Stiles doesn’t buy the whole magical, transcendent soulmate reveal story, snickers at all those movies where the couple touches each others marks for the first time, eyes glimmering over in emotion when they feel the bond surge through their bodies (who comes up with this stuff?), shakes his head at all those dreamy-eyed people willing to shell out money to track down their other half.
It’s absolutely ridiculous; he knows plenty of people who fall in love with people with different marks from their own, and it’s not a perfect system--even if all the statistics show that bonded soulmates live longer and healthier lives, with practically no divorce rate to speak of, and generally just have incredibly fulfilling relationships, you never know if the person who shares the exact mirror of your own mark lives in your country or even is on the same side of the planet.
Stiles is just really ambivalent about the whole thing. He meets his other half in his lifetime? Cool. If not? It’s just fine; he’s happy where he is.
At least that’s what he keeps telling himself.
It’s not bad, it’s just in a weird time in his life. Allison and Scott just got engaged last week, and then Erica happened to meet Vernon Milton Boyd IV two days ago. “Just call me Boyd,” he said with a dry grin, that night when Erica introduced him to everyone. “My soulmate, everyone look, here he is, mine forever,” Erica had said the whole night, overflowing with happiness.
Stiles stretches, feeling restless. It’s probably because it’s been awhile since he’s gotten laid. He doesn’t blame Heather for putting an end to their friends-with-benefits situation, he was happy for her, but still.
“You’re moving to Portland just to meet this girl? What are you going to do, just introduce yourself and say ‘Hey, I’m your soulmate, let’s live happily ever after?’” Stiles had asked when she came over to say goodbye.
Heather had nodded. “Yeah,” she said, without any doubt or hesitation in her voice whatsoever.
Stiles stared at her. “You’re just gonna up and leave Beacon Hills, quit your job, and go to another state where you don’t know anyone? What if it doesn’t work out?”
Heather shrugged. “Lots of people do it, Stiles. I just know if I don’t at least try, I’ll regret it forever, and one day I’ll be old and think, oh, I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to that city to see that ballerina I saw in that magazine that one time?”
“Right,” Stiles had said, and Heather just sighed, wrapping her arms around him in a close hug. She kissed his forehead affectionately and smiled.
“You’ll understand, Stiles,” she said.
Stiles snorts now, leaning against the counter. That had been what, two months ago? Man, he misses Heather. Well, he misses her more as a friend, but the sex and cuddling had been nice too. Maybe Stiles just needs to get laid and he’ll get out of this miserable funk. He stares at the rows and rows of slightly different wedding invitation samples. How many different types of paper were there possible? He’s just doing his part because he loves Scott and he’ll be always there for him, but seriously, when Scott had texted him earlier with hey can you help Allison in an emergency and gave him an address, Stiles hadn’t expected this at all.
“Stiles? What do you think of these?”
“What?” Stiles jerks himself out of the stupor he’s fallen into, turning to face Allison, who is holding up what looks like two identical cards.
Allison dances the cards in front of his face. “Hm?”
“They’re both the same, Allison,” Stiles says.
“This one is heavier, which I like, but the other one smells nicer. Here.” Allison pushes the card towards Stiles, who takes a reluctant sniff. There’s a faint floral scent from both of them that also is really similar. Stiles has to smell both of them a few times, with Allison tapping her foot impatiently, to figure out one of them smells slightly spicier. Kinda woodsy.
“This one,” Stiles says, pointing at the one on the right. Allison smiles, dimpling, and Stiles feels pleased he made the right decision. At least he’s helping out, kind of. Scott would be happy, he said Allison’s been really stressed out lately.
“Isn’t it exciting about Erica and Boyd?” Allison says, humming to herself and she looks over-- what is that, fonts? They’re going to be here forever, aren’t they.
“Yeah, super exciting,” Stiles says dryly. He is happy for Erica, and Boyd seems like a nice guy, but it’s not like he’s any more excited for her than when she was dating anyone else. People make such a fuss about soulmates, it’s ridiculous. Scott and Allison aren’t soulmates, but they are the cutest couple to ever cute, and Stiles will fight anyone who says they can’t be happy together.
One of the shop workers is pretty cute, the one leaning against the counter, shining his nametag with one hand and flicking through the channels on a remote with the other. Stiles is trying to catch his eye, but the guy is too fascinated with whatever’s on TV.
“Oh my God, that’s terrible, people can be so rude,” Allison says, looking up at the screen.
There’s the gaudy TMZ logo and a reporter talking next to a huge blown-up photo of-- “Derek Hale, he’s so dreamy,” the shop worker is saying, sighing listlessly. “I can’t believe he didn’t win that Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actor.”
Stiles shakes his head. He doesn’t really care about celebrities and their shenanigans, and whatever Derek Hale’s gotten himself into it Stiles is pretty sure he couldn’t care less. He’s seen a few of the guy’s movies, and yeah, they were pretty good and he’s hot stuff, but this country pays way too much attention to these famous people anyway.
But it isn’t a lame photo of who he’s dating or what groceries he’s buying, it is--
“I can’t believe someone would do something like that, they have no right, soulmarks are so personal, no one has the right to photograph one without the owner’s permission,” Allison is saying, but Stiles isn’t paying attention. His mouth has dropped open and he’s frozen, standing still, gazing at the screen.
It’s a photo of Derek Hale surrounded by fans, and one enthusiastic guy is yanking down the front of Derek’s shirt, exposing his collarbone. And a soulmark.
It’s exactly same as the raven etched onto Stiles hip, the same slight raise of wing, that beak tilted just so.
Stiles has a soulmate. He knows his name.
“Stiles? Are you okay?” Allison asks in concern.
Stiles is shaking and he laughs, a little hysterically. “Give me a second,” he says, and he darts off to the back of the store, barricading himself in the bathroom.
His heartbeat is rabbiting quickly and Stiles stares at the door in shock. He takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself before this turns into an actual panic attack. Yeah, the information is a bit overwhelming, but really? That guy?
All Stiles really knows about the actor is that he’s a jerk, well, at least according to all the gossip magazines Erica reads, and that he was apparently implicated in the death of Hollywood darling Paige Everhart six years ago, but he was never charged with anything. No one really knows what happened, but Derek definitely played up that elusive mysterious bad boy act and went on to successfully star in a series of action series as the brooding anti-hero and then some period dramas.
Stiles’ phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls it out to find a text from Scott.
hey r u ok allison says ur freaking out at the paper place
Stiles is trying to tap out a response when the phone buzzes, and then once more.
she says she thinks u might have just figured out who ur soulmate is?!?!
stiles omg :D :D :D
Stiles takes a deep breath and types out its derek hale wtf and sends it to Scott. He presses his forehead against the wall, feeling the blood churning underneath his skin.
Even if he wanted to do something about it, what could he do?
“Stiles, this is great!” Scott is beaming, positivity practically radiating out of him. “You totally have to write him a letter or something.”
“No way,” Stiles says. “He’s a famous movie star, I’m pretty sure he’ll think it’s just a prank or something.”
“Come on, he’s your soulmate, don’t you want to meet him at least?” Scott asks.
Stiles hesitates, closing his laptop so Scott doesn’t see the barrage of tabs he had open on Derek Hale. It’s not like anyone’s going to know he went all out into researching the actor, because why not, he’s never going to do anything about it anyways.
Stiles remembers his parents met at a Choice For All rally, back in the day when computer systems were just getting advanced enough where Congress thought it might be a great idea to register all soulmarks in order to match people up. The proposed legislation met with tons of support at first, but then the backlash was overwhelming. There was a fair amount of opposition that argued people wanted to be able to fall in love the normal way, people who thought being handed a name and address when they reached a certain age took all the romance out of the equation. But the majority of the rioting stemmed from the anger that the “Soulmark Registration Act” was nothing more than a mandated system to force people into relationships. The more paranoid feared that it was a government tracking system, or even a eugenics movement, designed to provide soulmate information only to those the government deemed ‘fit’ to reproduce.
Claudia had always told Stiles she wanted the right to fall in love with whoever she wanted, that a matching birthmark had little to do with the person she wanted to be with. John had arrested her at the rally, a young deputy then tasked with keeping the peace, and then somehow over a cup of coffee and Claudia’s persistent arguments about the freedom to choose, they formed a connection.
It’s one of Stiles’ favorite stories. He remembers a lot about his mom, the mischievous grin she used to have when she told Stiles all about that summer she and his dad spent getting to know each other, John laughing about what a free spirit she was.
“If you want to find the one who bears your mark, kochanie, that is totally up to you,” Claudia had said to him, many times. “As long as you spend your life with someone you can be happy with, soulmark or not.”
The truth is, Stiles is more than a little curious about Derek Hale. His research turned up tons of gossip that bandied everything about his arrogant jerk and playboy personality, but none of them were credible sources, just rags that have deliberately made up information about different celebrities. According to reliable information, Derek’s only really dated three people, if you count Paige Everhart, though nobody really knows if they were involved or not, but apparently they were close. Then a few years later there was Jeremy Wu, a quiet screenwriter who accompanied Derek to many red carpet events, but then eventually left Derek when he met his soulmate. And then there was Derek’s brief whirlwind engagement to then-model-and-nobody Kate Argent who burst onto the acting scene, landed a supporting role in Tarantino’s new film, then just as promptly left after a slew of racist remarks and an apparent difficult to work with persona on set.
Stiles only knew about Paige, whose death had been all over the news when it happened. Drug overdose, the official reports said, but there were some nasty rumors floating around that Derek had killed her. None of it makes sense though and Stiles is hard pressed to believe that Derek could have murdered her. They had looked like best friends in all the pictures he found of them, with nothing but love between them.
In any case, there was a lot of things aside from Derek’s past love life that were incredibly interesting and actually rather endearing. Stiles had found out that Derek donates regularly to a number of charities, and even founded one of his own, a Little League specifically for inner-city kids and at-risk youth. There was a picture of Derek playing catch with a bunch of kids, smiling and laughing on the Little League website that had really stood out to Stiles; it seemed to show a man he could really get to know. At least a lot more than the impassive face Derek wears at his red carpet premieres.
“Okay, fine, I do want to meet him,” Stiles admits to Scott.
“I knew it!” Scott says happily.
“But not because like, I wanna date him,” Stiles says reluctantly. “I mean, just to see what he’s like, you know.”
“Uh huh,” Scott says, waggling his eyebrows. “You should totally find out what he’s filming, show up on set, tell him how amazed you were when you saw his image and his soulmark, that it was a stroke of fate—”
Stiles picks up his pillow and whaps Scott with it. “Just because that worked for you,” he says, sticking his tongue out. “Anyone else would have found that totally stalker-y and creepifying, but Allison was charmed by your adorable heart eyes or whatever. You guys aren’t even soulmates.”
Scott grins, shrugging. They had been at a Renaissance Fair and were watching the archery competition when Scott had spotted the Allison’s soulmark peeping out from under her shirt sleeve when she drew her bow. Of course, it had turned out that Allison’s wolf and Scott’s fox were obviously not a match, but by then coffee had turned into dinner had turned into talking all night and Stiles falling asleep in that diner with his makeshift armor poking into him in all the wrong places.
“Yeah, I know, but it was still the pursuit that led me to true love! If I had never talked to Allison in the first place—”
“Dude, you showed up at the archery finals with three heralds and recited poetry at her,” Stiles says.
Scott blushes. “Okay, well, don’t do that. But still. You totally should meet Derek.”
