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Midnight Wolf vs Abominable Snowman!

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“Wow, that’s really good,” a voice says, interrupting Derek’s thought process and shattering his concentration.

He ignores whoever has the nerve to disturb him while he’s hard at work drawing rough drafts of next month’s issue. Normally he’d be working in the comfortable silence of his apartment, but his air conditioner broke yesterday, so he’s been forced to move to the coffee shop down the street. It’s already starting to grate on his nerves. There are far too many people milling about loudly and the drink prices are just outrageous. To put it simply, he’s really not in the mood to deal with people, much less someone who’s gone out of their way to disturb him.

“I have to say, you’ve got Derek Hale’s style down,” the man continues, and Derek hears a thump that sounds suspiciously like a heavy backpack being set down next to the table. “That’s the best Midnight Wolf fanart I’ve ever seen. I can’t even imagine how amazing it’s going to look when you’re finished with the actual line art.”

“Can you just leave?” Derek snaps, finally tearing his eyes away from his work long enough to glare at the man (teenager?) who’s decided to make himself at home in the chair across the table from him.

“Dude, do you see any other options here? The place is packed,” the guy replies, raising one eyebrow at him.

Derek manages to tear his eyes away from the stranger’s face just long enough to actually glance around the coffee shop to find that, unfortunately, the guy is right. There’s not a seat in sight and there’s already a couple of people milling around near the drink pickup area, looking around the room awkwardly as they try to figure out where to sit.

“I’m working,” Derek says, turning his eyes back to the stranger, still glaring slightly, not that it seems to bother the guy much.

“I can see that,” the guy replies, still looking remarkably (or annoyingly, maybe) unimpressed. “If you consider fanart work – which I do, by the way.”

Derek almost makes the mistake of saying, It’s not fanart, but he manages to catch himself, biting his tongue. This stranger, who’s already identified himself as at least a casual fan of Midnight Wolf, doesn’t need to know that he actually is the artist and author, not just another fan.

“I’m Stiles, by the way,” the guy continues cheerily, extending a hand for Derek to shake.

He glares at it for a moment before ignoring it entirely, although in his peripheral vision he catches the way Stiles’ smile slowly slips off his face, making him feel just a little bit guilty about his blatant rudeness.

“Great talk,” Stiles mutters, ducking his head and fiddling with his coffee cup, probably not meaning for Derek to have caught those softly spoken words.

Derek just continues sketching out the confrontation between Lanna and Katie, trying to get back into the zone he’d been so abruptly pulled out of. He hears Stiles shuffling around on the other side of the table and soon enough the other man has a laptop out. Stiles taps his fingers idly against the table as he waits for it to boot up, and it’s already getting on Derek’s nerves. He’s about to make another harshly worded comment, but as he looks up, his words die in his throat. Stiles looks remarkably dejected and Derek suddenly feels a pang of guilt about how much of an asshole he’s being.

“Sorry,” Derek says after a moment, startling Stiles and making him blink over at Derek with big, brown bambi eyes, the sort of which should really be illegal. “I’ve just had a long day. Normally I draw at home, but my air conditioning broke, so…”

“Nah, it’s okay, I get it. Apology accepted,” Stiles replies, a small spreading across his pink lips. “I know I can be kind of annoying sometimes, especially when it comes to Midnight Wolf.”

“You’re a fan, then?” Derek asks, trying not to feel too sleazy as he does so.

“I’m not sure if ‘fan’ is a strong enough word,” Stiles jokes, smiling wryly. “I’m kind of obsessed. I trust you not to judge me, though, considering you’re drawing fanart and all.”

“Yeah, fanart,” Derek repeats absently, trying to decide if he should set Stiles straight or not.

Probably not, because that would invariably unleash a barrage of gushing compliments and autograph requests, and basically everything that Derek really doesn’t want to deal with. After all, when he’d started writing Midnight Wolf he’d never imaged that it would grow to have such a large following. In fact, somehow it’s turned into one of DC’s most successful comic series. Not that he’s complaining, exactly. He’s glad that people enjoy his work so much, but the publicity that comes with it is almost unbearable for someone as introverted as he is.

“You never introduced yourself,” Stiles says, breaking Derek from his thoughts and making him confront the question he really doesn’t want to deal with right now.

“Miguel,” he answers after a beat, saying the first name that pops into his mind.

“You don’t really look like a Miguel,” Stiles replies, wrinkling his nose, and Derek really hopes he doesn’t recognize him from any of the very few photos of him that are floating somewhere around the internet.

“I get that a lot,” Derek says, shrugging, eyes darting back down to the drawings scattered over the table.

He resolutely ignores Stiles for the next two hours until he finally leaves, nearly knocking over the table and all of Derek’s drawings in the process. Derek glares at him. Stiles just smiles sheepishly and waves goodbye.

---

It’s two days before Derek sees Stiles again – two days too soon, in his opinion. Again, the coffee shop is packed and Derek almost gives up on finding an open seat and goes back to his overheated apartment, but then his eyes land on Stiles and the otherwise empty table he’s sitting at. He hesitates for a moment, but then caves, making his way across the over packed room.

“Hey,” Derek says, setting his things down on the table and slipping into the empty seat, startling Stiles.

“Oh, yeah, hi,” Stiles replies, blinking at him with those wide bambi eyes of his. “Miguel the fan artist, right?”

Derek nods, opening up his folder and supply case, pulling out a couple of Faber-Castell soft graphite pencils. He can feel Stiles’ eyes on him as he starts to work, and he glances up, surprised to find Stiles focusing intently on his drawing instead of on his body, unlike most people.

“Are you an artist?” Derek asks, surprising himself as well as Stiles. He doesn’t normally make small talk.

“Oh, um, kind of,” Stiles says, shrugging, and he blushes slightly, although Derek can’t tell why. “I have this little webcomic that I do, but that’s about it.”

“What’s it called?” Derek inquires, legitimately curious, because there’s certainly a chance that he’s read it or at least heard of it. After all, he spends most of the time he doesn’t use drawing looking through independent webcomics, just to see what other people are doing.

“You wouldn’t want to read it. It’s really bad,” Stiles says quickly, making Derek narrow his eyes.

“Is it porn?” he asks, the words bypassing his lips before he can really think them through, making Stiles’ face go bright, bright red.

“No!” Stiles sputters, hands flailing as he tries to wave off Derek’s concerns. “No porn!”

“I don’t get why you’re so defensive about it, then,” Derek says, shrugging, eyes focusing back down on his work. “I can’t be that bad.”

“Just drop it,” Stiles whines, ducking back behind his laptop again.

Derek relents. He supposes it’s only fair, after all. Stiles should be able to have his secrets, considering he’s already lied about his name and being a fan artist instead of the actual artist. They fall into silence after that, save for the quick pitter patter of Stiles’ fingers across his keyboard and the soft scratch of Derek’s pencil over the paper spread out in front of him.

After a good hour or so, long after his coffee’s gone cold, Derek decides to take a break, sitting back in his chair and stretching his arms out, hearing his joints crack. He hears Stiles’ typing falter for a moment, catches Stiles’ eyes glance over at him for just a moment, lingering on where his shirt has ridden up just a bit before quickly focusing back on his laptop screen.

“So, how’d you get into Midnight Wolf?” Stiles asks idly, still not looking up from his laptop.

“I know the artist,” Derek says after a moment, making Stiles’ head pop up abruptly, his eyes wide and his distracting mouth hanging open in surprise.

“You know Derek Hale?” Stiles asks, sounding a little breathless in a way that does strange things to Derek’s insides. “Dude! That’s frickin’ awesome! I wish I knew him.”

“Is that your subtle way of asking me to introduce you two?” Derek replies dryly, resisting the urge to sigh, because he should have known this would happen.

“Nah,” Stiles answers, throwing Derek for a loop, a confused expression settling on his face.

“You don’t want to meet him?” Derek asks, suddenly unsure if he’s offended or relieved.

“Well, no, I do, but not if he doesn’t want to meet me,” Stiles says, shrugging, biting his lower lip and looking over at Derek from under long eyelashes. “I mean, I know he likes his privacy, so I don’t want to, like, force myself on him or anything. I really respect his work and I’d love to pick his brain at some point, but I wanna respect him, too, you know?”

Derek’s pretty sure he falls a little bit in love with Stiles.

“I think he’d like you,” Derek blurts out, making a small, lopsided smile appear on Stiles’ face.

“Thanks,” Stiles replies, his cheeks flushing a little pink. “You know, you’re a lot less of an asshole today. Did you get your air conditioning fixed?”

“Do you think I would be here if I had?” Derek asks, giving Stiles an unimpressed look, thankful for the slight feeling of annoyance taking over again, replacing the fonder, more dangerous feelings that had momentarily hijacked him.

“You mean you’re not here for my amazing company?” Stiles shoots back, batting his eyelashes theatrically.

“No,” Derek answers, deadpan, unable to help himself from enjoying the slight pout that appears on Stiles’ face.

“I take back every nice thing I’ve said about you,” Stiles grumbles, looking back at his laptop, still pouting.

“When have you said anything nice about me?” Derek asks, because he’s pretty sure there’s nothing Stiles has said about him that could actually be considered nice – well, as long as they’re just talking about “Miguel.” Stiles has probably said a lot of nice things about Derek Hale.

“Touché,” Stiles relents, once again smiling slightly.

“So, how’d you get into Midnight Wolf?” Derek inquires, wondering if it makes him narcissistic, even though his intent isn’t really to fish for compliments. Well, maybe it is a little bit, but mostly his intentions are innocent.

“Well, my mom got me into DC comics when I was little,” Stiles answers, sounding strangely sad for a moment. “We used to read them together and after she died reading them kind of became a way of remembering her. So basically the short answer is that I like DC comics and Midnight Wolf is DC.”

“Oh,” Derek replies, unsure what he’s supposed to say to a casual confession like that.

They lapse back into silence for a moment, Stiles resolutely focused on whatever he’s typing while Derek just toys with his pencil, staring at the sketches he’s completed so far and wondering what to do next. He glances back up at Stiles for a moment.

“My mom got me into art,” he says suddenly, unsure why he’s confessing this to a virtual stranger. “She was a painter.”

“That’s cool,” Stiles replies, smiling as he glances up to meet Derek’s eyes for just a moment. “My mom didn’t have an artistic bone in her body.”

“My sister’s the same way,” Derek says, returning Stiles’ smile ever so slightly as he thinks about Laura’s horrible attempts at art from when they were kids. “She’s pretty much limited to stick figures.”

“Hey, don’t knock stick figures,” Stiles protests, finally putting down his laptop screen and crossing his arms over it, leaning forward. “You can do a lot with stick figures.”

“Please tell me that by ‘webcomic’ you didn’t just mean ‘stick figure comic,’” Derek groans, maybe leaning in a little bit himself, his sketches forgotten.

“What? No!” Stiles sputters, turning a little red. “Seriously, though – a good stick figure comic takes talent.”

“If you say so,” Derek replies, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, but only barely.

“Oh, it’s on,” Stiles says, a dangerous and mischievous glint in his eyes. “I’ll totally find a stick figure comic that you’ll be completely blown away by.”

“Good luck,” Derek shoots back, doing his best to sound uninterested, despite the smile he’s suppressing. “You’re assuming we’ll see each other again, though.”

“Hey, until you get your air conditioning fixed, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be seeing quite a lot of each other,” Stiles replies, and Derek is absolutely not eager about that. Really.

“You weren’t here yesterday,” Derek says before really thinking through his words.

“That’s because I had a graphic design class,” Stiles replies, apparently deciding not to comment on the fact that Derek had noticed his absence.

“You’re a student at the university, then?” Derek asks, curious. He’d been unable to tell if Stiles was a high school student or a college student, and he can’t help but be a little relieved that Stiles isn’t still a teenager, especially as his eyes are drawn to Stiles’ plump, pink lips again.

Nope – he’s definitely not going there. Not at all. Hitting on a fan is a horrible, horrible idea. Absolutely terrible.

Stiles licks his lips and Derek’s eyes track the movement.

“Yeah, I’m a junior,” Stiles answers, propping his chin up on his hand, still leaning forward a little across the table. “Are you a student, too?”

“No,” Derek replies, hoping that Stiles doesn’t press for too much additional information.

“Oh. What do you do, then?” Stiles asks, because apparently Derek isn’t very lucky today.

“I actually work for DC,” Derek admits, and it’s not technically a lie, even though it makes him feel a little guilty. “That’s how I met Derek.”

And okay, that part’s a blatant lie. That one he absolutely feels guilty about, because Stiles looks so innocent and trusting with his big bambi eyes and Derek’s starting to feel like the Big Bad Wolf going after Little Red Riding Hood. The eight or nine year age difference between them isn’t helping much either, even though Stiles is technically legal. Not that Stiles actually looks all that legal. He’s probably the type that still gets accused of having a fake ID at nightclubs.

