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            The set was busy; people bustled about with their various jobs. No one seemed to notice, or maybe they just didn’t care, as the gangly boy looked about nervously. He was all skin and bones, a track of moles across his light skin. He carried a bag across his shoulders, a coffee cup in his left hand and a curious look on his face. There was nothing remarkable looking about him at all, and perhaps, that was the most remarkable thing.

            His bag was heavily weighted with three books, several pens and pencils, a notebook, a laptop, and a stack of folders. Each item was placed in the bag with careful hands and an organized system. It was about the only thing he kept organized. On the strap of the bag there were several pins of odd sayings or pictures of iconic characters from things like Doctor Who and The Lord of the Rings.

           ‘Are you sure about this, Stiles?’ he asked himself. And really, he didn’t have an answer. The young man shuffled his feet about as he stood in the middle of chaos, a mass of people building and creating things all about him.

            Stiles was well aware of how the following events were to take place. It had been decided and carefully planned out exactly how the following weeks would go. But here and now it was real, and Stiles’ panic was taking rein of his breathing. He fidgeted again, taking in a deep breath that seemed to make it worse rather than better. This was a really, really bad idea. But he’d known that coming into this, hadn’t he? It had been his own damn curiosity that had brought him here.

            Fumbling fingers opened his bag, looking for reassurance that everything he needed was still in there. He did have a habit of leaving things behind. Yes, five folders—large, brown, and neatly labeled were tossed in beside the rest of his things. He relaxed but only slightly. Stiles took a long gulp of coffee that was starting to get cold and then adjusted the bag strap on his shoulder. He was going to make this work—he had to make this work.

            Scott stood beside Stiles with more confidence and purpose in his stance. Scott was calmer, more professional than Stiles could ever hope to be. He studied some papers with concentration and remained silent, yet his mouth moved as he read over the words on the pages. Stiles knew what he had to do: just stick to the plan. Stick to the plan and everything would be alright. Scott had never steered him wrong before. It had been Scott, after all, that got the book published in the first place.

            “Scott, are you sure we can pull this off?”

            The man looked at him from over a clipboard, raising an eyebrow. “Stiles, this is what you wanted.”

            Stiles nodded quickly, his eyes darting from side to side. “I know. I just feel…a bit queasy. Maybe I should—”

            “Stiles,” the man snapped with a frown. “You will be fine. You came here for a reason. All of this is only possible because of you. You’re great, and you’re going to be fine.”

            “Shh!” Stiles insisted instantly, becoming more alert and suspicious of nearby people. “Scott!”

            The corners of his best friend’s mouth tugged upward in amusement as he straightened himself. “If you just keep to the plan you’ll have nothing to worry about. Your secret will be safe, and you’ll have satisfied your curiosity.”

            Scott had personally chatted with the director, producer, or whoever it was that was allowing Stiles to be there. In return for the packet of information the director could find very useful for his movie, Stiles was given privacy and permission to be there without anyone bothering him.

            Stiles sighed. There were few people in the world that knew the secret; fewer had actually met Stiles with said knowledge. The publishing company members that were aware of the real identity of C. Sparks had never met him, save a few. Scott did most of the work for Stiles. It was through Scott that Stiles had been able to keep up the mask for so long.

            Scott had been Stiles best friend for as far back as anyone could remember. There wasn’t a time in Stiles’ life that Scott wasn’t a huge part of. Scott had grown up around a publishing company where his Godfather, Deaton worked. That was how, at age sixteen, Scott had known what he wanted to do. Scott and Deaton had worked hard together to get Stiles’ book published with the smallest amount of connection to him as they possibly could. With Scott as Stiles’ secret inside man, they had invented the pen name “C. Sparks” and published the book.

            Scott didn’t understand, but still never questioned Stiles’ anxiety. Stiles wasn’t a shy person exactly—but when it came to his writing it was horribly nauseous to think about people know it was he who wrote it. Stiles was also terribly anxious when it came to attention. He was a big chatter box until he was before a crowd. Stiles knew he didn’t look like much and the last thing he wanted was for people to judge him by his writings or vice versa.

            Never in Stiles’s wildest dreams would his series become a best seller. It wasn’t long before his books were high in demand. At first it was all very easy, until the books became globally popular and people began to ask who is C. Sparks? After all the time that passed, the strangest thing was that people knew C. Sparks was a pen name, and they liked it. Some people had wild theories about the real identity of the writer, but they had little to go on. The mystery was half the fun, and as the world held its breath for the fifth book to be sold, the filming for the first movie had begun.

            Stiles was amazed by the whole thing. He had originally been terrified of publishing his stories. He still was, if he was being honest.

            Stiles’ plot outline would take eight books. He was attached to the characters, as if they were real people. And apparently, he wasn’t the only one. People actually enjoyed the series. It was unbelievable, a big part of Stiles was skeptical.

            “You’re not staying?” Stiles asked tentatively. “You could stay.”

            “No,” Scott agreed. “Some of us have to work. I’m lucky I could even come here. But the apartment we’ve got is nice.”

            Stiles stared at his shoes with a heavy feeling. “Thank you. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”

            Scott grinned at him fondly before adjusting his coat. “We’re best friends, man. I’d do anything for you. Now, I’ll be off now. But Stiles, just stick to the plan?”

            Stiles nodded. “You know I will.”

            Scott gave him a look before turning to go. “I know you’ll try.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

                The air was crisp and cold; each breath was like a chilling swallow of ice. Alexander felt his claws pulling on his skin, reaching outward from his fingers in a powerful display of his anger. He fought to keep down the rage, trying to let the autumn air erode his mind’s thoughts. But it was too much. The smell of death hung in the trees, clung to the leaves that seemed to turn their colors faster, polluting the nature of the world with its fierce kiss. He tasted blood from his lips where his fangs were cutting him in his desperate attempt to hold it back.

                They were dead. They were all dead. She had killed them all.

“You’ve spent so much time trying to convince them that you’re no monster,” she mocked him, “but you can’t fool yourself.”

