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Loves Company

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“Cheer up, son!” his dad says as he dances past with Natalie, who still looks resplendent despite changing out of her wedding dress. “This is a party!”

Stiles hadn’t even wanted to accept Lydia’s invitation, but his dad had talked him into going, mostly by saying “you always meet interesting people at weddings.” Stiles has met no interesting people, and instead has been enduring Jackson taunting him for not bringing a date.

Thankfully, he gets bored and leaves fairly soon, returning to his usual spot at Lydia’s side. Stiles knows he’d be in big trouble if he punched Jackson out at the reception.

He was hoping to just chill and eat cake with Scott, but he’s dancing with Lydia’s friend Allison, and they both look super into it. He’d guess they’re about two seconds from kissing.

He sweeps his gaze across the dance floor, sees Peter Hale, Natalie’s new husband, doing some kind of involved dance with three other people. He spots his dad again, who looks like he’s maybe had too much champagne, but seems to be having a lot of fun.

Stiles gets tired of watching the dancers, and starts looking at the tables along the perimeter instead. There’s clusters of people eating and talking, but in the back corner he spots a surly looking guy sitting alone. He’s clearly not happy to be here, either.

Well, Stiles decides, misery does love company.

 He cautiously makes his way over, hesitates with his hand on the back of the chair. “Hey man, you mind if I sit here?”

The guy raises a truly magnificent eyebrow, then nods. Stiles tries not to breathe a sigh of relief too obviously. Stiles sits down on the same side of the table as him, so they can still watch the dance floor. It’s only going to get more entertaining as people continue to drink.

“Hi, I’m Stiles,” he says when he realizes Sour Face isn’t going to say anything.

“Derek,” is the short answer he gets, but it’s better than nothing.

“So, I’m guessing weddings aren’t really your thing?” he ventures. He figures it’s more tactful than saying why do you look so grumpy?

Derek lifts his shoulder in an apathetic shrug. “I don’t mind weddings. I’m not very fond of crowds, though.”

“I don’t like them much, either,” Stiles says. “Though I play it off better.”

That gets the corner of Derek’s mouth to twitch up, and Stiles grins.

They sit in empathetic silence for a moment, but Stiles’ nosiness gets the better of him. “How’d you end up here, then? Since you’re not into big parties.”

“Peter is my uncle, so of course he invited me to the wedding. And I had no trouble turning him down,” Derek says, smirking. “However, Natalie owns the gallery I work at, and she convinced me to come.”

“How’d she do that?” Stiles asks, curious.

“Bribery.”

That startles a laugh out of him. “I’m not sure if you’re joking or not.”

Derek turns, fixes him with a very serious look. “I’m not joking,” he says.

“Oh,” Stiles says, momentarily caught on how beautiful Derek’s eyes are. “Um, what did she bribe you with?”

“She said she’d feature one of my pieces during the next showcase,” Derek says. “I figured that was worth braving the crowd for.”

“One of your—you paint?” Stiles asks, surprised.

“What, do I not look like the artist type?” Derek asks, teasing. “Yes, I paint. And I spend most of my time either at the gallery or in my studio, which is why I’m not used to all of this,” he adds, gesturing toward the people milling around the dance floor.

And Derek doesn’t really look like the artist type, not in his suit and tie. He looks incredible.

“I feel it’s only fair to ask now,” Derek says. “But why did you look so upset earlier?”

Stiles has a briefly panicked oh god, he saw that? moment, but he pulls himself together. “I couldn’t get a date to the wedding, and Jackson was hassling me about it,” he admits.

“Jackson, who’s broken up and gotten back together with Lydia four times in the past couple of months?” Derek says slyly, eyebrow raised. “I’m not sure he has room to talk. Though I am surprised you couldn’t find a date.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Stiles says, grinning. “I know this suit makes me look dashing, but in regular life I’m pretty awkward most of the time.”

“I’m the same,” Derek says, smiling back. “Because if you haven’t noticed, I don’t have a date either.”

Stiles had noticed, but hadn’t been quite forward enough to say something about it.

“When you walked up,” Derek says into the quiet lull, “I was actually trying to figure out which painting to pick for the showcase. It’ll be next month.”

“Well, I know nothing about art,” Stiles says. “But if you want an entirely uninformed opinion of which one to choose, I’d be happy to help.”

Derek laughs. “Hey, it’s always good to get a fresh perspective,” he says. “Sometimes I look at one of my paintings so long, I can’t tell if I even like it any more. That’s when I usually call one of my sisters. They’re very honest.”

“You can always count on family for that, huh?” Stiles says, shaking his head. “My dad tends to be brutally honest about my personal life, so I can definitely relate. And if I don’t answer his calls, he sends one of his deputies to give me parking tickets. He thinks he’s funny.”

“Deputies?” Derek says curiously. “Wait, is your dad Sheriff Stilinski?”

“Um, yeah,” Stiles says, wary. That information sometimes scares people off.

Derek brightens. “Oh, I love talking to him. He comes by the gallery pretty often.”

“He does what?” Stiles says, disbelieving.

“There’s usually not that many people there, and it’s quiet. He likes to wander around and look at the art, he says it’s very peaceful. And if he has time, he’ll usually ask me about a piece he likes, or how my own paintings are coming along,” Derek says, sounding pleased.

“That’s really nice,” Stiles says, smiling. “Sounds like I need to start going to the gallery too.”

“You’re welcome any time,” Derek says. “There’s a lot of great art to see there.”

“And soon it’ll be featuring yours, too!” Stiles says excitedly. “That’ll be really amazing.” Then he pauses, thoughtful. “I know you said the gallery was mostly empty during the week, but isn’t it pretty busy on showcase nights?”

“Yeah,” Derek says. “I’ve helped Natalie run them before, a lot of people usually show up.”

“You ready for that, then?” Stiles asks teasingly. “I have it on good authority that you don’t like crowds.”

“It’ll be worth it, if people will see my work,” Derek says. “I just want that chance, you know?”

“Definitely,” Stiles says, nodding encouragingly. “I’m sure it’ll be a great night.”

“I hope so. Though I am expected to bring a date to the showcase,” Derek says with a shy smile. “Know anybody who might be interested?”

Stiles feels his heart speed up. “Do they have to know anything about art?”

“Not at all,” Derek says.

“Then I think I might have just the guy for you,” Stiles says, grinning. “I hear he looks very dashing in a suit.”

“That’s critical—this is a fancy party, after all,” Derek says, amused. “But is he a good conversationalist?”

“I think so. If you feel nervous and can’t think of anything to say, he’ll cover for you. He also knows a lot of random facts.”

“He sounds ideal so far,” Derek says, leaning closer. “But is he a good kisser?”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Stiles murmurs, just before his lips touch Derek’s.

(It turns out that he’s a great kisser.)