Stiles leans back in his chair, considering. “Yeah, I’m not going to tell him we’re soulmates though. I just… I dunno, want to know more about him.” A sudden idea pops into his head and he grabs his phone, scrolling through his contacts. “Actors, they need like, personal assistants and stuff, right?”
“Yeah?” Scott quirks his head to the side. “Stiles, you have zero experience in personal assistant-ing. What makes you think he’ll hire you?”
Stiles smirks at him, bringing up Danny’s number and waving the phone at Scott. “I just have to be the best candidate available,” he says. “Then I’ll get to hang out with Derek, see what he’s like, maybe become friends, and then I’ll come home with a great stories about how the other half lives.”
Scott gives him an incredulous look.
“I’m not going to fall in love with him,” Stiles says.
“Uh huh,” Scott says.
Kochanie is Polish for sweetheart.
Danny is a romantic and is totally on board with the “get Stiles to be Derek Hale’s personal assistant” plan. Stiles is a little awed and plenty terrified when Danny somehow manages with a few clicks of his laptop gets Derek’s current personal assistant a felony charge and an outstanding warrant for arrest.
“What? It’s not like he didn’t actually do the thing, I just moved up his court date, so it looks like he missed it like a terrible excuse for a citizen. Easy as pie,” Danny says, winking at Stiles as he stares dumbfoundedly at him.
Danny cracks his knuckles, beaming at him. “Alright, now I’ll let you know when they start fielding applicants. Make sure to submit your resume when I tell you.”
“You’re the best,” Stiles says, clapping him on the shoulder. “Remind me never to get on your bad side,” he says.
Danny laughs. “Better invite me to the wedding,” he says, “I fully expect you to introduce me to Ryan Gosling.”
“I’ll do what I can, buddy,” Stiles says.
“Go get your man,” Danny says with a wink.
Stiles doesn’t doubt Danny’s skills at all, but he’s still nervous after Danny gives him the heads up and he submits his one-page resume to Hale Talents, Ltd. Stiles tried to make it as appealing as possible, with his Sociology degree and lack of overall job experience (you can’t really put “nuisance at the Sheriff’s station and occasional helper on crime cases” as a thing), it isn’t looking so good. At least his volunteer experience and good grades make him seem like a decent person with a steady work ethic.
So when he gets a phone call at eight a.m the next day, Stiles really isn’t expecting it. He almost let the thing go to voicemail, but he accidentally hit the answer button instead of silencing the phone. “Hello?” he says blearily.
“Is this…Stiles Stilinski?”
“Yeah,” Stiles says. He’s practically still asleep.
“This is Peter Hale, from Hale Talents, Ltd. We’ve received your inquiry into our P.A. position.” The voice is cool, as if practiced to attain the right amount of carefully disinterest.
Stiles sits up in bed quickly, brain snapping awake. “Yes?”
“I’d like to inform you that you have passed our prerequisite background check and we would like for you to come in for an interview.”
“Yes, great, I’d love to,” Stiles says, trying not to sound too eager. His heart is beating rapidly in his chest. “Um, where?”
Peter gives him an address in Los Angeles. “I’m hoping you could come in today or tomorrow? We’re hoping to fill the position as soon as possible.”
“I, actually, I’m in Beacon Hills, it’s in Nor--”
“I’m aware of where it is. Very well. We can set up a time for a video interview. If you take the job, you’re aware you’ll need to relocate?”
“Won’t be a problem,” Stiles says. They set up the details for the video interview and then Stiles hangs up, sinking back into bed. He pulls the covers up over his head to hide from the world a second more, thoughts racing in his head. It’s happening, it really is. It’s one thing to joke about an idea in your head, and another thing to actually have the plans start rolling forward in motion.
Stiles takes a deep breath, flipping the blanket down and staring at his ceiling. “I can do this,” he says to himself. “No big deal, just gonna prove what a huge joke everyone in Hollywood is, and that this whole soulmate thing is ridiculous.”
He’s nervous the whole day and even spends an hour picking out a good looking dress-shirt-and-blazer-combo to wear, trying multiple combinations before he settles on a navy button-up. Stiles gives up on the suit jacket, partially because they all make him look stuffy and pretentious.
When the interview time comes around, all the jitters seem to leave immediately. Peter Hale gives him a creepy vibe, to be sure, but none of the questions he ask are difficult at all. He just goes over the information in Stiles’ resume, banters with him a little about his favorite Psychology class in college, and discusses what Stiles’ duties would be as Derek’s personal assistant. Stiles even relaxes a bit enough to throw in a joke or two, and Peter smirks at him a little.
Stiles assumed the room Peter was in was an office in a studio somewhere, but then a door opens behind him and Derek Hale walks in, wearing only a tank top and gym shorts, holding a bowl of cereal. Stiles blinks at the screen a little-- it just looks so distressingly normal, that this larger-than-life man is now just eating cereal on Stiles’ laptop screen. Derek still looks amazing, though-- those arms are really something.
“What’s this?” Derek asks, munching away-- oh God, are those Froot Loops?
“This is Stiles Stilinski. He’s a candidate for your new personal assistant that I’m interviewing for you.”
Derek gives Stiles a once-over through the camera and Stiles smiles weakly at him, waving. “Good, the sooner we hire someone the sooner you can stop acting as my assistant, Uncle Peter,” Derek says with a grin.
“I cannot wait,” Peter says dryly. “Anyways, Stiles was just telling me about his many accomplishments, and I had asked about his senior thesis at Berkeley, and I was just about to ask--”
“I’ll get it, just give me a second,” Stiles says, jumping up from his chair, turning around to find the thick folder where he stashed his manuscript. There had been a few points he wanted to bring up that Peter had been interested in--
Laughing. Why is there laughing?
Stiles whirls back around to face the screen, folder in hand, seeing Peter snickering to himself and Derek grinning and then he looks down at himself and realizes.
Yeah, great idea, not wearing pants for the interview, Stiles thinks to himself. He blushes, standing in his bright yellow Batman boxers.
He shrugs, trying to play it off, saying casually, “What can I say, I’m business up front, party--”
“Hire him. Right away,” Derek says to Peter. “I hope to see you soon,” Derek says, turning back to Stiles, and there’s that smile again. Stiles feels a curious swooping sensation in his stomach and he smiles back at him.
Right. Fine. It’s just because he’s gorgeous, okay? Nothing at all to do with this soulmate thing, nope, there’s not a saw-you-for-the-first-time-and-now-we-have-a-mystical-connection thing about it.
Trigger warning: there is a brief mention, but not explicit, towards the end of the chapter on Isaac's abuse.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The drive down to Los Angeles is relatively uneventful, Stiles’ Jeep stuffed full. After stopping in the Bay Area at his favorite chocolate store, he heads down the 101, then takes a detour on the PCH, enjoying the ocean view for awhile, and camps out for a night in Big Sur. Stiles listens to the crackling of his small, dying campfire as he rustles around in his sleeping bag, watching the stars come out in the night sky. He should get his fill of stars now, he hears the light pollution in the city is pretty terrible.
The next morning Stiles packs in everything, makes a quick breakfast of a few granola bars and hops back on the road. After a few hours the relatively calm, two-lane winding freeway between the mountains and the sea turns inland, and by the time he's back on the 101 there are multiple lanes and it's already congested with cars.
Poor Roscoe’s air conditioning has been broken for many years, so Stiles settles for rolling down his windows as traffic slows to a crawl. There isn’t any breeze, though, just the hot air emanating from the many other cars on the road.
“Ugh, this is gross,” Stiles says, watching his speedometer drop to less than ten miles an hour. It’s just past three o’clock, and he’s supposed to meet up with the Hales in the studio backlot in half an hour. According to the electronic road display he’s slowly inching past, he’ll pass the 405 junction in...thirty-eight minutes. Stiles’ GPS is telling him his destination is only twenty-three miles away and approximates a seventeen minute travel time. “How is this even possible?” Stiles whines to his dashboard. The map on the display shows passing the 405 isn’t even a valid halfway point right now.
Stiles grabs his phone, dialing the number Peter gave him. It rings and rings, and Peter finally picks up with a cool, “Stiles! Good to hear from you. Looking forward to seeing you soon, I hope?”
“Yeah, about that, I severely underestimated the power of L.A. traffic,” Stiles says aplogetically. “There’s no way I’m going to make it to the studio on time at this rate, I am so sorry.”
“Are you driving?” Peter asks curiously.
“Yeah, it’s something us plebeians do, we all don’t have private planes, you know,” Stiles retorts. “And, you’re on speaker, if you’re worried for my safety. But I’m pretty sure that was a thinly veiled insult.”
Peter just chuckles. “Where are you now?”
“Um, still on the 101?” Stiles reads off the nearest exit sign.
“Ah, don’t bother coming into town, we’re already on our way out. I was just going to bring you up to the house anyways so you can get settled. Take the Mulholland Drive exit, that should be soon.” Peter gives him an address and a few directions that Stiles quickly memorizes, wishes him well, and hangs up.
Luckily the exit is only a mile away, and Stiles drives off the freeway in relief. He’s in Malibu, apparently, or something like that, his GPS is a little confused (it’s old) and is trying to update his current location. Mulholland Drive winds away and up into green, green hills, and Stiles follows the road, climbing higher and higher, following Peter’s directions, turning off on another road until he comes to what looks like a large grassy field and an ornate gate framing a driveway leading into it.
Stiles looks at the gate curiously; well, the numbers match the address Peter gave him anyway. He turns Roscoe onto the driveway, tires making a crunchy nose on the decorative gravel. A security camera points in his direction, and there is what looks like an intercom button.
Stiles presses it. “Hello?” he calls out. “Um, I’m Stiles Stilinski, I was told to meet here--”
There’s no response, but after a moment the gate swivels open.
Stiles just shrugs and continues on ahead. The drive is gorgeous; it’s at least a mile or more, threading through an expanse of grassy field, wildflowers and trees. Stiles even thinks he sees a deer sprinting away from the sound of his Jeep.
He lets out a low whistle as he approaches the house at the top of the hill; it’s gorgeous, all terracotta and red tiles, with a bougainvillea overflowing a terraced porch.
The door opens and a man steps out, wearing a three-piece suit and a dour expression. “You must be Mr. Stilinski,” he says primly. “I am Reginald, the head of the household staff here.”
“Whoa,” Stiles says, biting back a laugh. This is hilarious, it’s so cliche. “You have an English accent. You’re totally a British butler.”
Reginald purses his lips, but doesn’t respond. “If you hand me your keys, I will move your vehicle to the parking garage after I show you to your room. Mr. Hale and Mr. Hale will be arriving shortly.”
“Wait up,” Stiles says, “Nobody drives my baby Roscoe.” He pats his steering wheel fondly. “Just show me where it’s at and I’ll be good to go.”
“Very well,” Reginald says. Stiles follows him, driving along slowly around the house until they reach a underground garage. His Jeep looks pretty shabby compared to the gorgeous cars already parked inside. There’s a red Bentley, a beautiful little silver Aston Martin, a sleek black Camaro, and not to mention three different motorcycles.
Stiles parks in a spot that Reginald directs him to, and he leaps out of the Jeep, stretching, heart thrumming with excitement. He didn’t expect to actually be living with the Hales, right in the lap of luxury, he’d figured they’d stick him in a shitty apartment somewhere.
“If you’ll follow me,” Reginald says, and he walks swiftly ahead, hands clasped delicately behind his back.
Stiles trails after him as they enter the house, marvelling at the wide open rooms, the bright, sunny decor and the wall-to-wall glass windows that show a brilliant view of the ocean. They walk through long hallways and up a gorgeous oak staircase to the second floor, where Reginald leads him down another hallway and into a sumptuous bedroom.
