Stiles pushes past Kira, bursts into the dressing room off the back of the banquet hall and says, “I’m freaking out!”
Turning from the mirror, Malia arches an eyebrow and looks him up and down pointedly. She's beautiful and glamorous in her ivory shift dress, beaded fringe clicking gently together against her thighs.
Stiles smoothes down the silky material of his own sweet outfit and makes a face, because he’s definitely not freaking out about that. The dress is fantastic. It’s well known that Stiles occasionally likes to indulge in a skirt or two, but he’s never had one tailored to his form before—the folds of it fall perfectly across his chest and cinch tight around his waist. He’s going to wear this one until it falls off his body.
No, Stiles is freaking out because: “Derek Hale is your cousin!”
Malia looks doubly unimpressed. “I’m pretty sure I told you that already.”
“You told me your cousin was Derek,” Dorky Cousin Derek, specifically, who Malia used to tease relentlessly when she was little, Stiles has heard the stories, “not Derek Hale.”
The Derek Hale, who punched out that photographer last month for getting too chummy, who’s hot and talented and rumored to be a total douchebag and also a complete sweetheart. He’s amazing on screen, Stiles may have been a little obsessed in his teenage years, but he definitely does not want to walk down the aisle with him.
“Does it matter?” Malia is a blank kind of baffled in the face region, like she wants Stiles to go away but realizes she needs to show some concern for his hysterics.
Malia is one of Stiles’s best friends, okay, he loves her, but Malia sometimes has trouble understanding basic human functions. He’s pretty sure it comes from living feral for too many years in the preserve.
Which also means:
“Oh my god, he’s a werewolf.” Stiles is torn between being delighted and terrified beyond all reason.
Kira peeks around the doorjamb. “Everything okay? Only the officiate is getting restless, and Luke’s sister Sophie is threatening to start the music without you.” She’s looking at Stiles, like Stiles is the one holding up the wedding, and not Derek Freaking Hale.
Malia says, “Stiles is having a sexual crisis.”
“Oh my god, shut up,” Stiles says, and then flounces his way out of the room. His frilly skirt makes stalking impossible. Normally, Stiles would be pleased.
Sophie is glaring daggers at him by the time he makes it to the back of the hall, but Sophie has issues with Stiles as a bridesmaid, so Sophie can stuff it up her ass.
Stiles had been totally fine with wearing a tux on Malia’s side of the aisle, but Malia can be weird about certain things she deems normal, and she’d been adamant about color balance. Stiles is clad in the exact same bright red short-skirted chiffon dress as every other bridesmaid, and he’s fine about that too.
Anyway, Stiles is already on Sophie’s shit list, and this minor wedding hiccup has made her look even more sour. Stiles truly likes Luke, he doesn’t understand how they can be related.
He shimmies a little to straighten the fall of his skirts and sticks out his tongue at Sophie before taking his place behind her as second in line.
Second in line to walk down the aisle. And stand across from Derek Hale. God. Because heaven forbid he wear a dress for Malia. Nevermind the fact that Scott’s on the groom’s side as well.
Look, Stiles just really likes the dress, okay? And nobody cares what the McCall pack emissary does anyway.
Except for possibly Sophie Dent.
Thank god Luke doesn’t expect Malia to marry in the other way. She would eat everybody in the Dent pack alive.
The music starts and Sophie pastes on a smile and glides forward and Cora pokes him in the middle of the back to get moving.
Stiles trips over his sparkly red sneaks and grips his bouquet of roses and hopes to god he isn’t flushing in splotches all over his exposed parts. His head is freshly shorn, because Malia likes to scruff her hand over it for good luck, and normally Stiles wouldn’t give a shit, but right now his shoulders feel tense and Derek motherfucking Hale’s gaze is dark and judging and Stiles’s sixteen year old self is sobbing uncontrollably into his pillow.
The ceremony is a blur. Stiles has no idea what actually happens beyond Malia and Luke tying the knot, Scott stepping forward as Luke’s new alpha, and Stiles almost falling on his face in the middle of the aisle, saved from out-and-out humiliation by Derek’s strong arm around his waist.
Which is another sort of humiliation in and of itself, given that Derek can probably smell all the pleasure Stiles’s is deriving from his big, warm hands.
Stiles risks a sideways glance and notices the clench of Derek's jaw, and Stiles murmurs a, "Sorry," and, "Thanks," in the same breath, hyper aware of how terrible it is that he's making Derek uncomfortable. He's usually better about this, getting his gross feelings all over the place; he's been living with werewolves for years.
The McCall pack is small but mighty, nestled in the tippy-top of California, a tiny slice of territory carved out with hard work, determination, and a zero tolerance policy for meddling murdersome supernaturals. They've got a Nemeton. Stiles had once been proud of that, but nowadays they just have to keep fighting back evil wizards. He's pretty sure that's why no other wolf pack had claimed Beacon Hills before them.