                His eyes narrowed as he turned to her, and he knew from the gleam in her eyes that he looked the part. His fangs and claws and glowing eyes that fed from his rage made him a beast.

                “We’re not so different, Alex. But it’s survival of the fittest,” she smirked with a hot gaze. “Too bad you’re all bark and no bite. You stupid mutts and trying to push down what nature has given you.”

                “The same?” he demanded but his voice was a growl of gravel against glass. His breathing was heavy and rugged. “We are nothing alike.”

                She tilted her head, amused. “Your instinct is to kill,” she told him as she raised her bow, “and so is mine.” And she fired, releasing the silver dipped weapon that would put an end to the anger.

               

               

            “Mr. Hale?” came a voice, breaking through the words on the page. The illusion was shattered and the real world replaced that of dark and desperate times.

            Derek jerked the book closed, cursing internally for losing his page in his reaction. “What?” he snapped at the interruption.

            His heated stare brought him facing a young girl, not much younger than himself. The woman was pretty, with dark hair and eyes. She grinned at him nervously, a hairbrush in her right hand and a bottle of hair product in the other. Allison, one of the makeup girls.

“Sorry,” she apologized, stepping back to give him more room. “I didn’t mean to startle you. We’re ready for you now.”

            Derek sighed, smiling apologetically at the girl just trying to do her job. “Coming,” he murmured lighter, trying to be softer. He found his way to the mirrors and chairs and sank into the familiar cushion. He set the book lightly on the table, out of her way but not out of his mind.

            Derek knew that he was never exactly what people expected him to be. For the world, the media that filmed him for short periods of time and took quick pictures of him grinning, he was the friendly, charming Derek Hale. But Derek acted because he enjoyed acting, not because he enjoyed fame.

Being famous didn’t bother him exactly, but he had been in the limelight from childhood. Derek knew how to smile, what to say, how to promote things. Derek knew how to give people what they wanted. No one really cared who he was as a person. No one was interested in him. Not really.

            “That’s the fourth book, right?” Allison asked, nudging towards the book as she pulled out her supplies. “Rereading it or first time?”

            Derek rolled his eyes, “I did decide it would be a good idea to read all the books before we started filming. Obviously I’ve read it before.”

            Allison’s cheeks heated a bit as she looked away, whether it was of anger or embarrassment he did not know. “Oh, of course! Sorry, I didn’t really think…”

            Derek sank down into his chair, feeling like a jerk again. “No, sorry, I just haven’t had any caffeine this morning. I think I’ve read each book a thousand times; I can’t wait for the fifth to come out.”

            The girl seemed to relax a bit, smiling fondly at the book. “Me either. I think everyone’s in love with the series. I was so excited when I got the news for the movie.”

            Me too, Derek thought but remained silent as she began working, humming a tune softly. She was a nice girl, Allison Argent. She was a very talented makeup artist, but she was hired for the particular movie because wherever Lydia went, Allison followed. It was one of Lydia’s demands. A funny demand really, but even if someone said Allison only got the job because of Lydia, no one could dispute her skill.

            The Argents were all into the makeup and special effects industry like the Hales were in entertainment. Allison was just a chip off the old block. She had won so many awards for someone her age. It was downright amazing. And God knew for this movie makeup and special effects would be important.

            The person seated in the chair just to his left leaned over. “Derek! Getting the war paint on too then?”

            Derek glanced over to see Isaac Lahey staring at him, holding his script with a cheesy, dimpled grin.

            Like Derek, Isaac had been acting for ages. This movie was not the first they were both a part of, but it had been many years since they had last been in a movie together. Derek liked him well enough, though everyone liked him. He was the kind of guy that anyone could get along with. Isaac was almost unbearably kind. He came from an average family so his success was all to himself, unlike Derek who had been born into the entertainment business. That was not to say Derek was any less of an actor. Many were of the opinion that Derek Hale was one of the best actors seen in cinema.

            “Isaac,” Derek nodded, sharing the smile though his was considerably smaller. “It’s good to see you.”

            Isaac cocked his head to the side playfully. “It’s been awhile, Derek. But I’m excited to work with you again. You really haven’t changed a bit”

            Derek snorted, shaking his head. Derek had never been good at being social. Sure, he could put up a face for pictures, interviews, and acting in general. But Derek didn’t care for people too much. He just liked acting. Three months of filming for hours and hours each day. As the main role Derek would spend a good deal of time on the set. Isaac also would be there for a good portion of the time as well. Then it was time to promote, edit, and wait.

            They were, of course, already talking about filming dates for the second movie.

            Allison finished with him so Derek stood to pick up the book once more and make his way out of the busyness of the set. If he was lucky he’d have several moments before they needed him. He walked, pulling the book open to where he had left off.

            When the first book came out it was no big deal. It rested in the book stores, just waiting, like any other book. The very first few readers would have walked up and picked it up, The Hunted by C. Sparks. Some would read it, some would not, but by the time the second book came out, everyone had heard about it.

            The books were huge all over the world. People ranted and raved like lunatics and Derek, despite the impression he might give off, was one of them. Derek had always loved to read. As an actor he had learned to love it because his life meant a whole lot of long plane and car rides. But of all the books he had read, never had he read anything that measured up.

            The first four books had been huge hits, and in almost half a year the fifth book would be on shelves everywhere. Derek already had his preordered and everything.

            When Derek was offered a part in the movie, he didn’t hesitate to take it. If he hadn’t gotten a part he would have begged and pleaded if that was what it took. Turns out that he was who they wanted for the main man anyway. No part had ever excited Derek quite like this one.

            Alexander was a man of action, a man of strength, but he was a fire-cracker of wit and power that could make people follow him with his words alone. Derek idolized the character that always said the dumbest things until it counted and suddenly the words that came out were wise and astounding. The story had a little bit of everything. Magic, fighting, romance, morals, deep characters and plots, and a writing that didn’t just let you get excited about the book—it brought you into it. And perhaps that was it—the mystery that strung everyone along: C. Sparks.

