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SuperWing, Stucky and SlaDick, Oh My!

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“Excuse me! Hey, wait! Sorry, sorry. Hey! Excuse me! Superman, wait!”

Derek Hale turned instinctively at hearing the word ‘Superman,’ and stopped when it became clear that he was, in fact, the one being called after. He waited for the poor girl who’d evidently been chasing him for a while to catch up to him. She looked a little rosy-cheeked and embarrassed, holding up her phone.

“Um, sorry. You just—wow. You’re an awesome Superman. Can I—?” She motioned her phone.

Resisting the urge to sigh, Derek just nodded once and took a step back, putting both hands on his hips in a very Superman-like pose and staring off into the distance pensively. He wasn’t big on smiling in general, and it looked forced and awkward in pictures, so he’d perfected the ‘pensively staring off into the distance’ look specifically so that if anyone stopped him for photos, he wouldn’t ruin their pictures.

The girl snapped at least five before thanking him profusely, still looking a little pink, and then hurried off while checking her phone, evidently checking out the pictures she’d taken. Derek dropped the pose and tried really hard not to sigh explosively. He really hadn’t thought this through.

“What’s the matter, Superman?” a voice teased from his right, the only warning he got before a finger poked at his cheek, making him jerk back slightly. He turned to scowl at the Wonder Girl standing beside him, her long blonde hair styled perfectly, the headband she was wearing keeping everything in place.

He gave her an unimpressed look but she just smirked and poked at his cheek again, clearly amused. He wasn’t exactly surprised, considering she’d warned him about dressing up as Superman for Comic Con this year, but he couldn’t help it. He’d always been a fan of Superman, and considering all the new DC shows that had come out over the past year, nobody could blame him.

The Wonder Girl beside him—also known as Erica Reyes, his oldest childhood friend—had opted for a character that hadn’t been portrayed on the screen yet. Sure, there had been other Wonder Girls, such as Donna Troy, but given Erica was blonde and hated wigs, she’d opted to go as Cassandra Sandsmark, the second Wonder Girl after Donna. People didn’t seem to stop her for pictures quite as often, despite the skin-tight outfit, but that was probably because she wasn’t as well-known as Superman was.

Derek had known it was going to be a huge pain, and all of his friends had insisted he shouldn’t go as Superman, but that was the only character he wanted to portray. He knew he’d make a decent Batman—hell, he’d done Comic Con as Batman one year—but the cowl was hot and uncomfortable, and it was hard to see. Superman was more ideal, and honestly, he was trying to portray the most recent on-screen version.

He was still Superman, of course, but a little bit different. Less all-Kansas beef farmboy and more hardened by the world around him. Of course, that made sense considering the Superman he was modelling himself after was the one from DC’s new gritty Bludhaven TV show.

Erica had almost shit herself when she’d found out that Nightwing was getting his own TV show, and Derek had to admit, he hadn’t been far behind. It was about time the first Robin got the love and appreciation he deserved, and while the live-action DC shows were darker than their cartoon and comic counterparts, they were still exceptionally good.

Not to mention the lead actor who played Nightwing was hot as all get out. Both Derek and Erica had given the casting director two thumbs way up for their choice in actor, because he was the perfect Dick Grayson. Just snarky enough to be true to his comic book self, with a touch of darkness to him. For a brand new actor, he was highly impressive, and he portrayed the character so well that Derek often believed he was Dick Grayson. He’d come through into their dimension by accident, and since he was stuck there, he figured he could make money being in a show about himself.

Of course, that was the nerd in him talking, but it was fun to pretend, even if he kept those thoughts firmly to himself.

“Why don’t you smile more, sourpuss? Superman’s not so grumpy. Come on, give us a smile.” Erica kept poking at his cheek and Derek sighed, knowing this was just payback for the years in high school where he’d told her to smile more.

Lesson learned. Women didn’t forget, they got even.

“Where’s your keeper?” he asked.

“Helping the doc. He had to use the bathroom, but couldn’t figure out the logistics of his outfit.” She grinned, as if this was highly amusing to her.

To be fair, they’d all warned him that he was going over the top. There was a limit to how detailed they could all be, and their friend Isaac Lahey had gone way overboard. He was big on villains, so he’d opted for dressing up as a villain all three days of Comic Con, starting day one by being Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow. But not any Scarecrow, oh no! He’d decided he was going to go as Scarecrow from DC’s Batman: Arkham Asylum game, which had a lot of weird pieces and involved him waking up hours earlier than the rest of them to get his outfit in place.

While Derek’s wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable, he could at least take a leak without help. He felt a little bad that he hadn’t been around to help out so that Erica and her boyfriend didn’t have to separate, but he was also infinitely glad he didn’t have to be the one to help Isaac take a piss.

The things they did for each other. Lifelong friendship goals, he supposed. Not that helping Isaac pee was a goal, but it was honestly nice to know that being friends since basically diapers with him, Erica, and Erica’s boyfriend Vernon Boyd meant they could basically hang out in a hot tub naked with each other and not get uncomfortable. How Boyd and Erica hadn’t sibling-zoned each other, Derek would never know, but somehow they’d managed to become a couple with minimal awkwardness.

Derek was happy for them, even if he couldn’t imagine dating within their foursome group himself. The four of them were like siblings in his mind, and he loved them all dearly, but he’d never date any of them.

Not that it mattered, since both Erica and Boyd were taken, and while Isaac was bi-sexual, he was of the same opinion as Derek. Derek was his brother, he wouldn’t ever be able to date him. Which worked out well for Derek, since the two of them could go to the gay bar in town together to try and score. Derek sometimes went to regular clubs with Isaac, but it was harder for him in those places because most of the girls hit on Derek rather than Isaac, which didn’t work since Derek had exactly zero interest in women. At least in the gay bar in town the other men found Isaac adorable and he got most of the attention, so it helped his ego a little bit.

He wondered what Boyd and Isaac looked like in the bathroom right now. It wasn’t exactly uncommon for people to be helping each other out, especially somewhere like Comic Con, but he smiled internally at the idea of Boyd staring Isaac in the face and saying, “No homo.” He had that kind of dry sense of humour, he wouldn’t put it past him.

“Good to know the tracking device I have on you still works,” someone said from behind Derek. He turned to see a large man dressed as Black Lightning approaching him, having to side-step someone dressed as Pikachu to get to Derek. Scarecrow was following along behind him, smoothing out the front of his pants, body language suggesting he was unhappy about something. Or maybe Boyd had done his pants back up incorrectly, who knew?

“Come to collect your pain in my ass?” Derek asked, motioning Erica. She smacked him in the arm and he resisted the urge to smirk.

“Yup.” Boyd moved over to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and kissing her temple. He kind of missed because the goggles he wore made it harder for him to see, but he almost got it right, so Erica just grinned at him when he pulled back and leaned forward to press her lips to his.

Derek turned to roll his eyes at Isaac. He didn’t have to see his face behind the Scarecrow mask to know he was doing the same.

“Excuse me?”

Derek turned and saw a guy in front of him, smiling at him like Christmas had just come early.

“Do you guys mind if I get a picture of you? Your cosplays are amazing.”

“Sure,” Erica said immediately, squeezing herself in closer to Derek and subsequently bringing Boyd with her. Isaac took Derek’s other side and they all posed according to their characters while the guy took a photo.

Other people noticed him doing so and stopped to snap a few themselves, which made them have to stand there for a bit longer than they’d intended, but it was fine. That was the whole point of Comic Con and dressing up. Having a good time, taking pictures of people in cosplays, enjoying hanging around with other nerds.

Derek knew there were some elitists, but he didn’t let that bother him when he bumped into them. He’d already received a few comments about how he wasn’t buff enough to be Superman, his hair was styled wrong, his cape was too short, and so on and so forth. He ignored them, because he just kept reminding himself about the story he’d read where Hugh Jackman had gone to Comic Con dressed as Wolverine, and only a few people had recognized him. That was when he decided that elitist assholes would be dicks no matter what, and he wasn’t going to let them ruin his experience.

“Thank you!” the original guy who’d asked for their picture said when he finally left. They waited for the other people to finish up, a few of them thanking them as well before heading off, and others just walking away without a word.

Derek was glad he and his friends had coordinated for the three days. It was less weird being in pictures with other people, and he was thankful each day was scheduled for them to be in the same fandom.

The first day was DC, obviously, considering their outfits. The second was Marvel, because who didn’t love the MCU? The third they’d argued about a fair bit, but had finally settled on DC villains. Not that Isaac cared, since he was a villain all three days, but Erica had made a classic Harley Quinn outfit for Halloween and she’d really wanted a chance to wear it again.

Eventually, she got her way by having them all agree to be villains on the last day. Derek and Boyd had spent a long time trying to figure their cosplays out for that, but it had all worked out.

“We’re heading off to the Doctor Who panel,” Boyd said once they were able to free themselves from the people taking photos. “You guys cool if we meet up for lunch around one? We can head back to the hotel and catch a cab somewhere so we avoid the bigger lineups.”

“Sounds good,” Isaac said. “There’s a Magic: The Gathering how-to happening that way.” He motioned the opposite direction he and Boyd had arrived from. “Figured I’d go and play a few rounds.”

“Try not to make anyone cry this time,” Derek insisted, arms crossed and shifting his weight. The boots he was wearing didn’t have a lot of support, his feet were starting to hurt. He’d probably have to find a place to sit down sooner rather than later.

“That was one time,” Isaac insisted, pointing one very sharp, needle-pointed finger at him. Thankfully it was a fake needle, but it was still relatively sharp. Derek was surprised none of the con workers had pulled him aside to cover them yet. “That kid had it coming.”

“He was twelve,” Derek insisted.

“He was cheating!”

“Okay, bye!” Erica said, blowing them both a kiss before dragging Boyd off, clearly uninterested in listening to Isaac and Derek hash out a fight they’d had a million times before.

Which they did, rather loudly. Derek just hated that Isaac didn’t feel bad about what had happened. Sure, he promised he’d never do it again, but he was still insistent that the kid had deserved it because he was cheating. Isaac was twenty-seven. The kid was twelve. He should’ve just let him cheat and win, it wasn’t like they were making money off the tournament, it had just been a friendly game.

Sometimes Isaac got a little too competitive, and Derek decided then and there as Isaac stalked off to go and play that if he started a fight with another teenager, Derek was going to pretend he didn’t know him for the rest of the convention.

Sighing and starting to reach up, he managed to stop himself before he messed up his hair—God forbid he should destroy Erica’s hard work—and looked around.

He didn’t really have any set plans for the first full day of the convention. There was always so much going on, but honestly, a lot of it wasn’t what he was there for. His main goal was the Marvel panel, and the actor signings on the second day—hence the Marvel cosplays—and the Bludhaven panel, DC panel, actor signings and DC stunts panel on the third day. The first day was mostly just shows and panels he wasn’t particularly interested in, so he wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do.

When he pulled out one of the schedules, he hummed to himself when he saw that Attack on Titan was playing in one of the rooms—eighteen-plus, for obvious reasons—but it was season three and he still hadn’t seen the last few episodes of season two. He wasn’t sure if he’d understand it.

Still, it was the only thing of interest in the next two hour block, so he figured he’d just do that. He’d seen the lineup to the artist’s alley and he wasn’t particularly interested in standing in line only to have to leave it to catch the others for lunch at one. No way was he getting in there in under two hours.

Turning to head towards the room he was aiming for, he had to jostle his way through the crowds around him, having been standing near an edge earlier where less people had been. Comic Con always made him feel a little claustrophobic, because it was jam-packed full of people and half of them were busy looking around and not paying attention to where they were going. Not to mention some of the costumes were insanely over the top.

It was almost a relief when he turned down one of the many corridors of the convention centre, the crowd thinning out ever so slightly so that he didn’t feel like a sardine packed in a can. He held the sides of his cape with both hands, since he’d learned early that morning that having it billow behind him meant people sometimes grabbed at it, and had just turned another corner when he heard a loud voice shout from somewhere ahead of him.

“Heads up, Clark!”

Derek hadn’t thought about it much, because people had been calling him Superman all day, so the name Clark hadn’t registered until there was suddenly a Nightwing right in front of him, having barrelled down the corridor right at him, before leaping into the air.

Catching the guy was instinctive, Derek’s hands immediately releasing his cape and reaching up to grab at the man who’d literally leapt into his arms, wrapping both legs around Derek’s waist, hands behind his neck, and smirking down at him from his slightly elevated position. He’d stumbled back a step to counteract gravity, since he hadn’t been expecting someone to jump at him, and thankfully didn’t land flat on his backside. Derek’s hands were on the dude’s ass, and man was it one firm ass, but he tried very hard not to focus on that.

The sparkling eyes staring down at him slowly widened in horror and the dude’s mouth dropped open. For a few seconds, neither of them moved, Nightwing still wrapped around him and Derek supporting most of his weight. Fuck did he ever have a firm ass, though. He was all muscle, Derek could tell, and despite the domino mask he wore obscuring a part of his face, Derek could tell that he was cute.

“Well,” Nightwing said with an awkward laugh, “this is embarrassing. You are definitely not the Superman I was expecting.”

“You mean I almost missed out on having Nightwing leap into my waiting arms?” Derek asked teasingly. He couldn’t help it, the guy was adorable, and while he wasn’t exactly light, he already knew it was all muscle. This guy definitely worked out.

Nightwing let out a loud, boisterous laugh that had people around them turn to look, but he just grinned down at Derek before speaking.

“In that case, didn’t mean to keep you waiting.” He waggled his eyebrows and Derek let out a small huff of a laugh. “I should probably, uh—get down.”

“Probably,” Derek offered, but before either of them could move to do so, two girls rushed forward, eyes wide and excited, and asked if they could grab a picture.

“SuperWing is the best pairing in Bludhaven!” one of them insisted excitedly. “Please! Please, can we take a picture?!”

Derek didn’t point out that another person was already snapping photos—without asking, but whatever—and just glanced at Nightwing.

“Uh, I’m okay if you are. You’re the one holding up my fat ass.”

“Your ass isn’t fat,” Derek insisted with a small smirk. “Trust me, my hands have gotten intimately familiar with your ass in the past few seconds.”

Nightwing grinned and leaned down, and for one crazy second, Derek thought he was going to kiss him. But instead he just pressed his forehead to Derek’s and closed his eyes. He could feel Nightwing’s soft exhales against his face, and couldn’t help lowering his eyes to look down at his lips. This guy really was cute, and he made a fucking perfect Nightwing.

He was almost as good as the actor in Bludhaven, if he was honest, and his suit was insane. It looked top of the line, and a lot more breathable than Derek’s own. He didn’t know what the material was, but it was like a mix of stretchy and durable beneath his fingers. It was actually impressive, and he had to wonder if the guy made it or bought it.

“Thank you! Thank you so much!” the girls insisted, even as others continued to take pictures.

Nightwing opened his eyes and turned to grin at the people, but before he could start to get down, Derek tightened his hold on him.

“Do you mind if I grab a picture?”

Nightwing looked startled. “What, of me, or of this.” One hand left Derek’s neck to motion between them.

Derek shrugged one shoulder. “I’m a SuperWing shipper, not gonna lie. Clark and Dick have great chemistry in Bludhaven, even if I know endgame is gonna be Dick and Babs.”

Very classic pairing-wise in the show. Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. They already had the two characters dancing around each other so it was only a matter of time before they made it canon. Derek didn’t mind, he just found it boring, especially since Dick and Clark had so many good scenes together.

Honestly, it was risky having someone as big as Superman show up every now and then in a show about Nightwing, but they balanced it so well and their relationship was so developed that Clark Kent was literally the mentor Dick never had. It worked, because in that universe, Dick and Bruce were on the outs, and Clark was basically helping keep Dick safe and sane without the Batman around.

And it didn’t hurt that the actors weren’t too far off in age, either. The Superman couldn’t be more than thirty-five, and the Nightwing actor was twenty-six. It meant the shippers had been going crazy online, and Derek had been blessed with lots of amazing fanart and fanfics. The fact that he literally had a hot, toned, perfectly outfitted Nightwing in his arms while dressed as Superman was an opportunity he wasn’t willing to pass up.

Derek waited to see what Nightwing was going to say, and when the guy turned away, he assumed the answer was ‘no’ until he heard him speak, motioning someone still taking photos to come closer.

“Hey, would you mind taking a picture for my buddy?”

“Oh, sure,” the girl said, moving forward and putting her own phone away.

“Hang on,” Derek said, shifting his hands so he had one forearm under Nightwing’s butt, reaching behind himself to get his phone. It was in a pouch Erica had sewn into the back of his costume near the base of his spine, because it gave him a place to keep his phone, wallet and hotel key without being visible, since the cape covered it. Nightwing’s legs wrapped around his waist made it more difficult to pull out, but not impossible.

He managed to get the phone out without dropping Nightwing—who was staying very still and had tightened his legs around Derek’s waist—and held it out to the girl. She took it with a smile and moved back a few steps.

When Derek had both hands under Nightwing again, they took up the same position as before, foreheads touching with Nightwing’s eyes closed and Derek staring at his lips, and waited while the girl—and a few more people—took photos.

“All done,” she said, moving forward again.

“Thank you,” Derek said, finally releasing Nightwing, who hopped down and took a step back. Derek took his phone back, nodding another thank you, and then checked the picture, Nightwing moving around beside him and leaning into him to look, too.

“Wow,” he said, sounding surprised. “Shit, we look good together. You might convert me, SuperWing isn’t a terrible pairing.”

“Not your thing?” Derek asked, glancing at him.

“Nah,” Nightwing waved one hand, and Derek expected him to be boring and respond with liking Nightwing with Starfire, or Barbara, or even Zatanna. “I like my pairings a little darker than that. No goody two-shoes for this Nightwing.” He grinned.

Derek hadn’t been expecting that, and supposed the only villain he could imagine this Nightwing liking was Tarantula. She wasn’t exactly a villain, but well, she was no hero, that was for sure. He hadn’t offered up any pairings, which suggested to Derek that they were probably het pairings.

“You might make me rethink that, though,” Nightwing insisted again, winking. Derek realized he’d darkened his entire eye behind the domino mask so that when he winked, it was entirely black. He’d really gone all out with his outfit.

“I think you might learn to like SuperWing if you gave it a chance,” Derek informed him, crossing his arms over his chest and shifting his weight. His feet were really starting to bother him, he’d have to remember that if he wore this cosplay again. New boots were a must.

“Oh?” Nightwing grinned. “Well, I’ve got time. Nothing on I wanna see right now, so if you’re free to argue the merits of SuperWing with me, I could go for a drink.”

“I’m free,” Derek agreed. “And I’d really like to sit down.”

Nightwing’s eyes shifted down to his feet and he winced. “Ah, the dreaded bad shoes for a cosplay. Rough. There’s an Auntie Anne’s down that way,” he turned to motion in the direction Derek had already been headed. “We can grab something and find a place to sit.”

“Sounds good.”

Nightwing grinned, as if pleased Derek wasn’t pissed at being jumped on, and was actually willing to make friendly with a random stranger at Comic Con. To be fair, Derek wasn’t usually like this, but the guy was cute, and he had questions about his suit. He also seemed like a fun, easygoing kind of guy, and it beat Derek wandering around by himself. At least this way he and Nightwing were entertaining each other, given both of them weren’t interested in anything going on right now.

“Let’s go!” Nightwing thrust both fists in the air, and then turned to lead the way. Derek was surprised when he saw his escrima didn’t seem to have a holster. They were just stuck to his back, similar to the show’s Nightwing. Derek assumed they were only for show, and that he couldn’t actually use them.

“Your escrima look heavy,” he said, moving up beside him and holding his cape in both hands once more on either side of his body. “How’d you get them to stay put like that? Sew them in?”

“Hm?” Nightwing turned to him, then grinned. “No way, these babies are fully functional.” As if to prove his point, he reached back with both hands and pulled them off his back, Derek even more surprised now. Nightwing twirled one in his hand expertly, then flipped them both and put them back, enjoying the evidently stunned expression on Derek’s face.

“How—you don’t have a holster,” he insisted, a little awed. Cosplays were hard, he knew that living with Erica, because he heard her bitching and cursing and breaking things at all hours of the day whenever she was sewing a new one.

“Nope,” Nightwing agreed. “Magnets. They’re sewn into my suit on the inside. Heavy duty, so they hold the escrima up really well. They fall off sometimes, but I’ve got tons of spares, so it’s not a huge deal if I lose one.”

