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“Scott, please, Scotty, I need you!” Stiles whispered urgently into his cell phone. “She just moved in next door.”

“I don’t see the problem,” Scott’s tinny voice said. “So say good morning to her in the hallway tomorrow.”

“Scott,” Stiles snapped. “You don’t get it. She’s thinks I’m married. She thinks I have a kid.

“Why would she think that?” Scott’s voice was innocently puzzled.

Stiles blew out a frustrated breath. “Because I lied, Scott. Not everyone is perfect like you. Us mere mortals didn’t get their dream job out of veterinary school and marry their high school sweetheart. We have to lie and cheat and steal sometimes.”

The other end of the line was silent for a few moments. “Uncalled for, dude,” Scott finally murmured.

“I know, I’m sorry, man!” Stiles ran a hand through his hair. “But I’m freaking out here. I told  her I had a partner and kid at the interview because she has a big family! I knew she wouldn’t hire me without that.”

“You’re twenty-seven. Totally acceptable to not be married yet!” Scott argued.

Stiles sighed. “I know that. But in a pack of lemmings, you have to stand out somehow.”

“Stiles, how do you always- hang on for a sec.” Stiles heard an inquiring female voice and Scott’s whispered explanations. “Watch out, dude!” Scott called and there was some muffled thumps.

“Stiles, you’re an idiot,” Allison’s voice informed him.

“I know.”

“I don’t know anyone else who gets into situations like this.”

“I know.”

“Consistently, Stiles, things like this happen to you consistently,” she hissed.

"Clearly the flying spaghetti monster in the sky has it out for me,” Stiles drawled.

“Stiles!” she screeched. “This is serious! You got hired under false pretenses! What are you going to do?”

“That’s why I called,” Stiles shot back. “Scott and Vicki need to come over ASAP.”

“And do what?”

“Pretend to be my family?”

There was a long pause and then Allison sighed. “You want my husband and daughter to come pretend to be your husband and daughter?”

“Yes?” It sounded ridiculous even to Stiles’s ears, which, honestly, were used to ridiculousness by now.

“Sure, Stiles,” Allison replied. “I’ll send them over. But what happens after tonight’s sleepover? Will they live there forever? Sure, they get on my nerves, but I want to see them once in a while.”

“Just until I’m established enough at work that I’m too valuable to fire and then we can get a messy divorce and Scott can get custody of our sweet baby girl and my boss will feel so sorry for me she’ll just have to give me a promotion!” He punched the air and fell back onto his couch.

“No,” Allison said simply.

There was more muffled conversation and then Scott was back on the line. “Bro, I can’t come because Allison is afraid our epic love will finally blossom into crazy gay monkey sex. Sorry.”

He heard an indignant huff and- “Ouch!” Scott yelped. “I can’t come because Ally and I are going on that trip to Rome in a week. And Victoria can’t come cause she has that princess camp Lydia signed her up for tomorrow.”

“Ha!” Stiles said triumphantly. “I have it on good authority that Vicki does not want to go to ‘Aunt Lyds icky princess camp.’ She wanted to go to that archery one, dude.”

“I know,” Scott sighed. “But Lydia is paying for this one and-”

“I get it,” Stiles cut in. “But ask Vick. I bet she’d rather hang with her Uncle Stiles for three weeks than be the only Merida in a swarm of Cinderellas.”

“I dunno, man. She dares to be different. Loves it. Like her mom,” Scott sounded fond.

“That’s great, but I’m desperate here!” Stiles cried. “Just ask her?”

“Fine. No promises.” Scott put the phone down and Stiles heard his faint voice yell. “VICKI, DO YOU WANT TO FACE A SWARM OF CINDERELLAS OR YOUR UNCLE STILES’S COOKING FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS?”

***

Stiles couldn’t help feeling smug when he opened the door an hour later to a beaming Victoria and her harried mother.

“I knew you liked my cooking, kiddo,” he said to his goddaughter.

She rolled her eyes. “Only if you don’t sneak veggies into everything.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“I still think this is crazy,” Allison informed him. “But Vicki seems to be on board with it.”

“Totally, Dad.” She made a big show of winking when she said the name.

Stiles winced. “We’ll work on that.”

“Where are you going to get a husband?” Allison asked. “All the good ones are taken or gay.” She smirked, “Oh wait…”

“Ha. Ha. Ha,” Stiles shook his head at her and ushered Vicki into his apartment. “Quick, before my boss sees.”

“Damien!” Victoria shrieked and ran across the room to Stiles’s hermit crab’s cage. “You got a new shell!”

“And it was a struggle, let me tell you,” Stiles said, handing Allison a glass of water. “I had to bribe him with promises of cable TV and foot rubs.”

Allison raised her eyes heavenward. “I may live to regret this, but…” She pulled a business card from her purse. “Here. This is the contact info for Kate’s modeling agency. Some of the models do acting on the side. Maybe there’s someone there you can convince to take part in your crazy scheme for a small fortune.”

“If only I had one,” Stiles muttered, reading the card. “Hale and Associates, huh? Why not, I’ll give it a try.” He walked over to Victoria, who had her nose pressed to Damien’s cage. “Ready to meet your new daddy, Vicki?”

She spared him a glance. “Get a cute second daddy, Uncle Stiles. You deserve it.”

Stiles chuckled. “From your mouth to the flying spaghetti monster’s ear, kid.”

***

After Stiles explained the situation, the agency promised to send one of their best over in the morning. Victoria had listened with wide eyes while Stiles explained that he was a writer who needed an actor to live with him for a few weeks to always be on hand to act out scenes from his upcoming sure-to-be-bestselling novel.

“You lied,” Victoria had accused.

“Says my daughter,” Stiles had snarked back.

She’d stuck her tongue out at him.

Now he was waiting for the “actor” to arrive so he could see if explaining his real situation could play on a total stranger’s heartstrings.

He hoped so. He could be very convincing when necessary.

There was a knock on the door and Stiles leapt forward. He flung open the door, barely registered it was a handsome man he didn’t know before he yanked him inside and slammed the door behind him.

“What the fuck?” the guy barked, immediately edging back toward the door.

“Dude, relax. Are you Derek? The agency sent you?” The man, Derek, nodded cautiously. “Also, watch your language. There’s a lady present.” He jerked his head at Victoria, who was lurking over by Damien’s cage.

“Sorry,” Derek looked chagrined for all of a second before his scowl was back in full force. “But what was with yanking me in here?”

Stiles rolled his eyes, “My husband wouldn’t knock, would he?”

“No… unless he forgot his key?” Derek offered.

“Oh yeah, didn’t think of that,” Stiles shrugged. “Good suggestion...hubby.”

Derek’s eyebrows shot up. “What?”

Stiles grinned. “We’ve got a lot to go over, babycakes.”

Chapter Text

“You’ve got to be kidding,” was the first thing Derek said after Stiles finished explaining the situation.

“Nope,” Stiles shrugged. “Same shit, different day.”

“How come you’re allowed to curse in front of the kid?” Derek accused, nodding at Victoria who was curled up at Stiles’s side on the couch.

“Because Daddy told me very seriously in a grown up talk that I’m not allowed to do anything that Uncle Stiles does,” she said solemnly.

“Which is why I will also not be showering for the duration, dude. Sorry,” Stiles winked.

Derek scowled. He did that a lot. He was too pretty to be allowed, really, with his roguish stubble, his liquid green-blue eyes and his broad, broad shoulders, but his ever present frown helped tamper his blinding attractiveness.

Or it just made him even hotter. Stiles hadn’t decided yet.

“So let me get this straight-”

Stiles barked a laugh. “Farthest thing from it, dude.”

Derek snarled. “Shut up.”

Stiles bristled. “Hey, I’m your client. You can’t-”

“I can,” Derek cut him off. “Because you lied to the agency and brought me here under false pretenses.”

“I told you,” Victoria whispered, jabbing Stiles in the side.

Derek ignored the exchange and continued speaking. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to report back to the agency that everything is going well, nothing ‘creepy’ (he actually air quoted) and I’ll play along with this ruse. You’ll also pay me an extra thousand for my silence and cooperation.” He sat back in the arm chair he’d been perched in and made himself comfortable, a smirk on his face.

Stiles’s hackles rose immediately and he stuttered for a moment until… “That’s extortion!” he cried. “That’s blackmail! That’s-”

“What the guy who called and said this was a modeling slash acting job for a book he’s writing gets,” Derek finished. Now he looked smug. Stiles hated him. Him and his glorious face.

“You two are perfect for each other,” Victoria muttered. She was far too intelligent for a six year old, Stiles thought in despair and not for the first time.

Stiles opened his mouth, ready to argue the point until he wore Derek down—it was practically a life skill that he’d considered listing on his résumé more than once—when the doorbell rang.

Stiles snapped his mouth shut. Derek raised an eyebrow. “Were you expecting someone?”

“No,” Stiles shook his head and cautiously approached the door. He looked out the peephole and whipped around to gape at his goddaughter and blackmailer. “It’s my… it’s my…”

Same shit, different day.

The doorbell rang again. Stiles took a deep breath and flung the door open with a jovial smile.

“Excuse me, I just moved in next door and- Stiles?”

“Hi, Mona,” Stiles waved weakly at the beaming woman standing in front of him.

She was in her mid-sixties, with gentle streaks of grey scattered throughout red curls and warm blue eyes. Stiles had always found blue eyes to be cold, but Mona’s were warm like a clear summer day. Her smiles were wide and her glares were terrifying. She dressed like a bag lady in her spare time and like a supermodel at work. One word from her held more weight than an entire team of other people.

She was also Stiles’s new boss.

“I didn’t realize you lived in this building, Stiles!” she chirped, holding her hand out. Stiles practically tripped over himself to shake it while simultaneously shielding the apartment from her view. His brain was in overdrive, trying to come up with a viable place for his husband to be on a Sunday morning that wasn’t church. He didn’t want to open that can of worms.

“Hey, babe, who’s at the door?” Derek snuck up behind him and snaked an arm around his waist. He’d removed his leather jacket and was left in just the soft-looking maroon henley that had been underneath. Well, and pants. They were on his legs, right where they’d always been. Tight pants on long, sturdy legs…

Stiles shook his head, trying to clear it. What was he thinking?

Mona was smiling at him knowingly. “Who’s this, Stiles?”

Stiles turned to Derek and had to bite his tongue at the victorious look on the bastard’s face. It screamed I won! and Stiles hated to lose.

Stiles took a deep breath to strengthen his resolve—You’re the youngest news anchor in the state because of this lie, Stilinski. Get it together!—and said, “Mona, this is my husband, Derek. Derek, this is Mona, my awesome new boss I was telling you about.”

“Oh Stiles,” Mona chuckled as she shook Derek’s hand too. “You are a charmer.”

“Isn’t he just?” Derek smiled softly at him and tightened the grip he had on Stiles’s waist. Stiles had to admit he wasn’t a terrible actor so far. “Hey, Vicki honey, wanna come meet Dad’s new boss?”

Stiles’s eyes widened a little. No. Not yet. She had no training. He hadn’t quizzed her on every small aspect of their lives as father and daughter yet! He spun to stop her and...she was already standing next to him. “Hello,” Victoria smiled shyly, scuffing her shoe on the ground.

This from the girl who had a tendency to climb to the top of the jungle gym on the playground and declare all the children below her peons.

Stiles was in so much trouble.

“Oh, Stiles, your family is lovely!” Mona effused, patting Victoria on the head.

“Yep,” Stiles smiled tightly. “They sure are something.”

Derek’s grip on his hip tightened to the point of painful.

“While this is such a pleasant surprise,” Stiles continued, trying to smile more genuinely, “You came over here for something from a neighbor, right? Did you need help with something?”

Mona clapped a hand to her forehead, “Oh dear, I forgot! And it’s time sensitive, too. Drat! The building manager isn’t around and my husband is at the store and I don’t know what to do…”

“What is it?” Derek broke in gently.

“The pipe under the sink in the bathroom is leaking!”

“Yikes,” Stiles said. “I can take a look at it, but I never paid the closest attention to my father’s plumbing lectures, unfortunately.”

“I can fix it,” Derek rolled his eyes and followed the panicking Mona out the door.

Stiles and Victoria looked at each other. After a moment, she shrugged. “My other dad is cooler than you,” and she trailed him out of the apartment.

So much trouble.

***

When Stiles finally forced his frozen legs to take him next door, he encountered an open front door and heard a squealing giggle from the rear of the apartment. Stiles slammed the door and hurried toward the source of the noise. The bathroom was the same as the one in his apartment, only opposite. And, you know, covered in water.

Derek was on his back on the tiled floor, clothes soaking through as he did something with a wrench. Victoria was splashing in the puddle that was seeping out from Derek. And Mona was watching them both, a fond smile on her face.

“I, uhh, shut the door because it was open,” Stiles ventured as he edged into the bathroom.

“Thanks,” Mona didn’t take her eyes from Stiles’s ‘family.’ “Your husband is too kind. And your daughter is adorable.”

Speaking of which… “Hey, Vick, cut it out. Do we need to add to the mess?”

She shot Stiles a guilty look and trudged over to him, avoiding the water on the floor.

"Ah, you should have let her have her fun,” Mona said. “I’m going to have to mop this all up anyway.”

Stiles scoffed. “I think you mean I’m going to mop this mess up. I distracted you and it got worse.”

Mona smiled. “I knew I made a good choice when I hired you.”

Stiles preened and ignored the conspicuous snort that came from under the still leaking sink.

“So, Derek, what do you do? Are you involved in the media business like Stiles?”

