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Politics of a Scandal

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I.

Stiles Stilinski doesn’t believe in love at first sight.

He’s an analytical, rational person. He believes in research and facts, he knows love is just a chemical reaction. He can name from memory all the hormones involved and the way they work in the brain. He can rant about how love is just the way nature has of perpetuating the species, about the social and physiological aspects through the ages.

That being said, he can’t help but feel something completely irrational the first time he lays eyes on Derek Hale.

As a media consultant, Stiles has been waiting a long time for a case like this. He understands why Lydia picked it and placed the Hale case on top of Stiles’ pile. And yet, some part of him can’t help but blame her for picking the only case with the picture of a stranger capable of reducing Stiles’ rational mind to goo.

Resolutely, Stiles decides to make sure this anomaly does not affect his work. He reads through the case information and backgrounds for the third time, makes a list of pros and cons and finally makes a decision based on actual facts.

He reasons with himself until he’s sure he’s picking the case because it’s a great opportunity, and not for the man in the picture.

He then calls Lydia and together they prepare the case to present to the team.

“Everyone sit down." Stiles calls the next morning, putting his glasses on as everyone enters the meeting room.

Lydia has the projector already running and her iPad is in front of her. She waits for Scott, Danny and Jackson to sit down before she starts talking.

"Laura Hale," she informs in her business tone, showing a picture on the screen of an attractive woman with dark hair and pale eyes. "Thirty two. Running for governor of California. Was born in an affluent family from upstate. Her father was on the city council of their town, Beacon Hills, until he and his wife died in a car accident when Laura was sixteen. Lived with her brother at a relative’s in New York and then moved back to CA for college when she was eighteen. Majored in politics and law with honors. Single, no children. Impeccable profile as far as our background check went."

"Who’s this?" Scott asks as he skips through the file.

"That'd be her younger brother, Derek Hale," Lydia says as she changes the picture on the projector. The man’s resemblance with Laura is uncanny.

"The problem," Stiles adds as he sits down and opens his own file.

“Derek Hale,” Lydia informs. “Twenty eight. Younger brother of Laura Hale. He was twelve when their parents died and they moved in with their uncle. Extensive criminal record of minor charges during his teens and early 20’s. Followed Laura back to their home town, never finished college but cruised through a few years of mechanical engineering.”

“Hold on a second,” Jackson interrupts her. “Drug possession charges at fourteen?” he reads out loud from the file. “Really, Stilinski?”

“That was just a joint of weed,” Stiles rushes to explain.

"Vandalism of a church..." Danny reads, arching an eyebrow.

“He was searching for shelter to spend the night,” Stiles says, defensive. “It was cold!”

“He ran away from home?” Jackson shakes his head.

“It was only for a couple of months before he and his sister moved out of New York,” Stiles huffs.

“Alright.” Lydia puts a hand on her hips. “You two can stop,” she tells Jackson and Danny. “We’ve accepted the case, this is happening. And you,” she starts, pointing at Stiles, “tone it down.”

Jackson snorts, leaning back in his chair and regarding Stiles with a malicious grin. "So tell me,” he nearly purrs. “On a scale of 1 to 'let's ruin our reputation so Stiles can get the D', exactly how hard have you fallen for the guy?"

"I- you... Oh my god, guys! That's not it!" Stiles exclaims indignantly.

"Please." Jackson rolls his eyes.

"I'm offended you'd think that!"

"He wants his babies," Lydia interrupts, making Stiles groan and cover his face. "But the point is that he makes a really good case. The kind of case we've been waiting for, actually."

"Okay." Scott speaks for the first time, smiling reassuringly. “This is Stiles’ company; he’s the boss and we all trust him, right? I say we do this and hit it big time.”

He and Stiles high five and Jackson groans and rolls his eyes. “Please no more PDA. I might barf.”

“Don’t be a dick.” Danny punches his shoulder lightly.

"Okay, so we’ve heard what he was like in the past," Scott says, ignoring the whole thing. "Now tell me your plan."

“Laura Hale is our ticket to a national scale campaign,” Lydia explains. “Her opponent is Gerard Argent. Old, creepy, not very popular. Laura is actually a great candidate, I was following her before this, I know she has a real chance. Or she did until the media found out about Derek’s background.”

“It’s ridiculous.” Stiles rolls his eyes, gesturing wildly. “Our first step is to find the source of these defamatory articles.” He throws a bunch of papers on the table.

“I’ll get on it.” Danny nods, leaning over the table to retrieve all the papers and then sitting back down.

“Second step is to press charges against the newspaper. They aren’t cooperating or even giving us access to the journalist that wrote these.” Stiles tosses another file in front of Jackson.

“I guess that means I got something to work on.” Jackson rolls his eyes.

“Lydia and Scott will speak with Laura’s team,” Stiles explains as he stands. “And I’ll go meet her. I want to launch our strategy for their new campaign as soon as possible. There is a charity event next week and I want something ready by then.”

Jackson groans and Danny looks even more unsure, but they accept their assignments, and everyone leaves the meeting in relative peace.

"Hey man," Scott says, clapping Stiles’ shoulder. "Do you mind if I leave early today?”

“Dude,” Stiles groans.

“I know, I know,” Scott shows his hands. “First day of a big case, it’s kind of a big deal. But I have a date!"

"Did you finally ask that Allison girl out?" Stiles jokes, knowing there is no way that’s the case. Scott has been gushing about Allison nonstop for the last few months without doing anything about it. They coincide in the same cafeteria every morning before work, have a nice chat and go their respective ways, each time leaving Scott with a rampage of emotions Stiles has to suffer through with him, because that’s what best friends do.

"I-” Scott raises his eyebrows in surprise. “I did! I mean, dude I don’t know how I did it but I finally got the balls and asked her out yesterday."

"Thank god!” Stiles throws his arms and whoops after a moment of shock. “I was this close to going to that damn cafeteria myself to ask her out for you."

"So you don't mind if I head out early?" Scott asks hopefully.

Stiles shakes his head. "It's cool man, Lydia’s got this." Lydia is going to kill him.

"Thanks, bud!” Scott gives him a bro bump of fists and leaves.

 

II.

A few hours later, Stiles has signed half a dozen confidentiality contracts and is finally sitting in front of Laura Hale in her fancy office.

“You’re really young,” she blurts out.

“I know,” Stiles chuckles, finger rubbing under his nose in a self-conscious gesture. “It’s part of the charm, I guess.”

“Were you, like, a kid genius or something?” Laura asks seriously, studying him with narrowed eyes.

“That depends on how you define genius.” Stiles smiles. If he’s honest, he’s a bit intimidated by Laura’s magnetism. In a nervous gesture, Stiles pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “My father would have a few things to say about it.”

Laura seems amused. She leans back and regards him. “Everyone says you’re the best media consultant. Why do you think that’s true?”

“Maybe because I’m not a dinosaur, like the other consultants.” Stiles shrugs. “I grew up trolling the forums; I know how the social media platforms work, so I know how to manipulate the information.”

“Clever.” Laura smirks. “Then you know why I called you?”

“Oh, yes.” Stiles grins. “I know about your problem.”

“Ms. Hale.” A boy’s voice interrupts them through the intercom.

“Yes, Isaac?” Laura asks, pressing the intercom button.

“Your brother is here,” Isaac informs her.

“Let him in.” Laura smiles. “I hope you don’t mind,” she says to Stiles. “I invited him so you could meet ‘my problem’.” She air-quotes the words.

“Oh.” Stiles gulps.

He turns around when the door opens and Derek Hale is standing there.

Stiles has spent so many hours staring at his picture for the past few days that seeing him now in the flesh feels kind of strange. But even then, his heart does a double flip and Stiles’ pulse thunders as his whole body tingles the moment he sees Derek. And what he’s wearing. Because it seems like Derek did it on purpose. He’s wearing biker clothes. Who does that? Jacket, pants, boots, the whole package. Like straight from a wet dream.

Stiles gapes, jaw going slack as Derek unzips his leather jacket and tosses it on the couch, showing the fitted gray sleeved shirt he’s wearing underneath.

“Come here stranger.” Laura stands and goes to her brother.

“Hey sis.” Derek hugs her back.

When they break apart, Derek seems to notice Stiles for the first time. He arches his eyebrows and looks at Stiles oddly for a second before asking, "Who’s this?"

"He's the head of Stilinski Consulting," Laura says cheerfully.

"Stiles, my name is Stiles,” Stiles hurries to say. He stretches one hand over to Derek, totally not ogling the ripped muscles under the tight, tight shirt.

Derek looks back and forth between Stiles’ face and his hand before moving. He reaches out and grabs Stiles’ hand, his eyes widening just slightly as his lips part to take in a small breath.

Stiles can’t stop staring at him, even though his hand is on fire. His eyes roam over Derek’s face, memorizing for the millionth time the form of his cheekbones, his precise maintained stubble and especially his stunning hazel eyes. It’s different now that he’s seeing him in the flesh, and boy what a difference that makes! Stiles finds him truly mesmerizing. He suspects that’s a trend when it comes to this man.

Derek seems to falter a second before pulling back and looking at his sister. “Isn’t he a bit young?” he finally asks after clearing his throat.

Laura laughs, patting his shoulder. “That’s what I said, too.”

“How old are you?” Derek looks back at him, and his stare scorches Stiles.

“I’m-” Stiles clears his throat. “I’m twenty three.”

Derek scoffs. “Doubtful.”

“Hey,” Stiles says, offended. He may be smitten but that doesn’t mean he lost his ability to snark. “I’m here because of you, buddy. I may be young but I know what I’m doing. I pulled off a double major in four years, while starting up my own company.” He bites back the ‘what have you accomplished?’ because theoretically, he’s here to help.

“He was a kid genius,” Laura says in a conspiratorial tone, elbowing her brother.

Derek snorts. “Puberty must have been terrible for you.”

Stiles flushes. He’s usually better at witty comebacks but Derek has the upper hand with all those ridiculous muscles and a face that could make cherubs cry.

“Look who’s talking,” Laura teases. Derek scoffs and she shows her hands. “All I’m saying is you weren’t Mr. Sympathy, either.”

“He still isn’t.” Stiles grins. “That’s why I’m here.”

Laura chuckles at that, making Derek frown and huff. They are quite comical together.

“Why don’t you two sit down so we can start?” Stiles asks, deciding it’s time they start talking about the case.

Laura seems taken aback but she nods and smiles nonetheless. Good reaction, Stiles notes. Derek grunts when she grabs him by his massive bicep and drags him to the couch, where they sit together. Not so good of a reaction.

"First thing first," Stiles says in his serious tone. “We should talk about the articles.”

Derek instantly grows visible tense next to Laura, who nearly winces.

“Is that necessary? They were painful enough to read the first time, I don’t want to go through that again,” she explains, and Stiles is pretty sure she’s talking on behalf of her brother.

“That’s okay,” Stiles shows his palms. “We don’t have to talk about what the articles said, just of how they found out the information. I need your collaboration to get to the bottom of this.”