“That’s so cool!” Stiles exclaims, his eyes bright, a grin plastering itself to his face. “What do you do for DC?”

“I’m an editor,” Derek lies, feeling even more uncomfortable now, particularly when faced with Stiles’ obvious delight.

“Oh my god, that’s awesome,” Stiles says, sounding a little dreamy almost, eyes glazed over as he imagines who knows what. “My dream is to work for DC as an artist someday. It’s probably not going to happen, though. Hey, wait, does this mean you actually get to edit Midnight Wolf?”

“Yeah, a bit,” Derek replies, which he supposes isn’t a total lie. He does some of his own preliminary editing before sending it to his official editor, after all. “I’m not the primary editor, though.”

“Can I have your life?” Stiles asks rhetorically, looking over at Derek with those big bambi eyes of his again. “Ugh, that sounds so cool. I’m super jealous now. Like, super jealous. You cannot even begin to comprehend how jealous I am. My jealousy is – ”

“I think I get the picture,” Derek interrupts, amused despite himself. “And anyway, what makes you think that you won’t end up working for DC?”

“You mean besides the fact that there are a million artists out there who are way better than me and the fact that I just draw stupid webcomics?” Stiles replies, looking at Derek like he’s just asked a very stupid question.

“Derek Hale started out with webcomics,” he points out, feeling a little weird about referring to himself in the third person.

“Yeah, but Derek’s a god amongst men and I’m just a mere mortal,” Stile sighs, staring off into the distance, Derek blushing at the praise even though Stiles doesn’t know who he’s talking to.

“Derek’s really not that great,” he says, feeling remarkably awkward about the whole thing. “He’s kind of an asshole, actually.”

What? Nope, that’s it – our friendship has been terminated,” Stiles replies, looking back at him and frowning slightly. “Miguel, as much as I like you, I will not let you sit around and diss my idol. And anyway, you’re the one who’s drawing fanart for his comics. Clearly he’s not that bad.”

“If only you knew,” Derek mutters, too quietly for Stiles to hear, before raising his voice. “His comics are pretty good, but his personality is shit. He’s antisocial and broody and pessimistic. I could go on all day.”

“Lies and slander,” Stiles shoots back, although Derek can tell he’s suppressing a slight smile now. “Can’t you at least let me pretend he’s the knight in shining armor who’s going to come sweep me off my feet to give me a job for DC?”

Derek’s really blushing now, because if he ever gets around to sweeping Stiles off his feet it’ll probably involve a lot more X-rated things than just getting him a job for DC. Not that Stiles is actually attracted to him – he just likes the idea of Derek Hale.

Just as Derek’s about to reply, though, Stiles is distracted by his phone buzzing.

“Oh, shit,” Stiles says as he checks his texts, suddenly scrambling to his feet, hastily cramming his laptop into its case. “I promised my dad I’d help him fix the busted water pipe at the house today. Sorry to run out on you like this.”

“It’s fine,” Derek replies, shrugging and glancing at his watch, surprised to realize that he’s been talking with Stiles for nearly an hour now. “I should probably get home, too.”

“So I’ll see you ‘round, then?” Stiles asks, shooting him a hopeful look.

“Yeah,” Derek says, trying not to think about how quickly and easily he’s gotten attached to this kid.

As he watches Stiles leave, he tries not to think about what a horrible person he is for lying so much. He mostly fails. Really, he’s the worst.

He has no plans on stopping, though.

---

Derek sighs and refreshes the webpage for the fifth time in a row. It’s Friday, which means that Spark should be releasing the next installment of Abominable Snowman today, but it’s already past eleven pm and there’s nothing.

He stares at the screen for five minutes before hitting refresh again.

This time, though, instead of just seeing the same blog page, a new post appears. Derek perks up, eager to finally get the next chapter of the weekly webcomic, but he’s disappointed to see that it’s just a short author’s note, not an actual chapter.

Hey, guys! Sorry about this, but I’m not going to update Abominable Snowman until tomorrow. Real life got a bit distracting. (This has absolutely nothing to do with the super hot guy I met at the coffee shop a few days ago. Really.) Anyway, sorry for the inconvenience. :( – Spark

Derek reads the message three times before commenting on the post.

Sorry to hear about that. I suppose I’ll have to figure out a way to tide myself over until tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just have to reread the entire series. – SourWolf

He checks his email while waiting for a reply, but he can’t help but pull up the other tab every five seconds. It’s an issue.

Ugh, you’re making me blush. O/////O – Spark

Derek smiles to himself, unable to keep himself from finding Spark’s little emoticons endearing.

Now I’ll have to reread everything twice, just to get you all hot and bothered. – SourWolf

Idly, he wishes he could be this adept at flirting in real life. Somehow having a computer screen and who knows how many miles of space between them makes him so much less awkward than he normally is. Not that there’s anyone he’d actually be interested in flirting with in real life. Stiles, maybe, but then again, there’s the whole sleazy lying-about-his-identity thing going on there. Things with Spark are much easier.

Omg you tease!!! – Spark

would u 2 pls just fuck already??? skype sex is a thing – sexyshewolf

Derek scowls at the interruption by “sexyshewolf,” who also happens to be Erica Reyes, one of his coworkers. He really wishes she’d stop giving him shit about whatever it is he has with Spark. It’s just a bit of harmless banter, which he’s explained to her countless times. He doesn’t even know what Spark looks like or his real name or, well, anything for that matter, other than the fact that he draws Derek’s all-time favorite comic.

Abominable Snowman really is amazing. He supposes that it’s just a silly little story about a guy without superpowers in a world where superpowers are the norm. It’s cute, though, and the way the art and text mesh is absolutely gorgeous. He can also admit – to himself, at least – that he reads it largely for its romantic subplot. The main character’s bisexual like him, after all, and he enjoys the way Spark incorporates it into the story in an unobtrusive but important part of the narrative. In fact, the first time he’d sent Spark a comment it was mainly to gush about his wonderful portrayal of bisexuality, to which he’d received a reply revealing that Spark himself is bi, hence the focus on it. That may or may not have been when the flirting started.

I’d love to chat more, but I have class at eight tomorrow so I’m going to have to get to bed soon :( – Spark

Derek’s breathes an internal sigh of relief as Spark ignores Erica’s interruption. He really doesn’t want to make whatever it is they have by bringing real life into things. Of course, real life is probably going to have to make an appearance eventually, because he’s recently been lobbying to get Spark at least an interview and portfolio submission for DC, if not an actual position, but, then again, he supposes that Spark never actually needs to know it was him who set all of this up. Not that Spark even knows that there’s possibly a job and his own series for DC in his future.

Okay. Maybe we can talk tomorrow. Goodnight. – SourWolf

Night! – Spark

A sort of warmth floods Derek’s body as he reads Spark’s last message. It’s kind of crazy how just one little word can make his day, but somehow it does. Part of him realizes that this little crush is getting out of hand, but, well, he really has no clue how to control it. He’s certainly not going to stop reading Abominable Snowman.

Maybe Stiles from the coffee shop will be a good distraction.

Derek sighs, pushing his thoughts of his hopeless crush on Spark and the mild physical attraction he feels for Stiles to the back of his mind. Instead, he pulls up chapter one of Abominable Snowman and starts to read.

He falls asleep at his desk at around two thirty am.

---

“Man, you look like shit. Long night?” Stiles asks the next day as he plops himself down across from Derek in the once again packed coffee shop.

Derek shrugs, but didn’t otherwise answer, trying to focus on the panel he’s beginning the line art for. He’d wasted time the past couple of days chatting with Stiles and he really needs to catch up on his work. He isn’t behind, per say, but if he keeps this up he’s going to be.

“And we’re back to day one,” he hears Stiles mutter under his breath as he takes out his laptop. Derek doesn’t deign to reply.

He can’t help but notice, though, that instead of going back to typing whatever it is Stiles normally types, he flips his screen around, converting his laptop into a tablet configuration before digging around his bag for a stylus. Derek tries to focus back on his work, but he’s distracted by the long, even strokes of Stiles’ pen over the tablet. He works like a practiced artist, hardly stopping to erase and letting his hand flow freely in long arcs instead of tiny, sketchy lines.

But Derek eventually manages to tear his eyes away, closing them for a moment in order to clear his head. It doesn’t take him long to fall back into a familiar rhythm, alternating ink pens fluidly. He’s always preferred physical paper to all of the new electronic systems, because he can never get his art to look quite right when he tries to do it purely electronically.

As the two of them continue to draw, a comfortable, companionable atmosphere blankets them. Much to Derek’s surprise, he’s almost able to completely block out the bustle of the other coffee shop patrons, to the point where they’re just an idle buzz in the background.

Eventually he’s jolted back to reality, though, as he reaches for a sip of coffee, only to find his mug empty. He sighs and puts down his pen. He’s at a fairly good point for a break, anyway, he supposes, as he stands up from his chair, letting out a little grunt as he stretches his arms high above his head. Interestingly, and maybe a little disappointingly, Stiles doesn’t glance over at him this time, too immersed in his drawing to let his eyes skim over the little strip of exposed skin at Derek’s stomach.

Derek brushes it off and grabs his coffee cup and after a moment of deliberation, he picks up Stiles’ too. It’s also empty, save for a few drops at the bottom that Stiles probably can’t quite catch anyways. Stiles doesn’t seem to notice Derek as he moves away with both mugs in hand. However, when he gets up to the counter, he abruptly realizes that he has no idea just what sort of drink Stiles had had.

“Large coffee with room for cream and a caramel latte, right?” the girl at the counter asks, smiling pleasantly at him and extending her hands to take the mugs.

“Yeah,” Derek replies, eyes catching on her nametag, which declares her Kira!, a little fox doodled in the extra space. He can’t help but notice that the style almost looks like Spark’s. “How do you remember everyone’s order?”

“I don’t,” Kira says, ringing him up at the cash register. “Just the regulars.”

He blinks, realizing for the first time that, yeah, he is a regular. It’s a bit of a strange thought. He hasn’t stayed in one place long enough to become a regular since he was a kid, still living in Beacon Hills.

Derek nods, unsure what else to say to that revelation. He leaves a fairly generous tip instead.

As he waits for Kira to prepare the drinks, he glances around the coffee shop to find it surprisingly empty. He isn’t quite sure when exactly that had happened, because last he remembers, it was utterly packed. There are a few open tables and armchairs around now, and briefly Derek wonders if he should move in order to give Stiles and himself more space. His eyes catch on Stiles again, though, drawn to the way he’s chewing on his bottom lip as he studies whatever is on his tablet screen, and he decides against it.

“Here’s your coffee and latte,” Kira says, breaking Derek from his thoughts. She gives him a small smile, glancing between him and Stiles and he can’t help but bush a little as he realizes that she’s styled the foam on top of Stiles’ latte in the form of a heart.

“Thanks,” he mutters before fleeing back to his and Stiles’ table, careful not to spill the drinks, but at the same time wondering if there’s any way he can mess up the design so Stiles won’t draw the wrong conclusions.

In the end he can’t think of any solution, though, deciding just to leave it be and hope that Stiles doesn’t notice, or at least doesn’t comment. He sets the mugs down on the table gently, his chair scraping against the floor as he sits down again, finally making Stiles look up.

“Is this for me?” Stiles asks, blinking at the latte, a strange expression on his face.

Derek grunts in confirmation, picking up his pen again and not meeting Stiles’ eyes.

“Oh, thanks. Here, let me – ” Stiles continues, and Derek looks up to find him fumbling to remove his wallet from his pocket.

“Don’t worry about it,” Derek says, cutting him off and making Stiles look up at him with those wide bambi eyes of his again. Idly he hopes that he isn’t blushing.

“You sure?” Stiles asks, clearly surprised, but a smile spreads across his face when Derek nods. “Dude, thanks. You’re the best. Sorry for bothering you all the time.”

“It’s fine,” Derek replies, shrugging, just barely resisting the urge to tell Stiles that he’s not that much of a bother and that his presence is actually a little nice.

“So, wanna take a break and tell me why you look so exhausted now?” Stiles questions, putting down his tablet and picking up his latte, foam smearing over his upper lip distractingly. The way the tip of his tongue darts out to lick it up is possibly even worse for Derek’s concentration.

“I was up late reading Abominable Snowman,” Derek replies, unsure exactly why he’s admitting this to Stiles of all people.

“Wait, seriously? You read Abominable Snowman?” Stiles asks, sounding oddly surprised.

“It’s good,” Derek answers, maybe a little defensively. “DC’s even thinking about inviting the artist to submit a portfolio.”

What?” Stiles exclaims, eyes impossibly wide as he looks at Derek like he’s just said that he’s a werewolf and magic is real. “You’re shitting me. You’re shitting me!”

“Why is this so hard for you to believe?” Derek grumbles, suddenly tense, his hands clutching his coffee mug so tightly he’s a little worried it might crack. “The artist is amazingly talented and DC’s currently considering rebooting the Red Robin series.”