Derek tightened the bolt on the pipe and sat up. “I’m not. I’m a history teacher.”

It was Stiles’s turn to snort. Mona raised a salt and cinnamon brow at him. Stiles scrambled to say, “I just still think it’s ironic that my husband teaches like my least favorite school subject, that’s all.”

Mona luckily looked convinced by that explanation and she turned her attention to Victoria, asking her how old she was, what grade she was in, what her favorite school subject was, etc.

Stiles sauntered over to Derek, who was wiping his face on a towel Mona had left for him. “You’re very clever,” Stiles whispered, glaring. “Now I’m stuck with you.”

Derek smiled wide. “Oh, baby, it was no problem. Anything for you!” he said loudly.

“I hate you with the fiery passion of one thousand burning suns.”

“Go ahead and hate me. As long as you give me one thousand extra something,” he winked and brushed past Stiles to join Vicki and Mona at the door of the room.

Stiles sagged a little bit, cursing the plan, Derek, his choice to lie to Mona in the first place, and Derek. He just had to pretend to love Derek for three weeks. At least Victoria was probably mostly on his side (hopefully). And he had to deal with not screwing up the biggest job opportunity of his life. At least things couldn’t get any worse.

“Of course! We’d love to come to dinner tomorrow, Mona! Thank you so much for the invitation,” Derek beamed at Stiles over Mona’s shoulder. Stiles flipped him the bird and then morphed it into a finger gun, with which he promptly shot himself.

If only.

Chapter Text

“In other news, local modeling agency Hale and Associates is holding a charity fashion show on July 18, one week from this Friday. All proceeds will benefit Teach-A-Kid and we encourage you to visit haleandassociates.com/teachingisinfashion for additional information on how you can get involved.” Kira beamed at the camera and turned to Stiles. “That sounds like it should be a fun time.”

“Oh definitely,” Stiles plastered on his best fake newscaster smile. “What a great cause, too.”

“For sure,” Kira chirped. “Now, here’s Erica Reyes with the weather.”

The feed switched to Erica and Stiles slumped back in his chair. It was only his second full week on the job as co-anchor of Beacon Tonight, the nightly news show for all of Beacon County and its surrounding suburbs. Only three years after getting his Masters of Journalism from UC Berkeley, he had his own show. Well, almost. Technically, it was Kira’s show. But Stiles was a part of it now.

They went to commercial and Boyd, their producer, walked up. “OK, only the sign off, in ninety.”

Stiles and Kira nodded.

“Stilinski!” Erica walked over, shedding her charcoal suit jacket as she went. “You’ve worked here a whole week and you haven’t gotten drinks with us!”

Stiles laughed nervously. “Aw, yeah, I know. We’ll have to do that soon!”

“Tonight!” she shot back immediately. “And bring this ‘gorgeous’ husband of yours.”

Stiles blinked. “How’d you-”

Erica grinned lecherously. “Mona tells me everything.”

Stiles smirked. “Clearly not everything. Cause if she did, she would’ve told you I’m going to her apartment for dinner tonight with my family.”

What!?” Kira broke in. “I was on this show for five months before Mona invited me to dinner!”

“I was here seven,” Erica added, her look changing from naughty to calculating. “What’s so special about you, huh, Stilinski?”

Stiles shrugged. “Just special I guess.”

“You’re lying,” Boyd said simply as he walked back over to break their chat up. “It’s because Mona moved in next door to Stilinski and his husband fixed her leaking faucet.”

Erica gasped. “I knew Mona liked you best,” she scolded Boyd. She then trailed after him, probably to pump him for more information about who knew what about Stiles’s life.

Stiles gulped. “I don’t want to get on her bad side.”

Kira smiled at him. “Don’t worry. If you come out drinking with us on Wednesday, she’ll love you. Probably.”

Stiles winced at that. Another outing with Derek. The dinner that night was already going to be a trial. But he wanted so badly to succeed at this job…

“Sounds like fun.”

Kira threw him a quick wink and turned back to the camera just in time. “That concludes tonight’s broadcast…”

***

So Stiles was panicking. They were supposed to be at Mona’s for a late dinner at nine and it was 8:55 and there was no sign of Derek or Victoria. Allison was supposed to drop Vicki off at 8:30, which was when Stiles usually got home from work, and Derek was supposed to arrive at around the same time.

But it was 8:55 and Stiles was left alone to stew and worry. He angrily dialed Derek’s cell phone number for the fifth time, jabbing at the digits on the touch screen a lot harder than he probably should have. The first four times, the call had gone directly to Derek’s voice mail. This time, he picked up.

“Hey, honey.”

Stiles gripped his phone so hard his fingers turned white. The smarmy bastard.

“Derek,” he gritted out. “Where are you?”

“Oh,” Derek chuckled. “We’re waiting for you at Mona’s!”

Stiles’s face paled. “What.”

“Yeah,” Derek said sweetly. “Vicki’s babysitter dropped her off right when I was getting home and Mona was just coming in, so she invited us over early. We’ve been having a great time without you!” A voice said something in the background and Derek added. “Of course, we’d prefer you here. Come over, love.”

“I’ll be right over,” Stiles snarled. “And I will kill you when this is over. I’m a reporter. I know where not to hide a body.” He disconnected as harshly as he could, angry that cell phones took away the satisfaction that came from slamming the receiver down.

He stalked out of the apartment, absolutely seething and completely terrified of what Derek had said in his absence. He stopped short at Mona’s door, took a deep breath, pasted on the most realistic smile he could manage and knocked, expecting Mona or her as yet unmet husband to answer.

So, of course, it was Derek that actually did.

“Baby,” he beamed nastily, his eyes glinting. “We missed you.”

Before Stiles could respond equally sarcastically, Derek yanked him in by the waist and kissed him. Stiles forced himself not to fight and opened his mouth under Derek’s. Before Derek could force his tongue in, Stiles murmured against his mouth, “No one will find your body.”

Derek broke away and laughed. “It’s good to see you, too.”

***

“So, Derek, Mona tells me you’re a history teacher. How do you like that?” Leonard, Mona’s jovial husband, asked soon after they sat down around the table. Stiles, who was helping Mona carry the food in, had to stop for a moment and briefly close his eyes. It was time to see if his fake husband was as good of an actor as he seemed to think he was.

Derek’s smile turned soft and longing. “It’s...amazing. I always loved history growing up. Stiles laughs at me because it’s his least favorite subject.” He briefly touched Stiles’s hand as he placed a dish of carrots in front of him. “But there’s just something about learning where you came from, what made the world around you into what it currently is, that has always fascinated me. And I love that I get to try and instill that love and appreciation in my students. It’s a lost art, history. Everything nowadays is instant gratification and what happened five minutes ago.”

Mona nodded. “I agree with you. Our children should learn to appreciate our history, not just have to regurgitate facts and dates for a test.”

“I know!” Derek cried. “That drives me nuts. I try to stay away from it as much as possible and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but… if you make it fun and meaningful, the kids are more likely to take something from it.”

“What grade do you teach?” Leonard asked.

“Tenth and eleventh graders,” Derek replied promptly.

“So, he doesn’t teach you, does he?” Leonard smiled at Victoria, who had been watching the proceedings carefully.

Stiles slid into the seat next to his “daughter” and across from Derek. “Nope, he doesn’t.”

“Oh, come on, babe,” Derek waggled his eyebrows. “You know me and Vicki are all about our history.”

“What’s your favorite historical moment?” Mona asked Victoria, the six-year-old. The child Stiles wasn’t even sure knew the words to The Star-Spangled Banner yet, let alone who wrote it and why. Their cover was blown. At least he wouldn’t have to pay Derek his blood money. It took him every ounce of willpower he had not to kick the stupid model under the table.

“I don’t know,” Victoria started and Stiles began to see his life flashing before his eyes. It was mostly a montage of the one glorious week he’d been the co-anchor of Northern California’s number one-rated regional nightly news program. Kira’s beaming face, Boyd’s constant unamusement, Erica’s terrifying curves and sharp tongue… “It’s really hard to decide between the Renaissance, which changed everything, and the American Revolution, which changed things in a different way!”

Stiles blew out the breath he’d been holding. Thank goodness for that weird progressive school Scott had insisted they send Victoria to.

Victoria smiled sweetly. Derek smirked. Mona nodded encouragingly and asked Victoria her favorite Renaissance artist.

Victoria immediately answered, “Donatello.”

“Also the best Ninja Turtle,” Derek said and he and Vicki fist bumped across the table.

Stiles sat there, blinking. His fake daughter totally liked her other fake father more than him. That actually fit really well into Stiles’s current life trajectory.

Especially considering he was surrounded by people who thought Donatello was the best Ninja Turtle.

Please.

***

“It’s just that, clearly, it’s a two-way tie.”

“I can’t believe you.”

“But, c’mon man, really?”

“Yes, really.”

“But he’s so…”

“Dependable? Intelligent? Calm?”

Boring.”

“Vicki agrees with me.”

“Vicki is six and missed the Golden Age.”

“The Golden Age?”

“The crappy current versions do not count in canon.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Well, you’re...ridiculous-er.”

“You’re both ridiculous,” Victoria muttered quietly and disappeared to the guest bedroom, which had always essentially been her second bedroom anyway.

“Donatello is clearly the most superior turtle.”

“Yeah, if you’re ninety and a grandfather.” Stiles smirked. “Oh wait…”

Derek scowled. “He’s smart. He uses his brain, not his brawn.”

“I can’t figure you out, big guy,” Stiles shot back. “You’re built like a brick house, yet you believe in ‘brains over brawn’?” He grabbed two beers and practically threw one at Derek.

Derek caught it and flopped down onto the couch. “I’m a model, Stiles. I’m trying to become an actor. Of course I go to the gym a lot. Doesn’t mean I support violence.”

“Just cartoon violence,” Stiles snarked, sitting on the other end of the couch.

“I was a skinny kid, all right?” Derek said out of nowhere. “I had to use wits, not fists.”

Stiles was surprised by the admission, as well as confused as to when their fight had turned into sharing hour. “That’s a great mantra,” he decided to joke.

“It was,” Derek agreed quietly, looking away.

What was his game? Trying to make Stiles feel sorry for him? That was it. Garner Stiles’s sympathy and get his bribe money with no fight. Bastard.

“Well, I was skinny too, if you can believe it. One hundred forty-seven pounds of pale skin and fragile bones back in high school. Sarcasm was my only defense.”

“I can imagine,” Derek drawled, turning back toward him. “You’ve definitely grown up, though.”

What was that supposed to mean? Stiles ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “That doesn’t matter. Point is, I totally got my best material from Michelangelo and Raphael, ok? So they’re clearly the best Ninja Turtles. Especially Michelangelo.”

“Cowabunga,” Derek deadpanned.

Stiles’s heart beat just a little bit faster.

“You know it, dude,” Stiles replied. Then he promptly kicked Derek out.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Stiles ran into Mona in the hallway when he and Victoria were leaving to go to the supermarket.

She laid a hand on his arm and squeezed. “Stiles, dear, how are you this morning?” she asked, sounding concerned.

Stiles tilted his head and grabbed Victoria’s hand. “I’m fine...why? How are you?”

“I’m well. Last night was lovely.”

Stiles nodded. It had gone pretty well after Derek and Victoria’s small TMNT revolution. Mona had said some great things about Stiles and his work, at least. And Stiles hustled his “family” out the door exactly one half hour after coffee like Miss Manners said one should. So, it had been okay. Not the apocalypse-starting catastrophe Stiles had expected, at least.

“It was great,” Stiles enthused.

“It would be fun to do it again!” Vicki piped up, the traitor. Stiles shot her a betrayed look as Mona’s eyes crinkled in a laugh.

“And how is Derek this morning?” Mona inquired gently, rubbing Stiles’s arm.

Stiles looked down at her soothing motion and blinked. “He’s, uhh, fine?”

“I just ask because…” her eyes slid to Victoria and she lowered her voice. “I was on my way to the laundry room when I saw him leave last night.” Stiles tensed immediately and, because she was touching his arm, Mona felt it. “I’m sorry, it’s none of my business…” she hurried to add.

“No...it’s OK,” Stiles patted her hand, brain scrambling to come up with a legitimate-sounding excuse. “Our TMNT talk escalated a little bit and he took a walk to cool off. We both, uh, take our ‘80s cartoons very seriously.”

“Understandably so,” Mona chuckled. “Though I prefer Leonardo myself.”

“You’re so cool,” Stiles breathed before he could stop himself. “Even if your taste in Ninja Turtles is terrible.”

Mona’s chuckle turned into a full belly laugh. “And you’re adorable. I’m glad I hired you. And I’m glad you and your lovely husband are OK. I’ll see you at work tonight!” With a wave, she entered her apartment.

Stiles sagged against the wall. He looked down when there was a tug on his hand.

“You’re really terrible at this,” Victoria informed him solemnly.

“I know,” he replied miserably and led her dejectedly down the hall.

***

“Absolutely not,” Derek huffed.

“Absolutely yes,” Stiles responded petulantly.

“Stiles…” Derek’s voice was all warning, not a hint of levity.

“Look,” Stiles crossed his arms, “Mona noticed you leaving. My dad always says once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern. I’m not taking any chances that we upgrade from ‘accident.’”

“But...sleep here?” Derek couldn’t have sounded more disgusted if he tried.

Stiles glared. “I’m glad the thought of sharing living space with me is so horrifying to you, but please remember that I’m the one paying you. I am also the one you’re extorting for more money on the side.”

“I have a life.”

“So do I.”

“Apparently you don’t since you had to make up a family!” As soon as the words left his mouth, Derek’s eyes widened and he looked shocked. “Stiles, I-” he started remorsefully.