“Peter,” Derek says simply, like that explained everything.

“We don’t know-” Laura automatically protests, until she seems to realize something and looks at Stiles instead. “Our uncle Peter took care of us until I was eighteen.”

“I know, it’s in your file.” Stiles nods, sitting in a chair in front of them.

“He... had some issues,” Laura starts saying until she’s interrupted by Derek’s snort.

“Look,” Stiles gestures with his hands. “I’m not sure I can talk about your hair color without getting sued at this point. I’m here to help, whatever you say, it’ll stay here.”

Laura regards him for a second, jaw clenching and unclenching until Derek pats her leg and she seems to make a decision. “Peter and Derek never got along,” she rasps out. “I was blind for a long time, I didn’t see that all he wanted was our parents’ fortune when he signed up as our care keeper.”

“He manipulated us,” Derek grits out and Laura actually looks startled for a second. And so does Stiles. “I tried to stop him but he outsmarted me.”

“Don’t be so harsh on yourself,” Laura whispers. “You were just a kid. And I- I believed him at first, you know that. It was really my fault.”

“Wait-” Stiles frowns. “How come I didn’t read any of this when I did my research?”

“You weren’t really a kid genius, were you?” Derek smirks, making Stiles’ guts do a double flip inside his body.

“I paid someone to hide everything,” Laura explains. “It wasn’t cheap, so I expect no one will ever be able to find it. Not even you.”

“Huh.” Stiles scratches his chin. He wants to ask for that contact, someone able to hide information from Stiles and Danny should be working with them. But he suspects this is not the right time. “So... that’s why Derek ran away and had so many problems with the law back then?”

“Peter is a lawyer,” Laura shrugs. “He tried to use Derek to get me to sign some papers where I gave him full control.”

“So what happened?” Stiles can’t help but ask. “How did you fix it?”

“Derek ran away. I turned eighteen.” Laura smiles sadly.

“Yeah, before he could kill you,” Derek grunts.

Stiles leans back in his chair, considering the new information. “And you think he could be behind those articles?” Stiles frowns.

“He’s the only one besides us who knows some of the details exposed,” Laura explains.

“Where is he now?” Stiles asks, suddenly worried.

“We don’t know.” Laura shakes her head. “We left the moment we could and never went back to New York.”

Stiles blinks exactly two times before he’s back on his feet and rushing to get his cell phone out, pointing at them to wait.

“Danny,” he snaps the second someone picks up. “Run a complete background check on Peter Hale. We need that fucker under our radar stat. Also, check in case he’s involved with the articles. And let me know first thing if he’s in the state.”

Once he hangs up, Stiles notices Derek staring at him. There is something in his eyes that gives Stiles pause. He looks... less frowny. Less hostile, less me against the worldin a way that is nearly vulnerable.

“Don’t worry.” He lowers his head, rubbing the back of his neck in a self-conscious gesture, glasses sliding down his nose. “I’m sure he’s still in New York, but we’re going to make sure he stays there.”

Both siblings nod almost at the same time. It could be comical if the situation wasn’t as fucked up as it is.

“Why didn’t you press charges?” Stiles finally asks, knowing the answer anyway.

“If people knew,” Derek speaks first, surprising him. “It’d be bad for Laura’s career.” He shrugs, like it doesn’t matter, but Stiles knows otherwise. He can see the tension in Derek’s jaw, the hard lines of his taut body, the way he avoids Laura’s stare. And she seems to know, too, because she gets back on her feet and sighs loudly.

“Enough talking about the asshole,” she groans. “I need fresh air and I’m actually late for my appointment. Where is Isaac? He should have dragged me out of here ten minutes ago.” Laura goes to the intercone in her table and presses its button. “Isaac, you’re so fired.”

She’s laughing by the time Isaac rushes inside, just seconds later. “I didn’t want to disturb your meeting!” he explains frantically.

Laura tries to hide her smile, but she fails greatly. Isaac seems to catch on the joke then and groans, throwing his arms high in the air. “You’re late,” he says, narrowing his eyes and pointing outside as Laura grabs her bag and sends kisses to Derek with her hand as she leaves.

“Continue without me.” Laura winks at Stiles and then she’s gone, leaving them alone in her office.

“Uh,” Stiles fumbles a little, not knowing if he should sit or stay on his feet, if he should speak or just leave. He’s suddenly very conscious of the fact he’s alone with Derek Hale. It’s ridiculous, really, how the reaction of hormones and chemicals in his body are making him act like a schoolgirl with a crush.

He ends up sitting, just to make sure he doesn’t stumble with his own feet.

“Let’s get out of here,” Derek says then, making Stiles jump back to his feet, almost stumbling over.

 

III.

They don’t speak as they make their way to the elevator and down to the street. Stiles suspects Derek doesn’t speak because he’s not the talkative kind, and Stiles doesn’t speak because he’s too overwhelmed with the current events to have a functioning brain.

Once outside, he spots Derek’s motorcycle almost instantly. It’s black, big and menacing. Just Derek’s style. “Want a ride?” Derek asks as he walks over and starts searching inside his bike’s glove box.

“A- a ride?” Stiles stutters. He closes his eyes and purses his lips, reprimanding himself mentally for his epic failure at trying to come across as cool, or at least not a total loser. When Derek turns again he’s holding a second helmet and Stiles feels his jaw dropping open.

“We can talk more about the campaign your team is working on,” Derek says, offering Stiles the helmet.

Stiles’ hands are totally not shaking when he grabs it. Nope.

“Right, sure, yeah,” he babbles. “I mean, my Jeep is right there...” as Stiles trails off, he notices Derek’s eyes darting to the car and back real quickly, and something in his stance tells Stiles that was the wrong thing to say. “But I’ve always wanted to try one of these,” he hurries to say, gesturing toward the motorcycle with the helmet.

Derek smirks slowly, head tilted down, and Stiles wants to- he doesn’t know. He’s pretty sure he wants to kiss Derek right there and then. Which throws him off, because hello? Where are Stiles’ pragmatism and sanity? He barely knows the man, for God’s sake.

Derek puts on his helmet, fastening it before he grabs his sunglasses from where they‘re hooked on his tight shirt under the leather jacket and puts them on as he sits on his bike.

And Stiles just stares. Hot Damn.

“Well?” Derek asks, nodding behind him.

Stiles snaps out of it then. He puts on the helmet, careful with his glasses, and sits behind Derek, thighs pressing against Derek’s as he tries not to be too obvious in how much he wants to lean closer.

“Hold tight,” Derek comments in a teasing tone before starting the motorcycle and darting forward. And Stiles feels the jolt. But that doesn’t stop him from doing just as told. He grabs on Derek’s jacket at his sides, hands sliding forward slowly until he’s almost circling Derek’s waist, their helmet clinking together now and then. Stiles tenses up, expecting Derek to stop at any moment and kick him off his bike. But as they speed up through the traffic, Stiles starts to relax. Either Derek doesn’t consider Stiles is trying to cop a feel here or he just doesn’t care.

At first all Stiles can notice is Derek, but after a while he pays attention to where they are and that’s when his breath catches in his throat. Derek has driven through the city straight to the coast, taking him through the almost empty highways running along the beach.

“Oh my god,” he breathes out. “This is amazing!”

Derek doesn’t reply, he just looks back once, smirking. And Stiles feels exhilarating for no reason. He whoops, raising his arms high in the air and squeezing his legs to Derek’s to maintain balance.

“Don’t stop!” he shouts and Derek shakes with laughter, speeding up.

Stiles isn’t sure how long they follow the line down the coast, but he can feel the breeze of the ocean, and hear the seagulls, and feel Derek pressed back against him, and Stiles doesn’t care about time for the first time in a long time.

He almost protests when Derek ends up pulling over after a mountain that was hiding the ocean from view. He parks next to a drink stand in the small beach between hillsides. Stiles takes his helmet off, whooping again because he’s almost bouncing with excitement.

“Dude, that was awesome!” he exclaims, leaning over Derek’s shoulder as he takes his helmet off and looks back at Stiles, still grinning.

After a moment, Stiles realizes they’re still on the now unmoving bike and Stiles is resting his hands on either side of Derek and he’s almost leaning his chin on Derek’s shoulder and- Holy shit, Derek doesn’t seem to care. At least he hasn’t kicked him in the balls yet. He’s actually grinning and letting Stiles rant. It’s something Stiles tends to do when he gets really excited. He rambles. And people end up wanting to make him be quiet, usually by force.

But not this time. Derek just lets him talk until Stiles runs out of things to say about the ride, and then Stiles clears his throat and steps off the bike, suddenly self-conscious as he waits while Derek steps off too and locks the bike.

They end up sitting under a small shade adjoined to the stand as they enjoy the breeze and the cold drinks.

“How did you discover this place?” Stiles asks.

“I like to wander,” Derek shrugs. “I stumbled across this beach a few summers ago, have been coming here since.”

“Did you ever bring Laura?” When Derek shakes his head, Stiles decides to ask something he shouldn’t. “A date? Someone?” Derek seems uncomfortable with the question, so Stiles rushes to say. “Sorry, that’s none of my business.”

“It’s fine,” Derek says as he brings the can of soda to his mouth. “I haven’t brought anyone here before,” he murmurs before drinking.

Stiles gapes at him as Derek takes gulp after gulp of soda. That’s definitely not how you drink carbonated drinks. Stiles can’t manage even a big gulp before choking on the bubbles.

“Well, then.” He clears his throat. “Thanks for sharing with me. I love it.”

Derek seems to relax after a while. He places the mostly empty can on the table and look at him, and Stiles thinks stupidly how this could be a date. If it wasn’t totally a date, that is.

“Have you ever been surfing?” Derek surprises him by asking.

It takes Stiles a moment to register the question. He supposes Derek is nervous about discussing his involvement in Laura’s campaign, so Stiles decides to go along. He could talk about surfing for a million hours, give or take.

They end up talking for hours. Turns out Stiles has a lot more in common with Derek than he imagined. They both like old B movies, Foster The People and DC comics. Two peas in a pod.

“So tell me,” Derek finally says almost two hours later. They ended up ordering greasy fast food at the stand around lunch time. “What’s the first thing I should do?”

“About?” Stiles asks as he toys around with the straw in his drink.

Derek snorts. “For my sister’s campaign.”

“Oh, right, oh my god.” Stiles widens his eyes. “I’d forgotten. Uh, well, the first thing we should do is work on how you answer questions."

Derek arches an eyebrow. “I don’t answer questions.”

“Exactly my point.” Stiles grins. “That’s about to change.”

“They-” Derek seems to choke for a second. “They thought it was better to keep me away from the media when all this started.”

“No, that was a good idea,” Stiles concedes. “At least, at first, to let things calm down. But after awhile it made you look like you were hiding. That isn’t good.”

Derek scowls.

“Laura has a charity event next week,” Stiles explains. “It’s the perfect occasion to go with her.”

