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Beauty influencer

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Instagram is a bottomless pit and Stiles has been swimming in its darkened depths for the better part of the last two hours.

 

It’s New Years Eve and work is deader than dead. After checking Facebook and watching K-pop music videos on Youtube he turned to Instagram where he watched a guy in the UK who walks the beach and finds fossils of ammonites and belemnites, then a woman who grows succulents. He did learn a lot about the care and propagation of the plants, and he made a note to buy himself a few specimens.

 

He watched people play with slime for way longer than he cared to admit, artists who had unfair amount of talent and hair stylists who worked their magic and created spectacular unicorn and fairy hair.     

 

He was forced to take a short break in his perusing when work intruded, and he had to answer a few calls and reply to a couple of emails, but he was back to clicking within twenty minutes.

 

He eventually found himself on a channel on cephalopods which he found to be freakishly fascinating. He watched the unbelievably flexible animals interact with their environment, their awesome chromatophores filled skin changing colors in amazing patterns.

 

There were also kittens and puppies and baby otters, tattoos and hand lettering and those actors from that show he likes so much.    

 

Then he watched videos on makeup, which he admits are not his thing. There’s this woman who turns herself in all types of awesome fantastical goddesses with skull makeup and amazing headpieces. He goes through half a dozen of her posts before he stumbles on a video of an unfairly handsome man who starts applying foundation to his own face.

 

He stares at the screen in fascination as the man uses a multitude of brushes and weirdly shaped sponges and applies layers and layers of different coloured powders in tones of pinks and purples to his eyelids and cheeks. He winces when he clamps his lashes with a weird device, but he watches raptly as he applies black liner, then mascara and tops it off with false lashes. The man then lines his lips with a pencil and applies a generous amount of lipstick and Stiles is amazed.

 

The finished result makes the man’s moss green eyes pop. His highlighted cheekbones and lips should make him look slightly off putting with his short beard, but he finds that the result is startlingly pretty. And, oddly, it does something for him.

 

He clicks on the man’s name and quickly tumbles into a world he had never imagined existed. He learns that his name is Derek Hale and, judging by the many thousands of followers he has, he appears to be a popular beauty influencer. There are over five hundred posts and he scrolls down to start watching from the beginning.

 

He spends the better part of his morning watching Derek create different looks, learning about contouring and eyelash curlers and what the differences are between day and night looks.

 

He discovers a whole universe of males who do the same thing: Ryan and Cameron, Jack and Jony and so many others. All good-looking men who embrace their feminine sides and use cosmetics in a way that is so far from the Drag Queen references he has it’s mind boggling. He feels as though he’s missed out on things and it has him slightly disconcerted.    

 

He goes to lunch and ponders his discovery while he eats, wondering what else he might have missed. The rest of the day is a repeat of his morning, but his boss lets him leave early since there is nothing for him to do.

 

He goes home to change and then he’s off to Scott’s and Kira’s place to ring in the new year, pushing this new discovery to the back of his mind.

 

-o-o-

 

He knows he’s in a downward spiral, okay? He’s not dumb but he also can’t stop himself from checking his Instagram feed at every opportunity.

 

He’s now following Derek, and although he also follows a few of the others, he’s his favorite by far. He enjoys listening to him talk in his soft voice and likes how he’s unpretentious in the light of his success. He’s discovered that Derek takes religious care of his health and body, following years of struggling with his image. The man is open and unapologetic about his sexual orientation and his choice of career and it strangely makes Stiles proud. 

 

Sometimes, when he’s in bed and has a hard time falling asleep, he wonders about what it would be like to meet Derek, wonders if they would get along. Derek is classically handsome, with high cheekbones and straight nose, sparkling green eyes and sculpted body. He had only posted a handful of photos of himself shirtless, but the image of the dark chest hair and defined abs is now fodder for his jerk off sessions. 