            Everyone knew it was a pen name and that the man or woman’s real identity was a huge deal that the publishing companies guarded like military secrets. Sure, lots of people speculated about the writer, but Derek figured they were all wrong. But if he could meet anyone—anyone in the whole wide world—it would be Sparks. He’d like nothing more than to shake the hand of a genius that wrote the series.

            “Oof!” came a squeak as someone toppled over and onto the floor.

            Derek stumbled back, waving his arms about a moment, barely staying upright as they collided.

            “Ow,” came a slow groan at Derek’s feet.

            Derek looked down slowly to see the person he had run into hadn’t been as lucky as him. He was a scrawny boy about his age, with sharp elbows and a pale complexion covered with moles. The young man was good looking in a pretty way and clumsy looking in a cringing way. He was sprawled on his back across the floor in an unfortunate landing. The boy looked up with a dazed expression and something that resembled confusion.

            “You're not hurt, are you?”

            The boy blinked up at him before his eyes widened. His eyes flew to his bag and then his hands stretched down to his laptop that was half out of the bag. He picked it up quickly, opening it up and then sighing with relief. “Not broken.”

            “You’re lucky, then,” Derek growled with irritation now that the boy seemed unharmed. “You should have been looking where you were going.”

            His warm brown eyes narrowed as he looked up incredulously at Derek. “Look who’s talking! You weren’t paying any attention to where you were going. You just bulldozed me over!”

            Derek knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that the boy was right and that Derek had his nose far down into the book he hadn’t even thought about looking up. But he just gripped the book tighter and glared back. “It's not my fault if you're a clumsy idiot.”

            The pale face went pink around his cheeks as he gaped at Derek, but remained silent. His eyes drifted to rest on Derek’s hand where the fourth Hunted book was hanging limply at his side. The corners of his mouth twitched upward for a moment before he got to his knees and pulled himself on to his knees to make like he was going to stand. “You like it, then?”

            Derek stared down with narrow eyes as the boy collected himself. “What?”

            The boy stopped, gesturing towards the book at Derek’s side. “The book. I mean, you were so engrossed by its contents I figured you must have been really into it.”

            Derek stiffened slightly, unsure of what to make of the strange boy. He watched him stand slowly; long, skinny limbs unfolding around him. He couldn’t be that much younger than Derek himself, who was 26 at the moment. “The movie being filmed does happen to be about the series,” Derek rolled his eyes with a huff. “Not that it’s any of your business what I do in my spare time.”

            “Right,” the boy nodded, looking away. “They’re not that good. I don’t really see what all the fuss is about.”

            Derek was surprised to the see the boy was roughly the same height as himself but without any muscle or shoulders of any kind. He stood all skin and bone while his mouth twisted into a confusing smug look. Derek had a moment to wonder if the boy ate at all before the stranger’s words registered in his head. “You don’t like the books?”

            Stiles shrugged. “They’re alright.”

            Derek snorted, shaking his head. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard them described as anything but amazing. Are you alright in the head? Have you even read them?...You can read, can’t you?”

            Stiles glared as his jaw twitched. “I’ve read them. I just figure everyone’s only so in love with them because they like the mystery of who wrote it. They all want to know who Sparks is but…well once the world knows, they won’t care anymore.”

            Derek couldn’t believe anyone could be so stupid. Sure, there was the allure of mystery that the media had found, but the real magic was found in the breathtaking adventures in the pages. “Who are you? What do you do here?”

            “Stiles,” the boy said gruffly, dusting himself off, “Stiles Stilinki. I’m—uh—just a hand around here. I just do—err—whatever needs…done.”

            “Stiiles Stilinki? Is that even a real name?” Derek studied him for a moment, squinting as if he were unsure. “Well, as intelligent and fascinating as it was to meet you, Stiles,” Derek slurred sarcastically, “I do hope we never run into one another again. I actively try to avoid idiots. ”

            He stepped around Stiles, sidestepping and clearing himself a nice path quickly away.

            “Just who the hell do you think you are, asshole?” Stiles demanded. His voice followed after Derek, more amused than angry at the jab that Derek had just thrown his way.

            Derek looked over his shoulder in confusion. “I thought you knew. I’m Derek Hale—I’m playing Alexander in the movie…” And just like that, he kept walking and forgot all about the encounter.

            Stiles stopped in amazement, blinked about and went very still for a moment. Derek Hale. No wonder the boy had looked so familiar to him. His palm came up to smack his face as he went red and felt very, very sick.

            Maybe he should call Scott and just go home.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            Derek was covered in warm, red, sticky liquid that a glance would tell a person it was blood. It stained his shirt and dripped down from his fingers. He was deathly white as he stared down at his shaking hands, a strong contrast from the deep red that burned across his skin. He swallowed hard and then let out a loud, jagged breath. His eyes once again swept over the body he knew was lying there.

                The man on the floor was next to where Derek knelt: motionless and even paler than him. His eyes were open still, staring off into nothing within the brightly lit room. He was in a pool of blood that could be none but his own.

                Derek jumped up and away from the man, staring downwards at himself once more. Derek’s eyes began to water as the full extent of what had just happened reeled through his mind. “I killed him,” he whispered to no one, the horror and fear of the situation slipping into his voice. “… I killed him.” He looked up quickly, as if expecting another person to be standing within the walls of the room, but none stood there.

Instead, crumbled up in a ball on the floor, peering through long strands of red hair, was a girl. Her back was against the wall with her hands around her knees. Bright eyes stared back at Derek with fear and…something else. Awe? Confusion? “What are you?” she murmured with a breathy voice. Her tone suggested she knew him, as if he were familiar—yet now, so foreign.

            Derek looked between her, his hands, and the body on the floor before meeting her eyes. “We need to go.”

            She pulled her knees tighter, her fingers grasping at the ripped cloth of her dress. “You’re one of them—one of the shifters.” It wasn’t a question. It was hardly a statement. It was a shaky acknowledgement of the truth that seemed unreal, unfathomable.

            Derek swallowed hard, stepping towards her but stopping as she flinched. Her eyes were wide with fear—whether it was of him, his wolf or just in general, it was hard to tell. He hesitated before wiping the blood across his pants, freeing his hands from the warm evidence of death. “Don’t you trust me? You’ve known me since we were kids.” but the words wore choked and grainy as his fear and confusion built.