“No,” Derek says immediately.

“You’ll talk to the press, too,” Stiles continues, ignoring him. At Derek’s horrified face, he can’t help but laugh. “Don’t worry, we have time to get you ready,” he says reassuringly.

“No,” Derek repeats.

“Don’t be stubborn,” Stiles teases. He’s having too much fun to take this too seriously. Of course Derek is going to be reticent about speaking in public at first.

“I’m not,” Derek protests. “I just don’t know how to speak in public. And what if they ask me about the articles.”

“We’ll get you ready to answer those, too.” Stiles pulls out his phone. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing. We got time but I think we should start straight away. Maybe tomorrow? We can start your prepping then,” he says as he types on his screen.

When Derek keeps quiet, Stiles looks up and snaps his fingers. “Grunt or nod so I know you agree.”

Stiles takes a moment to scream internally at the prospect of spending scheduled time with Derek for the foretold future. He takes one of his business cards out, scribbles his personal cell phone number on it and offers it to Derek, who looks at him dumbfounded.

“I’m... going to have to speak… in public?” he finally asks.

“I’ll help you.” Stiles smiles.

Derek nods slowly and then breathes out an, “Okay.”

“Wow, that was easier than expected,” Stiles teases. He looks at his card and then at Derek and changes his mind. “Here, take it,” he says as he presses his phone into Derek’s palm. “Type in your number.”

Derek doesn’t even think about it. He taps the screen for a moment before returning the phone.

“I’ll call so you have mine, too.”

“No need, I already sent myself a text.” Derek grins. He seems to ignore Stiles’ questioning eyebrow and looks back at the ocean instead. “What will I have to say in that charity event?”

“Huh?” Stiles snaps his head up, away from his phone. He’s checking his texts, to see what Derek had sent to himself. A dot. That was the whole message. Weirdo. “Oh not much, you’ll walk the red carpet with her,” Stiles explains. “We will allow people to include you in their questions and see how it goes.“

“So I won’t have to give a speech, right?” Derek insists.

“Nah man.” Stiles smirks. The idea of Derek scared of having to give a speech is hysterical. “But... The event is to raise awareness to not drink and drive. I’ve seen the first draft of your sister’s speech and I think she wants to talk about your parents. It’d be great if you went on stage with Laura for that, you know.”

Derek goes completely stiff.

“I mean,” Stiles rushes to say. “That’d be great, yeah, but we’re going to start with you just being there, alright?”

Derek nods after a moment and then gets up. “We should go back,” he rasps out.

“Yeah, sure.” Stiles rubs his face, cursing inwardly for screwing things up.

During the ride back, Stiles tries not to be clingy. After all, even if he feels like he’s known Derek all his life, he’s still capable of remembering that’s not the case. He knows Derek is still in a weird mood because of the speech issue, and he doesn’t want to make things worse. So he reminds himself this is only a client and holds onto the sides of the bike.

They are speeding away from the ocean when Derek grabs his wrist and pulls until Stiles’ hand is on his stomach. Derek doesn’t say anything, and neither does Stiles, whose eyes have gone wide. He holds his breath for a moment before pressing his hand against Derek’s abs, feeling his muscles clenching under the cotton fabric of his shirt.

Derek drives back to where Stiles had left his Jeep, stopping right next to it.

There is this awkward moment when Stile steps off and hands over the helmet. He isn’t sure what’s going on, but the tension is right there between them, and Derek doesn’t seem to be bothered in the slightest about it.

“Well,” Stiles fumbles a little with his keys. “I had a great time today, thank you.”

Derek nods, palming the extra helmet. “You’re not what I was expecting when Laura said she had hired a media consultant,” he says then, arching an eyebrow playfully.

“That’s a compliment, right?” Stiles jokes. Derek chuckles and puts on his helmet. “Right?” But Derek just keeps on smirking and leaves without another word.

By the time Stiles is home, his mind is a frantic mess. He never thought he’d get this quickly emotionally invested. It makes no sense, he barely knows Derek, but he feels this is personal somehow. Stiles really wants to help him, not because he’s supposed to but because he wants to. Because somehow he cares.

He’s so screwed.

 

IV.

Later that afternoon, Stiles is cooking dinner while Scott explains in detail his first date with Allison, when his phone buzzes.

Derek:
Do you have my sister’s speech?

“Are you listening?” Scott frowns. He’s sitting on Stiles’ kitchen island, immersed in a detailed description of what Allison had ordered for appetizers while he helps Stiles absent-mindedly.

“I- yeah, give me a second,” Stiles murmurs as he steps away, eyes never leaving his phone’s screen as he replies to the text.

Stiles:
Yes, you want it? I can send it now.

Derek:
But don’t tell my sister.

Stiles tries to hide the smile as he fumbles with his cell phone before replying something short and professional, instead of a key mash.

Stiles:
Scout’s honor. Tell me what you think.

When he turns around, Scott is regarding him oddly.

“Dude,” Scott chuckles, shaking his head as he keeps chopping vegetables.

“Shut up.” Stiles frowns, eyes dropping to check his screen again, waiting for Derek’s reply. “Come on,” he murmurs.

“He’s not replying?” Scott grins.

“Who-What?” Stiles snaps his head up, looking at Scott for the first time. “What are you talking about?”

“Derek.” Scott nods at Stiles’ cell phone. “He just texted you, right?” Stiles looks at him in disbelief a second before he gestures wildly. “Dude, it’s written all over your face.” Scott finishes chopping veggies and pushes them toward Stiles.

Ten minutes later, and after Stiles almost chopped off a finger because he was staring at his phone while using a knife, he finally receives a reply.

Derek:
Okay.

“‘Okay’?” Stiles squeaks. “He took this long to reply just a single ‘okay’? What’s wrong with this guy? Oh my god, I’m crushing on a technologically challenged person, aren’t I?”

He can hear Scott laughing in the other room as he sets the table.

“Hey Scott,” he calls. “Tell me again how you chickened out and didn’t kiss Allison this afternoon!”

A nearly pitiful whine comes from the other room and Stiles smirks, satisfied.

Well, he thinks, he can totally live with Derek’s slow typing on tactile screens. Guy compensates it greatly with other qualities.

After dinner, Stiles lets Scott ramble about Allison while they play Halo for a few hours and then he kicks him out. He’s finally in his bed, watching an old kung-fu movie on TV and trying to fall asleep, when he gets a new text.

Derek:
She’s really reading this in public?

Stiles snorts and replies.

Stiles:
Dude, it’s just a draft. We’re working on it.

Derek:
You’re helping her rewrite it?

Stiles:
That’s the idea. Are you watching the karate movie?

Derek:
The fake punches and kicks kept distracting me while I read.

Stiles laughs, perhaps a bit too much, all things considered. He wants to call Derek, it’d be easier, but he has the feeling it’s still too soon for that.

That’s how they end up spending the next hour and a half texting each other whenever a bad line is delivered or there is a fighting scene in slow-mo where you can see the kicks never connected to anyone even though they fly back.

When Stiles wakes up the next morning, he has a last message from Derek.

Derek:
You fell asleep.
Derek:
Movie isn’t over yet.

Derek’s deadpan tone makes Stiles crack up as he stretches and rubs his eyes. Still laughing, Stiles get up and starts to get ready for work.

Without thinking things thoroughly, he decides to text Derek back. It turns out to be a bad idea, because he spends the rest of the morning checking his phone compulsively. He’s still beating himself mentally about the text when he arrives to work. Mostly because Derek never replied.

“Good to see you came to work,” Lydia says, tossing her hair back.

“What does that even mean?” Stiles asks in confusion.

“I don’t know, I heard about your date yesterday and the hour you finally fell asleep and I thought you might sleep in today,” she says casually, shrugging one shoulder as she checks her phone.

“Woah, hold on a moment.” Stiles panics. “How did you know that?”

Lydia smirks then, giving Stiles her trademarked ‘you’re such a loser’ look. “Take a look inside your office.”

Stiles arches an eyebrow, ready to rush into his office when his phone sounds. “Laura, good morning!” he says a bit too cheerfully as he walks to his office.

“I just heard my brother wants to read the speech with me in next week’s charity event,” Laura says without a greeting.

“What-” Stiles starts saying only to pause when he finds Derek sitting inside his office.

“He sent me an email at three in the morning,” Laura keeps saying, sounding stunned.

“Uh yeah, about that,” Stiles stutters. “Your brother is here, he’s... going to help me with the speech...?” Stiles kind of asks, arching his eyebrows in a questioning gesture at Derek, who nods back. “Yup, he’s here to help.”

“Why didn’t you tell me he wanted to do that?” Laura demands.

“I just found out, Laura.” Stiles closes his door behind him, sitting at his table to face Derek. “I’m as surprised as you are right now, but don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated the moment I know more.”

“You better do that,” Laura growls before hanging up.

“Oh my god your sister wants to kill me,” Stiles exclaims. “And it’s your fault!”

Derek chuckles and throws some papers in the table. “It’s okay, I’ll call her later.”

“What’s that?” Stiles asks, momentarily distracted.

“The speech.” Derek points at it. “We should add more if I’m going to speak.”

“Woah, woah, woahh!” Stiles shows his palms, gesturing wildly. “What are you talking about? Only yesterday you didn’t want to speak at all. What happened?”

“I still don’t,” Derek grunts. He seems uncomfortable. “But I read the speech and I can’t let Laura do this alone.”

Stiles knows what he means. He’s read the speech and the official police report on their parents’ car crash. It’s not something the media knows, but Derek was in the car with their parents that night.

“Okay.” Stiles nods, licking his lips. “We’ll work with my team for this, we need to get you ready to speak not only on the red carpet, but to read a speech in front of hundreds of people... and cameras... Just you in a big stage... Talking about things I’m sure you don’t usually talk about.”

“Would you stop?” Derek snaps.

“I’m just making sure you understand the situation,” Stiles shows his palms.

“I know what I’m getting myself into,” Derek huffs.

Stiles sits back, regarding him. He considers it for a moment and then shrugs, pressing on his intercom. “Hey, I need everyone here.”

“This better be worth it, Stilinski,” Jackson spats when he enters five minutes later, followed by Danny, Scott and Lydia. When they see Derek, though, everyone seems to falter for a moment.

“Change of plans,” Stiles announces. “Derek wants to read the speech with his sister, so we’re going to change strategy.”

“I’ll work on the speech,” Lydia says automatically, already working on her iPad. “I’m calling her assistant to see when I can go talk to Laura. You can decide with Derek what he’d like to add, and then we compare notes.”

“Sounds good,” Stiles nods. “I’m going to need time to get Derek ready for this.”

“That means we start moving information,” Danny interrupts.

“Yeah, you know what to do, I sent you a list of information I want circulating as soon as possible.”

After that, it’s settled that they should use every waking hour to work together. And that’s what they do.

The thing about Derek is that, even though he said he wanted to do this, he really doesn’t. So he’s not the most willing or patient client. Also, Stiles suspects he’s just this way about everything and that’s strangely amusing.