“Oh my god. Oh my god,” Stiles says, practically hyperventilating and Derek’s starting to get a little worried about this over the top reaction now. “I just – I’m not complaining about, uh, Spark getting a position. Like, I’m really not complaining. It’s just – doesn’t DC normally hire experienced artists instead of just, you know, hotshots with no actual publication experience?”

“Typically, but we some fresh blood and a couple of other artists have taken an interest in him,” Derek admits, although he’s still a little confused by how Stiles is taking this news. “Also, it’s just a portfolio submission, not a guaranteed position.”

“Wait, which artists?” Stiles asks, leaning forward eagerly, latte forgotten.

“A few,” Derek says ambiguously, shrugging. “Derek Hale and Erica Reyes mainly.”

Derek Hale likes m – uh, Abominable Snowman?” Stiles asks, incredulous, mouth hanging open distractingly. Derek frowns a little at the strange slip up. “And Erica Reyes, too? The main artist for the new Catwoman series?”

“Can we not talk about Derek Hale?” Derek grouses, trying not to be too defensive about the whole thing.

“Why, are you jealous?” Stiles shoots back, a saucy smile on his face and a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“No,” Derek answers, maybe a little too quickly, but it’s ridiculous to be jealous of himself anyway.

“Really? Then you won’t care if I go on about how much Derek Hale’s artwork turns me on?” Stiles replies, a falsely innocent look on his face as he peers up at Derek through thick eyelashes. “Because it really does. Those perfect, fluid lines, his bold use of text, the way each image interlocks so neatly. Fuck, he must have amazing hands. I mean, god, his art just makes me want to – ”

“He could be a sixty year old creeper for all you know,” Derek interrupts, quite certain that his face is bright, bright red right now.

“Please,” Stiles scoffs, rolling his eyes. “His website clearly states that he’s only twenty-nine.”

“He still has to be about ten years older than you, then,” Derek protests, trying not to notice how close they are now with Stiles leaning so far over the table.

“Hey! Only eight years,” Stiles squawks, indignant. “I mean, you’ve gotta be around his age, right, and you’re still looking pretty fine. You’ve probably got ladies falling all over you.”

Derek tires really hard to ignore the slow onceover Stiles gives him, but he fails pretty miserably.

“You’re in for a rude surprise if you ever meet him, then,” Derek snorts, focusing his eyes down on his coffee cup so they aren’t tempted to stray to Stiles lips or hands again.

“You’ve just got to suck the fun out of everything, don’t you?” Stiles whines, taking another sip of his latte and fiddling with the mug in his hands.

“Yes,” Derek replies, deadpan, pleased as it elicits a tiny smile from Stiles.

“Seriously, though, I can’t believe that Derek Hale actually reads Abominable Snowman,” Stiles says, his expression almost dreamy.

“Technically I’m not supposed to have told you that,” Derek admits, realizing that it probably wasn’t the best idea to tell someone as loudmouthed as Stiles about confidential work secrets. “The whole thing is still going through official channels, so there’s a chance that even getting him a chance to submit his portfolio won’t get approved, meaning you can’t let anyone know about this – especially not Spark.”

“Oh, I’ll be careful not to tell him,” Stiles replies, although there’s a strange expression on his face which kind of makes Derek think he’s being laughed at. “It’ll be our little secret.”

“Good,” Derek says, but he already has a bad feeling about this.

---

When he gets home from the coffee shop, he’s pleased to find that Spark has indeed updated, as promised. Apparently there are a few bonus panels, too, in order to make up for posting late. Derek reads through it about five times before he opens a new tab to send Spark a message, only he’s surprised to find yet another mini update, posted within the past fifteen minutes.

Here’s another little tidbit, just because I got some amazing news today and felt the need to draw in order to celebrate! – Spark

Derek gets a sinking feeling in his stomach as he reads the message. Has Stiles already told Spark about the possible position at DC? He’d had a decent amount of hope that Stiles would be able to keep it in for at least a few weeks.

What’s the occasion? – SourWolf

Hot Coffee Shop Guy said he really likes my art. ;) – Spark

Honestly, he’s not sure if he’s relieved or disappointed by Spark’s answer. Of course, he’s glad that Stiles didn’t actually decide to tell the whole world what Derek expressly told him not to tell anyone, but at the same time he can’t help but be a little jealous of “Hot Coffee Shop Guy.” Not that he and Spark actually have anything. They just flirt a little.

You aren’t replacing me, are you? – SourWolf

Ha ha, you jealous? You snooze, you lose. Not that Hot Coffee Shop Guy actually likes me like that. He’s way out of my league. :P – Spark

His loss, then. – SourWolf

You smooth fucker!! – Spark

Maybe we should meet in person sometime and I can show you smoothly I can actually fuck you. – SourWolf

As soon as he sends the message, Derek panics a little, wondering if he’s taken things a little too far. Spark probably lives on the other side of the country, and even if he does end up moving to New York and DC Headquarters, they’ll only meet as coworkers, then. Of course, they probably wouldn’t be working directly together, but after the whole thing with Jennifer he’s more than a little reluctant to get involved with a colleague.

Sorry! Ignore that last message! I just got a little carried away with the banter. – SourWolf

Derek waits by anxiously, drumming his fingers against his desk as he waits for Spark’s reply. He hopes he hasn’t completely freaked him out now. Fuck, he sounds like such a creeper in that message.

No worries! I mean, you don’t even know what I look like, so… :P – Spark

Part of him wants to protest that he really doesn’t care what Spark looks like, but at the same time he doesn’t want to weird Spark out any more than he already has.

Thanks. I’m sure you’re incredibly sexy, though. Anyway, I’m afraid that I have some work to do now, so I have to log off. Oh, and this week’s update was amazing as always! I’ll try to find some time later to write up a full review, but I just had to let you know today. – SourWolf

Aw, thanks! Talk to you later, then! – Spark

Derek smiles as he reads the message before shutting down his computer.

---

It’s been a few days since he’s told Stiles about trying to get DC to hire Spark and Derek is, once again, standing around the crowded coffee shop. His eyes scan the room, but he doesn’t seen hide nor hair of Stiles, making him frown. Maybe he just isn’t looking hard enough, though – it is pretty packed today.

“Stiles isn’t here,” a voice says suddenly, nearly making Derek spill his coffee. “He has an exam that he’s studying for.”

One of the baristas is standing behind him – Kira, if he remembers correctly, his eyes drawn automatically to the oddly familiar fox doodle on her nametag. He scowls a little more and hopes his cheeks haven’t turned all pink. She’s the one who made a heart out of the foam on the latte he’d bought for Stiles, after all.

“I wasn’t looking for Stiles,” he lies, hoping he doesn’t look too much like an angry serial killer right now. His default expression tends to make him appear like one, or so he’s been told. “I was just trying to find a table.”

“Oh,” Kira says, sounding a little disappointed. “Well, it’s pretty busy right now, so I’m not sure how much luck you’ll have…”

“It’s fine. I’ll just leave,” Derek replies, because there’s really no point in sticking around if there’s no room and Stiles isn’t even here, even though there are a few other tables only occupied by one person. He could easily ask to share, but, well, he only does that with Stiles. It would feel like cheating. Not that he and Stiles have any sort of relationship to cheat on, really.

“Well, have a good day. Oh! And Stiles should be in at three tomorrow!” Kira calls after him as he walks towards the door.

---

Derek shows up at exactly three the next day. Kira looks inordinately pleased.

---

It’s been about two and a half weeks since Derek met Stiles at the coffee shop down the street from his apartment building, and it’s been ten days since he got his air conditioning fixed. He’s been to the coffee shop everyday anyways. He tries to tell himself that it’s for the coffee, but although it’s good, it’s not that good. Really, nowadays he just drops on in to see Stiles.

“Hey, so you actually do own some twenty first century technology!” Stiles says as he pulls up a chair across from Derek, even though there are five empty tables in the coffee shop. “I thought you were still using an abacus and parchment.”

“Contrary to popular belief, I actually do know how to use a laptop,” Derek replies, deadpan, not bothering to glance up from his computer as Stiles sits down.

“Ah, of course,” Stiles says, nodding mock-sagely. “That’s why you refuse to use a tablet.”

“The quality of my art is better when I use traditional mediums,” Derek complains, finally tearing his eyes away from the screen in order to glare at Stiles, who’s grinning cheekily as he sets up his own laptop.

“Practice makes perfect, Miguel,” Stiles shoots back, his voice sing-song-y and light, but the way the name “Miguel” rolls off his tongue instead of “Derek” still feels like a slap to the face.

Derek settles for grunting and turning back to his laptop where he and Erica are messaging back and forth, preparing to negotiate their proposal to hire Spark with DC’s Chief Creative Officer. As for his own work, he’s already sent most of his line art to Isaac, his colorist, and now he just needs to finish up the cover and the last two pages before he can get the almost finished product to Boyd, his editor, for a final review. Therefore, he really doesn’t have all that much to do at the moment.

Well, other than hang out with Stiles.

“Sooooo, what’cha doing?” Stiles asks, leaning forward a little and propping up his chin on his palm, his free hand fiddling with his tablet’s stylus. “Top secret DC stuff?”

“I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” Derek replies evenly, still typing away rapidly.

“So is that a yes?” Stiles says, grinning as Derek shoots him an annoyed look. “Fine, fine. I’ll shut up now.”

“You don’t have to,” Derek replies before he can really think through what he’s saying. He kind of likes Stiles’ continuous chatter, actually – something he’d never thought would grow on him. It’s a pleasant sort of background noise. “Just talk about something else.”

“Like what?” Stiles asks, quirking one eyebrow at him, frowning slightly.

“Don’t ask me. You’re the one who always has something to talk about,” Derek huffs, glancing back down at his laptop in order to read Erica’s latest message.

“Uh, well, my birthday’s on Saturday,” Stiles says, shrugging, still fiddling with his stylus, seeming oddly nervous. “I’m turning twenty two.”

“Happy birthday, then,” Derek replies, giving Stiles a small smile which makes his pale cheeks flush slightly.

“You’re not supposed to tell me that until Saturday,” Stiles grouses, but there’s a pleased note in his voice. Derek tries not to read too much into it and mostly fails.

“Won’t you be off partying it up all day?” Derek asks, shooting off a quick message to Erica saying that he can’t talk now, before closing his laptop, focusing his attention back on Stiles.

“Nah, a bunch of my friends have shit they have to do, so we’ll be celebrating on Sunday instead,” Stiles says, shrugging, setting his stylus aside and moving to clutch his latte mug, fiddling with that instead.

Derek tries not to get too distracted by Stiles’ hands and mostly fails.

“I’ll probably just be hanging around here annoying Kira and Scott,” Stiles continues, peering over at Derek and he feels like Stiles is trying to ask him something, but he’s not entirely sure what. “Apparently you can get your drink for free if it’s your birthday.”

“I’ll probably be here as usual,” Derek replies, shrugging, the You can annoy me, too. implicit.

“Aw, thanks, big guy,” Stiles says, smiling, the nickname he uses making Derek’s heart rate speed up a little bit. “You do realize that I’m going to be pulling the birthday card, like, all day, though, right?”

“I already bought you a latte,” Derek protests, although he knows that he’s going to end up giving Stiles a present anyway.

“Dude, that was like three weeks ago,” Stiles replies, giving him a pointed look after swallowing a mouthful of his drink. “Not that I’m complaining. You’re an angel, really.”

“What do you want for your birthday, then?” Derek asks, trying not to let out a snort of laughter as Stiles calls him an “angel.”

“What? No – I was just kidding!” Stiles sputters, cheeks flushing red again. “You don’t actually have to get me anything.”

“Who says I’m getting you anything?” Derek replies, raising one eyebrow. “Maybe I just want to know.”

“Asshole,” Stiles grouses, swatting at Derek as he lets a grin spread across his face.

“Come on, Stiles – tell me your deepest desires,” Derek teases, making Stiles glare at him, pouting slightly. “Let me guess, finger paints? Sidewalk chalk? Crayons?”

“Why do I even put up with you?” Stiles groans, slumping over onto the table, face down. “Also, everyone knows googly eyes are where it’s at, old man.”

Derek snorts, imagining Stiles with googly eyes plastered all over his forehead. In fact, that’s probably exactly what Stiles was like as a kid, constantly covered in paint and glitter-glue.

“No, wait, but seriously, you know what you should get me?” Stiles continues, looking at Derek with those whiskey colored bambi eyes of his.

“I thought you said I didn’t have to get you anything,” Derek grumbles, although he’s pretty sure they both know he’s going to get Stiles something anyways.

“Well, yeah, but if you want to you should get me a signed copy of the next Midnight Wolf issue,” Stiles replies, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth and giving Derek a painstakingly adorable pleading look. “You know, the one that comes out on Friday.”

“Derek never does signings,” he protests, even though it would be oh so easy for him to give Stiles what he wants.