            She released her knees slowly, standing on shaky legs while she held the tattered remains of her dress up. Her free hand grasped the sheet of the bed and pulled it towards her while her eyes remained fixed on Derek. “I thought I knew you,” she told him what laid heavy in his ears. “Looks like you’ve been keeping secrets, Alex.” She wrapped the blanket around her body. “They say you guys are monsters—killing machines. They say you only lust for blood.”

            Derek looked to the body on the floor, “We’re the monsters? Vera,” he whispered her name. “Are you alright?”

            The girl pushed back her red hair to meet his eyes and said, “He was going to—” her voice choked off. “You…you saved me.”

            “Saved you,” he repeated and stared at his hands, as if he would find them to be not his own, but the claws of a monster. He looked back up at her. “Vera, we have to go.”

            “Go where?” she replied before looking towards the body. “What do we do with him?”

            Derek followed her gaze and took in a deep breath. He shook his head; he didn’t know.

~~~~

 

            “Cut!” someone yelled and the tension slipped away.

            Stiles smiled from his hiding spot, out of the way but with the perfect view of the set. Stiles hadn’t realized they went over the same scene so many times.

            He was excited to see how the movie would look for a scene like that—how they’d make the transformation work. Special effects could work wonders because right now Derek looked pretty strange throwing his hands up, and the man suddenly smashing into the wall.

            Derek Hale. Stiles had known the name of course, he’d seen lots of movies with the man in them, but it hadn’t connected or registered right away. He was a bulky man with big shoulders, dark features, and a bright smile. He seemed charming.

            When they were trying to do casting, Stiles had heard Derek’s name come up. He had the perfect build and physical attributes he would have recalled of his character. Plus, everyone knew he was a brilliant actor. Yet the first moment of meeting and Stiles had made an ass of himself. Not that Derek had come across as an especially wonderful person himself, nor did he know or care who he had run into.

            Stiles reached for his phone as the screen lit up.

 

Scott: Having fun?

Stiles: It’s interesting

Scott: Let me know if you need anything. txt me when you get home. We’ll play video games?

Stiles: Sure thing, buddy. See you then J

 

            Stiles looked down where his laptop rested on his knees. He hadn’t actually expected to write while watching them film, but he thought a few notes here and there, for when ideas spun themselves, would help. He was a curious person at heart and he wanted to see the magic, his only demand before they began to make movies out of his book besides being able to okay the script.

            Stiles didn’t intend to come often. He had an apartment rented out with Scott not far from where they were filming. It was a big building with more money in it than anything Stiles had ever seen. But Stiles had come to escape California, in hope that a change in scenery would be able to help him write.

            He only planned to stop in once or twice a week for a bit, see the specific scenes he was dying to see.

            People liked his books, they were a bit obsessed even. It felt like the weight of anticipation, the expectation of amazing, was crushing him. Stiles didn’t think he could ever live up to their hope.

            Stiles had written his plot outline for an eight book series. He knew exactly how he wanted it to go—even if some bits sort of wrote themselves.

            The fifth book had just been handed over nearly three months ago to be edited, printed, and whatever else needed doing. But now, hoping to write book six, he was coming up empty handed.

            Stiles never did actual writing anywhere but within the confines of his own bedroom, where it was quiet, safe, and perfectly peaceful. But jotting down ideas, researching, writing little side stories that would never really be in the book—these he did while in coffee shops, in libraries, in taxis, and apparently movie sets.

            “You alright?”

            Stiles nearly jumped out of his skin. His whole body jerked and he had to clutch at his laptop quickly to prevent it from falling over. He did not however, squeak. Or if he did—it was a very manly squeak.

            “Oh I’m so sorry,” she said, a stitch of amusement in her tone. “I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just, you’re all here alone in the back and you looked rather stressed. I just thought I’d—uhh…well, make sure you’re alright.”

            She was a pretty girl, his age, give or take a few years. She had darker hair and eyes, and was overall an intelligent and friendly looking girl. She had a few tattoos, an elegant bow and arrow etched across her arm.

            Stiles let out a bark of laughter. He set his laptop beside him and gave her an easy smile. “No, you’re fine. I’m just overly jumpy. But I like it back here. You can see everything but I can’t quite get in anyone’s way.”

            The tension left her shoulders as an easy smile pulled at her lips. “Oh, it can be rather fun to watch, can’t it? You don’t have to be all the way back here though, you know.”

            Stiles shrugged, content. “Ehh, it’s less busy back here.”

            She looked about for a moment. “I suppose it is. “

            “I’m Stiles, by the way,” he said, extending a hand to her.

            She grinned and took the hand, shaking it lightly. “I’m Allison, Allison Argent. But if you want to watch it closer you can come over by the makeup area and sit with me. It’s not too busy there either and you can still hear what they’re saying.”

            “I appreciate the offer,” Stiles said sincerely, sharing the smile before dropping her hand.

            “What were you doing anyway?” she asked, glancing down at his laptop.

            Stiles put a hand down on it, smiling wide, “why, I’m really a very famous blogger and I have to keep my blog up to date.”

            She snorted, shaking her head, as she caught the laugh in his eyes. “Of course, I should have guessed. What is your blog about?”

            “Movie actors that are really quite rude,” Stiles confided with a serious tone.

            Allison nodded with a strict understanding. “Oh yes, I’m sure it’s very popular.”

            “Extremely. I’m an internet sensation.”

            “I wouldn’t doubt it,” she said. “Do tell, who is your latest topic?”

            Stiles put a finger to his lips, “I can’t reveal such a big spoiler.”

            “Of course,” she put a hand over her heart dramatically, her face grave and serious before bursting with a smile. “I expect you’ve met Derek then. I’ve gotten to know a few of the actors and he can come across as rather…cold…but he’s not so bad. I’ve worked a lot with his family and…well, Derek has always been great for the cameras but he’d rather be alone most of the time. Lydia…well, she’s a real sweetheart once you get to know her. Derek, he seems all grand on camera because he’s a great actor but he isn’t very social. He can be a bit…intimidating.”