All Stiles knows for sure is that he’d never had so much fun with another client.

And that Derek doesn’t feel like a client, at all.

 

V.

A couple days before the charity event, they have spent so much time together Stiles call tell some of Derek’s quirks. For example, he can tell Derek is so keyed up right now, they are getting anywhere with his speech today.

“Dude!” he snaps. “You’re driving me and everyone else in the building crazy. I know the day is approaching and you’re nervous but oh my god, you need to stop being a grumpy old man about everything.”

“I’m not-” Derek blinks in confusion. “I’m not a grumpy old man.”

“Oh yes you are, buddy,” Stiles nearly sing-songs. “You may look like a hot biker but inside, you have a very old and grumpy person. Maybe you ate him, I don’t know. But he’s there. Trust me.”

“You realize...” Derek trails off. He seems completely thrown back. “You realize you make no sense whatsoever, right?”

“That’s also your fault.” Stiles points at him accusatory. He huffs and looks at the ceiling. “Maybe we need a break?” he asks, a bit unsure as he takes his glasses off and rubs his eyes. When he takes a look at Derek again he’s sure, though. “Uh yeah, definitely a break.”

Derek taps his fingers over his knees and then he gets on his feet. “Alright, let’s go.”

“Together?” Stiles nearly squeaks. Nearly.

“Well, if you want to stay...” Derek frowns.

“No!” Stiles says too quickly, making Derek chuckle. “Where are we going?” he asks as they leave Stiles’ office.

They can hear a few people groaning, believing Derek wants to discuss something again and Stiles can’t help but laugh. “Don’t worry, I’m taking him out so you can all catch a break!” he jokes, speaking loud enough so everyone can hear it as he pats Derek’s shoulder.

Of course Derek frowns and purses his lips, but it’s totally worth it.

“We should go back to the beach,” Stiles says once they are outside and Derek is still frowning.

That seems to be the right thing to say, because Derek is suddenly pushing a helmet playfully against Stiles’ stomach and grinning before he starts the engine.

The ride is less awkward than the first time, but still tense. Stiles doesn’t hesitate to hold onto Derek’s shoulders this time, though. And by the time they arrive to what Stiles likes to think as their little private beach, he’s pressed against Derek’s back, rambling about an old movie he caught on TV last night.

But the best part is seeing Derek’s face transform. Somewhere along the ride, he left his grumpy old man behind and he’s actually grinning now.

They sit under the shade and enjoy a cold drink, talking about nothing important. Stiles avoids talking about Laura, or the speech. And Derek seems to appreciate it by the way he launches himself into a detailed explanation of why Stiles should watch Battlestar Galactica.

After a while, they fall into a comfortable silence. Stiles even drifts off a couple of times, the sound of the waves crashing in the shore like a lullaby.

“It’s a great day to swim,” Derek suddenly says, getting on his feet and stretching out.

“Huh?” Stiles murmurs, arm covering his face.

“I bet the water is warm.” The way Derek says it makes Stiles lower his arm and looks at him.

“You mean you’re going in?” he asks cautiously. Derek shrugs, grinning down at him. “You’re wearing jeans,” Stiles snorts.

“Exactly,” Derek nods. “I’m sweating, I want to swim.”

They’re sitting in the sand, so Derek takes his boots off and starts walking down to the shore.

Stiles looks stunned after him. When Derek is halfway to the water, Stiles seems to realize he’s being actually serious and stumbles to take his shoes off and rush after him.

Once at the shore, Derek drops his boots and starts unzipping his pants.

“Ohmygosh,” Stiles breathes out in a rushed breath.

Derek peels the tight jeans off his legs and throws the pants on top of the boots. And then he has the audacity to look back and grin at Stiles. “Much better,” he teases as he takes his shirt off.

Stiles can’t speak. He can’t move. And he’s almost positive he’s going to pass out for lack of oxygen because he’s not breathing, either. Derek is wearing black boxer briefs. Stiles even notices the Under Armour brand and wants to bury his face in the sand.

“Are you coming or not?” Derek calls before moving into the ocean, water washing over his feet.

Stiles' breath catches in his throat at the sight. He thought Derek was attractive before; he's downright unfairly hot now. He’s what Greek gods were supposed to be made of, Stiles suspects. And with that thought, Stiles is torn between thanking deities or cursing them. After all, Derek Hales wants to swim with him. In their underwear.

“Definitely coming,” Stiles says under his breath.

Stiles sags in relief when he remembers he picked the gray boxers instead of the spider man ones. Good professional choice. He’s soon wearing only his professionally adequate underwear and stepping next to Derek, who trails his eyes up and down his body, letting his lips tug upright in a lazy smirk. Stiles isn’t sure if in appreciation, or making fun of him.

“A race to the buoy,” Derek says, arching an eyebrow before rushing into the water.

Stiles follows him without thinking, jumping into the water. Derek turns out to be a great swimmer, though. No matter how competitive Stiles is in nature, there is no way he can keep up with Derek.

“Wait-” Stiles says out of breath when he finally remembers something. “You were on the swimming team back in high school!”

Derek laughs before going under water and diving a few feet away. When he comes back up, his hair is all spiked in a funny way and he’s sporting a silly smile. And Stiles finds he doesn’t really care if he never had a chance to keep up.

In the end Stiles waits for Derek to reach the buoy and get back. They float around, diving at times, swimming at others, just floating most of the time as they fire questions back and forth.

Stiles almost giggles when he realizes this is nothing like a work meeting. Sure, Derek could think of him as a possible new friend. But there is something in the way they keep circling each other that gives Stiles a bit of hope. He’s still relishing in the thought of this having a small possibility of meaning something close to a date, when Derek grabs him and pulls him under water.

After the initial shock and coughing, Stiles grins and launches forward, trying to grab Derek and pull him under, too. And that’s how they end up playing like kids, to see who can sink the other first.

Of course, this requires a lot of physical contact. Stiles won’t be the one to complain about it. Even when he gets a hold of Derek’s shoulders, jumps out of water and uses the momentum to sink Derek as deep as he can, and Derek grabs at his professional underwear by mistake while trying to kick out from under Stiles’ hold... Even then, Stiles does not complain.

After a while, they end up toasting under the sun, laying on the warm sand as they keep firing questions back and forth.

"So you work out, huh?" Stiles says casually, unable to resist himself.

"Helps me let off steam." Derek shrugs.

“You must have a lot of steam to blow off,” Stiles jokes, chuckling.

“You could say that.” Derek grins, closing his eyes and placing his hands behind his head, flexing his muscles as he stretches over the sand, like he were trying to show off just to torture Stiles.

“Best childhood memory?” Stiles asks then, regretting the question the moment he says it.

Derek seems to tense for a moment before he turns his head around to look at Stiles. “My family used to camp a lot. We lived in the woods, I guess my parents were very into nature.”

“You guys slept in the wild and all that?” Stiles smiles through the lump in his throat. He’s feeling really overwhelmed all of a sudden. As if Derek confiding in him some small memory of his parents was more than Stiles could handle. But then he realizes he’s just so incredible happy, the emotion is choking him.

“Yeah.” Derek looks up at the sky, hand covering his eyes. He looks... peaceful.

“Did you ever encounter a bear?” Stiles teases, because that’s what he’s best at.

Derek laughs slightly. “Nah, but my father ran a wolf shelter. Laura and I used to visit a lot. Her first crush was a boy volunteering there, I remember giving her crap about it all the time.”

“What about you?” Stiles nearly murmurs. When Derek looks at him in confusion, he explains. “Who was your first crush?”

“Oh.” Derek pauses. “I don’t crush easily.”

Stiles arches his eyebrows, surprised. There goes his hope for whatever is going on between them meaning something.

“I mean,” Derek looks back at him. “When I feel something, it’s more complex than that. Laura is inclined to find love every six months, give or take, I just don’t trust that easily.”

“Huh,” Stiles makes an agreement noise. “It fits you, I guess. It seems hard to catch your attention, but you’re very intense in a way, too.”

“That’s how you see me?” Derek arches an eyebrow playfully.

“Kinda? I definitely see you as unattainable.” Stiles wants to wince the moment he says that, because that’s sharing more than he wanted to.

“Laura would agree with you.” Derek closes his eyes, sighing.

“Would you?” Stiles rolls to his side, looking at him.

Derek doesn’t open his eyes. He shrugs. “Maybe.”

“Aren’t you lonely?” Stiles leans closer. He wishes he could run his fingertips through Derek’s chest hair, snuggle closer, maybe rest his chin on Derek’s shoulder and look at him as close as possible before his eyes lose focus.

Derek surprises him by rolling on his side, getting really close and looking at Stiles with a small smile. “Not anymore, I think.”

He pushes Stiles back against the sand, before getting back on his feet. Stiles can feel the sand getting inside his underwear, but he doesn’t even care. He laughs, loud and rich, stretching on the sand as he places his hands behind his head. “Wanna grab a bite?” he asks, still laughing, encouraged by the moment.

“I can’t,” Derek walks until he’s standing over Stiles, his feet at each side of Stiles’ hips. “Dinner with Laura.”

Stiles boos, moving his arms to hold onto Derek’s calves. “Are you sure you’re gonna pass this up,” he says, tugging at Derek’s legs. “For a boring dinner with your sister?”

“If Laura heard you saying that...” Derek teases.

“We have a confidentiality clause, buddy,” Stiles jokes.

Derek snorts, stepping aside and leaning down to grab his arm and pull Stiles back on his feet. Stiles loses his step and leans forward, reaching out instinctively when he stumbles. He gets a hold of Derek, circling his back, and they are suddenly kind of hugging in an awkward, improvised way.

But the weird moment lasts only a moment. Derek steps closer, sliding his hands over Stiles’ back and pressing him closer. Stiles looks up in surprise and their mouths find each other, or maybe Derek was seeking his and Stiles finally caught up on the program. He isn’t sure, but who cares about the details anyway? What matters is that Derek Hale is kissing him. Willingly.

Everything happens too quickly after that. Derek captures his mouth, tightening his hold and then he’s stepping back, leaving Stiles standing alone. He stumbles on his feet, rocking forward when he tries to follow Derek for another kiss.

Derek chuckles, leaning down to grab his shirt. “We should get going.”

“Y-yeah,” Stiles stutters. He wants to move but he’s too stunned. Saying he didn’t see it coming is the biggest understatement of the century.

Stiles gets clothed eventually, and even when it feels itchy and uncomfortable, he barely registers the discomfort. He’s too busy staring at Derek openly, thinking of a way to ask what was that, and if they can repeat, let’s say right now maybe?

Once they reach the motorcycle, Derek puts the helmet on Stiles and pats it once. He seems to be in a good mood, which could mean Derek is not regretting what just happened. But Stiles has had enough time to start wondering if Derek even meant to kiss him or if it was just a mistake. And if so, does that mean that Derek is now ignoring what happened out of embarrassment?