“Don’t,” Stiles sighed, rubbing his eyes. “You’re right.”

“No, I-”

“I only have my dad, Scott, Allison, Lydia and Vicki. Otherwise, I’m alone. I haven’t had a steady boyfriend since college. I haven’t even gotten laid in three months. I had to invent you and Vicki to get my dream job. I’m pathetic, ok?”

"You're not-" Derek began to argue.

"Oh no, I am," Stiles assured him. "So much so that the guy I'm paying to pretend to be married to me doesn't even want to spend the night with me."

For some reason, the tips of Derek's ears turned pink. Stiles did not find it cute. "I guess I can spend one night."

Stiles chuckled meanly. "Oh no, my dark and leathery friend. You're here for the long haul now. Pack a bag, boo."

Derek sighed. "Fine. You have another spare room, right?"

"Nope."

"Oh," Derek blinked. "So Vicki will sleep with you and give up the guest room to me?"

"If you want to order Vicki out of the room she calls 'the McCave,' please be my guest."

Derek looked toward the hallway and the closed door and shuddered. "Ok, that's out. So where will I sleep?"

"The couch, of course." Stiles rolled his eyes like it was super obvious. Which, you know, it was.

"I will not sleep on the couch," Derek looked scandalized. His eyebrows in particular looked especially insulted. "I'm still a model, you know. I'm still doing modeling things."

"Modeling things," Stiles replied flatly. "Oh yes. I see now that you should be teaching our youth with that descriptive and varied vocabulary."

Derek's face went from playfully upset to die, Stiles, die violent in two seconds flat. "Ha. Ha."

Knowing what he'd said had offended Derek, but not really understanding how or why it'd offended him (dude was a model, after all), Stiles backed off. "Sorry, man. I'm sure you'd be a great teacher. You seemed really passionate about it last night."

Derek's eyebrows unknitted and the tension bled from his shoulders. "I was."

"But you're still sleeping on the couch," Stiles added smugly.

Derek's grin turned feral. "Make me."

***

Which was how, later that night, Stiles found himself huddled under his spare comforter on the couch. He still wasn't sure how it'd happened, but sure enough, Derek had gotten the bed. Unfortunately, when Lydia had helped him pick out his living room furniture, she'd gone with style, not comfort.

Stiles rolled over onto his back and stared at the popcorn stucco on his ceiling. His life used to be so simple. He’d been a features reporter at CBS San Francisco and he’d co-hosted their morning show on weekends. Sure, he’d had to fight harder for stories and he wasn’t assured that he’d be on air everyday. It was maximum effort for occasionally minimal reward. Especially when the regular anchors stole his stories.

But he’d been free. His boss, Mr. Harris, had hated him, so he didn’t ever have to pretend to suck up. Everyone had known he was proudly single, but could be persuaded to hook up sometimes. He and his ex-coworker Danny had had a great little arrangement of mutual orgasms when they were lonely. He’d been on his own, but he’d been happy.

Now, back in Beacon Hills, he got to see his dad. He got to babysit Victoria and raise her properly with Jedi Training. He had dinner with Scott, Allison and Lydia once a week. His new boss adored him. His new coworkers were crazy but nice. They weren’t competitive. He was twenty-seven and he was co-anchoring a successful news program.

And he’d had to lie to get it.

He shifted onto his side and strained his eyes to stare at his own bedroom door, cracked open and currently occupied. He could tell Victoria was having a ball pretending to be his kid (she’d always been a little darker, like him and Allison; not like her puppy of a father). And Stiles liked her being there for more than a night or two, which is what he usually got.

But Derek was… Derek. Stiles still hadn’t figured the guy out. He was terrifying, with his eyebrows and resting bitch face, but also possibly the most attractive person Stiles had ever had the pleasure of arguing about sleeping arrangements with. He was smart and his sarcasm rivaled Stiles’s. He was great with Vicki. He kept up with Stiles’s banter like no one else ever had.

And he was blackmailing Stiles for an extra thousand dollars that Stiles did not have.

Stiles knew there was more to him, more to the whole situation, but he really couldn’t afford to press. He needed the next two and a half weeks to go well so he could plan an appropriate break-up story. So Vicki could go home and Derek could go back to being a model/actor who secretly pined to be a history teacher. Weirdo.

***

Stiles was starting to get worried. He’d dropped Victoria with Allison and Scott for the night and Derek was supposed to meet him at the bar. Supposed to being the key phrase.

“Where is your hubby?” Erica asked, throwing an arm around Stiles’s shoulders. “I hope he’s not ditching us.”

“Please,” Stiles scoffed. “He’ll be here. He never lets me down.”

Stiles carefully shrugged her arm off and turned back to the bar where Kira and Boyd were leaning. “Another please,” he shook his empty glass at the bartender, who rolled her eyes but nodded. It wasn’t Stiles’s fault he prefered Vodka Cranberries.

Damn,” Erica breathed and then whistled. “Mr. Hottie Pants at six o clock.”

Stiles took a deep breath—he knew who it was because that was the way his life worked—and turned. Sure enough, Derek was walking toward them, dressed in tight black jeans, a dark green T-shirt and his ridiculous leather jacket. Stiles watched the way Erica’s eyes grew progressively wider the closer he got and Stiles couldn’t help smirking when Derek stopped in front of him. “Hey babe.”

“Hey,” Derek smiled. “I missed you.” And he grabbed Stiles’s hand, pulling him forward. Stiles hesitated for half a second and then clutched Derek’s hips possessively. He gently pressed their bodies together and leaned in to kiss Derek. Their lips met and, like the first time, a little thrill ran up his spine. And, like the first time, Stiles ignored it.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Erica’s loud voice cut into the kiss, which had probably gone on too long if Stiles was honest. But Derek had just opened his mouth and- “I may need to kill you, Stilinski. First you’re Mona’s new golden boy and now this? What voodoo witch doctor owed you?”

Derek broke the kiss and raised an eyebrow at her. “What are you implying? That my husband, who worked his ass off to get this job, doesn’t deserve it? Or is it that you think I’m too hot for him? Because, honey, if that’s the case you need glasses, because have you seen him?” His eyes slid back to Stiles, seemingly of their own accord, and he smiled. Stiles blinked. This man should win an Oscar.

Erica’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish. Kira stepped up and held out a hand. “Gosh, I like you. Hi, I’m Kira!”

Derek detangled his right hand from where it was clutching the back of Stiles’s shirt and maneuvered it around behind Stiles to shake, which caused them to press even closer together. Stiles gulped. “I’m Derek, Stiles’s very supportive husband,” he added, flicking his eyes back to Erica.

“Ignore her, man. She thinks she doesn’t need a brain to mouth filter because of how hot she is. I’m Vernon Boyd.”

Derek shook Boyd’s hand as well. “Derek Stilinski.”

And holy crap, yeah. They’d never talked about that. But Derek had seemingly made a decision. Good thing Stiles hadn’t told anybody Derek’s full name.

“I’m sorry,” Erica blurted. She looked annoyed at herself for apologizing.

“That’s all you’ll get,” Boyd stage-whispered. “It’s more than I’ve ever gotten. Embrace it.”

“It’s cool,” Derek smiled at her. “I just have to hear Stiles belittle himself all the time at home so I overreact if I think others are doing it.” He shook Erica’s trembling hand.

He hadn’t moved his left hand from Stiles’s shoulder the entire time. They were still pressed together. And he was defending Stiles like he was his universe. And it was all an act.

Stiles was in over his head.

***

Nope.

Nope, now he was in over his head. Derek crowded even closer, his arms wound around Stiles’s neck, fingers running over the fine hairs covering it, and his face buried in the juncture between Stiles’s neck and shoulder. That would have been too much. But the fact that he was also grinding his lower body sensuously against Stiles’s was the sexy straw that broke the horny news anchor’s back.

Stiles dragged his hands from their spot gripping Derek’s waist to cup gently around his ass, to tug him just that little bit closer. Derek moaned, his breath huffing hot and moist against Stiles’s jugular. Erica, who was dancing with a random guy not two feet away, winked at him. Stiles smirked back. Yeah, Derek was super hot. And he was gonna milk the fact that he’d “bagged” such a hottie for as long as he could.

Derek’s lips trailed up his neck and Stiles’s eyes fluttered closed. He knew it was all an act—Derek’s muttered “Let’s give them a show they won’t forget,” in his ear before they started dancing was proof of that—but it was getting harder and harder to remember that.

Derek swiveled his hips one last time and then he was turning in Stiles’s arms. Winding his right arm back and around Stiles’s neck, Derek began a slow grind, rubbing his ass directly onto Stiles’s crotch.

Yep, harder.

Derek dropped his head back onto Stiles’s left shoulder. It was at that point that Stiles realized he was, well, kind of just standing there. Resolved to put on as much of a show as Derek was, he ran his hands slowly up Derek’s sides, letting them linger. He stroked across Derek’s stomach and once his thumbs met in the middle, pushed down until he was gripping Derek’s belt buckle. With a lascivious roll forward, he pulled Derek back against him.

Derek panted against his cheek as Stiles took control of their movements, leading him in a dirty grind that had nothing to do with the music anymore. Their bodies slid together, ebbing and flowing, pushing and pulling. Stiles started to mouth at Derek’s neck. It was right there and all. Derek pushed back harder against him and-

“Jesus, and you two have a kid?” Erica interrupted, having seemingly gotten bored of her dance partner. “I hope I can keep the magic alive like this once I convince Boyd he’s perfect for me.”

It was like cold water had been dumped over their heads. Derek stepped away, looking dazed, and Stiles’s arms fell limply to his sides. “Thanks, Erica,” Stiles snapped before he could stop himself.

She opened her mouth to speak, but another voice cut in. “Der, is that you?”

Derek’s head jerked to his right. Stiles was still standing close enough to him to feel when he went tense all over, an abrupt change from how fluid and loose he’d been only a minute before. A woman with dark brown hair was walking toward them. With her high cheekbones, deep green eyes, Grecian nose and half-smile, she was gorgeous. She actually looked kind of like a female Derek…

“Laura,” Derek said flatly. “What are you doing here?”

“I was out with everybody,” Laura replied, vaguely gesturing at the small group that was trailing behind her, apparently ‘everybody.’ They were all so attractive, they should be freaking models, Stiles thought. And then it hit him.

He threw Derek a panicked glance.

“Who’s this?” Erica asked, stepping up next to them.

“My co-workers.” Derek shot Stiles a pained, pointed look.

“Hey, Erica,” Stiles grabbed her arm. “Why don’t we go get some drinks. Jack and coke, right babe?” Stiles asked and didn’t wait for the answer, tugging Erica away from the group. He felt Laura’s eyes on him as he walked away.

After safely depositing Erica at the bar with Kira and buying drinks for Derek and himself, Stiles cautiously made his way back over to Derek, knowing it would appear strange if he didn’t greet his husband’s coworkers.

As he approached, Derek and Laura were talking in angry whispers, the small group clustered around them watching. A tall, curly-haired guy noticed him approaching and poked Laura on the shoulder.

She turned to him, a predatory smile on her face. “So, you must be our elusive writer. I see you mix business with pleasure.” She winked at him.

“Laura,” Derek groaned. “Please leave him alone. This is ridiculously new and you’re making everything terrible, as usual.”

Laura threw a hand over her heart and gasped. “Moi? You wound me, Der.”

Derek huffed, the tips of his ears turning pink. If she didn’t have the potential to ruin everything, Stiles could tell he and Laura would get along just fine.

“Uhh, yeah, I’m Stiles,” Stiles passed Derek his drink and then shook her hand. “Nice to meet you?” He couldn’t help but phrase it in the form of a question.

“He’s cute,” the other woman in the group said with a nasty smile. She too was stunning, but her eyes were sharp and her lip curled.

“Shut up, Kate,” Derek immediately said. “Don’t talk to him.”

“So touchy,” Kate murmured, running a hand down Derek’s shoulder. Derek jerked away from it and Stiles couldn’t help the surge of glee that flowed through him. She gave Derek an indiscernible look and sauntered away.

“I’m Laura,” the first woman smiled. “I’m Derek’s sister. Our uncle owns H&A.”

Stiles gave his ‘husband’ the side-eye. “Your uncle owns the company?”

“Just because our mom didn’t want to deal with it anymore,” Laura confided, leaning forward.

“Ok!” Derek threw his arm around Stiles’s neck and practically yanked him away. “That’s enough of that. Tell mom I’ll call her tomorrow,” Derek said over his shoulder and then marched Stiles right out of the bar.

Stiles looked at the flustered man by his side and grinned. “So Laura’s nice.”

Derek groaned and Stiles laughed harder than he had in a long time.

Derek couldn’t help but join in.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up on the couch the next morning, his back one gigantic cramp. Actually, “woke up” was too kind. It was more like he flailed out of the sleep-deprived stupor he’d finally found himself in around three a.m. and only narrowly avoided falling off his makeshift bed/torture chamber.

“You know, you could sleep in the bed with me,” Derek’s voice mused from the kitchen doorway.

Stiles lost his battle with gravity and tumbled onto the floor. “Oomph.” At least his carpet was cushy. He debated laying there for the rest of the day, face smushed into the floor, but decided not to when Derek’s feet stepped into his line of vision. He popped up and glared at Derek. “Like you’d actually let me. You’re trying to set me up, lull me into a false sense of security and then, as soon as I fall asleep, BAM! You’ll push me out of the bed!”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “And that would be different from your current sleeping arrangements, how?”

