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Snatches of Sound

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“Stiles.”

Stiles hums but doesn’t look up.

Stiles.”

“Coming,” he manages, still pressing buttons on his stupid phone, which won’t load because it never loads and he probably should buy a new one but, he just wants—

“STILES!”

“I just need to check!” Stiles whines.

“You checked fifteen minutes ago,” Scott says. “And if you want to actually make this music video, you need to get to makeup. Like… five minutes ago.”

“Alright, alright,” Stiles says, standing. He keeps his eyes on his phone though, knowing that Scott will get him to makeup safely.

Predictably, Scott does just that. He sighs a little, but then loops his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and steers him down the hall. Stiles briefly drops his head to Scott’s shoulder in thanks and then focuses.

Because Derek freaking Hale just set the VeVo record. Because Derek freaking Hale has a fanbase the size of a small continent. There’s the old timers who listened to the Hale Pack back when they were kids, who know Derek Hale as an adorable, cheeky little ten-year-old who sometimes went sharp but danced his way through the notes anyway. And then there’s the new Derek Hale fans, the tweens and teens and young adults who hear Derek Hale’s slower, soulful melodies and just swoon.

It’s unfair. And it means that, even though their albums came out on the same day, Derek Hale is crushing Stiles in sales. Even though it’s the beginning of summer. Even though that should mean that his new slightly electronica-still-mostly-indie sound should be crushing it. Stiles’ music is made for beaches. Hale’s music is made for like… eating ice cream alone in your room after a breakup.

It’s not summer music. Derek Hale should not be winning.

“He’s only winning because he got his video out first,” Stiles tells Scott as his best friend yanks him away from crashing into a wall. “I mean— his managers must have known my album was better— but, oh my god, he just did it! He just broke the record!”

“I thought he was still 45,000 views away?” Scott says, briefly halting them to look over Stiles’ shoulder.

“That was twelve minutes ago! Apparently that was enough time!”

Stiles scowls. The video wasn’t even that good. Just overly-artsy shots of Derek Hale, wearing a tank top and jeans, strumming his stupid guitar in random-ass places. No one takes their guitar on the actual airplane. You can’t even play it up there! The strings would break!

“Don’t worry, dude,” Scott says, squeezing Stiles’ shoulder. “Once this video comes out, you’ll get the satisfaction of beating his record!”

Stiles considers. Then smirks.

His video is going to be awesome. Stiles basically put out a mass text message to all his friends in the entertainment world and, more importantly, had Scott, his best friend from high school turned Oscar-winning actor do the same. Together, they’d gotten an alarming amount of people to agree to be in his newest music video.

It may not bring in the older crowd that Hale has, but with such names as Liam Dunbar, Mason Hewitt, and Hayden Romero swinging by for cameos (not to mention that he had gotten Lydia Martin agree to direct), he wouldn’t need that older demographic. This song would have everyone under the age of thirty watching it on repeat.

The Album of the Year award isn’t lost yet.

Not on his watch.

 


 

Derek stares at his computer screen, scowls, and then slams it shut.

“It’s gimmicky,” he announces to no one in particular. “Getting everyone to be in his video like that. It’s… people will see right through it.” Derek doesn’t even understand the plot of the video— there were superheroes? Villains? Lots of costumes and fighting and huge name stars. Name dropping, that’s what it is.

It’s too early in the morning for this and, more than that, Derek just doesn’t care.

He loves music, he really does. Even after his family died, he had never managed to stop. Not completely. Even though for almost three years, it just hurt rather than helped, he kept at it. He wrote songs in the night when he couldn’t sleep and spent days playing guitar until his fingers bled and when he didn’t have the energy for that, he still blasted his old favorites so loud that he wouldn’t hear the phone ringing off the hook or the knocks that came to his door wanting to know “his side” of the story.

He loves music and maybe he even appreciates that Peter eventually managed to convince him that recording and putting out albums and music videos was a good idea again but he doesn’t… he just can’t see the point in these things.