Once he sits behind Derek, Stiles slides an arm around Derek’s waist and another over his shoulder, getting closer than any other time they ride together before. It’s his way to test what’s going on without having to put it in words. Nothing happens, though. Derek doesn’t comment on it, and by the time they are back, Stiles is more confused than ever.

“I need to go shower. And I can’t be late or I won’t hear the end of it from Laura,” Derek jokes as Stiles steps off the bike.

He’s unsure of what to do next when Derek takes off his helmet and looks at him intensely.

“You never told me who your first crush was.” Derek comments, surprising him.

“Dude,” Stiles huffs, laughing. He was hoping for a reassurance or even another kiss, but not that. “You didn’t tell me yours, either.”

“Come on.” Derek leans over the bike’s handlebars, arching an eyebrow.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Lydia.”

“Lydia?” Derek ask in surprise.

“For a long time, yeah.” Stiles rubs the back of his head. Something in Derek’s slightly troubled face makes him want to clarify, though. “It never happened and I got over it years ago, we’re friends now.”

Derek swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down, and then he nods. “She’s pretty.”

“She’s perfect,” Stiles adds. “Just not for me.”

Stiles grabs the helmet and puts it on Derek, smirking. “Go wash the seaweed from your ass.”

Derek falters a moment before he huffs, smirking slightly before he fasten the helmet and starts the bike.

“Oh, hey,” Stiles says a bit awkwardly. “For tomorrow, we need you to wear a suit.”

“What?” Derek snaps his head up to look at him in surprise.

“It’s to get things ready for Saturday.” Stiles shrugs.

“Right,” Derek says after an odd pause.

“You have a suit, right?” Stiles teases. “A nice one.”

Derek snorts. “See you tomorrow.”

Stiles waves like a fool while Derek rides away. If he’s being honest, Stiles is kind of excited about seeing Derek wearing a suit. He’s also dying to tell someone about what just happened.

Stiles:
Dude, freaking out here.

Scott:
What’s wrong? Where are you?

Stiles:
Derek and I kissed!!

Scott:
About time. :D

Stiles:
I’m not sure if we kissed though or if our faces just stumbled into each other.

Scott:
That doesn’t make any sense.

Stiles:
DUDE.

Scott:
I mean, if he kept kissing you then he was into it...?

Stiles:
… You’re right. Yes!

Scott:
Any time, bud.

Stiles:
We also discussed Lydia...

Scott:
wow things escalated quickly.

Stiles:
But he definitely kissed me back.
Stiles:
Oh my god I’m gonna pass out.
Stiles:
We kissed!

 

VI.

The next morning, Stiles arrives to his office early. It’s not that he’s eager to see Derek again. He just likes to arrive to his meetings with time. Or so that’s what he told himself this morning when his alarm went off an hour earlier than usual.

Unexpectedly, Laura is waiting for him. She seems exaggeratedly happy to see him, throwing her arms around him and giving Stiles a bear hug. “So good to see you again.” She clasps Stiles’ shoulder.

Laura sits down with him at his office and regards him with a smile. “Derek told me you two have been talking a lot lately?” She arches an eyebrow.

“Er well, yes,” Stiles fumbles with the collar of his shirt. “We’ve been working together for tomorrow’s speech.”

“Come on, Stiles.” Laura gives him a stare that seems to say cut the crap.

“I mean,” Stiles murmurs. “We’ve been out a couple of times, we occasionally text, I don’t know.”

“That’s great.” Laura beams. “I can’t remember the last time I saw my brother text someone else.”

“I’m pretty sure he does even if you don’t see him.” Stiles laughs nervously.

“Not really.” Laura keeps smiling, although it looks less wide and open. “He’s been like a self-imposed monk for years now.” Laura pulls a face. “The way he agreed to participate... I’m impressed. It’s the first time I see him like this with anyone else but me.”

Stiles feels the full body blush washing over him. He hates blushing, it makes him feel like a little girl with a crush, which isn’t really that far from reality, all things considered. He’s about to open his mouth and say something embarrassing, like ‘Derek is too hot to be left alone’, when the door opens and Derek shows up.

Stiles is pretty sure he doesn’t imagine the awkward stare they share before Laura steps up.

“You arrived early.” She grins, going to her brother and hugging him.

That’s when Stiles notices the suit. Stiles was expecting something extremely tailored and dark, something like the motorbike outfit, enough to leave anyone breathless and with a raging boner.

"Oh my god!" he exclaims. "What is that, what are you wearing?"

"What?" Derek asks in honest confusion while looking down at himself. "You said to wear a suit."

"Yeah," Stiles hisses, raising his eyebrows and opening his arms in a wide gesture. "If I remember it correctly, my exact words were to wear a nice suit. What you are wearing is...It can’t be described as nice,” Stiles decides to say after a moment of doubt. He was close to complaining about that nightmarish thing hiding Derek’s hotness. But then he reminded he was supposed to be working. And that wasn’t the most work appropriate thing to say.

Granted, Stiles is exaggerating because the suit is not made out of something crazy like velvet, and Derek's suit is just a regular, plain one. But the material is worn out and wrinkled, the jacket easily a couple sizes too big, which is almost a capital offense since it’s hiding Derek’s amazing body shape. Also apparently Derek doesn’t know how to work a tie. Go figure.

"It's the only suit I own." Derek frowns.

"Well, that explains a lot." Stiles snorts.

Derek makes a grunt noise in the back of his throat and Laura is suddenly there, clasping his shoulders. She meets Stiles’ eyes and gives him a pointed look. "I'm sure it's not that bad.”

"Yes, it is," Stiles says.

"What do you suggest then?" she asks.

"Isn’t it obvious?" Stiles asks.

"What?" Derek nearly growls out.

"We're going shopping." Stiles smirks.

"You're taking my brother shopping?" Laura asks incredulously.

"Don't tell me," Stiles teases. "He hates shopping."

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen him shopping, not even grocery shopping,” she deadpans.

"It's a waste of time," Derek grits out through a clenched jaw.

"Not this time," Stiles reassures him.

“Well, little brother.” Laura grins as she pats Derek’s shoulder. “Another first, huh?” Derek huffs and gives her a menacing glare, but Laura just laughs and gives him another hug. “Have fun.” She beams. “At this rate, he’ll be your first-” Derek growls, clasping a hand over Laura’s mouth.

“I think you said enough,” he says through a fierce grin, jaw clenched tightly.

Stiles arches an eyebrow. Did Laura mean what Stiles thinks she meant? Impossible. Just... look at Derek, he’s too hot to- Stiles shakes his head and decides to ignore it, or he won’t be able to work today.

Once outside, Stiles points at his Jeep. He’s pretty sure Derek won’t want to get in, but maybe they need the space...? He is still not sure what happened at the beach, and this is his way to give Derek an easy out.

As he expected, Derek shows his helmet and nods at the motorcycle in the parking lot. “I’ll follow you,” he comments.

“Okay, sure.” Stiles shrugs, ignoring the anxiety sizing his chest. “Just follow me then.”

Twenty minutes later, he’s taken Derek downtown to the Gucci store.

"Mr. Stilinski, what can I do for you today?" a clerk greets them enthusiastically.

"Erica,” Stiles greets. "I need your help.” He gestures to Derek.

"Oh, most certainly." Erica looks Derek up and down with a critical eye.

"He needs a black suit, white shirt and..." Stiles looks at Derek. "I'd say, aquamarine tie? It'll work well with his eyes."

Derek lowers his eyes and Stiles is suddenly breathless. Is that... a faint red shade in his cheeks? Is Derek Hale, former bad boy, blushing?

"Good choice," Erica praises Stiles before going to retrieve everything as they are guided to a big changing room, where another lady offers them champagne.

"Alright, take off that hideous thing, I'm done staring at it,” Stiles says, throwing a hand in Derek’s general direction. He’d been practicing in his Jeep, trying to come up with the least obvious way to ask to see Derek shirtless again without sounding like he wants to see Derek shirtless again.

Derek huffs exasperatedly, turns around to stare at the mirror behind them and undoes the tie, throwing it at the couch in the room. He turns, shirt open and exposing his impressive chest and abs and Stiles knows he’s done for.

"I couldn't even tell you have abs under that potato sack you were wearing," Stiles teases, as a way to escape his personal horny inferno.

Derek narrows his eyes as he shrugs out of the shirt and tosses it over the tie. No matter how hard Stiles tries, it’s impossible to miss his impressive shoulders and arms. It’s not the first time he sees Derek almost naked, but it is the first time he can ogle without Derek noticing. And so Stiles' eyes linger on his chest, where Derek has very distracting chest hair. His gaze follows Derek's toned abs to his navel, where a happy trail follows down Derek's hips disappearing into his pants.

Realizing he's been staring with his jaw dropped open, Stiles clears his throat and licks his lips nervously. "The good news is that I'm fairly sure we got this," he says, trying to sound confident and cheerful as he looks Derek in the eye, instead of ogling him a bit more.

Erica returns with the suit and falters when she sees Derek shirtless.

"I know, right?" Stiles says when he sees Erica's face, who just nods slowly and hands over the suit to Derek.

Five minutes later when Derek emerges from the dressing room, Stiles is pretty sure his heart almost jumped out of his mouth. At the sight of Derek, Stiles has a flow of silly thoughts, like how Derek looks like James Bond and, if he wanted, he’d definitely have access to Stiles’... Goldeneye. Terrible pun. He’s pretty sure people have gone to jail for less.

"How do I look?" Derek asks a bit embarrassed.

All the workers around them (who have gathered when the rumor of the hot guy in the dressing room floated around the store) jump at the question and bath Derek in flattering and nice words, but Derek ignores them, staring only at Stiles, who clears his throat and grins after a moment.

"You look like you stepped out of a GQ spread," he jokes around the lump in his throat.

Derek actually laughs at it, surprising Stiles by even knowing the reference, but especially with his rich and open laugh. Stiles decides in that moment he’d do anything to hear that again. As often as possible.

He turns around and checks himself out in the mirror. "Don't I look a bit ridiculous? I mean, isn't it too tight?"

"No!" Stiles hurries to say. "I mean, uh," he struggles to keep talking without sounding like an hormonal teenager. "You look great. You have a body to show off; you look gorgeous in that suit." And without it, Stiles thinks.

"Gorgeous?" Derek asks, frowning at his own reaction.

"Well, you know." Stiles shrugs, unsure of what to say. He’s said too much already.

After that, neither of them speaks for a long time. Stiles insists on paying, since it was his idea, and because deep down he likes the thought of Derek’s finest suit being a gift from him. It’s kind of possessive and fairly silly, but Stiles can’t help it.

When they leave the store, there is a pause before either of them reaches for their ride.

“So,” Stiles fumbles with the Gucci bags. “We should go back and go over your speech for tomorrow.”

Derek nods, frowning as he palms his helmet. “Lunch first?” He shrugs casually.

