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Children are taught from a young age that they might receive a tattoo without actually going through the pain of getting one, and that this is due to soulmates. If a person’s soulmate gets a tattoo it will appear on the others skin. Of course, not everyone gets a tattoo, and not everyone finds their soulmate, even with a tattoo. Some people, more common than most would think, don’t bother looking for or ever find their soulmate, tattoo or no tattoo, and date other people who also have not found their soulmate.

Stiles ended up being one of the children who discovered they had a soulmate due to a tattoo. When he was fourteen and changing for gym class Scott gasped and pointed, yelling out, “Stiles has a tattoo!” and announcing the discovery to the entire year, well, the boys anyway. It didn’t take long for the girls to find out though. Everyone wanted a glimpse of the thick black swirls on his back, wondering who the person sharing his tattoo could be. He or she had to be at least seventeen to have been able to get the tattoo, which meant that they were at most three years older than Stiles, a fact Stiles' father was not best pleased with. He wasn’t happy to find out that his only son could end up finding his soulmate at such a young age, or that they could be quite a bit older than him. Stiles himself was just disappointed that his soulmate wasn’t Lydia Martin, the girl he had been crushing on for about a year now, despite her distinct lack of interest in him. The tattoo also meant that Stiles didn’t date throughout his school years, despite that fact that people with soulmate tattoos dating were common knowledge. Stiles was a determined person, and he didn’t give up easily. He was willing to wait, if it meant that he got to be with the person who was supposedly perfect for him.

 ***

Stiles pushed the door to the veterinary clinic open and waved when Scott appeared from behind the front desk.

"Are you not supposed to be working today?” Scott questioned as he unhooked the gate, letting Stiles past the ‘staff only’ barrier.

“Got my break early because the place was dead.” Stiles shrugged. “How’s vet training going?”

Scott shrugged, “I have an exam next month that I’m studying my ass off for, but apart from that it’s going well.”

Stiles nodded in interest. “You’ll ace it, you always do." He reassured. "Can you take your break now? I've got baked goods that can’t be sold anymore.” Stiles grinned, holding up a brown paper bag with the coffee shops logo printed on both sides.

Scott sniggered but waved Stiles inside, “Deaton’s out so he can’t say no. I was just organising the front anyway.”

“Sounds boring,” Stiles muttered, already taking out his phone as he settled in one of the staff room chairs, which were actually just old waiting room chairs.

Scott took two dry plates from the drainer and unfolded the bag that Stiles had dumped on the wooden table. “Less boring than making coffee all day."

Stiles was already glued to his phone, Scott’s comment unnoticed.

Scott sighed heavily, dividing the slightly stale goods between the plates. He knew exactly what Stiles was doing on his phone, and he sighed again. “Come on dude, we’ve talked about this-”

“I know Scott, I know.” Stiles interrupted before his friend could go on.

Scott swallowed the first bite of a croissant before speaking again. “Have you tried, I don’t know, magazines? Models have tattoos sometimes.”

Stiles looked up at this suggestion, waiting for Scott to meet his gaze before rolling his eyes dramatically. “I don’t buy fashion magazines, Scott, of course I haven’t checked them.”

Scott groaned, exasperated. “You can borrow mine.”

Stiles picked up a Danish pastry from his plate, and mumbled with his mouth full, “Sorry for snapping, stressful morning.”

"Already forgiven." Scott said as he handed over an issue of Alpha Fashion Magazine to Stiles. “One magazine, with all the fashion you could ever want.”

Stiles scowled at his friend but took the magazine from him, eyeing the built man on the cover. “’Derek Hale, the CEO of Alpha, returns to the spotlight.’" Stiles read in an exaggerated announcement type tone, raising an eyebrow sceptically. "What does that even mean?” 

“He used to model for the magazine but decided to step back from that a few years ago.” Scott informed him. Upon Stiles' raised eyebrow Scott said, “Just read the damn thing. Maybe it'll teach you a thing or two." 

“I dress fine.” Stiles muttered, but there was no defensiveness in his tone, he was too busy looking at the apparently well-known guy, Derek Hale, on the cover of the magazine. As they ate, Stiles reached page four, where Derek’s feature was. He was shirtless in a few of the pictures and as Stiles looked over one of the photos, black marks on his back caught his eye and he looked at it closer, curious. And then pulled back because that looked a lot like the tattoo Stiles had on his own back. He had looked at it enough in photographs, and awkward angles in the mirror, to know what it looked like.

Stiles panicked. “There’s no fucking way- that’s too easy- there’s not a chance in hell-”

What, Stiles? What are you talking about?” Scott asked, irritated.

“Does this or does this not look like my tattoo?” Stiles asked, shoving the magazine in Scott’s face.

Taking it and moving it away from his face enough to see, Scott studied the picture Stiles was pointing towards. “Holy shit…” He breathed, eyes wide, “that actually looks like-”

“Hello? Are you open?” A woman’s voice shouted from the reception of the clinic.

“Hold that thought.” Scott muttered, dumping the magazine onto the table and rushing towards the front of the clinic.  They didn’t talk about it again and it wasn’t until Stiles was chucking his things onto the coffee table in his small apartment that he remembered the magazine, rolled up and stuffed into his bag.

Stiles hummed to himself before relenting, turning his laptop on and unrolling the magazine as it booted up. “Derek Hale…” Stiles muttered to himself; opening Google Chrome and typing the name into the search engine.