So what if this new kid— Stiles Stilinski (and honestly, what kind of stage name is that?)— so what if his video with all his popular friends breaks the VeVo record? So what if his surface-level, upbeat, cliche summer song takes off? So what if people on the Internet are raving about his uncanny ability to blend different styles into something unique and interesting, the likes of which haven’t been seen since a local family band took off and—

“No one will watch that,” Derek mutters again.

“Derek.” Peter sounds exasperated. It’s not exactly a new tone for him. “People are watching. He just beat your record. By a lot.”

“What?” Derek growls. “I just set that ten days ago!”

“He’s also setting the record for how fast someone can set the record,” Peter adds. He sounds almost happy. Derek glares at him.

“Fine,” he grumbles. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t. Even if Stilinski’s song is a blend of other people’s hard work and his video is just full of his stupid young friends and most people out there are only watching to catch a glimpse of their favorite actor. “Whatever.”

“He’s popular,” Peter continues. “And rumor is he only put together that music video to beat you.”

Derek settles for grunting. He doesn’t have anything else to say about this.

“The media is calling it a feud,” Peter says. He sounds almost gleeful.

“It’s not a feud,” Derek says. “I don’t even know him. I’ve never talked to him. We are in completely different genres of music.”

As in, he is in a genre of music that relies on talent and skill and Stilinski’s is based off of a computer.

“Well, that’s about to change,” Peter says and Derek’s heart sinks. He never should have allowed Peter to be his manager. Never.

“What did you do?”

“You’re going on the Today Show,” Peter says. “In two days.”

Derek sighs. He hates talk shows.

“And you’re going on with Stilinski.”

What?”

 


 

Apparently, the media has truly bought into the idea that he and Stilinski hate each other.

At least, that’s what he has to assume, seeing as he had been given a separate dressing room from the other artist and someone had been in to remind him that cursing was not allowed on air and that Stilinski’s mother was also deceased so not to take any shots there. Derek scowls at this instruction, folding his arms and glaring at the unfortunate P.A. Honestly, did they not know Derek’s history? In what world would he ever voluntarily bring up family? Ever?

It’s annoying and it makes Derek feel like he’s being treated like some kind of angry animal— like a rabid wolf or something— but at least he gets to be alone before the shoot, gets to take a few deep breaths and remind himself that he does appreciate his fans and that they appreciate when he takes the time to do these stupid shows. Plus the more his album makes, the more he can pay his touring band and his backup singers (because unlike stupid Stiles “electronic music” Stilinski, he has those).

“Alright, Mr. Hale, this way—”

Lights, applause, comfortable couches— four hosts, one Stiles Stilinski, an excited studio audience— Derek is… well, not pumped. But he’s ready.

He can do this.

Derek manages to smile during the slew of introductions and shake Stilinski’s hand while looking semi-polite.

Well, the Today Show is clearly going for the Feud Angle because the first words out of Matt Lauer’s mouth are:

“Well, it is really nice of you both to come on our show this morning. We know this is a little bit of an odd situation.”

Cue a round of polite laughter from the other hosts. Derek tries to laugh along. Luckily, they don’t give either of them time to say anything.

Natalie steps in. “For our viewers who don’t know the situation, Derek here broke the VeVo Video record— that’s the record for how many times a video is viewed in the first 24 hours after its release— twelve days ago. A record that had been in place for nearly a year!”

There’s a round of applause from the audience. Derek nods graciously.

“Yes, yes,” Willie says. “But— but only ten days after that, Stiles— am I saying that right?”

Derek has been avoiding looking at the younger musician but he sees Stilinski’s head go up and down in a cheerful nod.

“Stiles’ new video for I’ll Blame The Weather (But Not You), broke that record. By quite a bit actually.”

“Almost half a million views,” Stilinski adds cheekily.

Derek doesn’t look but he knows, he just knows the kid is smirking. He scowls.

There’s another round of polite laughter from the hosts— polite and maybe a bit nervous this time. It’s one thing to be given prime access to two feuding music stars; it’s another to have them start fighting in your studio.

“Yes, well,” Natalie continues. “Let’s start with Derek, since he did break the record first with Forget Me Not. Derek, how did you feel about breaking the record? And then what was your reaction when it was broken so quickly?”

Derek relaxes, if only because that’s a question he had prepared for.