            Stiles shrugged, shaking his head with a smile. “Well, he’s an actor.”

“Well I better go. A new scene will be filmed soon and I expect they’ll need me. But you’re welcome to interact with civilization if you catch the fancy.”

            “What is it that you do?” Stiles wondered. “You’re not an actress, are you?”

            She blushed at that, a half smile on her face as he eyes dropped to the ground. “No, nothing of the sort. I’m a makeup girl. Makeup is in my blood though. Werewolves…well that sounds like a real fun challenge. It’s a fun job. Meet a lot of interesting people that way.”

            “Would I be one of them?” Stiles joked.

            But she raised her eyebrows and nodded with a smirk. “Most definitely.”

            As she turned to leave, however, a figure neared and called her name.

            “Oh, Derek,” she exclaimed loudly, blinking in surprise.

            “Allison,” he nodded. “Erica was looking for you, but she was busy so I volunteered to come find you.”

            Allison frowned with her teeth showing, a comical face, Stiles supposed. “Opps, I’d better go see what she wants. Bye, Stiles!” She called last second before dashing.

            Derek swung his head and caught sight of Stiles for the first time and furrowed his eyebrows as if trying to recall something. Stiles remained quietly staring back before Derek snapped and pointed, “Ahh! The clumsy set-hand from last week!”

            Stiles scoffed, rolling his eyes. “That was yesterday.”

            “Right,” Derek said disinterestedly. “What are you doing back here? Shouldn’t you be working?”

            Stiles smiled largely, “I am working.”

            “Oh?” Derek raised a disbelieving and mocking eyebrow. “And what exactly are you working on?”

            “Can’t tell,” Stiles whispered like a conspiracy. “Its top secret military stuff.”

            “Mmm,” Derek murmured, “I’m sure.”

            “What about you?” Stiles snapped. “Shouldn’t you be doing something?”

            Derek glared at him. “I’m on break, and you happen to be in my spot.”

            Stiles glanced around the back where boards from sets already used and sets yet to be put up were kept. “Your spot?”

            Derek gestured his hand to reveal a book instead of replying.

            “Ahh, a quiet place to read. But haven’t you got a trailer or something for that?” Stiles couldn’t help but be annoyed at the actor, stepping close to Stiles as if he might intimidate him away. “I’ve been here all day. I’m not going to move.”

            “Yes you are,” Derek warned heatedly. “And they’re doing something noisy outside my trailer currently and it’s quiet over here. Or at least—It was.”

            Stiles grimaced at him, waving his hands at the large area to his right. “Well, if you’re not going to be annoying—which I doubt you can achieve—have at it. But I’ll be typing, and that can be distracting I suppose. Do you get distracted easily? Maybe you should wait it out. Or I bet you could wear headphones! I’d lend you a pair but I haven’t got any on me. I can’t stand sound when I’m trying to do something. My ADD kicks in and I can’t focus. Are you the same way?”

            Derek’s eyes turned to daggers on Stiles until he picked his laptop back up and began to type furiously onto the keyboard. It was quite amazing, really, how fast the slim fingers tapped on the laptop. Seeming to decide Stiles’ typing was less annoying than the construction outside his trailer Derek sat down with a huff and opened his book.

            Stiles looked at him out of the corner of his eye and his lips twitched into an almost grin before he looked back to the screen. He hadn’t had any intention on actually beginning to write a scene in the book but—well the words wanted to come now. Stiles wondered if it was because he had needed a little human interaction.

            Derek turned his page with a quick, easy feeling. He had the time since they were filming a scene that didn’t include him for the time being. However, time passed and soon he was a good hour into his book. He peeked up, watching Stiles’ fingers tap onto the keys with quick precision. He seemed engrossed with whatever he was doing and after a minute of restlessness, Derek spoke.

            “What are you typing?” His voice came out gruff and unfriendly.

            “Words. What are you reading?” Stiles shot back without looking up.

            “Words,” Derek slurred back with an eye roll.

            Stiles stopped typing to look up at Derek for a moment. “I’m writing. Putting thoughts and ideas and such on paper. Just a bit of private writing.” He glanced at Derek’s book.

            Derek hesitated a moment before lifting it up to reveal the cover.

            Stiles nodded and his eyes returned to his laptop, resuming typing. “So you finished that Sparks book. Moved onto a classic, huh? I must say, I’ve never really been a big fan of Hemingway, but” he shrugged, “to each their own.”

            “I suppose my taste is just more refined,” Derek snapped and then halted. “Hang on. You’ve read Hemingway?”

            Stiles blinked at him, ceasing typing once more. His eyes narrowed almost comically as his face didn’t really suit the dark look. “Hard to believe? Across the River and Into the Trees was not a book I’ve read before but I have read some Hemingway. I should think there are few classic authors I haven’t read. I’m actually quite surprised you’ve had the time to pick up things like that. It isn’t exactly light reading.”

            “I like reading,” Derek said plainly, his eyes glaring at Stiles. “An actor likes reading. Who cares?”

            “I didn’t say it was a bad thing,” Stiles objected and then sighed heavily. “You know, from the interviews and movies and all that crap…you always seemed to be more…happy.”

            “I’m an actor,” Derek deadpanned.

            “So why not act now?” Stiles questioned, fanning his hands.

            Derek snorted. “It’s an act for those whose opinions actually matter.”

            Stiles blanched. “I matter.”

            Derek gave him a glance of disbelief once more. “You’re—” But he was cut off by the loud sound of “Hale on set!” in a sharp voice. Derek stood quickly, “I’ve got to go.”

            He was almost out of ear shot when Stiles said, “bye.”

            Derek spun on his heels and locked eyes with Stiles before smirking, nodding and then heading back to his life.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            Four days later and when Derek came to read this time Stiles noticed that the book he was carrying was new. “Oh, finished the other one then? What have you got now?”

            Pretending to be annoyed, Derek held up the book he had not yet begun. “Have you nothing better to do than sit with that computer all day?”

            Stiles was about to make a snippy reply but his face turned to horror as he froze at the sight of the novel. “You aren’t! You can’t read that. It’s awful. Don’t even try to start it.”