The first link was to a website AlphaFashion.com, which Stiles assumed was the company website. The links underneath were all links to social media accounts. Stiles clicked on the images, hoping for an answer there, but most of the pictures that came up where either old, from the photoshoot taken for the magazine Stiles already had, or of him in business attire, the occasional Instagram picture from Derek’s own personal Instagram account in between.

Stiles hovered over the keyboard; ready to try another search but unsure if he was able to push through the embarrassment of actually typing it into Google. He only had to type 'back' for 'tattoo' to come up too. There, Stiles was faced with multiple images of the same toned back, most allowing Stiles to see the same thick black swirls he had on his own skin.

Well fuck.

Stiles’ soulmate was a high class businessman who not only ran a fashion magazine but also modelled for it when he felt like it.

Stiles was calling Scott immediately, practically hysteric.

“Dude you need to calm down I can’t understand you.” Scott sighed after answering Stiles’ call.

“Derek Hale!” Stiles yelled back, pacing his bedroom.

“Derek Hale?” Scott parroted, forever one step behind everyone else.

“He’s my soulmate.” Stiles breathed, the realisation of the situation hitting him finally after saying it outload. “Fucking Derek Hale is my soulmate.”

"Yeah, I know Stiles, I was there when you found out." Scott said nonchalantly. He was silent on the other end for a while before adding, “Doesn’t Danny model for Alpha?”

“What does that have to do with me finding my soulmate? You read the magazine how could you not know he has the tattoo-”

“Did you even read the article?” Scott interrupted. “They’re advertising for a one-time model for their new underwear collection or something. Danny might be able to get you in, if he puts in a good word.”

Stiles scoffed, “I can’t model underwear, Scott.”

“Just… call Danny, Stiles. He’ll understand what you’re going through.”

Danny had found out who his soulmate was in their senior year of high school when Jackson, his best friend, had shown up to school with a new tattoo. A new tattoo that had appeared on Danny’s own skin over the weekend. They didn't tell anyone how the talk they had after school went, but the next day they were holding hands as they walked to class.

Stiles hoped, as he waited for Danny to answer, that he would be able to help.

“Stilinski?” Danny answered, sounding slightly rushed.

“Hey Danny, you busy?” Stiles made himself sit down on his bed before he wore the carpet down completely, eyes flicking over the magazine cover for something to do.

“I’m getting ready for a shoot, but I have a couple minutes if this is important?”

“Um…” Stiles started to blush, even though there was no one there to witness the conversation. “I think I know who my soulmate is.”

Danny held his phone between his shoulder and ear as he tied his boots on, ignoring the worried looks that the makeup and hair department were throwing him. “That’s awesome, who is it?”

“Funny story…” Stiles laughed uncomfortably, “it’s, uh… it’s Derek Hale.”

Danny dropped his phone.

He snatched it back up before one of the women surrounding him could, pressing the phone to his ear as if that would stop them hearing the conversation. “Let me find somewhere more private, give me a second.” Once Danny was in the privacy of a bathroom he started talking again, “You think your soulmate is my boss?”

Stiles felt a little stupid hearing the disbelief in Danny’s tone. “I saw his tattoo, Danny, it was the same as mine. The exact same.”

Danny ran his hand over his face, sighing heavily. “Stiles… what do you want me to do? I can’t just tell my boss, ‘hey I have a friend who claims to be your soulmate’, can I?”

“You could get me a job?” Stiles asked hopefully. “Scott said they’re looking for a one-time model.”

“So,” Danny deliberated, “I’m supposed to convince him to give an old high school friend a job?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.” Stiles replied, biting his lip.

Danny sighed again, “Fine, alright, I’ll speak to him, but Stiles, don’t… just be careful okay? I'm sure he gets people claiming they have the same tattoo a lot. He might not be the kindest right away.”

“I know, Danny.” Stiles looked down at his carpet. “That’s why this is my best option.”

***

Stiles inhaled slowly, swallowing his nerves as he looked in through the glass doors of Alpha Fashion Magazine. From the outside, on the streets of New York, the building looked clean and fresh, everything white and silver, with green plants placed carefully in what would appear to be an attempt at making the place look less clinical. Behind the front desk Stiles could see a woman with blonde hair, typing on a computer, phone pressed between her ear and shoulder.

“Thinking about going in or were you just going to look in?” A male asked from behind him, making Stiles jump.

Stiles turned around in a hurry, the bag slung over his shoulder almost hitting the man behind him as he moved. “Sorry! Sorry, um, yeah-yes, I’m… going in…”

The man rolled his eyes, adjusting his scarf as he replied, “Okay…”

“What? Oh! Yeah, right…” Stiles grabbed the metal handle and pushed the door open, holding it for the man with the scarf afterwards.

Sorting himself, Stiles walked over to the front desk nervously. “How can I help you?” The women asked, sending Stiles a scrutinizing look as she looked him over.

“I’m Stiles Stilinski?” He offered as reply. “I’m here to meet with Mr Hale?”

“Of course, hello!” She suddenly became much more inviting, at the mention of her boss. “Isaac will show you to his office. Isaac!”

The man with the scarf came over, capping a plastic coffee cup. “You again,” Isaac smirked, “I hope Erica and I haven’t scared you off.”