“That’s really cool,” Derek admitted.

Nightwing grinned, pleased. “Thanks!” He paused for a moment, as if debating something. He eyed Derek for a few seconds, chewing something over, then straightened slightly in decision and said, “I’m Stiles, by the way.” He held out one hand while they walked, and Derek released one side of his cape to shake it.


“Nice to meet you, Superman Derek. I like your choice of suit, by the way. You modelled it after the Bludhaven Superman, right?”

“I like him,” Derek admitted. “He’s less Kansas farm boy and more hardened. He’s still Superman, just—different.”

“I like him, too!” Nightwing—Stiles, apparently—agreed. “I was supposed to have my own Bludhaven Superman today, hence the flying leap I took at you, but I haven’t been able to find him. He’s been purposefully avoiding my calls and texts, probably because he chickened out on wearing his costume.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “All my friends bailed on me. Like my buddy Jack. He was meant to come as Roy Harper, but he bailed on me like the asshole he is. He’s now dead to me.”

“Bailing on cosplays is definitely something to cut all ties over,” Derek agreed sombrely.

Stiles turned to grin at him, punched him in the arm, and then motioned another corridor, turning down it with Derek following beside him. It didn’t take them long to reach Auntie Anne’s, but the lineup was insane. It seemed to be moving relatively quickly, though, so he just stood beside Stiles while they waited, occasionally allowing people to take pictures when they came up to them.

Most people just wanted regular photos, but a few more asked if they could have pairing ones and they obliged, though Stiles didn’t jump into his arms again. He just kept his feet planted on the ground and got all up in Derek’s space, their faces inches apart. Stiles was actually pretty good at faking this whole romantic thing. The more he did it, the faster Derek’s heart was pounding in his chest.

There was one picture someone took where Stiles had both arms wrapped around Derek’s neck, one hand up in his hair. He was standing on his tip toes, face tilted to the side slightly, eyes lowered and lips literal millimetres from Derek’s. It was probably the hottest thing Derek had ever seen and he was sure the picture looked even better. He hoped it made its way online because he desperately wanted a copy.

Curse his friends for not being around to take photos of him and the hot Nightwing!

Whenever the people walked off, Stiles always pulled back and started chattering away like nothing had happened, as if he could turn his persona of Nightwing on and off on command. It was actually really impressive, and Derek didn’t know if his poor little heart could handle much more of this.

Stiles was seriously cute.

“Thanks for being cool about it, by the way,” Stiles said randomly in the middle of a rant about his dad not having wanted him to go to the con.

“Cool about what?” Derek asked, confused.

“Me. Being all up in your space. Everyone says I don’t understand the concept of personal space, so sorry I’m just going all up into yours.”

“I don’t mind,” Derek admitted. Because he didn’t. “You’re attractive.”

Stiles let out a loud laugh, punching him in the arm again. “Blunt. I like it. Thank you. You’re not too shabby looking yourself. Not gonna say no if someone asks me to plant a big, fat wet one on you.” He winked again and Derek rolled his eyes.

Honestly, he wouldn’t be opposed to that, either. And it was clear that Stiles was just as blunt as him—maybe more so, considering the things that had been coming out of his mouth since they’d met.

They moved forward enough that they could see the menu, Stiles leaning into him and practically hanging off him, whining that he was starving and hadn’t eaten for hours. Derek just cocked an eyebrow at him and told him to get a pretzel, since it was very clearly on the menu.

His new friend ho-hummed about it up until they got to the till, where he proceeded to order one of their cheese pretzel dogs, cinnamon sugar pretzel nuggets and a blue raspberry lemonade mixer. Derek waited for him to pay so he could order his own drink, but Stiles just motioned for him to tack it onto his total so they could move through the line faster and he obediently asked for a Coke. Stiles paid while the teller went to grab their drinks and handed them over once she was back, motioning for them to step aside and handing them a receipt with a number on it for the pretzel orders.

Derek told him he’d go stand a bit further out of the way with both of their drinks, and then moved aside so Stiles could stay close to the counter. It didn’t take long for him to get his order, probably because they had eight people in the back working double time to get everything out. He wandered over looking pleased with his two pretzel items and then they moved back further into the convention centre to find somewhere to sit.

Finding a bench or a table was literally impossible, but there was a small nook in a far corner where a group of teenagers were hanging out and Stiles led them there. Derek wasn’t really comfortable sitting on the floor with his cosplay, because it was a bitch to clean, but he acknowledged he’d have to clean it anyway when he got home so he would live.

He set their drinks down first, Stiles plopping down without a care in the world, and then pulled his cape up before sitting down. He figured if he had dirt and dust on him, he’d rather it be on his covered ass than on the outside of the cape.

“Want one?” Stiles asked, holding out the cinnamon sugar pretzel nuggets.

“Thanks.” Derek took one and popped it into his mouth. It was still warm, suggesting it had literally been made when Stiles had ordered it, and it tasted amazing. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was himself until eating that bite.

One seemed entirely too far away now.

“I haven’t eaten since like, five this morning,” Stiles insisted, taking a huge bite of the cheese pretzel dog and sighing happily while chewing. “I was starving.”

“It’s been a while for me too,” Derek admitted, eying the pretzel nuggets. Stiles either noticed, or heard the hunger in his voice, because he nudged them closer to him and Derek took another one gratefully before picking up his Coke and sucking half of it down. “How much do I owe you, by the way?”

“Are you joking?” Stiles asked, food stuffed into one cheek so he could speak. “It was like, a dollar, don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure?”

“You haven’t ditched me like my friends, I consider that payment enough.” Stiles swallowed what was in his mouth, then reached for his own drink and took a few swallows. He let out an appreciative sound. “Damn, this is good. Wanna try?”

He practically shoved it into Derek’s face, almost hitting him in the eye with the straw. “Uh, sure.” Derek took the drink from his hand before he lost any eyeballs and took a small sip. “It’s good.”

“Right?” Stiles grinned, taking it back and drinking a few more large swallows before setting it down, getting back to work on devouring his mock-hot dog. “So,” he said around a mouthful, “enlighten me on this SuperWing pairing of yours. What about it makes it so good?”

Derek had honestly never explained why he liked a pairing before. He and his friends just talked about the pairings they liked, and that was that. They didn’t judge, they didn’t mock, they didn’t argue. Erica was very into Dick and Kori so she was heavily against the Dick and Barbara relationship going on in the Bludhaven show, but Isaac liked the Dick and Barbara pairing so Erica didn’t bitch about it in his presence. Isaac was also interested in SuperWing, like Derek was, but Boyd found that uncomfortable because he viewed Superman as a surrogate father to Dick similar to Batman, so they tried not to talk about it openly in his presence. None of them were assholes about their preferred pairings, they just accepted that the others liked something they didn’t and moved on.

Having to find an explanation was something Derek had never really been forced to do before, but as soon as he started, he found it wasn’t so hard to explain. He understood where people came from when they said Superman was like Batman, meaning he was more of a father figure to Dick than anything else, but they had been very careful not to do that in Bludhaven. They’d made sure he wasn’t viewed as a father-figure. A mentor, yes, but not a father-figure.

Stiles had piped in to say that was something the actors had pushed about. Apparently the Nightwing actor didn’t like the idea of ‘replacing’ Batman with Superman and had fought very heavily against making Superman too involved in his life as a parental figure. It was already skirting a line with the mentorship, but the parental figure had been hard-passed on.

Derek hadn’t known that, and he liked that the actor hadn’t wanted a replacement. If they were going to do that, they may as well bring in Batman. Of course, that was the whole point, not bring in Batman, which explained why cutting Superman off at the knees was being pushed. There was no point in doing a TV show about Nightwing if Superman and/or Batman would be showing up every episode.

“I can see it,” Stiles admitted, licking cinnamon sugar off his fingers. “I guess I never really thought about it that way. But you’re right, even in the comics, Clark and Dick have an interesting relationship. I guess I can see it.”

“Have I converted you?” Derek asked, smirking slightly.

Stiles grinned. “Maybe. I’d have to check out the available fandom stuff for that pairing before committing.”

“I have some authors you can read.”

“Oh, yes please!” Stiles pulled his phone out and Derek rattled off a few of his favourite fanfic authors. Stiles pulled up all of their various profiles in different tabs, read a few summaries, hummed to himself and then put his phone away. “Thanks. I’ll give them a read, though I’ll probably skip on one of them.”

“Why?” Derek frowned.

“I noticed they have a bunch of real actor fics. I’m cool with the fandom fics, but I find it uncomfortable when people write about the actors. I mean, no one knows anything about them, and some of them have actively asked not to be written about, and people ignore it. I get it, it’s exciting, and people want to ship what they want, but I don’t like it when people do it.”

“That’s fair.” Derek didn’t read any of those, but he ignored that other people did it. He supposed he could see how actors might hate that, but he doubted any of them actually read fanfiction or looked at fanart. At least in their own fandom, anyway. “Can I ask you about your suit?”

“Sure.” Stiles licked his lips, having taken a sip of his drink. They were turning blue from the liquid, but Derek thought that just made him look more like Nightwing, considering blue was one of his colours.

“You buy it or make it?”

“Friend made it,” he said. “They’re an expert, work in the film industry. They didn’t want me to use it for the con, insisted it’d get damaged, but I begged and pleaded and they relented. I have to be careful with it, but I’m not worried. I’ve put it through worse.” He grinned.

“Well, your friend is amazing. It’s really well done. Looks identical to the Nightwing one in the show.” Literally, down to the escrima. They weren’t in a holster in the show, either, and the material was just... it looked amazing.

Derek wondered about the movement and flexibility of it, because it seemed really versatile, and Stiles had been doing a bunch of weird things since they’d met, up to and including jumping into his arms. He’d already determined earlier that it seemed stretchy, but it just appeared to be perfectly done.

Whoever his friend was definitely deserved to be in the industry. He couldn’t help but wonder if they’d worked on the Bludhaven show themself. Someone who could put this much detail in a suit had to know a lot about it.

“Thanks, they’re pretty great.” Stiles grinned. “I’ll let them know you think so, too!”

Derek let out a small breath of a laugh, and before he could ask about Stiles’ boots, since they looked way comfier than Derek’s, he felt vibrations moving along his spine. Reaching back, he quickly fished his phone out of his pouch, pulling it closer and seeing a giant picture of Erica flashing on his screen.

His eyes caught sight of the time, and he realized it was almost one. The others were probably all at the hotel wondering where he was.

“Sorry, one second.” He answered the call, putting his phone to his ear. “Hey.”

“Where are you? Isaac’s complaining about not being fed.”

“Sorry, lost track of time. I’m still at the convention centre. I’ll head back in a second.” He paused, eying Stiles, who was looking around while sucking on his mostly empty drink, not a care in the world. “Actually, can I bring someone? His friends ditched him, not unlike mine.”

“Rude,” Erica insisted with a small snort. “Sure. As long as he’s a nerd, he can come.”

“Cool. See you in a bit.” He hung up and waited for Stiles to look back at him, chewing on his straw, now. “You want to come grab lunch with us?”

“I don’t want to impose.”

“You’re not, I’m inviting you. I know my friend will have questions about your cosplay, and you said you were alone today, so...” Derek shrugged.

Stiles grinned and nodded eagerly, clearly happy to be included. They got up and collected all their garbage, tossing it out in one of the conveniently placed trash cans that had been set up equidistant to one another in the convention centre. They chatted idly about their suits while they walked, both of them agreeing that using the bathroom was a bitch, though Stiles laughed about it and insisted he just avoided drinking as much as possible for the most part—the blue raspberry lemonade he’d had was the first thing he’d had to drink all day. He also admitted he wasn’t bad at taking a leak with the suit, it was just really obnoxious.

They were almost near the exit, having moved into an emptier part of the centre since most people had moved further in by now, when they passed someone who spoke loudly enough for them to hear.

“Wow, that is the worst Nightwing I’ve ever seen.” Stiles immediately stopped, shoulders tensing. Derek turned to frown at him as the rando continued speaking to his friend. “He’s so fucking short, worst cosplay ever.”

“Should’ve stuck to someone in his height range,” his friend agreed.

Derek figured this had to be Stiles’ first con, because he’d long ago learned to ignore elitist assholes like that, but before he could tell Stiles to just forget it, he’d turned and stormed after them, tapping one of the two on the shoulder so that they paused and turned back to him.

Tensing for a fight, Derek went to move a bit closer, a little concerned because the guys were pretty huge, and while he knew Stiles was toned and muscled, he didn’t know that he could hold his own in a fight. Muscles didn’t equate to being a good fighter. Also, he wanted to make sure Stiles didn’t take a swing, that could have him kicked out of the con.

Stiles was just smiling at them both, waiting to be sure he had their full attention before speaking. “Hey, sorry about that. I overheard what you guys were saying, and I just wanted to set the record straight since you clearly know nothing about Dick Grayson. He is canonically 5'10", and myself being 5'11" means that I am actually taller than him, and well within the height-range of a character I want to be cosplaying. Maybe learn some facts before you get schooled.”

The first guy who’d spoken looked startled, as if not expecting anyone to know something that detailed—which was hilarious, because this was a nerd convention!—but the second just scoffed and gave him a demeaning once-over.

“You’re still the worst Nightwing I’ve ever seen. He’s flexible and an acrobat, he walks like a fucking dancer. You look like you can barely walk in that suit, as if you got fucked extra hard last night.”

Stiles’ smile was all teeth. “If you must know, I have a wedgie right now.” He very deliberately reached back and picked at it, Derek trying not to laugh. “Also,” he said, and then took a step back, glanced around briefly as if checking for something, and then Derek stumbled back an extra step when Stiles suddenly did a series of flips in quick succession before finally landing in a crouch in a stance very similar to how the Nightwing actor did on the TV show. He had one leg bent and close to his chest, the other out straight to the side. The same arm was out behind himself a bit, and the other was pressing fingertips to the ground to keep him balanced.

Derek was pretty sure he was falling in love with this guy.

Stiles got to his feet, smiling at the stunned expressions on the two douches’ faces. “Fuck you,” he finished, seeming pleased with himself. “Enjoy the rest of the con.”

With that, he turned on his heel and grabbed at Derek’s arm, yanking him along so they could leave, the two randos standing stunned where they’d been left while a few people around whispered excitedly about what Stiles had just done. He didn’t think anyone had noticed he’d done it to tell the jerks off, they seemed more excited about the flips themselves.

“Assholes,” Stiles muttered. “Too short? Too short? Fuck you. Assholes.”

Derek didn’t really know what to say. Stiles had kind of schooled them expertly, but he still seemed livid about it. He wasn’t exactly the best person to calm someone else down, considering he had a temper himself, but he tried to dig deep and find some words of comfort.

“Don’t worry about them,” was all he managed to get out. “They were just elitist assholes.”

“I know,” Stiles snapped, then winced. “Sorry. I know. It’s just—if they say things like that about me... I just... people come to cons in cosplay to have fun and just spend a few hours being someone other than themselves. I hate it when people try and ruin that.”

“Yeah. I learned to ignore them, though.” Derek didn’t entirely understand Stiles’ comment, but figured he meant given his amazing costume, his physique, and his clearly out of this world acrobatic skills. “That was impressive, by the way. Your flips and stuff.”

“Huh?” Stiles turned to him, and some of the anger seemed to melt away, a grin on his face. “Oh, thanks! Yeah, years of gymnastics. I was a hyper little shit when I was little, my dad could barely keep up with me so he put me in a lot of extra curriculars. I did a whole bunch of sports, like basketball and lacrosse and stuff, but I wasn’t really good at them. Gymnastics, though? Considering how clumsy I am, everyone was surprised to see me excel at that. When I got older, I added in some martial arts just to spice things up. It’s a fun way to stay in shape, but really hard.”

“You seem good at it.”

“Hey, thanks man.” Stiles hit him lightly in the arm and then pushed open the door so they could head outside. Derek started to lead the way towards the hotel he and the others were staying at—they’d lucked out, since Erica’s parents were frequent Hilton visitors, so they’d gotten a good deal on a room with two queens at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, which was literally a ten minutes walk from the convention centre.

He’d barely made it a few steps when Stiles let out a loud exclamation and jerked in front of Derek, holding both hands out at him.

“Stay right there! Don’t move! Okay, maybe move a little, put your hands on your hips, just—be Superman for a second!”

Derek cocked an eyebrow, but did as he was asked, taking on the pose he’d been doing for almost all the photos inside and staring off into the distance. The wind blowing in his face was making his eyes water, but he managed to hold still while Stiles pulled his phone out and snapped a few photos.

“Dude,” Stiles insisted with a grin, moving over to Derek and showing him the photos. “These are amazing!”

Derek had to agree. He hadn’t realized it at the time, too busy focussing on the wind making his eyes water, but it was also making his cape whip out behind him and to the side. The photo looked really good, and to top it off, Stiles had managed to angle it so that there was no one in the background, which was impressive considering the number of people around the convention centre.

“That’s a great shot,” he agreed. “Can you send it to me?”

“Oh.” Stiles stared at him for a long, silent moment. “Um, I kind of—I have a New York number, so...”

“Really? Me too. Are you from New York?”

Stiles seemed even more uncomfortable now, and Derek decided to drop it. Stiles probably didn’t want to share his phone number with a stranger, which was fair, so he just asked Stiles to post it online and give him a link later and left it at that. Stiles seemed relieved, promised that he would put it up on Tumblr, and then they began walking once more.

With the wind whipping at them, Derek could walk without holding his cape, but it also made him feel a little weird. He kind of felt like a real superhero, but tried not to be a total nerd about it. He liked keeping his nerdism firmly in the closet where no one but his friends could see it.

Stiles let out a small exclamation and hastily reached back. He managed to catch one escrima, but the other hit the ground and started rolling away so he had to run after it to catch it. He held them both in one hand, grinning at Derek while they continued walking.

“That’s the one downside of the magnets. Sometimes things like strong wind make them fall off. Flips, too.”

“Small price to pay for an amazing cosplay.”

“True.” He grinned, and they continued on their way.

When they got to the hotel, Stiles whined about how lucky Derek was for his to be so close to the convention centre. He’d gotten one with his friend, the guy who was meant to go as Roy Harper, and apparently he was a little uppity and had insisted on staying at the US Grant. Derek figured Stiles and his friend had to have money, because that hotel wasn’t cheap.

Not that the Hilton was cheap, but they’d gotten a deal, and were four people staying in one room, so the price was more reasonable. Sure, he and Isaac had to share a bed, and Isaac was notorious about stealing the covers, but they were still in a nice hotel for a fairly reasonable price, considering.

Derek got them both into the elevator, passing a few other people in cosplays, along with some mundanes who looked like they weren’t sure what the hell was going on. Stiles smirked when they were in the elevator with two other people dressed as Mortal Kombat characters.

“I love confusing the normies. They wonder if they fell into a different dimension.”

“It’s hilarious,” one of the others in the lift with them agreed.

Derek watched Stiles and the other guy talk about how funny it could be, and how they sort of felt bad for people who were too ‘grown up’ to appreciate being a kid at heart. When the others got off the lift, Stiles was still smiling and he turned to Derek.

“How old are you, anyway?”


“See, that’s what I’m talking about.” Stiles smacked him in the arm again. He was very touchy-feely, Derek had noticed. “You can still be fun even when you’re old.”

“Twenty-nine isn’t old,” he informed him. “How old are you?”

“A very immature twenty-six.” He grinned. “I’m gonna be cosplaying until I’m eighty. There are tons of characters throughout the age ranges, people need to stop assuming that hitting a certain age means you can’t have fun anymore.”

“Agreed.” The doors opened and Derek walked out, moving down the corridor to his room and knocking. He had a key, but it was in his pouch, and they were going to be heading right back out anyway.

Boyd was the one to open the door, eyes skirting past Derek to look at Stiles, who grinned.

“Dude, sweet! You make an awesome Black Lightning!” He moved past Derek quickly and started poking at Boyd’s suit, asking various questions about its makeup and the mobility. Boyd, bless him, just stood there and allowed it, though he was staring right at Derek with his eyebrows raised.

Derek just shrugged. Stiles was cute, and his excitement about everything was kind of endearing.

“Boyd, this is Stiles. Stiles, Boyd.”