Malia belongs to the McCall pack despite technically being a Hale, mainly because Stiles and Scott were the ones who found her after her three-year sojourn in the woods during her teen years. Not to mention the fact that her biological dad is a half mad demon wolf, and her mom was some sort of death coyote.
She’s friendly enough with her aunts and uncles and cousins—with Derek—because they’re blood and she'd grown up with them, originally, but she sticks with Scott because of a fierce, smothering loyalty that most of the Hales just don’t understand.
They’re wolves, but not wolves, and Malia will always be kind of a wild animal. Responsible forever for what you have tamed. In a fit of romantic whimsy, Stiles had gotten that tattooed on his ribs when they’d been dating, but he honestly never really regretted it, even after they broke up. It’s not like the sentiment will ever change.
So, anyway, Malia is a Hale, but not of the Hales, settled far more south in California—Hollywood—and Stiles still has no idea how he didn’t know about Derek.
No one has ever accused Stiles of being dainty. He doesn’t become particularly lady-like in dresses; he just likes the way they swoosh all over his bare legs.
Derek scowls at him over their clasped hands and says, “Can you watch your feet?” through his teeth.
Stiles swallows back his nerves and smiles sunnily at him and says, “No.”
It’s not that Stiles is a terrible dancer—it’s just kind of like he’s lost all rhythm in the face of Derek’s… everything. His adorable teeth, the gray peppering his beard, the absolute crushing shine of his unreal eyes. Stiles has no chill, he’s holding on by a bare thread here, and the growl of Derek’s voice isn’t helping matters.
"You know, I always figured you'd be nicer," Stiles says. "In person." He stares in fascination as the tips of Derek's ears burn red. "Like the public asshole persona was just a front for your sensitive soul."
Derek dips his gaze and says, "I always figured you'd be wearing pants."
"Well, that's a weird—wait." Stiles stops himself mid-sentence, licks his lips, squeezes Derek's hand and says, "You've figured stuff about me?"
The arm around his back sweeps him closer—damn Malia and her wedding traditions—so their fronts are pressed all together, and Stiles barely stops himself from accidentally stomping on Derek's feet again.
The long suffering sigh is belied by the heat sweeping in from Derek's ears to color his cheeks, the way he ducks his head in closer so their noses brush. "Your pack has a Nemeton, Stiles. Everyone has figured stuff about you."
Derek is a movie star. He's an action hero. He's a leading man with criminal scruff, more abs than are humanly possible, and the thick, hairy thighs of a god.
And he's currently nuzzling into Stiles's neck, like he's only just holding back from licking him.
"I'm not sure what's going on," Stiles says faintly. He's pretty certain they were hurling vague insults at each other a few minutes ago. One stilted waltz to—he grimaces—a slow, jazzy live band cover of Uptown Funk shouldn't be this arousing.
"Are you wearing stockings?" Derek says into his neck, the hand on the small of Stiles's back oh-so-casually inching down to cover the top of his ass.
"Oh my god, you have a panty kink." Stiles knocks his shoulder into the side of Derek's face and yanks on his shorthairs until his head is forced back. Derek's pupils are blown. Stiles can't decide if that's a good thing or not.
And then Derek's blinking, turning his face away, jerking upright into a more formal stance, gripping Stiles's hand so hard he's half afraid his werewolf strength will break him.
"Hey, big guy," Stiles says, wriggling his fingers ineffectually, "fragile human bones here."
Derek heaves a deep breath and drops Stiles's like he's scorching.
Stiles stumbles back a step to applause, and belatedly realizes that the music stopped, that the wedding party opening dance is officially over.
"Well," Stiles says. "That was weird."
Derek tosses him a half-hearted red-faced glare before stalking away.
Stiles thinks the main problem with Malia's wedding is that it's everything Malia thinks it should be like, but not necessarily what she really wanted. Big wedding party, classy live band, neat symmetrical bouquets, five tier stark white cake with pink rosettes, a groom cake in the shape of a car.
Malia smashes Luke's face with the first piece of wedding cake and Luke wisely does not smash one back.
After the first hour, Malia looks like she's ready to tear off her dress and go howling through the preserve, but Talia distracts her with an enormous slab of venison.
After the second hour, the Hales and the Dents look like they're ready to dance battle a la West Side Story.
Kira has made Stiles do the Electric Slide.
Stiles has slow-danced with Jackson twice.
About three dozen handsy werewolves drunk on wolfsbane-laced beer have scruffed hands over his buzzed head while shouting, "Huzzah!"
And Derek is a constant looming dark presence that Stiles is studiously ignoring while not actually ignoring him at all. This is all of Stiles's teenaged fantasies come to life. Derek's vampire adventure movie from a decade ago, These Dark Mountains, had featured heavily in Stiles's rich and vivid daydreams. All they need is a cave and a rainstorm and the adrenaline thrill from surviving a vampire attack, some heaving bosoms and torn skirts and, you know, a lot of Stiles's kinks can be traced back to the way Derek Hale looks on screen.