“I was really surprised, actually,” he says, shifting to put his foot on his thigh so he can fiddle with his shoelaces as he talks. “I mean, I never expected it to be so popular at all, since I haven’t— I haven’t played music professionally since I was a teenager, so… yeah, it was just really cool that people liked it. I mean, 4.5 million views. That’s… pretty incredible.”

Downplay the record, Peter had told him. This was your first album in five years. It doesn’t matter that Stilinski broke your record because you didn’t even expect to get it in the first place.

“Most definitely an amazing feat,” Al Roker says to Derek.

Derek nods, hoping that’s enough and they’ll let that one go, that they either focus on Stilinski or ask him about something else, but right at that moment, Stilinski—

Well, it could be a cough. But it sounds more like a snort. Or maybe even a chuckle.

Whatever it is, it draws Derek’s attention and he turns to see what this kid has to say.

“And Stiles! Your own video, the newest number one, has had everyone talking about everything from the costumes to the star-studded cast…”

Roker is rambling on about Stilinski’s new video, and the other hosts are agreeing, talking animatedly about it, and Stilinski… Stilinski doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

Stilinski is sprawled out on the opposite couch, his legs spread obscenely wide, obviously having never had a lesson in public relations. He looks like— he looks like—

A rock star, Derek’s mind helpfully supplies.

Tight gray skinny jeans. A black dress shirt unbuttoned to reveal pale collarbones, practically falling off his shoulder. Stiles Stilinski just oozes confidence and that irreverent bad-boy appeal. He’s wearing a snapback backwards with some skateboard logo on it. He’s cool and “with it,” as Peter says.

“You could do a lot to learn from how he projects his image,” Peter had said a few days ago, turning a laptop screen towards Derek, showing charts and graphs and social media things and how many people retweeted Stiles’ “I love bagels!” thing and “socks ;)”

What did that even mean? Derek doesn’t even understand the Twitter. He has one, but he’s only gone as far as introducing himself to his fans. He lets Erica handle it, for the most part.

Stilinski, Derek’s mind helpfully (or not so helpfully) recalls, is very openly bisexual. Right there on his website’s main profile section. He’s just… so unapologetic about who he is.

He’s going to be a rock star, Derek thinks, watching Stilinski’s hands as he cuts them through the air as he talks. And I… I’m going to be a has been if I don’t get ‘with it.’

“It really is an incredible video,” Matt says. “And the response has just been—”

“Awesome,” Stilinski says when Matt fumbles for the right word. He’s smirking again, all cockiness with just enough joking mixed in that it doesn’t come off as completely rude.

“Well, I guess if you can use your friends to boost the ratings,” Derek drawls. Though Peter has trained him in the proper way to act on camera (not to mention the scores of acting lessons), he can’t help the smug tone that creeps into his voice.

Stilinski’s eyes narrow, and he shifts, mouth twisting for a moment before relaxing.

“I decided that millions of people don’t need to just stare at my face the whole time,” Stilinski says, voice pitched just so that he could be bantering. Derek knows he’s not. “You know, since that might get boring.”

“See,” Derek says, glancing at the hosts, pretending to include them, even though he doesn’t care what they have to say right now, he needs to make sure Stilinski understands where he’s coming from. This probably a bad idea, but his blood is running hot. Really, boring? Derek is not, and never has been boring.

Part of Derek’s brain is telling him to stop, but his mouth just keeps going. The hosts don’t stop him either; they’re all watching with varying degrees of excitement and horror. “I would rather let the music speak for itself,” Derek says, looking right in Stilinski’s smug little face. “The video doesn’t need to be… over the top because people can just enjoy listening.”

“In this day and age,” Stilinski snaps, leaning forward. “I think people are capable of doing both. Watching a kick-ass video and enjoying the freaking awesome song. They don’t need to be limited to an old style of music that—”

“Classic,” Derek interrupts. “The word you’re looking for is classic.”

“Now, boys,” one of the hosts tries, but Derek doesn’t take his eyes of Stilinski. God, the kid is just winding him up and what a stupid approach to music, to worry about anything other than music and—

“Oh, yeah,” Stilinski says, somehow using his entire body to roll his eyes. “Because living in the past is exactly what music is about.”