Stiles laughed awkwardly, “No, not at all…”

“Cool, okay, I’ll take you to Mr Hale’s office, follow me.”

Stiles followed Isaac up two flights of stairs until they arrived at another glass door, this one with fogged glass so that you couldn’t actually see inside the room. Over the glass, in large letters, was Derek Hale – CEO.  Stiles swallowed thickly, nerves running through him like live wires.

“Bring him in Isaac.” A voice called out after Isaac knocked on the door.

Isaac grinned at Stiles and placed a hand on his back, pushing him in in front of him. “This is Mr Stilinski, Sir.”

Derek nodded Isaac goodbye and once the door was closed he motioned for Stiles to sit down. “Good morning, Mr Stilinski. Danny told me you were interested in the temporary job we have available?”

Stiles was looking at his soulmate. His soulmate was sitting right there and all he wanted to do was jump over the desk and tell him. There was a strange feeling in the room, the same one he had heard Jackson and Danny talk about. Instead of mentioning it he asked, “So Danny put a good word in, then?”

Derek smiled, “Danny said you had never done this before but that you had a good body and that you’d look good in the clothes." Derek chuckled to himself, "Or lack of.”

Stiles gulped, realising now that he was way out of his depth. “That’s, uh, good?” What was he doing?!

“You don’t sound so sure.” Derek teased. “It doesn’t matter that you don’t have experience, I take on a lot of new models. We'll have you do a trial job first. It'll be a bus shelter thing, to advertise the company.” Stiles sat there, baffled, as Derek picked up his phone and called Isaac back up. When he put the phone down, he grinned at Stiles. “Don’t look so worried, Isaac knows what you’re supposed to be wearing and I know what I’m doing with a camera.”

“It’s not that Sir-”

“All I need is your bank details and all that other formal stuff, to make sure you get paid properly.”

Stiles was finished writing out his details on the form when Isaac knocked on the door. “Come in, Isaac.” Derek called.

“I have Stiles’ clothes ready, its rough measurements so I’m going to need him a little early in case they don’t fit him right, if that’s okay, Mr Hale.”

“Of course, Isaac. Stiles, follow Isaac, I’ll see you in an hour or so for the shoot.”

Without further warning Stiles was being ushered out of the large fancy office and into the elevator. “How was your first encounter with the boss?” Isaac asked to fill the time.

Stiles offered an unsure smile. “He’s nice… I’m a little confused though, I wasn’t- I mean I didn’t think I’d be working right away?”

Isaac smirked, “Mr Hale trusts Danny’s opinion. Don’t worry, you’ve got what it takes to model for us. If he chooses your photos for the ad he might even ask you to model full time.” Isaac winked at Stiles as the elevator doors opened. “We’re shooting in the showers today, all the lights and everything have been set up, so it’s just you we need to change.”

Stiles looked down at his red chinos and plaid shirt combo, frowning. “Will this be extremely uncomfortable?”

Isaac laughed as he disappeared inside the dressing room. “To take off maybe, wet clothes don’t come off easy.”

“Wet… clothes…?”  Stiles was feeling more and more uneasy over this.

Isaac was back from the room and rolling his eyes, though he didn’t appear impatient. “I’ve put the clothes out for you, I’ll give you some privacy as you seem kind of shy. The makeup department will be here soon.”

Stiles was left alone after that, so he closed the dressing room door as quietly as he could (no lock, fantastic) and went over to where a dark pair of jeans and a light blue t-shirt were sitting. When he was changed into the surprisingly plain outfit Stiles took his phone out of his bag and called Danny, ready to bitch him out over this.

“Hey Stiles, shouldn’t you be working?” Stiles was getting that a lot recently...

“What am I doing, Danny?”

Danny laughed from the other end, “It’s higher paid than any secretary job you’d get, and it involves working directly with Derek, I thought you’d be flattered.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, “If he sees the tattoo-”

“I thought that was the whole point? That he finds out you’re his soulmate?”

“Well yes-” Stiles tried again, but Danny was once again interrupting him.

“Then you’re welcome. I’ve got to go, good luck!”

Danny hung up before Stiles could complain some more.

“Ready for makeup?” A young man pushed the door open slowly and a women followed him with a cart. “I’m Liam, this is Braedon. We’ll be making you look photo ready.”

Isaac’s face appeared around the door as Liam and Braedon were finishing. “Ready Stiles?” Isaac asked as he entered the room. “Derek’s waiting for you.”

Stiles was lead to the showers where wires were trailing all over the place, bright lights being turned on as Derek clicked away on his expensive camera.

“The model is ready, Mr Hale.” Isaac spoke up before pushing Stiles into the room and abandoning him with the intimidating people around him.

Derek turned and smiled, nodding appreciatively at Stiles. “You look great! Step under one of the showers, just as if you were showering at home.”

Stiles gingerly stepped forward, “Just… in the clothes?” This seemed dangerous, there were electrical wires everywhere. Stiles decided it wasn’t his place to mention that.

Derek laughed, “Yeah, in the clothes.”

Stiles walked carefully over the cables and between the people standing around and stepped under the shower head. He twisted the handle and was assaulted with freezing cold water. Stiles yelped and jumped back, blushing at the chuckles he heard behind him. When the water was warm he stepped back under, already feeling uncomfortable being in wet clothes.

“That’s great Stiles, keep the shower running and turn towards me, try smiling.” Derek instructed.