“Ha, ha,” Stiles muttered, levering himself off the floor and only narrowly avoiding getting tangled in his comforter and going down again. “I’ll stick to the couch, thanks.”

Derek shrugged. “It’s your call.” And he wandered back into the kitchen. Stiles followed him for two reasons. One, the most enticing smells were wafting from the room and that never happened in Stiles’s apartment before 1 p.m. And two, Derek was really starting to confuse him. What had happened to the broody asshole who was extorting him? Derek had been so...nice lately. It was weird. And it had Stiles worried.

“What’s with you?” he asked bluntly as he entered the kitchen.

Derek’s back was to him and he was messing with something on the stove. “What do you mean?”

“You’re like...randomly nice.”

Derek continued whatever it was he was doing, but also let out a derisive snort. “Of course. Because people aren’t allowed to be nice.”

“You’re not!” Stiles insisted. “You’re the antagonist in this story who’s swindling the dashing protagonist out of his non-existant life savings!”

Derek sighed and turned toward Stiles. “I need the money, ok?”

Stiles snorted. “So do I. To, you know, live on and stuff.”

Derek rubbed his eyes and turned back to the stove, but not before Stiles’s caught the nearly imperceptible slump of his shoulders. Stiles was getting far too good at reading the other man’s body language. “Fine, you don’t have to give me the extra money. But you do have to come to the fashion show my agency is staging next Friday for charity. And you have to donate.”

Stiles shrugged. “Whatever, if that’s what it takes.”

Stiles couldn’t be sure, but it almost looked like Derek’s shoulders relaxed after that.

***

What was weird about the whole...situation… was how un-weird it was starting to feel. Stiles (pretended to) sleep on the couch. Derek made breakfast. Victoria ate his food and plotted world domination in her bedroom. Stiles went to work. Derek...probably went to work? He disappeared for hours at a time once in a while, so Stiles could only assume it was a modeling job. He never asked and Derek never volunteered the information.

They ate dinner together, usually after Stiles got home from work. Victoria forced them to watch something silly on TV, usually the latest trainwreck of a SyFy movie. Victoria only went home once, on Friday afternoon, since Allison apparently knew Derek somehow and trusted him? Victoria liked him more than Stiles, that was for sure. Which didn’t hurt at all. Not even a little bit.

And then they found themselves at the weekend, where their carefully controlled schedule of the last two days had the potential to go to hell. Vicki was going to be there all weekend, no bail-outs from the Argent-McCall household (they’d finally left for their vacation in Rome), and Stiles didn’t have to work. It was going to be anarchy.

Saturday began like any other day. Stiles fought the couch and the couch won, Derek whipped up a decadent, healthy breakfast with leftovers and fairy dust and Victoria herded them in front of the TV to watch Stonehenge Apocalypse.

Until Derek threw a wrench in the works.

“We should do something today.”

Stiles side-eyed him from where he was perched in the corner of the couch, shoveling forkfuls of vegetable frittata into his mouth. “We are doing something.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “No, we should go outside and do something...like something a family would do. You could take pictures. Show them to Mona.”

Victoria lept off the couch. “The museum has an exhibit on rainforest insects!” she screeched excitedly, starting to dance in place. “Could we do that, Uncle Stiles? Please, please, please!?”

Derek turned equally beseeching eyes on him. “Please?”

Stiles facepalmed. “One, no one has the power to resist both of those looks. And two,” he pointed accusingly at Victoria, “you should be asking to go to the zoo to look at, like, giraffes, not to go see gigantic, scary bugs.”

“That’s sexist,” Victoria sniffed. “You’re just afraid of the bugs.”

“You know I am, Vicki,” Stiles gripped her arm. “Why have you forsaken me?”

She grinned at him. “Take me to see the bugs or I’ll get angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” She pecked him on the cheek and scurried off to her room, seemingly to get ready.

Stiles stared after her. “I don’t know whether to be terrified for her parents or so proud of that reference.”

“I’d be both,” Derek replied. He clapped Stiles on the shoulder and eased himself off the couch. “So I guess we’re going to the museum to look at giant bugs.”

Stiles flopped back and groaned. “I’m not telling her no, so I guess so.” He fixed Derek with a glare. “This is your fault.”

Derek beamed. “I know.” And he too hurried away to get ready.

Stiles shuddered. Bugs. Why’d it have to be bugs?

***

The museum trip was, surprisingly, a success. If one counted success as Derek and Victoria bonding even more, heads bent together in front of the terrariums holding the visiting bugs, while Stiles wept quietly in the corner.

It was clear that Derek and Victoria did.

They went to all the “Close Encounter” presentations and read every single information card. Victoria towed Stiles along by the hand, shrieking delightedly at every new creature they encountered. Derek kept pace with him and kept shooting him these little smiles. It was weird. Derek even bought Stiles a stuffed praying mantis plush after Stiles insisted that the only cool, non-terrifying insect was in fact the endangered mantis.

They were eating lunch at the museum’s cafe when it all went to shit. Stiles was taking pictures of Derek and Vicki eating hotdogs with silly looks on their faces- Victoria with crossed eyes and Derek with that ever present disapproving brow (though it looked more playful than annoyed at the moment)- when a disbelieving snort caught his attention.

He glanced at the table next to theirs and noticed an older guy glaring at him. “Guess I won’t be watching Beacon Tonight anymore,” the man said to the lady sitting with him. “Too bad, I liked that show.”

Confused, Stiles spoke before he could think about it. “Why’s that, sir? I personally know it’s a great news program!” He pasted on his PR smile.

Derek, who had tuned into the conversation, put a hand on his arm. “Stiles, leave it.”

“Yeah, listen to your boyfriend,” the guy taunted, turning toward Stiles.

“What’s your problem, dude?” Stiles snapped, shifting in his seat so he was blocking Vicki from view.

“My problem,” the guy sneered and Stiles was suddenly, completely angry at himself for pushing this, “is that I can’t watch my favorite news show anymore because the new anchor is a fag.”

The woman sitting with him rolled her eyes and stood. “C’mon, Gary, leave them alone.” Stiles was about to shoot her a thankful smile when she continued. “It isn’t us that suffers from their perversion. It’s the poor child they pretend is ‘their’ daughter.”

Stiles was on his feet before the thought to do so had fully formed in his brain. “What did you just say?”

Victoria lept up too. “Yeah, what did you say about my daddies?”

“Vicki, sit down,” Stiles hissed.

Derek grabbed her hand and pulled her gently over to his side. “Stiles, leave it,” he repeated. “They’re not worth our time.”

“He’s right,” the guy scoffed. “We’re not worth the precious time you could be using to corrupt children, Stiles.”

Stiles snarled, but held himself in check. This guy wasn’t worth the effort.

“What the fuck is a Stiles, anyway?” the guy laughed. “That’s such a stupid name. What kind of asshole would call their kid-”

Stiles punched him in the face. He went down hard and whacked his head on the floor.

“Oh my god!” the lady screeched and fell to her knees next to him. “What did you do? You knocked him out, you freak!”

Stiles shook out his hand and turned to Derek. He shrugged sheepishly.

“My hero,” Derek said drily, right before security arrived to escort them out.

***

Luckily, Victoria wasn’t bothered by the fact that their day had gotten cut short. In fact, she thought it was awesome.

“I can’t wait to tell mom and dad!” she crowed as they entered Stiles’s apartment. “Mom will get mad and dad will pretend to, but he’ll totally fist bump you after!” She raced off to her room, probably to call her parents in Rome to tell them about how Stiles couldn’t keep his hands-or fists-to himself.

“That wasn’t very smart,” Derek informed him as walked into the kitchen and came back with two beers, something that had apparently become their habit. “That guy could press charges.”

“I doubt he will,” Stiles replied. “Because that would mean acknowledging publicly that a fag knocked him out.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Derek shook his head. Stiles rolled his eyes and plopped down on the couch. “You’re also very brave.”

Stiles’s head snapped up and his eyes met Derek’s. “What now?”

Derek sighed. “I’m not saying punching the guy was brave. That was stupid. But standing up to him…” he trailed off and shrugged. “That was brave.” He sat next to Stiles on the couch.

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time a narrow-minded asshole called me out like that. Being a public figure, however minor and insignificant, makes people think they can say whatever they want to me. I’m like the face of small town homosexuality and the yokels are mad.” Stiles rubbed his eyes and downed about half his beer in one go. “I tried to take it, but I just couldn’t. Not anymore.”  

“You just keep surprising me,” was Derek’s quiet response.

Stiles blinked at him. “How?”

Derek averted his eyes and rubbed his fingers over the neck of his bottle. “When I first met you, I thought you were so shallow. You were a stupid guy who’d lied to his boss to get his job. But then I saw how committed you were to your job, how seriously you take it. I thought you were just using Vicki as a means to an end, but then I saw how you are with her. I’m an awful judge of character,” he paused for a moment and smiled self-deprecatingly. Stiles knew there must be a story there. “But I thought I had you figured out. I was wrong.”

The moment had gotten too heavy for Stiles. So he deflected in the only way he knew how.

“I thought you were just a scary model trying to blackmail me, but it seems you’re actually just a scary model who likes history and has finally realized that I’m too poor to blackmail,” he chuckled weakly at his stupid joke.

Derek’s face went blank like Stiles had never seen it. Stiles rolled his neck and stood. “Well, I’m beat. Would you mind getting off my bed?”

Derek didn’t chuckle or groan. He just got up and disappeared into the bedroom without another word.

***

“What got you into modeling?” Stiles asked awkwardly the next morning, feeling like he had to make up for whatever had happened the night before, even though he had no idea what he’d done.

“My mother.”

Oh right. Yeah. Laura had mentioned that. “She owned the company before Peter?”

“Peter doesn’t own the company.”

“Oh.” Stiles blinked at him across the kitchen table. Derek hadn’t been this unresponsive since the beginning of their arrangement. “Your mom still owns it?”

“No.”

“Your dad?”

“My father is dead.”

“Oh,” Stiles repeats. “I’m sorry. I know how you, uh, feel. My mom died when I was eight.”

Derek doesn’t say anything and Stiles lets the subject drop.

***

That night, Lydia burst into the apartment in her usual dramatic fashion.

Derek’s head snapped up from where he was building a popsicle stick Fortress of Solitude with Victoria on the kitchen table. “Who are you?”

Lydia scoffed. “Please.” She turned her attention to Victoria. “Hello, child who apparently hates her aunt.”

“Hi, aunt who tries to force her niece to be a princess when she wants to be a superhero,” Vicki parroted back.

Lydia beamed. “Missed you.”

Victoria jumped up from the table and threw herself at Lydia. “I missed you, too!”

Derek looked horrified by the exchange, Stiles was pleased to note. “I have two rules,” Stiles said lightly as he came to stand next to Derek’s chair. “One, never get involved in a land war in Asia. And two, never leave those two alone together for long because the world’s economy will crumble.”

Derek snorted and threw Stiles a quick grin. A weight that Stiles had been ignoring since the night before lifted. “Those two? Inconceivable,” he deadpanned.

Stiles’s smile was so wide it hurt.

***

Things quickly went downhill, however, when it became obvious that Derek didn’t particularly like Lydia.

“I blame you for getting her out of princess camp,” Lydia accused Stiles as the adults sat around the kitchen table, drinking tea after dinner.

Stiles snorted. “If you don’t think she would’ve gotten herself out of it somehow, you’re underestimating your niece’s deviousness and you’re way overestimating Scott’s immunity to it.”

“I think princess camp is a stupid idea,” Derek said apropo of absolutely-freaking-nothing.

Lydia turned slowly toward him and Stiles winced. “Excuse me?”

Derek shrugged. “It teaches girls that the only way they have value is if they are a prize to be won- someone’s princess.”

Lydia’s frown warped into a sickly sweet smile. “And I assume they only learn how to shine their husband’s shoes in the seminar, ‘How to Be Better than the Men Around You and Save China to Boot?’ Or ‘Women Don’t Need Men: What Elsa and Merida Have Taught Us.’”

“But for every class like that, I’m sure there’s a ‘Someday Your Prince Will Come: How to Let the World Walk All Over You Until a Man Saves Day,’ too.”

“Okay!” Stiles lept up. “This has gotten really scary really quickly! How I thought you two in the same room was a good idea I’ll never know. Lyds, I love you, but he’s my fake husband. I can’t kick him out, so…”

The look Lydia shot Derek could have melted the skin off even the pope’s bones. With a huff and a little flounce, she left the apartment just like that.

Derek looked at the closed door. “She doesn’t mess around when you kick her out, does she?”

Stiles was slumped over at the table, his head cradled in his arms. “Thanks for that.”

Derek rubbed his neck sheepishly, “Sorry about that. She just rubbed me the wrong-”

Stiles looked up at him, his eyes haunted. “You don’t get it. Once this is over, I’ll never see you again. I have to put up with her for life. And she’s scary on her best days.”

Derek’s face took on the flat, blank expression from the morning and night before. “I’m sorry,” he said shortly and left the room.

Stiles moaned loudly and banged his head against the table a few times.

It didn’t help.

***

“Whatever I did or said last night, I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t you. I was out of line.”

“No seriously, I-”

“Stiles, let me take this one, ok? I was dumb.”

“Gosh, it’s too bad we’re not a real couple. We’d be the envy of all our friends with that resolution.”

“...Yeah.”

***

Things ran relatively smoothly (or as smoothly as things could run in a house with two men who were little better than strangers and a six-year-old girl) until Tuesday night when Stiles stumbled over to his couch to go to bed and saw someone already sitting there.

“Stiles,” Derek said gravely. “Please have a seat.”

Stiles blinked at him and did as he was told. He hadn’t been sleeping much so his free will was mostly nonexistent at the moment.

