously for something bad to happen.
The models move onto the stage one at a time, and Derek smiles when he sees Stiles up there. He had been terribly awkward at first, tripping over his own feet, but Lydia has been working wonders.
Tonight he’s wearing a metallic grey jacket with no shirt, the flatness of his stomach showing between the fabric. Stiles has on thigh high boots with wires and chains curling up his legs – some artistic statement about technology – and he looks stunning.
Derek tries not to get too distracted by him.
“Do you see anything?” Derek asks.
Stiles shakes his head minutely while he’s on the stage. They can both almost taste the danger on the air.
“You look good,” Derek says conversationally.
Stiles’ lips twitch.
He makes it to the end of the runway, and on the way back the crowd cheers. Stiles allows himself to grin and then his smile freezes on his face.
“Stiles?” Derek says urgently.
Stiles rushes off the stage, but instead of heading to the dressing room he finds Derek. He clutches at Derek’s arms, off balance.
“Do you know where Daehler is?”
“No,” he says, looking around. “No.”
Stiles nods. “I think – I think I saw him in the ceiling with all the lighting rigs and everything.”
“I’ll go,” says Derek, already moving away. “You get everyone out.”
Stiles looks frustrated, but he nods. He looks like he wants to say something but he doesn’t.
Derek rushes up the stairs, trying to think over the loud music. Another one of the models walks onto the stage and Derek doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. He doesn’t want Stiles to get hurt.
He reaches the top of the stairs, his gun in hand, and he sees Daehler standing next to a prop - a large, feathered swan - that gets lowered to the floor later in the show.
“Step away,” Derek orders, and Daehler looks up.
He looks sweaty, nervous, eyeing Derek’s gun. “Don’t,” he says, frantic. He holds up a small black device. “I’ll set off the bomb if you come closer.”
Derek doesn’t move. Daehler doesn’t either.
“Step away,” Derek says again, and from here he can see the bomb wired up and shoved inside the swan. It’s a real threat. “I’ll have to shoot you if you don’t.”
He hopes Stiles can hear him over the music and the speaker. He hopes that Stiles is getting everyone off the stage.
Derek takes a few steps closer, willing to bet that Daehler won’t detonate the bomb if he’s standing directly next to it. Under their feet are these metal platforms for the lighting crew to walk on during maintenance - it’s fragile, shaky, and they’re metres and metres above the ground.
Daehler sneers, and then he pulls at a wire. It makes the platform Derek’s standing on drop on one side and Derek can’t do anything but jump. He almost misses the landing, having to haul himself up by his hands.
It means Daehler can kick his gun away.
Derek quickly gets to his feet and Daehler tries to attack him. It’s difficult to keep their balance up here and there’s not much space for them to move. The detonator is still in Daehler’s hand and Derek reaches for it, careful, but only manages to make it fall from Daehler’s grasp.
Derek glances down and watches the detonator fall all the way down to the stage. The models are still there.
“Stiles,” he gets out, through gritted teeth. He continues to struggle with Daehler. “The detonator – it fell.”
“I see it,” Stiles says through the earpiece, and Derek is almost relieved. Everything might turn out okay.
He watches as Stiles runs across the stage, ignoring the protests of the other contestants. Daehler watches too – and then Derek feels something hard come down on his head.
His vision disappears for a moment and Derek is left disorientated. He grips onto the side of the creaking platform, knowing that Daehler has escaped his grip.
Derek staggers forward.
“Stiles – did – do you have it,” he manages.
“Yeah,” he says, “Yeah. Derek – Derek stop him! If the bomb hits the ground, it will go off on impact!”
Derek blinks a few times, darkness flitting in and out of his vision. He sees Daehler adjusting something – a wire – and then he catches Daehler’s grin.
The swan hangs by only one of the wires. Derek launches forward, hoping to stop him but he can’t help but think they’ve already failed.
Stiles is down there.
Derek won’t have saved him.
“Derek, I’m sorry,” he hears, a whisper.
“What for?” he manages, wrestling Daehler again. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the wire break free. Derek watches it fall, his heart in his throat, but a lot sooner than he expects the bomb explodes.
He hears nothing and everything. He loses his grip on Daehler and tries to hold onto the edge of the platform. His feet fly up from underneath him and everything goes dark.
He feels warm fingers touching his cheeks, he hears frantic words all around him. Derek groans. His body aches all over and he’s covered in ash and dirt.
“You’re okay, you’re okay,” Stiles says, looking relieved.
Derek tries to sit up.
“No, no,” Stiles says, his palms pressing against Derek’s chest. “You stay here. The medics are coming.”
“What happened?” Derek slurs. His head is throbbing and he sees pieces of debris nearby.
