Stiles tugged at his tie and bounced from foot to foot. “Remind me why I’m doing this again?”
“Because the proceeds are funding the new roof for the animal shelter after the storms, and you love the puppies?”
“Right,” Stiles sighed. “I’m weak in the face of the puppies.” He was, too. He spent at least one day a week volunteering at Beacon Hills Animal Rescue, in lieu of getting a dog of his own.
His dad chuckled and brushed a speck of imaginary lint off Stiles’s shoulder. “You look good, kid.”
Stiles looked himself over in the mirror. His dad was right—he did look good. The lines of his suit showed off his broad shoulders and long body, and his hair was artfully tousled, having decided to behave for once. “You know, I still can’t believe that some concerned citizen somewhere hasn't gotten ‘date with a deputy’ auctions banned.”
John shrugged. “It’s all in good fun, and everyone’s a volunteer. Who knows,” he added, “you might get bid on by someone you like.”
Stiles rolled his eyes in response. “Yes, I’m going to be swept up by the man or woman of my dreams at a charity auction.”
“You’re too young to be so cynical.” His dad clapped him on the shoulder.
“No, just a realist. If someone actually wanted to ask me out, they wouldn’t wait for an auction to do it. Now stop fiddling with your tie, you look fine.”
His dad stopped fidgeting, looked at himself in the mirror, and ran a hand down the front of his suit. “I just hope someone wants to bid on a senior citizen. I don’t fancy being left sitting there like the last turkey in the freezer at Thanksgiving.” He sighed and checked his watch. “Let’s do this, kiddo. Let’s go sell our bodies for charity.”
Stiles laughed and herded his dad down the stairs. He thought about telling his Dad that he knew for a fact that Lydia’s mother was planning on making a bid, and decided against it.
He’d let it be a surprise.
It was a lot more nerve-racking than Stiles had thought, waiting out back and watching all the other deputies get auctioned off before him. He still didn’t know why he was the last one on the list, but Lydia, who was running the show, had insisted, and Stiles knew better than to cross her, because he liked his testicles located right where they were, thanks—and not being used by Lydia as earrings.
His dad was on the block right now, and even from the side of the stage Stiles could see the delighted grin on his face as Melissa McCall and Natalie Martin engaged in a furious bidding war. The figure climbed in twenty dollar increments until finally, there was the bang of a hammer and his dad was sold for the staggering sum of five hundred dollars—the third highest bid of the night—to Natalie Martin. He looked pretty happy about it, cheeks flushing pink when Natalie blew him a kiss.
Stiles was both surprised at the total and happy for his dad, but at the same time he wondered if he shouldn’t have bribed someone—Tara, maybe—to bid on him, push his own total up. If he got outsold by his old man, he’d never hear the end of it down at the station.
The auctioneer invited Natalie to the podium to ‘collect her prize’, and once his dad and Natalie had walked back to her table arm in arm, the auctioneer cleared his throat. Silence fell, and Stiles’s nerves ratcheted up. “We have one more deputy on offer tonight, and I know one or two of you in particular have been saving your bids for this young man.”
Stiles jolted at that—what? Somehow the thought that there were people who wanted to bid on him, specifically, was scarier than nobody bidding at all. He swallowed nervously.
The auctioneer beckoned to where Stiles was standing. “Come on out, Stiles.”
Stiles stood there frozen, wondering if it was too late to change his mind, but Lydia was glaring at him over top of her clipboard from the other side of the stage, doubtless deciding which method of castration to employ, so he took a deep breath, decided fuck it, and bounded out onto the stage with his arms in the air in an impressive slow jog—only to trip on a stray cable and go flying through the air. He flailed madly, let out a squawk, and hit the stage with a resounding thunk.
In the shocked silence that followed, he heard his Dad muttering “Jesus, kid.” Stiles could just picture him running a hand down his face.
Luckily, the auctioneer went with it. “This young man’s so keen to go raise money for the animal shelter he’s throwing himself at you!” he said, as Stiles hastily scrambled to his feet, lifting his hands over his head like he was in a Rocky movie—or possibly under arrest—to show he was fine. “With that kind of enthusiasm, surely someone will make a generous opening bid. Shall we start at a hundred?’
“A hundred,” a familiar voice drawled, before Stiles had even finished dusting himself down. Stiles squinted into the crowd and spotted Peter Hale, seated at a table right at the back, and let out a relieved sigh.