“This is a sleep-tervention.”

That woke Stiles right up. “That was terrible. Even I wouldn’t have said that,” he told Derek.

Derek ignored him, which Stiles had come to expect, and continued, “I had a very interesting chat with Mona earlier today. She said you’ve looked absolutely terrible at work the last two days and the make-up guy has had to slather it on to make you look semi-presentable.”

“No, stop, tell me how you really feel,” Stiles drawled.

“I’m serious,” Derek insisted. “And worried.”

Stiles was about to quip back when he noticed that Derek’s mouth was a thin line. It wasn’t his I’m So Done with Your Shit, Stiles look or even the You Are All Idiots and Should Die look. It seemed...genuinely concerned. Stiles also decided to ignore the fact that he could apparently interpret all of Derek’s looks now.

“You’re on TV, you can’t look this shitty,” Derek said bluntly, ruining whatever moment they might have been having.

“Gee, thanks.”

“Sleep in the bed with me, Stiles.”

Stiles slapped a hand to his heart. “Well, Mr. Hale, I do declare-”

“Don’t.”

“Why don’t you just take the couch?” Stiles whined.

“Because I’m a model.”

“As you keep reminding me,” Stiles muttered.

“Stiles,” Derek rubbed his eyes.

“Fine, but it’s gonna suck,” Stiles huffed.

He didn’t even acknowledge Derek’s joking leer and eyebrow wiggle.

***

“Your feet are cold.”

“Well, your entire body is a freaking furnace. Normal people have cold feet.”

“Your toes are literally icicles.”

“That is physically impossible.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Go to bed, Derek.”

“Night, Stiles.”

***

The problem was, it didn’t suck. Sleeping together was actually kind of...nice? Derek was freakishly warm and hogged all the covers, but he also made adorable little snoring noses and had the habit of curling close to Stiles without actually touching him.

It hit Stiles all in a rush on Thursday night. Victoria was sleeping over at Lydia’s, probably doing the same thing they did every night Vicki slept over (though he had no clue who was Pinky in that scenario), and Stiles and Derek were on the couch, watching a documentary on birds.

“I’ve never met someone who is as freakishly obsessed with random information as I am,” Stiles announced during a commercial.

Derek quirked a brow at him. “Ok…?”

“No, seriously, every boyfriend I have ever had made fun of me about my proclivity to watch the History and Discovery channels nonstop. But you watch with me. You actually supplied avian facts I didn’t know before.”

“I find wingspans fascinating,” Derek shrugged modestly.

“I know you do and I like that.” Stiles looked away. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re a good fake husband. I like sleeping next to you. This has been nice.”

Derek stared at him for a few moments, looking shocked, and then a small smile curled onto his lips. “You’re not a terrible fake husband, either, I guess.”

“Wow, stop, you’ll inflate my ego beyond repair,” Stiles droned.

Derek laughed and took a playful swing at him. Stiles grinned and grabbed his arm, planning to push him off the couch. But somehow he ended up yanking Derek closer instead. In two seconds, their faces were inches from each other. Derek licked his lips and Stiles took a deep breath. Then he leaned forward and kissed him.

Derek made a noise of surprise and pulled back slightly. Stiles immediately backed off, but Derek growled low in his throat and tugged him in again. After a few breathless moments, Derek broke the kiss and grinned. “If I’d known wingspans turned you on this much, I would have brought them up ages ago.”

Stiles laughed delightedly and hauled him to the bedroom.

***

They tumbled onto the bed (well, ok, Derek landed gracefully and Stiles tripped and landed hard on top of him). Derek pulled Stiles’s face to his, cupping his cheeks, and kissed him again. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while,” Derek admitted quietly, stroking Stiles’s jaw with his thumbs.

“Me too,” Stiles agreed and he realized it was true. This had been building up since their TMNT argument, really.

Their mouths met again and before Stiles knew it, they were both shirtless and grinding shamelessly. “I can finally give you the full husband experience,” Derek said, palming Stiles through his jeans, his eyebrows mischievous.

Stiles froze. “That’s not… This isn’t…” He was horrified. “Do you feel like you, like, have to-”

“No!” Derek immediately replied, his eyes wide. “That’s not-”

“Because I don’t wanna do anything you just feel obligated to do,” Stiles continued, lifting himself up and off Derek.

“God, no!” Derek cried. “No, get back here,” he insisted, reaching for Stiles. “I was just trying to make a joke. I want to do this with you!”

He looked so earnest as he hooked his fingers in Stiles’s belt loops that Stiles couldn’t help but believe him. He trusted Derek, even though he didn’t know practically anything about him.

“Ok,” Stiles soothed, cuddling back up to him. “Ok.” He pressed them together from chest to toe and kissed Derek slowly, sweetly. “This isn’t just a hook-up, right?” Stiles murmured, suddenly needing the answer more than anything else.

Derek hesitated and then smiled. “It doesn’t have to be.”

***

It wouldn’t have been them if there weren’t a few bumps along the way. After Stiles essentially accused Derek of prostituting himself and they consequently agreed it was more than just sex, things should have improved.

But who was Stiles kidding?

He elbowed Derek hard in the stomach when he was trying to take his pants off and then almost fell off the bed trying to remove his own. He also couldn’t find his lube or condoms because it’d been a while, ok? So he was crawling around on the floor near his bed, bare-assed and shame-faced, muttering, “Sexy tools, why have you forsaken me?”

He almost choked on Derek’s cock when he attempted to deepthroat him.

Derek bucked so hard when Stiles pressed the first finger against his rim that he actually did knock Stiles out of the bed. Stiles sat on the floor, breathing heavily, probably looking ridiculous because, even though he was in pain, his cock was still very happy to be there.

Derek peeked over the side of the bed at him and smiled. “We’re not very good at this.”

Stiles grinned and clambered back onto the bed. “I don’t agree. I think this is perfect.”

Derek’s laugh was cut off by Stiles’s finger and he gasped, clenching down tightly. “It’s, uhh, been a while,” he admitted, his face turned into the pillow.

“Me too,” Stiles said and kissed him.

Things greatly improved from there.

“Mmm,” Derek moaned as Stiles finally pushed inside. “Fuck.”

“That’s what I’m attempting,” Stiles grunted, once he was fully seated.

“I-I should’ve known you’d be a talker,” Derek said as he relaxed. “Dunno why I’m surprised.”

“I don’t know either,” Stiles replied. “That’s on you, dude.”

Derek opened his mouth to respond, but all that came out was a long groan as Stiles pulled out and thrust back in.

It was just like riding a bike, Stiles thought, as he quickly built up a steady rhythm. Except, not a bike. A guy’s ass. Whatever.

Stiles hitched Derek’s legs higher around his waist and then tangled his left hand with Derek’s. He moved deliberately, fucking into Derek with long, hard strokes. Derek’s eyes were closed and he was panting, his mouth hanging open. Stiles pushed Derek’s hip up slightly and Derek keened. With a grin, Stiles tried to angle himself in the same way, over and over.

After a few more strokes, Derek frantically grabbed for his cock. Stiles let go of his other hand and joined Derek’s pumping one. Derek made no sound when he came, but his eyes flew open and locked with Stiles’s as white spurted over both their hands.

The look in those green-blue eyes made Stiles stutter in his movements and come hard inside of him. Also, the vice-like grip around his cock. But mostly the look.

Both breathing heavily, they collapsed together and Stiles pulled out as gently as possible. He tied off the condom and lobbed it at the trash can, missing by about a foot. Derek snickered into his shoulder.

“So you throw it next time.”

“I will,” Derek agreed. “I’ll make it in.”

“You’re on,” Stiles challenged, only focusing on two words.

Next time.


Chapter Text

When Stiles woke up the next morning, he was alone. But Derek’s side of the bed was rumpled and sleep warm, so he didn’t worry. Derek was probably whipping up one of his heavenly breakfasts. Stiles debated waiting him out, to see if breakfast in bed was on the metaphorical table. But his stomach rumbled, answering his silent musings. He leapt out of bed, decided firmly against pants (Victoria’s presence had been greatly cramping his general “pants are for losers” philosophy) and sauntered out to the kitchen, ready for morning kisses.

He was greeted by an empty apartment.

Willing himself not to panic (which had never worked for him ever in his entire panicky life), he went from room to room, making sure Derek hadn’t fainted or fallen or something. He wasn’t in the kitchen making crepes or frittatas or something equally ridiculous that Stiles had only seen on TV until he met Derek. He wasn’t in the bathroom showering, glistening water running down his impressive pecs and glorious abs…

Stiles shook his head and continued on his search. He wasn’t in Victoria’s room doing a covert sweep for radioactive matter or contraband cookies. He wasn’t in the living room watching a show on the history of thimbles. And he wasn’t in Stiles’s study, checking Stiles’s internet history for terrible porn. Which is all he’d ever find if he searched. Terrible, inexpensive, terrible porn.

Derek wasn’t in the apartment.

He hadn’t left a note (Stiles checked every legitimate note-leaving place...and then he checked the not-so-legitimate ones). He hadn’t texted (Stiles stared intently at his phone for ten minutes willing it to beep and flash “Broody McModel” at him). He’d just...left.

Stiles sunk to the couch, internally berating himself. This is what he got for trying to turn what was clearly meant to be a hook-up into something more. Derek hadn’t mentioned anything serious until Stiles had gone and been an emotional, clingy asshole. So Derek had bolted. With just a little over a week left, he’d abandoned Stiles. And their marriage.

OK, now he was just getting melodramatic.

***

When all was said and done, Stiles sat there for over an hour, just to be sure Derek wasn’t just buying breakfast or more condoms or flavored lube or something.

He wasn’t, because Derek didn’t come back.

Stiles stopped deluding himself that Derek had driven three towns over to the good adult store to buy high-quality lube right around the hour and twenty minute mark. Then he just got angry. He’d paid Derek to do a job...even if it had seemed to turn into a lot more and Derek wasn’t even supposed to take his money… fear gripped Stiles and he dashed back into the bedroom to his life savings stash of cash which he hid under his mattress (he figured it was such a cliché at that point that no self-respecting burglar would think to look there, ok?). It was all there. So Derek hadn’t fucked him and then robbed him blind. That was something, at least.

Stiles felt ashamed. Even if Derek didn’t want to have a relationship with him, it wasn’t fair to jump to the assumption that he’d rip Stiles off instead. Derek wasn’t like that. Of course, Stiles didn’t know exactly what Derek was like in the long run. And-

He was stalling. With a huff, Stiles trudged into the bathroom and took the shower he’d been hoping to share with Derek, got dressed in the clothes he’d been hoping to eventually have Derek peel off him, and made the toast he’d been… ok, the toast he’d been hoping he’d never have to make again.

He needed to pull it together. They’d only spent one night together. Even if it’d felt like a lot more.

Grumbling, Stiles dialed Allison on his way to his Jeep.

“This better be good for two reasons,” Allison began without preamble the moment she picked up. “One, we are right in the middle of a romantic dinner in a restaurant without prices on the menus. No prices. And two, Scott is making grabby hands at my phone and he is not allowed to talk to you because grown men are fully capable of going two weeks without talking to their best friends.”

“Not us, Ally, sorry. We’re co-dependent.” Relief flooded through Stiles at hearing his friend’s voice. “I’m sorry to delay the love train, but I need to know where the modeling agency is. It’s important.”

The line was quiet for so long that Stiles was afraid he’d lost the call, when Allison spoke again. “Google. The phone book. A phone call using the number I gave you. These are all options you could have explored before you called me in Rome.”

Stiles slumped against the Jeep. “You’re right. I, uhh, I’m not thinking straight. I’m not in a good place right now.”

“What happened?”

“Derek.”

Allison waited a few beats and then, “I’m going to need a little more than that. Scott, stay there!” There was some rustling and then Allison’s voice was much clearer. “What about Derek?”

Stiles rubbed his eyes. “Well, things were going ok. Great, even. We felt kinda like...a family?”

Allison sighed. “Oh Stiles.”

“So yeah,” Stiles forged ahead, letting himself into the Jeep. “We were getting close and things were going pretty well and Vicki stayed over at Lydia’s last night, so we were alone and…” Stiles groaned and ran a hand through his hair. “I fucked him, Ally. Why did I have to fuck him?”

“Are things super awkward now because you hooked up?” she guessed. “A one-night stand before your three weeks were up was kinda dumb, Stiles.”

“I know that, ok? But, uhh, no, it’s not awkward. Well, it might be. I have no clue, because he left before I woke up, no note, no messages on my phone and I haven’t seen him since.”

“Maybe he was embarrassed?” Allison suggested.

“Maybe,” Stiles hedged. “It gets worse, though.”

“Of course it does,” she sighed.

“Right before we did it-”

Did it? Stiles, honestly…”

Stiles ignored her. “I asked if it was more than just a hook-up. And Derek said yes.”

“He did?” Allison sounded surprised. Stiles couldn’t help but feel slightly insulted at that, until Allison added, “I’ve known him in passing for a long time ‘cause of my aunt working with him and he hasn’t dated anyone in all that time, as far as I know.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“So maybe he was...scared?” Stiles reasoned.

Allison snorted. “I doubt it. Freaked out and trying to wreck the best thing that’s happened to him in a while?” She paused. “More likely.”

“Aww, Allison, I’m the best thing? I knew you loved me. We’ll run away together! Leave Scott in Rome. He’ll never find his way home! Our new life awaits us, dear Ally.”

Allison’s only response was to hang up on him. Stiles beamed, feeling marginally better for the first time since he’d discovered Derek was missing, before he realized Allison hadn’t given him the address of the modeling agency, which had been the whole point.