“Wow,” Stiles says, looking at the king-sized bed.
“Mr. Hale did not send me any information on dietary restrictions or food preferences, but I can take them now. Would you like any refreshments at this time?”
“Oh, I’m good, dude,” Stiles says, flopping immediately into the bed. It feels like he’s floating away onto a warm cloud.
“Feel free to wander about the house, just keep in mind the east wing is private. I will be fetching your things now. It was nice to meet you, Mr. Stilinski,” Reginald says, bowing slightly.
Stiles gives him an appreciative nod, and waits until Reginald leaves the room to bounce excitedly in the bed. He rolls around in the soft sheets for a bit, then takes a quick tour of his room; he’s got his own ensuite bathroom, a fantastic window view of the grounds below; Stiles can even see the ocean’s waves repeatedly roll onto a small shore, far far below them.
He springs out of the bed giddily, eager to explore the rest of the house.
Stiles wanders back downstairs, walking through a room with well-stocked entertainment system furnished every gaming console imaginable, shaking his head to himself. He should take a picture of these digs for Scott to wonder at later.
He takes a right and ends up outside on a huge deck. There’s a sparkling pool that runs right up to the edge of the cliff, giving the illusion of dropping into the sky.
There’s also a person floating in the pool. A curly-haired guy wearing a pair of sunglasses and green board shorts, reclining on an inflatable raft, who looked up just as Stiles stepped outside.
“Hey,” the guy says, smiling. “You must be the new guy.”
“Er, yeah. I’m Stiles,” Stiles says, as the guy looks him over, pulling his sunglasses down. Stiles briefly wonders if everyone in Hollywood he’s going to meet is going to be insanely attractive, the guy has sharp cheekbones and a toned chest, and dimples a little when he smiles.
“I’m Isaac,” he says, drifting his raft over to the edge of the pool, paddling a bit with his hands. Isaac wipes his hand on his bare torso, offering it to Stiles for a handshake.
“Do you live here?” Stiles asks casually, sitting down by the poolside. He takes off his shoes and socks, dangling his feet in the water, which feels amazing after a day’s drive.
“Yep,” Isaac says brightly.
Stiles briefly wonders if Isaac is also an employee, or maybe a friend, but figures it’s the type of information better offered than asked. He leans backward, letting his head fall back and gazes at the bright blue sky.
“You’re not going to ask?” Isaac blurts out suddenly.
“Which Hale I’m fucking?”
Stiles almost falls into the pool. “Is that what people normally ask when they meet you?” he asks when he regains his balance.
Isaac snorts. “Pretty much,” he says. He gives Stiles a curious look. “You didn’t think that?”
“Nah,” Stiles replies, and he earns himself another smile, and Isaac props himself up on the raft, flicking his curls out of his face.
“I’ve been with the Hales since I was twelve,” Isaac says. “Derek used to coach my Little League team, and he, ah, got me out a bad family situation.” He shrugs noncommittally, and Stiles notices there are faint scars running up his arms, small circles, the same size of a cigarette butt.
“Oh,” Stiles says, a chill running down his spine. Fuck, everytime he learns something new about Derek, he just--
“Hey, are you hungry? Maggie makes the best pizza. She does this thing with pesto that’s just ridiculously amazing.” Isaac flops off the raft, wading over to the edge of the pool.
“I love pizza,” Stiles says, feeling pretty good so far at Day One in the Hale household. It feels like he’s on a step towards making a new friend, at least.
Water sluices off of Isaac as he drags himself out of the pool, shorts dripping with the weight of the water as he walks back towards the house. The shorts are dragging low on his hips, revealing what looks like a soulmark on Isaac’s lower back.
Stiles freezes, catching a glimpse of it before Isaac pulls the shorts back up-- and there’s no mistaking it, because he’s seen that exact wolf before. On Allison’s shoulder, actually.
It is my headcanon that Beacon Hills is in Northern California, north of Redding somewhere. Stiles makes a two-day trip of it because he wanted to take the scenic route.
Also, the 405 freeway is the Joffrey of all the freeways. That particular junction area sucks.
Isaac dries himself off with a fluffy towel, rumpling up his hair as he opens the glass door. He props it open, turning back to Stiles, who’s still sitting shell-shocked by the pool. “You coming or what?”
“Yeah, I-- I’m coming,” Stiles says, standing up and following him inside.
The kitchen is large and spacious, all granite countertops and sleek silver appliances, with a cheery woman with purple hair pulling a delicious-smelling pizza out of the oven. She grins at them. “And you’re the fresh meat! Welcome. I’m Maggie, resident chef. Got any food allergies, dietary restrictions?”
“Nope,” Stiles says. “Everything is fair game for me.” He watches as she grabs a pizza cutter out of a drawer and begins deftly slicing through the pizza with gusto.
Isaac grabs a piece of bacon off the pizza, popping it into his mouth surreptitiously, but Maggie catches him, playfully brandishing the pizza cutter at him, the blade spinning lazily in the air.
“You stop that,” she admonishes him. “Guests first.” Fat slices are spread out onto plates, the crust gleaming with cheese and overladen with bacon, pesto, mushrooms, and chicken. “Stiles, right? What kind of name is that?”
“An awesome one, it is,” Stiles says, blowing on his slice and snickering a little after seeing Isaac grab his and then jerk his fingers back, wincing. “My actual name is Polish and practically unpronounceable, and as a kid I just started going by Stiles instead and it just stuck.”
“Cool,” Maggie says, and then starts bustling about, colorful hair bobbing as she pulls out even more ingredients from the refrigerator and various cupboards.
“Are you making more food?” Stiles asks incredulously.
“Yep. Snack,” Maggie jerks her head towards the pizza, and then back towards the counter. “Dinner.”
The first bite of the pizza is incredible-- the perfect blend of cheese and savory, basil goodness and Stiles just groans with appreciation, savoring the juxtaposition of the crunchy bacon to the melting cheese to the perfect crispy crust. Next to him, Isaac has already finished his slice and is piling more onto his plate. He eats with gusto, talking around a full bite. “ ‘S good, isn’t it?” Isaac says, eyes twinkling merrily.
Stiles nods. He seems nice enough, and if it were anyone else’s mark, anyone at all, he would have been happy to make that move, do the thing people always dream about, that ‘hey guess who I found for you’ call that ends in that happy-ever-after for a friend of theirs. It’s a common thing among friends or family, people close enough to know your personal soulmark, and usually spotting a match means excitedly letting someone know immediately.
It’s just Allison is engaged to Scott and Stiles knows for a fact how in love they are, knows it down to his very bones how happy they are together, how they bring out the best in each other.
All Stiles has to do is… nothing. Absolutely nothing. There’s no way he’s going to tell her, not a chance.
It’s not like Allison is ever going to meet Isaac by chance, anyways. At least not if Stiles has anything to do with it.
Stiles is drawn out of his thoughts when the kitchen door opens and in walks Peter and Derek Hale.
“Stiles! Good to see you made it. And you’ve sampled Maggie’s fine cooking already, excellent, excellent,” Peter says.
Stiles stands up abruptly, swallowing the mouthful of pizza quickly and wiping his greasy mouth with a napkin. This was not the impression he wanted to make on his soulmate--no, his new boss-- on the first try. “Nice to meet you both in person,” he says, stepping back and holding his right hand out. In his haste to back away from the kitchen counter, though, the half-eaten pizza slice he's trying to set down doesn’t quite make it back to his plate and instead falls onto his shirt, the toppings sticking to the fabric and sliding obnoxiously down until the slice flops pathetically to the kitchen floor.
Stiles can feel his face turn red with embarrassment. “I, um, I’m so sorry,” he blurts, reaching for some napkins to pick up the mess.
Peter just laughs and Derek doesn’t react at all, just takes his hand and shakes it anyway. “Don’t worry about it,” Derek says. “It’s good to meet you in person.”
The handshake is warm and firm, and yeah, Stiles has seen all Derek Hale’s eyes before on the big screen, in all their closeup glory, figuring those ridiculous colors were a post-production effect of the movies, but standing in front of him, Stiles can see that it’s clearly not. It’s like looking into a microcosm of green, gold and blue, a miniature galaxy dancing in slight amusement.
Derek’s smiling at him, and Stiles feels-- he feels strange, a little lightheaded and he lets go of Derek’s hand. It’s just his imagination, Stiles tells himself, the warmth sparking from his fingertips and running through his veins. He’s just dehydrated and tired after that long drive and his brain is making up these things, right, a placebo effect, that’s all it is, because Stiles knows Derek is his soulmate therefore his body is already doing everything he thinks it should.
It’s not anything.
Derek gives him a curious look, but nothing more, and then takes a napkin and starts dabbing at Stiles’ shirt. “You know, if you get this in the wash right away it won’t be ruined,” he says, fingers brushing across the fabric slightly, nudging Stiles’ shirt up as Derek tries to clean it.
Stiles jerks back, yanking his shirt back down and backing away. “Yeah, I-- I’ll just go get changed.” He darts into the hallway, making his way towards his room. He can still hear them from the kitchen, just faintly enough.
“Derek, stop trying to undress your new assistant in the kitchen,” Peter drawls, and Maggie and Isaac both laugh.
There’s a huff, probably from Derek, and he says “I’m not--”
“I know you’re not, that’s why it’s funny,” Maggie responds. “Pizza?”
Stiles can’t hear them by the time he gets upstairs. He takes off the stained shirt, eyeing his soulmark in the mirror critically. The raven looks impassively back at him in the reflection.
“You are never gonna see the light of day, buddy,” he tells his mark.
All his things from his car have already been brought into his room, and his clothes have even been unpacked and folded neatly into drawers or are hanging in the closet. Stiles grabs another shirt and yanks it on, bounding back downstairs.
The kitchen is empty except for Maggie, who is chopping vegetables at a rapid pace. “Derek said to meet in his study,” she says brightly.
“Thanks,” Stiles says. “Where is that?”
Maggie points towards the door to her right. “This hallway, third door on the left.”
Stiles follows her directions and finds himself in a gorgeous library, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves overflowing with books, and fat squashy couches that would be perfect for lounging in and enjoying a good read.
Derek’s sitting at a polished desk, frowning at a computer. “Hey, Stiles,” he says.
“Hey. Sorry about that mess earlier.”
“Don’t worry about it. Are you settling in alright?”
It’s absolutely not adorable when Derek leans forward, resting his chin in his hands, contemplating.
“Yeah. Room’s great,” Stiles says.
Derek pulls out a chair next to him, patting it. “Alright, this is my schedule that Peter worked out for the next two months, you can work on familiarizing yourself with that.” He explains the different duties Stiles would have, from everything from scheduling and keeping Derek on track on his day-to-day activities to any personal errands Derek might need. There’s a lot to take in, but Derek answers all of Stiles’ questions easily.
“Since Peter’s my agent, he handles most of my casting, but people do send in scripts for consideration through to the address that’s listed with the studio,” Derek says. “Right now, though, it’s practically impossible, because that address was leaked a week ago.”
Derek turns and points out a huge stack of boxes that Stiles hadn’t noticed when he first walked into the room.
“I’m sorry to pile all this on you, on your first day and all, but don’t stress out over trying to go through all of it. Just try and do what you can, make a decent dent.”
Stiles opens the first box; it’s filled with packages and letters. He picks one up gingerly. “So these are supposed to be movie scripts, but they’re…”
“Any actual scripts you find, set them aside. Everything else is soulmate stuff.”