Peter was here to make sure he had at least one bid.
He’d mentioned to Peter that he hoped that he got bid on when they were having lunch last week. He and Peter got on, in a way that seemed to be reserved specially for kindred assholes who understand each other, and they caught up a couple of times a week for lunch or a beer.
Stiles wasn’t sure how, exactly it had happened, but somehow he and Peter were friends. Stiles enjoyed Peter’s sharp mind and biting humor, and Peter, for his part, seemed to have no problem following the threads of Stiles’s ramblings, and he found his lack of filter entertaining. They’d definitely bonded over having no patience for idiots.
It was nice to have a friend who didn’t expect Stiles to be nice.
And for all Peter was a self absorbed asshole at times, he was incredibly perceptive and had a soft side, even if he went to great pains to keep it well hidden. He’d doubtless come to save Stiles the embarrassment of going unsold, knowing that despite growing into his limbs and muscling up a decent amount since joining the force, somewhere inside Stiles was still a skinny kid who was 147 pounds of pale skin and fragile bone, all wrapped in a pile of teenage insecurity.
Peter raised one hand and waggled his fingers, giving Stiles a tiny smile, just as the auctioneer said, “A hundred to Mr. Hale, a solid opening bid. Who’ll give me one fifty?”
Derek also waggled his fingertips at Stiles in a wave from where he was sitting with his own winning bidder for the evening, at the table next to Peter’s. He was smiling widely, and Stiles’s brain stuttered to a halt. Derek was bidding? Why was Derek bidding? They’d been working together for five years and there’d never been the slightest spark between them. Zip. Zilch. Nada. And even if it was for charity, this was just utterly…un-Derek like.
“Two hundred,” Peter said before Derek’s bid had even been acknowledged, the slightest hint of annoyance in his voice. Probably because he’d hoped to get out of this cheap. Still, maybe he'd spur someone else to bid.
“Two hundred,” the auctioneer parroted. “Shall we say—
“Three.” Derek’s voice cut across his, and when Stiles looked over at the pair of them, Peter was scowling and Derek was smirking. It looked wrong, like their default expressions had gotten mixed up in the wash and landed on the wrong faces.
“It looks like we have some competition!” the auctioneer said, obviously delighted. He turned to Stiles. “Why don’t you give the gentlemen a twirl so they can see what, exactly, they’re bidding for?”
Stiles obliged, turning slowly with his arms spread wide, keeping his eyes peeled for tripping hazards. He could play once off as hilarious, but twice and he’d never live it down. He made finger guns at both Peter and Derek, because why not? Three hundred was a good, solid number, and with the knowledge that he wasn’t going to be totally embarrassed, he was actually starting to enjoy this.
“Any advance on three hundred?” the auctioneer addressed Peter, who looked distinctly annoyed.
“Five,” he huffed out, with a glare at his nephew that could strip paint. Stiles almost felt bad for him, having to pay five hundred bucks just so he wouldn’t be outbid by his own nephew—except he knew Peter was obscenely wealthy, which was why he never objected when Peter picked up the bill for lunch, or paid for their takeout when they had a movie night. (Sometimes, Peter liked to joke and ask Stiles if that made it a date. Sometimes, Stiles wished that it was.)
Stiles knew for a fact Peter had a soft spot for the strays at the shelter—he’d accompanied Stiles there often enough when he volunteered on his days off. (Stiles was the first to admit that the sight of Peter in a wet v neck as he bathed the new arrivals and towelled them dry was part of the reason he brought Peter along—that, and the dogs fucking loved him. It was kind of great watching him buried under a pile of furry limbs.)
“Six hundred and fifty,” Derek countered, with that big wide grin of his that made men and women sigh wistfully in equal measure.
Stiles felt his face stretching in a grin. He’d beaten his dad’s total. On a whim, he peeled off his jacket and slung it over his shoulder, and sashayed across the stage, making sure his hips swayed enticingly.
“Seven!” A woman Stiles didn’t know shouted out, and Peter’s top lip curled in what looked like a snarl.
“Eight,” Derek said placidly, examining his nails. Stiles still had no clue why he was even bidding.
Peter’s fingertips drummed on the table in front of him and his expression was pure steel, and for a moment Stiles thought Derek had done it, had outbid his uncle, and wondered why he felt a stab of disappointment.
“Five thousand dollars.”
There was collective gasp as Peter folded his arms over his chest and sat back, grinning triumphantly.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Stiles blurted out.