With a few muttered curses, Stiles booted up Google on his phone.

***

Hale and Associates was a ghost town when Stiles walked through the door. Most of the lights were off and there wasn’t a soul in sight.

“Hello?” he called, already backing toward the entrance.

There was no answer, so he spun on his heel, already regretting coming. He’d track Derek down...would calling him seem too needy?...but he shouldn’t have come to his place of business.

“Well hello there,” a voice purred from behind him.

Stiles clutched his heart and fell back against the door. “Holy shit, you scared me.”

“I’m so sorry,” the pretty dirty blond woman crooned. It was the woman from the club that had upset Derek so much. “I didn’t mean to startle you.” She edged closer. “You’re Derek’s friend, right?”

“Boyfriend,” Stiles corrected automatically and insanely.

The woman’s smile morphed into something wider and scarier. “Really now?”

“Umm, yeah?” Stiles replied, annoyed that she didn’t seem to think it could be possible.

“That’s very interesting,” she continued, stepping into Stiles’s personal space and running her hand along his shoulder. Stiles flinched away. “Because I’m pretty sure Derek and I have been consistently fucking for the last two years.”

The bottom dropped out of Stiles’s stomach. “W-What?”

“Oh yes,” she murmured, circling Stiles like a shark. “We’ve been together for ages. Didn’t Derek tell you he wasn’t interested in anything serious?”

“No,” Stiles said miserably.

He knew, he knew that he shouldn’t take this random woman’s word over Derek’s. Hell, Lydia and Allison had forced him to watch enough rom-coms over the years that he knew no good could come from trusting this woman. But the pit that was steadily growing in his stomach and his shortening breaths told him that all the common sense in the world didn’t matter when it was actually happening to you.

“I have to go,” he gasped, again making for the door.

“If you’re trying to find my cheating lover, he’s probably at the fashion show,” the woman called after him.

“Fashion show?”

“At Beacon Center,” she supplied, throwing him another too-wide smile. “Tell Derek his Kate said hi.”

***

Stiles strode with purpose through the main entrance of Beacon Center Mall. He had no idea where the fashion show was supposed to be taking place, but he was determined to find it no matter how long it took.

He got about ten feet into the mall before he hit a wall of people. Craning his neck, he glimpsed a long stage where a model was currently strutting.

Oh. Well, that had been easy.

Stiles prowled around the outskirts of the crowd, trying to find a break. After a few minutes, he was starting to give up hope and mentally preparing himself to wiggle through the huge group of people when… “Stiles!”

Stiles jerked his head toward the voice and was met with a beaming female Derek. So his sister, then. Right.

“Hi, Laura,” Stiles said. “I’m loo-”

He’d barely begun speaking when she darted forward and grabbed his hand, dragging him away from the crowd. “What took you so long? Derek was so freaked out when you didn’t show up-”

“Wait, what?” Stiles yelped. “I didn’t even know about this!”

Laura snorted as she maneuvered Stiles around people. “Umm, yes you did. He told me that he told you about this like a week ago and you said you’d come and donate. You know how much this cause means to Derek.”

Stiles’s mind was racing. Had Derek ever mentioned this? Was Stiles at fault here?

No! Derek cheated on his scary girlfriend with him! Stiles was the victim!

So he wisely decided to say nothing else as Laura manhandled him all the way backstage. He caught sight of Derek almost right away. And Derek saw him too.

And promptly turned his back on Stiles and stomped away.

Stiles’s mouth dropped open. He turned helplessly to Laura, who shrugged at him and wandered away.

Stiles was really starting to hate the Hale family.

“May I help you?” a soft voice asked from behind him. Stiles craned his head around, to see if the mystery person was talking to him, and startled at the close proximity of the speaker. A frankly lecherous smile stretched across the man’s handsome face. “Are you allowed back here, you pretty thing?”

Stiles had the awful feeling that if it was possible to physically devour someone with one’s eyes, he’d be sliding down this guy’s corneas and into his stomach. It was flattering, sure, but the guy was also just about old enough to be his father, which, eew.

“I’m, uhh, here with Derek Hale?” he replied, immediately cursing himself for the questioning lilt at the end.

“Oh, so you’re Stiles,” Mr. Creeptastic purred, edging closer to Stiles, who turned fully and started to back away. “I can definitely see what my nephew sees in you.” His eyes were doing a whole lot more than just seeing.

“Yep, that’s me. Oh, is that Derek calling? Bye!” Stiles made to dash away, but The Creeper grabbed his arm with an iron grip.

“Not so fast, Stiles. I’m curious how my dear nephew went from taking a simple acting job to help an author role play scenes to ending up married.” He put his arm around Stiles and drew him close.

Stiles’s heart just about rabbeted out of his chest. One, Creeper was Derek’s uncle, the one in charge of Hale and Associates? And two, as far as Stiles knew, Derek hadn’t told anyone about their charade and Laura just seemed to think they were dating...

Plus, wasn’t Kate Derek’s freaking girlfriend?

“M-Married?” Stiles stuttered. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have to go.” He tried to slide away, but Derek’s uncle kept him clamped to his side.

“No so fast, Stiles,” he said pleasantly. “We’re just getting to know each other.”

Stiles was speechless. If his Dad was around, he would have had a heart attack at the mere idea of a Stiles without words. But Stiles had no idea what to say or do. He wasn’t an author. They weren’t married. They weren’t even dating. Derek had a girlfriend. Stiles was his mistress. Oh god, should Stiles tell this guy he was Derek’s mistress!?

“Peter, let go of him!” Derek’s voice barked from behind them. Relief surged through Stiles, before he remembered he was pissed at Derek for cheating on his girlfriend with him. And walking out on him after said cheating. And lying about being emotionally-available. Who does that?

Creeper McCreeperson, apparently also known as ‘Peter,’ took his sweet time dropping his arm from around Stiles’s back, but his lingering hand eventually fell to his own side. As soon as he was free, Stiles darted away. From both of them.

“Stiles!” Derek shouted after him.

Stiles kept running, pushing through people in the massive crowd, his body jostling this way and that as he struggled to just get away, as far away as possible.

Just as he reached the mall’s entrance, a sweaty hand latched onto his wrist. He jerked to a stop and tried to wrench away, but Derek held firm. Because who else could it be?

With slumping shoulders, Stiles whispered, “Let me go, Derek.” The hand didn’t relent and Stiles turned toward him. He was met with wide, wild eyes. “Derek?”

“I’m sorry I got mad that you forgot,” Derek gasped out. “Please don’t leave.”

“You think that’s what this is about?” Stiles huffed. “Seriously?” He tried to wriggle away again and this time Derek let him.

“What else could it be?” Derek genuinely sounded puzzled. He even tilted his head in the international, ‘I Am a Confused Puppy’ look. “You knew how important this is to me.”

Stiles balked. “No I didn’t. I don’t even remember you mentioning this!”

“When you promised to donate instead of paying me my extra money.”

“Your blackmail money,” Stiles snapped.

“Whatever,” Derek ran a hand through his hair. “I guess, since I asked you to use the money on this-”

“The nonexistent money,” Stiles interrupted.

“You got that it meant a lot to me,” Derek continued like Stiles hadn’t spoken. “Because...I thought I was starting to mean something to you,” he finished miserably.

Stiles’s heart clenched for all of two seconds before he remembered why he was the injured party here, damnit.

“That is absolutely fucking ridiculous,” he snarled.

Derek physically stepped back, a wounded look clouding his face. “But I thought-”

“How dare you imply that I’m the unfeeling bastard here. I’m not cheating on my girlfriend.”

Derek’s mouth had opened to reply, but at that last word, his jaw dropped completely. “What?”

Stiles hated himself a little bit, but he couldn’t stop the tears starting to prickle at the corners of his eyes. “Don’t play dumb. I went to the agency first. I met her. She told me.”

Now Derek just looked genuinely puzzled. “Who told you what?”

“KATE TOLD ME THAT SHE’S YOUR GIRLFRIEND AND I’M YOUR SORDID SLICE ON THE SIDE, DEREK. GODDAMNIT.”

Derek had flinched away at Stiles’s explosion, but almost immediately crowded into Stiles’s personal space once he’d finished and curled in on himself. “Stiles, hey no, look at me. There’s been a terrible mistake.”

“I know,” Stiles sniffed. “It was mine. I don’t even blame you, not really. I’m more mad at myself for pushing for more than a hook-up from a hook-up.”

“Stiles, it’s not—hey, wait a second, I thought I wasn’t just a hook-up!” Now Derek looked...insulted?

“That’s what you took from that?” Stiles grumbled.

“You asked and I answered truthfully!” Derek insisted, placing a tentative hand on Stiles’s shoulder. “I want more than just a hook-up with you, more than anything.”

Stiles knocked his hand off. “Then you should have broken up with your girlfriend first! And told me about it!”

“I don’t HAVE a girlfriend,” Derek yelled.

“That’s what they all...seriously?” Stiles couldn’t help the hope, his desire to believe this man he’d gotten so close to.

“No, I don’t. I’d never cheat. Stiles, how could you think I’d cheat on you?”

“Actually, I’d be the one you’re cheating with in this scenario, which I couldn’t blame you for, I mean look at me…” Stiles trailed off at Derek’s single unimpressed raised brow. “So...you don’t have a girlfriend?”

“No, I don’t. Kate is a heartless bitch who’s been trying to ruin my life, and by extension, all the Hales’ lives, for years.” Now Derek looked forlorn and Stiles felt like a jackass for having known (acknowledging it to himself, even!) that he shouldn’t take some random woman’s word over Derek’s and yet still doing it.

“What happened?” Stiles asked, but at Derek’s stricken look, he backpedaled. “You know what, nevermind, it’s none of my business.”

Derek ducked his head. “I never talk about it. But it is your business. She’s starting to try to ruin your life too. I knew I shouldn’t have talked about you at the agency.”

“But if you’re not comfortable...you talked about me?” Stiles digressed, unable to stop the happy little skip of his heart.

“Yeah, I may have mentioned you to Laura and Isaac. And then Peter overheard…”

“Your uncle is so creepy,” Stiles admitted. “And what’s this about us being married?”

Stiles would swear that the tips of Derek’s ears turned red. “That’s for later. For now, come with me backstage and I’ll try to explain what I can-”

“Derek!” the curly-haired guy from the bar rushed up to them, gasping for breath and leaning forward to clutch his knees.

“What is it, Isaac?” Derek asked. “Are you OK?”

“The agency building is on fire,” Isaac choked out.

“The only one there was Kate…” Stiles trailed off, his horror growing. “Is she capable of…?”

“More than,” Derek replied.

“That’s just it,” Isaac wheezed. “Laura left a little while ago. To pick something up at the agency.”

Derek blanched and sagged a little bit to the side.

“I assume the fire department is there?” Stiles asked Isaac, who nodded. “OK, we’ll call on the way so they know someone might be inside.”

“Kate could still be in there, too…” Isaac started.

Who cares,” Derek growled. He’d regained his color and his eyes were burning. He turned to Stiles. “Let’s go.”

Stiles nodded and grabbed Derek’s hand firmly in his. “Laura will be fine. We’re fine,” he said, needing Derek to know that, no matter what happened.

Derek didn’t respond, but he did squeeze Stiles’s hand. Together, they raced out of the mall.

***

Stiles couldn’t believe that the disaster movie set he was looking at was actually the building that he’d been inside a little over an hour ago. The small, stylish structure with it’s huge windows framing the entrance was almost completely engulfed in flames.

“An accelerant had to be used to get that kind of spread in such a short time,” Stiles overheard one of the firefighters running past saying.

Derek didn’t say a word as they stood by the temporary police barrier, watching his family’s business burn. Isaac was curled into his one side, sniffling into his shoulder and Stiles knew there had to be a story there. Stiles stood on his other side, still holding his hand tightly, not really sure what to say or do. Stiles’s father had arrived at the scene shortly after they did, taken one look at his son and where his hand was and rolled his eyes, muttering, “I don’t know why I’m surprised. I have no right to be surprised anymore.”

Stiles ignored him, far too focused on Derek to care that he was apparently somehow disappointing his father again. Derek’s eyes were locked on the ablaze building. He’d barely moved a muscle since he planted himself at the barrier, towing Stiles along with him. Not even a twitch.

Though that changed when one of the firefighters coming out yelled, “My radio died but there’s someone in there!” At that, Derek made as if to throw himself bodily over the barrier, and it was only Stiles and Isaac holding him back that kept him in place. And by “in place,” Stiles meant dragged them both a few feet until they braced themselves against said barrier.

Someone came up next to him. Stiles didn’t need to look to recognize the comforting, questioning presence of the Beacon Hills sheriff.

“I swear I didn’t set the fire, dad,” Stiles joked. They could joke about his arsonist phase now. There had been a lot of textbooks that had never been the same sophomore year.

Derek tensed next to him, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he was just now realizing that it was a possibility that Stiles could have set the fire in a state of jealous pique or because someone had dared even mention the fire that was burning fifty feet away from them. Stiles really hoped it was the latter.

“Why are you here, son?” his dad asked in a strained voice that only a person around when Stiles was growing up and getting involved in his various shenanigans would understand.

“I’m here with Derek,” he replied.

“I can see that,” his father observed, eyes flicking down to their linked hands again. “When did this happen?”

“It’s, uhh, pretty recent,” Stiles hedged. Yeah, like last night recent. “Derek was helping me with a project and we just clicked.” Stiles couldn’t help but notice that Derek perked up just a little at his words.