He's in so much trouble.
Creeping up on the third hour—which is nearly the last hour, thank god—Stiles has his sneaks off, curled up on a chair in the back corner of the room, nursing a piña colada.
He's not even surprised when Derek slides up next to him and says, "I'm not an asshole."
Stiles tilts his head back to look at him, and a tiny zing goes down his spine when Derek's eyes flicker to the pulse point on his neck and then back up to his face again. "Oh?"
"Yeah," Derek stuffs his hands in his pockets, "I've got a grumpy resting face."
"And a mean right hook," Stiles says.
"And a mean right hook," Derek says with a bob of his head and a faint smirk.
Stiles pushes out the chair next to him with a bare foot and says, "Sit," and he may look totally relaxed, but mostly his heart is in his throat and the back of his knees are sweating and his dick is acutely aware of Derek's forearms. He's pretty sure Derek knows all this, but is probably used to politely ignoring those kinds of reactions to his person. He's been shirtless in almost every photo spread since he graduated out of teen comedies.
Stiles tenses at the heavy hand on his calf. He makes an embarrassing squeaky sound, but all Derek does is tug his legs across his lap so Stiles can keep up his lounging, and if his fingers spread up a little too high on Stiles's thigh, well, neither of them say anything about it.
The skirt of Stiles's dress is rucked up against his crotch and he can't seem to suck in enough air on his next breath, but Derek just smiles this charming asshole smile, like he knows exactly what he's doing to him, and asks him about his father.
"You seriously want to talk about the Beacon Hills County Sheriff right now?" Stiles says, voice definitely not a note too high.
"Sure," Derek says, teeth flashing through his grin. "I hear he carries a mountain ash bat covered in runes, and he's been elected five straight terms in a row."
"He's retiring," Stiles says. He drops his gaze to where Derek's hand is curling under the back of his left thigh, right where his garters stop. His breath hitches as Derek's fingers toy with the lacy, elastic tops. "Okay, so," Stiles says, because, you know, that's really hard to misinterpret, right? "Wanna go make out in the coat closet?"
The coat closet of the banquet hall is actually large and well-lit and Stiles shoves past an entire rack of scarves and shawls—Isaac's?—and drags Derek all the way back against the far wall, where they're at least out of sightline with the door.
"This is so stupid," Stiles says. "Do paparazzi come to these kinds of things?" He'd prefer not to end up on TMZ with the headline 'Derek Hale Sex Tape', but, you know, that's also not going to stop him from sticking his hands down the back of Derek's slacks.
Derek growls and uses his werewolf strength to heft Stiles up, hands on his ass, the tops of Stiles's shoulder blades pressed into the paneling. Manhandling is a go.
"Hello, beard burn," Stiles says, rubbing his palms over Derek's cheeks.
Derek rolls his eyes, and then dips in to suck kisses all up Stiles's neck, the sensitive skin under his ear, and Stiles melts and wriggles at the same time.
"Stiles," Derek says, fingers walking up and up until the skirt of the dress is out of the way, and hot hands are against the bare skin of Stiles's lower back, the crease of his thigh just under his briefs.
"Yeah, yes, okay."
Stiles is not proud of the fact that he loses track of everything except Derek's mouth and his hand on his dick and the taste of his skin, but for a few brief moments he doesn't care about the sudden hush of muffled music, the expectancy in the air around them.
It's not until he's panting into the hollow of Derek's throat that he thinks: "Oh my god, they're all waiting for us to be done, aren't they?"
Derek's hands tighten on his hips. He says, "Do you think there's a back way out?"
"Of a closet?" Stiles asks, incredulous. And then he unlatches himself from Derek's body and straightens his skirts and clears his throat and looks up at the ceiling. "Right," he says. "Right."
"Should we, uh…" Derek trails off, and Stiles risks a look at him—he's pink above his beard and has an aw, shucks dip to his head that his dad is going to eat up, god.
Stiles says, "We should move this to your hotel room," before he can think better of it.
At Derek's wide eyes—like he isn't a star, geez—Stiles adds, "What, like our entire families don't already know what we were doing in here?"
Stiles would appreciate a bed, is what he's saying, and he definitely would like to be pressed down into it by all of Derek's muscles. There are things that you just can't do in a coat closet in a reception hall with over a hundred guests accidentally listening in. Werewolves.
"If you're lucky, I'll let you buy me breakfast." Stiles is going to milk this for all that its worth. If he's lucky, Derek will be in town for at least another day.
"Is that a good idea?" Derek asks, but he's already curling close around him again, burying his face in Stiles's neck, ignoring the pounding on the door and Scott's distinctive, "Come on, guys, it's getting late!"