Stiles did as he was told, trying his best to not look uncomfortable.

“Lean against the tiles.”

Stiles, again, did as he was told, and smiled at the camera.

Derek sent him a thumbs up and started taking pictures, moving for different angles. Stiles shivered as he was told to turn the shower off and sit on the floor. The water was cold and the room was chilly, but he did it anyway, because this was his job now, apparently, and Derek was supposed to be his soulmate.

“Cross your legs, Stiles, and put your right leg in front of you. ‘Kay, now lean forward a little.” Derek was reeling off positions and facial expressions and Stiles was just trying to make sure he did them all how Derek wanted. “That looks great Stiles, stay like that.”

After a few more photos were taken Stiles was ushered out of the room and two large and very fluffy towels were placed in his hands.

“Get dry and warm, we have another set of clothes for you to change into.” Isaac informed him. “Derek said you did great, so you don’t have anything to worry about. Just be changed and waiting here for two.”

A week later Stiles made his way to catch the bus but when he reached the bus shelter he had to make a double take, blinking rapidly and rubbing his eyes just in case there was something in them because there was no way that he was seeing himself on that bus shelter ad. Except he was. There, on the shelter where strangers were sitting and standing around, was a picture of Stiles sitting, soaking wet, on the tiled floor of Alpha Fashion Magazine’s showers. The ad was simply advertising the company, ALPHA written in the font its known for, professional and clean cut. He knew this was happening, he had signed the paperwork and everything. The money had even be transferred into his bank account. Nevertheless, it was still a surprise to see the photo displayed on a bus shelter.

“Hey, aren’t you on that board?” A young girl asked as Stiles continued to stare at the picture.

Stiles whipped his head around to look at the girl, mouth opening but no words coming out. “Uh…”

The girl laughed, “Are you alright?”

Stiles blinked, turned back to the board, turned back to the girl, and said, “That’s me, yeah. I’m alright… just a little shocked.”

The girl raised an eyebrow, “You didn’t expect to model and not have your pictures used, did you?”

“I knew my pictures would be used, just wasn’t expecting to see them so soon.”

The girl raised an eyebrow and turned around and took out her phone, ignoring Stiles once again, like all the other people waiting for their buses were.

Stiles kept his head down on the bus after noticing the black and white picture of Derek on one of the boards inside it. It proclaimed that Hale was ‘the man behind the fashion industry’, but in the picture Derek was wearing a plain white t-shirt. Stiles didn’t understand fashion, he really didn’t.

***

Stiles was walking up to the building of the magazine on Thursday, after being invited by Derek. Erica came up behind him as he reached the door, carrying two coffee cups from Starbucks in a tray. “Here to see Mr Hale?”

Stiles jumped at the sound of her voice, groaning as she laughed. “I didn’t hear you.”

Erica patted him on the shoulder with her free hand. “I assume people hear the heels, my mistake.”

“I’ll remember to listen out for them from now on.” Stiles replied, blush disappearing from his cheeks slowly.

A grin suddenly appeared on Erica's face, “Looks like you’re the new welcome face, Stilinski.”

“What?”

Erica pointed towards the building, and sure enough, there was one of the photos from the second part of the shoot, a giant banner with Stiles, thankfully dry, hanging from one of the poles in the shower room and the name of the company written in the same professional font as the bus shelter ad.

Stiles wasn’t sure if he’d ever get used to seeing himself like that.

He held the door open for Erica, who winked at him as she stepped over the threshold. “Mr Hale wanted to see me today.” Stiles hinted as Erica handed Isaac, who was sat behind the reception desk, one of the coffee cups.

“I’ll call him to let him know you’re here.” Isaac said, smiling warmly at Stiles.

Stiles waited as Isaac called Derek, trying his best not to listen in to the conversation, even though it was about him.

Isaac hung up the phone and turned his attention back to Stiles. “You remember where Mr Hale’s office is?” Stiles nodded. “He asked for you to meet him there, Danny’s there too. He’ll explain the shoot today. Oh- and congratulations.”

Stiles nodded, albeit a little confused, and with Isaac's prompting, moved towards the elevators, in the direction of Derek’s office. The office door was ajar when he reached the correct floor but he still knocked and waited for the reply before entering the room.

“Uh, hi Mr Hale, Danny.” Stiles smiled at Danny quickly before putting his attention back on Derek. “Isaac said you would tell me about the shoot today?”

“Take a seat Stiles.” Derek said, motioning towards the chair next to Danny. “We’ve recently put the finishing touches on our new underwear line,” Derek began as Stiles sat, “and I’d like the two of you to help model it.”

Stiles stared wide eyed as Danny grinned and thanked Derek, nudging Stiles to do the same. “Um… thanks, but I thought that was going to someone else?”

“We chose your photos for the advertisement, didn’t we?” Derek replied, smiling gently. “This is me telling you that we would like you to participate in our new line, Stiles.”

“But- I mean- I don’t really have the body for underwear?”

Derek laughed, “You have a body and you wear underwear, I assume,” The insinuation made Stiles blush, “therefore you have the body to model underwear. The message we’re going for is that our underwear is for everybody, not just the ones with the athletic build.”

Danny smirked, Stiles rolled his eyes but had to agree that Danny did have an athlete’s body.

“As you’ve probably heard I am getting back into being in front of the camera again.” Derek said, rolling his chair away from his desk. “Boyd will be taking my place for this shoot to give me the chance to be a part of it as well.”