“Right,” Stiles says. “And what do you want me do with those?”
Derek’s expression darkens. “Put them right where they belong. In the trash.”
Stiles blinks, holding onto the fat envelope in his hand. He waves it in the air in front of Derek uncertainly. “Um, you sure? You don’t want to look at any of them?”
“No,” Derek says, his face closed off.
“Not even on the chance that--”
“No,” Derek repeats. “Look, all these propositions with letters and gifts and whatever, there’s no way…” he trails off.
Stiles jumps in with what he thinks would be the right thing to say.
“Yeah, it seems like a daunting task. I mean, you can’t confirm a match from a photograph, not without meeting them in person and you touch each others marks, and even that experience is subjective. It feels different for everyone, you know, but you know what they say: you’ll know it for sure when it happens.” Stiles is about to optimistically offer to go through all the letters, just to see if Derek will elaborate any more of his opinions on soulmates, when Derek speaks.
“It sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Did you already find yours?” he asks, in that curious almost-flirtatious voice that people normally use when asking about other’s relationship status.
Stiles almost drops the envelope. “I--ah--no,” he says quickly. “No, absolutely single, that’s me,” he says.
Derek shoots him a curious look, but he doesn’t say anything about Stiles’ apparent reaction. “Well, I’m pretty sure these are all fakes, anyway. Just find the scripts and get rid of the rest.”
It takes Stiles three hours to make his way through half the boxes; he has multiple papercuts on his fingers and he’s incredibly tired. Stiles has found only two scripts and feels like he’s looked through hundreds of propositions-- seeing repetitive photographs with his soulmark doctored onto people’s bodies is a little disarming, but he manages. Some of the letters are funny, and they range from polite and earnest to downright scary.
Stiles makes a pile for evidence with all the ones that strike him the wrong way, just in case any of these people contact Derek again and to make sure his security knows their names.
Stiles is almost done with this box when he sees familiar handwriting on an envelope. He opens it curiously, pulling the letter out. A photograph falls on the floor and Stiles freezes. It’s a shot of himself, standing on the lakeshore in the Beacon Hills Preserve in his swim trunks, grinning up at the camera. His raven mark stands out on his hip.
The letter reads, Dear Mr. Derek Hale, my name is Heather McKinnon and I’m not writing to you for myself, but on behalf of a good friend of mine…
Stiles is skimming through the letter when the door opens and Peter walks in, humming a jaunty tune. “Oh, good, you haven’t thrown these out yet,” he says to Stiles, who immediately clutches the photo and Heather’s letter to his chest.
“Um, no? It’s just in a pile. And these you might want these here to give to your security team,” Stiles nudges the danger pile towards Peter.
“Ah, good thinking,” Peter says. “I know my nephew may have instructed you to throw away all of these propositions from potential soulmark candidates, but I’m going to need you to set them aside. At least the ones that look reasonable.”
Stiles narrows his eyes. “Derek wanted them thrown out.”
Peter cocks his head. “Well, you work for Hale Talents, and guess who the executive director of the agency is? Why, that’s me.” He clicks his tongue a little and steps closer, and Stiles’s heart begins to hammer rapidly, knowing he’s holding photographic proof in his hands that he is Derek’s soulmate. “I only have my nephew’s best interests at heart,” Peter says. “And while Derek might say he has no interest in dating someone who bears a fake mark now, it’s always a good thing to have this potential resource in mind.”
Stiles backs up a little, hoping maybe he could slide his photo and Heather’s letter surreptitiously at the bottom the the pile without Peter noticing. “What makes you think they’re all fake? Wouldn’t it be possible his soulmate is in there somewhere?” Stiles asks.
“Ah, let me let you in on a little secret. It’s terrible really, tragic.” Peter flings an arm around Stiles’ shoulder, speaking in a low conspiratorial whisper. “Derek’s soulmate is dead.”
Stiles narrows his eyes. “Why are you telling me this?” He knows that Peter is lying to him, but what does Peter have to gain from telling this fact to Derek’s new assistant?
Peter pats him on the shoulder, and Stiles jerks away from the touch. “Well, it may take Derek some time to warm up to you, and he probably won’t tell you. It happened so long ago, and they were both so very young.” Peter sighs a little here, like he’s deeply affected. Stiles might be a little intrigued and flattered that he’s being trusted with this information, if he were a young ingenue who didn’t actually know that Peter was straight up lying to him.
As it is, Stiles just makes a little neutral “mm” noise and tries to slip Heather’s letter and photo of him under the stack while Peter is looking out the window.
“I just wanted to give you some advice,” Peter says, turning around. “You might get ideas since you’re working on this little mail project of yours, but I’ll have you know Derek is very sensitive about the soulmate issue. Doesn’t like to be reminded about it, and of course in the past few weeks with this whole photograph mess, well. You can see how it might put him in a mood. He and Paige were very close, you know.”
“Oh.” Stiles doesn’t know what to say.
Peter’s voice drifts off, like he’s reconstructing some hazy memory. “Derek confided to me that Paige was the best thing that happened to him. Opened his eyes to this bright new world; he’d never thought about acting before her. Did you know his first acting role was guest starring on her TV show?”
Stiles shakes his head. He doesn’t have a complete history of Derek’s IMDB profile memorized at all, barely knows what Derek did as a teenager before he became “the” Derek Hale.
“She got blinded by the fast lifestyle, got in with a bad crowd. Dragged Derek along with her, but of course he only had eyes for Paige in all the fuss. They were at a party, and both were high as a kite on different things, only Paige had a bad dose of whatever it was. She died in his arms, you know.”
“That’s terrible,” Stiles says sincerely, heart going out to teenage Derek who had to wake up from a high to be holding the corpse of his dead girlfriend.
Peter sighs. “That’s life, I guess. We make the most of things. Derek was so inspired by her. Still is, you know. He threw himself into his career, works himself to the bone.” Peter turns away from the window, running his fingers along the edge of one of the piles of letters and things. The pile that has the photograph of Stiles wedged underneath it, the corner just sticking out, Stiles’ lower torso with his soulmark and half his face in open view.
Peter pats the top of the pile, looking straight at Stiles, who keeps the eye contact steady, hoping he doesn’t look down. “I’m telling you this because I care. Derek may want you to throw all these propositions out, but one day he’s going to change his mind, and I’d like to be able to have complete dossiers on the best of these people to present to him.”
“Right, okay, sure,” Stiles says. He just wants Peter to leave so he can get rid of the evidence.
“That’s the spirit,” Peter smiles. “Remember, you’re Derek’s assistant, but you work for Hale Talents.”
Stiles nods jerkily.
Peter taps his fingers, dancing them along the edge of the box as he walks away from the desk. He smiles at Stiles, who gives him a bland smile back.
As soon as Peter is gone Stiles yanks his photo and Heather’s letter out of the pile. He spots an electronic shredder in the corner of the room and turns it on, feeding the photo and the letter through until they’re shredded all to bits. Stiles grabs all the slivers of paper, yanking them out of the trash bin underneath the shredder, just to be absolutely sure.
He walks out of the study, looking down the hallway to make sure it’s empty before he runs for-- he doesn’t know where he’s going. Stiles is pretty sure people go through celebrities’ trash all the time, but this property looks really secure.
He makes his way through the house, figuring he could just divide up the strips and put them in separate trash cans, but then he sees it-- out on the deck by the pool is an large firepit with short flames flickering in the center of the stone circle, coals gleaming bright orange. There isn’t anyone outside, so Stiles just slips out the door, pieces of paper and photograph in his hands. He scatters them in the fire quickly, but one of the strips slices into his palm in stinging papercut.
Stiles winces, yanking the piece of letter away. He can read what it says in Heather’s flowery handwriting: Stiles may be unorthodox, sure, but he’s dependable, loyal to a fault, and true--
The next bit is ripped off, and Stiles can guess Heather probably wrote “true to his word.”
Stiles definitely doesn’t feel like he’s living up to her description of him right now; if she were here she’d probably tell him to go tell Derek why he’s here immediately.
“Sorry, Heather,” Stiles says to the pile of paper strips in his hands.
Whatever he’s doing here so far, it seems like Derek Hale does not want to know about any soulmate, real or not.
Stiles watches the flames eat at the paper, the photograph burning bright neon colors as it curls and then disintegrates into ash.
There’s the sound of the door sliding behind him. Stiles turns around to see Derek walking onto the patio, two beers in his hands. “Hey, there you are,” he says. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good,” Stiles says. “Just wanted some air.”
“I figured it was time for a break. You like IPA’s?”
Stiles nods, and Derek hands him the beer; cold beads of condensation meet his palm and the glass is pleasantly cool against the warm California evening. Derek clinks his bottle against Stiles’ but then they both realize the caps are still on.
“Oh, I should have brought an opener with me from the kitchen,” Derek says. “No worries, watch this.” Derek places one of his hands around Stiles’ holding the bottle in place, and then he neatly takes his own bottle, tilting it so the cap is wedged underneath Stiles’ bottlecap, and then there’s a quick snap of his wrist and the Stiles’ bottlecap flies off.
Derek grins at him with obvious pride, and he looks-- he looks a lot younger, not at all like the glossy man featured on posters and blockbusters, and this little earnest gesture just makes him seem like a real person, vulnerable and looking for validation.
Stiles feels warm all over by the time Derek takes his hand off of his, and he feels a sudden jolt of longing that he doesn’t know quite what to do with.
“Thank you,” he manages to say.
“Thank you,” Derek responds. “Welcome to the team. You go ahead and start yours, I’ll go get the opener from inside.”
Stiles takes a sip of the beer, realizing this isn’t a joke-- probably hasn’t been a joke since he decided to move himself to the other side of the state. And it’s not a soulmates thing, Stiles is sure-- he just likes Derek, at least what he knows of him so far. Stiles doesn’t know how much influence Peter’s had on Derek’s life-- probably a lot-- and isn’t sure how positive it’s been.
Stiles surprises himself by how much he wants to do a good job here, to improve Derek’s life somehow.
The sun is setting in the hills, streaks of color dancing across the sky: purples, golds, reds, blues. Stiles has never seen anything like it and is still gaping when Derek comes back with his own open beer. He clinks his glass against Stiles’ and stares up at the sky appreciatively with him.
“It’s the smog,” Derek says. “Pollution is terrible, but the side effect can be quite gorgeous.”
Stiles hums in agreement.
“Hey, what’s this?” Derek asks, peering into the fire. There’s a slip of paper that didn’t quite catch, and he fishes it out.
Stiles is terrified for a good second and then breathes a little sigh of relief when just the words incredible person are legible on it.
“You said get rid of the sou--stuff that wasn’t scripts.” Stiles manages a disaffected shrug.
Derek looks at him for a moment with shocked expression and says, “And you burned-- oh my God, Stiles!” His face breaks into a bright grin and he laughs, the mirth rocking his body. “You burned them. That’s amazing. I had a feeling about you, Stiles. I think we’re going to work really well together.”
Derek hands Stiles the little charred piece of paper.
Stiles flicks it back into the fire, smiling, and as it spins lazily in the air he catches the words on the other side: Stiles has such a huge capacity for love.
For a heartstopping moment Stiles thinks Derek is looking right at it too, but then the slip of paper gets caught in the flames, and it curls in on itself until only the word love is visible, until that too catches fire.
“Cheers,” Derek says, clinking his beer bottle against Stiles’ own beer.
We're going to pretend Stiles shredded the letter the long way round.