“I’m not asking you to get him to appear at Comic Con or something,” Stiles replies, rolling his eyes. “I just want you to get me one copy of one issue signed. Please?”

“Stiles,” Derek sighs, kind of wishing the Stiles didn’t insist on maintaining this ridiculous crush on the imaginary persona of Derek Hale he’s built up in his mind. It’s weird for him to be jealous of himself.

“C’mon! You and Derek are friends, right? He’ll do it for you,” Stiles whines, and Derek is feeling guiltier and guiltier by the second about this whole fake identity thing. “I promise I won’t sell it on eBay. I won’t even tell anyone about it! I’ll just, you know, keep it in my room and stare longingly at it occasionally.”

Derek really needs to stop this before it goes too far. Hell, it may have already gone too far, if the guilt that’s encroaching on him is any indication.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Derek says finally, feeling like an even worse person than before as Stiles’ face lights up as he grins.

“Dude, you’re the best!” Stiles replies, and Derek kind of really wants to go punch his past self in the face for every time he’s lied to Stiles.

“Hey, I’m not making any promises,” Derek protests, although it’s a pretty weak one – he’s already caving to Stiles. “I said I’ll see what I can do.”

“And I have the utmost confidence in you,” Stiles says, beaming at him, his smile doing all sorts of strange things to Derek’s insides.

He really needs to either fess up or stop seeing Stiles. Too bad he has no desire to do either.

---

It’s Thursday and Derek is simultaneously elated and distraught. He’s elated because his meeting with the CCO of DC went spectacularly and he’s heard that they’ve already gotten in contact with Spark. However, he’s distraught because it’s Thursday which means that it’s two days away from Saturday and he still doesn’t have a gift for Stiles.

Oh, he’s thought about just signing a copy of the latest issue of Midnight Wolf, but his stomach twists itself into uncomfortable knots every time he thinks of it. It probably has something to do with how much he hates himself for lying to Stiles every day, and giving Stiles his signature like that will only dig him deeper into this whole mess.

Really, he should just come clean to Stiles already. He should have come clean to Stiles weeks ago, but late is better than never, he supposes. He sighs, running a hand through his hair and staring up at his bedroom ceiling.

An idea occurs to him.

---

“Stiles,” Derek greets, sliding into the seat across from him at the coffee shop Friday afternoon.

“Heya, Miguel!” Stiles replies, smiling brightly from over the top of his laptop. “What’s up?”

“I have some good news and some bad news,” Derek says, a worried look plastering itself to Stiles’ face as he begins to speak. “The bad news is that I talked to Derek and he won’t sign a comic book just for you.”

“Damn,” Stiles sighs, his worried expression becoming downtrodden, pulling at his heart strings. “Okay, I believe you now – Derek Hale’s a jerk.”

“Hey, I’m not finished,” Derek continues, indignant about being called a jerk, even if Stiles didn’t mean to say it to his face. “The good news is that I’ve convinced Derek to do a signing at the comic book store on State Street tomorrow from noon to three.”

What?” Stiles exclaims, staring at him with wide eyes. “Oh my god. Oh my god.”

Before Derek can so much as blink, Stiles is practically lunging over the table at him and Derek finds himself knocked off his chair, Stiles clinging to him in a too-tight hug.

“When was the last time I told you that you’re the best person in the entire world?” Stiles asks, looking up at him with those bright bambi eyes of his. “Seriously, marry me now.”

Derek blushes at that, his face heating up immediately, but at the same time he feels like the Big Bad Wolf going after Red Riding Hood all over again. He’s been lying to Stiles for nearly a month now, and boy is he going to be in for a shock tomorrow. He hopes Stiles will understand and forgive him – he probably will – but, well, he still expects Stiles to be at least a little pissed. Hopefully Stiles will listen to him when he explains it all.

Well, when he explains it all and then asks Stiles out on a date. Because he’s decided that that’s going to happen tomorrow, too.

“Stiles, you’re crushing me,” Derek says, trying to pry Stiles’ arms off him so that he can sit up and get off the floor. “People are staring.”

“Oh, jeez, sorry!” Stiles apologizes, abruptly releasing him and scrambling off him before helping Derek to his feet.

Derek has to hold back a discontented noise at the loss of Stiles’ body against his. It’s stupid – he was the one who told Stiles to get off him, but now all he wants to do is pull him back against his chest, reveling in the warmth of his body.

“It’s fine,” Derek says, doing his best to ignore the delighted look on Kira the barista’s face. She still insists on drawing hearts in Stiles’ latte foam even though Derek grumbles about it every time. Not that he buys Stiles lattes very often. Really, it’s only once or twice a week.

“Seriously, though, best birthday present ever,” Stiles continues, bouncing giddily on the balls of his feet. “I mean, this whole week has just been amazing.”

“What else happened?” Derek asks, feeling a little petty with his need to know what else could possibly compete with his present.

“Oh, I, uh, got this job interview/portfolio submission thing,” Stiles stutters, biting his lower lip distractingly. Derek feels like Stiles isn’t telling him everything, but, well, Stiles has a right to his secrets. It’s not like Derek doesn’t have plenty of his own. “I even think I have a shot at it.”

“What’s the position?” Derek asks, sitting back down in his chair, although Stiles remains standing, too much nervous energy flowing through him for him to sit still.

“It’s, uh. Well, it’s with DC, actually,” Stiles answers, wringing his hands awkwardly. “So, you know, we might even get to work together.”

“Oh,” Derek says, suddenly glad that he’s revealing his actual identity to Stiles tomorrow so that things aren’t awkward at work. “That’s great.”

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, his cheeks flushed with pleasure. “I’m super psyched. Well, as long as I actually get the job, because there’s still a chance that I won’t. It’s just an interview, after all, and, I mean, I’m still a student and I haven’t really done any of this type of work professionally and –”

“Stiles,” Derek interrupts, unable to suppress a small smile at Stiles’ adorable antics. “You’ll do fine. Stop worrying.”

“I know, I know. Scott and Kira keep telling me that, but I just – ” Stiles continues, and Derek kind of just wants to pull him into his lap and pet his hair soothingly. “I’ve wanted to work for DC for, like, forever and now I finally have a shot at it, and I really, really don’t want to fuck it up.”

“I promise you it’ll be fine,” Derek repeats, Stiles giving him an uncertain look.

“How can you know? You haven’t even seen my art before!” Stiles shoots back, flailing his hands around, making a couple of people look over at them again. “It could be utter shit!”

“They wouldn’t have given you an interview if your work was bad,” Derek counters, raising an eyebrow at Stiles who groans and finally slumps back down into his chair, running his hands through his dark hair and making it stick up even more erratically. “If you want to, though, I’m sure you could bring some to the signing tomorrow to have Derek look at.”

“I – ” Stiles starts, brow furrowed in thought and his lips pursed. “That’s – I might. Maybe.”

“Just try and enjoy tomorrow, okay?” Derek replies, reaching across the table and taking Stiles’ hand in his.

“Yeah. Yeah, I will,” Stiles says and smiles.

---

When Derek arrives at the comic book store the next day, he’s surprisingly nervous. Oh, he’d expected to be at least a little anxious, but now that the reality of what’s going to happen today finally hits him, his heart feels like it’s going to beat right out of his chest. Also contributing to his nervousness is that despite how he tried to keep this signing on the down low, Spark had somehow found out about it and had posted on his blog that he’s going to come. Derek doesn’t know if he’s elated or terrified that both his real life crush and celebrity crush are going to be in the same place today.

Not that he really has too much of a crush on Spark anymore. Oh, he still has at least a bit of one, but Stiles has taken over his life in so many more tangible ways that Spark seems to become more and more distant every day. He still enjoys Abominable Snowman – he’s almost sure it’ll always be his favorite comic – but he hasn’t missed the way their conversations have shifted, how now they mostly consist of Spark gushing about Hot Coffee Shop Guy and Derek talking about Stiles. (Not that he actually uses Stiles’ name. Mainly he just waxes poetic about Stiles’ eyes.)

It’s ten minutes to twelve now, and Derek has everything set up and is mainly just sitting at the table, twiddling his thumbs. A line of people have gathered by the door – they’ve decided not to let anyone in until it’s exactly twelve – and Derek abruptly wonders how he’s supposed to do this. He’s been so wrapped up in thinking about Stiles that he hasn’t even stopped to consider that he’s never really done an official signing before.

But as the people start pouring in, Derek only flounders for a moment before falling into a comfortable rhythm of half-fake smiles and small talk as his pen moves confidently through the stroke of his signature.

“Hey, Miguel!” a cheery voice says suddenly and Derek freezes as he comes face to face with Stiles, now standing at the front of the line. He hadn’t even seen him enter the shop. “Where’s Derek?”

“I – ” Derek replies, unsure exactly what to say as all of his planned speeches disappear from his mind. “Surprise?”

Stiles stares at him blankly, uncomprehending.

“I’m actually Derek Hale,” he continues awkwardly, steeling himself for Stiles’ reaction. “I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

He expects yelling, laughing, anger, disbelief – just about anything.

What he isn’t expecting is for Stiles to hit him in the face with his own comic book and storm off.

“Stiles!” he yells, standing up from the table, glancing between Stiles’ retreating back and the line of people waiting patiently for his autograph, torn about what to do.

“Honey, you better go after him,” the older black woman at the front of the line says, giving him a pointed look.

“Sorry,” he mutters, shooting her a grateful look and not bothering to correct her assumption about him and Stiles as he practically vaults over the table, sprinting to catch up with Stiles.

He slams through the store doors, nearly running into a couple of pedestrians as he looks down the street, trying to catch sight of Stiles. He starts running again as his eyes land on him, already more than halfway down the block.

“Stiles!” he calls out again, which almost seems to make Stiles increase his pace, and Derek’s suddenly glad for the amount of time he spends in the gym. “Stiles!

“What,” Stiles snaps, whipping around as Derek finally manages to catch up with him, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Derek’s startled to find Stiles’ cheeks streaked with tears, his eyes shining with even more unshed ones.

“I can explain – ” he starts, only to get cut off by a harsh, biting laugh from Stiles.

“What, you finally realized that your joke isn’t actually funny?” Stiles asks, his tone tense and his stance defensive, although Derek has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

“Joke?” he repeats, and he wants to reach out and hug Stiles, but he clenches his fists, keeping his hands by his sides.

“You know, the one where you lead me on for weeks, listening to me gush about how amazing you are and then lied about liking my piece of shit webcomic,” Stiles says, and he probably means for his words to be harsh, but instead they just come out a little wobbly and choked. “You even made me think I’d gotten a stupid fucking interview with DC. God, I’m such a fucking idiot.”

“What?” Derek asks, thoroughly confused now, his heart breaking a little bit as he hears Stiles sniffle. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, so you’re still pretending that you don’t know?” Stiles snaps, glaring at him through his watery eyes. “You want me to admit it? Will you be satisfied then?”

“Stiles, I – ” Derek starts, but Stiles interrupts him swiftly and ruthlessly.

“I’m Spark. Are you satisfied? I have now announced to the world that I’m the author and artist of the shitty little webcomic Abominable Snowman. Go ahead and laugh,” Stiles says, his voice sour as he stares down at the pavement, arms crossed tightly over his chest. “I can’t believe I was stupid enough to think that DC would actually – that my art was – ”

Stiles cuts himself off, his lower lip trembling and tears spilling down his cheeks again. Derek can’t help it this time, the urge to comfort Stiles, and before he can even think about it, he has his arms wrapped around him. Stiles tries to struggle for a moment, but it’s weak and Derek just holds on tightly, running a soothing hand through Stiles’ soft hair.

“I swear I didn’t know,” Derek murmurs, trying to calm Stiles who’s still trembling with pent up anger and betrayal. “I swear. If I had known – ”

“You never would have associated with me?” Stiles asks, his voice bitter. “I know you’re a better liar than this. Cut the fucking bullshit.”

“I’m SourWolf,” Derek blurts out, trying to ignore the sting of Stiles’ commentary.

“So you’ve been in this for the long run. Whoop dee doo,” Stiles mutters, his face wet against the skin of Derek’s neck.

“Stiles,” Derek whines, unable to hide the hurt in his tone. “Stiles, why would I spend more than six months writing you five paragraph long messages detailing every single thing I like about each chapter just for a cruel prank? I love your art. And I – ” He falters. “I like you, too.”

“Then why’d you lie to me?” Stiles asks, but Derek’s a little relieved to note that he sounds more hurt than anything, the anger seeping out of his tone and body.

“You’re the one who assumed I was a fan artist,” Derek reminds him, noticing the way Stiles flushes slightly at that. “You also know that I don’t like publicity. I thought you were going to be just another annoying fan.”

“Why’d you wait until now, though?” Stiles asks, pulling back slightly to look up now, finally meeting Derek’s eyes.

“I was scared,” Derek says simply, feeling remarkably awkward now that Stiles is no longer discernably angry. “I also just didn’t know how.”