Stiles didn’t realise how bad this was until they were down in the dressing rooms, the only item of clothing being the underwear and a robe. Derek, apparently, had no qualms about getting changed and immediately, professionally, started getting undressed. All Stiles could do was watch. Derek’s smart suit was left draped across his chair, and just as Stiles was wondering if he’d be receiving a full view of his boss’ ass, Derek slipped into his robe. Once the robe was secured he tucked his hands underneath as he said, “Something wrong, Stiles?”

“Oh-oh! No, sorry, Sir, just nervous… I guess?” Stiles looked around for Danny for help but he had already changed and left the room.

Derek turned after pulling the underwear he was modelling on, to look at Stiles. “There’s no reason to be nervous here, Stiles. I wouldn’t have chosen you if I hadn’t thought you’d be good for the company.”

Stiles couldn’t help the flush that rose on his cheeks at the compliment. “Thank you… I’ll, um, be ready in a minute.” Stiles stuttered.

Derek sent him an encouraging smile, “I’ll be waiting out there.”

Stiles bit his lip as the door closed, hands fumbling as he undressed and slipped his legs into the overpriced but extremely comfortable underwear. With his robe securely tied around him, Stiles peeked out of the room, eyes scanning the area for Derek.

Derek smiled encouragingly when he noticed Stiles, waving him out. “All set?” Derek asked as Stiles closed the door behind him.

Stiles smiled weakly, “Yes?”

Derek laughed at his uncertainty, nodding. “Come on then, the camera is waiting.”

Derek led Stiles to where the shoot was taking place, talking all the while about the plan for it.

“Danny’s going first for some solo shots, then I’ll go, and then you. Once the solos are done we’ll move on to group shots. It’s unlikely that most of the photos will even be published in the magazine, but most will be used on the website and you can add all the ones with you in them to your portfolio.”

Stiles nodded slowly, trying to remember all the information. Danny was already disrobed and posing when they entered the room quietly. He paused mid-pose to wave at them but was soon back in position.

Stiles’ stomach turned as Derek’s turn came and went, the photographer, Boyd, calling Stiles over.

“Hey, I’m Boyd.” He introduced himself. “You’re Stiles?” Stiles nodded almost uncertainly. “Alright, well just take that robe off and show us what you’ve got!”

“Um… okay.”

Stiles walked over to the chair that he had watched both Danny and Derek lay their robes on and carefully took off his own, folding it and setting it down. Keeping his back facing away from everybody else in the room he managed an awkward side-step walk over to be in front of the camera.

Trying his best to ignore the looks of confusion from the faces in front of him, Stiles smiled and nodded to Boyd to signal that he was ready.

“Alright Stiles,” Boyd started, “just relax and do what the other two were doing.”

Stiles tried his best to relax, no one was behind him and no one could see his back, which meant his secret was safe for now.

When they were taking their break, Stiles approached Danny. “What am I going to do?!” Stiles hissed.

“The whole point of this was to tell Derek you were his soulmate, yes?”

“Well yeah, but now I’m here I don’t know how to explain it!”

“Well,” Danny began as he closed his water bottle, “he’s about to find out anyway.”

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, Derek was disrobing and making his way over to them, grinning at Stiles.

“You’re a natural Stiles.” He complimented as Danny and Stiles followed his lead and disrobed again.

“I want Derek slightly in front of Stiles.” Boyd instructed and Stiles breathed a sigh of relief. He was safe, for now.

All the way through the shots in twos to the shots with all three of them, no one noticed the tattoo on Stiles’ back, right up until the last photo.

“We need at least one photo of the underwear from behind so if you could all turn around…?”

Stiles panicked, and seeing his panic Danny also froze. “Shit…”

“What’s wrong?” Derek asked, confused. He was already turned around and ready for the last photo to be taken.

“Uhh… why don’t we do something… more… interesting? For this one.” Danny attempted, biting his lip and cringing back slightly.

Boyd looked over to Derek for help and Derek considered the suggestion for a few moments. “Okay… what do you have in mind, Danny?”

Stiles breathed a sigh of relief but the relief didn’t last long as Danny continued, “Well, you and Stiles both have back tattoos, which might take attention away from the underwear. Why don’t we do something like cover each other’s… backs?”

“Yeah!” Stiles piped up too quickly. “We could have our arms out, to cover the, um, the tattoos…”

“I didn’t know you had a tattoo.”

“Yeah well, you know…” Stiles smiled guiltily.

“I think we’ll stick to just having your backs showing, boys.” Boyd raised an eyebrow as if to challenge them to fight him on the subject. “Danny, go in the middle and the tattoos won’t be so distracting.”

Stiles sent Danny a panicked look, but he just shrugged, as if he couldn’t do anymore to help the situation, and did as he was told. Stiles sucked in a breath and stepped around to be on Danny’s left, swapping his weight from foot to foot as he wrung his hands with nerves. The room fell silent as he turned around to have his back to the room.

“Oh... okay! Boys… just um- just stay there…” Boyd stuttered, and Stiles could see Derek frown out the corner of his eye.

“Boyd…?” Derek asked, concerned for his employee.

“Sorry, everything’s fine Derek. Just um…”

“Boyd?” Derek turned around to see what was wrong with his usually calm and collected photographer.

“No! Stay there Derek- Mr Hale, it’s nothing!”