Stiles had paused for a moment at Derek’s words, but he recovered quickly. Derek wasn’t sure what he’d said to elicit that reaction but he let it slide.

“Nice to meet you,” Boyd said, even as Stiles held one of his arms out so he could inspect the armbands he had along his forearms.

“You too.” He grinned up at Boyd, then his face fell. “Sorry, I did it again. My bad.” He let Boyd go and moved back a step, a light flush sliding up his throat. Derek figured he was always like this and that people with him usually stopped him from getting too personal with strangers.

Boyd was used to it, he was dating Erica.

“Holy shit!” Speaking of Erica, she’d come up behind Boyd, mouth dropping open. “You are the best Nightwing I’ve ever seen! Jesus! You look just like the actor in Bludhaven!”

“What?!” Isaac’s voice demanded, and he came up behind Boyd as well. He’d taken his mask off, probably because he was getting hot, and his eyes bulged when he caught sight of Stiles. “Dude! You look amazing!”

“What is your suit made out of?!” Erica shoved past Boyd and was immediately all up in Stiles’ business similar to how Stiles had been with Boyd. She was pulling at the material on his arm, and twisting him around to check out the back, and when Derek told him to put his escrima up again since Stiles was still holding them in one hand, he did so and Erica lost her mind.

Boyd looked concerned about the volume, shushing her and glancing up and down the corridor, but it was just past one in the afternoon, it wasn’t like people could complain. Then again, they were in a Hilton, so they probably would.

“We can talk while we eat,” Derek insisted, knowing Erica could spend hours with Stiles talking about his suit. “I’m starving. Come on, we’ll call a cab from downstairs.”

“We can’t fit five in one cab, we’ll have to take two,” Boyd said while they filed out, him coming last so he could shut the door firmly.

“I was unplanned, I can pay for them,” Stiles offered, even while Erica continued to poke at his costume. She pulled one escrima off, let out a pleased squeal, and then put it back, seeming thrilled at the logistics of it.

To be fair, it was pretty smart. Derek wondered if that was what they’d done in the show, as well. They probably had two different costumes for the actor, one that had the escrima permanently attached, and one where he could use them. It would make it easier on the actor.

When they got down to the lobby, they stood around debating where to go for food—well, Isaac, Boyd and Derek did, since Erica and Stiles were too busy excitedly chatting about each other’s outfits. It was obvious that, despite not having made his own, Stiles was intricately familiar with how difficult it was to make cosplays because of his reaction to Boyd’s, and his countless questions to Erica about Isaac’s since she’d been the one to help him make it.

They settled on sushi, Derek asking Stiles if he was good with that. He only gave a thumbs up since he and Erica were still excitedly talking about how she’d sewn the plastic syringes on the ends of the gloves Isaac was wearing.

Boyd rolled his eyes at Derek, who just smiled internally to himself, glad that Erica seemed to be having such a good time. He was also glad he’d invited Stiles along, considering he’d been by himself. While he was sure someone as excitable and eccentric as Stiles would’ve found other people to hang out with, Derek really liked him. He was fun, and his friends seemed to like him, if Erica’s reaction was any indication.

When they got outside to wait on a cab, Boyd rolled his eyes when the first one pulled up, because Erica had practically attached herself to Stiles. He motioned for Derek to take her and that he and Isaac would wait on the next one. Derek felt that Erica was very lucky Boyd wasn’t the jealous type, because if his girlfriend had been hanging off Stiles the way she was, he’d have felt a pang of jealousy.

Honestly, he was feeling a pang of jealousy, but mostly because Erica got to hang off him like that while Derek didn’t. Sure, he’d gotten a lot closer with Stiles for all the photos, but that was photos. He’d have liked to pull him close outside of the con. Stiles really was attractive, God damn. He kind of wanted to rip off the domino mask and get a better look at him.

Erica had also commented on the mask while they were driving to the sushi place, asking what it was made out of, how it was sticking, how well he could see. Apparently he was using special skin-safe double-sided tape. It worked like a motherfucker, according to Stiles, because he could sweat and sweat and sweat and it wouldn’t come off. He usually had to get help to take the mask off every time he wore it, and sometimes it irritated his skin, but it was worth it for how well it stayed on.

They reached the sushi place first, getting a table for five, and by the time they were seated with menus, Boyd and Isaac walked in. They got a few looks for their outfits, since they were further out from the convention centre, but no one said anything. The wait staff didn’t even bat an eye, probably used to this since it happened every year.

“How did you two meet, anyway?” Isaac asked, motioning Derek and Stiles when Erica stopped to grab a sip of water. She probably could’ve kept going for hours, so Derek was a little relieved at the reprieve.

“I jumped on him,” Stiles said, grinning. “I thought he was my Superman, who ended up ditching me. No one else was wearing a costume from Bludhaven, so it was an accident.”

“I have some pictures, actually,” Derek offered. He pulled his phone out and flipped to the photos. Boyd glanced over to see, grunting that it was a good photo, but nothing more since he didn’t like the pairing. Erica and Isaac took the phone next and Isaac seemed thrilled about it, insisting it was super hot and that they looked surprisingly good together.

“I took an awesome one of Derek!” Stiles exclaimed, pulling his own phone out and showing the table. Everyone seemed impressed with it, and Stiles promised he’d put it up on Tumblr later so they could all find it.

When the waitress came around to get their order, they’d been too busy chatting to actually look at the menu, so they tried to focus on the food so they could order, but ended up getting distracted again. Isaac and Stiles started chatting about Magic: The Gathering since he’d mentioned going to that panel, and it was only halfway through the conversation that Stiles paused.

“Sorry, what was your name again? I actually only got introduced to one of you.”

“Jeez, Derek. You’re so rude,” Erica teased. Derek just rolled his eyes, because it wasn’t like he’d been given much of a chance to introduce anyone but Boyd.

“That’s Erica,” Isaac said, motioning her. “I’m Isaac.”

Stiles shot a look at Derek before saying, “Stiles.”

“That’s a weird name,” Isaac informed him.

“It’s a nickname. Real name is weirder. Anyway, you were saying the kid was cheating?”

Derek shook his head while Isaac and Stiles started talking about what had happened, perusing the menu so that at least someone could order when the waitress came back.

Boyd and Erica were ready, as well, so when she came back to get their orders, Isaac and Stiles had to quickly look over the food while she took the others’ orders, and then managed to pick things out that they wanted.

“Oh yeah, how much do I owe you for the cab fare?” Stiles asked when she’d walked away, looking between Isaac and Boyd.

“Don’t worry about it, we’d have paid for a cab overall anyway.” Boyd crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat. “You paid for one, so it evens out.”

“I feel bad. Let me grab lunch.”

“No way,” Isaac insisted. “It’s cool, seriously.”

“I’m grabbing lunch,” Stiles argued, which turned into a huge debate between him and the rest of the table, that only ended up getting settled when Erica ordered him to come around for dinner that they would pay for. Stiles grinned and agreed, and Erica seemed pleased with this.

Derek tried to hold back a smile, because Stiles was fitting right in. He was even a Doctor Who fan, which earned him about fifty thousand brownie points with Boyd, since no one else at the table was really interested in it, and Erica only tolerated it to be supportive of her boyfriend.

“So what panels are you going to?” Boyd asked when there was a break in conversation. “Maybe we’re going to the same ones.”

“I wasn’t interested in much going on today, but there’s a cool eighteen-plus improv show tonight at ten, so I might check that out. Didn’t really have set plans for today.”

“Us either,” Derek admitted. “Tomorrow and Sunday are the interesting days, in my opinion. Actually, we were gonna jump the fence tomorrow. Be traitors.”

Stiles cocked an eyebrow, bringing his water closer to his mouth, but speaking before taking a sip. “Meaning?”

“I was gonna be Winter Soldier tomorrow.”

Stiles promptly choked on his water, Derek patting his back a bit to avoid him dying on them, but when he could breathe properly again, he was grinning and had turned in his seat to face Derek fully.

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up! Are you serious? I was gonna be Captain America tomorrow!”

Derek stared at him. That was impossible. Someone who was dressed as Nightwing for his SuperWing pairing, and now the same cute guy dressing up as Captain America to his Winter Soldier? He could not be that lucky. “No you weren’t,” he insisted.

“Swear to God!” Stiles held up both hands in surrender. “The costume’s in my hotel room. I have the shield and everything!”

“Dude!” Isaac leaned forward, grinning. “Please, please tell me you’re a Stucky fan.”

“Oh my God!” Erica grabbed Isaac and shook him excitedly, eyes on Stiles. “Are you? Are you?!”

“Hell yeah! Stucky or Stony for the win!” He thrust his arms in the air. “I’m more partial to Stucky, because of the tragic past, but Stony is definitely up there, too. Shit dude, I can’t believe you’re gonna be Winter Soldier!”

“Small world,” Derek agreed, fighting off a smile.

“Dude, this is seriously epic! We should meet up tomorrow! If your Winter Soldier is half as good as your Superman, I am in for a treat!” He waggled his eyebrows.

Derek rolled his eyes, but said, “Sounds like fun.”

“Awesome!” He thrust his arms in the air again, then turned to the others. “What are you guys gonna be?”

Isaac immediately jumped into discussions about his Loki cosplay, because he and Erica had spent literal hours getting all the details marked down so that they could have it as close to perfect as possible. Isaac was a stickler for accuracy, and it had been an annoying number of days where he and Boyd would come home to have Erica and Isaac watching the same scene from various Marvel movies over and over again to get every detail down.

Erica was going as Captain Marvel, because she was blonde, and she loved the characterization Brie Larson had put out. Boyd had opted for Heimdall, even though he’d really wanted to be Thor. They’d tried to convince him to do it, but he didn’t want to get ragged on for being a ‘Black Thor’ so he’d opted for another character he loved. Derek felt pissed on his behalf, because if Boyd wanted to be Thor, he should’ve damn well been able to, but he hadn’t wanted to push. He knew that he would never fully understand what that was like for Boyd, but he just wanted to be supportive so when Boyd asked him to let it go, he did.

Worked out, anyway, since Stiles started going off on how amazing Heimdall was, and how devastated he was when Infinity War came out because Idris Elba was “a tall drink of water,” and he was legitimately excited to see Boyd’s outfit.

“Sorry,” Stiles said, cutting himself off mid-rant about how he couldn’t wait to see what variation of Heimdall’s outfit Boyd chose. “I just realized I kind of invited myself into your group for tomorrow, I can—”

“No, no, no,” Erica insisted, waving one hand. “That’s the point of conventions like this, right? Making friends with other nerds. And you like Stucky, so if you’re gonna dress up as Captain America, you are coming if I have to hunt you down in the convention centre myself!”

Stiles grinned, opening his mouth to say something else when he paused. Derek didn’t understand why, at first, but when Stiles twisted and started fiddling with one of his pouches, he realized it was because his phone was ringing.

Derek was impressed with the way the suit was designed. It was skin-tight, as were all the superhero outfits, but it had been done in such a way that having the two pouches on either thigh wasn’t quite as skin-tight. Derek could tell he had a phone in there, but it wasn’t perfectly outlined and ruining the overall image of his cosplay. Seriously, his friend who’d made it had real talent.

“One sec, sorry.” Stiles answered his call, getting to his feet. “Hey Jack, you finally drag your lazy ass out of bed?” he grinned while heading towards the door, clearly wanting to ensure he didn’t bother anyone with his call.

The second he was out of earshot, Isaac leaned forward. “Dibs.”

“Cute,” Derek said, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms with a small smirk. “I met him and invited him along. I have automatic dibs.”

“Come on, Derek! Don’t be stingy, share a little,” Isaac argued.

“I saw him first.”

“He’s really fun,” Erica said before they could start arguing. “Super excitable, I love it.”

“He’s entertaining,” Boyd agreed, which was high praise from someone like him.

“It’s okay for him to come tomorrow, right?” Derek asked, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. He’d kind of just agreed to let him come along, but usually the con stuff was with just the four of them. Sure, they went off and did their own thing sometimes, but they’d never had another person around before.

“It’s fine,” Boyd said with a reassuring smile, patting his shoulder. “He seems to like spending time with you, so it means when we go do things you’re not interested in, you’ll have someone to hang out with.”

“I am going to take a billion Stucky photos tomorrow,” Erica said with a feral grin. Derek rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He was actually kind of looking forward to that, too.

And having Stiles be interested in Stucky was a good sign, in his opinion. He knew that it didn’t mean anything sexuality-wise, but considering he didn’t seem opposed to SuperWing, and actively shipped Stucky and Stony, that was a step in the right direction in his opinion.

The food arrived before Stiles came back, and Derek could see him pacing outside in front of the window. He kept making huge gestures, and rolling his head dramatically whenever he rolled his eyes. It made Derek insanely curious to know what he and whoever was on the other end were talking about.

After a good ten minutes of the food having arrived, Stiles finally hung up and came back inside. He looked guilty when he sat down, but no one said anything and they started eating, commenting on their various dishes and sharing with each other. Stiles seemed like a very sharing person, and more than once he took a bite out of something, exclaimed excitedly, and then shoved the other half of it right into Derek’s face for him to try, not unlike the blue raspberry drink he’d bought earlier.

Erica seemed to find this amusing, but Derek felt like that was just how Stiles was. Excitable and always willing to share, even with something like food.

They were chatting amiably about the rest of their day, Stiles leaning back casually in his seat, when the door opened and he turned to look at it before letting out a loud groan. Derek looked past him to see why he was reacting like that and saw a literal perfect Arsenal stalking across the restaurant. He looked identical to the one in Bludhaven, similar to Stiles’ perfect Nightwing. It was obvious this was his friend Jack, who’d ditched him earlier in the day.

“What’re you doing here, Jack?” Stiles demanded. “I told you I was fine.”

“Your dad would’ve murdered me if anything had happened to you. He didn’t want you to come, or did you forget?” He gave the rest of the table a cursory look, as if assessing them for threats before focussing back on Stiles.

“Yes, because I’m in horrible, terrible danger here in public sitting in a sushi restaurant,” Stiles said dryly, then turned to Derek. “Guys, Jack. Jack, guys.” He motioned them in turn as he spoke.

Jack’s jaw clenched, as if Stiles had said something he was unhappy with, but he said nothing and just crossed his arms. They were insanely muscled, and Derek had to admit, he was also attractive. He was more interested in Stiles personally, but at least it gave Isaac some decent eye candy while lamenting his loss of Stiles.

“How did you even find me?”

“Your dad traced your phone.”

“That’s illegal,” Stiles insisted with a sigh.

“You’re his son.”

“Still. Privacy.” Stiles motioned for Jack to shoo. “Either sit down and order something or go back to the hotel. I was having a good time, don’t ruin this for me.”

Jack looked like he would much rather drag Stiles out by force and leave, but he angrily pulled up a chair and sat stiffly, eying everyone at the table. Every time someone spoke, he tensed, but relaxed when it became clear they were just talking about the con, or the food, or anything other than Stiles specifically—or Jack.

Isaac tried to make small talk with him, since he was the closest, but Jack just glared at him angrily from behind his domino mask and didn’t say a word, so Isaac let it go and went back to conversing with the rest of the table.

When the waitress came to ask if Jack wanted any food, he very curtly told her to just bring the bill. Stiles acted like he was about to ask for it as well, then loudly spoke about an ice cream place he’d spotted down the street he wanted to check out. It looked like a vein was throbbing in Jack’s forehead.

Boyd had just started discussing the panels they were interested in going to the following day, along with the ones on Sunday for DC, when Jack interrupted him, speaking viciously at Stiles. It took Derek a few seconds to realize he wasn’t having a stroke, and that the language Jack was using wasn’t English.

Stiles looked bored, but obediently turned back to Jack while he cut into him in... Russian? Derek wasn’t entirely sure, but some form of Slavic language. Erica shared a look with Boyd while Jack continued to go off on Stiles, but Derek just stared at him, watching Jack’s face get red enough to match his outfit.

He heard the words ‘Bludhaven’ as well as ‘DC,’ ‘Nightwing’ and ‘Mieczyslaw,’ but didn’t understand anything else. He only recognized ‘Mieczyslaw’ because that was the Nightwing actor’s name, Mieczyslaw Stilinski. It had taken him, Erica and Isaac a while to figure out how to pronounce it properly, but it rolled off Jack’s tongue like he said it regularly.

When Stiles replied, his expression still looked bored, but his tone was harsh. He was clearly unimpressed, and whatever he’d said forced Jack into silence, the man gritting his teeth angrily and crossing his arms.

“Don’t ruin this for me,” Stiles said in English. “Just let me have fun. It’s only for a weekend, and I can’t even really enjoy much of Sunday, considering.”

“I hate you sometimes,” Jack snapped, but he seemed to have admitted defeat, arms crossed angrily and face turned away, scowling out at something across the restaurant.

Stiles just smiled, evidently pleased, and turned back to the table.

No one spoke for a few seconds, then Boyd tentatively said, “I know some German.”

“German is so hard,” Stiles insisted.

“What was that? Russian?” Derek asked.

“Polish. My mom was Polish and we used to go back to Poland a lot when I was little. She passed away when I was young, so I learned it to kind of feel close to her. Jack and I grew up together, so he learned it mostly so dad and I couldn’t talk about him behind his back. Made Christmas planning a bitch, because I couldn’t have private convos with my dad whenever Jack was in the house.”

“Oh, are you guys brothers?” Erica asked, surprised, as if trying to find the resemblance.

“In everything but blood,” Stiles said with a grin. “Jack’s parents travelled a lot, so he used to stay at my place when we were younger. When he was old enough to stay at home on his own, he still came to crash at mine.”

Jack snapped something at him in Polish, but Derek didn’t need to understand him to know he was telling Stiles to stop giving away his life story. Stiles just flipped him off and kept talking like he hadn’t even heard him.

Derek couldn’t help but notice Jack seemed exceptionally possessive and protective of his friend. He really hoped that wasn’t going to ruin Stiles’ good mood, because Derek definitely wanted to spend more time with him, and wasn’t interested in fighting a guard dog to do it.

Once they were done with sushi and had ventured out to buy ice cream—Stiles had practically shoved a cone into Jack’s hand—they headed back to the convention. Derek had tried to make Jack and Stiles got back in one cab alone so they could hash out whatever they were fighting about, but Stiles dragged him into the same cab, insisting Jack would kidnap him if he was left alone.

When they got back to the convention centre, they checked the schedule to see about what was of interest, and hadn’t even been there for two minutes when people were asking Stiles and Jack for pictures, insisting they looked exactly like the actors in Bludhaven. Jack seemed to glare exceptionally hard at Stiles for this comment, and Derek wondered if maybe Jack found it offensive somehow. Maybe he thought the actor who played Roy Harper in the show was ugly.

That would be a shame, considering he wasn’t ugly, and also since they had similar names. He hadn’t realized it originally, but Stiles’ friend was named Jack, and the actor’s name was Jackson Whittemore, so not only did they share similar features, but they shared a similar name.

He allowed himself one second to think about how awesome it would be if Jack was actually the actor, then brushed it off because that was ridiculous. He was all rough edges, and emanating rage and ‘get away from me’ vibes. All the interviews Derek had seen of Jackson Whittemore suggested he was an easygoing guy. Maybe a little full of himself, but with his cheekbones and general bone structure, he had reason to be.

The rest of the group got pulled into pictures eventually, and when someone asked for a SuperWing pairing shot, Derek could feel Jack burning holes into the back of his skull at the way Stiles draped himself all over him. The only upside was having his friends around meant Erica took a few shots for him.

He even got to do one where he was holding Stiles bridal style in his arms, Stiles pretending to be unconscious, and when he’d looked at the picture after everyone had dispersed, it had looking phenomenal.

“Man, you really are the perfect Nightwing,” Erica muttered, scrolling through the pictures she’d taken. “Seriously, Nightwing’s actor better watch out, anyone sees you at the panel on Sunday, they might fire him on the spot for you.”

Stiles seemed to find that hysterical, laughing for a solid two minutes. Jack just glared and crossed his arms, pretending he didn’t know him even while keeping close enough to him so he didn’t wander away without him.

“He’s gonna be there on Sunday for the Bludhaven panel,” Isaac said excitedly. “The actor, I mean. Him and a lot of the main cast. I’m excited to see what they’re like off the screen.”

“You want to come to the panel with us?” Erica asked, turning to Stiles. “We can hang out together and try and see if we can get good shots of everyone.”