            Derek paused to give Stiles a look. “But it’s a classic,” Derek protested. He looked almost offended.

            "That doesn’t mean it’s good!” Stiles told him, reaching over to rip the book out of Derek’s hands. But Derek moved it away and sneered at Stiles.

            “Just because you wouldn’t know a good book if it knocked you in the head doesn’t mean—”

            “Fine,” Stiles threw his hands up. “Read that repulsive thing someone was stupid enough to call literature! See if I care! Suffer!”

            Derek rolled his eyes and then sat down, opening the book dramatically and choosing to ignore Stiles until the boy looked at the time and realized he had to be going.

            As Stiles went, he looked back to see Derek’s frustrated expression as he tried to read. Stiles smirked as he went off to find and say goodbye to Allison, shaking his head in amusement.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

           Two days later Derek and Stiles were back.

           “Okay,” Derek said with a reluctant admittance, “it’s terrible.”

           “I know,” Stiles said without looking up from his laptop.

           “I couldn’t even make it through the first three chapters. It was painful.”

           “I know.”

           “I thought if it was so highly thought of then it must be good. I just wanted to read a good book!”

           “I know,” Stiles said but this time he held up his right and towards Derek with a book.

           Derek raised his eyebrows in surprise but slowly took the book from Stiles’s grasp. “What is it?”

           When there was no reply Derek sat down slowly to begin reading. It wasn’t long before he was very into the book. And there they sat for two more hours in the silence, until Derek was called back to the set.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            By the time Stiles and Derek saw each other next, Derek had finished the book.

            “So what do you do when you’re not here? Some days you’re here and then the next you’re not. But it isn’t consistent,” Derek commented from behind, making Stiles jump. “Are you doing anything actually constructive or just sitting elsewhere?”

            “Jesus,” Stiles gasped, snapping his laptop shut. He put a hand over his racing heart, glaring at Derek for the impromptu heart attack. “I’m at home, where it’s far more peaceful and there are less jerks to sneak up on me!”

            Derek snorted but didn’t apologize.

            “Well?” Stiles asked, seeing the book in his hands.

            Derek suppressed a smile, meeting Stiles’ eyes and then quickly looking away. “It wasn’t terrible.”

            “Wasn’t terrible? That’s 1984! That’s a classic.”

            Derek just shrugged, handing it back but looking sideways at Stiles. “Got any other suggestions?”

            “I might,” Stiles said with a drawl but he produced a new book: The Count of Monte Cristo, without comment. “I have impeccable taste in literature.”

            Derek snorted but accepted the book. He looked down at it and then at Stiles whose laptop was now set aside, forgotten. He set the book down and sat. “Too bad your clothing taste isn’t as good.”

            Stiles frowned and then stuck out his tongue. “We can’t all have personal shoppers.”

            “I do my own shopping, thank you!” Derek declared, glaring.

            “Mhmm,” Stiles agreed sarcastically. “I’m sure.”

            “I do! I do most things for myself. Being famous didn’t leave me as a permanent child.”

            “Really?” Stiles raised a challenging eyebrow. “So, besides acting, what can you do?”

            “I—I can change a tire,” Derek said after a moment. “And I can juggle.”

            Stiles stared at him for a moment but then burst into deep fits of laughter

            Derek stayed stone faced, but in a few passing moments he too was doubled over with a red face from laughter.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            “Stiles,” Isaac’s head popped in with a plate a food, “you have to try these.”

            Stiles jumped at the voice, turning from his laptop to the voice. “What?”

            Lydia and Isaac stood there with wide eyes and a plate of food. Isaac was nodding vigorously, holding the plate towards him with the most amazed expression ever.

            Lydia laughed then, looking at Isaac and then at Stiles. “These sandwiches are to die for so we stole a few to bring to you because they’ll be gone in a moment on account of the fact that they are heavenly. Seriously, Stiles, eat one.”

            Stiles felt like sinking into the ground as he reached out slowly to take a sandwich off the offered tray of food. “Thank you? But—uhh….how do you know who I am?”

            Isaac and Lydia seemed taken aback at that and then Isaac laughed.

            “That’s right! We haven’t actually talked before, have we? Uh, Allison is like Lydia’s bestest friend in the whole wide world which is why she’s basically always with Lydia in everything she’s ever in. She’s good with makeup so that’s good. I think they went to school together or something. But, anyway, Allison talks about you…and so does Derek. He actually smiles sometimes now, like without a camera in his face. It’s amazing. I didn’t actually think he knew he could do that.”

            Stiles stared silently and looked down at the sandwich and back up.

            Lydia smiled small, like she had perfected the perfect picture smile, before setting the tray next to Stiles. “You look like you could use some food. But hi, I’m Lydia and this is Isaac. We’re friends of Allison and…well, we work with Derek. We thought we’d stop over to say good afternoon. Derek’s filming right now.”

            “Ahh,” Stiles said cursing himself for his wonderful articulation abilities.

            “So,” Lydia said as she sat cross legged next to him and eating a sandwich, “how did you make Derek talk to you? He would never talk to anyone if he didn’t have to.”

            Isaac sat down as well, picking up to sandwiches and double timing it. “Tell me, Stiles, how do you make Derek laugh?”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            “What is it about?” Derek repeated the question. He thought about it for a moment before replying. “Well, in a world quite a bit different than our own, there are shape shifters—werewolves. These people are born with a shifting ability—a great strength and power. The people of this world are taught that these people are monsters by the hunters—the people that kind of rule this world.”

            “Oh, sounds brutal,” the interviewer replied. “Are werewolves dangerous? Bad?”

            “No, no not all of them,” Derek quickly reassured her, scoffing at the very idea with a smile. “In fact, the story’s protagonist is a young, werewolf named Alexander. His secret is revealed while trying to save his best friend: a girl named Vera, who is played by the lovely Lydia Martin. Alexander spent his whole life doing what his mother told him to—hiding his true self. But he makes a choice to save his friend and bring about change for his kind.”

            “And we’re so excited to see the movie and see how each relationship is portrayed. Vera and Alex are pretty close…but what about you and Lydia?”