Derek turned to look where Boyd’s eyes kept landing. He stilled.

Stiles was ready to flee the scene, his body jittering as the tension built in the room.

“… Stiles? Is that…?”

Stiles cringed back, nodding reluctantly. “I can explain, Mr Hale.”

Derek sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll talk to you later, Stiles. Let’s get this shoot finished. I’ll make sure his tattoo is edited out of the picture myself.”

Stiles took a double take at Derek’s words. He wanted to cover up the fact they were soulmates? He wanted to just erase it?

Well that was okay. Stiles could take this like the grown up he was supposed to be. He could do that.

The photoshoot was finished briskly and silently and afterwards Stiles dressed and waited outside Derek’s office, nervousness fuelling his entire body. When Derek turned the corner of the corridor Stiles was surprised he didn’t throw up. Derek’s face was emotionless, forehead brooding, jaw set sternly, as always.

“Come in, Stiles.” Derek unlocked his office and opened the door, stepping aside to let Stiles enter first.

“Mr Hale-”

“Don’t… just… sit down.”

Stiles nodded and sat down in the chair in front of Derek’s desk, keeping his head down but watching out the corner of his eye as Derek went around to his side of the desk and sat down in his chair.

It took a while for Derek to start, he didn’t know where to begin. “You’re an employee, and it would be unprofessional to date.” Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. “But… you’re apparently my soulmate and I guess that changes the rules.”

Stiles sank back in his own chair, “I know you can’t just bend the rules, Sir.”

Derek looked up, watching Stiles intently. “I think I can, just this once.”

“I lied, well no, I withheld information from you to get the job.” Stiles pointed out, no idea where he was going with this. “I had no idea why I thought I’d get away with this, I shouldn’t have put Danny in this position either.-”

“Stiles just…” Derek interrupted, motioning with his hands for Stiles to get up, “come over here, please.” Stiles followed the request, getting up out of his seat and around the desk to stand in front of his boss. His soulmate, he reminded himself. Derek hesitated when Stiles was in front of him, slowly lifting his hands and motioning Stiles closer. Stiles bit his lip but followed the motion of Derek’s hands, taking a baby step forward, legs nearly hitting Derek’s knees.

Derek was frowning and it made Stiles nervous. “Derek… what’s going on?”

Derek looked up to meet Stiles’ gaze, frown leaving his face slowly as he seemed to make up his mind. “You’re my soulmate.” He stated dumbly, and in a flash his hands were gipping Stiles’ arms and he was pulling the younger man down to be awkwardly kneeling over him in the chair. “I knew I felt something… I knew there was a reason…”

Stiles followed Derek’s lead and shuffled himself until he was situated more comfortably with his legs hanging by Derek’s hips, in the gaps between the arm rests and the back of the chair. Derek’s hands were holding his hips to keep him up right and Stiles’ fingers were gripping Derek’s sleeves. Derek’s eyes flickered between Stiles’ eyes and mouth and then he was leaning in and kissing him. Stiles’ hand slipped into Derek’s hair and Derek’s hand moved from Stiles’ hips to his ass, fingers sliding into the back pockets.

***

“Owe! Fuck you, too, espresso machine.” Stiles cursed, wiping his hands on his green apron as he searched for a cloth to clean up the mess the machine had made. Not Stiles, the espresso machine. He was convinced that it had it out for him because in all the time Stiles had worked at the coffee shop it had only ever spilled the hot coffee on him.

“Is my order ready?” The women in a pantsuit snipped, flipping her hair over her shoulder impatiently.  

Theo just had to go back to retrieve more of the special seasonal autumn cups during their busiest time in the morning, abandoning his job of preparing the drinks.

“Sorry Mam, problem with the machine. I’ll have it made for you in no time – Theo!” Stiles quickly cleaned up the mess and re-made the women’s drink, nearly forgetting to scrawl her name on the side of her cup. “Thank you for your patience." He smiled fakley before turning his attention to the next customer, "Next?”

“Pumpkin spice latte, no cream, please.” Derek said, stepping forward.

“Derek?” Stiles asked, surprised.

“You work here?” Derek replied, he too surprised. He hadn’t talked to Stiles since they had kissed in his office three days ago.

“Um, well yeah.” Theo came out then, carrying the box of to-go cups and dumped it lazily by Stiles’ feet. Stiles rolled his eyes, “The job with you was only temporary, remember? I need all the money I can get so…”

“Well, we should fix that.” Derek suggested softly. “A model just left us the other day, so there’s a spot open, if you’re interested.”

“I don’t know, Derek. I’m not exactly cut out for modelling.”

Derek shrugged, “Think about it.”

“Right.” Stiles nodded, watching Derek move down the counter to collect his coffee.

At seven o’clock Stiles’ phone rang and he picked it up without looking to see who it was. “Hello?”

“Stiles, its Derek.”

“Oh, hi- hi Derek.”

“Do you want to come over? I, um, have some beer that needs drinking.”

Stiles bit his lip in attempt to hold back a smile. “I haven’t had much time to consider your offer.”

“Then let me convince you.”  

Stiles sighed, slumping down onto his couch. “When?”

Derek paused for a second before replying, “Now?”

“I have work tomorrow.”

“No you- oh, you mean Starbucks work.”

“If I agree can I hang up and get my dinner?”

Derek chuckled, “Yes.”