“Better than diluting it with overrated actors and explosions,” Derek replies.

And then he’s gone too far.

He knows that because the next instant Stiles Stilinski is rising from the couch and Derek’s mouth falls open because he has no idea how to react. If they were in private, sure, he would probably stand as well but a distant voice is telling him he’s done enough damage and he can’t actually get in a fight on live national television. So he forces himself to stay seated, leans back as if he doesn’t have a care in the world and—

“You arrogant—” Stilinski starts and Roker stands to try to intercept him, but Stilinski steps neatly around him, not quite shoving but not stopping either. “People worked hard on that video and how dare you insult—”

Stilinski trips over a piece of rug and lands neatly in Derek’s lap.

The crowd goes wild.

 


 

Stiles never liked Derek Hale. He grew up listening to the Hale Pack because they were his mother’s favorite band and even at eight years old, he couldn’t help but compare himself to Derek freaking Hale, spent hours trying to learn those stupid dance moves but couldn’t, and now—

Now, he hates Derek Hale.

Derek Hale is the bane of his existence. Derek Hale has stupid eyebrows and is stupidly muscular and for some reason the goddamn Internet is obsessed with him.

Since that disaster of an interview three days ago, his inbox has been flooded with messages and literally every single one of them has to do with Derek Hale. And it would be one thing if they were messages of protest, or defending his honor against the low blow that Hale took at him and his friends on live television, or vowing to never listen to the stupid, over-played hack again.

But they aren’t that. They aren’t that at all.

Instead, Lydia and Liam and Mason and everyone has taken to sending him links to ridiculous websites with ridiculous theories.

Theories about him and Derek.

Together.

Apparently it started in the Tumblr world (and, dammit, Stiles likes Tumblr usually) with someone giffing the moment when Stiles fell into Derek’s lap and adding the caption: “look how Derek’s arms wrap around him!”

And then the reblogs had happened. And the tags. The stupid, stupid tags of people who thought it was acceptable to say things like: “#fuuuuck #so much sexual tension #honestly you two #get a room” or “#do you think they even remembered they were on camera?? #not that they would care #now THERE’S a porno I want to see!” or, worst of all, “#stiles would use the excuse ‘accidentally fell on your dick’ and MEAN it”

Before he knows it, they have a hashtag.

It gets worse, though.

“ANGRY FEUD OR PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR?” Perez Hilton writes, doodling hearts over the pair of them on opposite couches. “RUMORS OF A HALE-STILINSKI RELATIONSHIP SOAR,” reports Starz Magazine. “CLOSE FRIEND OF STILES STILINSKI CLAIMS THAT HALE IS ‘JUST HIS TYPE’,” EW-online prints. (And then links the source. And Stiles clicks the link and sees it leads to fucking Greenberg’s blog which he runs purely on the merit that he used to know Stiles and Scott in high school and honestly, Coach was right, Greenberg is the worst.)

The whole thing is ridiculous. Look, anything can be made sexual if you put it in black and white and slow it down. He had been there, he had lived it and there was no way that Derek ever checked him out to the extent that these gifs seem to be implying. Stiles would have noticed if a man who looked like Derek Hale had looked at him like that.

Hale is straight, too. That’s the other aspect of this whole thing that everyone seems to be forgetting. So it doesn’t matter that the gifs seem to show Hale running his eyes down Stiles’ body or swallowing when Stiles made impact or sliding his hands to Stiles’ hips and tightening before pushing him off.

And he’s watched the recording (hate-watched, obviously) like a thousand times. He’s pretty sure most of Tumblr is using some fancy manip skills to do something to the moment.

The only part of it that’s even a semi-true is that Hale really hadn’t freaked out, hadn’t shoved him off. Instead, he’d sort of frozen and the hosts had laughed about something and cut to commercial, leaving Stiles still sprawled in Derek’s lap. And a second ago he had been angry but now he’s so embarrassed he wants to die.

It’s only made worse by the fact that Derek appeared to be too surprised to do anything but gently help him stand again, still sort of staring. Stiles had been forced to mutter apologies (though he didn’t mean all of it because, dammit, Derek is a jerk) and then they’d left.