His father nodded and then stepped around in front of him to speak to Derek. “Son, it’s nice to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances. The town’s arson investigator is in Tahiti, so this is police business until she gets back. Is there anyone you can think of that would want to burn down your family’s agency?”

Stiles waited for the inevitable explosion and for all of Derek’s righteous anger to come bubbling back, but all he got was a quietly murmured, “No.”

Stiles visibly jerked back. “What? But I thought-”

Derek’s grip on his hand went from firm to stopping blood flow tight. His dad’s eyes cut straight to him, of course they did, his dad was great at his job, and he asked, “What’s that, Stiles?”

“I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Stiles blurted. “I mean, I’ve only known the guy for like, two weeks.”

“What were you going to say,” the sheriff repeated. It wasn’t a question.

“I was gonna say that I thought sabotage like this happened all the time in the modeling world. Don’t they try to like, break each other’s legs and stuff? Or is that just gymnastics?” he laughed weakly.

His dad’s eyes bored into him, like he knew Stiles was lying, that he wasn’t being his typical assholish self without good reason. But after a moment, he passed Derek his card, said “If you think of anything, call me,” and walked away.

“What the hell, dude?” Stiles turned to Derek, whose attention was once again fully focused on the burning building. “I thought we thought Kate was behind this.”

“I’m sure she is,” Derek gritted out. “But we can’t tell anyone. Promise me.”

“But-”

“Promise me.”

Stiles deflated. “I promise. What’s a little law-breaking, aiding and abetting between a son and his sheriff father, anyway?”

Derek opened his mouth, probably to snark back, but an ear-piercing scream rang through the air and Derek had torn himself from Stiles’s and Isaac’s grasp and jumped the barrier before either could react.

Stiles watched as his fake husband ran into his family’s burning modeling agency right before his eyes.

What had his life become?

***

“I don’t even know what to do with you,” Stiles complained, towing Derek along behind him.

After he’d run into a fucking burning building, Isaac had had to hold Stiles back from following him in. Which had caused two reactions in Stiles: one, shame, because it had taken both him and Isaac to hold Derek back and two, surprise, because up until that point, there were only five people he’d run into a burning building for (which he realized, upon reflection, was probably an absurdly long list when you got down to it, but whatever), so apparently somewhere along the way Derek had ended up grouped in with the most important people in his life: his dad, Scott, Allison, Victoria and Lydia.

Soon after, it hadn’t mattered, because a firefighter hauled Derek out of the agency, who in turn had a coughing, soot-covered Laura clutched to him. After herding Laura immediately to the EMTs waiting at the ready, his father had Derek checked over and then he’d dragged him, physically, by his arm, over to Stiles.

“Get him out of here,” his dad had barked. Derek had immediately plastered himself to Stiles’s side and he could have sworn the sheriff stalked away muttering, “They’re perfect for each other, Jesus Christ…”

Laura was going to the hospital for routine checks and Derek needed to calm the heck down, so Stiles took him to the only place he could think of: his apartment.

After informing Derek that he had no idea what to do with him, he sat him down on the couch, covered him with a blanket and made him soup.

“I’m not sick, Stiles,” Derek complained when Stiles shoved the mug full of chicken noodle into his hands.

“That’s debatable,” Stiles retorted. “It takes a sick person to run into a fiery inferno after someone when they are like twenty firefighters around.”

“There were not twenty,” Derek huffed. Then added in a small voice, “She’s my sister.”

Stiles’s heart did not melt, OK? All right, maybe it did. But just a little bit.

Stiles sunk onto the couch next to Derek and cuddled as close as he dared. Even though their conversation about “them” had ended on a positive note (well, before finding out the agency was on fire), he didn’t want to push anything.

Derek stared into his mug of soup. Stiles stared at Derek. Somewhere, some divine being (or maybe an alien) stared at them both. And then rolled its eyes.

“So, uhh,” Stiles, predictably, broke the silence. “You wanna tell me why we didn’t tell my dad, the sheriff, a stand-up guy and very good cop who is going to make me pay in some subtle yet painful way for lying to him… what was I saying?” Stiles blinked. “Oh yeah. Why didn’t we tell my dad you think Kate did it?”

Derek sat up straighter and squared his shoulders, like he was mentally preparing for battle, so Stiles rushed to clarify. “I’m not mad. And I don’t care, not really. Because I trust you. But I think I deserve to know now. If you feel comfortable telling me.”

Stiles saw Derek’s shoulders relax a little and he took that as a win. “You do,” Derek replied. “And it will explain why Kate lied about being my girlfriend, too, so two birds with one stone.”

“Less speaking for you, good,” Stiles nodded seriously.

Derek mock glared and elbowed him. Stiles squawked indignantly. Derek sunk further back into the couch (Stiles: 2, Discomfort: 0) and started to talk. “When I was sixteen, I used to be a little shit.”

Stiles snorted. “Used to be?”

Derek glared for real. “I thought it made me better than most people that my family owned a modeling and acting agency and we were basically all model pretty—I was terrible. Then my mom hired a new model, she’d just graduated from design school, and her name was Kate. I did some modeling on the weekends and after school for some teen brands. I met her at one of the shoots—she was dressed as a teacher and me and Isaac were school boys, it was Ralph Lauren, it was weird. She was really nice to me, to both of us, but to me especially. She started showing up to all my shoots to watch. It was...different and scary, but really nice to have this gorgeous older woman showing so much interest in me.”

Derek paused, looking vaguely constipated. “I take it this is where the ‘but’ comes in?” Stiles asked gently.

“Yeah. She was always flirting with me, so when she asked me out, I didn’t hesitate. It didn’t matter in my mind that she was like six or seven years older than me.”

“And you were underage,” Stiles murmured.

“And I was underage. We had sex on the first date, which had been to a diner two towns over. In the back of my car, she fucked me. Even though it was my dick in her, she fucked me. And… it wasn’t as great as I expected it to be? I told her that and she just laughed at me. But it didn’t matter. I was smitten. We went on a few more dates, which basically equaled having sex in the back of my car. Then, maybe after a month, she brought up drugs.”

Stiles couldn’t help but sit up straight, mouth hanging open. “Drugs?”

Derek curled in on himself immediately and Stiles scolded his own stupidity. “Hey, no, I was just surprised.” He took a chance and wrapped an arm around Derek’s shoulders, tugging him close. Derek relaxed a little, but Stiles could still feel the slight tension in his shoulders.

“Yeah, she convinced me to do all sorts of stuff. She told me that if I loved her, I’d trust her to know what would make sex and life even better. That I was a gorgeous teenage model, she said drugs were the next step.” Derek sighed. “Now, I was full of myself back then, but my parents raised me right. The whole no underage drinking, drugs or sex. Well, I’d already broken two of those rules—our second and third dates were at a bar—so I thought, why not. I tried…” Derek hesitated and ducked his head, “So much. After she weaned me on the easy stuff, she got me to do coke and more. And then she just stopped talking to me. I was so upset, I didn’t understand. I was devastated. And then mom got the pictures.”

Stiles’s heart clenched. He suddenly thought he knew where the story was going and it broke his heart. “What were the pictures of?”

“Me, mostly. Drunk out of my mind. High on weed. Tripping on E. Snorting coke. One was a picture of right after sex. Kate wasn’t in the frame, but I was on my back, dick still half-hard, covered in my own spunk, smoking a joint.”

“What did she want?”

“The company.”

“Wow.”

“She said that if my mom didn’t turn over her majority share, she’d release the pictures of her teenage model son to the press. And we would have lost every contract we had. No one wants to show public support to a company whose owner’s son does that.”

“She blackmailed you.”

“Yes.”

“Which is why you got so upset when I accused you of blackmailing me.”

“Yes.”

“So why did you ask for the extra money?”

“For my charity.”

Your charity?”

“Look, I’ll get to that in a minute. If I don’t finish this story now, I don’t think I ever will. This is the...first time I’ve ever really told anyone.”

“I’m sorry, go on,” Stiles said, flustered. Was he that important to Derek?

“Anyway, my mom ceded her the company.”

“Wait, what?”

Derek shrugged. “She had no choice. I’d given her no choice.”

“No!” Stiles burst out, not caring that he was interrupting the flow of the story again. He had to make a very important point. “This is on Kate. She used you, Derek. You were young and impressionable and in love. You would have done anything for her. What harm could there be in doing a few drugs, right? How could you know she was a crazy bitch with a plan?”

“I’ve never known for sure if that had been her plan all along or if she just took advantage of an opportunity,” Derek admitted. “I’ve never been able to ask her.”

That’s what you took from what I said?” Stiles admonished.

Derek ducked his head. “No, I...heard the other part. Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me for the truth. Thank me for not interrupting the rest of your story.” He made a shooing, ‘go on’ gesture.

Derek snorted. “I’ll believe that when I see it.” Stiles opened his mouth to retort, but Derek held up a finger. “So my mother gave Kate her majority share in the company. The first thing she did was fire all of our models and bring in her own. Which was terrible because a lot of our clients had specific models they liked or were interested in using next. The agency immediately started losing money and was going to close. Somebody had to do something. My mom had put too much work into that company to have it die. So my uncle Peter stepped in.”

“Mr. Creepy McCreeperson,” Stiles observed. He blinked at the smug look on Derek’s face. “Goddamnit, you were right. Continue.”

“My uncle Peter...how should I put this? Can be really terrifying and nefarious when he wants to be.”

“Nefarious. SAT word!” Stiles crowed.

“I was wrong. We need to break up,” Derek deadpanned.

Stiles laughed. “That won’t work, buddy. I’m so delighted that there might be something to break up from that I’m gonna let that comment roll right off my back.”

Derek couldn’t hide the small smile on his face. “You’re actually making this easier than I thought it would be. Thank you.”

“There you go again, thanking me. Geez. You’re addicted to gratitude.”

Derek ignored him and continued, “Peter used to be very much involved in the hostile takeover of various small businesses. He owned a flower shop for a year because he didn’t like the owner’s husband and wanted revenge. He also owned two Subways for a while for mostly the same reason. And he hates sandwiches. Says people should eat the ingredients as God intended: separately, not slapped between two doughy slabs of carbohydrates.”

“I find the fact that he is related to you astonishing,” Stiles admitted.

“You haven’t met my mother,” Derek shook his head. “She’s just as ruthless as Peter, but she internalizes it and utilizes it to help herself and others, whereas Peter is just…” Derek trailed off.

“Creepy,” Stiles supplied.

“Yes, Stiles, I’ve gotten the memo that you think my uncle is creepy. I happen to like the guy, even if he does sneak up on me like Dracula in the old movies: slowly and then all at once.”

“Did you just make a Fault in Our Stars reference?” Stiles scrunched his nose. “Because I thought it was overblown drivel.”

“You read it?”

“Saw it. Lydia made me. She is a fierce warrior princess, but she has a soft spot for the worst kind of romantic films. She likes The Notebook,” Stiles added in a stage whisper, as if afraid Lydia would materialize out of nowhere and lecture him on the transformative nature of doomed romance in cinema. Or something. “Why, did you read it?”

“No,” Derek rolled his eyes. “I just saw the same commercial five million times like most other people who make that reference.”

“Oh, ok then. Carry on.”

“Thank you,” Derek snarked. “Peter stepped in at my mother’s request and proceeded to charm—or threaten, we’ve never known for sure—Kate until she agreed to him as a co-owner. And then he strong armed her out fully in less than three months. Her final stipulation before she fully relinquished the company was that for as long as she wished it, as long as Hale and Associates exists, she can work there. So she hasn’t left me alone in twelve years.”

“And that’s where we are today?”

“Yeah. She’s been getting worse in recent months, too. She’s been getting bolder, more taunting. Like at the club. Or when, you know, she told you she was my girlfriend when she could see we were getting close. You’re the...uhh, first person I’ve really gotten close to since Kate, because of Kate. There was this one woman, Jennifer, about a year ago. She was an English teacher and I liked her. We went for coffee twice. That’s it. Next thing I knew, Kate took her out for drinks and Jennifer blocked my number. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“Does your family know she’s getting worse and terrorizing potential romantic partners?”

“No,” Derek’s arm emerged from his blanket cocoon to rub the back of his neck. “I’ve already caused so much trouble, I didn’t want to make it worse.”

“Except now she burned down your agency,” Stiles pointed out.

“It’s just a building,” Derek shrugged. “No one got hurt. As a matter of fact, Peter’s been making noise about a bigger location for a while now… Wait, did you mean that it’s my fault she burned down the building, because I didn’t tell me family she was still torturing me?” Derek looked absolutely stricken.

“No!” Stiles cried. “No. That is not what I was implying. I just meant that you shouldn’t keep things inside so much. She could have hurt you, Derek. Like psychically. Like with a knife or something.”

“I guess,” Derek sighed. “It could have been worse. At least she didn’t ruin our relationship.”

“Yeah, way to look on the brightside,” Stiles patted his shoulder, totally not swooning at the word relationship. “Not to change the subject, but also, to change the subject, I’ve got to say there’s one thing I still don’t understand,” Stiles admitted.

“What’s that?”

“You got upset when I called it blackmailing, but you still extorted me for money, even if it was for your charity.”

“Honestly?” Derek asked.

“Yes.”

“I donate every last cent of my paycheck that I can to Teach-A-Kid. After everything with Kate, I couldn’t leave to become a teacher like I’d always wanted, I couldn’t abandon my family with her, so I started the charity instead. But it’s still not enough. There are still more kids we could help, but aren’t able to. When I met you, I thought you were an asshole, hiring someone to pretend to be your husband, geez, and you just expected me to go along with it. So I took advantage. I felt like the scum of the earth about it, which is why I was so quiet in the beginning. But then I got to know you, and I started to feel even worse. Which is when I said not to bother with the extra money.”