“Then I’ll see you tomorrow, around six.”

“See you-” Stiles hung up before Derek could finish, laughing to himself as he imagined Derek pulling a tight jawed scowl at his phone.

***

Stiles was a nervous wreck when he arrived outside of Derek’s house - better described as a mansion. Derek answered the door in grey sweats and a loose t-shirt, barefoot. Stiles swallowed, trying his best not to look as if he were checking the other man out, although he most certainly was.

“Hi.” Stiles gave a small, awkward wave.

Derek smiled gently and opened the door for Stiles to enter. “It’s nice to see you.”

Stiles nodded shyly, brushing a hand though his already messy hair. “So… you were gonna prove to me why I should quit Starbucks and work for you instead?”

“Let’s start with a drink.” Derek suggested, taking Stiles’ hand as if he had done it a thousand times, like it was a reflex, and led the way through his extensive hallway and to the large kitchen, far bigger than necessary for someone who was single and living alone. Handing Stiles a beer out of the fridge Derek’s face turned serious, “Can I make an assumption?” Stiles nodded, cracking open the beer and taking a sip, trying not to be rude. “Okay…” Derek paused, “so you took the temporary job because you saw a photo of my back and realised that we were meant to be soulmates?”

Stiles nodded shyly, “Yes.” He answered quietly.

“Why did you think that, that would be the best way to get to me?”

Derek seemed genuinely interested to know the answer, unfortunately all Stiles could offer was a shrug. “It was a spur of the moment thing. I was with my friend at his work and I was just looking through the magazine because it was there. I saw the photo and panicked. I mean, what were the chances that a fancy ass business man is going to want to listen to me explain how we’re soulmates because I say so? I assumed you’d get people trying that all the time, considering.”

Derek raised an eyebrow, “Considering what?”

Stiles’ cheeks heated lightly, “You’re a model, Derek. People want to be your soulmate. You would have turned me away and my one chance would have been gone.”

“I don’t get many people trying to convince me that they’re my soulmate.” Derek corrected gently, and then added, “You went by this the wrong way, Stiles.”

“Derek, I know-”

“I’ll forgive you.”

Stiles stood up straighter, placing his hardly touched beer on the marble counter. “It sounds like an ‘if’ is coming.” He whined.

Derek chuckled, “If you come work for the magazine, full time.”

Stiles went practically bug-eyed, mouth hanging open a little. “That’s all? You’ll forgive me if I work full time for the magazine?”

“Yes, Stiles. I think it’s a pretty good deal.”

Stiles nodded animatedly. “Yes, of course, it’s a deal!”

Derek bit his lip to hold back a smile and pushed himself away from the counter, stepping forward into Stiles’ space. “Perfect.”

Derek initiated the kiss that came next, holding Stiles’ head in two hands, pulling him close and the next morning Stiles woke up with a smile on his face, Derek tucked under his arm. Derek woke up not long after Stiles, a similar smile gracing his features.

“Hope you own a turtle neck.” Derek smirked, laughing when all Stiles did was frown.

“Why would I need one?”

Derek pointed towards his large mirror. “Take a look.” Stiles pulled Derek’s sweatpants over his legs and inspected his neck, groaning loudly at the large splotchy mark under his jaw, Derek picked up his camera from the bed side table. “Sit by the window.”

Stiles did as instructed while complaining, “These scratches hurt, you dick.”

“You weren’t complaining last night.” Derek shot back quickly, turning the lens of the camera before pointing it towards Stiles.

Immediately, Stiles’ legs drew up to cover his bare chest, arms around his knees. “Don’t you dare,” He threatened uselessly.

“Just one, for me. I promise not to let anyone see it.”

Stiles gave in immediately, putting his arms down by his sides and folding his legs down so that he was sitting with his legs crossed. His posture was sloppy, but Derek took the picture while he could. He smiled as he looked at it. Stiles’ face was cut off so that just his mouth and bare chest were in frame.

“Is it good?” Stiles asked curiously as he got up and sat by Derek on the bed.

“It’s alright, I guess.” Derek grinned, leaning in to give Stiles a quick kiss. “I’m kidding, it’s great.” He amended as he noticed Stiles’ pout.

"Promise no one will see it?" Stiles murmured, leaning against his boyfriend fondly.

Derek chuckled and pressed a kiss to Stiles' forehead. "I don't know... it's just cruel of me to keep you to myself."

Stiles laughed, hiding his face in Derek's shoulder, smiling. "What does that mean?" He asked after a moment.

Derek smiled to himself. "I found my soulmate, or rather, my soulmate found me. I'm not giving that up."

Stiles sat up straight, looking at Derek, confused. "You'll accept it? The mark, the tattoo. You’ll accept that as enough of a reason to date me?"

Derek looked back at Stiles in disbelief. "Of course I will, Stiles. I felt it when we met, I just ignored it." Derek paused for a moment, eyes wandering back to the photo. "But you do remember our deal, right?"

"I leave Starbucks to model for you?"

"The reaction to the first shoot was pretty massive." Derek added, nudging Stiles' shoulder gently.

"Well then, I can't disappoint the fans." Stiles winked at Derek, standing up from the bed. "So, when do I start?" 

Derek stood to his feet after picking up his boxers from the floor and pulling them on. "You'll have to quit Starbucks first." He took the few steps over to stand in front of Stiles as he spoke.