 

Odder still is the fact that Derek in full makeup is a new kink he now uses when palming himself. The man is gorgeous and he’s clearly not immune, but he still feels bad for objectifying him

 

-o-o-

 

Lydia calls him a week later and convinces him to go shopping with her. They drive to the bigger mall two towns over and make a day of it. Lydia leads the way through clothes and shoes, persuading him to update his look and bullying him until he buys a few pairs of skinny jeans, form fitting shirts and tees in solid colours, a pair of brown lace-up boots and powder blue Vans.    

 

They break for lunch and grab Thai at one of the food court restaurants. They chat a bit while they eat, and he pulls out his phone to check messages. He sends a quick email to his dad then sees he has an Instagram notification, so he opens the app and is surprised to see it’s a reply from Derek on a comment he made. He reads the message and smiles at his screen which Lydia notices and has her asking questions he’s not sure he wants to answer. He tries evading her prodding, but she tugs his phone out of his hand and reads Derek’s words. She whistles, then starts clicking through his posts, looking at the man’s work.

 

She hands him back the phone and comments “He’s really good looking and crazy talented”.   

 

And that’s it.

 

She continues eating as though it was a completely normal thing. He doesn’t know what he expected her reaction to be, but it wasn’t this so he sits back and stares at his friend. She eventually notices and looks up, an eyebrow raised questioningly. “What?“ He shrugs and she smiles and pats his hand. “You have good taste. I’m not one to judge.”    

 

He beams at her then, happy that she’s his friend. “Have I told you how amazing you are?” 

 

She looks at him fondly and her reply surprises him yet again. “Don’t you think it’s about damn time that the toxic masculinity standards our society conveys are replaced by healthier examples?”

 

 

-o-o-

 

They spend the afternoon looking at jewellery and home décor, then, because he’s awesome, he accompanies her into Victoria’s Secret and proceeds to give his opinion on things he knows nothing about and will never see modeled. Lydia finds it hilarious and promises to give him feedback on Parish’s reaction when he sees her in her new underwear.

 

His feet hurt and he’s ready to call it quits when she cajoles him into going into one last store. He agrees and find himself pleasantly intrigued when he’s pulled into Sephora. Lydia grabs a basket and starts looking at eyeshadow palettes, comparing prices and colour options. He finds that he enjoys the process and start testing samples on his own hands and he ends up vetoing a lot of her choices.

 

They end up arguing about blush and Lydia exasperatedly snarls, ”What the hell do you know about makeup anyway, Stiles?” He huffs and rolls his eyes. “Absolutely nothing but I can see when a colour looks wrong and that shade is way too purple for your skin tone!” He turns, wanting to go sulk elsewhere, but he runs into a hard body. Large hands grab his biceps and he jerks his head up to apologize, only to have the words die on his tongue.   

 

His mind empties as he realizes that he’s being held up by Derek Hale. The man is taller than expected, at least a couple of inches over his own six feet and he can see that his face is devoid of makeup. He has no idea what to do and he ends up staring. Derek looks past him to Lydia then back and his voice his amused as he winks and says, ”You’ve got a good eye, that shade is wrong for her”.

 

Stiles hears Lydia gasp behind him, and he knows she recognized Derek by the way her voice stresses certain words. “Stiles, who’s your friend?” By now Derek has released his hold on his arms and he’s able to turn in her direction but he flounders, unable to string two words together. ”I- Ah… We’re not… Erm… “ Derek takes pity and introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Derek. We’re only online acquaintances. I have a blog and recognized Stiles’ uncommon name when you addressed him just now.”

 

He has slowly regained partial cerebral activity and he manages to shake Derek’s hand. “I wanted to say hi. I find your comments refreshing, and I like that you’re always respectful and positive. Thank you for that.”  