“Uh.” Stiles looks at him open mouthed. “Sure, yeah. Lunch sounds good. I’m always hungry, so no problem. We can talk about tomorrow while we eat. Uh, do you like curly fries?”

Derek snorts. He puts on his helmet as he sits on his bike. “Follow me.” He grins. “If you can.”

Stiles doesn’t move. He just drinks in the sight of Derek’s powerful thighs straddling the bike before the engine comes to life and Derek leans forward, his ass on display for Stiles before he darts away.

“Fuck... me,” Stiles sighs.

Lunch is nothing like a work meeting. It feels... like date, sort of. Stiles knows he’s being biased, because he really, really wants to go on a real date with Derek. And this isn’t really a date date. But they kissed. Well, Stiles isn’t sure anymore if that was a real kiss. But it certainly changed things.

Even then, this is nice. And just so easy; it’s actually alarmingly easy. According to Stiles’ experience, nothing is ever so easy. But he’s actually having fun because under all the brooding, Derek has a snark and sass about him that just cracks Stiles up. He’s also easily riled up, and Stiles was never good at controlling himself, so it’s not his fault if he keeps finding ways to work Derek up. Maybe if Derek didn’t look so good when he huffs and frowns, this wouldn’t be so fun.

He’s having such a good time that Stiles doesn’t even mind when Derek steals a few fries off his plate.

“You know.” Stiles points at him with a fry. “I’m pretty sure you could be very charming if we worked on your permanent frown.” Derek’s frown deepens and Stiles laughs. “I mean, charming as in grandmas wanting to pinch your cheeks, charming as in moms wanting you as a son-in-law and girls swooning shamelessly all over you. I’m talking about off the chart charming, actually.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Derek huffs, trying to hide the smirk as he finishes the stolen fries.

“Come on, dude.” Stiles throws a bunch more on Derek’s plate without thinking, and then freezes for a second. Stiles doesn’t share food. Especially not curly fries. But he realizes he doesn’t even care. Derek can have all his fries.

Derek grins and starts eating with his fingers, the sight nothing but unfair and mesmerizing.

“I’m onto you, you know?” Stiles finally croaks out, clearing his throat. “I can see under that dark, mysterious facade. You’re smart, you’re actually super smart. I have no idea why you didn’t finish college but it isn’t because you couldn’t. And I know about that animal shelter you visit.”

“I-” Derek seems to choke for a second. “I like wolves. I told you, it’s kind of a family thing.”

“I know, I know.” Stiles shows his palms. “No big deal, huh? Like I said, I know your secret, you can’t lie to me.”

Derek arches an eyebrow in a playful way and Stiles’ breath catches in his throat. “And what’s that secret?”

Stiles is bouncing his legs frantically under the table, but somehow he manages to lean forward and give Derek what he hopes is a flirty smile. “That you’re actually really nice.”

By Derek’s reaction, someone would think Stiles had just insulted him. He recoils, frowning as he purses his lips, all trade of playfulness suddenly gone.

“That was a compliment, by the way.” Stiles tilts his head in confusion.

Derek is not looking at him anymore. He busies himself with the copy of tomorrow’s speech.

“Derek?” Stiles tries. “Did I say something wrong? I’m sorry, I was just trying to-”

“I have to go,” Derek suddenly says.

“What?” Stiles snaps. “But we still have-” he pauses when he checks the time. “Woah, okay, yeah. I didn’t notice it was this late. We’ve been here for hours. No wonder the waitress kept giving us the stink-eye.”

Derek snorts lightly as he throws a few bills on the table, grabs his things and stands.

Stiles stumbles to keep up, adding a generous tip to Derek’s money before they leave the place.

“We could-” Stiles tries to say. Derek stops walking when he hears him, but doesn’t turn back. “I mean, we could go over your speech again if you want to. Now or if it’s too late, tomorrow morning before the event?”

Derek seems to think about it. He takes his time, palming his helmet around as he decides. “I’m good,” he finally says. And Stiles can only nod dumbly as Derek leaves on his bike.

Stiles compares his Derek Hale situation with a natural disaster. You live all your life with a landscape until a volcano erupts lava and nothing looks the same again. In his case, Derek is the volcano and he’s the landscape, and the more time he spends with Derek the more Stiles changes, getting the shape Derek’s stares and words please to give him. And Stiles finds he doesn’t even care. Not even when the result right now hurts, when the way Derek just dismissed him is causing Stiles to question everything.

His landscape is a mess, he doesn’t understand what happened. But he assumes that’s what happens with natural disasters.

 

VII.

Stiles goes home and works on the Internet for hours, trolling the boards and tweeting with his sock-puppet accounts to spread the appropriate rumors about Laura’s brother, getting the ground ready for tomorrow’s event.

He’s tapping his leg nervously as he waits for the first reactions to pop up. A few minutes later, he grins at the first tweets. It’s exactly what he was expecting. He supposes he shouldn’t feel proud for manipulating the media so easily, but whoops?

The bell rings as he’s coming back from his bathroom break. Stiles hopes it’s a delivery guy with a pizza at the wrong door, because he’s starving. When he opens the door, though, there is something a lot more mouth-watering than a pizza.

"How did you find me?" Stiles blinks in confusion.

"Laura gave me your address." Derek shrugs.

Stiles gapes, he just stands there and gapes because Derek fucking Hale is at his door.

"Can I come in?" Derek arches an eyebrow and Stiles takes a hasty step back to let him in, gasping when Derek steps in, brushing past him unnecessarily.

Stiles closes the door, face resting on the frame for a moment to collect himself. And when he turns around, Derek is right there. Stiles nearly squeaks as Derek takes a step closer and pins him against the door, hovering close to his face, making Stiles’ breath hitch in his throat.

"Do you want me?" Derek asks roughly, and something inside Stiles tightens just right. He licks his lips, Derek following the gesture in a way that sends shivers down Stiles' back. And Stiles finally nods when he realizes he can't speak.

"Then come get me." Derek smirks as he presses Stiles harder against the door before pushing away and walking into the apartment, leaving Stiles behind. He may or may not look up and say a little prayer of gratitude before rushing after him.

When Stiles enters his apartment, however, Derek is nowhere to be found.

"Derek?" He calls tentatively as he keeps moving.

When Stiles finally checks his bedroom, he finds Derek on top of the covers, wearing only his underwear. Derek is stretched out, legs crossed at the ankles and hands behind his back. His eyes are closed, as if he were resting.

Stiles takes a shaky breath at the sight. Hot damn if the view of Derek naked on his bed doesn't make his pants feel tighter. With slightly wobbly legs, he moves to the bed, kneeling, his knees almost brushing Derek's feet.

"You're so beautiful," he breathes out, overwhelmed.

Derek opens his eyes at the words, blazing gaze finding Stiles. He doesn't speak but there is something in the way his stance changes just slightly that makes Stiles see he's suddenly unsure about this.

Before Derek can move, though, Stiles has gotten a hold of one of his feet and placed it against his shoulder, scooting closer and leaning toward Derek's leg, rubbing his face against Derek's calf as his hands roam down to his thighs.

Derek sighs, sliding down the bed to get closer and placing his other foot in the crook of Stiles' thigh with his hip. Stiles feels like venerating Derek's body in a way he’s never felt before with anyone else. He runs his hands down Derek's muscled legs to his hips, tugging at his underwear until Derek pushes him back with his feet.

"Yours first." He nods in Stiles direction and Stiles gets back on his feet and takes his shirt off, followed quickly by his pants.

He's back on the bed and reaching for Derek's underwear when Derek turns around and Stiles ends up sliding his boxers just under Derek’s butt cheeks, enough to straddle Derek's legs and squeeze his bare ass with his hands.

Derek grunts, face buried in Stiles' mattress, as he arches his back and lifts his ass, shoving it into Stiles' hold.

"My god," Stiles nearly moans, leaning over him, hands stroking their way up to Derek's shoulders as he nudges the nape of his neck with his nose.

Derek grunts again, closer to a moan this time, and arches under Stiles' weight when Stiles presses his cock against his ass. He turns around, pushing Stiles off him in a quick movement and pinning him to the mattress with his body. He hovers over Stiles’ face, lingering for a second before nipping his bottom lip.

Stiles groans, hands flying to Derek’s back, pressing him down against him. He strokes his way up to Derek’s neck. They don't stop kissing as Stiles cups his face. The gesture is tender, intimate and the kiss goes from frantic and messy to slow and deep.

After a while, Derek slides Stiles’ underwear down his legs and palms him, and Stiles bucks up, cursing softly against his lips. Derek nips his way down his neck, stubble leaving a trail of fire as he kisses down Stiles’ chest.

“Oh my god,” Stiles hisses as Derek bites his way down his abdomen.

“Where do you keep the lube?” Derek grunts, sucking and nipping the sensitive skin of his hips while Stiles squirms.

Stiles stretches his arm and leans to the side until he’s palming the carpet. It only takes him a moment to find the half used tube where he had dropped it the last time.

Derek pushes him down against the mattress again and straddling him. He gets a hold of Stiles’ face and kisses him fiercely. Stiles is still holding the lube in one hand, but he doesn’t even notice when he circles Derek’s back and pulls him closer. Derek hisses at the cold contact with the tube, though, and struggles until he’s holding Stiles’ hand away from his body.

Derek smirks down at him as he takes the lube out of Stiles’ hold. Arching an eyebrow, Derek pours lube on his fingers and reaches behind, fingering himself.

Stiles moans, his hips bucking up as his hands grip Derek’s thighs. “Wait, wait-” he licks his lips. “Let me- let me do it, oh my god Derek, let me.”

Derek snorts. He moves his hand away, grabs the lube and presses it against Stiles’ chest. “Then, do it,” he breathes out.

Stiles falters only a second, before he’s wetting his fingers and stretching his arm, circling Derek’s hip and pressing between his butt cheeks.

“Fuck,” Derek groans, hands resting on Stiles’ chest as he leans forward, allowing Stiles better access.

“You’re so tight,” Stiles nearly moans.

He lifts his head and looks at the sight of Derek’s cock hard and flushed, jerking whenever Stiles moves his fingers and Derek rocks back. Reaching with his other hand, Stiles grabs hold, sliding his fingers up and down slowly. Derek shudders and lowers himself over Stiles, capturing Stiles’ hand still jerking him between their bodies.

“Fuck me,” Derek groans, as he lifts his hips until Stiles’ fingers slip out. He reaches back, grabs Stiles’ cock and sits down until it’s pressing against him.

“Oh my god,” Stiles breathes out. His hands clasp Derek’s hips and presses him down, feeling his cock being buried slowly in almost unbearable heat and tightness. Stiles wonders how fast is he going to embarrass himself by coming way too soon.

Derek leans down and captures his lips, killing all thoughts still wandering in Stiles’ oversexed brain. Stiles holds his face closer to him, deepening the kiss and groaning as his hips jerk up whenever Derek moves, following him.

“Touch me,” Derek groans against his mouth, and Stiles complies.