“You’re an idiot,” Stiles replies, although there’s a certain fondness to it as he wipes the last few tears from his eyes. “You’re an idiot and I can’t believe I still like you.”

“You still like me?” Derek asks, surprised and a little hopeful.

“Well, it depends,” Stiles says, and Derek’s suddenly nervous again. “Was the whole job-at-DC thing actually real?”

“Yes,” Derek replies immediately, utterly confident. “Yes, it is completely and totally real and I had absolutely no idea you were Spark when I lobbied for DC to hire you.”

“Then I still like you,” Stiles admits, smiling just a little, but then he freezes, looking up at Derek with wide eyes. “Um. I, ah. Are you sure you still like me?”

“Of course,” Derek says, brow furrowing as he frowns. “Why not?”

“I kind of hit you in the face and accused you of being a massive asshole,” Stiles says, and Derek has to fight not to laugh. “Or, well, you know, more of an asshole than you usually are.”

“Yes, I still like you,” Derek huffs, smiling slightly. “In fact, I think I still like you enough to ask you out to dinner.”

“To dinner?” Stiles repeats, his bambi eyes going even wider. “Wait, like a date?”

“A lot like a date,” Derek says, squeezing Stiles’ hand, their fingers intertwined. “In fact, if you’d like we could even make it an official date.”

“Holy shit,” Stiles replies, that distracting mouth of his falling open. “Holy shit. I’m Bambi Eyes!”

“And I’m Hot Coffee Shop Guy,” Derek says blandly, quirking one eyebrow at Stiles.

“Oh my god, come here,” Stiles says, grabbing the front of Derek’s shirt and pulling him down into a sloppy kiss. Derek is surprised, Stiles is enthusiastic, and it’s maybe a little too wet.

It’s absolutely perfect.

“Now,” Stiles says, breathing a little heavily as they break apart. “You have comic books to sign.”

“Do I have to?” Derek grumbles, stealing another short kiss.

“Yes,” Stiles replies, his small smile turning into a grin. “And meet me at the sushi place a block from the coffee shop at seven. You’re paying.”

“You’re not coming back to get my autograph?” Derek asks, a little disappointed.

“Now that you’re my boyfriend, I’m going to make you autograph everything I want, any time I want,” Stiles shoots back, smiling mischievously, his eyes shining, even if they are still a bit red and puffy.

“Just for that, I’m autographing your ass,” Derek grumbles.

“Please, what type of guy do you take me for?” Stiles asks, mock offended. “I don’t put out on the first date.”

“Are you sure?” Derek replies, sweeping in for another kiss before Stiles can answer.

Stiles moans against his lips, parting them just enough for Derek to get his tongue in, licking into Stiles’ mouth. He reaches a hand down to squeeze Stiles’ ass, eliciting a startled squeak from him which turns into another moan as he sucks on Stiles’ lower lip.

“Okay, so maybe I can make an exception,” Stiles says once they’ve finally broken apart, his cheeks pink and his lips swollen.

Derek grins.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Derek, so on a scale of one to ten, how mad would you be if I accidentally outed us to the world by posting a picture of us kissing with the caption ‘I can't hear you over the sound of my hot boyfriend moaning my name’?”

Derek blinks at him. He opens his mouth and then closes it again, at a loss for what to say.

“Yeah, you might want to steer clear of the internet for a couple of weeks,” Stiles says, nodding seriously.

“What did you do?” Derek finally manages, his voice more than a little strangled as he tries to ignore the pounding in his head indicative of a massive hangover. Yesterday was their one year anniversary and it had started out well enough, with a romantic candlelit dinner and fancy chocolate cake for dessert, but afterwards it had devolved into getting completely and totally smashed. (And also scarring his neighbors by making out vigorously in the hallway outside of his apartment, if he remembers correctly.)

“Wellllllll, you know how sometimes assholes send me those annoying messages on my site about me ‘making DC gay’ or whatever?” Stiles says, worrying his lower lip and looking up at Derek through thick eyelashes with those big brown eyes of his. “I guess drunk me has a lower tolerance for discriminatory bullshit than sober me.”

Derek nods, clenching his jaw. It’s been more difficult since Stiles joined DC and Abominable Snowman gained an even larger and more diverse following. Stiles had fought tooth and nail to keep DC from reprinting and selling it instead of keeping it free and internet based, but he’d managed it. Of course, when DC had officially announced that he’d be taking over the new Robin series, there had been a rather vocal opposition from homophobic and biphobic readers, who decided to completely overrun his website’s inbox with all sorts of nasty comments. In fact, Derek had even received a few emails trying to convince him to threaten to quit DC if Stiles was hired. As if.

He likes to think they’ve mostly gotten past that stage, though. In fact, in response to the opposition, Stiles had aggressively promoted queer representation within DC, and Derek’s pretty sure the only mainstream comic he’s read with even close to the number of queer characters as Stiles’ Robin is Marvel’s Young Avengers. Really, whenever Stiles is having trouble working on Robin, he always jokes that the comic’s just getting “too queer to function.”

Not that Robin is actually “too queer to function.” In fact, it’s become so popular that it’s starting to give Midnight Wolf a run for its money, which makes for plenty of teasing arguments (and fantastic, competitive sex) around the apartment.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Derek says, pulling Stiles in to press a light, comforting kiss to his lips. “It wasn’t like we were going to be able to hide forever.”

“I know. I just – ” Stiles replies, running a hand through is sleep-mussed hair and making it stick up even more. “I know you hate the publicity.”

“I do, but I’m not ashamed about being with you,” Derek answers, sitting down on the couch and pulling Stiles down into his lap, looping his arms around his waist gently as Stiles tries to keep a firm grip on his laptop. “I can deal with a few fans knowing.”

“Uh,” Stiles says, and Derek can feel him tensing slightly. Clearly there’s more bad news. “Okay, so when I said that I’d outed us to the world I, for once, wasn’t actually exaggerating.”

“What?” Derek asks, blinking, because clearly he heard wrong. “We’re just a couple of comic writers. It’s not like we’re actors or something.”

“That’s what I thought, too, until I saw a freaking article about us when I went to check my yahoo mail this morning. We’re in the Huffington Post,” Stiles says, scrolling through his newsfeed, and okay, maybe Derek’s starting to realize why he’s freaking out now. “I mean, it wasn’t like the article was front and center or anything, but still. Also, we’re a trending topic on tumblr and twitter.”

“Please tell me you’re joking,” Derek replies, burying his face into Stiles’ neck. It’s too early and he’s too hung over for this.

“I really wish I was, big guy,” Stiles sighs, reaching a hand up to pet Derek’s hair. “Oh, and I have, like, ten missed calls from Erica, three from Kira and Scott, and an email from DC’s Chief Creative Officer saying she wants to talk to us.”

“Shit,” Derek groans, although the feel of Stiles’ body against his is helping him stay at least a little relaxed.

“Yeah, we have a meeting at noon tomorrow,” Stiles continues, leaning back into Derek’s touch. “In the meantime, we’re not supposed to give any interviews, make any posts, or tweet anything.”

“So basically we’re supposed to stay cooped up in here for the entire day,” Derek summarizes, already moving to press a wet kiss to the soft skin of Stiles’ neck.

“Y-yeah,” Stiles stutters, leaning his head back a bit in order to give Derek better access.

Derek smirks against his skin, but pulls away for a moment in order to close Stiles’ laptop and place it on the floor. Really, it’s not worth paying attention to if they can’t do anything about it at the moment. Stiles is already squirming a little bit, trying to situate himself in a better position and Derek turns his head a little in order to capture Stiles’ lips in a proper kiss. Stiles tastes like the ridiculous mint chocolate toothpaste that he insists on, but Derek doesn’t mind too much – it’s better than morning breath, at least.

Stiles lets out a little groan and Derek is just starting to ease Stiles down onto his back, sprawled lengthwise over the couch, when their doorbell rings.

“Were you expecting anyone?” Stiles asks, pulling away from the kiss, his lips satisfyingly red and shiny with saliva.

“When am I ever expecting anyone?” Derek replies, raising an eyebrow, eliciting a little grin from Stiles, who pulls him back down into another kiss.

Derek feels Stiles start to slip a hand up under his shirt when his phone starts ringing loudly from where he’d left it on the kitchen table.

“What’s the chance that that’s not important?” Derek asks, pulling away and making Stiles’ hand pause in its explorations.

“Just go answer it,” Stiles groans, rolling his eyes and flopping back bonelessly on the couch, removing his hand from Derek’s stomach. “I’ll still be here when you get back.”

The phone continues ringing. Someone starts actually knocking on their apartment door this time.

Derek ignores the door, going for the phone again and has to resist the urge to grimace as he picks it up and realizes that it’s Erica calling. For a moment, he considers letting it just go to voicemail, but eventually he accepts the call, bracing himself for whatever rant she has prepared.

“Open your door already, asshole,” Erica says before he can get so much as a word out. “I’ll break it down if you don’t.”

“I’ll make you pay for the damages,” Derek replies, but he’s already walking over toward the door and undoing the deadbolt.

However, it appears that his witty reply has been lost on Erica, because she’s already hung up. Derek lets out a little huff and resists the urge to roll his eyes again, instead yanking open the door and ushering her inside.

“Seriously, Stiles?” she says as she breezes into the apartment, not even bothering to greet Derek. “You’re a regular class act.”

“In my defense, I was drunk and the guy was a douche,” Stiles retorts, peering up at Erica from his reclined position on the couch.

“Like I said, class act,” Erica snorts, but her tone’s fond. “Really, though, Lydia’s going to have your head.”

Which, granted, is probably true. Lydia, DC’s Chief Creative Officer, in charge of the maintenance of DC’s image and branding, is terrifying on a good day, and she’s probably less than happy about Stiles dropping a bomb like this without forewarning. Oh, Stiles had told him that he and Lydia had already worked out how to handle questions and PR regarding his bisexuality, but it’s one thing to be bi and out of the closet and something completely different for DC’s two top writers and artists to be in a same gender relationship with each other.

“Why are you even here?” Derek grouses, moving to settle on the couch, shifting Stiles so that his head is resting comfortably in Derek’s lap.

“Ugh, you two are disgustingly cute,” Erica says, making a face. “And as for why I’m here, neither of you were answering your phones and I wanted to make sure that you knew about the shit-storm that exploded on the internet because of you idiots.”

“Well, we know. You can leave now,” Derek replies, annoyed at having been cockblocked by her, carding his hand through Stiles’ hair and wondering if she’d leave if they started making out.

Actually, she’d probably stay to watch.

“Hey, don’t be rude, SourWolf,” Stiles says, slapping his hand away and giving him a mild glare. “She was just trying to be nice.”

“That and I was hoping that you guys didn’t know yet so I could freak you out,” Erica chimes in, a smirk on her face, which makes Stiles wrinkle his nose and pout adorably.

“Never mind, let’s kick her out,” Stiles announces, looking up at Derek with his big bambi eyes (which Derek has long since learned are far from innocent). “Derek, make her leave.”

“Why do I have to get rid of her?” he grumbles, still running his fingers through Stiles’ soft hair.

“Because I’m too lazy to move,” Stiles retorts, as if that’s a perfectly reasonable answer.

“I’ll be raiding your kitchen until you two get your act together,” Erica says, wandering off into the other room, leaving Derek and Stiles curled up on the living room couch.

She ends up staying.

---

“Oh my god, Derek! We have fan art,” Derek hears Stiles exclaim gleefully from where he’s once again sprawled out over the couch, laptop perched on his stomach.

“Of course we have fan art,” Derek replies as he putters around the kitchen, trying to ignore Erica as she scrolls through her texts and munches on a sandwich which she’s made from commandeered ingredients.

“No, I mean, like, we have fan art – not our comics,” Stiles replies and Erica looks up, a wicked gleam in her eyes, making Derek suddenly nervous.

“I still don’t get – ” Derek starts, but Stiles is already popping into the kitchen, holding out his laptop and thrusting it into Derek’s face so he can take in the mildly disturbing image on the screen.

Erica doubles over in a fit of laughter.

“My dick is not that big,” Derek says after a beat, immediately regretting his words as Erica continues to sound like a dying hyena, just louder.

“I wish,” Stiles replies, a little wistfully, making Derek flush bright red.

“Where would you even fit it?” Derek asks, and wow, he really needs to get a better brain to mouth filter. Or new friends, because as much as he loves Erica, his headache is really not appreciating her ruckus of a laugh right now.

“Is that you doubting me, Derek Hale?” Stiles shoots back, an all too familiar smolder in his eyes, which is completely unfair, because Erica’s in the apartment and even then, that look should be illegal outside of the bedroom.

“This is perfect,” Erica wheezes, finally manages to straighten herself out again. “I’m texting Boyd.”

“No!” Derek exclaims, but she already has her phone out, fingers flying over the keyboard.