And now it’s all over the internet.

“Who made this,” Stiles grumbles, chucking his headphones at the laptop screen, playing another one of those videos.

“This is the video directly from the Today Show website,” Scott says. “Are you okay, dude? I thought you always said any kind of press scandal was good for your image. You loved it when like, everyone thought that we were dating. And when everyone thought you were dating Heather. Or Danny.”

“That’s different! We weren’t actually dating!”

“Are you saying you’re dating Derek?” Scott frowns. “Dude, I thought you would have told me. We tell each other everything. I even told you about the time that Allison and I—”

“I’m not dating Derek!” Stiles says hysterically, scrolling angrily. “He’s nothing but a pretty face with decent guitar skills and can write catchy songs! He’s just… he’s nobody! And I beat him, Scott. It doesn’t matter if I accidentally fell on top of him. I still won! So there- suck it, Hale! I mean, really, just look at his stupid face and his beard and—”

Scott blinks at him. “Okay, dude. Uh... do you want to be alone with your… laptop…”

Stiles turns to look at his computer screen, which now is frozen on a manipulated photo where someone has turned one of Stiles’ red carpet photos at the VMAs last year and some photoshoot of Derek’s into them kissing passionately.

“AAAAAGH!” Stiles seizes the thing and chucks it against the wall.

 


 

“Deeee-reek.”

Derek sighs and looks at his door. He’s going to have to get it sometime, he knows.

It’s been a week. He’s managed to avoid Erica’s calls but now she is literally banging on his door.

Ugh. Fine.

“What?” he demands, flinging the door open. Predictably, Erica shoulders her way past him even though he tries not to let her.

“Just checking on you!” she says, looking around his apartment as if checking for evidence. “What have you been up to?”

“Nothing,” Derek grunts. She doesn’t need to know he’s been planning furiously, doesn’t need to know that he has decided to release a second video this summer for the sole purpose of wiping that stupid smirk off Stilinski’s stupid face.

“So you haven’t been having angry phone sex with Stilinski?” she asks.

Derek glares at her.

Erica smirks and drops her voice an octave. “Take off your clothes, Stilinski. Yes, right now. Now stick one finger—”

Erica,” Derek growls. He does not need that mental image. At all. If anything he needs less images of Stiles in his head. His brain has been oversaturated, probably because if you type his name into Google these days, the only thing that comes up is pictures of him and Stiles together. And that’s just on Google Images. He doesn’t even want to know what would happen if he checked out some of the other websites that Erica is constantly telling him to join.

Erica laughs. “Well, there goes my wish for the summer. Imagine it, Der, you and Stiles-”

“Erica!” Derek interrupts again. “What do you want?”

“I’m just checking on you, Derrie,” she says, raising her hands in a show of innocence that Derek knows won’t last. “You’ve barely seen daylight in six days.”

“I’m— I’ve been working,” Derek replies.

“On what?” Erica demands. “The album is out, the video is done, your first tour date isn’t until Labor Day weekend. You should be out partying right now!”

“I’m…” Derek shuffles nervously. Erica directs all his videos. She’s going to have to find out eventually. “I’m thinking about doing another video.”

Erica rolls her eyes. “You’re what?”

“Another video,” Derek repeats. “For Maybe Tomorrow.”

“To be released…”

“This summer.”

Erica goes very still. Derek hunches his shoulders. This is going to go poorly. He can tell.

“Derek, are you—” she blinks, shakes her head. “Are you trying to re-break the VeVo record?”

“No.”

“Are you actually feuding with Stiles Stilinski?”

“No.”

Erica stares at him so long he knows she can see the lie all over his face.

Then she sighs, big and put upon as if she doesn’t love helping him plan his videos, as if she didn’t do it for free the first time around until Derek insisted on paying.

“Alright,” she says, grabbing a pen and paper. “What do you want it to be like?”

Derek flushes, remembering.