Also, the smoggy-sunset thing is true. It can be very, very pretty. Lots of particles in the air= more color bouncing around. The opening a beer bottle with another beer bottle is also a real thing, but it requires some...arm strength.
Oh, and @mecurtion who said "Peter seems oddly sane so far" .... Peter warning, like in canon, the Paige story is told with an unreliable narrator. True things are that Paige died of a drug overdose and that she and Derek were close what....? You'll find out later from Derek what happened, but you can probably figure what manipulations Peter was doing. (Maybe?)
Working for Derek actually is interesting and challenging. Aside from any tasks Derek thinks up for him, Stiles mostly handles the phone, which hardly ever stops ringing. Derek Hale is in high demand, even when he’s not filming. People in the industry pitching casting ideas or their own screenplays, personal assistants of other stars ringing in to schedule in social time. The thrill about talking to the “people” of famous directors and other Hollywood stars when he’s working on scheduling Derek soon wears off, and Stiles keeps busy, scheduling Derek as best he can.
Stiles at first thought he was pretty much going to be a glorified secretary, but Derek asks him for his thoughts on well, pretty much everything from potential scripts to recipe ideas for Maggie to his outfit choices.
Derek is lounging in his study going through some potential scripts while Stiles is still going through the seemingly neverending soulmate propositions.
“Hey,” Derek says curiously, “Do you know who Kyle Rayner is?” He’s holding up a script that has GREEN LANTERN emblazoned on the cover, and Stiles nearly faints with delight.
“Oh my God, yes! I mean I suspected they were planning to make a new movie to try and get past that Ryan Reynolds disaster, seriously, yes, that would be amazing!” Stiles exclaims, grabbing the script excitedly and flipping through it. He immediately launches into a long-winded speech about all the different Green Lanterns, how amazing Kyle is, growing up with a single mom and being a struggling artist. “He’s the best Green Lantern, in my opinion, you know, he was chosen not because of his strong will or whatever, but because of his ability to overcome fear. Plus, Kyle has the best butt of all the Green Lanterns.” Stiles is midway through a rant about how amazing a reboot would be when Stiles realizes it’s his first week on the job and he just grabbed the thing right out of Derek’s hands and proceeded to fanboy all over him. And he talked about Derek’s butt. Well, indirectly.
“Um,” Stiles says, handing the script back nervously. “Sorry, I just got really excited about it,” he says sheepishly.
Derek is looking at him with amusement. “No, it’s totally cool. I’ve never had a P.A. who actually knew comic stuff. I like that you’re excited about it, I’m kind of excited about it now. I didn’t really know who Kyle Raynor was, but he sounds like a cool guy according to you. I think I’m going to tell them yes. But first you should tell me more about the character, I don’t really feel like reading this right now, and it’s more fun listening to you.”
So this is how Stiles ends up talking DC universes with Derek for two hours, until both their stomachs growl and Derek laughs and drags him downstairs for another amazing lunch (pulled pork sandwiches in a tangy barbeque sauce, topped with grilled pineapple and homemade potato chips).
Since the Green Lantern script incident Derek has started asking more and more for Stiles’ opinions, and Stiles tests his boundaries, joking and sharing the most ridiculous thoughts-- and Derek seems to find it all interesting every time.
Stiles tries to tell himself it’s just that Derek’s nice, and their personalities mesh well, but he can’t help but wonder at the way their conversations ebb and flow, how easy it is to talk to him. Derek actually seems genuinely interested in Stiles as a person, too, listening to all his stories about Beacon Hills and asking for updates on Scott’s and Allison’s wedding plans.
It’s nice, being friends. Not that many people can say that they’re friends with their boss. And Stiles is happy being friends, being busy, being productive. Derek likes it a lot that Stiles manages his schedule without Peter’s influence, and Stiles deliberately keeps him from some of Peter’s more questionable marketing plans.
Today on the schedule is something called ICLL, something that Stiles had noticed shows up on Derek’s calendar on the last Friday of every month. Derek seems extremely excited about it. “I can’t wait for everyone to meet you, you’re gonna love it,” Derek says.
“It’s this non-profit I founded a few years ago, it’s the Inner-City Little League, and every month I go back to the starting chapter and play ball with the kids,” Derek says.
Oh, it’s that charity. The images of Derek posing with a bunch of smiling kids wearing matching t-shirts fly through his head, courtesy of Stiles’ Google search from when he was looking up information about him. He’s definitely curious about it, interested in seeing what Derek will be like with the kids.
“Sounds good,” Stiles says. He texts Amy, the driver to ready the car, watching Derek get ready. He’s flitting about the room, grabbing boxes from a supply closet and handing them to Stiles to hold. “What’s this?” Stiles asks, craning his head.
“New uniforms,” Derek says proudly, “And also some souvenirs and stuff I picked up for them the last time I was filming in Bali.”
The box is heavy, and Stiles helps Derek carry three of them to the car.
“Ready to go, boss?” Amy asks, tucking a strand of honey-brown hair behind her ear.
“Just about,” Derek says. “Stiles, can you get the last box? I think it’s in my bedroom.”
“Sure,” Stiles says, darting back in the house as Amy asks Derek about his new filming plans.
He makes his way to the east wing of the house for the first time, wondering if he should have asked Derek for directions. Stiles shies away from the hallway that looks ornately decorated with gray tones and hard, polished furniture that doesn’t quite match the rest of the house; his gut instinct tells him that’s Peter’s domain and he wants nothing to do with it.
The next hallway is warmer, bright woods and a few colorful paintings, and Stiles walks down curiously, making his way to the master bedroom.
It’s absolutely gorgeous, which huge bay windows that look out towards the ocean as well, and Stiles chances a peek; he can see the backyard and the pool and the entire west side of the house-- hey, wait, is that--?
Stiles colors a little, well shit, now he knows Derek’s bedroom has a full view of his own bedroom window. He tries to remember if he’s done anything embarrassing, but can’t come up with anything past his impromptu Spice Girls dance that he does every now and then. And it’s not like Derek would have heard the music, anyways, so it’s not that big of deal. Plus, even if Derek heard him, Stiles has no shame about his music tastes and the need to get his groove on. He'll just have to be careful and check to make sure the curtains are shut before he changes or anything.
The last box of souvenirs is sitting on Derek’s bed, which is a massive four-poster with dark green sheets and at least ten (Stiles isn’t counting) fluffy pillows at the head of it. Stiles entertains a brief image of Derek curling up around multiple pillows in his head, and it’s adorable. He shakes his head a little; Derek isn’t supposed to be adorable, this thought process is ridiculous.
Stiles can’t resist running a hand down the coverlet, just to see how soft it is-- and yeah, it’s the same ridiculously high threadcount that’s on his own bed, and since he’s here he might as well-- Stiles sits on the edge, bouncing a little, pleased to feel the soft give.
It doesn’t mean anything, he’s just curious, that’s all, interested in checking out his luxurious surroundings--
“Well, well, what have we here.”
Peter is leaning against the open doorway, giving him a calculating look.
Stiles jumps up from the bed immediately, grabbing the box.
“Derek told me to get this for him,” Stiles says, jerking his head towards the box.
“And you were imagining yourself in his bed,” Peter says slowly, pretending to be fascinated by imaginary dirt under his nails.
Stiles feels his insides run cold. He walks towards the door. “Excuse me,” he says, tightlipped.
Peter doesn’t move, just glances at the space between him and the doorframe.
Stiles doesn’t have time for whatever game this is. Derek’s downstairs, and Stiles doesn’t want to make them late for those kids. He squeezes past Peter, avoiding touching him by just a hair.
“You know, if you want Derek--” Peter starts in a thoughtful tone.
“I don’t,” Stiles says, turning around and shooting Peter a harsh glare. “And even if I did, it wouldn’t be your place to offer him, now would it? Whatever you’re going to say, or promise-- I don’t care if you’re his agent or his uncle, you can’t do that.”
For a brief second Stiles thinks he’s crossed a line, that Peter’s going to fire him right then and there and this whole venture will be for naught, but then Peter just raises an eyebrow and gives him a smirk.
“Ah, so you have some bite, after all,” Peter says, as if amused by the challenge.
Stiles huffs. “Whatever, man,” he said, darting down the hallway where he knows Derek and what looks like a fun afternoon is waiting for him.
Next chapter: Stiles follows Derek to his first charity Little League game, and there’s some movie stuff. Stiles getting used to the routines of the house, learning the job, learning Derek— there’s a lot of little mundane domestic things, and lots of food. Descriptions of food. Them eating the food. Also baking a pizza together.
There's a bit near the end, that if reading it feels familiar, it's because I cannibalized one of my own drabbles from Tumblr and used it again because I liked it so much.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stiles is exhausted, he doesn’t know how Derek does it. He looks over to the man who’s still smiling, practically beaming as one of the boys jumps onto his back, and Derek piggybacks him around indulgently.
It’s a small, private affair, which is nice since Stiles had been worried that there might be crowds. But apparently entrance to the game had been restricted only to parents and friends of the Little Leaguers. Derek had explained to him in the car that press or fans aren’t allowed at these games, only the championship one at the end of the season where they try to raise money for next year.
Stiles is still amazed he got to sit back with Derek for a few hours in the bleachers, talking about anything and everything, watching the game, eating hot dogs smothered in chili. Derek had even listened to Stiles ramble about Scott and his dad and Beacon Hills.
Derek is almost a completely different person with the kids-- just completely open and unguarded in a way he isn’t even at his own home. He laughs at their jokes, braids Jessica’s hair and then tucks it back in her cap, and helps tie Bobby’s shoes.
The game’s been over for an hour and they’re still on the field, Derek long having abandoned his cheering post on the bleachers and now apparently caught up in a game of tag.
“Stiles, Stiles!” Bobby runs up to him. “You should come play with us, it’s not fair the other team already has a grownup, we need one too!”
Stiles gets off his seat, dragged by the hand onto the field for a complex game of tag (there are teams and safe zones and three different freeze positions). It’s absolutely ridiculous, and Stiles races around the baseball field with the kids, out of breath, until he convinces his team to gang up on Derek. It’s definitely a sight to see, three kids surrounding Derek, laughing, perpetually keeping him in a “frozen” position, Derek pretending to succumb to their attacks and freezing in silly positions. While this is going on, Stiles’ team freezes all of the other players on Derek’s team and they win.
Derek’s relaxed and happy the entire car ride back, and he even teases Stiles a little about practicing with the kids.
“Maybe next time,” Stiles says.
“You could pitch, I bet you’d be good at it,” Derek remarks, and Stiles nearly trips over his own feet.
The next day Maggie sets out a bunch of ingredients and some pre-made dough for pizza. “What’s all this?” Stiles asks, looking at the array of sauces on the stove and toppings spread out in the kitchen counters.
“Thought I’d let all of you make your own custom pies today, since I figure Derek’s gonna want to gorge before he starts his diet for his new role,” Maggie says.
“Awesome,” Stiles says. “He on his way back?”
“My wife just texted me that she’s on her way from the massage parlor with Derek now,” Maggie says while shredding a block of cheese into an already generous pile in a bowl.
“You and Amy are just the cutest ever,” Stiles says, stealing a piece of pepperoni off a plate and plopping into his mouth, savoring it.
Maggie grins. “Aw, thanks. I’m just happy Derek hired us both, you know? I had just met her by chance when I got the chef job, and Amy was still driving taxi’s at the time, and no way I wanted to live on the other side of town from her when I just found my soulmate. Derek was really nice about it, gave her the job rightaway.”