“Now I feel like an asshole.”

“Stiles, I may have developed some rather strong feelings for you, but the fact remains that, yes, you are an asshole.”

“Aw, honey, you know me so well,” Stiles cooed.

“Unfortunately.”

“I hate to bring it back around to this, but what are we gonna do about psycho Kate?” Stiles asked. “We can’t just keep lying to the police about the fire.”

“I know,” Derek scrubbed a hand over his face. “But she’ll release the photos if we implicate her.”

A form was planning in Stiles’s mind. A devious, insane plan.

“Would that be such a bad thing?” he asked.

Derek blinked. “Excuse me?”

Stiles grinned. “I know what we have to do.”

***

“Now for our final story of the night,” Kira chirped, “Stiles?”

“Thanks, Kira,” Stiles smiled at her and took a deep breath. “Ladies and gentlemen, out final story is exclusive to Beacon Hills Tonight. Last week, successful local modeling agency Hale and Associates lost their office building to a fire. Police suspect foul play, but have no suspect. But I know who the culprit is. Kate Argent.” A picture of Kate (Stiles had picked the most unflattering one he could find, just because) appeared on the screen next to him. “Why have the police not been notified? Because for twelve years, Kate Argent has been blackmailing the Hales, to the point that she actually extorted the company away from them for a period of five months in 2005. The Hales have remained silent to protect their business, and more importantly, to protect their son. Here, to speak for the first time about this harrowing experience, is Derek Hale.”

Derek walked stiffly onto the set and sat in the chair nearest to Stiles at the end of news desk. “Good evening, Mr. Hale.”

“Stiles, thanks for having me,” Derek forced a smile.

“Thanks for being here,” Stiles parroted back, easily slipping into interviewer mode. “Now, your family has kept quiet about this blackmail for nearly twelve years. What does she have on you guys?”

Derek sighed. “Not on us. Just on me.”

Stiles waved a hand in the universal go on gesture.

“When I was sixteen, Kate seduced me. I’ll admit I was a willing participant, but she, according to the law, assaulted me. Right off the bat, we consistently got drunk together. Soon after we started sleeping together, she convinced me to try marijuana. It was fun and everything was fine, so I thought nothing of it when she suggested we try stronger drugs.”

As he spoke, many of the pictures he’d described to Stiles appeared on the screen: one where Derek was clearly drunk, eyes half-lidded and unfocused; in the next he was holding a joint, apparently shotgunning with a dirty blonde woman who was facing away from the camera (“I don’t know how she took that one,” Derek had said when they’d looked over the pictures.).

As he continued to talk, the pictures got worse. “By the time we were snorting coke off each other’s backs, I knew I had to get out of the situation, but I didn’t know how. This was a woman I thought I loved telling me to do these things. And then suddenly, our relationship just stopped. That’s when the blackmail started.”

Stiles was startled to notice tears starting to gather in the corners of Derek’s eyes as he recounted his mother’s loss of the company and Peter’s hostile re-takeover. “They did it all for me, for a dumb kid, and now, because of me, because we’ve never told anyone, because of what she had on me, my family’s agency was burned to the ground.”

“It’s not your fault,” Stiles said.

“I agree,” Kira piped up from behind them.

Derek cracked a small smile. “We lost a lot in the fire. And I am sure that if the police and arson investigator look into it, they’ll realize Kate’s guilty. I’m not afraid of her anymore. So please,” he turned to look directly at the camera, “If you want to cut ties with me, do it. But leave my family’s business out of it. They were just protecting me.”

“Kate Argent is the real culprit in all of this,” Stiles added, also turning to look at the camera. “We implore the Beacon Hills authorities to work diligently, as they always do, to punish her for her crimes.” He turned back to Derek. “I think I speak for many of our viewers when I say I’m sorry for everything that’s happened to you. But I have to ask, what’s life like now, Mr. Hale?”

Derek nodded. “Now my life is back on track. I’m a successful model, I’m thinking about returning to school to pursue my lifelong dream of being a history teacher and I’m in a stable, loving relationship.”

“Oh, who’s the lucky person?” Stiles asked in his best “serious newscaster” voice.

“I’m looking at him,” Derek winked and leaned over to peck Stiles on the lips.

More than one standerby in the studio let out a longing sigh (but Boyd’s may have been the loudest of all).


 

 

Epilogue:

Two Weeks Later

“Oh fuck. Oh fuck, Stiles…” Derek braced his hands more firmly on Stiles’s heaving chest, fingers digging in a little bit, and started to move faster. “It feels so good.”

Stiles could focus on only two things: not gripping Derek’s hips too hard (bruising that unblemished expanse would be a crime, at least without prior negotiation) and not coming too soon. Because damn. Derek was riding him the way he did everything else.

With way too much dedication.

“Wanna slow down a bit, babe?” Stiles was finally forced to ask, fingers flexing.

A slow smirk spread across Derek’s sweaty, blushing face. God, he was hot. “Not really. But I will if you want,” he added seriously.

Stiles was also pretty sure he loved this man.

“Just, just for a second.”

Derek nodded and ceased his hard bouncing, instead taking up a steady back and forth rocking motion, barely leaving Stiles’s cock, but still making sparks fly behind his closed eyelids. He couldn’t look at Derek’s flushed cheeks or his bitten raw lips any longer if he wanted to last. Stiles had never had a problem with stamina before, but geez, Derek Hale was testing him.

After a minute of his slow grind, Derek smoothed his hand along Stiles’s chest and tweaked a nipple. Stiles’s eyes flew open in shock. Derek smiled at him. “Ready?”

“Yeah,” Stiles braced himself.

But Derek simply caressed his cheek and slowly started to pick up the pace, lifting himself a little more with every upward motion. Stiles ran a hand down his thigh. “Tire yourself out?”

Derek shook his head. “No, but… this is just as nice. And I might have been a little too zealous before.”

“Two things,” Stiles began as he got a good grip on each of Derek’s thighs. “One, this is nice. But two,” Stiles flipped them with minimal flailing and grinned down at Derek, now flat on his back and looking a little stunned. “If you’re still using words like zealous in fully-formed sentences, I’m not doing this right.” And with a wink, he fucked back into Derek, who’s back arched clear off the bed. He started up a steady rhythm and used his grip on Derek’s thighs to spread his legs and push them up until Derek was folded nearly in half. Stiles planted his knees and just gave it to him.

“I...oooh...I see your p-point, oh yeah,” Derek slurred, eyes starting to glaze over.

Stiles grinned. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”

***

Later, after cleaning Derek, who was starfished in the middle of the bed, off with a warm washcloth, Stiles curled himself around the dozing man, ready to nod off.

“Has Mona said anything about the interview?” Derek murmured, immediately derailing Stiles’s plans. They’d needed to talk for a while, since their sneaky segment on Beacon Hills Tonight really, but they’d been too busy living happily ever after, or whatever.

“No. She’s been radio silence on you for the last few weeks. Though I did make sure to loudly tell Erica when Mona was like two feet away that you were telling people you were a teacher because you were worried about Kate and connecting yourself to Hale and Associates. I also added that you use Hale as your modeling name, Mr. Derek Stilinski. You’re just lucky I remembered you introduced yourself like that, you crazy person. Anyway, Mona looked intrigued and walked away.”

“She still talks to me every morning when I go for my run. Just about silly, normal stuff,” Derek told the pillow.

“There you go. Nothing to worry about.”

“The real question is ‘what now?’” Derek sighed, rolling to face Stiles.

“That’s a broad question, dude,” Stiles replied, winding an arm around his waist and pulling him close again.

“Don’t ever call me ‘dude’ in bed again,” Derek requested, wincing. “Nothing will make me softer faster.”

“I dunno, I’m Stiles Stilinski. If there’s a way, I’ll find it,” Stiles joked.

“Point,” Derek laughed at him. “What I meant before was...do we continue tricking Mona? Or should we come clean?”

Stiles shuddered, any last residual afterglow fading. “To come clean now terrifies me. But it’s not fair to you if I don’t. You’re amazing and no one should lie about you,” Stiles said, stroking Derek’s side. “So, I’ll tell her tomorrow, if you want.”

“I’m glad you said that,” Derek replied, “because now I have no qualms saying that we can keep up the ruse, if you want. I’d be fine with that.”

“But...how?” Stiles blinked. “You’d have to…move in?”

“Are you asking me or asking me?” Derek smirked.

“You’re a bastard, oh my god. Because this isn’t moving too fast or anything, Derek, do you want to move in?” Stiles smiled at him. Screw conventions. This was Derek.

“I’d love to,” Derek grinned. “As long as you’re ok with it. I mean, it’d help with Mona and… I live with Laura, so I’ve been meaning to move out and—”

“Derek,” Stiles interrupted him. “Move in with me.”

Derek beamed. “Ok.”

“Great. So this is totally going to work! We just have to keep our friend groups apart at all times!”

Derek nodded. “That won’t be a problem. Isaac is my only friend and I might have already told him about...everything? And Peter overheard. It’s Laura we’ll have to avoid.”

“Noted.”

“But we do have a problem,” Derek continued.

“What’s that?”

“Victoria.”

“What about her?”

“Well, we’ll have to address her disappearance with Mona eventually.”

Vicki had been more than happy to go home as soon as her parents had returned from Europe, complaining loudly about all the “gross kissing and cuddling,” as Stiles left their house after dropping her off.

“Maybe we can convince Ally and Scott to lend her out on weekends?” Stiles wondered, only half kidding.

“That won’t work forever,” Derek replied, dead serious.

“We can…say she went to live with her mother?” Stiles suggested. Derek cocked his head, so Stiles continued. “Yes, I never told you, Mona, because it pains me to this day, but Derek is not the mother of my child.” Stiles threw a hand dramatically over his eyes.

“Hey!” Derek poked him in the side. “I’m nobody’s mother, Stilinski.”

Stiles chuckled and went on, “Before I realized Derek was my one true love, I was engaged to a, gasp, woman and she got pregnant. We broke up, but not before my ex-fiancé fled, leaving me with my darling Vicki. Now she’s back and she’s cleaned up her act, so I agreed that Vick could live with her for a while so they could bond.” He turned his attention back to Derek and added, “It’ll be great, I’m just throwing in more tragic backstory,” he insisted.

“Then, when we do get married, we’ll tell Mona, but how can she be mad because we’re actually getting married? We’ll all part as unlikely friends,” Derek tacked on.

Stiles blinked at him, “When we get married?”

Derek’s ears turned bright red. “Well, uhh…”

“Derek Hale,” Stiles began seriously. “Because I’m pretty sure I already love you and we’re making crazy, post-coital decisions anyway...will you marry me...eventually?”

Derek grinned. “I will...eventually.”

***

Because fate worked like that, they ran into Mona in the hallway the very next day. Derek was accompanying Stiles to work before his night class (he’d started just two days before to finally get his teaching certificate, with Stiles’s full support), and that must have been where Mona was heading as well, so they walked down the hall together.

“So, on your way to class, Derek?” Mona asked brightly.

Derek shuffled his feet a little. “Actually, I was going to go to the station first and watch Stiles. But then I do have my class. Approaches to Teaching,” he added shyly.

“I’m glad you’re done lying,” Mona replied. At Derek’s stricken look, she rushed to add, “I only meant that I’d never look down on you for modeling! But I’m glad you’re done lying to yourself and are pursuing your dream!”

Derek nodded and Stiles squeezed his hand.

“Now, where is Miss Victoria tonight? Staying with her aunt again?”

Stiles opened his mouth, ready to launch into their predetermined tale, when Mona continued, “Or have you finally let that poor girl go home to her parents?”

They both gaped openly at her.

Stiles chuckled nervously. “I don’t know what you—”

“Come now, Stiles, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know you lied to me in your interview. Your eye twitches when you lie. I first noticed it when you pretended to be happy that the Dodgers had beat your beloved Mets for your West coast audience. Remember we bonded over our mutual love of the Mets in your interview? And then it continued twitching when you talked about Derek. Until it didn’t. So, have you two idiots finally realized you’re actually perfect for each other?”

Stiles didn’t know what to say. He’d been rendered speechless more in the last month than he had been in his entire life. He didn’t know what that said about his future with Derek, but—

“Yes, we have,” Derek held up their linked hands. “This? Totally voluntary.”

“Good,” Mona beamed. “You should both come to dinner again this Saturday, so I can get to know you properly. Bring Vicki and her parents too, if they can. Now I’m off to work. I won’t tell on you, Stiles, but you should probably figure out something to tell your co-workers.”

And she boarded the elevator, leaving them alone in the hallway.

“Holy shit,” Stiles breathed. “I want to be just like her when I grow up.”

“I can’t believe she knew,” Derek said, his face still on fire.

“I can,” Stiles nodded. “She’s scary. Still wanna move in? Please say yes.”

“I don’t know,” Derek joked. “Now that we don’t have to fool people, the spark might be gone.”

He got onto the returned elevator and Stiles rushed to board with him.

“We can make something else up! We’re...star-crossed lovers, reincarnated. Or...I’m from the wrong side of the tracks and you’re the sexy teacher willing to take a chance on me. Or—”

“So you want our lives to be a bad Hallmark movie?” Derek cut in, laughing.

“Isn’t it already?” Stiles quipped, pulling him close.

Derek grinned. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Stiles kissed him sweetly as the elevator doors started to close. He broke away to say, “Or, we could break both my legs and you could be the unlucky stranger that has to nurse me back to health…”

The doors dinged closed to Derek’s quiet laughter.

The End.