It had been two days ago when he found the video on an old blog run by some kid named Greenberg. It’s an early interview with Stilinski, still in college but a rising name already, passionately talking about how powerful music could be, how he believed it was the role of musicians to push the boundaries of art and expose deeper themes—

It’s not just about reflecting culture, you know, Stilinski says, taking off his stupid Mets baseball hat and putting it back on backwards. Good musicians, real musicians, they do more than that. They can actually change it. That’s what I want to do. Not just reflect or entertain, but change. Push the boundaries.

Derek blinks and drags himself back to the present.

“It’s…” he starts, blushing. “I think it’s going to be a little different.”

“Okay, what are we thinking for wardrobe?”

“Uh… none.”

 


 

Red carpets are always a little bit too much for Stiles, if he’s being honest.

His ADHD usually kicks in and there are so many flashing lights and so much screaming. He still always goes because he is trying to be a rockstar and rockstars go to Red Carpet Events when their best friend from high school is starring in Marvel movies, but it’s always a little overwhelming.

Especially now that his video is out, his song has been #1 for five weeks in a row, and apparently he is either in a feud or a love affair with Derek Hale.

“Is it true you and Hale text constantly?” someone yells at him.

Earlier, the questions had all been for Scott, the star of the movie, but Scott’s signing autographs right now and Stiles is hanging back, letting him have his moment. He ignores the reporters and the clamor of the fans, but they don’t stop. “Are you in a secret relationship, Stiles? When did it start? Have you been dating this whole time?”

He waves and keeps walking.

Of course, they don’t stop. If anything, they get worse.

He smiles and pretends he doesn’t hear the questions over the noise of the crowd. At least that’s easy enough to manage. Smile and nod and focus on no one and keep moving.

Above all: keep moving.

Of course, sometimes you also have to pause to take selfies.

It’s at this vulnerable point when someone takes the opportunity to yell at him, “Did you hear that Hale is recording a new video?”

Stiles makes the mistake of blinking and focusing on the girl with blue hair who apparently knows things because, no, he hadn’t heard that. He had suspected that his management was trying to let things cool down and with Scott about to leave for his press tour and Stiles done for the summer, they had been playing video games almost non-stop.

“Apparently it’s coming out in two weeks!” the girl says.

Stiles frowns and then blinks. No, wait. This is probably just a stupid rumor.

“Okay!” he tells her, hyper aware that there are a thousand people taking pictures and videos of him right now. He can’t help a smirk though. If that’s true, it’s hilarious. The mighty and above all competition Derek Hale scrambling to put together a second summer video. “Well, we’ll see if he actually pulls it off this time!”

Stiles doesn’t mean it to be nice or flirty but when he gets home, according to the Internet, that’s exactly how it comes off.

Goddammit.

 


 

Derek swallows nervously, clutching the hem of his robe.

“You don’t have to do this,” Erica says primly. “I mean, I’m the last person to advise against nakedness, and you know that I fully support your bare ass anywhere, but don’t you think this song… the theme of the video… is a little much?”

Derek thinks about Stiles’ smirk, the way his tongue slides across his lips, how fucking smug he looked when his song was named number one. What was even up with the title? Something about the weather, something ridiculously long that had nothing to do with the song at all.

Derek won’t be outdone. Not now, not while he’s just on the road to getting back on track.

And if he learned anything from showbiz, it’s that sex— always sells. And while it’s the launch factor for this, Derek actually thought about this for awhile, since Maybe Tomorrow is about truth and identity and hope and—

“Okay. I’m ready,” Derek says.

He drops the robe.

There’s a collective hush on set. Derek can feel everyone’s eyes on him, on his naked body— he’s here, he’s ready, he’s vulnerable. He wants to do this. He wants Stiles to eat his fucking words. See if he pulls it off, fuck him. He wants— he wants Stiles to look at his body and be awed at how much Derek is willing to risk it all.

And maybe Derek wants Stiles to look at him differently, think of him as someone separate than the uniformed prim kid singing chaste show tunes with his family.

He wants to push the boundaries.

Derek closes his eyes, and sings.

 


 

Stiles’ phone keeps ringing, chirping, and beeping, and it won’t stop. His notifications are going haywire. Everyone is all about Derek Hale’s new music video— and what a video it was. Stiles grabs his pillow and flops into it. He’s not… he’s not… he has mixed feelings about it. Sure, he should be frustrated that Derek managed to bump his own video down from the number one spot— and after all that hard work, wrangling so many different talents— but there’s another problem.