“Awwww,” Stiles says, distracting Derek who turns around to find Stiles still scrolling through tumblr, cooing over an admittedly adorable drawing of what appears to be the two of them snuggling up together on a couch reading various comics. “I’m saving this one.”

“Just as long as you don’t save the other one,” Derek grunts, wandering away from the table and over to the refrigerator to continue his quest for food.

“Too late,” Stiles chirps, and Derek has to resist the urge to hit his head against a hard surface.

“How’d they even figure out it was me in the photo?” Derek asks, finally giving up on their mostly empty refrigerator and opening one of the cupboards to liberate a box of Cheerios.

“Despite what you’ve deluded yourself into believing, there are actually a few photos of you floating around the internet,” Erica says, swallowing a large mouthful of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Mainly from that signing you did a year ago.”

“Exactly a year ago,” Stiles corrects, eyes still fixed firmly on his laptop. “Or, well, maybe a year and ten-ish hours ago.”

“Aw, he remembered your anniversary. Keep him,” Erica coos, sounding simultaneously delighted and mocking.

“I don’t think I have a choice now,” Derek mutters, earning him a kick in the shin from Stiles as he takes a seat at the kitchen table beside him.

“Oh, hey, speaking of pictures of you, I have a shit ton of messages asking for me to post some,” Stiles says, grinning mischievously at Derek in a way that sets him on edge. “Apparently now that everyone knows you’re hot, they all want a piece.”

“You better not be planning on pimping me out to get more readers,” Derek replies, narrowing his eyes as Erica lets out a very unladylike snort.

“C’mon, babe, just one shirtless pic?” Stiles says, batting his eyelashes dramatically as he tries to pout, suppressing a grin. “You know, it doesn’t have to even be shirtless. You could wear my orange and blue shirt – ”

“No,” Derek answers immediately, glaring at Stiles, who’s unable to hold back his dorky grin anymore. “The last time I wore that thing I swear it was trying to suffocate me.”

“Do I want to know?” Erica asks, raising one eyebrow, somehow having managed to avoid ruining her perfect lipstick with any peanut butter.

“No,” Derek and Stiles answer in unison, making a catlike smirk spread over her face.

“Oh, I so totally want to know now,” She says, putting down her sandwich.

“Not happening,” Derek grunts, Stiles sliding his chair over so that he can snuggle into Derek’s side.

“Hey, so is PDA going to be a thing now?” Stiles asks, looking up at Derek and blatantly using those bambi eyes of his as the weapon they are. “I mean, it’s not like we were hiding before, but can we, like, make out on a park bench or something?”

“Why would you want to make out on a park bench?” Derek replies, unimpressed.

“I like messing with bigoted people. You know this, Derek,” Stiles scoffs, checking his phone as it buzzes with a text. “Oh, hey, Kira says she’s bringing us coffee because we can’t leave the apartment and her shift just ended.”

“Technically we can leave the apartment,” Derek retorts, feeling guilty about inconveniencing sweet little Kira. She still draws hearts in Stiles’ latte foam, even though Stiles told her they were together less than an hour after it happened.

“Only because the reporters haven’t found your address yet,” Erica snorts, shooting off another text to Boyd. “And tell Kira to bring me something, too.”

You’re not confined to the building,” Derek grumbles, pushing his now empty cereal bowl aside and pulling Stiles over into his lap, earning him a startled squeak and a glare. “You’re welcome to leave anytime.”

“What, so you two can go back to fucking like bunnies?” Erica asks, looking up from her phone and giving the two of them a slow, obvious onceover.

“Isn’t Boyd your boyfriend?” Stiles protests, blushing a little under her scrutiny, squirming a little in Derek’s lap.

“Stop that. Your butt is bony,” Derek complains, tightening his arms around Stiles to keep him from moving.

“Shut up – you love my butt,” Stiles shoots back, pouting a little.

“I’d love it more if you kept it still,” Derek grumbles as Erica looks on in amusement.

“That’s not what you said last night,” Stiles purrs, leering at Derek who just glares at him, even if the tips of his ears are maybe a little pink now.

“God bless camera phones,” Erica says, making Derek and Stiles whip around to find her pointing her phone at them, presumably recording their conversation. “I’m totally gif-ing the fuck out of that and posting it on your website.”

“No fucking way,” Stiles protests, glaring at her.

“Please, as if I don’t already know your password,” Erica replies, rolling her eyes. “I mean, really? SourWolfD3r3k?”

“Wait, actually?” Derek asks, blinking at Stiles.

“Shut up,” Stiles grumbles, shifting around some more in Derek’s lap.

Derek winces. ‘Bony butt’ indeed.

---

“Oh my god, the coffee shop was packed today,” Kira says as Derek lets her into the apartment, Stiles and Erica having migrated to the couch, refusing to get up.

“When is that place not packed?” Stiles snorts, sitting cross-legged with a sketchbook in his lap and three different pencils in his hand.

“Today was worse than usual,” Kira sighs, plopping herself down in the large green armchair, which was about the only piece of Stiles’ furniture that Derek would let into his apartment when they finally moved in together a few months back. “I think another regular at the coffee shop recognized you two from the news. There were a lot of people with comic books loitering around today.”

“Fuck,” Derek mutters, because he really doesn’t want to have to find a different coffee shop to work at. Half Moon Café has a sentimental significance now. Also he’d feel like he was cheating on Kira and Scott, the two main baristas.

“I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually,” Stiles tries to reassure him, pressing their sides together as Derek takes a seat on the couch. “I mean, we’re just comic writers.”

“Young, attractive comic writers for DC’s top two series who just had their make-out session plastered all over the internet,” Erica points out, and even though it’s not exactly what Derek wants to hear, she has a point. “And don’t forget that the movie adaption of Midnight Wolf comes out in December.”

“This is all your fault,” Derek groans, slouching against Stiles, resting his head on Stiles’ shoulder.

“Hey, you were clearly a willing participant in that photo, thank you very much,” Stiles protests, although it’s slightly muffled by the pencil he’s now holding in his mouth. Derek tries not to stare, but Stiles knows what that does to him, goddamn it.

“Yeah, you guys still haven’t given me the details,” Kira says, rejoining the conversation. “I mean, congratulations on coming out, I guess, but I thought you were trying to keep it on the down low.”

“There was alcohol involved,” Stiles replies, which really does explain everything. “It lowered my intolerance tolerance.”

“Oh,” Kira says, because, well, what else can you say to that? “Well, if you guys want, I’m sure no one would mind if you hung around in the staff room at the shop for a few weeks until everything dies down.”

“Thank you,” Derek replies, giving Kira a tentative but genuine smile.

“Aren’t you precious,” Erica says, her lips turning up in a smirk as she gives Kira a slow onceover. “Why haven’t we ever been properly introduced before?”

“Uh,” Kira answers, blushing, but looking a little flattered. “I have a boyfriend?”

“Disappointing, but not what I asked,” Erica says, still eying Kira. “I happen to have a boyfriend, too.”

“And this is why we didn’t introduce you two,” Derek mutters, earning him an eye roll from Erica and an uncomfortable look from Kira.

“She’s mostly harmless,” Stiles assures Kira, an apologetic smile on his face.

“I can tell when I’m not wanted,” Erica huffs, earning a snort from Derek, but she ignores him in favor of checking her phone as it buzzes with another text. “Anyway, I’m going to meet Boyd now.”

“Hey, has he said anything about my deadline?” Stiles asks as she stands up from the couch, straightening out her skirt and blouse.

“Yeah, he said that you might make it if you managed to keep your hands off Derek long enough to actually get some work done,” she says with a smirk, Stiles grumbling something inaudible.

“Later, bitches,” Erica sing-songs as she makes her way to the door, waving at them over her shoulder. “Oh, and don’t be a stranger, Kira!”

She winks pointedly.

“She seems… nice,” Kira says tentatively once the door’s shut behind Erica, blushing slightly.

“That’s one way of putting it,” Derek snorts, carding his fingers through Stiles’ hair.

“Seriously, though, we can tell her to knock it off if it bothers you,” Stiles says, serious for once, giving Kira a comforting smile. “Like I said, she’s harmless. Mainly she just wanders into your apartment and steals your food.”

Kira laughs at that, a bright smile appearing on her face.

“No, it’s fine,” she replies, shaking her head, waving off Stiles and Derek’s concerns. “She seems like an interesting person.”

“That she is,” Stiles mutters, looking back down at his sketchbook and scribbling something off to one side of the page. “What she was saying about my deadline is right though. I seriously need to get a move on.”

“Then go work at your desk while Kira and I gossip about you,” Derek teases, pressing a light kiss to Stiles’ forehead, earning him a fond eye roll and pout.

“Yes, dear,” Stiles says, standing up from the couch and taking a moment to stretch, and Derek’s sure that Stiles is intentionally making his shirt ride up distractingly. The fact that he sends Derek a mischievous little smile before disappearing into their bedroom/workspace doesn’t help any.

“So, how are things going with you and Stiles?” Kira asks, starting up the conversation again.

“They’re going well,” Derek replies, brow furrowing in mild concern. “Why do you ask?”

“Nothing, just Stiles was telling me that you’ve seemed a little off recently,” Kira says, her tone gentle but a little worried. “I mean, it’s probably nothing. Stiles kind of overreacts a lot. You guys seem to be doing fine right now.”

“Oh,” Derek answers, anxiety twisting his gut about the fact that apparently Stiles isn’t comfortable with communicating this directly to him. “I guess I have had a few things on my mind, but mainly I suppose I was just trying to keep my anniversary plans a surprise.”

Which, well, isn’t a total lie. He was rather secretive about the whole anniversary thing, careful to make sure that Stiles didn’t find out about the dinner reservations and such. He feels a little guilty about not telling Kira about the other thing weighing on his mind, but he’s not entirely sure he’s ready to tell anyone yet. Really, Stiles should be the first one to know.

“That’s a relief,” Kira says, smiling slightly. “Seriously, you should talk to him, though.”

“I will,” Derek replies, mentally adding ‘eventually.’ “How are things going with you and Scott?”

“We have another date tomorrow,” she answers, beaming, an adorably smitten expression on her face. Idly, Derek wonders if he ever looks like that when he talks about Stiles. He probably does. “We’re going bowling. Apparently Scott is a terrible bowler, though, so we’ll see how it goes.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Derek reassures her, although he’s internally grimacing as he remembers the one time he and Stiles had tried a bowling date. To be fair, Stiles hadn’t know that Derek’s probably the worst bowler in the history of bowling, because he’d been too embarrassed to admit it.

“Hopefully. I mean, it’s only our third date, but I really, really like him,” Kira says, her tone a little wistful as she picks at the hem of her shirt. “Is it possible to still crush on someone even though you’re dating them?”

“Maybe?” Derek replies, shrugging.

“Seriously, though, I really hope Scott and I can have a relationship like the one you and Stiles have,” Kira continues, giving him a soft smile. “You guys are kind of perfect together, even though you do that arguing-but-not-really-arguing thing.”

“Yeah,” Derek says, mirroring her small smile. “We’re really lucky.”

---

“Sit,” Lydia Martin, CCO of DC comics, commands, her gaze unwavering and uninterpretable.

Derek and Stiles comply immediately. Out of the corner of his eye, Derek can see Stiles glance at him nervously for a split second, but Derek doesn’t quite trust himself to do the same without getting distracted. Really, Lydia isn’t the sort of person you want to ignore even on a good day – and Derek is fairly sure that today is a bad day.

“Would either of you care to explain yourselves?” she asks, quirking one eyebrow.

“We were drunk?” Stiles offers tentatively and Derek has to resist the urge to protest that there was no ‘we’ about it. They have to present a united front in enemy territory, though, don’t they?

“Well, I suppose there’s not much we can do about it now,” Lydia sighs, leaning back a little bit in her chair, he words making Derek relax a little. “I must admit, it’s become a bit larger than I expected, though.”

Derek has to hide a grimace at that. She’s right, of course. Somehow they’ve become the hot new fad – Stiles has become a meme, even. Just walking into work this morning, he’d been hyperaware of a few people staring for just a little too long, vague recognition on their faces. Thankfully no one had approached them – they aren’t that famous – but he has no doubt that the more hard core fans of their work will pop up sooner or later.

“It can’t be that big of a deal,” Stiles protests, although he sounds less than convinced. “I mean, come on. We write comics.”

“Superheroes are the in thing,” Lydia points out, which, really, they can’t deny. “What I’m interested now, though, is how to use this to our advantage.”

“To our advantage?” Derek asks, frowning, because how is this shit-storm an advantage? Well, it’s media coverage, he supposes, even if it is more of a scandal than anything.

“Yes, to our advantage,” Lydia repeats, her gaze intense, putting Derek a little on edge. “Honestly, I should be thanking you two.”