“So he’s into the whole soulmate thing?” Stiles asks cautiously.
Maggie sets down the wedge of cheddar, tilting her head a little. “Well, I’ve worked for him for two years, I can definitely say he’s empathetic. At least where Amy and I were concerned,” she says, shrugging. “I don’t think he’s ever really voiced an extreme opinion about it either way. It’s a right shame the paparazzi got that shot of his mark, though. Poor boy’s been through enough as it is. You’ve been sorting through all those proposals of his, right?”
“Yeah,” Stiles says.
“Good thing, Derek doesn’t need another fake mark breaking his heart again,” Maggie says, clucking her lips.
“That Kate Argent character did quite a number on him,” Maggie muses.
Stiles thinks quickly. “Ah, they were engaged, right?”
Maggie scoffs, picking up a fat ball of mozzarella and begins shredding it with her fingers viciously. “For a right hot second. She played him right up until she got what she wanted, film industry connections, interviews, meetups with directors, all of it; and then when she got fired she blamed it all on him, broke it off and sold the whole story to the tabloids.” Maggie picks up another ball of cheese and quickly tears it to pieces deftly, and Stiles makes a quick note never to cross her.
Maggie looks up and gives him a smile. “I’m glad you’re looking out for him,” she says.
“Thanks,” Stiles says. “I’ve got to get back to sorting out Derek’s mail-- let me know when the pizza making extravaganza starts?”
“Sure thing,” Maggie says with a grin.
Stiles heads into the study where his laptop is still open, Pandora on and just shifting into a new song.
He’s almost done looking through the boxes, just has two more to go through. Stiles is halfway through one when the familiar Skype ringtone starts to boop beep boop beep from Stiles’ laptop.
Stiles clicks ‘accept call’ and waves at the screen. “Hey, Ally, what’s up?” he asks.
“Not much, just the usual,” Allison says, and they chat idly for a few minutes while Stiles adds more letters to his reject pile. It’s pleasant having her in the background, and when she starts talking about wedding plans again, Stiles nods and lets her rant out her frustrations with the caterer.
“Hey Stiles, do you mind giving me a hand real quick?” Maggie calls from the kitchen.
“Sure thing!” Stiles yells back.
“Hey, Allison, I’m going to help our chef with something, I’ll be right back!” Stiles says.
“Sure, you do that, Mr. Hollywood,” Allison says, teasing him. “I can wait,” she says.
“You’re the best,” Stiles replies, and Allison waves at him, eyes looking away from the camera. There’s a bunch of different flowers in the background of her room in a dizzying array of colors that she starts fiddling with, she probably means to ask Stiles about them later.
Stiles races back into the kitchen to help Maggie turn down the fire on all the stoves and give all the sauces a quick stir while she has her hands busy now in the process of cutting up a roast chicken. “Sorry about that,” Maggie says. “I would but the grease on my fingers would slip on the dial, turning the stove down to the wrong temp and my recipes are very precise.”
“I got you,” Stiles says. “It looks great, I can’t wait to make this with everyone.”
He gets back to the study and is horrified to find Isaac in the study, chatting animatedly with Allison in front of his laptop.
“Hey, Stiles,” Allison says, laughing brightly in the video, a cluster of soft pink roses in her hand.
“That’s the one,” Isaac says. “Those look the nicest with your complexion.”
“What-- what’s going on?” Stiles says.
“I came in here to grab a book and your friend was on your laptop and she said hi,” Isaac says, shrugging.
“Isaac was helping me with the flowers,” Allison says.
“Really now,” Stiles says in a flat tone. “I thought that’s what you called me for. You know, to help pick the flowers for your wedding to my best friend.”
“It’s not like I wasn’t still going to ask you,” Allison says, rolling her eyes. “Thanks, Isaac.”
“No problem,” Isaac says, standing up. He picks up a book off the desk and walks out of the room, waving a little.
Allison waves back.
Stiles plops in front of the laptop. “So.”
“What?” Allison looks up from the roses that she’s attempting to arrange into a bouquet of sorts. “He said the cerise ones looked the best, but I like the coral ones.”
All the roses look pink to Stiles, but he just says, “Yeah, the coral ones are definitely better.”
“Thanks!” Allison says, giving him an easy smile.
“So, what did you think of Isaac?” Stiles asks.
Allison shrugs. “I only talked to him for a few minutes. You said he’s Derek’s adopted brother or something, right? Why?”
“No reason,” Stiles says.
The pizza making stations are ridiculously fun, and Stiles is absolutely covered in flour after rolling out the dough for his pizza crusts. Derek is no better, white dusting his nose. Stiles watches as Isaac flicks a cherry tomato at Derek, who then chucks a mushroom back at Isaac playfully.
“Hey, none of that, toppings go on your pizzas or in your mouths,” Maggie scolds them, a herbed ricotta and mozzarella masterpiece getting layered on her own pizza, artfully laying on slices of roast chicken and basil leaves while Amy feeds her a bite of chicken.
Isaac is building what looks like a precarious mountain of breaded eggplant, tomatoes, chicken and sprinkling cheddar and mozzarella heartily all over it. Occasionally some of the tomatoes get thrown at Derek, but not too many.
Stiles spoons a mouthful of Maggie’s red sauce into his mouth, tasting the amazing mix of tomato and spices, sighing. “Oh man, if I wasn’t putting this on the pizza I’d be just eating this as is,” he moans around his spoon.
“I’ve got a soup recipe version,” Maggie says brightly.
Peter’s making some monstrosity, smearing his pizza crust with pesto (okay, delicious paired with certain things, but not) mustard, slices of hard boiled egg (what?), anchovies and goat cheese.
Stiles turns his nose and hope Peter doesn’t use up all the goat cheese, he wanted to add some to one of his own pizzas.
Derek notices his reaction and chuckles. “I told you the egg thing is gross,” he says, drizzling some balsamic vinegar on his own tomato, prosciutto and basil leaf strewn pizza.
The pizzas get placed into the oven one by one, slowly baking to perfection, cheese bubbling and smelling divine. Stiles has a good time trying out everyone’s different combinations (except Peter’s) and watching Derek stuff himself full, savoring every bite.
Stiles would think that the gourmet selection of food toppings and the immaculate gleaming kitchen with the beautiful people in it would make him feel alienated with his small-town upbringing, but it doesn’t feel different from hanging out, being silly and eating with his own group of friends back home.
He guesses its the people that make the difference, Stiles thinks as he watches Derek try to lick a spot of tomato sauce off his nose.
Dieting Derek is kind of miserable, and Stiles starts to wonder if a new Green Lantern movie is going to be worth it. And seriously, Derek’s abs are already incredible, it’s not like the man is in danger of going up a few sizes if he doesn’t watch what he eats.
But Derek works out relentlessly, jogging around the grounds every morning, dutifully eating the healthy meals (they still look pretty good, in Stiles’ opinion) Maggie makes them, and the day he runs into Stiles heaping spoonful of bacon covered macaroni and cheese into his mouth straight out of the pot, Derek just groans and says, “The day after this movie premieres I’m going to have some of that.”
“I’ll put it on the calendar,” Stiles says, laughing. “Bacon mac and cheese for Derek.”
Two weeks into Derek’s diet, Peter declares him body-ready for a photoshoot since Derek hasn’t had any publicity since the soulmark incident.
Derek’s being worked over in the makeshift makeup studio that’s set up in the downstairs study. The backyard is filled with lights, reflectors, and people are buzzing around, talking excitedly. It looks like the photographer for this shoot actually has a whistle he’s using to try and keep all his assistants on track. There’s a rack of clothes that Stiles is walking past and he eyes the selection critically. He sees a few leather jackets, black jeans, more leather….and no shirts.
The photographer walks past Stiles, shouting loudly at the two stylists, “And don’t you dare cover up that soulmark!”
The makeup artist is packing up her bags, rolling her eyes. “I didn’t touch it, Finstock, calm down,” she says. “I just did some basic foundation, no coverups on the mark. Diana is finishing up with hair right now.”
Diana comes out of the study, rolling up an electric cord around a hairdryer and is grinning proudly. Behind her Derek walks into the backyard, and Stiles forgets to take a breath.
Derek’s dark hair is slicked back slightly but still looks soft and touchable, and whatever they did to Derek’s face makes his skin almost luminous, warm and glowing under the afternoon sunlight. Derek is wearing only a pair of tight black briefs, and the sheer amount of skin is almost too much to take at once.
He’s tanned and beautiful, raven soulmark all on display under his collarbone, dark against his bare chest. Stiles can’t look away from how good it looks on his skin, and it calls out to him and every cell in Stiles body is singing with the desire to touch it, to complete the bond. Stiles tries to focus away from it, and his gaze swings to Derek’s nipples and trails down his abs and then the trail of hair leading away from his navel into his underwear.
Stiles swallows. “I, ah, I’m going to the kitchen,” he announces. “Derek, you need anything?”
“Some water would be nice,” Derek says, turning around as he starts to browse through the clothes rack, and Stiles has to leave immediately before he starts outright ogling Derek’s ass in those tight pants.
The kitchen is thankfully empty, which gives him time to catch his breath and shake himself. Derek is just really attractive, that’s all, that’s the only reason his body is reacting like this. It has nothing to do with personality or how great he is in person that Stiles has learned since working for him.
Stiles grabs a water bottle from the refrigerator and heads back out into the yard, where apparently there’s a screaming match now.
“SHUT IT!” Finstock is yelling at one of his assistants. “I cannot believe this is happening, we don’t have time to call for another stylist to come out here, daylight is leaving!”
Isaac is watching the drama happen, leaning against a wall. “What’s happening?” Stiles asks.
“Oh, both the stylists already left, they had another photoshoot to get to or something, and now Finstock is pitching a fit about Derek’s hair,” Isaac says.
“His hair looks great,” Stiles says, and Isaac lifts up an eyebrow. “Shut up, it does, alright.”
“Not hair hair,” Isaac says, gesturing at his head. “Hair,” he says, lifting up his shirt and pointing down.
Derek is standing solemnly as Finstock rambles on about his artistic vision for this photoshoot. Apparently most of the anger is being directed at Finstock’s assistant.
“I thought you told Hale’s people to schedule an appointment with a waxing specialist, Greenberg!” Finstock says vehemently.
“I did, I did!” Greenberg protests.
“It’s not his fault,” Derek says. “I got waxed on Monday, yeah, I, uh, just didn’t know you wanted me hairless there.”
“Yeah, well I have these specific poses in mind. It’s going to be breakthrough. Revolutionary. Change the very world of photography. And it won’t work if your happy trail is taking all the attention,” Finstock grumbles. “Greenberg, go make sure Mr. Hale is completely shaved.”
Greenberg makes a terrified face. “Wait, you mean I have to--”
“Shut it and just go, you’ve got maybe half an hour if we want to get all the shooting for today before the sun sets,” Finstock says, shoving Greenberg after Derek, who is now walking back towards the house.
Stiles catches one look at Derek’s terrified face when Greenberg says, “I’m so sorry dude, I don’t even know how to shave my own junk, I nicked myself once on my--” as they enter the house.
It only takes a minute for Stiles to cough and say, “I’m gonna go check on him, see if Derek needs any assisting,” he says to Isaac. “Since I’m his assistant, and all.”
“You do that,” Isaac says, amused.
Stiles finds Greenberg sitting in the living room watching MTV. “Hey,” Stiles says, confused. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, Derek told me not to bother, he’d do it himself,” Greenberg says, relief written all over his face.