Derek leans back, hands resting behind him, on Stiles’ thighs as Derek moves over him, drilling himself in the right spot over and over as Stiles jerks him off. Stiles has never seen anything quite like it. All Derek’s muscles clench and unclench, smooth skin over the taut cords, veins and muscles as he moves. Stiles knows he’s not going to last long if he keeps watching Derek but he can’t tear his eyes away. Doing so would be the stupidest thing Stiles has ever done. Who looks away from the sight of Derek Hale coming undone on top of them?

Stiles grips Derek’s hip, shoving him down as his hips thrust up and Derek shouts, head tilted back and mouth open as Stiles fucks him as fast and hard as he can.

Derek comes without warning. He doesn’t speak or make a different sound. His body just locks in a fierce shudder and he squeezes his eyes shut, fingers digging into Stiles’ chest as he leans forward. And Stiles can’t stop staring, he feels the hot pulses of come running down his fingers and still, Stiles can’t stop looking at Derek’s face.

Letting a long and shaky breath, Derek lowers down. He slides his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and kisses him as he thrusts his hips back to meet up with Stiles’.

“Oh my god Derek,” Stiles moans. “I love this, I love-hng god, I love the way you- I love- I love you,” he whispers in the heat of the moment. He says the three words again and then one more time until he comes, words choked up and broken as Stiles arches his back, letting Derek hold him as he comes apart.

Derek lays on top of him, tucking him with his body, like a warm blanket. Stiles blinks lazily, trying to look at him as Derek presses his face against Stiles’ neck. But he’s already dozing off. It’s one of his biggest flaws, his lack of post-coital game. He’s working on it.

He still notices when Derek moves away. Stiles winces, the sudden cold biting his overheated skin. A moment later Derek is back, caressing Stiles as he cleans him up. When he’s done and Derek is covering him again with the blanket, Stiles reaches weakly.

“Cuddles,” he murmurs, already falling asleep.

And that’s the last Stiles remembers.

 

VIII.

When Stiles wakes up the next morning, he stretches in contentment. Still half asleep, he smiles goofily, arms reaching out, trying to find Derek next to him.

When he finds nothing, Stiles lift his head. More awake now, he gets up and searches the apartment. When he realizes he’s alone, Stiles doesn’t panic, though. He decides to check for a note, instead. When he discovers there isn’t anything, he still doesn’t panic. Derek must have texted him. After all, that’s their thing.

Stiles goes back to his bedroom, grinning again when he sees the messy bed, grabs his phone from the bedside table after putting on his glasses and that’s when he stops smiling and sits down.

Nothing.

It doesn’t mean... Stiles tries to convince himself it still doesn’t mean anything. What he and Derek had last night- It was good sex, Stiles knows because his sex usually sucks, definitely no pun intended there. And last night, it did not suck that way.

Derek must have just felt a bit awkward the morning after.

Stiles showers and gets ready for the charity event. Meanwhile, he tries not to freak out by the lack of contact from Derek. He checks his phone every few seconds, though. He tries to be mature and keep his phone inside his pocket, but Stiles is soon biting his nails and frowning, walking up and down the room. So he decides it’s better to fry his phones’ on button, than the alternative.

Jackson calls him a few hours before he’s expected at the event.

“Oh my god Jackson, I nearly had a heart attack, don’t do that again,” Stiles protests the moment he picks up.

“What? Call you?” Jackson snorts. “Gladly, idiot. But Danny is here and he thought you might want to know we’re still working in those articles.”

“Ah right, right.” Stiles runs his fingers through his hair. “The articles.”

“Yeah, remember them or have you been too busy screwing the guy to work on this case?” Jackson snarks.

“You sure you want to know?” Stiles smirks, deciding to mind-fuck the guy.

Jackson makes a small choked sound and hangs up. And Stiles realizes that not even messing up with Jackson is enough to cheer him up.

He almost has a car crash the next time he receives a text. It’s from Laura, she wants him to go to her office before heading to the event. Stiles takes a breath and tries to calm down, so he actually makes it somewhere today. By the time he’s in Laura’s office, she’s too busy getting ready for the event to really talk to him.

“I just wanted an update on the articles before I went on stage tonight,” she explains in a hurry as a bunch of people literally drag her out of her office.

“Still nothing new, sorry.” Stiles rubs the back of his head.

“That’s okay.” Laura shrugs. She looks around at her staff and throws her arms. “Alright! I’ll be back in 10 and we’ll go together, sound good?”

“Sure.” Stiles smiles.

“Just wait in my office,” she says as she leaves.

Stiles does as told. He goes to her office and sits down to wait. Which consists on checking his phone compulsively.

"Laura- oh," Derek falters as he burst into the office a while later.

At the sight, Stiles jumps to his feet, heart beating frantically in his chest. This could very well be the chance he was waiting for. Derek will just smirk now and they may even kiss once or twice before Laura comes back.

"She's not here." Stiles smiles tentatively.

"Right." Derek takes a step back.

"Are you still getting dressed for the conference?" Stiles asks then, noticing the half buttoned shirt and the suit pants Derek is wearing. Any excuse is good enough to keep him from leaving until Stiles musters the courage to say what he wants to say.

"Yeah, I-" Derek hesitates. "I was going to..." He raises one hand and shows the tie Stiles bought for him.

"Oh that's fine." Stiles gestures casually for Derek to come closer, hiding the fact he's about to combust. "I can do it for you."

Derek looks back once and then he steps inside. Stiles accepts the tie and, in a moment of bravado, throws it around Derek's neck, pulling him slightly closer.

"Relax." He smiles. "I know what I'm doing."

Derek's gaze studies him for a heartbeat and then he huffs, trying to hide how his lips are twitching into a smile.

"So," Stiles says casually. "What was the real emergency?"

Derek stiffens all over.

"I mean," Stiles licks his lips, noticing how Derek follows the movement. "It's your first public act, I imagine you must be nervous under that composed façade. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to talk to your sister before-"

"I'm gonna do it, if that's what worries you." Derek frowns.

"No." Stiles tucks down the tie as he finishes arranging it, making Derek bend a bit forward. "I know you'll do it," he says, looking Derek straight in the eye. "I never doubted it. I just want to know how you're doing."

"I'm fine," Derek says automatically.

"Derek," Stiles sighs. He moves his hands away from the finished tie and places them over Derek's chest. "I know you've been hurt before, and I don't expect you to trust me just because I say so, and believe me, last night-” Stiles pauses when Derek visible winces. “Last night was a surprise for me. I never thought... I don’t regret it, though. I- that was amazing and... If you let me." He slides his hands up to circle Derek's neck. "I want to be there for you from now on."

Derek grabs a hold of Stiles' hips, almost mindlessly sinking towards him. But then he seems to notice and drops his arms altogether, taking a step back and struggling for a moment until Stiles lets him go.

"I'm fine," he repeats, stiff as a board as he walks to the door and leaves without another word.

"Well, shit." Stiles runs his fingers through his hair as he curses.

Stiles startles when he receives a new text. It’s from Laura, explaining how she’s already on her way to the event and that he has a car waiting for him outside. As Stiles rushes down, he stumbles into Derek, who is leaving the building as well.

At the sight, the driver opens the door for them and Derek seems to falter. Stiles sees the panicked face a second before Derek covers it and something clenches in Stiles' chest.

"He doesn't travel in cars," he finally blurts out.

Derek turns sharply around, staring at Stiles in surprise.

"What?" the man asks in confusion.

"He'll take his bike." Stiles nods at Derek.

After a too long of a pause, Derek finally nods and goes to his motorcycle, putting on the helmet and leaving.

Stiles sighs. Why is his job so complicated? He's being jerked around by two pulls, the instinct to protect Derek and the duty to do his job right. Any other person, Stiles would have made them deal with their car phobia and get in. But Stiles can't bear the idea of making Derek go through something like that, not after reading his parents’ car accident report and knowing he was in the backseat. Not even after Derek showed up at his place, had sex with him and left, and is now basically ignoring him.

Once Stiles is working, all thoughts of Derek disappear by necessity. He focuses and does his job quickly and efficiently. He even manages to handle Scott drama before people start filling in the arena.

“I hope you don’t mind I brought Allison with me?” Scott asks a while later, rubbing the back of his neck in an apologetic gesture.

“Dude.” Stiles scoffs. “It was the only way to get you to come.”

Allison arches an eyebrow and regards Scott questioning and Stiles rushes to shake hands and introduce himself. “Nice to meet you, Scott won’t stop talking about you, I thought you should know, since he tortures me, and I’m just reciprocating.” Stiles beams with a big, bright smile.

Allison laughs and shakes his hand. “Scott has told me a lot about you, too.”

“Okay, you two can stop now.” Scott drags Allison away, ready to take her to their seats when Stiles calls him.

“Before you go,” Stiles starts, handing him a file. “Do you know where Danny is? I thought he’d have something about these by now. Jackson called me almost three hours ago.”

“The articles?” Scott asks as he opens the file and skims over the newspaper articles about Derek.

“Are you ready?” Allison walks back to where they are talking. She laces her arm around Scott’s and looks down to what he’s doing. Her eyes grow impossible large. “What is that?”

“Someone has been writing defamatory articles about our client,” Stiles explains. “We can’t seem to be able to find the author, though.”

“Oh,” Allison says, nodding absently.

“Yeah, whoever this is, they’ve crossed the line publishing some very private details about the Hale family.” Scott scoffs.

“Really?” Allison breathes out.

“Newspaper is covering their ass, saying they have to protect their source, and the lawyer on our team hasn’t been able to do much, considering the firm they have backing them.”

“Don’t worry man.” Scott clasps his shoulder. “We’ll find them.”

As Stiles nods in agreement, Scott holds Allison’s hand and gives her a big smile before taking her to their seats, but she doesn’t seem to want to move.

“Wait,” she says, frowning. “I- I know who wrote those.”

 

IX.

Stiles hasn’t run this fast since he was in a PE class.

“We got her!” he exclaims the moment he enters the room, where Laura and Derek are waiting to go out and give their speech. He’s been avoiding this room on purpose because of Derek and their non-conversation earlier.

“We got who?” Laura asks, rising and meeting him halfway. A hairdresser moves frantically after her, holding a curling iron.

“The person writing those articles about Derek!” Stiles says excited. “We know who she is, we can sue her. You should change your speech, include this.”

Stiles grabs her speech and a pen and starts working on it frantically.

“Stiles, breath.” Laura frowns. “Are you sure about this?”

“Laura.” Stiles gets a hold of her shoulders and looks her straight in the eye. “She’s the daughter of Gerard Argent. Her own niece just told me. She and her father left the family years ago. I got my team to double check all the info, it’s secure. Do you know what this means?”

Laura’s eyes widen and a smile stretches across her face slowly.

“Means that we won,” she says fiercely and Stiles just takes her in his arms and spins her around.