Stiles snorted, "Theo will be pissed. They’re already short staffed at the moment."

"Fuck Theo." Derek shrugged.

"I'd rather not, thanks." Stiles replied rather childishly. Derek rolled his eyes, but Stiles could see the hint of a smile. "Can I borrow a towel?" Stiles asked, changing the subject. 

"I'll show you where they are." Derek led Stiles to the bathroom and opened one of the cabinets under the sink. "Use anything you want." He gave Stiles a quick kiss before leaving the room and closing the door behind him. 

***

 Stiles gave in his notice the next day and by the following Monday he was making his way to the headquarters of Alpha Fashion Magazine, for his first official day of work. Erica greeted Stiles with a wide, almost predatory smile. “Mr Hale is waiting for you in room six.” She informed him.

Racks of clothes were lining the walls as Stiles made his way down the hall, nearly tripping over a couple wires on the way.

“Over here, Stiles. You’re a little late.” Derek sounded professional and slightly impatient, but it didn’t stop Stiles from kissing him on his way into his dressing room. Derek was a little surprised by the mild PDA, but they had discussed it, and decided that a lot of the employees already knew about the soulmate tattoo, so why bother hiding it?

Once changed, Stiles entered the room the shoot was taking place in. There was a set constructed in the middle of the room and around it, in one corner, was the makeup team, and cameras and lights were scattered along the other walls.

“We’re ready for you over here, Stiles.” Liam called over. Stiles smiled at the familiar face and sat down in the chair, closing his eyes and trying his best not to change his neutral expression as the sponges and brushes tickled his nose. “Stand up, we’ve got to do your clothes too.”

Stiles did as he was told, looking around the room now that his hair and makeup was finished, searching for Derek. He spotted him over by a camera, frowning and looking stressed. “Hey,” He started, turning to look at Liam, “is Derek, sorry, Mr Hale, is he okay?”

Liam bit his lip, “He’s had problems with this shoot. Unofficial photos of the clothes were leaked and now people are talking. Basically, this needs to go well.”  

Stiles scoffed, “No pressure then.”

Liam grinned as he put down the brush he was using. “None at all, you’ll do great.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Stiles smiled back.

“Stiles!” Derek called loudly, a few heads looking over to the man in question. “We’re ready to start.”

“He’s all done, Sir!” Liam replied, nudging Stiles over to the set.

The shoot took all day and by the time Stiles was wiping off the makeup he was ready to go to bed and sleep for the next twenty four hours.

“Let’s go out for dinner.” Derek suggested as he wrapped his arms around Stiles’ waist, surprising his boyfriend.

Holding his hand over his heart, Stiles groaned. “You’ve got to stop doing that.” Derek chuckled, ignoring the complaint. “Dinner sounds nice though.” Stiles added, returning to cleaning his face off. When he was done he dropped the makeup wipe into the bin by his feet and awkwardly turned around until he was facing Derek. “Does the invitation last all night?”

Derek pecked Stiles’ cheek and let him go, “Always does.”

Stiles was grinning as he replied, “Then I’ll go home first and grab a change of clothes.”

 ***

Derek couldn’t help but notice how quiet Stiles was being during dinner so as they waited for dessert to arrive he reached across the table and took Stiles’ hand in his own. “Why’re you so quiet?”

Stiles frowned, “I didn’t think I was being quiet.”

“Well you are.” Derek shrugged. “So what’s up?”

“I’ve just been thinking.” Stiles wouldn’t look Derek in the eye as he replied.

“About…?”

Stiles sighed, “You wouldn’t have acknowledged me if I hadn’t had the tattoo. I would still be making coffee and wearing a green apron if it weren’t for the mark on my back.”

“Stiles-”

“I’m not done.” Stiles interrupted. “We’re told that the mark means you’re meant for each other but if that’s the case then how come not everyone has one? How come people who do have one don’t find each other?”

“That’s just how life works.” Derek supplied, leaning back in his chair as their waitress gave them their food.

“If you hadn’t got a tattoo, we’d never have met.” Stiles picked up his spoon but didn’t start eating. “Even though we’re meant to be soulmates, getting or not getting a tattoo determines whether or not you find each other. I spent high school thinking that I had to meet my soulmate or I’d never be happy.” Stiles paused as he scooped up some ice cream with his spoon. “You never looked for your soulmate.” Stiles said, trying not to sound like he was accusing Derek of something.

“As far as I was concerned she had broken up with me.”

That took Stiles by surprise. “You're going to have to elaborate."

“Paige, my high school girlfriend. She broke up with me during our freshman year of college.”

“I’m sorry.” Stiles slouched in his chair, twiddling the spoon with his fingers.

Derek smiled gently. “If it wasn't clear enough, I've moved on, did a long time ago."

Stiles looked up finally and met Derek’s eyes. “I’m not trying to question this... but I think I rushed into it without sitting back to consider what I was doing, and it’s only now that it’s really hit me that I have an actual soulmate. Out of all the people it could have been…”

“I feel the same way, you know.”

Stiles nodded shortly and they finished their food in relative silence. The conversation was pretty much forgotten after that night, after all, there was no reason to question the obvious connection between the two.

A few days later the clothing line promotion photos were released and on the same day Stiles received a text from his dad asking him why he was looking at his son on a billboard with the title of ‘Alpha Model’.

Stiles had a lot of explaining to do.