 

Stiles blushes furiously but he manages an answer. “Well, you may be wildly popular but you’re still a human being. I don’t know you. Why would I go around dropping inappropriate comments?” Derek laughs and the sound warms him up. ”You’d be surprised at the crap people come up with!”  He sees Lydia smirk as she extends her arm out, “It’s nice to meet you Derek, I’m Lydia“. She proceeds to spend the next few minutes grilling him on her choice of blush. Derek shakes his head and stand by what he’d said previously. “No, I agree with your boyfriend. That color is really not right for you. I’d go with peachy tones instead.“

 

Stiles was about to correct him, but Lydia cut him off, waggling her eyebrows as she says, ”He’s not my boyfriend but my gay best friend!” before promptly retreating to the other side of the display stand. He pinches the bridge of his nose as his face floods yet again with heat. He vows to kill her slowly but for now he must deal with his celebrity crush who’s looking at him expectantly.

 

Derek’s smile is sincere and achingly beautiful, and Stiles has the sudden need to make sure he does not waste this opportunity. He grabs Derek’s sleeve and pulls him along, yelling to Lydia that he’ll be waiting for her on the bench in front of the store. They walk out and sit, and he wants to say something intelligent and the first thing that pops up in his mind is the comment Lydia made during lunch. “I need to thank you.” Derek’s surprise is genuine. “Why? I’m just a guy who likes makeup”.

 

He grabs his hand and looks deep into his eyes, “There is so much toxic masculinity bullshit in the medias and you manage to break so many of those barriers by doing something you love and enjoy. You are an inspiration to so many young men out there, me included.” 

 

Derek is floored and he spends long minutes staring at his feet. He has not let go of Stiles warm hand and he squeezes his fingers, his voice husky when he finally figures out what to say. “That is the single most powerful thing anyone has ever said to me.” He breathes deeply before continuing. “Would you consider going on a date with me? I really would like to get to know you”.

 

Stiles nods and is about to answer when Lydia’s voice caries from inside the store. “You better say yes and not fuck this up Stilinski!”

 

Derek bursts out in laughter and he’s certain he must look like a deer in headlights. He quickly gets a hold of himself and grins like a crazy person, nodding emphatically. He grabs Derek’s cell the moment it’s shoved in his hand, making short work of keying in his info then sends himself a text so he has his number.

 

They both stand the moment Lydia waltzes out, a black and white striped bag in hand. Derek hesitates for a heartbeat before leaning in and kissing his cheek. “I’ll call you later, ok?” Stiles smiles stupidly while Lydia pulls him away by his shirtsleeve, snickering, “Bye Derek”, over her shoulder. Once they are a few yards away he turns and sees that Derek is still standing there, watching them leave, and he raises his hand in a short wave.

 

-o-o-

 

Derek called later that evening and they talked until two in the morning. They had lunch the following day, went to a movie the day after that and things snowballed from there.

 

Ten days later Derek let Stiles sit in on a taping. He was a bit nervous as it was the first time he had someone in his beauty room while working but he trusted his boyfriend. He explained his process, sat him where he would not be a distraction, because he knew Stiles could derail his train of though just by smiling in that way, and set to work.  He spoke about the changes in his life, about having met a wonderful and sarcastic person he was head over heels for, and what he had in the works for the upcoming weeks and months.

 

The comments on his post resulted in so many requests for a picture of Stiles that he asked if he was okay with showing his face. Stiles agreed and the beauty community went wild when Derek posted a photo of them lazing in bed.  The resulting comments were adamant: Derek had to do Stiles’ make up. The consensus was that with his skin tone and tawny eyes, he’d look stunning in smoky greens and long lashes, and those cheekbones were begging for highlights and blush.   

 

Stiles declined and Derek understood. Truth be told, it was an overwhelming thing to process and he respected his decision. Deciding to wear makeup was one thing but putting yourself out there for the world to see was an entirely different concept to come to terms with.

 

-o-o-

 

They had been dating for close to three months when Derek got a big invitation to the launch of a new collection from a cosmetic company. The invite was for himself and a plus one and Stiles agreed to accompany him out of sheer curiosity. He was not the most comfortable with being the center of attention, but he knew it was important to Derek, so he played dress up and gathered his courage in both hands for the big event. 