“I can’t,” Stiles said with a wince. “I, uh, have a conflict. I’m only really free up until about eleven on Sunday.”

“Oh, that sucks,” Erica insisted. “You’re missing all the best DC panels.”

“Yeah.” He shrugged in a ‘what can you do?’ sort of way, but didn’t seem too put out about it. Jack himself seemed to relax a little, as if being reminded of their early departure on Sunday was making him less stressed. “Unavoidable. I’ll be around in the morning, though.”

“We can hang out then,” Erica said with a smile. “And tomorrow, obviously. Because tomorrow is Marvel day.”

“Hell yeah Marvel day!” Stiles held up one hand and she high-fived him.

“Excuse me?”

Stiles turned when a woman approached, looking somewhat embarrassed. She seemed to be in her late forties, and Derek could tell she didn’t feel comfortable, but forced herself to continue speaking anyway.

“I was wondering if I could get some action shots of you? My daughter is a huge Nightwing fan, especially with the show that just came out. She couldn’t make it to Comic Con this year, so I was hoping—”

“Of course!” Stiles interrupted, smiling fondly. “Yeah, no problem. Um...” He looked around, as if trying to find an open area, then motioned for her to follow him a bit to the side where there was less of a crowd. The group shuffled over with them and when Stiles was settled, he pulled his escrima off his back and stood poised for a photo.

Derek hastily pulled out his phone to take some shots himself, the woman snapping a few as Stiles changed positions. He asked her if she could take slow-mo shots with her phone, and the woman seemed flustered, not understanding. Boyd was kind enough to move forward and helped her toggle to the right setting, then gave Stiles a thumbs up.

Knowing what was coming—or at least, suspecting—Derek also flipped to slow-mo and told Erica to go to video, since she’d also been taking pictures. She cocked an eyebrow at him, but obeyed, changing to video and beginning to record.

Derek also started his own, and when the woman confirmed she’d started hers, Stiles shifted into a wider stance, still holding the escrima, and then did an aerial kick. Erica let out a small squeak of excitement from beside him and Derek smiled, stopping the slow-mo. He restarted it when Stiles immediately moved from his landing position into a back-flip, then a B-kick, and then another back-flip once he’d landed that.

They’d drawn a crowd by now, and people were chattering excitedly while they filmed or took photos. Derek couldn’t help the laugh that escaped him when a Spider-man cosplayer flipped into the open space where Stiles was.

Stiles exclaimed excitedly, both arms in the air, still holding the escrima. The Spider-man also raised his arms in a similar manner, and then immediately began doing his own flips. Stiles laughed and put his escrima away, clapping in support and shifting over a bit so that he wasn’t in the frame anymore, people beginning to film the Spider-man cosplayer instead.

When he managed to move around the crowd to get back to the group, the woman thanked him profusely and he just grinned, clearly happy to have made her day before moving over to Derek and standing beside him while watching the Spider-man start break-dancing.

“I swear, it’s a pre-requisite to be flexible and athletic if you want to cosplay Spider-man,” he said with a small laugh. “That guy’s really good, he’s got good form.”

“I guess you’d know,” Derek offered and Stiles turned to grin at him, then slapped his chest and motioned for them to move away from the crowd. He didn’t seem at all bothered that someone had come in and stolen his thunder, but Derek also felt like Stiles had only done the acrobatics because the woman was doing this for her daughter. He hadn’t done anything like that for anyone else who’d asked for a picture.

“Dude!” Isaac appeared beside them, and even without being able to see his face behind his Scarecrow mask, Derek knew he was grinning. “That was amazing! Where’d you learn that?”

“Gymnastics and martial arts,” Stiles told him. “I did a lot of it when I was a kid. Jack stuck with all the contact sports like lacrosse and football. I did the other sports.”

“Martial arts is a contact sport,” Jack muttered. “You broke your collarbone three times in high school.”

“Four, but to be fair, I still won those fights,” he insisted, grinning at his friend and then reaching out to shove him lightly. “Come on, loosen up a little. This is fun.”

Jack said something in Polish, tone scathing, and Stiles slapped one hand to his chest.

“Ouch. Rude. That hurt me right in my teeny, tiny little heart.”

“Nightwing! Can I grab a picture?”

Stiles turned, grinning, and shouted back, “Sure!” before hurrying over so they could take his picture.

Derek saw Jack scowling angrily, arms crossed and almost daring people to approach him to ask for his picture. He didn’t know the history between Stiles and Jack, but he could tell that his presence was kind of making Stiles a little unhappy. Not in the sense that he wasn’t pleased to have him around, but more that he just wanted to have a good time and Jack seemed determined not to let him.

Moving over so he was standing beside him, Jack turned to level him with a glare. Derek was more practised at them, considering he had two nosy-ass sisters, so he just stared right back at him, unaffected.

“He’s just trying to have a good time, is there a reason you don’t want him to?”

“Don’t pretend to know anything about him just because you went out to lunch together,” Jack snapped, looking back over at Stiles. “You have no idea what he’s been through.”

“Maybe not, but I do know that he’s enjoying himself and not letting whatever you’re referring to dampen his enjoyment of the convention. You’re forcibly making him acknowledge it by being a dick about it.”

Jack’s gaze snapped back to him at those words and Derek just stared right back at him. He wasn’t wrong. Sure, he didn’t know whatever Jack was referring to, but Stiles was having a good time, and he was just hanging out with a bunch of other nerds trying to enjoy himself. Jack was basically a huge flashing neon sign of whatever bad thing had happened to him.

“Look, it’s a huge convention centre, what exactly do you think is going to happen to him in here?” Derek raised his eyebrows, then made a huge show of looking around.

“He went elsewhere with you,” Jack accused.

“Yeah. To public places. What exactly do you think I’m going to do to him? Would it be so bad to just let Stiles have a good time?”

Jack said nothing to that, but he turned sharply to look at Derek, as if he’d said something wrong. His face contorted weirdly for a second before he scowled even harder, almost making the domino mask peel back, and then faced Stiles once more while Erica came up beside Derek. There was a show playing she and Isaac wanted to check out, and Boyd was probably going to tag along since he had nothing better to do. Derek just waved them off and said he’d probably check out the artist’s alley, but they agreed to meet back at the hotel for dinner at six. Erica was kind enough to tell Jack it was nice meeting him before heading off with the other two.

They both waited in silence while Stiles got more pictures taken, but he eventually seemed to find it was enough even for him and he waved and moved back towards Derek and Jack, smiling and apologizing to a few people who hadn’t gotten all the shots they wanted. He was rubbing the back of his head, somewhat embarrassed, when he reached the two of them once more.

“Sorry. Should’ve figured Nightwing was a hot topic with the show and all.”

“I don’t mind.” Derek shrugged. “That’s why you come dressed up, right? I might not necessarily like having my picture taken, but I understand that if I come in a cosplay, it’s bound to happen.”

“True enough.” Stiles grinned. “Hey, do you like anime? I overheard that they’re playing Neon Genesis Evangelion in one of the rooms, you in?”

It wasn’t one of Derek’s favourite animes, but he didn’t have anything better to do, and he and Stiles could probably keep chatting if they sat near the back, so he motioned for Stiles to lead the way. He grinned and turned to do that, but Jack touched his shoulder.

Stiles visibly sighed, shoulders rising and falling, then turned. Jack was scowling, but he said something in quiet Polish, voice less harsh than it had been. His hand tightened on Stiles’ shoulder, then released it, and the smile that he got in response was almost blinding.

“Promise. Thank you.” He pulled Jack into a brief hug, something Jack clearly didn’t appreciate given his expression, but Derek felt it was more for show than anything, because he relaxed into the hug as if it were a familiar thing before he pulled away.

“I mean it. I’m not above having your dad trace your phone again.”

“Yes, yes.” Stiles flapped one hand at Jack. “Promise. I’ll bring snacks.”

Jack nodded once, then turned to eye Derek with both interest and hostility before heading for the exit. Derek cocked an eyebrow, then turned back to Stiles, who just looked giddy and excited.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, he’s just gonna head back, he’s really not into this whole con thing. He didn’t want to come, but they made him.”

“They?” Derek asked.

“Oh, you know, people. And my dad. Besides, if I was coming, Jack wasn’t going to stay behind. He’s protective.” Stiles shrugged.

“I hadn’t noticed.”

Stiles laughed and punched him in the arm, then motioned for them to head out. They started down the long corridors of the convention centre, and before they’d even made it halfway to the room they were aiming for, Stiles insisted they should get more pretzels. Auntie Anne’s had some pepperoni pretzel nuggets, and Stiles was craving something sweet and wanted more of the cinnamon sugar ones.

Derek found it endearing, considering they’d just eaten lunch and had ice cream to boot, but Stiles seemed very high energy, and he’d been doing a lot of flips and tricks in the lobby, so his metabolism was probably through the roof.

They did a pit stop at Auntie Anne’s to get the pretzel nuggets, along with two Cokes, and then went to find the appropriate room for the show. Derek had to dig his badge out to show it at the door, and when Stiles did the same, he angled it away from Derek, as if he didn’t want him to see it. They were let in without any problems, and thankfully there were seats near the back. A few people were already chatting there, so it was easy for Derek and Stiles to sneak in and have conversations of their own.

Derek’s first question related to why Jack was so protective, and Stiles just explained that his dad was a sheriff back in California where they’d both grown up. Derek hadn’t heard of the town Stiles was from, but it was described as being “very Gotham” in that it had a lot of crime, corruption, and bad people. Apparently the criminals liked to remind the sheriff who was in charge and Stiles had gotten shot at and hurt numerous times in his childhood, which had made Jack highly protective of the person he cared about most in his life. That was also a contributing factor to his moving from gymnastics to martial arts, but despite Stiles being able to look out for himself, Jack had grown up watching Stiles hurt all the time, so his default setting was to be protective. Coupled with Stiles’ current job—which he’d glossed over, so Derek hadn’t pressed—he insisted that Jack was going to end the year in the hospital with the stress he put himself under.

“He’s not my keeper, but he worries.” Stiles licked cinnamon sugar off his fingers, then went to grab a pepperoni pretzel, as if not caring about the stark contrast between the pepperoni and the sugary pretzels and just alternating between the two. “I mean, I get it, and I appreciate it, but I’m a grown man now. And sure, I know he’s worried because of our work, but it’s not like anyone knows who I am right now. I’m wearing a mask.”

“Wait, you mean you’re not Dick Grayson?” Derek asked, deadpan.

Stiles laughed and shoved him, Derek offering him a small smile of his own.

“What did you say to him, anyway? Jack isn’t the kind of person to back down lightly.”

“What makes you think I said anything?”

“Because you were standing beside him.” Stiles popped another pepperoni pretzel into his mouth and Derek quickly grabbed a handful before they all disappeared. Stiles had paid again, so really, he was entitled to eat them all, but he’d told Derek he could have some and munching was their generation’s way of staving off boredom.

“I just told him that you were trying to have fun, and to stop cutting you off at the knees.”

“Hm.” Stiles chewed for a few moments, lost in thought. Something must’ve occurred to him though, because he glanced back over at Derek before speaking again. “Well, thanks. He’s not happy, but he told me as long as I’m home by nine and we can chill with a movie, he’d let me hang with you for the rest of the day.”

“You have a curfew?” Derek asked, then frowned. “Wait, wasn’t there an improv show you wanted to see at ten?”

“That’s okay. I’d rather spend the day hanging out with you and miss out on that, than have Jack here watching you like a hawk.” Stiles turned to him, pretending to eye him suspiciously. “You’re not planning on kidnapping me, are you?”

“It’s not kidnapping if you come willingly.”

Stiles grinned and nudged him, then focussed on the screen once more. They were silent for a few moments, watching the show, and both evidently having seen it before given they didn’t react to the death scene. Derek felt his spine vibrate and leaned forward to reach back and pull his phone out of the pouch. It got stuck in his cape, making him curse, and by the time he got it free, the call had ended. He checked the screen and cursed again.

“Sorry, give me a second.”

“Sure.” Stiles grabbed at Derek’s bucket of nuggets, holding them both in his hands, and Derek got to his feet to hurry out of the room. He went to his missed calls, about to redial, but his phone started ringing again before he could manage it. He answered it this time, bringing it to his ear.

“Hey mom.”

“Hi honey, how are you?”

“I’m good. I’m at Comic Con.”

“Oh, that’s right! I forgot it was this weekend! How is it?”

“Fine so far. Isaac’s still an idiot for the costume he chose. Erica’s crazy excited about everything. Boyd’s suffering in silence. I’m wandering around. The usual.”

His mother laughed on the other end and he smiled slightly, leaning back against the wall beside the door. He missed his mother a lot, and he saw her as often as possible, but ever since she and his dad had moved down to Florida, visiting was a lot harder than it used to be. He still had his sisters in town—Laura being a high school teacher and Cora working as a sous-chef in a fancy restaurant—but it wasn’t the same without his parents.

Still, they were entitled their hard-earned retirement, and for some reason they’d chosen Florida over Hawaii. Derek figured it was because Hawaii would mean less visits, even though they’d had the means to retire there if they truly wanted to.

Considering his parents had retired early, still in their fifties, they weren’t exactly hurting for money.

As much as he wanted to speak to his mom, he also didn’t want to lose out on time with Stiles. Thankfully, she knew that Comic Con was a big deal for him—even though his sisters teased him mercilessly every year—so she kept it short, only giving him some updates on what they’d been doing, and mentioning they’d gone to Disneyworld earlier in the week because, “We’re retired, Derek, not old.”

Once she confirmed he was having a good time, he promised he’d call her back later in the evening, or tomorrow first thing. She wished him a good afternoon and said she hoped he had fun. He thanked her and hung up, then just so she could see his outfit, he sent her a few pictures he’d taken throughout the day through Whatsapp. The first few were mostly just the setup that morning, with Erica making faces and Isaac in the background clearly frustrated. But he sent her some of the better ones, too. Like the first group photo they’d had taken by someone at their hotel, and a few other shots from their first couple of hours. He hesitated on the picture of him and Stiles, where he was holding him up after they’d first met, but figured he’d slip about Stiles eventually when talking about the con so he might as well.

He sent it off last, and told her in the captions that his name was Stiles and they’d talk about him later. Then he put his phone away, flashed his badge at the door again, and went back into the room. He found Stiles right where he left him, mouth slightly open, eyes wide and staring, and horrible things happening on the screen. The two pretzel buckets were sagging slightly, dangerously close of spilling all over the floor, but Derek sat back down and grabbed at them before they tipped too far.

Stiles jumped, turning to him, but then immediately looked back at the screen, as if he’d only been checking it was Derek before getting distracted again. It was kind of endearing and Derek turned back to watch the end of the episode, as well. When it moved into the next one, he was getting a little bored, since this wasn’t his favourite show in the world. Stiles seemed to notice because he motioned for them to head out and Derek gratefully moved towards the door. It didn’t help that the seats were a little cramped, and while he wasn’t a giant, Derek was tall enough that it started hurting his knees a bit.

They tossed out their trash and began wandering again, stopping whenever people asked for photos, and Stiles getting all up into Derek’s space whenever SuperWing fans were around. A few people snapped slurs at them and insisted they were gross, but Derek didn’t let it bother him, and Stiles pretended not to even hear them. If anything, he just got even more into Derek’s space whenever people were loudly homophobic.

“So you’re definitely not straight,” Derek said after they’d left another area of picture-takers.

Stiles’ eyebrows shot up. “What? Of course I am, whatever gave you the impression I wasn’t?” He grinned and winked, Derek rolling his eyes.

“Well either you’re not entirely straight, or you’re really comfortable getting intimate with another man you literally just met.”

“You really are a blunt son of a bitch, aren’t you?” Stiles asked with a teasing grin. “I’ve been known to get involved with both sexes. I don’t discriminate, and I figure there’s enough of me to go around, so why deprive men of all of this.” Stiles motioned down his body and Derek rolled his eyes again.


“I know, right?” Stiles grinned, then nudged Derek. “And you? You seem pretty okay with a stranger jumping into your arms. Hell, you were feeling him up.” He pretended to gasp. “Did you think the dude wouldn’t notice?”

“My hands went to your ass automatically to make sure you didn’t fall flat on it,” Derek defended. “But you do have a firm ass.”

“Spank you.” Stiles waggled his eyebrows again. Derek wasn’t entirely sure, but he had the feeling Stiles was a massive flirt. That, or he was just really into Derek and flirting with him. “So?”

“So?” Derek repeated.

“Yourself? Not exactly straight, either, but that’s a broad spectrum. Could be ace, or bi, or pan, or gay. Lots of possibilities in this day and age.”

“What do I strike you as?”

Stiles tapped his lips, eying Derek thoughtfully. “I want to say pan, but I’ve seen the way you look at me, and we’re not at that level of connection yet. Not to mention we’ve passed like, eight girls wearing basically bikinis and you haven’t even glanced at them, so I’m gonna go with gay.”

“Do you want a prize?”

“Oh, kind of, what are you offering?”

“How about dinner tonight?”

Stiles laughed and shoved him. “Unfair, I was already coming, courtesy of Erica.”

Derek just let out a small huff of a laugh and continued walking. They ended up near the artist’s alley, where the lineup was still a century long wait, but considering they had nothing better to do they figured they’d go for it. Stiles needed to use the bathroom first though, so Derek waited for him outside the closest one, having teasingly asked him if he needed help. Stiles reassured him that he had ample practice with the suit and disappeared into the bathroom.

Stiles was an interesting guy, not that Derek hadn’t noticed throughout the day already, but every now and then he just made comments that hinted at something larger without fully admitting what that was. Derek could use the bathroom in his costume as well, but he’d never had to tell someone he had lots of practice doing so. That implied Stiles wore his costume all the time, and while Derek figured he might be into it because it was so damn amazing, it was weird that he’d do that.

It made him wonder about Stiles’ job. Maybe he was one of those people who went to hospitals for children dressed as their favourite characters from movies, TV shows and comics. He knew a lot of people did that nowadays, and while it was sometimes the actors themselves, it was also a lot of other people who specifically did it for a living.

If Stiles had such an intricate costume, along with having practice using the bathroom with it—which was still such a weird thing to say—he could only assume it meant he wore it more often than not.

When he was back, they went to stand in line for the artists’ alley. They weren’t asked for photos as many times as they had in other lineups, but Derek figured it was because it was too jam-packed in that line and it would be harder for people to ask.

It took them almost two hours to finally get inside, and Derek felt Stiles grab at his cape so they didn’t get separated. It was nice walking along all the booths, talking to people, looking at merchandise. Stiles got excited over almost everything, dragging Derek around by the cape and buying a plethora of artwork from various booths.

Derek noticed he tended to buy a lot of Nightwing art, which he supposed made sense considering who he was cosplaying, but he found it kind of adorable that he was so thrilled about it all. He even ended up buying a picture someone had drawn of Mieczyslaw Stilinski as Dick Grayson. It was done entirely in pencil and actually looked amazingly accurate.

“Are you going to the signings on Sunday?” Derek asked when they’d finally exited the large hall, heading for the door since it was nearing dinner time now and they were both starting to feel a bit suffocated from the crowds of people.

“Hm?” Stiles asked, trying to keep all of his bags in order so nothing got bent. He’d bought a few T-shirts and a hoodie as well, and some of the artwork hadn’t come with a cardboard backing so he seemed concerned about them being ruined or creased.

“Sunday. The DC signings is supposed to have a whole bunch of people from the DC Universe. Some of the actors from Arrow are supposed to be there, along with a few of the actors from the movies, and the whole main cast of Bludhaven.” Derek motioned the items he’d bought. “I thought maybe you might be looking to get autographs.”

“Oh.” Stiles looked down at his bags. “I’m actually busy during that period. Unavoidable.” He shrugged. “That’s okay though.”

Derek hesitated, since he didn’t know how this would be received, then said, “If you want, I can get you some signatures. The others and I are going to the signings, I can always ask for some of the art you bought to get signed. I’m sure it won’t be a problem.”

The smile he got in response almost made his heart melt. Dammit, Stiles was just so fucking adorable, Derek could hardly stand it.

“Thanks Derek. That’s really, really nice of you. I really appreciate the offer. It’s fine, though. I’m sure you have a few things you want signed and I don’t want you to feel obligated to get something done for me.”

“I really don’t mind.”

“Thanks, but it’s okay. I’ll live.” Stiles shoved him lightly, then moved to push open the door leading outside.