Stiles loves the video.

Sure, he knows that everyone and the Internet is talking about Derek’s abs, his back muscles, the 1.5 inches of ass crack that they got to see, but it’s more than just Derek’s naked body in the song— it was the lyrics, the full-fledged way Derek just let himself go into the song.

Maybe Tomorrow has always been Stiles’ favorite on Derek’s new album. Not that he would ever admit that he’s listened to said album, but… to be quite honest, he really likes Derek’s music. At least, he does when he isn’t letting the inherent competitiveness of the music business get to his head. And this song means a lot, especially about being true to yourself, being open with the world. Stiles thinks as a teenager, he would have found it incredibly comforting when he was struggling with his own sexuality. Even though that’s not explicitly what it’s about. It… fits. And somehow that makes Stiles like it even more. That it can somehow be meaningful and open to interpretation at the same time.

He knows the song is one of those songs that will live throughout the ages. It’s got that classic ballad feel, as well as that range that karaoke lovers adore— and it’s just— heartfelt and good.

Stiles grabs his phone to turn it off, groaning when he sees a new email from Allison. She always types in all caps when she’s sending him official agent business so Stiles doesn’t miss it, which makes for interesting subjects sometimes. The subject today is: “HALE’S #1 AGAIN— I’VE GOT THE PERFECT PLAN.”

Ugh. Whatever.

Stiles turns off the phone, closes his eyes, and thinks about Derek singing.

 


 

Derek does not really know how this happened. One moment he was riding high, basking in the glow of his VeVo victory, reading the news sites and blogs with joy for once (especially the one written by the Greenberg kid. It’s honestly hilarious to read the long treatise on why Stilinski was robbed when it was Derek who got to do the robbing.)

One moment, he was happy and even Peter was satisfied for the time being and then—

And then Peter disappeared for two days, failed to answer any of his texts, and came back with a plan.

And apparently that plan was for Derek and Stilinski to write a single together. Like collaborate.

Which is a nightmare waiting to happen because the last time Derek had collaborated with someone, it was his family. It was his father writing crazy basslines and his mother coming up with the lyrics and Laura choreographing the dancing and—

Derek doesn’t collaborate. Not anymore. Certainly not with Stiles Stilinski. The kid who posts samples of upcoming beats on his Instagram and asks for honest opinions. The kid who (rumor has it) does a huge chunk of his composing on a regular piano and then later picks instruments and layers it all together. The kid who writes lyrics last because the song is more important.

“I thought we were feuding,” he tries, glaring at Peter. “I thought you liked that.”

“Old news,” Peter says. “People are bored by feuds now. They like to think it’s just the media making something out of nothing. They don’t believe like they used to. This is better. Much better.”

Derek had tried to say that he didn’t want better, that his video was #1 in history and his album was doing just fine and he was above better but Peter insisted.

And now, here he was. Sitting in an office at one of their label executive’s extravagant studio, waiting for Stilinski to come in and sign the paperwork that means they will have to work together. He’s trying to just sit and ignore it all, tells himself that he doesn’t have to be polite because he’s the one doing Stiles a favor but—

Derek stands up when the door opens, suddenly nervous despite everything. Stilinski walks in with his entourage, finds a seat and doesn’t even whip off his sunglasses. Derek glances at Peter, who shrugs and goes to shakes hands with Stiles’ agent, an intimidating woman named Allison.

“Alright, so here’s the contract. We’ll release one single of a duet that both Stiles and Derek write together, we’ll have a video doing a behind the scenes of them working together, a music video, and MTV wants it debuted live at their music awards.”

The two agents ignore everyone else, working away at the contracts, and then pens are uncapped, and Derek and Stiles are both signing away their promises.

Derek looks up to meet Stiles’ eyes, expecting to see a challenging smirk, some sort of derisive mocking expression, but Stiles just blinks at him, quirks his lips a little in a small smile, and Derek smiles back, just a little, and maybe this collaboration isn’t going to be so bad, after all.