 

They event was held at a fancy hotel and they decided to stay the night. They arrived in the early afternoon and Derek surprised Stiles with a massage so they could unwind before having to make their way to the ball room where the gathering was to take place.

 

The spa treatment included both a light snack and a facial and Stiles had to admit that it had gone a long way to help calm his jitters.  Once back in their room they took turns in the shower and Stiles watched as Derek sat down to do his makeup. The process was still fascinating to him and he enjoyed how calming the ritual was.  Derek completed his look with practiced ease, and they changed into their outfits. They walked to the elevator bank hand in hand and he pulled Stiles to him and engulfed him a hug once the car moved down.

               

Stiles took a deep breath once the doors opened and they walked to the registry table where Derek handed his invitation before they were ushered in the main reception hall.  Stiles blinked as he took in the sparkly balloons arrangements that decorated the room, following his boyfriend as he confidently maneuvered them to one of many stations dispersed in the room.  He watched as Derek was greeted by fellow influencers and smiled at how in his element he truly was. His attention was eventually captured by the shiny palettes displayed before him and he picked one up only to be accosted by a technician who started to discuss the new line.

 

She went on to give him a bag filled with eyeshadows and blushes and lipstick to complement his skin town and eye color and wished him a good day, dismissing him to address the person behind him. Derek smirked as he guided him to the following table where brushes and sponges and lashes were added to his loot and Stiles felt like he was being Punked. This went on from table to table, with items continuously being added, from nail and skin care to reusable cleaning pads and hair products. People spoke to him as though he had every right to be there, but he still felt uncomfortably out of his element.  

 

Derek steered him along with a hand at the small of his back, his hand a reassuring weight as they completed the circuit. They had been at it for almost an hour when an event coordinator called for  them all to be seated for the presentation and they all shuffled to their assigned places. They were treated to a four-course meal as the unveiling took place and Stiles was once again lost in the process. Derek noticed and moved his chair closer, pulled him against his chest and hooked his chin over his shoulder. Stiles relaxed at the contact and snuggled closer, letting his mind wander.

 

Once the presentation was concluded they escaped back to their room, Derek sequestered himself in the bathroom for his night-time routine and Stiles sat Indian style in the middle of the king-sized bed, upending his bag so he could examine the contents. He started by separating his loot in categories, inspecting labels and putting aside the things he did not know how to use so that Derek could help him make sense of everything.

 

-o-o-

 

Stile did not talk about his experience at the launch, not because he had not enjoyed it but because he surprisingly had, and that was the issue. He did not know what to do with that knowledge. He spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant and how it made him feel and as much as he did not use words, it did not mean he wasn’t expressing himself. Derek, who by now was fairly proficient in Stiles’ unspoken language, figured out that something was bothering him and tackled the issue one Tuesday evening as they were cuddling in front of the tv.

 

He was sitting with Stiles’ head in his lap, brushing his fingers through his hair and it was as good a moment as ever. “You know you can tell me anything, right?” Stiles nodded. ”Uh huh. Why?” He sighed, knowing he’d have to pull it out of him piece by piece. “There’s something going on with you and I think you need to talk about it.” Stiles harrumphed, pulling the blanket over his head to hide. 

“I’m confused, is all. I’ll figure it out.”

 

Derek grinned as he continued to rub his head. “I bet it’s the makeup, isn’t it?” The lump under the blanket nodded. “And I bet you’re confused because you’re somewhat interested and would maybe like to try it out?” Another nod from the blanket. “Babe, it’s okay to want to try things. Do you trust me?” Nod again. “What do you say to trying just a bit, let’s say mascara and maybe a bit of lip-gloss? Just here, at home?” The pause was longer, but Stiles eventually nodded again. “You can do it this weekend and see what you think. There’s no pressure and you don’t have to like it. Okay?” Stiles voice was relieved when he replied, “Okay”, and he smiled softly.