They headed for the hotel, Derek dropping the signings since Stiles clearly didn’t want to talk about it, and they moved on to discussing what to eat for dinner. He knew it would be something for him and his friends to debate once they got to the hotel, but at least having a basic idea would be beneficial.

Once they were all together again, they stuck closer to the hotel this time to grab a bite, discussing their plans for the next day. Stiles still wasn’t comfortable sharing his phone number, which Derek understood even if it bugged him a little since he’d love to have it, but they talked about where to meet and at what time the following day.

Stiles was also kind enough to share his Tumblr handle—Sarcasm_Is_My_Only_Defense—and promised he’d put some photos up that night and that Derek could message him on there if something happened or he changed his mind about hanging out.

Derek knew he wouldn’t, but he was glad to have a way to speak to Stiles regardless, just in case.

He walked Stiles to the lobby of the hotel and waited with him for a cab. Once it arrived and he got in, Stiles grinned out at him before shutting the door.

“Thanks Derek. Today was really, really fun for me.”

“Me too,” he admitted with a small smile. “See you tomorrow.”

“Can’t wait.” Stiles shut the door and waved slightly, Derek raising one hand in farewell and watching as the taxi drove off.

He stood there for entirely too long, but managed to give himself a shake and head back inside, struggling not to smile to himself like a weirdo. Stiles’ energy was just so... infectious. He made Derek happy without even trying, it was weird.

When he got back to the room, Isaac and Erica were grinning at him while Boyd seemed to be bracing himself for a violent reaction, focussed on removing parts of his costume so that he could go and take a shower.

“What?” Derek demanded.

“Nothing,” Erica said, voice sing-song-like. “Someone’s just been in a good mood all day. It’s cute.”

“I’m jealous, actually,” Isaac admitted. “Wish I’d been the one he jumped on.”

“Doubt he’s into Nightwing and Scarecrow,” Derek countered, smirking slightly and moving to the bed he was sharing with Isaac. “Slowly but surely, I’m converting him to SuperWing.”

“At least he’s already into Stucky,” Erica said. “You lucked out on that.”

“Yeah,” Derek agreed, already looking forward to morning. “Tomorrow’s going to be interesting.”

Derek might have been a little early meeting Stiles the following day. Not by much, only about half an hour. Not a big deal. He’d woken up early and hadn’t been able to get back to sleep so he’d just rolled out of bed and taken a shower before starting to get his cosplay on. Isaac had grumbled when Derek had shaken him awake, but he hadn’t stuck around to wait on him. He was going to be Loki today, and didn’t need any help with his cosplay like he had the day before, so it allowed Derek, Erica and Boyd to leave him there while they went to grab breakfast.

Boyd was kind enough to get a breakfast burrito to go for Isaac and they headed back to the hotel once they’d finished up to see if he was alive. Isaac still whined when they tried to shake him awake again, but Erica reminded him what panels they had for the day and that got him out of bed faster than if they’d lit the thing on fire.

Derek ended up leaving before the rest of them, since he didn’t want to be late meeting Stiles. Erica grinned at him, but didn’t mock him for once, and he headed out to wait on him. He recognized being half an hour early was somewhat ridiculous, but he’d been worried about Stiles changing his mind and somehow felt like showing up early meant he wouldn’t. He knew that was ridiculous, but still.

He was playing a random puzzle game on his phone while he waited, putting it away and posing every now and then when people asked him for photos. He’d been waiting only about ten minutes, so with plenty of time left for Stiles, when someone shouted Bucky’s name and Derek turned in time for a Captain America to launch themselves at him.

He instinctively grabbed for them, stumbling back a step and almost landing on his ass before managing to get his balance, holding Stiles in the exact same way he had the day before, hands under his ass.

Stiles was grinning at him, eyes sparkling with mischief, and Derek was thankful he’d lowered his shield arm when he’d jumped at him or he likely would’ve gotten hit in the face with Stiles’ Captain America shield.

It looked like Stiles was eager to meet back up with him too, considering he was also early.

“Is this a thing for us, now?” Derek asked, trying to rearrange Stiles a little so he didn’t accidentally drop him. Stiles’ legs were wrapped around him, same as the day before, and Stiles had one arm securely around Derek’s shoulders since the other was hanging by his side with the shield.

“I like a man who can hold me up,” Stiles insisted, leaning closer and lowering his voice seductively. “Are you complaining?”

“No,” Derek admitted, hands still firmly on Stiles’ ass.

He grinned at the answer, then patted Derek’s back once and shifted, clearly asking to be put down. Derek complied, but didn’t miss that a few people had taken photos. He hoped they posted them online, though he doubted he’d be missing out on any pictures today given Erica and Isaac would be around more since they were going to the same panels.

They both took the opportunity to survey each other’s cosplay then. Stiles’ looked amazing, as Derek expected, though somehow less impressive than his Nightwing one. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the Nightwing one had just been so, so amazing that Derek had expected the same level of craftsmanship on the Captain America one. Either way, he didn’t mind, because Stiles looked amazing. He wished he wasn’t wearing the mask, considering he still hadn’t seen Stiles’ full face, but he didn’t let it bother him. Stiles’ skin-tight outfits more than made up for that disappointment.

Stiles himself seemed intrigued with Derek’s metal arm, yanking it straight and ooh and ahhing at it. He made Derek bend his arm a few times, as if testing its mobility, and then began asking questions about how he’d done it. Erica had helped him with it—along with Boyd, since metalwork was involved—so he couldn’t tell him all the logistics of it, but Stiles seemed content to wait for the other two to come around so they could discuss it. Derek asked a few questions about the shield, because it looked awesome, and Stiles passed it over so he could test it out. It was heavier than he’d expected, but definitely light enough to carry around. Still, carrying something this heavy all day was probably going to kill Stiles’ arm. He knew Boyd would have a similar problem with Heimdall’s sword, given the material it was made out of, but that was what people did.

Anything for the cosplay. Pain, discomfort, heatstroke. It was a thing they ignored and pushed through.

“Is there anything you want to check out before the main events?” Derek asked, double-checking the time on his phone even though he knew both the Marvel panel and the signings were far off.

“What?” Stiles asked with a small, teasing smile. “I can’t understand you behind the Hannibal Lecter mask.”

“Hilarious,” Derek said, rolling his eyes. Stiles just grinned and reached up to press his fingers to the plastic on Derek’s face.

It was a little painful, even though Erica had found the most comfortable method of securing it to his face, but Derek would survive. It was really only digging into his cheek on one side, so as long as he mostly angled his jaw one way, it shouldn’t leave too bad of a mark.

Stiles was pressing lightly on the plastic, fingers tapping it thoughtfully.

“I can’t kiss you with the mask on,” he said, more matter-of-fact than anything else. “You’re breaking a lot of Stucky hearts, here.”

The fact that Stiles wanted to kiss him was actually amazing, but Derek wasn’t going to act too eager. It was all for the cosplay, after all, though he was going to at least believe a portion of Stiles’ interest in kissing him had to do with him and not the fact that he was currently the Winter Soldier.

“Did you eat?” Derek asked instead of responding to his comment.

“Yup. Jack and I went out first thing. I got pancakes.” Stiles puffed up, like this was exciting news, and Derek frowned slightly.

“You seem pleased with this.”

“Oh, you have no idea. I’m going to make myself sick this weekend with all the junk I’ve been shoving into my body.” Stiles laughed, like the prospect of being in discomfort for a few days was something amusing. “I’m on a pretty strict, regulated diet a majority of the time, so this is kind of the first time in months I’ve been able to eat whatever I want. It’s why I got so many pretzels yesterday. And Jack and I ordered room service last night when I got back. I miss chocolate and ice cream so much.” He let out a pathetic groan and leaned heavily into Derek, whining into his chest. “It’s torture, Derek. Absolute torture.”

“Why are you on such a strict diet?”

“It’s for my job.” Stiles stayed leaning against him, seeming uninterested in moving. Derek just wrapped an arm securely around him and shifted his weight so he didn’t risk them leaning too far to one side. “It’s super demanding. Have to keep in shape, but I’m on vacation for the next little bit. I’m not planning on going nuts, but I’m at least going to enjoy this weekend as much as possible.”

“So you’re saying you want McDonalds for lunch?” Derek asked with a small smile.

Stiles made a face, pulling away from him. “I said I was going to put junk in my body, not poison.”

Derek couldn’t help laughing at that, because it was somewhat unexpected given what other things Stiles had been eating. He thought for a moment, trying to remember what they had in the area from previous years coming down, and then said, “There’s a Five Guys up on University Avenue. It’s a bit of a ways, but I’m okay heading up there as long as it’s not going to interfere with any panels.”

Stiles slapped one hand against Derek’s chest and let out a small choking sound. Derek cocked an eyebrow, and then Stiles’ hand grabbed at Derek’s shirt before he slowly and dramatically fell to his knees, letting his one hand slide along Derek’s chest and down to his stomach.

“Five Guys,” he said, head bowed. “My life’s blood. Yes. So much of the yes.”

Derek would’ve been embarrassed by how many people were staring, except it looked like some kind of elaborate skit where Steve was relieved and amazed Bucky was still alive as opposed to some random dude having a moment about going to Five Guys.

“You’re a little extra, you know that, right?” Derek asked, staring down at him.

Stiles’ head tilted upwards, and damn did it look good having him on his knees like that. Not that Derek said so, but the smarmy smirk on Stiles’ lips suggested he was well aware of what he was doing to Derek’s libido.

“Tell me you don’t love it,” Stiles breathed, leaning closer so his mouth was just that bit too close to Derek’s crotch.

He begged his cock not to twitch.

“You are such an unrepentant flirt.”

“Only when the other party’s worth being flirted with,” Stiles said with a vicious grin.

Before Derek could say anything in response, he jumped at the loud shout that echoed through the hall. He had no idea how it had been loud enough to virtually drown everyone else out, but well, Erica was talented.

“Don’t move! Do not move! Boyd, where’s my phone? Give me my phone, now!”

Derek turned his head to see Erica hurrying towards them, one hand held out behind herself while Boyd obediently fished her phone from one of his pockets. Derek knew Erica had been trying to find ways to create realistic pockets in her outfit, but everything she tried had ruined the Captain Marvel suit so she’d opted to give up and have Boyd carry her stuff. It worked out, since they were always together, but Derek was still uncomfortable with the knowledge that she didn’t have her phone.

If they got separated somehow, they’d never find Erica again. She’d probably head back to the hotel and wait for one of them to find her there, but that would be a waste. He just hoped whatever happened that she got lost with someone else in their group so she’d always have a phone nearby.

When Erica was close enough that taking a picture was actually possible, Stiles grinned and made like he was going for Derek’s pants. It was so bold and inappropriate that Derek actually grabbed at his wrists to stop him, which just had Stiles laughing at how panicked he looked.

“Relax, I’m not gonna blow you right here in the hall.” His grin widened and his eyes darkened behind the mask he wore. “Tempting as that might be.”

“As I said: unrepentant flirt,” Derek insisted, scowling down at him.

Stiles just looked amused, but managed to school his features while Erica took photos, excitedly asking for them to shift around every now and then. They eventually caught the attention of one of the con’s security and they were told to knock that off and to keep things PG in public. Stiles hadn’t said anything while getting back to his feet, but once the man wandered away grumpily, he’d insisted to Derek that they’d been keeping it PG and that they should show the guy what a rated-R scene looked like.

Derek just shoved him, but honestly wouldn’t be against finding a dark hallway to make out in. But this was Comic Con and there were no dark hallways. Or empty ones. There were people literally everywhere.

They began their morning by wandering around and taking pictures of people—and having some taken in return. Stiles and Erica got into the nitty gritty details of all the cosplays they were wearing, with Boyd being dragged into it when the metalwork was being questioned. Derek and Isaac trailed along behind them, chatting about the upcoming panels and the movies that were playing throughout the con. It was a big Marvel day, both in costume and in panels, and they ended up splitting up to watch different movies. Stiles wanted to watch Black Panther, which was twenty minutes in down the corridor they were in. Derek agreed to go with him, but Boyd and Erica were more interested in re-watching the first Avengers, which was three rooms down from where he and Stiles would be.

Isaac insisted they were boring and went to find some Thor cosplayers to terrorize, which had Boyd muttering under his breath that he was glad he’d opted out of cosplaying Thor.

Stiles and Derek had to show their badges at the door to get into the room. Derek went first, and when Stiles started to follow, the person at the door stopped him, looking excited. Stiles cast a glance at Derek, and when he started to turn back, Stiles motioned urgently for him to continue on and find them seats before speaking quietly to the person who’d stopped him, shoving his badge back into one of his pocket.

Derek didn’t dwell on it, figuring maybe they thought he was underage, or maybe they had questions about his cosplay. Stiles joined him a few minutes later, smiling tightly at him while settling in.

“Everything okay?” Derek asked uncertainly.

“Yeah, fine. Just had questions about my shield.”

Derek caught the lie but didn’t comment on it. Stiles seemed like a surprisingly private person considering how open and honest he was about everything else, but Derek figured he had a reason for being like that. It wasn’t his place to pry.

They watched the entirety of Black Panther, commenting on the acting and the stunts, and general storyline. Stiles had a crush on Letitia Wright, and was actually sad she wasn’t going to be around that day, but was galvanized by Chris Evans’ promised appearance.

They filed out when the movie ended, a lot of people staying behind since they were following up Black Panther with Captain Marvel, but the Marvel panel would be starting soon and Derek didn’t want to miss it, considering the lineup they’d have to stand in.

He texted Boyd to find out where he and Erica were, and they met back up to go wait in the already astronomical lineup for the Marvel panel. Isaac was AWOL, but that wasn’t unusual. They knew he’d show up eventually, and they texted him a few times to let him know they wouldn’t tolerate a repeat of last year.

“What happened last year?” Stiles asked, having dug some Maltesers out of one of his pouches. The heat of his body had melted them somewhat so they were stuck together, but he just sucked chocolate off his fingers every time he popped one into his mouth. His shield was held between his knees, balancing on one end on the floor, and Derek kept his gaze focussed on it to avoid watching the way Stiles sucked on his fingers.

“We waited in line for a panel for over an hour, and he showed up as the doors were opening.”

“Dick move,” Stiles agreed. “People do that sometimes, though. Make their friends wait instead so they can go out and do whatever.”

“We told him before we left for the con that we wouldn’t tolerate it this year,” Boyd said, one hand rubbing up and down Erica’s back, standing behind Derek and Stiles. “He knows if he doesn’t show up within the next twenty minutes that he’s waiting at the back of the line when the doors open.”

“Probably won’t get in if he has to do that, so he’ll show up,” Derek insisted.

They got distracted discussing what they hoped would be announced this year, though Stiles admitted he was hoping for things to mostly stay in the dark. It was more fun not knowing what was coming, or so he said. Derek disagreed, he wanted to know what to look forward to over the next few years, so he hoped they announced at least until 2025.

Isaac showed up five minutes to his deadline, having insisted he got caught up taking photos with a group of Thors, and even showing them pictures as proof. They were surprisingly thin on Loki cosplayers this year, but Derek attributed that to the character pool that now existed in the MCU. There were so many people to choose from that it made sense people would try and branch out a little bit.

They were in the middle of talking about lunch, Derek saying he was going to head out to Five Guys with Stiles, when Stiles’ phone rang. He checked it, made a face, then excused himself to answer, moving away from them so he wouldn’t be overheard, but not so far that he wouldn’t be able to re-join them quickly if the doors magically opened early.

Derek watched him while he spoke to whoever was on the other end. Whatever conversation they were having, Stiles didn’t seem happy. Derek didn’t think it was Jack, based on how he was answering, and the small snipits of English he could hear. Eventually, Stiles rubbed at his forehead, snapped something rather vicious into his phone, then hung up. He headed back towards them, trying to put his phone away while also holding his shield. Derek took the bulky item from him when he was close enough, and Stiles muttered a thanks while getting his phone squared away before taking it back.

“Everything okay?” Erica asked uncertainly, obviously having noticed the same thing as Derek.

“Fine, just—have to cut my evening short,” he muttered. “I was supposed to have free reign until tomorrow afternoon, but I just got called in for later tonight.”

“Work?” Derek asked, a little confused. Stiles had said he was from New York, and they were in San Diego, so he wasn’t sure what kind of work he did that made it possible to be done from a different State across the country.

“Yeah,” Stiles muttered. “It’s fine, I have time, but I need to be out of here by five-thirty, at the latest.”

“Gives you time for the two Marvel panels, at least,” Erica said, trying for cheerful.

“And lunch,” Derek added.

“Yeah.” Stiles propped his voice up, forcing a smile. “I shouldn’t complain. Should just take what I can get. I was just a bit disappointed, didn’t want today to end too soon.”

“Well, I know you said you were going to be busy most of tomorrow, but you’re free in the morning, right?” Derek asked. “Why don’t we meet for breakfast before the con? We can come by and do a few things you want to do before you have to head out.”

“Are you leaving tomorrow?” Erica asked, leaning forward slightly.

Stiles shook his head, pulling a chocolate bar from one of his many pouches. Derek worried about his sugar levels, but didn’t comment on it given the conversation they’d had that morning. “Nah, leaving on Tuesday morning. We were meant to leave Monday, but Jack wanted a day to decompress so we’re heading out the day after.” He unwrapped his bar and bit into it. “Why?” he asked, half the chocolate bar tucked into one cheek while he chewed.

“Well what if we did breakfast and dinner tomorrow?” Erica asked with a smile. “We can do breakfast in the morning, hang out a bit, then you head off to do your thing and we meet back up when you’re done for dinner.”

“Even if it’s a late dinner,” Boyd said. “It’s Comic Con, we’re not going to waste our last full day, so we’re fine having a later dinner than normal.”

Stiles’ chewing slowed while he stared at them, and Derek wasn’t sure how to interpret the look on his face. It was one part hopeful and two parts miserable, like he wanted to take them up on it but wasn’t sure it was going to pan out. It made Derek wonder what he was meant to be doing the following day.

“Think about it,” Erica said with a smile when the silence stretched on for too long. “Just let us know before you take off tomorrow. Or send a message to Derek on Tumblr or something. If you say you’re coming, we’ll wait for you and we can grab a bite together.”

“Okay.” Stiles nodded, licking his lips and pulling the wrapper a bit lower on his chocolate bar, eyes on what he was doing instead of looking at them. “Okay, yeah. Thanks.”

The silence that followed was brittle and uncomfortable. Derek wasn’t sure what had happened to kill Stiles’ energetic personality, but it was clear it had started with the phone call and just plummeted from there.

Derek wasn’t sure how to fix it, and based on the uncomfortable looks Erica and Boyd were sharing, they didn’t know how to help, either.

Thankfully, they had Isaac.

“So!” He threw one arm around Stiles’ shoulders, yanking him into his side and crushing him against his Loki armour. “You have a cosplay for tomorrow, too?”

“Nah, I only had the two outfits,” Stiles admitted, half-shrugging while folding up the chocolate wrapper now that he was done and shoving it into one of his many pockets. “You?”

“We’re gonna be villains tomorrow!”

“You’ve been a villain the past two days,” Stiles reminded him.

Isaac laughed, pulling him closer and beginning to explain the process for the following day about how he just liked being a villain and Erica had a sick Harley Quinn outfit. He mentioned who they were all going to be, with Boyd as Deadshot, Erica as Harley, himself as Captain Cold and Derek as Deathstroke.

Derek was quite happy and proud of his Deathstroke outfit, mostly because it was almost entirely accurate to the original comic book Deathstroke, but knowing Stiles only had the two cosplays made him feel a little bad. He didn’t know why, but he felt like it would make Stiles feel less included if he had to recycle one.

“I can be Superman again tomorrow, if you want.”

Isaac cut off in the middle of explaining the LED lights he’d put into his fake freeze gun, turning to stare at Derek. Stiles shifted his gaze to him as well at the words, seeming startled.

“What? No way, Deathstroke is awesome!” Stiles leaned forward to punch him lightly, grinning from ear to ear. “Besides, he’s one of Nightwing’s main villains, it works out perfectly, I can wear Nightwing again. And I mean, this isn’t bad, SlaDick is totally a thing.”

Derek frowned, not recognizing the ship name. “What?”

“SlaDick?” Stiles raised his eyebrows. “You know, Slade Wilson and Dick Grasyon?”