“Right,” Stiles says, watching Greenberg put his feet up on the coffee table. Whatever. Reginald will probably be here in a minute to scold him or to insist he use a coaster for that soda.
Stiles doesn’t find Derek in any of the downstairs bathrooms, so he heads upstairs and goes for the east wing, now that he knows Derek is okay with him in his personal space.
Derek’s bedroom is open, but Stiles doesn’t hear the sound of an electric razor or anything. “Derek? You okay?” Stiles calls out, walking inside.
Derek is in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bathtub. There’s a can of shaving cream on the sink, an electric razor and regular one, but Derek’s just staring blankly at the mirror at himself. Derek blinks up at Stiles, who’s leaning against the doorframe.
“Sorry, I got kind of lost in my thoughts,” Derek says, looking at his reflection. His eyes linger on the soulmark bared on his skin. “Peter thinks this photoshoot is a big deal,” he says. “No one really gets photographed without covering their soulmark, or at least trying to.”
“Forget Peter,” Stiles says. “What do you think?”
Derek takes a deep breath. Stiles knows he hasn’t really been out in the public eye since the paparazzi incident; it must be unsettling to know that there are millions of people who know what this private piece of yourself looks like.
“I like it,” Derek says, tracing the wing of the raven with his finger. “It’s my mark, it’s a part of me. I always end up having to cover it when I shoot a film or something, so it’s cool to have a photoshoot where I don’t have to hide.”
“Yeah, and it’s your choice too,” Stiles says, agreeing. “I think that is what makes the difference, this is like reclaiming that incident and making it your own, you know, like this is me, and I want everyone to see.”
Derek nods, smiling at Stiles.
“So, you, uh, need help there?” Stiles asks.
“Please,” Derek says. “I’ve never done this before and I don’t want to cut myself. Help would be great.”
Stiles can see there’s a faint trace of pink making its way into Derek’s cheeks.
Stiles gives him a mocking salute that makes Derek laugh, and then he picks up the shaving cream and the razor. Derek makes a furtive gesture to his lower torso, and now it’s Stiles’ turn to blush, crouching down and settling on his knees between Derek’s thick, muscular legs. He looks at the healthy trail of black hair curling from Derek’s navel, running down into the waist of his underwear, hoping fervently that he won’t get hard-- okay, maybe a better hope is that his guaranteed boner isn’t going to be obvious.
Derek has tugs on the band of his underwear, pulling them down a generous amount, revealing the neat cut of his trim hipbones and even more hair.
"Maybe you should—" Stiles starts to suggest, the rest of the sentence forming in his head, pull them back up? There’s no way you’re gonna need to be shaved that low.
And Derek just says, “Oh, okay, if you think so,” and just whips the briefs off entirely.
Next chapter: Stiles stares at Derek's dick. And...er... the rating for this fic will probably change.
Visuals for the photoshoot, this is the one I'm thinking about.
Stiles was already looking when the briefs come off so he can’t help but stare-- just a little. Derek’s cock hangs between his thighs, thick and uncut and just there and Stiles swallows a little self consciously. “Right, so, I’ll just--” he says awkwardly, pressing the button on the shaving cream, releasing a generous amount of foam into his hand. Stiles reaches out and spreads it out on Derek’s warm skin, lathering him slowly. He tries not to let his fingers linger as they spread the shaving cream lower, but then he brushes the nest of dark curls at the base of Derek’s cock on accident and Derek twitches.
“Sorry,” Stiles says, feeling his face turn red. “I, um--”
“It’s fine,” Derek replies, placing a hand on Stiles’ wrist gently. It’s the slightest of touches, meant to show reassurance, but the small touch sends a surprising warm zing that rushes through Stiles’ body.
Stiles swallows nervously, and then reaches for the razor. With a few sure strokes he shaves the line of thick hair underneath Derek’s belly button, swiping cleanly across the skin. To steady himself he holds onto Derek’s bare hip, fingers settling into that groove that goes down, down…
Stiles knows he’s probably getting visibly aroused, and he can feel the heat of Derek’s stare on his face as he washes the razor and comes back to continue shaving him. The bathroom is silent except for the sound of their breathing and the wet scrape of the razor sliding over skin.
Stiles is practically done when he makes the mistake of looking further down. Derek’s hard; his cock stirring with interest, pink and flushed, fattening up with-- Derek’s arousal.
Derek is attracted to him.
Stiles goes still where he is between Derek’s naked thighs, and for some reason his brain isn’t working, all he can think about is what it would be like getting his lips on Derek’s cock, wondering if what kind of noises Derek would make when Stiles makes him come, what he would taste like in Stiles mouth--
Stiles hears a sharp intake of surprised breath and looks up.
There’s a long moment where Derek meets his eyes, and they both stare at each other. Stiles doesn’t know what to do, whether he should look away-- there’s a line to be crossed, and if he--
“Stiles--” Derek says, voice smooth like velvet, and Stiles leans in closer, breathless. The soulmark on Derek’s skin seems to be shining, the black ink somehow luminescent, and Stiles wants nothing more than to touch it right now, seal the bond, kiss Derek, be with him forever--
Derek must have noticed Stiles looking at his soulmark and then his eyes flicker over Stiles’ bare arms and then the few inches of skin exposed on Stiles’ stomach. Stiles hadn’t even noticed that his shirt had rose up a little when he crouched down and one of the wings of his raven soulmark is partially visible.
Derek blinks and then says quickly, “I can finish on my own, thanks, Stiles.”
“Um-- right,” Stiles says, “I’ll just--” he sets the razor down and backs out of the bathroom, heart beating rapidly.
He’s still way too keyed up from being up close and personal with Derek’s body. Stiles leans against the wall in Derek’s bedroom, trying to calm down, wondering what what Derek was about to say, if he had wanted to--
And then he’d seen-- Stiles looks down at himself, at the bit of mark peeping out from his shirt. It doesn’t look like anything, you wouldn’t be able to tell what it was unless you saw more of it, but it’s obviously a soulmark. Was Derek about to proposition him and then remembered about soulmates, Stiles wondered, straightening out his shirt.
Derek had been so perfect and naked and practically underneath him-- Stiles groans, just thinking about it. He’s still hard, too.
Stiles is wondering if he has time to go jerk off before joining rest of the people waiting for Derek downstairs, or maybe he should wait to go down with Derek, when he hears it-- a slight, gasp from inside the bathroom.
Stiles strains his ears and yeah, it’s definitely Derek breathing in short, quick breaths, and there’s the slick sound of skin on skin. Stiles swallows back a groan at the idea of Derek touching himself, wonders if he’s rough with himself, gripping himself tight, chasing that orgasm.
Stiles unzips his strained jeans and takes himself out, gasping when the cool air hits his cock. He strokes himself, listening to Derek’s breathing and occasional gasps, imagining the weight of Derek’s cock in his mouth, Derek fucking into his face, or maybe Derek rutting up against him, aligning their erections and jerking them off together with his large hands.
Stiles can hear a desperate “ah!” from Derek inside, and he sounds so good. Stiles wonders if Derek’s jaw will go slack, if he might throw his head back when he comes, if his thighs will tremble as he spurts everywhere. Stiles comes all over his hand, shuddering against the wall, and barely has time to tuck himself in and zip up before Derek walks out of the bathroom.
Stiles hides his come-covered hand behind his back and nods at Derek, who is wearing pants again. “You didn’t have to wait for me,” Derek says. “Thank you-- for your help. I, um, I appreciate it. A lot. Sorry if it was weird.”
“It’s no problem,” Stiles says. “Um, I have to pee. I’ll meet you downstairs?”
Derek tilts his head and says, “I can wait,” leaning against the wall-- wow, Stiles actually got some come on the wall. There isn’t anything he can do now but hope Derek won’t notice. He nods and runs back in the bathroom, washing his hands quickly, wondering if Derek had thought about Stiles as he got off.
Stiles shakes his head, staring at his reflection in the mirror. He must have imagined that Derek’s reaction earlier to him. There are a million sexier people Derek could be thinking of, and it was probably just because he was being touched.
Yeah, it’s not likely he was hard because of Stiles. That would be ridiculous.
I think this was probably the only chapter where I sort of regretted committing to Stiles POV for the entirety of this fic, because MAN Derek was going through some things during this scene. Maybe I'll do an interlude of Derek POV ....
Chapter 10: Interlude: Derek
An interlude into Derek's thoughts for a chapter. Some of the dialogue you'll recognize from previous chapters, but I tried my best to make it not repetitive. I hope you enjoy!
Maybe hiring Stiles was a mistake. It had been a spur of the moment decision, and Derek hadn’t wanted to bother with interacting with Peter more than he needed to, and well, Stiles was cute. If he made a habit of walking around the house in those Batman boxers, Derek wouldn’t complain.
Derek hadn’t counted on Stiles being competent, funny, and incredibly easy to get along with. The fact that he’s really attractive and good at his job and Derek genuinely likes him frustrates him to no end.
If he had been anyone else, Derek could have easily just-- well, Derek has no qualms about taking anyone he wants to bed, he’s no stranger to the one night stand.
Stiles is different, though. He works for Derek, for one thing, and this isn’t something like casually hooking up with a co-star and then moving on when the project is over, or sleeping with the hottie from the club whose name Derek doesn’t have to remember.
No, the problem is that Stiles has been here, living in Derek’s house, and Derek’s been getting to know him. It is simultaneously the best and the worst thing, because suddenly Derek has something that’s suddenly very much like a relationship, something different from the familial feelings he has towards Isaac and the fond appreciation he has for his household staff.
It should be friendship, but you’re really not supposed to want to sleep with your friends. Derek has actually slept with his friends before, but this-- this is different.
Derek likes Stiles.
It’s not the end of the world, it’s just-- he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He likes spending time with him, likes talking to him, but there’s this constant itch that Derek can’t really describe, like he wants more. Wants to touch him, yeah, but it goes beyond that somehow. He doesn’t really understand why whenever Stiles is near, Derek gets a strange sensation under his skin, and more than often on a few occasions Derek has had to stop himself when he realizes he’s about to run his hand down Stiles’ forearm or place a hand at the small of the back.
Derek probably just hasn’t gotten laid in a while, that’s all. These restless feelings should have nothing to do with Stiles, except they somehow have everything to do with Stiles.
Since Stiles has started working here, Derek has had ample opportunity to bring someone home, call up anyone, yet he hasn’t.
Derek’s bedroom window faces Stiles’ bedroom window, and once Derek was up early and caught a glimpse of Stiles’ bare back as he changed into a fresh t-shirt for the day. It shouldn’t have been enough to be sexy, but it was, and Derek knows enough to admit that when seeing a hint of someone’s bare back to be aroused, it’s probably has a lot to do with the fact that he likes Stiles, as a person, as an assistant, and a friend.
Derek can’t get it out of his head. He hasn’t consistently interacted so much with someone in this way, had someone he knew he was going to see everyday, talk to, joke with, eat with, there hasn’t been someone like that since he was dating Jeremy.
When Jeremy met his soulmate (Derek had introduced them, actually), Derek hadn’t expected to feel relief instead of bitterness. The breakup had been amiable, easy. They’d been comfortable, happy together, and the sex was good, but it had always just felt lackluster, like they were just together for the sake of being together.
Technically after Jeremy was Kate, but Derek seethes at counting what they had as a relationship.
So after that disaster Derek had resolved to just stick to casual sex from now on, if he ever felt like it. Sure, he had a few fuckbuddies he might want to bang on the regular, but there’s no one really constant in his life. There wasn’t really a point, getting attached to someone when there was a chance they’d fuck off as soon as they found “the one.”