            “Oh,” Derek laughed, “we’re good friends. Lydia is fantastic to work with. The cast and I spend a lot of time together. They’re great friends. Danny is hysterical and Isaac is one of the most loyal people you’d ever meet. You have to keep an eye out for Erica and her practical jokes though. We all get along so well.”

            “Such a big cast,” the interviewer continued, “is it hard to get work done?”

            The interview continued as normal as they went. The interviewer, a pretty, young brunette woman, asked about the cast members, asked about Derek’s personal life, and then got all serious.

            “Alright, Derek,” she said as she leaned forward and smiled, “now there is one thing everyone wants to know about: C. Sparks.

            Derek nodded knowingly, shifting in his chair. “Yeah, the whole world wants to know about Sparks.”

            “Have you met him—or her before?”

            Derek gave a half grin in a regretful way. “No, I haven’t had the pleasure. The mystery of Spark’s identity is as much a puzzle for me as everyone else. But before we began filming everyone on the cast received an envelope with details about their characters—brief explanations of things that they personally were meant to know so they could develop their character fully. I have no idea what was in anyone else’s folder and I’m the only one beyond the director that knows what’s inside my own.” As Derek talked his eyes brightened. “It was actually pretty cool, getting notes for the character from the author.”

             The interviewer straightened up at that, an interested smile playing across her face as she looked at him with glee. “Oh, now you have to tell us a bit about what you were given!”

             But Derek just laughed, “ahh, no no no. Sorry.”

             “Please,” she pleaded, “just a little.”

             Derek considered her for a moment, “I wouldn’t want to make Sparks upset. But I’ll tell you the very first thing he said in his letter. He wanted to make sure I knew exactly what the books were about,” Derek winked. “His actual words were: This is a story about monsters, not the werewolves with sharp fangs and claws—but the people invested in destroying what they see as different and dangerous. This story is about the monsters found in the world that without fangs and claws, but are not in any way harmless. But that’s all I can tell you, sorry! The rest is confidential stuff.”

            The interviewer looked very disappointed but Stiles let out a sigh of relief as he shut off the television and finished packing up his bag. Derek wasn’t anything like Stiles had expected right away, nor was he what he had seemed the first time they had met. Stiles hadn’t been on set in several days now, but the book was finally starting to come along. Five days on nonstop writing begged for a break.

            Several drafts were thrown about his bedroom and saved on his laptop and hard drive. He was doing well, with the amount of beginnings and bits and pieces he’d already written for the book. But what he needed right now, was a break.

            Stiles thought about what Derek had said in the interview and hummed softly to himself. A lot of people assumed that Vera and Alexander would get together in the series. They were best friends. They were both good looking and they were close. But Derek was one of the few people who knew that wasn’t going to happen on the account that his character, the powerful, rough werewolf, Alexander was gay.

            Stiles had created several folders, one for each actor to give them little snips of information not yet revealed in the series. Lydia was the only other of the actors privy to the information that Vera and Alexander just weren’t meant to be.           

            Stiles put his head phones in and grabbed his keys. He left his apartment with a deep breath and a smile.

            For Derek, on set it was already working up to being a long day, and it was hardly noon. Derek sighed, rolling his shoulders back absent mindedly. The time between takes seemed agonizingly long. The heat of the hot summer day was over powering.

            When Derek looked over to see a familiar face talking to Allison he smiled. It was a face he'd reluctantly had become very familiar with. He would never admit it, but he was relieved to see Stiles was back. It had been awhile since he’d seen him last.

            “Stiles!” Derek called from the set as they prepared another film run.

            Stiles whipped around, searching for the source of the bellow before his eyes locked with Derek. He raised a questioning eyebrow, a faint smirk on his face. “What?”

            “Dorian Gray had it coming! He was an idiot!”

            Stiles’ smile grew and he opened his mouth to reply, but heads turned to look at him, curious as to who Derek was talking to. Stiles felt his face heat up, unable to stand the stares that found him. Stiles stumbled, turning quickly away, and sank back into the shadows.

            Not for the first time Derek wondered about the strange boy. Stiles was a mysterious man who seemed to be able to talk forever without really saying anything. His smile was always there and never forced. It was refreshing.

            “Derek?”

            Derek blinked and turned to find expectant eyes on him, waiting.

            “Right,” he shook his head, pulling himself back into character. “Sorry.”

            But hours later, when Derek was able to pull some hours to read, he found Stiles sitting in his usual spot, a batman shirt on and a giant grin.              

            “I saw your interview today,” Stiles said as he saw Derek nearing. He snapped his notebook shut and shoved it back in his bag.

            Derek stopped in front of Stiles and sat down slowly, looking tired as could be. “Oh? Did you want my autograph?" he asked, rolling his eyes. 

            “Oh shut up. You're much more charming on TV,” Stiles mused, stretching his legs out. “I don’t know how you do those all the time.”

            “Mmmm?” Derek pulled himself next to Stiles so his back was to the wall as well. “Why is that?”

            “Oh I’m a very shy person. I’d throw up or something. I’d hate to be famous. People watching you all the time, thinking they know you. I’m a very private person.”

            Derek turned to gawk at him with an incredulous look. “You? Shy? You never shut up. It’s amazing, some of the crap that comes out of your mouth. Do you actually think before you speak?”

            “That is so rude! I am a very intellectual person!” Stiles frowned, shaking his head. “But that’s different. One on one—normal conversation is fine. But when everyone is looking at me—judging me—I had to write a speech for valedictorian in my year and I threw up in front of everyone. It was terrible.”

            Derek burst into a loud laugh as Stiles turned red and looked away. “No, no,” Derek assured through his deep chuckles, “It could happen to anyone!” But that didn’t stop the next bubble of laughter to break out of his mouth. Derek was shaking from laughing so hard when he finally caught his breath.