“Thanking us?” Derek and Stiles say, almost in unison. It’s a little bit creepy, but mostly just cute.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to change DC’s image,” Lydia explains, leaning forward and steepling her fingers. “Quite frankly, we’re losing. People are starting to look at us like we’re dinosaurs in Marvel’s new comic age. Our audience is changing, diversifying. The breakdown in comic readers is now nearly fifty-fifty between men and women, and Marvel’s headlining titles like Gwen Stacy, Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, and Storm.”

“So you think that Derek and I being all queer for each other will make DC seem more diverse and will help draw in the younger audience,” Stiles clarifies, his eyes turning sharp and his expression serious. Sometimes Derek forgets that Stiles isn’t always goofy smiles and flailing limbs. Really, at times like these, he’s less of a bambi and more of a fox.

“You already know that your sexuality influenced my decision to hire you,” Lydia says, quirking one eyebrow at him.

“How public do you want us to be with this?” Derek asks, rejoining the conversation.

“You need to be involved in your image, but you can’t play it up too much. We don’t want anyone to think you’re faking for coverage,” Lydia replies evenly, pulling up a calendar on her computer. “Deaton will be your official publicist, but I’ll oversee everything. As for now, I’ve already given the go ahead for three interviews. Derek, you have one with Entertainment Weekly, and Stiles, you have one with USA Today. The last one will be a joint one with Out Magazine. Apparently they want to do a spread.”

“Wait, with, like, pictures?” Stiles exclaims, wide eyed. “I get why they’d want Derek, but, I mean, I’ve looked through a few issues before and those photos are of people like John Barrowman, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto.”

“Your point is?” Derek asks, reaching over to place a hand high on Stiles’ thigh, a surge of protectiveness coursing through him.

“You know what my point is,” Stiles says, shooting him a glare, but not trying to remove his hand.

“Stiles, stop being an idiot,” Lydia huffs, and for a moment it almost looks like she’s going to roll her eyes. “Even I get jealous of your lips sometimes. And it’s not like you’re going to be on the cover, anyway.”

“Wait, really? You’re jealous of my lips?” Stiles asks, blinking those big brown eyes of his, surprised, which makes Derek feel kind of bad – clearly he hasn’t been doing a good enough job as Stiles’ boyfriend.

“Didn’t I tell you? I’m only with you for your body,” Derek deadpans, leaning in to press a light kiss to Stiles’ lips.

“Ha, ha. Very funny,” Stiles replies, but his cheeks have flushed a pretty pink color and he leans into Derek’s touch.

Lydia no longer resists the urge to roll her eyes.

“There’s one more thing you two should know about, though,” Lydia says, and Derek finds it remarkably hard to look away from Stiles and focus back on her and the topic at hand. “You’re doing a joint panel at Comic Con.”

“But that’s in, like, two weeks,” Stiles points out, scrunching his nose adorably. “There’s no way you can schedule a panel now.”

“You two may have already been scheduled to run ‘From Webcomics to DC Comics’ on that Friday,” Lydia replies casually as Stiles gapes at her and Derek tries not to let out an audible growl.

“I’m already doing the panel to promote the Midnight Wolf movie,” Derek protests, because if there’s one thing he hates, it’s conventions. Well, maybe he hates signings a little more, but not by much. It’s so awkward sitting up there in front of a few hundred people as they ask stupid questions which he then has to answer politely.

“I made sure the times won’t conflict,” Lydia answers, as if that’s Derek’s problem with the situation.

“Wait, so I’m doing a panel at Comic Con?” Stiles asks, eyes wide again, his mouth hanging open. “Dude, I’ve never even gone as a fan!”

“It’s really not that great,” Derek grumbles, really not looking forward to the large crowds and confined spaces.

“Say that again and I’m breaking up with you,” Stiles says, giving Derek a sideways glare.

Derek wisely keeps his mouth shut.

“So,” Stiles says after a moment. “What do you want us to do?”

Lydia smirks.

---

“Hey, Derek, do you think you could take a selfie while giving me a piggyback ride?” Stiles asks, breaking Derek out of the zone he’s fallen into while working on early sketches for his new series now that Midnight Wolf’s main run is over.

“Why?” Derek replies, putting down his pencil and looking back to suddenly find Stiles right up in his personal space.

“I got a message on my site asking who tops,” Stiles says simply, making Derek blush a little.

“I’ll do it if you give me a piggyback ride, too,” Derek counters, a small smirk settling over his face at the annoyed look Stiles shoots him. “I top just as often as you do, so it’s only fair.”

“Oh, come on – you have at least fifty pounds on me!” Stiles protests, pouting a little.

“Hey, I’m just trying to give them an accurate depiction of our relationship,” Derek says, crossing his arms over his chest.

“And you enjoy watching me suffer,” Stiles adds, ever the drama queen.

“That too,” Derek agrees, nodding solemnly while trying to suppress a grin.

“Fine, fine,” Stiles sighs, although Derek can tell he’s also amused by the whole thing. “I suppose I can let you top this once.”

“Oh really?” Derek counters, and before Stiles can respond, he pounces, the two of them crashing to the floor in a pile of limbs. Naturally, Derek comes out on top.

“You – ” Stiles squawks, indignant.

“Pinned you,” Derek interrupts, a smirk stretching over his face as he looks down on Stiles, still trapped underneath him.

“Oh my god, you are not allowed to quote The Lion King at me right now. I’m trying to be mad at you,” Stiles whines, but instead of pushing him away, he pulls Derek in for a kiss.

Over the past year, Derek’s learned that Stiles kisses like he does everything else – well, but a little too vocally and with maybe too much enthusiasm. Not that Derek’s complaining. Kissing Stiles is an Experience, capital ‘E’ and all. Once they’d tried making out in the bathroom room after a meeting at DC Headquarters, only to have Allison rush in in a panic, worried that someone was injured because of how loudly Stiles had moaned. Really, Derek’s just glad that the neighbors haven’t complained yet.

“So,” Stiles says, once they finally break apart, and Derek’s pleased to note that his cheeks are flushed and his breathing a little harsh. “Is that a yes to the piggyback ride?”

“Yes, dear, I’ll give you a piggyback ride,” Derek answers, rolling his eyes.

Stiles punches the air in triumph, and Derek tries and fails to not find it endearing.

---

Ugh, Comic Con.

“Derek, stop being such a Grinch,” Stiles whines, threading his fingers together with Derek’s and pulling him in a little closer. “Seriously, this is like geek heaven. I don’t get how you can not like it.”

“It’s crowded, it’s noisy, panels are exhausting,” Derek lists off, grumbling and stubbornly maintaining his grouchy demeanor. “I could go on all day.”

“Did I do something wrong?” Stiles says out of the blue, catching Derek off guard as he turns to find a hurt, frustrated look on his boyfriend’s face.

“What?” Derek asks, confused.

“I mean, am I being too annoying or something? Because you’ve been kind of, I don’t know, weird lately,” Stiles answers, nudging them off to the side so that they’re not blocking the entrance to the convention. “If I’m doing something, tell me. I can’t read your mind.”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Derek says, and really, it’s the truth. Sure, he’s a bit annoyed with suddenly being thrust even more into the spotlight than usual due to their spectacular coming out, but as long as he has Stiles to help him through it, he can handle it.

“You can tell me the truth,” Stiles presses, crossing his arms over his chest, and now he’s truly starting to worry Derek. “There was that week before our anniversary where you’d disappear for hours on end and then give me shitty excuses, and now you keep having these secret little conversations with Kira. Just – I don’t know, the way you look at me sometimes – ” Stiles takes in a shuddering breath. “It’s like you don’t know what the fuck to do with me anymore.”

Derek feels like he’s had the air knocked out of him. Because yeah, Stiles is right, just not for the reasons he thinks he is. The little ring box tucked secretly away in his jacket pocket weighs heavy on his mind, as it’s been doing for nearly a month.

“Jesus, Stiles, it’s not what you think,” Derek says, looping an arm around Stiles’ waist and bringing a hand up to cup Stiles’ cheek, brushing his thumb gently over the soft skin there. “I love you so much – I really do. And it’s nothing bad, okay? I’m just not quite sure if I’m ready to tell you about it yet.”

“I – ” Stiles starts, cutting himself off, an unhappy expression on his face that Derek really just wants to kiss away. “Okay, just… I love you, too.”

“I know,” Derek replies, his lips twitching up in a little smile.

“I’d punch you in the face if I wasn’t absolutely certain that you’re making a Star Wars reference,” Stiles says, although it’s relieved, a little playful even, and a moment later their mouths are slotting together, meeting in a warm, wet slide of tongues.

“Oh my god, is that Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski?” Derek hears someone say.

He breaks the kiss and settles in for a long, long day.

---

Derek’s had three glasses of water already and the panel hasn’t even started yet. This is partially – or maybe mainly – because last night he and Stiles had been notified that the room their panel would be in was going to be switched. Not a big deal, right? Well, except for the fact that now he’s sitting in front of over a thousand people in room 6A, the fifth largest panel room at the convention.

He twitches, startled, as he feels something brush up against him, although he relaxes as he realizes that it’s Stiles’ hand as he threads their fingers together, having obviously picked up on Derek’s discomfort. Really, it’s stupid of him to be nervous just because there are a few more people than expected (okay, maybe seven hundred more people than expected). Tomorrow’s Midnight Wolf panel is in hall H and should have over six thousand people. Of course, a traitorous part of his mind can’t help but remind him that here and now it’s only Stiles and him, while tomorrow he’ll most likely be neglected in favor of the movie stars.

“You’re doing the face thing,” Stiles says with a small smile, and Derek’s not sure if his eyes are bright with anxiety or excitement. Both, probably. “The ‘if you’re lucky, the police will find the body later’ one.”

Derek rolls his eyes and gives Stiles’ hand a little reassuring squeeze, but he doesn’t otherwise respond.

“Hey, you have nothing to worry about,” Stiles continues, apparently deciding to be bold and leaning over to press a light kiss to Derek’s cheek, which immediately causes an increase in the noise level in the room. Derek’s pretty sure he hears a few small shrieks.

“Well,” Allison, DC’s editorial director and the panel moderator, says, her voice booming through the microphone. “It is exactly four thirty, on the dot, so I think it’s time we got started.”

Derek forces a smile while Stiles nervously bounces his leg up and down under the table.

“First of all, I think we should give a warm welcome to Stiles, here,” Allison continues, gesturing over to Stiles, who gives an awkward little wave. “After all, this is your first time at Comic Con, isn’t it?”

A loud cheer ripples through the crowd and Stiles’ cheeks flush an adorable pink.

“Uh, yeah, that’s right,” Stiles confirms, smiling. “You guys are taking my Comic Con virginity.”

This garners a few laughs and wolf whistles from the crowd and Derek lets out a little huff, because of course Stiles is going to turn this into a sex joke. He’s suddenly glad that all the questions are being screened, now that they’re in one of the larger rooms.

“You know, I have to say, I’ve always wanted to go as a fan, and I never imagined that I’d be here as a panelist,” Stiles continues, relaxing slightly, and Derek can already tell that he’s going to have the fans wrapped around his little finger in no time flat. “It’s kind of insane, actually.”

“Well, I’m sure Derek can show you the ropes,” Allison says, deftly maneuvering the conversation to introduce Derek too. “This is your third time at SDCC?”

“It is,” Derek answers shortly, but not rudely, more neutral than anything. “It’s only my second time doing a panel, though.”

“You’ll catch on quickly,” Allison replies, and Derek has no doubt that, with her as the moderator, it’s true. She’s old hat at this. “Now, we have to lay a few rules down before we start. Stiles and Derek?”

“Uh, yeah, rules,” Stiles says, clearing his throat and grinning charmingly. “To be honest, Derek and I didn’t know we were doing a panel until a few weeks ago, so we’re going to be keeping this pretty casual.”

“That being said, we do have a few rules,” Derek continues for him, taking over smoothly, but not interrupting. “I’m sure that all of you have heard about our relationship.”

It’s kind of a nice surprise that the crowd cheers, and Derek feels a swell of confidence.

“And judging by Stiles’ inbox, you have a lot of questions,” Derek says once things have quieted down again. “We’re not going to ban questions about our personal lives – ” He has to stop again as people scream. “ – but we ask that you keep those questions until the second half of the panel and leave the first twenty to thirty minutes for questions related to our work. Also, I won’t be answering any questions about the Midnight Wolf movie until tomorrow.”

“Seriously, guys, go to Derek’s panel. It’s gonna be awesome,” Stiles says, shooting Derek a grin and a wink.

“You do realize that with all the actors there, I’m probably just going to sit in the corner,” Derek replies, giving Stiles an unimpressed look, but the tension is already starting to bleed out of his shoulders, making him relax.

“Please, you’re going to sit in the corner and look pretty,” Stiles shoots back, a playful spark in his eyes that always makes Derek’s stomach feel like it’s full of live butterflies.

Allison clears her throat and they both turn to look at her sheepishly.

“Okay, boys, save the flirting for later,” she says, sounding more amused than annoyed, and the audience laughs along with her. “There are two microphones, one at the front of each main aisle. Feel free to start lining up.”