 

“It’s not a big thing, but I can see how you’d feel like it is. I don’t wear makeup everyday but when I do, I know, I see, that people notice. The scrutiny is not easy, but this is who I am, and I don’t owe them anything. They can judge me all they want but their opinion has no value and I do what is needed for me to feel good about myself and if they don’t agree it’s on them.” Stiles’ face peeked out from under his blanket, eyes large and wondrous and Derek just ruffled his hair. 

 

Stiles sat up and maneuvered himself until he was seated in his lap, winding his arms around his neck and touched their foreheads. “Have I told you how unbelievably awesome you are?” Derek’s rosiness was almost completely hidden by his beard but the tint on his cheeks was not due to blush. He smiled his shy smile and kissed his lips. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

 

-o-o-

 

He woke up earlier than usual, alone as Derek had already left for his run. He stretched across the bed, tried in vain to tamper down the weird thrill he felt, then got up when it was evident he’d have no success and shuffled to the kitchen. The coffee was already brewed and kept warm, so he grabbed a mug from the cabinet and poured himself a cup then fixed himself a bowl of cereal that he ate standing up in front of the window. He was fidgety and getting on his own nerves and he could not for the life of him stand till. Once he’d rinsed the bowl and put it in the dishwasher, he brought his coffee to the bathroom and hopped in the shower, washing himself hastily. He tied a towel around his waist then spent a few minutes staring at his reflection, imagining what he’d look like with some of the looks Derek did on himself but having a hard time seeing it.

 

He got dressed in soft sweatpants and one of Derek’s old Henley and let himself into Derek’s beauty room. He stood in the middle of the space for long minutes, taking it all in, before siting at the table. He inspected Derek’s brushes, flicking them along the back of his hands to see how soft they were, then squeezed the different sponges on display. He read the labels identifying the content of each drawer and perused their content, then sat back and let himself be overwhelmed for all of thirty seconds. If Derek could do it, so could he.

 

He remembered what Derek had said about starting with mascara and lip-gloss and, armed with newfound resolve, he thumbed his phone open and pulled up tutorials on how to use a lash-curler. The thing looked like a torture device and there was no way in hell he was sticking that close to an eyeball without knowing how to use it first. Once he had a good grasp of the process, he grabbed his loot bag from the floor and rummaged until he found his brand-new curler, mascara and a few tubes of different lip products.

 

He deposited the bag on the floor and laid out the items in front of him, unpackaging them one by one. Then he pulled the mirror closer and proceeded to curl his lashes. The process was a bit weird but clearly effective and he was surprised to see the difference between curled and not. He then launched another video in order to learn how apply the mascara and he managed to do so without sticking the wand in his eye.  

 

Once done he sat back and stared at himself in shock. The contrast between the before and after was glaringly obvious and he was stunned at how long his lashes were and he wondered if a more dramatic look could make his eyes pop even more. He spent a few minutes examining his reflection, turning his face this way and that, even going as far as touching his lashes with the tip of his index.        

He felt pretty but was ambivalent about the whole thing even though he was starting to understand the appeal of wearing makeup.

 

He then grabbed the lip colours and started sampling the colours on his hand, eliminating the ones that were too bright or too glittery, before selecting a lip-gloss in a light pink. He cleaned his hand then applied a thin layer to his lips, making sure to stay inside the lip line, then sat back and examined his work. It wasn’t too bad for his first attempt and it left him weirdly giddy. He rubbed his lips together a few times and found that he really disliked the tacky texture and promptly used a tissue to remove it. He made a mental note to get rid of all the lip-gloss that were still in his bag before selecting a dusky pink lipstick and applied it to his mouth. He liked its creamy texture much more than anticipated and he decided to keep it on. He looked at himself again, smiling sheepishly at his reflection.