            “Hey! Glossophobia is the number one fear in—shut up! You handle it all very well. I suppose you’re used to it,” Stiles said, running the idea around in his head. He watched Derek calm down, wiping a tear from his eyes.

            “They keep asking me about Sparks. I never know what to say. I mean, I’m a huge fan. I’d like nothing more than to sit down with the author and discuss the books—but what do I tell people?”

            Stiles looked at Derek out of the corner of his eyes, shifting. “I don’t know. You’ve been doing fine so far.”

            Derek smiled at that letting another yawn seep through. “You know,” Derek said slowly, “once we’re done filming I won’t be Alexander for like another year, assuming the movie goes well…But it’s okay because the next book won’t take long before it’s out…Just two months now if I remember correctly.”

            “Yeah, is that so?” Stiles grinned and wondered what he would do without having Derek to bother.

            “I do hate waiting,” Derek said with a sigh. Derek shut his eyes, letting the silence wash over him. A good minute went by.

            Stiles studied Derek for a moment. “You look tired.”

            “You think so?”

            “You’d probably like some silence.”

            “Come up with that all on your own did you?”

            Stiles scowled at him, tugging his notebook back over as Derek began to drift.

            An few hours later Stiles felt like the biggest jerk ever when he reached over to wake Derek up. “Get up!” he barked after a few minutes of gently trying to wake the man. “For God’s sake, Derek! Wake up!”

            In return, Stiles received a bleary glare and a groan. “Go away.”

            “I am, that’s why I’m waking you up,” Stiles pushed his leg to kick Derek’s arm. “I didn’t want to—”

            Derek caught the foot however, even with his eyes closed. With the loss of his balance Stiles went crashing down.

            “Ow!”

            Derek cracked open an eye to smirk.

            Stiles strongly suspected that whatever they had been doing outside Derek’s trailer was done now.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            “Derek,” Lydia said, “the director is looking for you. Hey, Stiles!”

            Stiles grinned at Lydia, “hey there, Lydia. How’s filming going?”

            She put her hands on her hips with a beaming smile, “You tell me! I feel like I’m on top of the world. I just love this story! There is so much to work with. My character is such a bad ass!”

            Stiles chuckled, watching Derek stand up from where he’d been slumped into a nap, “I like her too. I think you’re doing great. The attitude is shining through perfectly. I think she’s a strong character.”

            Lydia glowed at the appraisal and then grabbed Derek’s arm to help him. “Thanks for babysitting this grumpy kid. He’s been in a mood all week.”

            “I have not,” Derek argued, glowering at her.

            “He totally has, hasn’t he Stiles?”

            Stiles just shrugged. “This is my first day on set this week. I’ve been busy.”

            “Ahh,” she snorted, “that explains it.”

            “Explains what?” Stiles and Derek asked at the same time but Lydia was already busy pulling Derek off to the set.

            “Bye Stiles!”

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

            Time moved by at a quick pace that Stiles couldn’t keep up with. Before he knew it, it was the last day on set. Filming was to be finished and the editing was to begin.

            “Ahh, I wasn’t sure if you were going to come today,” Derek said. He fought down a burning smile at the sight of the other man. “I never can tell when you’ll be here and when you won’t.”

            Stiles was surprised to see Derek there so early. He didn’t have a book, just a smile to offer Stiles’s way. “Of course I came,” Stiles said with a shrug. “It’s the last day. I wasn’t going to miss it. I’m not that big of an asshole that I wouldn’t say goodbye.”

            Derek nodded, looking over at Stiles. “It’s weird to think I won’t be Alexander for another year again….Will you, uh—will you be on the next set?”

            Stiles shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I might do, I don’t know. Depends.”

            “Right,” Derek nodded, looking quickly away. “Are you going to the party later? Err, almost everyone will be there from cast and crew so I thought—”

            “No,” Stiles said regretfully, “I’m not really one for parties. Too many people.”

            Derek nodded, staring at the ground as Stiles sat down next to him. A silence settled over them.

            “So what will you do now? Now that you’ll have no one to give you books and you have all this extra time on your hands.”

            Derek sighed, shrugging. “Wait, I guess. Two months and the next book will be out. Then I have another twelve months before we start filming for the sequel. I’m sure I’ll have some job between now and then. Nothing in stone yet, but my dad always pushes me to be in as much as I can.”

            “I’m sure this movie will do very well. You guys seem to be doing really well.”

            Derek snorted, “Thanks. I’m glad it has your approval.”

            The two of them just sat there for a while longer, talking and cracking jokes. But it wasn’t long before someone came along looking for Derek.

            “Derek,” Danny called, “come on!”

            “Uh, well,” Derek said, rolling his shoulders back awkwardly as he stood to leave. “I should go.”

            “Yeah,” Stiles agreed. “Just, uh, remember not to get a big head when I’m not around to bother you. You’re still a moron.”

            Derek scoffed, “You can’t talk to me like that. I’m Derek Hale.”

            Stiles rolled his eyes, “Tssk,” he clucked, unimpressed but cracked a smile. “Like I said, big head, you great sourwolf.”

            Derek stared at him a moment, as if trying to decide something. “You know,” he said slowly, “You have to come back next year or Allison and Lydia will be upset.”

            Stiles looked over at the man slowly, his eyebrow raising. “Oh you know you’re going to miss me the most, Derek.”

            “Yeah,” Derek scoffed, shaking his head but not denying it. He eyed the scrawny boy before him and snorted. The humor shone through Stiles’s gaze. “Whatever,” Derek said spinning around to go.

            He was almost out of ear shot when Stiles said, “bye,” in a short, soft call.

            Derek spun on his heels and locked eyes with Stiles before smiling, nodding and then heading back to his life.

            Stiles watched him go, wondering if he’d ever talk to him again. He was the unnaturally gorgeous Derek Hale, Hollywood’s king. But as he walked away, Stiles couldn’t think of him as anything but the book nerd with a smile that made the world go round.

            Stiles waited half a moment before collecting his things. He smiled about, taking in surroundings one last time before heading off. It had been fun. It had been an interesting experience that couldn’t last forever. Besides, it was time to stop playing around.