“Fire away,” Stiles chirps, leaning forward over the table and shifting a little so that his hand, which is still clasping Derek’s tightly, is clearly visible on top of the table.

“Uh, hi. I’m Jenny,” a young Chinese woman says, waving slightly from where she’s standing in front of one of the microphones. “My question is for Stiles. I was wondering if you can talk a little bit about what it was like going straight from webcomics to writing and drawing for DC.”

“Shitty,” Stiles answers with a laugh, a little ripple of amusement traveling through the audience. “Well, not really – I’m super psyched to be working for DC now, but it was still a pretty difficult transition to make. I think the two hardest things to get used to are concrete deadlines and playing well with others.

“See, when you’re writing your own independent comic, all of your deadlines are self-imposed, and if you’re a little late on one, it’s no big deal,” Stiles continues, gesturing with his free hand (the one not occupied by Derek’s hand). “If you’re cutting it close on a deadline for DC, though, your editor sends his scary girlfriend to break down your apartment door and raid your kitchen.”

Derek’s unable to help the little snort of laughter at that. A few other people in the audience let out little giggles too, but, really, it’s too much of an inside joke for them to understand. He realizes that Stiles meant it for him, to help him relax.

“As for working with other people, there are a lot more people involved than you’d think,” Stiles says, smiling easily. “There are colorists and editors and publishers and so on. It’s kind of a big change if you’re used to producing everything yourself. Really I’m just glad that I managed to wheedle a position as both a writer and artist.”

“Interesting perspective, Stiles,” Allison says once he finishes, and Derek’s pretty sure she says something else, too, but he’s a little too distracted by the way Stiles’ long fingers rub soft circles over the skin on his hand. Abruptly, he realizes that Stiles has managed to subtly ease him into this panel, has made him almost forget that he’s supposed to be nervous.

“My question is for Derek,” another voice continues, interrupting Derek’s little daydream and bringing him back to reality.

“Go ahead,” he replies, nodding.

“What or who was your inspiration for Midnight Wolf? And by that, I mean Lanna Delaney, the character, not the series in general,” a teenager says, leaning maybe a little too close to the mic as he speaks so that a few words come out a little loud.

Derek freezes. It’s not something he talks about, not really. He opens his mouth and then closes it again, not quite sure what to say. He can feel everyone’s eyes on him and he’s maybe starting to panic a little, but then he hears a loud scape, making him turn his head to inspect the source. Stiles blushes a little as Derek turns to him and Derek blinks, dumbfounded as Stiles drags his chair closer so that they’re right up next to each other. He loops an arm around Derek’s waist and settles his head against Derek’s shoulder in a comforting gesture.

“Sorry guys, but I don’t think – ” Stiles starts, leaning over to use Derek’s microphone, but then Derek shakes his head, cutting him off.

“No, it’s okay,” Derek says, although he still leans into Stiles’ touch, gathering strength from it. “I can talk about it.”

The room feels almost deathly silent. Derek smiles weakly.

“Uh, so, Lanna’s character is actually based off my older sister,” Derek continues, squeezing Stiles’ hand a little too tightly. “I started writing Midnight Wolf a month or so after she, my brother, and my parents got caught in a house fire. She was severely injured and was in a coma for about five months.

“For a while we weren’t sure if she was going to make it,” Derek admits, trying not to think back on those days spent wasting away in the chair beside Laura’s hospital bed, “and one day while I was sketching and watching this stupid werewolf flick, I suddenly thought ‘If werewolves were real, would getting turned into one save her?’ The story just kind of grew from there.”

“Of course, now she takes every opportunity to tease him about how he made her into a superhero,” Stiles chimes in softly, making Derek smile a little as he remembers first introducing the two of them, remembers the way Laura’s scars, from where the skin graft didn’t heal perfectly, wrinkle a little as she grins at his expense.

“She’s insufferable. It’s the worst,” Derek says, shaking his head, glad for Stiles’ little distraction. “Whenever we get into an argument it always ends with her talking about how she’s apparently ‘superhero material,’ whatever that means.”

A few people in the crowd laugh a little, and Derek’s glad that they’re starting to get back to their earlier lighter tone.

The questions get easier after that. (Although, he supposes, it would probably be pretty hard for them to get harder. At least he’d managed to avoid admitting that while Laura survived the fire, his brother and parents weren’t so lucky.) A few people try to finagle spoilers for future Robin issues out of Stiles, and Derek gets a few questions about his plans for future projects, now that the current run of Midnight Wolf is over and he’s done helping write the movie script.

It’s… well, it’s almost relaxing, answering intelligent questions about his work with Stiles by his side. He’s never felt like this when thrust into a PR situation before. Even the interview with Stiles for Out wasn’t quite the same, a little too rigid.

He’s still a little worried about the personal questions, though.

“So why did you two decide to come out now?” is the first one, asked by a tiny woman with a shock of bright pink hair (Derek’s pretty sure she’s cosplaying Tonks from Harry Potter).

“I’ll let Stiles handle that one,” Derek replies, a smirk on his face as Stiles glares at him, but Derek doesn’t feel too bad about throwing him under the bus. It was his fault, after all.

“Okay, so truth be told, it wasn’t entirely intentional,” Stiles admits, drumming his long fingers on the table in a nervous tick that Derek has long since learned to identify. “It was our anniversary and, um, we may have been celebrating a little too vigorously. Apparently being drunk makes my intolerance tolerance go way down.”

A ripple of laughter travels through the audience at that.

“Not that I regret it,” Stiles adds quickly, glancing over at Derek with those big, brown bambi eyes of his, filled with a sort of warm emotion that makes Derek’s heart skip a beat.

“Would you two ever consider doing a comic together?” the next person asks and Stiles laughs loudly, head thrown back.

“Oh my god, no,” Stiles says once he manages to pull himself together long enough to form words.

“We tried once,” Derek explains, grimacing at the memory. “Let’s just say that as much as we respect each other’s work, our artistic visions are a little too different for us to collaborate well.”

“He’s just pissed because I made him sleep on the couch for a week,” Stiles stage whispers and Derek cuffs him upside the head in playful retaliation.

“What were the first words you said to each other?” is the question after that, asked by a gangly black teenager wearing a shirt of some ‘OTP’ that Derek doesn’t recognize. Clearly he’s a romantic, then.

But, well, it’s Derek’s turn to double over in laughter this time, and Stiles’ turn to glare. His cheeks do turn a very pretty shade of red this time, though, and Derek doesn’t bother to resist the urge to drop a light kiss on his temple before answering.

“What was it again?” Derek muses aloud, his tone teasing. “Something along the lines of ‘wow, that’s the best Midnight Wolf fan art I’ve ever seen’?”

The entire audience erupts in screams, hollers, and laughs, but Derek’s not paying attention to them, instead focusing on the bright flush of Stiles’ entire body and the small embarrassed smile on his face.

“Because you were so smooth,” Stiles says once the noise has died down, before pitching his voice to do an absolutely horrible imitation of Derek’s grumpy voice. “‘Get out of here, whippersnapper! Kids these days.’”

“I did not say ‘whippersnapper’ or any variation on the word,” Derek retorts, indignant, because he knows there’s an age difference between them, but it’s not that big.

“You did tell me to get lost, though,” Stiles counters, raising one eyebrow.

“I did,” Derek confirms, his lips twitching up into a fond smile. “It’s a good thing you didn’t listen to me.”

“Please tell me someone recorded that!” Stiles calls out into the audience, eliciting another loud cheer as a few people start waving around cell phones and video cameras.

“You’re lucky that I love you,” Derek mutters, squeezing Stiles’ hand, their fingers still linked even though the panel’s been going on for nearly forty five minutes already and neither of them are at all anxious anymore.

“I love you too,” Stiles says, smiling softly, and for some reason it’s not teasing like he’d expected it to be. It’s one hundred percent sincere and it nearly knocks the breath right out of Derek’s chest.

He realizes that maybe it’s time.

The rest of the questions pass smoothly, most of them light hearted, except for a couple asking about the backlash they’ve received since coming out. Stiles is brutally honest about the messages he’s received – the messages he’s been deleting from his inbox ever since he started writing a little webcomic with a bisexual superhero – and Derek also opens up enough to discuss his sexuality. Stiles beams at him when he talks about bisexual erasure.

“I’m afraid it’s about time we wrapped this up,” Allison announces, surprising Derek, because it hardly seems like it’s been an hour, even though normally to him panels seem to drag on and on. “We have time for one last question.”

“I have a question, actually,” Derek blurts out, surprising himself along with the audience. He feels a little guilty about taking away time from a fan, but for some reason he feels like this is the right time – that if he doesn’t ask this question now it’ll take months to work up this confidence again.

“Okay,” Allison says tentatively, but she motions for him to continue.

“It’s for Stiles,” Derek adds, and people are already starting to whisper amongst themselves, coming up with all sorts of theories.

“Go for it,” Stiles says, and Derek’s relieved to see that he looks confused, but not nervous.

“I think that maybe we should stand in front of the table,” Derek replies, getting up, his chair scraping obnoxiously across the floor, Stiles’ doing the same as he follows suit.

“Is this something I should be worried about?” Stiles asks as they walk around the table so that they’re at the front of the stage, directly before the audience. “Really, I have no clue what you’re going to ask me.”

“It’s nothing bad,” Derek answers, before pausing for a moment. “Probably.”

He shoves his hands awkwardly into his jacket pockets, his right one clenching around the little box tucked within.

“Wow, I’m feeling so comforted,” Stiles replies, deadpan, and he really does seem to be nervous now, which Derek feels guilty about.

“I know you’ve been a little concerned lately because I’ve been acting strangely,” Derek starts, eyes tracking the way Stiles’ jaw clenches, his expression a little anxious, “and maybe doing this here and now in front of all these people makes me an asshole, but if I don’t ask you now, I’m not sure how long it’s going to take me gather the courage to do it again.”

He pulls the box from his pocket and drops down on one knee.

“Stiles Stilinski, will you marry me?” he asks, nearly stumbling over the words because he’s so nervous, even though he’s practiced them a million times.

The room is so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

“Oh my god,” Stiles gasps, big bambi eyes wide, his pink mouth hanging open. “Oh my god, yes!

Idly, Derek realizes that the crowd’s gone wild, that they’re all screaming at the top of their lungs, but then Stiles pulls him up into a kiss, fully distracting him and nearly making him drop the ring in the process. This kiss is so much like their first: sloppy, wet, enthusiastic –

Perfect.

“Okay everyone,” Derek hears Allison say, although it’s muddled – he’s too caught up in Stiles right now and the fact that he said yes in front of one thousand some witnesses. “Thanks for coming, but we’ve actually gone a little over and we need to clear out to make room for the next panel.”

Derek ignores the camera flashes, ignores the wolf whistles and the cheering. He just delves deeper into Stiles’ mouth, parting his lips, tongues meeting, electricity coursing through every contact.

“Not that I’m complaining,” Stiles says once they finally break apart, though they’re still staring into each other’s eyes like the overly love-struck couple they are, “but why now? Why here? You hate Comic Con.”

“I was originally going to ask you on our anniversary, but then I got too nervous,” Derek admits, hands twisting in the fabric of Stiles’ shirt. “It’s only been a year and I didn’t want to scare you off by moving too fast.”

“I would have said yes then, too,” Stiles huffs, his breath warm against Derek’s face they’re standing so close together. “You didn’t answer my question, though.”

“I don’t hate Comic Con when you’re here with me,” Derek replies like the utter sap he is, cheeks flushing slightly. “And I just – during the last few questions all I could think about was the fact that a year ago, you were sitting across a table from me telling me that you were a mediocre artist whose webcomic was shitty and that Hot Coffee Shop Guy was completely out of your league.”

He pauses and licks his lips.

“I just want you to know that all those things you said about yourself were completely wrong,” Derek continues, leaning in to press his forehead against Stiles’. “And I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world.”

“You know, you were wrong about yourself, too,” Stiles murmurs, a soft smile on his lips as he rubs his nose against Derek’s in an eskimo kiss. “You said that you were a broody, pessimistic, antisocial asshole, but, really, that’s just what you want everyone to think. You’re actually just a squishy little teddy bear.”

“Only for you, dear,” Derek snorts, pulling back so that he can carefully remove the ring from its box and slide it onto Stiles’ outstretched finger.

Stiles laughs and leans in for another kiss.

---

As Derek is called onto stage and takes his seat at the far end of the table at the Midnight Wolf panel the next morning, he feels like he’s practically vibrating out of his skin. As the first one (other than the moderator) to walk out on stage, he has the attention of six thousand five hundred some people on him. It doesn’t help that a video of his proposal went viral the other day.

He’s so nervous he feels like he’s going to puke.

But then – well, then he catches sight of Stiles, grinning at him from the very front row. He smiles back, suddenly feeling much less nervous.

The panel goes fantastically.