“That’s a thing?” Derek knew that they interacted a lot in the comics, but he’d never really looked into any Slade Wilson ships. He seemed very... he didn’t know. Almost asexual, if he was honest. The only person Derek ever saw Slade ship himself with was money. Sure, Slade had kids and, at one point, he’d had a wife, but overall that was usually glossed over and he was treated as more asexual than anything recently—barring the few scenes he shared with Terra, but even those were more manipulative than sexual.

But he supposed he could see SlaDick, it made sense. If he ignored his shipping goggles entirely and just looked at all the Slade and Dick interactions across all platforms, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Not really his thing, if he was honest. Slade was a bit too dark for him to imagine in any kind of relationship, but based on the way Stiles was grinning, Derek was starting to wonder if SlaDick was his thing. He had said he liked darker ships with Nightwing, so maybe Derek had been wrong when he’d been thinking about Stiles shipping Dick with Tarantula. That had been back when he’d assumed Stiles would only want a het pairing, but now? It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility for him to ship SlaDick, considering how excited he seemed about Derek being Slade Wilson and his knowledge of the pairing.

“I’ve never heard of that being a thing,” Derek admitted.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s totally one of those problematic ships considering how Slade is in general, but it gets shipped like crazy. If you keep him just that side of dark, but don’t cross a line, it’s a great pairing. And Slade doesn’t do anything without money as a motivator, so as long as you remember that while you’re writing it or drawing it, the pairing isn’t as bad as it could be. Still problematic, I’m never gonna say it isn’t, but I don’t know, it’s good. I like it,” he admitted, seeming a little sheepish to be admitting it.

“This is a judgement-free zone,” Isaac informed him, motioning their group with one hand. “We all ship what we want, we like what we want, and we don’t judge each other for it. You wanna like SlaDick, as long as you don’t force the pairing on those of us who don’t, and you respect that we don’t want to see all the fanart, you can ship whatever you want.”

Stiles beamed at him before turning back to Derek. He leaned forward so he was right in his space, lowering his voice. “I’m all for being the Dick Grayson to your Slade Wilson if you promise to make me scream.”

Derek was definitely wearing Deathstroke tomorrow, but what he said was, “You’re kind of an idiot.”

“Oh, come on!” Stiles shoved him lightly. “Like the idea of cosplaying someone as morally grey as Deathstroke doesn’t tickle your fancy in the Boy Wonder department.” He winked.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Just wear the suit.”

“Yes sir,” Stiles practically purred, draping himself across Derek’s front.

Isaac gave him a mock jealous look and Derek just flipped him off before wrapping an arm around Stiles’ shoulders.

It wasn’t much longer before the doors opened and the amount of shoving that followed was frustratingly familiar. Derek knew it was all about everyone wanting to ensure they got in, but it was still annoying having people shove at him like it was going to make things go any faster. Thankfully, the line moved quickly and they were inside within minutes, Erica grabbing Boyd’s hand and tugging him towards the seats she wanted quickly. Derek had to grab at Isaac’s cloak to make sure they didn’t lose him and Stiles was still mostly tucked into his side, using his Captain America shield to try and fend off people shoving into him. It was actually quite useful.

They managed to get seats close to the middle, and Stiles turned excitedly back and forth between Derek and Erica, talking about what he was hoping would be announced and what exciting things he was sure were coming.

Derek smiled a little watching him, and couldn’t help feel bad for him. Stiles had spent two days of Comic Con with them so far, and if he hadn’t accidentally leapt into Derek’s arms and made friendly with him the day before, it was entirely likely he’d have spent the entire convention by himself.

He was eccentric, and had amazing energy, so Derek knew he’d have found people to bounce around with eventually, but the idea that he might’ve missed out on having a good time because his friends were assholes and hadn’t joined him made him sad.

It sucked he’d have to cut the day short, but Derek was determined to make the rest of the day fun for him. They’d probably be in another lineup for the autographs, but as long as they found something entertaining to do or talk about, he was sure it’d be okay.

As long as Stiles had fun, that was the important thing. Hanging out with Stiles was definitely fun for Derek, so hopefully the feeling was mutual.

Stiles turned to grin at him when someone stepped up on stage to begin the panel, and Derek smiled back before focussing on the front.

If Stiles lived in New York like he said he did, Derek definitely wanted to grab his phone number before the weekend was through.

Lunch at Five Guys was an experience. Derek didn’t have much of an opinion of the place—a burger was a burger—but Stiles acted like it was the most amazing thing he’d ever experienced. He’d munched on peanuts while they waited on their orders, and then pretended to pet his burger lovingly before taking a huge bite and letting out a happy sigh while chewing.

It made Derek wonder what his diet entailed that having a burger was making him have an experience.

They made it back to the convention centre in time to wander around before the signings, so they checked out some of the cosplays and took some photos. A few people wanted some of them, as well, and Erica and Isaac always got extremely excited when other Stucky fans came around since it meant they could grab some photos of Stiles and Derek being inappropriate.

The two of them were given two additional warnings to the one from that morning for how ballsy Stiles was getting. He really was a huge flirt, and the more he did it, the more Derek started to wonder if Stiles might actually be interested.

After all, they’d spent more time chatting than doing anything else, and while they didn’t know much about each other—Derek didn’t even know Stiles’ last name—it was clear they were both enjoying each other’s company.

Isaac and Erica headed back to the hotel closer to when they would be getting in line for the Marvel autographs with the actors, since they had some artwork they wanted signed, so Boyd tagged along with Derek and Stiles while they made another round, ending up in a random room where they were talking about the pros and cons of CGI and how it was changing the movie industry as a whole.

It was interesting, if not exactly what Derek wanted to be doing right then. He sat through it for a while though, Stiles seeming very focussed on it. His phone buzzed a few times, but Stiles’ eyes only left the front to check who it was before looking forward again. Once the panel was done, he followed a step behind Derek and Boyd while he texted—probably Jack.

“Everything okay?” Derek asked when they stopped in the middle of the front hall, people shoving past them and around them in the crowded space.

“Hm?” Stiles looked up at him. “Oh yeah, just my dad checking in and Jack making sure I’ll be on time tonight.”

“You guys work together?”

“Yeah. Rat bastard paid his way in so that he could keep an eye on me.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Turns out he’s actually not bad at it, so good on him, but still. Annoying for me.”

“What do you guys do?” Boyd asked, evidently interested in learning more about Stiles.

“Oh, you know,” Stiles said vaguely, still texting away. “This and that. What about you?”

Boyd shot a look at Derek, who just shrugged, but he answered honestly anyway. “I’m a welder.”

“Neat!” Stiles looked up then, smiling brightly and shoving his phone into one of his pockets. “What does that entail? Like, what do you do?”

“My company is mostly focussed on piping,” Boyd admitted. “We work in restructuring and re-piping major lines in factories. Coke, Pepsi, that sort of thing. It’s a pretty great gig, but it’s long hours.”

“That’s awesome!” Stiles grinned. “Do you ever get free shit?”

“Not really. It’s a hazzard for us to take things offsite. If something were to happen, we could sue the company, so they tend not to let us do that. Usually there’s free stuff onsite, though. We did a dairy production company once and they had a chocolate milk dispenser in their staff lounge. Unlimited chocolate milk, it was pretty great.”

“Oh my God, that sounds amazing!” Stiles grabbed his arm and gave him a shake. “You have the best job, holy shit!” He turned to Derek. “What about you? No wait, let me guess. Bouncer? Bodyguard? CIA agent?”


“Are you kidding me?!” Stiles slapped at Derek’s chest with one hand. “Looking like that and you’re an accountant? How boring.” He was grinning when he said it, so Derek knew he wasn’t being a dick about it. People often mis-profiled Derek based on his appearance, but Stiles was the first person who didn’t make him pissed off about it. He was obviously joking, and he didn’t follow it up with questions about why Derek hadn’t gone for something more in line with his appearance. He’d instead started bitching about hating numbers and that he envied Derek’s evident ability to understand them better than he could given his profession.

They moved on fairly quickly to Erica and Isaac—a vet and a paralegal respectively—and Stiles insisted that Erica was so good at cosplaying she should quit her job and go fulltime into making cosplays for people and selling them.

Boyd and Derek tried again to get more details on what Stiles did for a living, but he was very good at neatly deflecting by either distracting them or giving vague answers before exclaiming loudly about something around them that caught his attention. They gave up after a while, since he clearly didn’t want to talk about it. Derek wondered if maybe he was some kind of professional gymnast or maybe even a stripper. Derek wouldn’t judge, he’d seen muscles on strippers, pulling themselves up on that pole was fucking hard.

When Isaac and Erica rejoined them, they went to stand in the ever-growing line for the hall that would house the Marvel actors. There was a surprisingly good turnout considering the number of deaths in the last Avengers movie, but Derek figured it was because this would be their last chance to come to a panel like this. Unless they somehow found ways to revive all the people who were now gone, a lot of these actors were at the end of their contracts of being these characters.

Stiles was an excited ball of energy at Derek’s side, and it made it more tolerable having to wait so long in the lineup given his constant chatter. He was excited about virtually everything, from the movies that had come out, the few that had been announced, all the other cosplayers around them, the laughter and general good nature of all the actors at the table.

It was an experience, one Derek would be happy to repeat multiple times. He was kind of disappointed about tomorrow, since Stiles wouldn’t be there during the DC signings, but he’d try and get him some stuff signed anyway, despite what Stiles said. He evidently didn’t want to bother Derek, but it wasn’t a bother, he was going anyway.

Being in cosplay around the actual actors was fun, and Stiles even snagged some pictures of Derek with his counterpart when he wasn’t paying attention. All in all, it was an eventful time and Derek had a lot more fun than he’d expected. It was insane how much one person could change the entire dynamic of their group. Derek wished he’d met Stiles years ago instead of literally one day ago.

By the time they left the hall and were eagerly comparing all their various signatures, Stiles’ phone went off and he pulled it out to check it, wincing slightly.

“Time’s up,” he muttered. “Gotta head out.”

“Breakfast tomorrow,” Erica insisted, pointing at him. “Meet at our hotel at eight. Don’t be late.”

“Yes ma’am.” Stiles saluted her, a small smile on his face, and then waved to the group at large before turning to head for the exit.

Derek glanced at his friends briefly, and when Erica motioned for him to shoo, he hurried after Stiles, jogging briefly to catch up and falling into step beside him.

“I’m a big boy, you know,” Stiles insisted, rolling his eyes.

“You say this as if I’m walking with you to make sure you get where you’re going when I’m actually just doing it to spend more time with you.”

Stiles slanted a look his way, a smile on his lips again. This one was small, but genuine. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Derek faced forward again, moving neatly to one side to avoid someone in a huge Optimus Prime costume from bashing into him. He debated asking for a picture, but thought better of it since Stiles was in a hurry. “It’s been really fun having you around. I want to spend time with you.”

“Most people find me annoying,” Stiles insisted.

“Eccentric, sure. Not annoying.”

Stiles looked pleased to hear that, the two of them continuing on in silence, enjoying each other’s easy company. They ended up heading back to Derek’s hotel when Stiles couldn’t easily catch a cab from right outside the centre given the lineups, and while it was still pretty bad at the hotel, it was less so.

Derek waited with him until the line finally dwindled enough that Stiles was next. There were still people behind them, but at least Stiles hopefully wouldn’t be late to his work thing.

When another cab finally pulled up, Stiles opened the back door, but turned to Derek before stepping inside.

“Thanks Derek. I mean it. This has been really fun, and it’s nice just... being myself.”

“It’s been fun for me too,” Derek admitted. “We’ll see you here tomorrow at eight sharp.”

“Can’t wait.” Stiles grinned. “Try to be a good Slade for me, will you? I’ll be disappointed if you don’t turn me on at least once.” He winked and climbed into the cab before Derek could say anything.

Derek was convinced Stiles was trying to kill him.

He thought about Stiles’ words the entire way back to the convention centre, texting the others to figure out where they were. Isaac, predictably, was off somewhere causing mayhem and thus wasn’t answering his texts, but Boyd and Erica had found an improv panel that they said was pretty funny. They mentioned there were some seats left, so when Derek confirmed he’d join them, they moved to another section and saved him a seat.

He slipped in after showing his badge, and enjoyed the next twenty minutes with his friends. It made him think about the improv show that Stiles had missed the night before to hang out with them. He felt like people had a pretty tight leash on him, and while he supposed he could understand based on Stiles’ stories about his childhood being a sheriff’s son, it still wasn’t entirely fair that he seemed unable to enjoy even one weekend without getting hounded every step of the way.

The way he’d been sucking down Coke and eating chocolate and sugar in general showed just how much he craved it and wasn’t allowed to have it. Derek really wondered what he did for a living, but his brain just kept going back to stripper.

He’d be fine if Stiles was a stripper, and he really hoped that he wasn’t avoiding speaking about it because he didn’t want to get judged. Derek had no problems with anyone who did virtually any profession, especially if they enjoyed it. And besides, who was he to judge other people’s choices? He knew he was virtually a silver-spoon baby, what with the money his parents had made in their lifetime, so he knew it wasn’t his place to make light of other people’s hardship and the jobs they chose to stay afloat. He doubted Stiles was hurting for money though, given where he was staying, though he’d also admitted that was because of Jack, who sounded filthy rich.

He tried not to think about Stiles too much while he spent the rest of the day with his friends, the three of them having eventually found Isaac at some point and wandering from panel to panel without any clear goals. Derek checked Tumblr every now and then in hopes of catching Stiles on it, and while he did receive responses in the chat function every now and then, they were few and far between. Mostly it was Stiles whining about missing out on time with Derek, which was nice to hear.

Stiles was so interesting. Derek didn’t know what it was about him, he just knew he really liked him. Everything about him was just... it resonated with him. Derek had been with a lot of people in his life, but nobody had ever caught his attention like Stiles had. He just wanted to have fun, go out and do things, make friends with strangers at a convention and enjoy time with people who shared his interests. Stiles was a fun guy, and Derek really liked him.

A lot.

He was really hoping he could get his number before the weekend was through, but at least he technically had until their flight left on Monday afternoon. Stiles wasn’t leaving until Tuesday morning, so even when the con was over, they’d still have time to hang out if only Stiles would agree to it.

After the long day they’d had, they all decided to order in at the hotel instead of going out to eat. They headed back up to the room and perused the room service menu before calling down for what they wanted. Erica ordered a movie on demand, something mindless and action-packed that they could all enjoy without really watching, and they chatted about the excitement for the following day.

Derek was still tempted to wear Superman again, especially since he’d specifically made the Bludhaven version, but Stiles had seemed so excited about Deathstroke that he couldn’t convince himself to do that. Though he’d only be seeing Stiles in the morning, so maybe he could change out before they did the Bludhaven panel. He wasn’t sure how that’d work though since he had a lot of panels he wanted to go to tomorrow, and he didn’t want to miss one because of his cosplay. He figured he’d live with Deathstroke.

When there was a knock at their door, Derek was closest so he went to answer it, expecting it to be their food. When he pulled it open, there was no food, but someone from the hotel was standing there holding an envelope.

“Yes?” he asked uncertainly.

“I was asked to give this to a Mr. Derek in this room.”

“That’s me,” he said, still uncertain.

The man handed over the envelope, bid him a good night, and walked away just as someone else arrived with their food. He let them in so they could bring the food over to where the others were, then tipped him on his way out, closing the door and frowning at the sealed envelope.

Isaac was already tearing into his bowl of pasta when Derek came back into the main part of the room, but it was Boyd who asked him what he was holding.

Derek just shrugged, but he ripped open the envelope anyway. When he tipped the contents out, his eyebrows shot up at the four VIP passes that fell out, flipping one of them over to check the back. It outlined what panels the passes were for, which would allow them to not only skip the line, but also get seats in the reserved front section, closer to the stage, for panels.

It was for all the DC panels in effect the following day, including the signings.

“What the hell?” Isaac demanded from right beside him, holding his pasta in one hand and his mouth full of food. “Seriously? What? Where did these come from?”

“I don’t know,” Derek admitted. There were four passes, one for each of them, and Erica let out an excited squeal when she joined them, grabbing two out of Derek’s hands and bringing them back to the bed to show Boyd.

Derek didn’t understand, but the others didn’t seem to care. They were all thrilled about the VIP passes, Isaac excitedly mentioning he was now going to be able to check out the Swamp Thing panel, as well, which he’d been bummed about having to miss because it was right before Bludhaven’s panel and he knew he’d have to stand in line for the latter.

Boyd admitted he had a few DC panels he wanted to check out, as well, and they’d already missed a lot of the Marvel ones because of the time crunch. There had been six panels in total they’d all wanted to see, but because of lining up for the two main ones, they had to give up getting into the others.

DC had been similar, but they’d managed to figure out good timing to maybe get in and see four. With these passes, they could now go to all the ones they wanted to individually. Derek was kind of interested in Swamp Thing, as well, but he’d been willing to skip it for Bludhaven. Now he wouldn’t have to.

“Who are these from?” Boyd asked, Derek checking the envelope for signs of who they came from. It was empty save for the passes and he frowned.

“The only person I can think of would be Stiles,” he said, but he didn’t understand how he’d have gotten them.

Then again, he had a rich friend, maybe he’d had to trade some kind of favour with him to get them. Maybe he’d lied about the work thing tonight and had actually been negotiating a way for Jack to buy the passes for them and the compromise was Stiles had to give up his evening to him.

That seemed like a bit of a dick move, and kind of contradicted the day before. Sure, Jack had told Stiles he wanted him to hang out later in the evening, but he’d given Stiles the whole day to hang with Derek and the others, only asking for his presence at nine. It seemed unlikely he’d shorten that timeline today unless he was being an asshole, but he hadn’t really struck Derek as someone who purposefully wanted to make Stiles miserable. He seemed protective, not controlling.

Derek tried not to dwell on how they got the passes and focussed on being excited they had them.

Tomorrow was going to be amazing.

Derek knew a lot about Deathstroke as a character. Given his desire to cosplay him at Comic Con, it would be somewhat embarrassing if he didn’t know much about him. He knew he was a mercenary, that he was genetically altered, that he was Nightwing’s arch-nemesis—despite him not having appeared in Bludhaven yet—and he also knew the guy had a soft spot for Dick Grayson/Nightwing.

He’d never really delved much into their relationship as a whole, which was probably why he hadn’t realized that SlaDick was actually decently popular.

When he and the others had finished dinner, the random movie still playing on the screen, Derek had decided it might be a good idea to look into the relationship a bit given he was meant to be acting like Deathstroke to Stiles’ Nightwing. Since Stiles had been such a good sport about his SuperWing, it seemed only fair, so he’d pulled up Tumblr to look for some artwork. It was lacking, likely because of the purge, but there was enough of it that Derek felt like he could understand the appeal.

He followed up with checking the top SlaDick fics on Ao3 and skimmed through them mostly to get an idea of how to act. Being Deathstroke was easy, but being Deathstroke interested in Nightwing was new to him. Most of the fics had him fairly similar to how he usually was, just with a bit less malice, for the most part.

Derek could do that, and he felt pretty good about himself when he went to bed that night.

His alarm went off earlier than normal the next day, earning more than a few groans through the shared room. It took him a bit to figure out why he was waking up earlier before remembering he was meeting Stiles for breakfast.

Time was limited with him, so he definitely wasn’t going to be late. He crawled out of bed, grunting at the others to get up and get dressed. Isaac just moaned and covered his head with his pillow, but Erica and Boyd got moving by the time Derek had finished in the bathroom.

Derek was halfway through getting his cosplay on, Erica struggling into hers and Boyd finishing up in the bathroom, and Isaac still hadn’t stirred.

“Get up,” Derek insisted, slapping hard at Isaac’s ass. “We’ve got plans today.”

“You’re the only one getting laid today, not me, why do I care?” Isaac’s muffled voice demanded.

“Get up,” he said again in response.

It took an additional twenty minutes for Isaac to finally force himself out of bed. By then, Erica was ready, Boyd was getting there, and Derek was getting help from Erica on securing all his straps and the eyepatch.

Thankfully Isaac’s cosplay was easier today, so he was ready to go relatively quickly, but he still cut it a bit close for Derek’s liking.

Derek put the Deathstroke helmet on in the elevator on the way down, wanting it on when he saw Stiles, though he’d likely take it off relatively quickly. It was hot and stuffy and hard to see with it on, but he was nothing if not authentic.