“I – um,” he looks down and tangles their fingers together. Derek’s own hands are dirty, covered in black smudges. “I detonated the bomb myself while it was on its way down.”
Derek lets out a breath. He stares at the ceiling where he was fighting Daehler before, sees white feathers from the swan floating down from above, and he doesn’t know what to say.
He chuckles under his breath. “That was smart,” he manages.
Stiles hits his chest. “No, it wasn’t!”
“You saved more people,” he says, “The bomb went off away from everyone else.”
Stiles lets out a noise. “But I didn’t want the bomb to go off near you!”
“I know,” Derek says, and he smiles slightly. He can see wet, guilty tears in Stiles’ eyes, but Derek thinks he made the right decision. Stiles saved himself and a number of other people.
Stiles sits with him until the medics come. Some of the other people were hurt when the debris fell to the ground but there were no deaths. Daehler has already been taken away.
“Derek,” Stiles says, sitting beside him with his metallic outfit still on.
“Mm?” he says back, tired. Derek turns to him, looking right into Stiles’ beautiful brown eyes. They have always been lovely to look at – even before this whole thing started.
He’s not expecting the way Stiles comes forward and cups Derek’s cheeks. Derek inhales shakily, barely responding when Stiles leans in and kisses him.
His head is woozy, confused. He stares at Stiles when he pulls away.
“The medics are here,” Stiles mumbles, not looking him in the eye.
Derek watches as Stiles fades into the distance.
Derek has been hoping for that kiss for longer than he’s willing to admit. He can’t stop thinking about it, wanting Stiles to talk to him but hearing nothing.
He’s confused. He wants more.
He takes a deep breath and knocks on Stiles’ hotel door.
“Hey,” Stiles says.
Derek looks at him. “Hey.”
“How are you feeling?” Stiles asks, chewing his lip nervously. He’s taken off all the makeup and he’s wearing one of his stupid t-shirts. Derek has kind of missed them.
Derek doesn’t answer him. He feels like shit, his head still hurts and he takes a step inside without waiting for Stiles to invite him in. Stiles looks surprised but not unhappy.
“Lydia was just here,” he says. “She says thank you for keeping her alive.”
Derek smiles. “You helped a lot with that.”
“Look, we can just forget about what happened,” Stiles says in a rush. “I didn’t mean to kiss you. I mean, I did, but it’s okay if you just want to blame that memory on the concussion.”
Derek stares at him, determined.
“What?” Stiles squeaks.
“I don’t want to forget about it.”
“Oh,” he says, eyes wide, and Derek’s already kissing him. Their lips melt against each other and Derek can hear every little breath that comes out of Stiles’ mouth.
It feels heavenly.
Stiles’ hands pull at his hair and they stumble towards the bed. Derek drags his lips over Stiles’ neck, fucking glad that he’s finally giving into this.
“You’re really into me, aren’t you?” Stiles says, back pressed into the mattress. Derek hovers over him.
“I’ve always been into you,” he murmurs.
Stiles lets out a breath. He looks incredulous. “But you didn’t – you didn’t do anything before Lydia made me all hot.”
Derek smiles gently at him. “You kissed me first, remember?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“I probably wouldn’t have done anything unless I knew you felt the same way,” Derek admits. “And as much as I think you’re incredibly gorgeous and sexy in skin tight clothing… it doesn’t mean I don’t want you the rest of the time.”
Stiles grins up at him. He runs his fingers through Derek’s hair.
“Good to know,” he says, and he kisses Derek again. Derek feels himself smiling, and then he’s getting lost in the feel of Stiles against him. He likes the warmth of their bodies together.
Stiles cups his face again, much like he did earlier. His eyes are bright and happy.
“You think I’m gorgeous,” he says.
Derek looks at him, unimpressed.
“You wanna date me, love me and marry -” He stops talking and looks down, trying to suppress a smirk.
“What are you looking at?” Derek asks, blushing at Stiles’ words, the look on his face.
Stiles almost cackles, throwing his head back and laughing. Derek takes the opportunity to suck a mark at his throat.
“Nothing,” he says, eyes darker, his voice more breathless. “I was just wondering… is that a gun in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?”
Derek rolls his eyes. He feels like he’s being made fun of for his comment in the dressing room. “Cop jokes, Stiles, really?”
“Only around you, Hale. Your model levels of sexiness makes me horny, like all the time.”
“All the time, huh?”
Stiles narrows his eyes. “Actually, don’t flatter yourself. Everything turns me on, to be quite honest, even honey.”
“Honey?” Derek bites his lip, not sure what to say. He’s glad that a few days with gel in his hair hasn’t made Stiles someone different.
Stiles shakes his head, hooking a leg around Derek’s waist. “Just kiss me,” he says, and Derek does exactly as he’s told.