“Five thousand!” the auctioneer trumpeted. “Anyone else? No? Going once, going twice,—” Derek leaned forward in his chair and raised his hand a scant inch off the table, and Stiles could see the snarl on Peter's face and just knew that he'd growled in that way he had, low and threatening, and Derek sat back and shook his head.
“Going three times, Sold! For five thousand dollars!” the man roared over thunderous applause. “Congratulations!”
Stiles wasn’t sure what the hell had just happened, his ego and his self doubt warring in his chest and tying his stomach in knots. Why the hell would Peter pay five grand for dinner with Stiles, when they just had tacos last night?
He was still asking himself that as the auctioneer invited Peter to collect his prize.
Peter prowled towards the stage and, ignoring the steps on the side, put one hand on the edge and swung himself up with a sinuous grace that Stiles could only envy and walked over to him, pausing in front of him and extending an arm. Stiles took it on autopilot and as Peter walked them down the steps and back to his table, Stiles asked quietly, “What—what was that?”
“I wanted to take you on a date,” Peter said, one eyebrow raised, “and this was the perfect opportunity.”
He pulled out a chair and Stiles ignored it. “You don’t want to date me,” he said, brows furrowing. “You would have asked otherwise.”
Peter let out an impatient huff. “I did ask, Stiles. Numerous times. How often did I say shall we make it a date?”
“Yes, but you weren’t serious!” Stiles protested, and waited for Peter to laugh, to tell him of course he wasn’t, not to be an idiot.
But Peter just stared at him with those too-blue-too-pretty eyes, and Stiles wilted under his gaze as he recalled all the times they’d made plans, how Peter would ask if it was a date and Stiles would just laugh and tell Peter it wasn’t nice to tease the single cop.
And now he thought about it, Peter had never said he was joking,had he? Stiles had just assumed he was. Stiles’s breath caught as the penny finally, finally, dropped.
Peter hadn’t been joking at all.
“You meant it, all those times you asked if it was a date.”
Peter pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes, idiot boy. I meant it. But you seemed determined to miss what was right under your nose, and frankly I got impatient. So I decided I'd just buy your time. How else was I going to get a chance to tell you I adore you, and court you like you deserve?”
Peter’s voice rang out, his words loud as they landed in one of those pockets of perfect silence that only seem to happen at the most inopportune times.
Someone whistled. Someone else applauded and called “Get it, Hale!” Peter took the time to glare at the room at large, but he didn't take back what he’d said, instead turning his gaze back to Stiles, eyes wide and hopeful.
“You...adore me?” Peter nodded slightly and gave a helpless shrug. Stiles swallowed, warmth bubbling up in his chest. “You adore me,” he repeated, more confidently this time.
Peter nodded again. “I’ve been trying to date you for six months, Stiles.” He cupped a hand around the back of Stiles’s neck, his palm big and warm and reassuring, and Stiles hummed and let his eyes close, soaking up the knowledge that Peter wanted him.
“Oh my god Peter, just kiss him or I’ll call them back and make a counterbid.” Derek called out, drawing a laugh from the other guests.
His voice cut through the pleasant fog that had just been settling over Stiles’s brain, reminding Stiles that Derek had been bidding as well, and what the hell was that about? Stiles pointed at Derek. “You! Why were you bidding?”
Derek shrugged. “Thought I’d push up the price a bit. The shelter needs new wiring as well as a new roof, so I figured Peter could foot the bill. I knew he’d refuse to be outbid, no matter what. You know he’s been pining after you for months, right?”
Stiles blinked again, and he let out a groan. “Did everyone know about this but me?”
A familiar hand dropped on his shoulder, and his dad sighed. “Only the entire station. I swear, kid, how someone who’s a cop can be so clueless, I’ll never know,” His dad shook his head and walked off back to his own date, leaving Stiles and Peter standing alone.
“You really are hopeless,” Peter sighed, putting his hands on Stiles’s waist and pulling him close in an embrace.
“Yeah? Well what does that make the guy who's dating me?” Stiles countered, relishing the heat and press of Peter's body against his through the fabric of his suit. He wondered if their first date could take place in Peter’s bed. He really didn't think Peter would mind.
The corners of Peter’s mouth pulled up in a gentle smile, and then he leaned in and captured Stiles’s mouth in a kiss, soft and tender and utterly perfect, before pulling back. “It makes me,” he said, pressing their foreheads together, “a very lucky man.”