Derek takes a deep, bracing breath and says, "Okay."
Apparently Scott's been holding off the masses like a good bro and alpha, but he gives them dirty glares as they slip out of the coat closet. And then there's, like, an embarrassing announcement from the lead singer of the band and tired cheering in response, but the reception isn't completely over, so there's only about thirty or so guests who were waiting to leave.
They're halfway down the big ornate stairs to the lobby when Derek grabs his hand and tugs him to a stop.
"Stiles, I—" He cuts himself off, opens and closes his mouth, then shoves a hand through his hair in obvious frustration. His eyes flash and he clenches his teeth.
Stiles swings around and places his other hand on top of their clasped ones. "What's up, big guy?"
Derek grimaces. “I shouldn’t be seen—”
“Holding hands with a dude?” Stiles says with pointed shake of their hands.
“No," Derek grips him tighter before dropping Stiles's hands completely, "that’s not—”
“Holding hands with a dude in a dress?” Stiles straightens up to his full height, only a little peeved that they’re basically eye-to-eye, ignoring the sharp stab of disappointment and hurt. "That they'll think you're dating a dude in a dress?"
"Stiles," Derek growls. “Let me—no. I shouldn't be seen dating another pack’s emissary.”
Stiles’s mouth clicks shut, frame loosening. Huh. He wrinkles his nose and says, “Scott won’t care.”
“Maybe not,” Derek says, gazing down into the lobby. “But my mother probably will.”
Stiles scoffs, shrugs his shoulders like it doesn't matter, even if he's dying a little bit inside. “Only if you’re planning on marrying me.”
Derek’s silence is way too loud.
Stiles's silence is too loud. His brain thoughts trip over themselves and his heart grows three sizes and it's too early in the game to scream yes, but he's somehow not surprised by how much he really, really wants to.
"Oh my god," Stiles finally says.
There's a tick in Derek's jaw. "It's not—"
"Oh my god." Stiles is vibrating. Stiles is half sure he's having a heart attack. Stiles wants to drag Derek back to that coat closet and tumble him to the ground and fuse their souls together in ways that an emissary never should.
"Can you please shut up about it?" Derek looks embarrassed and harassed and like he wishes he never opened his mouth, but the glorious thing is that he can't take it back.
"I'm the McCall pack emissary," Stiles says. He wants to wriggle back into Derek's space and thinks about the logistics of wrapping his arms and legs around him like an octopus, and whether or not Derek could stop them from falling down the rest of the stairs if he did.
Derek looks resigned. "Yeah, I know."
The thing is, the world at large doesn't know about werewolves and packs and emissaries, and all TMZ will care about is Derek Hale and a dude in a red dress. But all Derek Hale cares about is the possibility of leaving his mom.
"Well," Stiles says. "This is a mess." He moves in closer anyway, though, and rests his forehead on Derek's shoulder, curls his fingers into the front of Derek's shirt.
"It's not—I'm supposed to be Laura's second," Derek says, and he sounds adorably baffled, and it's breaking Stiles's heart.
"I'm with you for whatever you want to do, dude," Stiles says, because everyone knows where Stiles's loyalty lies—this is Derek's decision. "I'm not saying I want to marry you over pancakes, but I'm not not saying that either."
The truth is Stiles would elope with him in a hot second, even if it all ended terrible.
"You're a menace," Derek says, but his voice his fond and his hands are careful on his nape. He brushes his mouth along Stiles's temple.
"I am a goddamn delight," Stiles says shakily. "Also I lost my shoes. You might have to carry me across the pavement."
"So sure this is gonna happen, right?" Derek murmurs against his cheek.
Stiles is not sure. Stiles has the cold sweats and his throat feels tight, and if Derek walks away now he will totally understand and also curl up in a ball right there and cry. Ten minutes ago he had no idea he was this invested.
Then there's an extra loud sniffle behind them and Derek says, "I know you're there, Cora," and Cora says, "I'm gonna be Laura's second, asshole, and I will fight you to the death for it if you don't leave with this ragamuffin man-child right now," and also, "If you tell anyone I was crying I will eat your fucking liver."
"I believe her," Stiles whispers, and wisely doesn't take offense at 'ragamuffin man-child.' Stiles is as elegant as a princess for once in his life, and Cora Hale can't take that away from him.
Derek's thumbs slip forward to cradle the sides of his face as he whispers, just as soft, "Me too."
He's still tense. Stiles still has no idea which way the wind will blow, in the end, but he's absolutely certain they're at least going to have tonight, and it's going to be fucking magical.
Also: "We're not going back to your hotel room," Stiles says, pulling back to gaze at Derek's face.
His beautiful hazel eyes are wary and glorious and Stiles is going to have to hide every single magazine he owns with Derek on the cover before morning because: "I'm taking you home."