They hung around in the lobby for a few minutes, Erica looking up places to eat on her phone for breakfast. Boyd nudged Derek and jerked his head, silently telling him Stiles was coming in one of his many blind spots.

Derek turned, angling his head so he could see through the eye slits, and smirked to himself. Stiles was sauntering over in his Nightwing cosplay, looking pleased at the sight of Derek.

Channelling what he’d learned about this pairing the night before, Derek started walking briskly towards Stiles. The grin he got in greeting was almost blinding, but before Stiles could say anything, Derek brought one gloved hand up to Stiles’ throat and squeezed. Not hard enough to hurt or constrict his breathing, just a light thing to suggest intent.

Stiles’ mouth snapped shut.

Derek smirked behind his mask and leaned closer so their faces were inches apart.

“I don’t like being kept waiting, kid.”

The delighted look on Stiles’ face made Derek so glad he’s looked up this pairing, because it was so worth the lost sleep. It wasn’t Derek’s thing by any stretch, but he could appreciate why Stiles liked it, and he’d been so nice about the SuperWing that Derek had to repay the favour.

“We both know you’d wait for me all day,” Stiles practically purred, looking cheeky and leaning forward into the hand around his throat. “You gonna kill me, or are we gonna do this?”

“Don’t tempt me, pretty bird, or I’ll bend you over a table right here.”

“Oh God,” Erica said from somewhere behind Derek. “You guys aren’t even acting anymore, get a damn room!”

“Yours is free, isn’t it?” Stiles asked teasingly, eyes still on Derek’s. Or, on as much of Derek’s as he could see through the small slits. “I’ve got time.”

“If I can’t get laid in that room, neither can you,” Erica insisted, moving to force the two of them apart, Derek’s hand sliding off Stiles’ throat with the forced step back. “You two are worse than Boyd and I, and we’re practically married.”

“Honeymoon stage,” Stiles insisted with a wink at her. “We’re still in the honeymoon stage.”

“Moon in that honey somewhere else, I’m hungry,” Erica informed him, turning to lead the way towards the taxi stand.

“Erica isn’t human until she’s had her coffee,” Boyd informed Stiles, touching Derek’s arm lightly to help him turn in the right direction.

He’d have to take the helmet off soon, but he could stand to have it on a little longer for Stiles’ sake.

They went to wait on a cab, and were lucky enough to get one of the vans. It wasn’t technically suited for five people, but the driver allowed it and they all piled in, shutting the door. Erica leaned forward from the back to give the address of the place she’d found and the driver headed off.

Derek was crushed up against one side of the van, with Stiles pressed up right beside him. He could hear every breath echoing in his helmet and it was already super stuffy and hot. He wasn’t in a position to take it off though, so he just sat there patiently and figured he’d take it off once they arrived wherever they were going.

When he turned to look at Stiles, having to crane his neck more than he was comfortable with given the limited vision, he saw the other man staring at him with a feral grin. When he seemed to realize Derek was looking at him, he reached up one hand to lightly knock on the mask right at Derek’s temple.

“You’ve been wearing a lot of masks on me lately. Makes it hard to kiss you.”

Before Derek could think up a retort, Stiles leaned forward and pressed his lips to the bottom part of Derek’s helmet, right where his mouth would’ve been. Derek had never hated this helmet so much in his life.

“Unrepentant flirt,” he managed to force out.

“You love it,” Stiles insisted with a grin.

“Stop making out over there!” Erica insisted, nudging Stiles lightly so that he pressed further into Derek. “Not until I’m caffeinated.”

“They better be quick getting you that coffee,” Stiles said with another feral grin.

Because Stiles was facing Derek, it made it easy for Erica to make an encouraging gesture behind him, clearly trying to convey that Derek should keep working at getting a number out of Stiles. The weekend wasn’t over yet, and Derek had no plans to give up unless Stiles firmly said no.

He didn’t act like someone who didn’t want to give his number out, so Derek didn’t think it was about him specifically. Stiles just seemed like a private person, if the way he spoke about virtually everything involving his personal life was anything to go by.

They paid the cabbie when they exited at the place Erica had chosen for them, and were seated relatively quickly given the early hour on a Sunday. They didn’t have much time before the DC panels were slated to start, but they didn’t rush through breakfast. They all knew Stiles’ time with them was limited, and he still hadn’t committed to dinner yet.

Derek really hoped he was willing to join them.

It wasn’t until after they’d eaten and were heading back in two separate rides that Derek remembered the passes and he turned to Stiles.

“Hey, did you get us passes?”

“Hm?” Stiles had been staring out the window, and he turned back to Derek then. He got another smirk on his face when he did so, having lost it in the restaurant when Derek had finally taken off the helmet to reveal the eye-patch. He’d also used some makeup on his barely-there beard to make it look whiter so that it matched his wig. Erica had even managed to daub some onto his eyebrows so they weren’t quite so dark.

Stiles seemed to get distracted every time he saw Derek, like the cosplay was really throwing him off, in a good way.

“We got some VIP passes last night for a few panels. Was that you?”

“Oh, you got them! Good.” He smiled. “I wanted to make sure you’d have them first thing if something happened and I couldn’t make breakfast. Glad they made it to you safely.”

“How did you get them?” Derek asked, surprised. “Those things are hard to come by.”

“Oh, you know,” Stiles said evasively, shrugging. “Called in a favour.”

“Thank you,” Derek said emphatically. “Sorry you don’t get to benefit from it, since you’re gonna be busy.”

“That’s okay. I can go to a few panels when we get there, just not a lot. I have to be out of there by eleven.”

That meant Stiles would be missing the Bludhaven panel, as well as the signings. He asked Stiles, again, if he was sure he didn’t want to get anything signed but he was adamant that it was okay and he didn’t need anything. Derek decided to drop it when he could tell Stiles’ mood was beginning to plummet.

He tried to change the subject and they ended up talking about what to check out while Stiles still had the time. Stiles was open and insisted he was fine with anything Derek wanted to see, so when they got to the convention centre, they headed into the main hall to figure out where they wanted to go, Derek texting the others to say he’d meet back up with them for the first DC panel they were planning together, which was the main DCU panel.

There was a Titans panel starting up in a few minutes, and Stiles agreed to go, but when they got to the hall, both of them bypassing the lineup—which made sense, because Derek assumed if Stiles could get VIP passes for him and his friends, he likely had his own—Stiles asked to sit near the end of the second row, furthest away from the stage.

Derek agreed, if only because Stiles looked uncomfortable and a little sad. He wasn’t sure what had sparked the mood shift, but he tried not to dwell on it too much. He just made sure to snark comments at him and try and lift his spirits with being as Slade-like as possible. Stiles seemed to appreciate the sentiment, and when Derek leaned over to breathe threats into Stiles’ ear, someone behind them asked for a photo.

Stiles had been all over that, practically sitting in Derek’s lap while simultaneously pretending Derek was the one forcing him there. Derek didn’t mind, and he made a big show of not letting Stiles go when the pictures were done.

The girl had even been kind enough to take a few photos with Stiles’ phone, which he’d been thrilled about. He immediately began editing and posting them on Tumblr, even as the panel started.

Derek was focussed on the stage and all the actors and showrunners, but Stiles spent the entire time on Tumblr, either posting and cropping pictures, or browsing it for anything interesting about the convention. At one point he whispered to Derek that there was a huge Star Wars announcement that had just dropped in one of the Disney panels, which he seemed particularly excited about, but otherwise he just sat there on his phone.

When they were done, Derek tried to get Stiles to choose their next panel but he just insisted he was fine with whatever. Deciding he’d rather just hang out with Stiles until he had to leave, they went back to Auntie Anne’s to get some cinnamon sugar pretzel nuggets and went to sit down on the floor where space permitted out of the way.

They didn’t talk about anything of importance, but Stiles was very vocal about how much fun he’d had over the weekend and how glad he was that he’d leapt onto Derek. Derek had admitted he was pretty glad that had happened, as well, and joked about being able to cop a feel a few times. Stiles just laughed good naturedly and punched him lightly in the arm.

The other three showed up at half-past ten, sitting down and chatting with Stiles and Derek about the upcoming panels. Stiles was keeping a close eye on his phone, and at ten-to, he sighed and put it away.

“I gotta go,” he told the group at large.

“No,” Isaac whined, grabbing for him. “Nightwing, don’t leave us!”

“Trust me, wish I didn’t have to.” He stood up then, dusting off the back of his pants and checking that his escrima were in place.

“You’re coming to dinner, right?” Erica asked.

Stiles hesitated before answering. He waited a beat too long, because the others’ faces fell. “I’ll message Derek on Tumblr,” he finally said in response.

“Okay. Well, in case we don’t see you again,” Erica stood and pulled him into a fierce hug. “It was super nice meeting you! Expect a new Tumblr stalker when you get home because I’m gonna delve deep into the dark recesses of your page and uncover all your dirty secrets.”

“Good luck, all you’ll find is Star Wars memes and SlaDick porn. Or, you know, however much of it survived the purge.”

She grinned when she pulled away and slapped his arm lightly. Isaac went in for a hug next, but Boyd just slapped Stiles’ shoulder once and asked him to try for dinner. Stiles neatly evaded answering him.

“I’ll walk you out,” Derek said when Stiles turned to him.

Stiles just smiled at him, knowing it was just about Derek wanting to spend more time with him, and he promised his friends he’d meet them at the DCU panel and to save him a spot. He followed along beside Stiles while they headed for the front of the centre. They walked in comfortable silence all the way to the door, and once they were outside, Stiled motioned vaguely towards the road, muttering about having to catch a cab.

“You will try and come tonight, right?” Derek asked. “We’re serious when we say we want to have you around.”

Stiles pressed his lips together, rubbing at one arm uncomfortably. “I’ll come. If you still want me to.”

Derek frowned. “Why wouldn’t I want you to?”

Stiles didn’t look at him and shrugged one shoulder in dismissal, watching the cars pass on the road a ways off from the front of the convention centre.

“Thanks Derek,” he said quietly before turning back to him. “Seriously. This weekend was already something to be excited about, but being around you and your friends... I really appreciate you taking the time to hang out with me. I had an amazing time.”

“Me too,” Derek admitted. “Can’t convince you to give me your number though, can I?”

Stiles winced, fingers clenching in the meat of his arm now. “Ask me later,” he said after a beat. “If you still want it.”

“Why wouldn’t I want it?” Derek was getting a little frustrated now. He didn’t understand why Stiles was making this so difficult. They obviously got along, they were compatible, he was pretty sure Stiles was flirting with him on purpose and not just because he was a huge flirt. This had been a very enlightening weekend, so he didn’t understand why Stiles kept pulling back like he was.

“I have to go,” Stiles finally said. “Thanks again.”

“I’ll see you later,” Derek said, with feeling.

Stiles didn’t comment, he just nodded once uncomfortably, paused, and then invaded Derek’s personal space again, letting his lips ghost over the corner of Derek’s mouth. It was such a soft press that Derek barely felt it, but his skin tingled where Stiles’ lips had touched it. Before he could say anything, Stiles turned and ran off towards the side of the convention centre, heading in the same direction as the Hilton.

Derek figured he was going to catch a cab there.

He kind of wanted to go after him, because having a Tumblr handle wasn’t nearly good enough—especially when he could get blocked, or worse, Stiles could delete his Tumblr altogether—but he had to respect that whatever was going on was personal for Stiles.

Checking the time, he hustled back inside so he could get to the panel on time, not wanting his friends to have to give up his seat to a rando in the lineup because Derek took too long to show up.

He spent the whole brisk walk to the panel thinking over why Stiles might be reacting that way. Was he dying maybe? Was this his last hurrah of a weekend or something? He doubted it, or Jack wouldn’t have left him on his own. He was protective, sure, but he would’ve been much more so if Stiles was battling some kind of disease.

Derek wondered if maybe he was famous. Like a foreign prince or something. Did Poland still have a monarchy? He wasn’t well-versed in European history, but he was sure Poland had a monarchy at one point. He didn’t think they did anymore, so he probably wasn’t a Polish prince.

Thoughts continued to invade his mind as he walked, each more outlandish than the last, and by the time he made it to the panel and sat down, he was convinced Stiles was some kind of undercover secret agent who was about to go on his deadliest mission yet and was trying to have one last fun weekend before certain death.

The panel helped him forget about Stiles for a little while, and he was glad to have something else to focus on. Not to mention some of the information that came out of it was exciting and something to look forward to. Apparently there was a Nightwing movie in pre-production, slated to hit theatres in 2023 starring Mieczyslaw Stilinski—which was exciting because so far the DCU had kept the movies and TV shows separate. They had two different Flashes, after all. One for the big screen and one for the little screen.

There was also a Deadshot solo movie, though no word on if Will Smith would be reprising his role or not. They were hinting at the possibility of another Justice League movie, but the way they spoke made it sound like it wouldn’t be another live action, which suited Derek just fine as he was rather fond of the cartoons. They were better, anyway. Smaller budgets, but it was easier to do crazy things with a cartoon.

When the panel was over, they rushed out the door to catch the next one. Boyd and Erica headed off to one of the Marvel panels they wanted to check out—the chances of them getting in right on the dot were slim, but they wanted to try—and Derek and Isaac rushed off to Swamp Thing.

That panel was surprisingly tame given the show’s content, but he supposed with only ten episodes, a few of which still hadn’t aired, it made sense that they had to be careful with what they let slip. Isaac sat mooning over the lead actress a majority of the time and Derek just rolled his eyes at him.

When the end of the hour was nearing, Derek nudged Isaac and they snuck out before the crowd, wanting to ensure they got to the Bludhaven panel on time. They were guaranteed seats with their passes, but Derek wanted to get front row, if possible, and as close to the actors as he could. While the showrunners were great too, he cared more about seeing the actors in person. It would be weird to see them out of costume and as themselves. Sure, he’d watched a few interviews, but this seemed different somehow, and he was excited.

He was kind of annoyed at himself for not having gone back to change into his Superman cosplay, but he’d already resigned himself to being Deathstroke, even if the outfit was hot and the helmet had spent more time under his arm than on his head.

Derek and Isaac arrived first, flashing their DC VIP passes and making it into the panel ahead of most people. They chose seats in the front row, a bit too far to the left for Derek’s tastes, but it looked like they would be relatively close to Jackson Whittemore, and he was right beside Mieczyslaw Stilinski, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Boyd and Erica joined them only two minutes later, excitedly speaking about the costume and prop designs of the Marvel movies, which was the panel they’d just come from. It sounded fun, and Derek was a little sad to have missed it, but he didn’t regret going to the Swamp Thing panel.

Their voices steadily grew louder as the hall began to fill up, people speaking loudly over each other to their friends and the people around them. Someone tapped Erica for a photo, which she happily posed for, but for the most part people left them alone, everyone too excited for what was coming.

When the panel coordinator stepped up to the podium, people began screaming, even though nothing had really happened yet.

The man waited for the crowd to die down, which Derek found ridiculous because he followed up on that silence with, “Is everyone excited for the Bludhaven panel?”

Derek was surprised the roof survived the screaming. Erica was just as loud beside him, clapping and almost bouncing in her seat while she screamed approval at the man’s question.

He got them all to quiet down and started on the usual spiel about safety precautions for exiting the hall in case of an emergency, and proper panel behaviour. It was short and to the point, likely because he knew everyone in the room had been to other panels and heard this all before by now.

When it was time to call out the guests, he riled the crowd up again so that Derek almost put his helmet back on in an attempt to block out the screaming, but he managed to refrain. He clapped politely when the showrunners, Chris Argent and Ken Yukimura, were called out, unable to help the smile forming on his face at the excitement of the room. He knew it was nothing compared to what was coming, though.

The first actor on the stage was the one who played Superman, Jordan Parrish. He was every bit as charming as his character, smiling excitedly and waving to the crowd while they cheered and clapped.

Barbara Gordon, played by Lydia Martin, was next, and she joined the others on the stage with all the grace of a dancer, smiling brightly and offering a wave to the explosive cheering that greeted her.

When Jackson Whittemore, the Arsenal actor, finally took the stage to enthusiastic screams and cheering, Derek frowned slightly at the expression on his face. It was kind of smarmy and condescending, which he knew about him already, but something about it seemed familiar in a way he couldn’t place.

He didn’t have time to dwell on it though, because the panel coordinator waited for the cheering to die down a bit, leaning closer to the microphone, as if sharing a secret with them.

“I know everyone in this room is as excited as I am for our next guest. When I heard they were making this show, my brain was adamant they wouldn’t find a man right for the job. Nobody could match Dick Grayson in looks, agility, and downright attractiveness, but boy did our next guest prove me wrong! Give it up for Mieczyslaw Stilinski!”

When Mieczyslaw came out on the stage, all smiles and waving brightly, Erica’s hand landed on Derek’s thigh, nails biting through the material of his pants. He barely noticed, because he was too busy staring at the actor who’d just appeared on stage. The screaming almost blew the roof off, and the man reacted to it by pretending to be fighting forward through a strong wind before stumbling backwards and falling flat on the ground, as if the sheer force of sound had knocked him clean over.

Jackson rolled his eyes at the theatrics while Lydia smiled endearingly over her shoulder. Jordan just laughed, shaking his head and letting one arm rise up to rest along the back of Lydia’s chair.

When Mieczyslaw’s head popped back up, he was grinning toothily, his hair a dishevelled mess, and he hurried to his spot, sitting down next to Jackson while still waving with one hand.

Derek couldn’t take his eyes off him, because it seemed impossible. It was literally impossible, because there was no way he wouldn’t have known. No way in fucking hell he wouldn’t have known!

Mieczyslaw was grinning and speaking quietly to Jackson away from the microphone while the last two guests were introduced—Derek didn’t know who they were, and he didn’t care—and it was while he spoke to Jackson that his eyes shifted and locked with Derek’s in the crowd.

“Holy shit,” Isaac breathed from Derek’s other side, barely audible over the sound of screams around them from the last two guests. Erica’s fingernails were digging harder into Derek’s thigh.

Derek didn’t know what was going on with his face, but Mieczyslaw’s... Stiles’ expression tightened slightly and he looked away, keeping the smile plastered on his face while turning to speak to the actor on his other side—Scott McCall, who played Jason Todd.

Jackson’s gaze shifted down to the crowd, seeming to sweep the first few rows. They landed on Derek a moment later and he gave him a sour look before schooling his features, evidently trying to keep his public face more neutral and smarmy as opposed to openly hostile as he had been when they’d met.

“Holy shit,” Isaac said again, completely floored. “Are you... Is this... Am I fucking dreaming?!”

The person on Isaac’s other side shushed him harshly when the panel coordinator began speaking again, but Derek couldn’t even hear him. Sound was just an incomprehensible buzz in his ears while he stared up at the actors on the stage.

Up at Mieczyslaw Stilinski.

At Stiles.

He’d literally spent the past three days waltzing around the convention with the lead actor of his favourite show.

No wonder his suit had been so well done, it was probably his official Nightwing suit for the show! And it explained a lot about why he’d been so vague and weird about things. He hadn’t wanted to share what he did for a living, because he hadn’t wanted to admit who he was.

It seemed impossible that Derek wouldn’t have figured it out over the course of three days, but even as he thought that, his brain once again helpfully supplied the memory of Hugh Jackman wandering around at Comic Con and nobody recognizing him, either! And to top it off, Stiles had been wearing a mask all three days. Even if his counterpart did the same in the show, it was still enough in person that he’d looked just that bit different.

Everything made so much more sense now. Why he was so good at some of the action with his flips and martial arts moves, why he’d reacted so badly to the two assholes saying he was a shitty Nightwing, why he hadn’t wanted to share his phone number.

Derek’s stomach clenched when he realized why Stiles hadn’t wanted to share his number.

Because he was Mieczyslaw Stilinski. Because he hadn’t been honest about who he was. Because giving Derek his number meant Derek would, not only have it, but also have the ability not to use it if he got pissed enough about this deceit.

Honestly, he wasn’t sure how to feel. It seemed so God damn surreal that he’d spent the past three days with the real fucking Nightwing, but at the same time, he hated being lied to. Sure, Stiles hadn’t technically lied, but omission was a form of lying.