 

He was happy with the results and decided to see if Derek would notice so he went and got started on their weekend chores to occupy his time until he came back.

 

 

-o-o-

 

Loud pop music assaulted his ears the moment he got in the door, a clear indication that Stiles was doing some cleaning. He smiled and remembered not to leave his shoes in the middle of the entry way before making his way to the kitchen where he drank a large glass of water. He was famished but breakfast would wait until he’d taken a much-needed shower, so he grabbed a banana which he ate in three large bites as he made his way to the bathroom. Stiles was vacuuming the hallway and he dropped a kiss on his nape, making him jump in the process, before squeezing past him to enter the bathroom.   

 

He washed quickly, then dried off, hung his towel and started his skincare routine. Once completed, he grabbed his dirty clothes from the floor and detoured to the laundry room to start a load before getting dressed. He noticed that Stiles had already vacuumed the bedroom, so he unmade the bed then pulled on a soft old pair of jeans and a t-shirt and went to get breakfast, dropping the bedding in the laundry room on the way to the kitchen. Stiles was dancing as he pulled the vacuum cleaner through the living room and he stopped to observe him. Stiles noticed he was creeping after some time and smiled up at him and his breath hitched in his chest. They stood staring at each other and Stiles’ face just bloomed bright pink when he realized that he had noticed the mascara and lipstick.

 

He moved first, bridging the distance separating them in a few long strides and powered off the vacuum cleaner with his foot while Stiles pulled out his phone to mute the music and the sudden silence was deafening. Stiles’ blush was creeping towards his hair line and down his throat and he looked so beautiful he just had to cradle his face and kiss him. They touched foreheads when they eventually broke for air and he leaned back to examine his partner’s first foray in the world of makeup.

 

Stiles was biting his lip and he used his thumb to pop it out of his mouth. “Don’t. You look amazing. I never noticed how long your lashes really are, they make your eyes pop and you only used mascara.”  Stiles smiled happily and pushed himself up to kiss his cheek. “Dude, I had to watch tutorials to figure out to not blind myself with the lash curler or the brush thing-y”.  

 

“It can be a bit daunting, but you did good and that lip color is a great hue for you. How do you like it though?” Stiles shuffled a bit and pulled on the hem of his shirt. “Well… it does make my eyes look amazing, but I don’t know. I think I’d maybe try it the next time we go out?” Derek smiled again, pulling him in for a hug and kissed his temple. ”You’ll rock it.”

 

-o-o-

 

Stiles started watching tutorials, recreating the looks he preferred and slowly started wearing makeup in public. His confidence grew and he soon found himself doing make up for friends and it gave his self esteem an incredible boost. He was surprisingly good at it and had picked up all the little tricks that had taken Derek much trial and error before mastering them.

 

Derek was honestly a bit jealous but seeing his partner flourish made it all worthwhile.

 

Stiles spent so much time in the beauty room that his makeup started to spill over into Derek’s stuff and chaos was imminent. It became quite evident that they needed to reorganise and make space for him to expand into, so much so that they had started talking about moving to a larger apartment.

 

Stiles started appearing more and more in Derek’s videos and they eventually found a niche that was little exploited where they would create two different looks based on the same colours. They quickly became a huge hit and Stiles started getting his own PR packages and invitations to promotional events.

 

-o-o-

 

They moved to a larger apartment around their six-month anniversary and shortly after moving in they were approached by a major cosmetic brand to create a complete makeup and accessory collection. Derek promptly hyperventilated and Stiles was in stitches over his reaction but quickly sobered up when he read through the offer, having himself a panic attack for his troubles. 

 

They met with the Development team the following week and started the process of creating their brand. There were many discussions concerning colour palettes and texture choices and too many brainstorm sessions to count.  By then, their fans had taken to calling them Sterek and the team agreed that it was catchy enough to work. Choosing a name for the collection was another mater but Stiles was adamant that they needed to somehow indicate the particulars of their brand other than their portemanteau. He insisted that it required something along duo or pair but with more pizzazz and came up with what was instantly a hit amongst the team. 