When Stiles puts her down, Derek is suddenly there, clasping his shoulder, fingers moving up his collarbone to his neck. Stiles shudders, he takes a step closer and Derek doesn’t move. He looks Stiles in the eye and smiles.

“Good job.” Derek nods and steps back.

Stiles can feel the loss of his touch like a brick in his chest. For a stupid moment he thought Derek would... what? Kiss him? Hug him? Tell him he loved him, too?

Stiles shakes his head. He takes a hasty step back and drops his head. “I-” he stutters. “I’ll wait for you guys next to the stage.”

As he leaves, Stiles hears voices calling him but he can’t deal with this anymore. It’s the first time he feels overwhelmed in his job place, that he feels like leaving, just hiding and forgetting the world.

When he arrives at the stage, Lydia is wearing her earpiece and holding her iPad like it contains all the secrets in the universe.

“You look awful,” she deadpans. “Go grab some water, you may be dehydrated. And you know how important water is for our inside and outside appearance.” She gestures at her perfect, pristine skin.

“Ugh,” Stiles groans, but he goes to the beverages table anyway and grabs a bottle of water. He’s drank almost the whole thing when Laura, Derek and their staff appears.

“Ready to do this?” Stiles asks her.

Laura hugs him without answering. “Thank you, this wouldn’t be possible without you. And I don’t mean only the articles or my campaign.” Stiles falters, unsure of what to say. But she’s tightening her hold and Stiles just hugs her back. “Be patient with my brother,” she whispers before letting him go.

Stiles looks dumbfounded after her as Laura climbs the steps up to the podium. Derek steps next to him and they ignore each other.

“It’s going great,” Stiles eventually says, rubbing his face. “I think I’m going home.”

Derek turns sharply, staring at him. “Now?”

“Yeah,” Stiles shrugs. “I didn’t want to stress your sister, but my job is pretty much done here. You have Lydia running the event, anyway. And we have to deal with some paperwork now that we found who is behind those articles.”

Derek seems to want to say something but he doesn’t.

Stiles tells himself he’s going to leave at least three times until he realizes it’s way easier said than done. His whole body is screaming for him to stay, to be there for Derek when he climbs those stairs. But his heart is aching and the proximity to Derek without really touching is driving him up the wall.

After ten minutes Stiles can’t take it anymore.

“You left!” he hisses, completely out of the blue.

Derek cringes, head tilted down as he frowns. He doesn’t seem surprised at the words.

“I woke up and you were gone,” Stiles continues, lowering his voice. “You didn’t leave a note, call or text. Nothing! And now... what? You’re ignoring me?”

“No.” Derek runs his hands through his hair.

“Don’t do that,” Stiles admonishes him, pulling his arms down. “They’ll have to fix it again.”

“Stiles,” Derek tries to speak. “I- I’m sorry, okay? I panicked and-”

“You sure did, big boy,” Stiles interrupts quietly, stabbing him in the chest with one finger. “You came to my house, uninvited may I say, and... and seduced me! Yeah, that’s what you did. You showed up with your ridiculous smile and those eyes and just...” Stiles points at him up and down. “Just all of that sculpted tan muscle. You know how unfair that is?”

Derek is looking at him completely stunned. But Stiles doesn’t stop there.

“I was doing fine!” Stiles keeps ranting. “I was in control, I- yeah, okay, I wanted you. Badly. But I was controlling the situation. I was keeping my distance and being a professional and then you showed up. Uninvited! Did I say that? Because I never invited you, buddy! I don’t even know how you found my place. But you did. And we had- okay, so we had the best sex of my life, okay? And now I’m going crazy because I miss you! How insane is that? And you’re just there, impassive and expressionless and it’s infuriating. I don’t know what I want to do, slap you or bite you. Probably both.”

“Derek,” Lydia interrupts. She gives Stiles an evil stare and then turns and smiles at Derek reassuringly. “It’s time. Your sister is about to introduce you.”

“Okay.” Derek nods. He touches his tie, making sure it’s okay, and then walks to the stares as Stiles stays there, completely stunned by Derek’s non-reaction. Derek is about to climb the stairs when he turns around and looks at Stiles.

“What?” Stiles asks, unsure. “Um, forget what I said. You can do this, remember what-”

“No.” Derek shakes his head. “I’m doing it.”

“Alright...” Stiles trails off.

“Promise me something.” Derek takes a step down, getting a hold of Stiles’ neck.

Stiles gulps. “Sure,” he says, breathless.

“Promise you won’t go home until I finish,” Derek says.

“Why?” Stiles licks his lips nervously.

“Because I’m going home with you,” Derek says as he smiles very slowly. He leans down and kisses Stiles for a moment, capturing his lips briefly before nudging his way to Stiles’ ear. “From the very first moment I saw you, I’ve been crazy about you,” Derek whispers. “If you still want me, I won’t run away this time.”

Derek leans back to look at him and Stiles’ heart skips a beat when he realizes Derek is actually insecure. There is a vulnerability in his eyes that makes Stiles hold Derek’s hands before he can step back. “I’m not going anywhere,” Stiles murmurs before he’s kissing Derek again. “Now go out there and do it as I taught you.”

Derek chuckles against his mouth before stepping back and giving him a nod. Stiles stares after him as Derek climbs the stairs, perfect view of his ass in that tight suit, and joins his sister at the podium.

“Aren’t you guys disgustingly cute?” Lydia sing-songs, stepping next to him.

“Shut up,” Stiles says with a big smile in his face.

They observe as Laura speaks in front of the crowd, while Lydia gives directions to different workers through her earpiece.

“It’s lover boy’s turn,” she says, hitting Stiles’ side lightly with her elbow.

“I think I’m gonna puke,” Stiles groans. He’s as nervous as if it was him in that stage.

But there is really nothing to worry about. People seem to love the siblings. They are ridiculously charming and gorgeous, and the story they tell is touching. Stiles is pretty sure he’s seen a few people openly crying in the crowd.

When they are reaching the end of the speech, Stiles realizes he’s actually taking Derek home and suddenly he can only hear the cheers muffled by the heartbeat thundering inside his chest.

“That went well.” Lydia smiles proudly. “Now take your man out of here, I got this.”

Stiles circles her shoulder, kissing her cheek while he grins like a loon. “This is why we’re BFFs.”

“Just go.” Lydia rolls her eyes good naturally, unable to hide the smile.

When Laura and Derek get backstage again, there is this moment where neither Stiles nor Derek move, they just look at each other as they grin.

“That went great,” Laura says cheerfully, as she and Lydia hug.

“You were amazing,” Stiles says then, eyes never leaving Derek.

“I had a good teacher,” Derek teases, stepping closer.

“The best.” Stiles nods.

Laura is suddenly throwing her arms around their shoulder, bringing them up closer to hug them at the same time. “Stop flirting,” she jokes as she looks back and forth between them.

“Alright,” Lydia says in her professional tone, checking her tablet. “Laura needs to go back outside to the dinner.”

“I still have work to do,” Laura sighs, letting them go. “But you’re good to go if you want to, baby bro.”

Derek snorts before giving her a one arm hug. “Have fun.”

He holds Stiles’ hand and pulls him away, ignoring it when Laura calls after them to have fun, too.

Stiles takes him home like he promised. They are kissing before the door is locked, stumbling over each other as they lose the clothes and fall onto the bed, tangled limbs and locked lips. They spend a long time just kissing as they share rushed, low words amongst trails of kisses.

At some point Derek starts exploring his body, and Stiles feels like it’s the first time someone takes such care with him. Derek caresses him carefully, almost with devotion. He talks about Stiles’ moles in murmurs against heated skin, and his fingers draw patterns in Stiles’ body with such regard Stiles feels heavy headed.

When Derek finally grabs the lube and starts opening him up with his fingers in a slow, maddening pace, Stiles surrenders, dropping his legs open for him, hips meeting Derek’s thrust midway. They work on the pace for what feels like a long time, as Derek keeps adding lube and fingers, stretching Stiles open until he’s nearly begging. But Derek isn't doing this to make Stiles beg; he's doing it to watch him fall apart. He leans down, covering Stiles’ face with butterfly kisses, calming him down.

Only when Stiles thinks he can’t take it anymore, when he believes he’s going to break and shatter, Derek finally starts fucking him. And it’s bliss, the bolt of pure heat running down Stiles’ spine as he arches, inviting and welcoming, and Derek meets him exactly where Stiles needs him.

When Derek says the three words for the first time, Stiles feels his skin tighter, like his emotions were too big for his body, like whatever they just created went beyond bones and skin. They hold each other, sweat and come between them, as they share the feeling of having accomplished a life-changing fulfillment that neither predicted but both now welcome.

Maybe it's not logical, but Stiles can't help but feel like this is how his days are ending for now on. And he falls asleep with a smile on his face.

 

X.

The next morning, Stiles wakes up wrapped in heat. He stretches lazily, snuggling closer to Derek’s chest, when his phone sounds.

“Ugh,” Derek groans, rolling away from the sound as Stiles sits up to answer.

“Scott, this better be a fucking emergency,” Stiles groans.

“Dude, trust me, it is,” Scott says frantically. “Check the internet. Just do it.”

Stiles’ heart skips a beat before it starts thundering in his chest.

“What’s wrong?” Derek murmurs.

“I don’t know yet.” Stiles strokes his head. “Go back to sleep.”

He puts on his glasses, grabs his iPad and only needs a few minutes to find it. A picture of him and Derek kissing at last night’s event. It’s all over the Internet. With really interesting headlines, to say the least.

Stiles takes a big gulp of air.

“What is it?” Derek slurs as he turns under Stiles’ touch and snuggles against his side, throwing an arm over Stiles as he takes a peek at the screen.

“I’m fixing it,” Stiles says quickly before Derek can even react.

Derek sits up, grabbing the iPad to see it better. He taps a few times and then he’s smirking.

“What?” Stiles frowns. He tries to get his tablet back but Derek moves it away.

“Nothing.” Derek smiles. “There is no need to fix anything, my sister took care of it.”

“What?” Stiles squeaks. He snatches his iPad back to find Laura’s twitter.

Her latest tweet reads: ”I love my brother and his boyfriend is great. I intend to help them legally marry whenever the time comes.”

“Oh my god.” Stiles is freaking out.

“Stiles.” Derek cups his face, forcing him to lower the iPad and look at him instead. “I don’t care, and neither does Laura.”

“I- I have to do something,” Stiles nearly whines.

“Do you believe in love at first sight?” Derek asks unexpectedly.

“Uh I-” Stiles is about to give his standard rant about love when he realizes he doesn’t believe it anymore. “You- you made me believe.”

Derek gives him a ridiculously charming smile. The fucker, Stiles was totally right about his charm. And then he’s kissing Stiles, softly and sweet and it’s too much, it’s just- Stiles loves him so much, he wraps his arms around him and holds tight.

“I want everyone to know, let them talk, I don’t care,” Derek murmurs between kisses. And something inside Stiles’ chest loosens.

Because after all, Stiles Stilinski does believe in love at first sight.