But then... Stiles didn’t seem to have a very easy life. He’d overindulged because he was on a strict diet, and he didn’t get to hang out in places like this because his dad and friend were protective. Stiles had admitted, even just two hours ago when he’d left, that he’d had the best time at the convention with Derek. Probably because Derek hadn’t cared who he was or what he did for a living. He and Derek had become friends because they’d just fit. They’d meshed well together, they got along. It had been effortless, and as much as Derek had been attracted to Stiles in general, his personality was so intoxicating and energetic that he kind of wanted it as a soft drink.

He’d started crushing on Stiles because he was Stiles, not because he was Mieczyslaw Stilinski, famous and sought-after lead actor of Bludhaven. And maybe that was the difference. Maybe that was why Jackson had let Stiles go off and hang out with Derek when he very clearly wasn’t happy about it. Maybe that was why Stiles had been overly excited about everything over the weekend. Because he was allowed to just be Stiles.

Without worrying about his image, or his career, or what would happen if he was caught in a compromising position with a stranger. He was allowed to be who he’d been before Bludhaven had made him famous.

That thought, more than anything, was what tipped the balance over in Stiles’ favour. Sure, he’d lied by omission, but Derek couldn’t honestly fault him for that. It was clear being Dick Grayson/Nightwing had drastically changed Stiles’ life, and he’d just wanted a weekend of fun. It hadn’t been personal, it had just been him wanting to have a good time.

Derek figured he probably wouldn’t be seeing him for dinner, because why would someone like him want to hang out with a bunch of nobodies?

Except... every couple of minutes, Stiles’ eyes would skirt back in Derek’s direction. Whenever someone on Jackson’s side of the table was speaking, Stiles would obediently turn to look in their direction, but his eyes wouldn’t linger on them for long. He kept casting quick glances over at Derek, like he was trying to read his expression.

Like he wanted to know if he was actually still invited to dinner.

Derek realized, somewhat startled, that Stiles thought Derek wouldn’t want him around after finding out who he was. He thought Derek would be pissed about being lied to, and wouldn’t want him to come. It was why he’d said what he had in parting, about coming to dinner, but only if Derek still wanted him to.

It was hard paying attention to the panel, the words mostly flowing over Derek whenever someone else was speaking. He knew he’d heard them discuss the fact that the movie was officially a go, but that they had to finish the second season before moving forward with it.

He also remembered hearing about a near-fatal accident, wherein one of Stiles’ wires had snapped and he’d almost tumbled clear off a roof. Only his quick reflexes and pure dumb luck had saved him from falling four stories, but even after that debacle, he refused to use a stunt double because he hadn’t felt it was fair to risk someone else’s life for a character he was meant to be embodying.

There was also a brief mention of the villain for the second season being Deathstroke, Stiles’ excitement mounting into something more genuine while they spoke about that, since he clearly had lots of feelings about the character regardless of the pairing he favoured. Deathstroke the Terminator was a good character to pit against Nightwing, especially if they chose someone who meshed well with Stiles chemistry-wise. Derek could foresee some shipping wars between SuperWing and SlaDick. He’d have to see who they chose for Slade before officially falling onto one side of the fence, despite his preferred SuperWing ship at the moment.

He was open-minded.

“Mieczyslaw,” the coordinator said, forcing Stiles’ gaze away from Derek and turning to look at him, “you gotta help us out here. Jackson’s referenced a nickname multiple times that’s easier on the tongue. Not to say your name is bad,” he insisted hastily, as if wanting to stave off some criticism. “Your name is wonderful, it’s just a bit of a mouthful. What do your castmates call you?”

When Stiles laughed, it was so deliciously warm and wonderful that Derek felt like he was melting. It was different than his loud, exuberant laughs and his quiet snorts. It was something in between that was just so purely Stiles that it kind of hurt to hear, but in a good way.

“Well, to be honest, most of my castmates call me—”

“Mietek,” Scott cut in, having thrown one arm over Stiles’ shoulders.

Stiles laughed and nodded. “Yeah, Mietek.”

Derek frowned, confused, because that definitely wasn’t the name he’d been given.

“But uh,” Stiles’ gaze shifted to Derek when he spoke next, “Jackson calls me something different. Something more personal. A nickname from my childhood. I only give it to people I know are going to have a strong impact in my life.”

Erica nudged him hard, as if he’d missed the implication of those words. As if he didn’t understand what they meant.

Stiles kept eye contact for a moment longer while the coordinator whined and bemoaned Stiles’ unfairness. Lydia piped up insisting she and Jordan had been trying to weasel it out of him for months, but that Jackson was very careful to only call him ‘Mietek’ or ‘Stilinski’ in their presence.

The coordinator seemed to accept that and moved on, though he did switch to calling Stiles Mietek for the remainder of the panel, which was horrendously disorienting to hear given what Derek knew his preferred name to be.

The panel seemed to last an eternity and no time at all at once, something Derek wasn’t sure how to feel about. On the one hand, he wanted it to go on forever, but on the other, he desperately needed just two fucking minutes alone with Stiles, nevermind he wouldn’t get that.

Or maybe... he would. Provided he could convince him to keep their dinner date.

When the coordinator called an end to the panel, the cast and showrunners waving and calling farewells, Stiles leaned close to his microphone, speaking loudly over the din.

“Don’t forget that we’re doing signings in an hour! I’d love to see all of you there, especially if you’re dressed as Deathstroke!”

A little on the nose, but Derek tried to feel pleased about it instead of embarrassed.

They filed out when the stage cleared off, none of them speaking to one another. When they were outside the hall and off to the side to avoid the larger crowds, Erica turned to Derek, grabbed the front of his outfit, and began to shake him. He barely moved, since she wasn’t really shaking him to move him, but more because she needed to let out some energy.

“What the fuck!” she insisted loudly, then lowered her voice so as not to be overheard. “We spent the weekend with Nightwing?! Derek, what the fuck!”

“He was flirting with you all weekend!” Isaac piped up, staring at Derek in awe, as if he’d uncovered the secret to immortality. “Derek, he was literally flirting with you!”

“And he told you his name!” Erica was still shaking him, though her body was moving backwards and forwards more than Derek’s was. “He told you his name was Stiles, oh my God!”

Derek didn’t really know what to say. He’d spent the entire panel trying to figure out what the fuck had happened and how he’d been so lucky and what the ever living fuck he was supposed to do now!

“Are you okay?” Boyd thought to ask, clearly picking up on Derek’s prolonged silence while Erica continued to shake him and Isaac stared at him adoringly.

“I’m just... surprised.”

“That’s one word for it!” Erica smacked his ass with one hand, Derek giving her a look.

“Just... why me? Why did he look at me and decide I was someone worth knowing his name? Why did he trust me with that and not his number?”

“Maybe he was afraid,” Boyd admitted. “Maybe he didn’t want you to have it and never use it.”

It was something Derek himself had entertained, but that seemed ridiculous. Stiles was way out of his league in every way, shape and form. The idea that Stiles was worried Derek wouldn’t want him was laughable.

“Are we still going to the signings?” Isaac asked when the silence stretched for too long. “We don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“No,” Derek insisted quickly. “No, we’re going. We’re going, I just... I’m not sure what to say.”

“‘Hi, nice to officially meet you, I’m Derek and in love with you, can you please come for dinner’?” Erica offered.

Derek gave her another look, but didn’t say anything. He was sure Stiles probably expected dinner to be countless questions about his work and about being the famous Mieczyslaw Stilinski. He was probably steeling himself for disappointment, but Derek knew his friends. He knew that, no matter what, none of them would make him feel any different than they had before this bombshell.

“Come on,” Derek said, motioning towards one of the other DC panels. “Let’s catch some of the stunts panel and then go to the signings.”

“I am so telling your mom you made out with a hot actor,” Erica said with a grin, digging her phone out of Boyd’s pocket and texting while they walked.

“Didn’t make out with him.”

“Not yet. Night’s still young.”

Derek ignored her for the rest of the walk.

Despite their VIP DC passes, the four of them still had to wait in line after the original line that granted them access into the hall where the actors were signing autographs. It made sense, considering they weren’t the only VIPs in attendance, but Derek found solace in the fact that the line was considerably shorter.

He also hated that it was so short because he was still struggling to figure out what he wanted to say when he finally reached Stiles.

Boyd and Isaac had left the stunts panel early to head back to the hotel to grab some artwork and merchandise they wanted signed. They weren’t as interested in the panel as Erica and Derek were, and it had previously been agreed that they would do so before the signings.

Derek was holding the first season of Nightwing in a white-knuckled grip, helmet under his other arm, and eyes locked on Stiles despite his best efforts to stop staring.

Stiles was just as jovial and friendly here as he’d been in the panel, speaking to each fan with excitement and giving them his undivided attention whenever they stepped in front of him for their turn. He even took a few photos with people, and very excitedly ate various treats that were offered to him.

One fan had baked him an entire tin of small birdarang cookies, and he hoarded them away from Jackson and Scott, threatening them with bodily harm if they tried to steal any of his cookies.

Erica got a video of it. It was adorable.

Every now and then, Derek saw Stiles glancing over to the line, eyes skirting it quickly before focussing back on the fan in front of him. At first he thought he was just checking how long it was, because he never reacted, but after the fifth sweep of the line, it looked like he hadn’t been able to focus as much on who was in it because his eyes found Derek and the way he perked up was fucking adorable.

He was like a little puppy. A very famous, somewhat deadly, attractive as fuck little puppy.

His eyes skirted back Derek’s way every now and then, and it was very easy to see Jackson getting annoyed by it, if the constant eye rolls and sharp nudges were anything to go by. Stiles didn’t seem to care, ignoring him for the most part. Derek had to wonder if Jackson got the job as Arsenal because he wouldn’t go anywhere without Stiles, or if it was the other way around. He recalled Stiles mentioning something about Jackson paying his way in, so he was fairly certain it was Jackson who’d followed him into this job. Either way, it was kind of nice they’d both gotten onto the same show, given their close friendship.

Derek almost didn’t notice when he finally reached the table, turning to look at Jordan Parrish and forgetting for a second what he was there for. He quickly got himself back under control and offered up the boxset. He didn’t gush all over him like Erica and Isaac did, but he told him he really liked his portrayal of Superman and hoped to see more of him in the next season.

Lydia Martin, while kind, was faster than most of her castmates appeared to be. She just smiled, signed his boxset, thanked him for his support, and shifted her attention to the next person in line—who happened to be Isaac, which meant she was about to get serenaded.

When Derek stopped in front of Jackson, he got an unimpressed look, the boxset getting snatched from his hand so he could scrawl across the cover messily before handing it back.

“Congratulations on your intelligence, I lost money thinking you’d be too stupid to figure it out.”

Derek didn’t deem that worthy of a response and just turned and waited for the person in front of Stiles to finish.

Stiles was nodding along to whatever the fan was saying, bouncing slightly in his chair with his eyes shifting back and forth between the fan and Derek, as if worried Derek was about to step out of line if this took too long.

It was at least another thirty seconds before the girl moved along to Scott McCall and Derek stopped in front of Stiles.

He looked nervous, one foot jiggling up and down and his lips pressed together, hands hidden beneath the table, but Derek knew he had to be picking at his cuticles or even wringing them together nervously.

“Hey,” Derek said, because he didn’t know what else to say.



“So,” Derek offered after a few seconds. “Mietek, huh?”

“Yeah. I don’t, uh... the other name is more... well...” Stiles made a face and then shrugged without finishing his sentence.

“You didn’t even know me,” Derek insisted quietly. “You didn’t even know my name yet.”

“I’m a good judge of character,” he offered with a small smile. “I knew when you didn’t get mad at me for jumping on you that you were someone worth talking to. And when you didn’t put me down, let people take pictures, and then agreed to spend some time with me... I knew you were worth that name.” Stiles’ fingers were drumming a nervous, staccato beat on the underside of the table. “I mean, I wasn’t wrong.”

Derek remembered Jackson’s weird reaction before finally letting Stiles hang out with Derek after lunch. The way he’d turned to Derek sharply, and then let Stiles do as he pleased before leaving.

He realized it was because Derek had said Stiles. Jackson obviously knew enough about him to recognize that if Stiles had shared that name, there was a reason for it.

“Move the line along,” someone called, and Derek turned, realizing he was holding everyone up since the person who’d been in front of him was now finished with the whole table and had moved on to the Arrow cast.

He looked back at Stiles, feeling kind of stupid for holding out the boxset, now.

Stiles just smiled, took it, and signed his name across the chest of the titular character. Before handing it back, he grabbed a receipt off the edge of the table, which had been tucked beneath the edge of Jackson’s Starbucks cup, and scrawled something on the back. He folded it up before handing both it and the boxset back to Derek, Scott giving him a curious look.

“Will you come to dinner?” Derek asked, taking his item back and making sure not to lose the receipt since he didn’t know what was on it.

“You let me know,” Stiles said quietly, offering him a small smile that was so impishly familiar it almost knocked the breath out of him. “I’d hate to miss out on the opportunity for you to put me in my place, Deathstroke.”

“God,” Scott groaned from his right, “having a Deathstroke on set with you around is gonna be a fucking nightmare.”

Stiles just grinned without looking away from Derek, but they got another shout to keep the line moving so he nodded once to Stiles and shifted down to hand the boxset to Scott, trying to ignore Isaac’s loud proclamations of love behind him. Stiles just laughed and took it in stride, but he was clearly pleased the four of them had been smart enough not to call him by his preferred name around other people.

When they were done down the line, as well as a few others in the large hall, they headed back out into the main area, Erica grabbing at Derek’s shirt from the back and tugging hard enough to almost choke him.

“Is he coming? What did he say? Did you ask him out? Tell me!”

“You were right there,” Derek insisted, though he was sure she hadn’t listened in. The conversation had been uncomfortable enough without an audience, and it was clear Scott had only listened out of interest and boredom, not because he was being a dick about it.

“What did he say?” Erica demanded again, and Derek grunted when she jumped up, automatically reaching back with the hand holding his boxset and receipt to grab at her as best he could so she didn’t choke him with her impromptu piggyback attempt.

He managed to keep her up with the one hand until Boyd took pity on him and took his helmet and the boxset so that Derek could rearrange his hold on her and carry her properly. He still had the receipt clenched tightly in one hand, unwilling to let it go without knowing what it said.

They headed back to the hotel, Derek still carrying Erica, because they hadn’t eaten lunch due to the various back-to-back panels and they were starving. They opted to go to the hotel restaurant, and while it was crowded with other con-goers, it was less so due to the late hour and it only took them twenty minutes to snag a table.

Once they were seated, Derek stared down at the now-crumpled receipt in his hand, a part of him desperate to know what it said, but another part terrified of being disappointed. Eventually, he braced himself for the worst, hoped for the best, and unfolded it.

The ink had smeared slightly from the sharpie on the plastic-like receipt, but not enough that he couldn’t clearly decipher it. The second he saw it, he couldn’t help the small smile on his face and he pulled out his phone.

“What is it?” Erica demanded, standing up so she could see across the table. “What is it, what’s it say?”

“It’s his number,” Derek said, programming it into his phone.

“Yes!” Erica thrust both fists in the air. “Finally! Man, I don’t care who he is, anyone who can make you smile like that is someone I want to keep around!”

Derek just rolled his eyes at her but didn’t comment, ignoring his friends talk about how much happier he’d been since the beginning of the weekend. He couldn’t deny that Stiles’ presence had made him feel lighter somehow. He’d enjoyed their time together, and he was so looking forward to more time together.

Hey it’s Derek
We still want you to come to dinner
As long as that’s what you want
But only if you come as STILES
And not as Mieczyslaw
Bring Jackson if you want

He put his phone away and perused the menu, he and Boyd debating over getting appetizers since the place was crowded and their main courses might take a long time. They opted not to, if only because they were sure they’d be munching on various things over the remainder of the day and they didn’t want to go too crazy on food, not to mention it was expensive.

They’d ordered their meals and were perusing the remainder of the panels that were of interest when Derek’s phone buzzed in his pocket.

He’d never pulled it out so fast in his life—which was hard, considering the outfit he was wearing, but he managed somehow.

im done 4 the day
if u wanna hang b4 dinner?

Derek forced his expression to remain neutral, because his friends were all staring at him and he wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of grinning like an idiot in love.

He wasn’t an idiot in love!

Mostly... Sort of...

Maybe a little bit. It had only been a weekend so far, after all, but things were definitely looking good.

Sounds good
We’re just eating lunch at the hotel
We can meet you back at the con in about forty-five?

Stiles sent back a thumbs up emoji, and Derek waited to see if anything else was forthcoming, then put his phone away when Stiles appeared to be done. He crossed his arms over his chest, ignored the looks he was getting—and the flush threatening to creep up the back of his neck—and forcibly redirected the conversation towards safer waters.

The others grew bored of waiting for him to crack before long and they went back to discussing what they had left to see and how early they should plan to be up for their flight. They were still figuring out the logistics of getting Isaac’s lazy ass out of bed in time to make it to the airport before their plane left without them when the food arrived.

Derek’s was disappointing, but he got to finish off Erica’s and was surprised at how tasty it was. It annoyed him slightly that he’d made the wrong choice, but he figured he and Stiles could grab some fries or something from somewhere and call it a day. Fries were hard to fuck up, and he’d had a hankering for them ever since they’d gone to Five Guys the day before.

When they finished with their meals, they chatted while they waited on the waiter to come back with the bill. Boyd paid with his credit card—he’d wanted the points and they were all going to divvy the overall weekend costs up when they got home anyway—and they all stood to head back out towards the lobby. They went back to their room to put their various signed items aside so as not to carry them around for the remainder of the day, and Derek debated leaving his Deathstroke helmet behind. He decided against it because Stiles had been so excited about it earlier, and if they were meeting back up, it meant more photos and he’d never deny Stiles the ability to take photos of his preferred pairing.

When they headed back down to the lobby, they were heading for the exit when a Nightwing walked through the doors, closely followed by a defeated and annoyed-looking Arsenal. Erica let out a high-pitched squeal that Derek was sure dogs were whining about and hurried past him to throw her arms around Stiles, hugging him tightly and rocking him from side to side.

“I’m so glad you’re coming to dinner! Yay!” She pulled away and looped one arm through his. “And you’re back in costume, this is awesome! More photos!”

“It’s easier to be Stiles when no one looks at me too hard,” Stiles said with a smirk, bumping his hip against Erica’s.

“You even brought us an Arsenal,” she said excitedly.

“He wanted to come,” Stiles insisted.

“He bribed me,” Jackson supplied a moment later.

“Wha—I did not!” Stiles smacked him hard with his free hand. “I said they invited you, and you said you’d come along!”

“This outfit is uncomfortable, I complain about it enough on set, why are you making me wear it here?”

“Well we can’t exactly walk around with Jackson Whittemore,” Stiles insisted, rolling his eyes. “At a convention people know he’s attending? Don’t be stupid. Besides, this way we’re an even number!”

“Perfect,” Erica agreed, leaning over to plant a wet kiss on Stiles’ cheek before moving away from him and back to Boyd’s side, making herself comfortable against him. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders, turning to Derek.

“Ready to go?”

He nodded, motioning for Stiles to lead the way out. He did so, turning quickly and holding the door open for them all to file out. Derek went last and Stiles followed him out, moving up beside him and grinning up at him excitedly.

Derek couldn’t help the fond smile on his face. “I thought I said to meet us at the convention centre.”

“Couldn’t wait that long,” he insisted. “Jack and I got our outfits on relatively quickly, and I figured we could just meet you here. More time together, and all that. Though, you live in New York, right?”

“I do.”

Stiles was beaming at him like this was the best news he’d heard all day. It was so fucking adorable Derek didn’t even know how to handle it.

Settling for rolling his eyes, he reached out one arm and dragged Stiles into his side, keeping the arm wrapped around his shoulders.

“You’re gonna be the death of me, pretty bird.”

“Oh you have no idea,” Stiles purred up at him.

They only made it a few more steps before Isaac, who was walking alongside a silent Jackson, seemed to have had enough of being ignored.

“So tell me, Jackson,” Isaac said, throwing one arm across his shoulders and forcibly dragging the Arsenal actor into his side, “have you ever played Magic?”

Derek closed his eyes in defeat, and really hoped that Stiles managed to stop a war from breaking out. He was going to ditch Isaac the first chance he got if he jeopardized his friendship and possible budding relationship with Stiles over a card game.

Stiles just laughed, leaned further into Derek, and they continued on back to the convention centre in companionable chatter.

Best convention ever.