 

Dyad by Sterek was adopted, becoming the official name of their brand and the collection was set to debut within the following four months.  The process had been arduous and complex, but the extent of this first collect was unanimous. It comprised of a twenty shade eye shadow palette, a six-pan palette of blushes and highlighters, two hand mirrors, a selection of six brushes, two duos of lipsticks, two dual tip eye liners and two makeup bags.      

 

Stiles snorted at the duality of everything, but he conceded that it was awesome as fuck. They signed the final contract with much anticipation and waited for the first batch of products to come in for the quality checks and approval. 

 

-o-o-

 

The official launch was held at a swanky four stars hotel near San Francisco on a balmy Saturday, nearly five months after they had given their final stamp of approval. 

They were given a short tour of the premises before the reception was set to start and were coached on the process of the evening.  Stiles was, as expected, both awed and over excited but he managed to rein himself in enough to prevent any mishap.

 

The ball room was opulent, huge gilded chandeliers hung from high ceilings, and each table was decorated with beautiful flower arrangements in the colours of the collection. Soft candlelight reflecting off every glass, the flatware sets gleaming and shiny against the stark white tablecloths.

 

Once they had the complete schedule and knew what was expected of them, they returned to their room to change and do their makeup. They had had a week to play with the collection and Derek had decided on a dramatic evening look while Stiles went with a fresher, daytime face. Derek was stuffing his phone and key card in his pocket when Stiles started swearing a blue streak. He returned to the bathroom to find his boyfriend struggling with his false lashes which had him burst into laughter. As much as he’d taken to wearing make up like a duck took to water, this was the one thing his partner struggled with.

 

Stiles’ disgruntled look in the mirror was all the answer he needed, and he promptly pulled him into a hug. The embrace was short but comforting, then he stepped back, pulled the wayward lashes off Stiles’ face then reapplied them back in place, kissing the tip of his nose once done.  Stiles grumbled his thanks, slipping past him to put his pants and shoes on before grabbing his phone from where it was charging.  

 

They stared at each other for a heartbeat then he extended his arm out and Derek clasped his hand. “You ready to do this?”  Stiles shook his head. Of course, he was not ready, but they had to do this. “I’m a huge ball of stress but you’ll get me through it.”  Derek squeezed his fingers, “Always”, then kissed his knuckles before pulling him out the door.

 

-o-o-

 

The evening was a huge, successful circus.

 

They took too many selfies with fans to count and signed enough photos to cramp their hands, yet they enjoyed their success immensely.

 

They knew that this industry could be fickle, and they could become yesterday’s news in the blink of an eye, so they basked in the attention but maintained both feet anchored on the ground.

 

When royalties started coming in, they sat down with a financial advisor. There was no way Stiles would burn through this money blindly. He still remembered the years when his dad had had a hard time making ends meet and he vowed to never be in that situation if it could be helped.

 

~

 

They were surprised to learn that their success had been such that they were asked for an encore and they launched a mini holidays palette just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There were discussions for a second collection and a contract was signed in mid January.  

 

 ~

 

They bought a house in April and by September Stiles had proposed.

 

~

 

There was a second holiday special and a third complete collection was in the making. The project was hush hush and the whole team managed to keep everything under wraps until the launch. 

 

They named this collection Tied and it was not long before the fans cottoned on, their social medias exploding when the photo of their left hands with bands on their ring fingers appeared on their feeds.

 

This launch was an even bigger event than all the previous ones combined. Stiles was expectedly overwhelmed, but Derek was his rock through it all.

 

~

 

They got married in a small private reception with their closest friends and family in attendance, but they hired a photographer and posted photos online to appease the masses of admirers and followers. Derek wore a dove grey suit and Stiles opted for a midnight black tuxedo and, to no one’s surprise, they both created different looks using the Tied palette.

 

They broke the internet that day.