Stiles is rapidly becoming that constant, though.
There’s a photoshoot today, nothing like Derek has ever done. Makeup and hair finishes without the slightest bit of coverup going on his soulmark. Derek watches them put the finishing touches on his hair, looks at his reflection, the way the raven stands out on his skin. Is it his imagination or has it been looking much darker and clearer lately?
He’s nervous about the photos. No one’s ever done this sort of thing before, and Derek feels vulnerable and naked with his soulmark on display. Of course, everyone’s already seen it, but he can see the surreptitious glances people on the set are making at him. Maybe this was a stupid idea.
Derek walks into the backyard where the crew are setting up. He normally doesn’t feel awkward at all being in a state of undress, but he feels a little self-conscious in his tight briefs when Stiles glances at him, giving him the quickest of once-overs. Professional as usual, Stiles doesn’t say anything about it, just asks Derek if he wants some water.
The slight bundle of nerves sitting in Derek’s stomach soon escalates when Finstock takes one look at him and starts ranting about hair and his vision for the photoshoot. Derek feels bad for his assistant, Greenberg, who’s taking most of the heat for what seems to be a simple misunderstanding.
“It’s not his fault,” Derek says. “I got waxed on Monday, yeah, I, uh, just didn’t know you wanted me hairless there.”
Somehow because the stylists have already left, this turns into Greenberg being in charge of making sure Derek’s clean shaven. Clearly the kid is terrified, and no way is Derek letting someone who’s openly admitted to nicking his own balls anywhere near Derek’s junk.
Derek tells him he can do it himself, and Greenberg visibly relaxes and practically runs off.
So this is how Derek finds himself staring in the mirror in his ensuite bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub, the shaving implements ready on the sink, but he can’t bring himself to focus.
Peter told him there’s a lot riding on this one shoot, how it’s up to him to shape the way his image is being spun right now. He’s got that Green Lantern film in the works; but it’s a risky move, another action movie. Peter said it was pointless, taking on a project about a “comic book nobody,” but Derek’s actually looking forward to it. It sounds like a lot of fun.
“Fun isn’t going to win you an Oscar, Derek,” Peter had said. “You need to take advantage of the public eye on you now, do something daring with the attention you have.”
Apparently “daring” is a tell-all interview with Vanity Fair, and a revealing photoshoot where he’ll bare his soulmark to the entire world.
Derek’s reflection stares blankly back at him, the raven under his collarbone distinct against his skin. Derek feels a wave of protectiveness and to his surprise--pride--rush through him. This is his mark, and it belongs to him and his soulmate alone. Someone else in the world bears this exact same mark, someone who--
“Derek? You okay?”
Derek is jolted out of his thoughts to see Stiles standing in the doorway. He must be trying to keep Derek on schedule; Derek wonders how long he’s been sitting here just thinking.
“Sorry, I got kind of lost in my thoughts,” Derek says.“Peter thinks this photoshoot is a big deal. No one really gets photographed without covering their soulmark, or at least trying to.”
“Forget Peter,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “What do you think?”
Derek appreciates how often Stiles does this, takes into account what Derek thinks, what Derek wants. He’s had assistants before that have pandered to his uncle’s demands way too easily. Stiles is clearly his--
Well, maybe not like that. Derek blinks, shaking away that train of thought. He looks back in the mirror, at his soulmark, and touches the wing of the raven with his finger fondly.
“I like it,” Derek says with newfound confidence. “It’s my mark, it’s a part of me. I always end up having to cover it when I shoot a film or something, so it’s cool to have a photoshoot where I don’t have to hide.”
“Yeah, and it’s your choice too,” Stiles says, nodding. “I think that is what makes the difference, this is like reclaiming that incident and making it your own, you know, like this is me, and I want everyone to see.”
Stiles is absolutely wasted as his personal assistant. He should be a teacher or something, a motivational speaker, someone people would be inspired by.
Derek isn’t expecting at all for Stiles to offer to help. He finds himself saying “please,” automatically, the words tumbling out of his mouth before Derek thinks better of it. He can feel himself blushing, thinking about this situation he’s gotten himself into, but quickly reasons that this is just logical, after all-- it’s a delicate task, Derek has shaky hands, he actually hasn’t shaved himself so intimately before.
“Can you?” he asks, the words hanging in the air.
Stiles just gives him a jaunty salute, and Derek laughs in spite of his nerves as Stiles picks up the razor and shaving cream. Derek yanks down the bands of his underwear, wondering if it’ll be enough. Finstock had wanted him shaved really close, this would probably be easier if he just took off his briefs so Stiles had more room to work with.
“Maybe you should--”
Stiles obviously thinks so too, so Derek just says okay and takes off his briefs.
The edge of the tub is cold underneath his bare ass, and Stiles stops for a second, probably thinking about the most efficient way to shave him. Cold shaving cream is slowly lathered onto Derek’s stomach, Stiles’ long fingers spreading out the foam slowly across his skin. The contrast of his warm fingers and the shaving cream makes Derek’s skin tingle. Seeing Stiles like this, his Adam’s apple bobbing his pale throat as he focuses his attention all on Derek, eyes glinting in concentration, lit in the soft glow of the afternoon light filtering through the window-- Derek almost forgets to breathe.
It’s difficult not to think about the suggestiveness of the position, with Stiles kneeling between his legs, big brown eyes looking up at him and then quickly back down, the brush of his fingers sweeping across his stomach, below his navel. One hand is holding onto Derek’s hip, warm and firm. Derek finds himself holding his breath, just watching Stiles.
Stiles brushes against the base of his cock and Derek can’t help but arch into the touch just a little.
“Sorry,” Stiles says immediately. “I-- um--”
“It’s fine,” Derek says, automatically reaching out to steady him, touching Stiles on the wrist before he can stop himself. It’s one of those things he can’t explain, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he lets go before he does something really impulsive, like drag Stiles in closer for a kiss. He does know that there’s a heavy tension weighing in the air as Stiles takes the razor and starts to shave his abdomen in slow, sure strokes.
Derek’s never understood shaving kink before but he thinks he gets it now; the proximity of the sharp blade, the amount of trust needed, the way Stiles carefully touches him, biting his lip ever so softly as he shaves him.
His body is obviously reacting the gradual soft touches as Stiles starts shaving him lower, Derek’s cock stirring to life, stiffening in anticipation.
Stiles doesn’t notice at first, focusing on finishing another stripe across Derek’s lower stomach, the dragging touch adding to the pooling heat inside Derek. Stiles washes the razor and blows a stray bit of foam and hair off the blade, lips puckering prettily before he comes back for another stroke, and then his eyes widen, pupils dilating attractively as he looks at Derek’s erection.
Derek can’t help taking a deep breath, and Stiles looks up at him, the razor paused in midair just above the tub, like he’s ready to set it down. The moment hangs in the air as they look at each other, Stiles’ lips parted slightly. Derek he knows this would be a turning point, if he crossed that line, and he wants to, so badly.
Derek’s memorized countless number of seductive lines over the years but his mind is completely blank right now. He can’t think of anything witty or sexy to say at all.
“Stiles--” Derek starts, and Stiles leans forward, looking at Derek appreciatively, eyes sweeping over Derek’s naked form, and then lingering on his soulmark.
Derek jolts out of the charged moment, wondering quickly what Stiles thought of all this soulmate stuff. He never said anything about Derek’s instructions to destroy the letters and proposal stuff, but Derek remembers Stiles’ wide-eyed look that first day when he fished that scrap of letter from the fire, like Stiles had wanted to say something but didn’t. Sure, he’d burned everything (which was really creative) but Derek didn’t really understand the glint of panic-- maybe Stiles had disagreed with his decision, maybe Stiles was one of those people who believed in soulmates above all else but was afraid to say it.
They’d never talked about it.
Stiles looks so good on his knees like this, and it wouldn’t take much for Derek to breach the short distance between them and claim his lips in a kiss. His shirt has gotten rucked up from the crouching position, and then Derek sees it-- the edge of a soulmark. He can’t see what it is, just a dark curve of something gracing the curve of Stiles’ hip.
Derek immediately is aware about his selfish behavior; he can’t just project his desires onto Stiles like this-- he’s his employee, for fuck’s sake. And a friend, for that matter.
No, Stiles has someone he’s probably waiting for, someone he’s been waiting for a long time.
“I can finish on my own, thanks, Stiles,” Derek says.
And like that, the moment is gone. Stiles puts down the razor, mutters a hasty reply, and leaves the bathroom, and Derek is left with nothing but his thoughts. It’s likely he imagined the whole thing, that glint of want in Stiles’ eyes-- just him seeing what he wants to see.
He’s still hard, though, and the vision of Stiles crouched in front of him, the touch of his fingers, it’s too fresh in his memory to let go.
Derek takes himself in his hand, closing his eyes and imagining guiltily what he wanted: Stiles, leaning forward to kiss him hungrily, his hands caressing Derek’s body, lips kissing down his torso, Stiles taking him into his mouth. Derek can still feel the phantom touch of Stiles gripping his hip, and thinks of it now, if Stiles would grip his thighs just so as he got him off with his mouth, lips pink and swollen, wrapped around his cock. He’d be noisy, Derek thinks, sure talks a lot, would probably keep talking in bed, dirty things slipping out of his mouth, coaxing Derek on. Derek wonders if Stiles would be the type to top from the bottom, if he’d take control and just slick Derek’s cock up and ride him into oblivion, taking his pleasure as he rocks his hips back and forth in Derek’s lap, kissing Derek ardently.
Derek comes hard and fast, the orgasm rocking through him quickly, and he cries out in pleasure. He spurts hot white ropes of come all over his hand, and some of it gets on the mirror as well, marring his reflection.
Derek catches his breath while looking at his come-streaked reflection, waits for his heartrate to return to normal. He wipes the come off the mirror so Reginald doesn’t have to deal with it later, and does his best to clean up himself. Derek pulls on his boxer briefs and then a pair of pants he finds hanging on his bathroom door. Whatever, Finstock can make him change later, he just feels really vulnerable now for some reason.
Derek walks out of the bathroom, surprised to see Stiles waiting in his bedroom. He looks uncomfortable, and Derek feels guilty once again. He apologizes, stumbling over his words. Stiles doesn’t look that bothered, but he’s probably really weirded out right now, and the fact that he waited while Derek was jerking it just to accompany him back downstairs makes Derek feel worse for thinking of him that way. Stiles can only be a friend, nothing more.
It isn’t until much later after hours of posing and harsh lights and Finstock shouting, when Derek has a moment to himself in his study to relax when the photoshoot is all over.
Reginald is dusting some of his books, and nods politely at him when Derek enters the room.
“Sorry about the mess upstairs earlier today,” Derek says lightly.
The butler merely shrugs. “It’s no problem, Mr. Hale.” Reginald’s worked with him for years, it’s always nice to be able to joke around with your staff. “I have to say, you were quite creative with your release. It took me some time to figure out how to remove the stain from the wall.”
Derek blinks. “Wait, what?” He doesn’t think he came on anything other than himself and the mirror. Maybe the bathroom counter? “You mean in the bathroom?”
“In your bedroom, sir,” Reginald says simply.
“Today?” Derek asks, confused. No one’s been in his bedroom today, other than Reginald, and Derek himself, and…
It’s like a dam has broken inside Stiles’ head, and he can’t get the image of Derek naked and underneath him out of his head, the sound of Derek getting off, moaning in pleasure. He’d resisted for so long thinking about the soulmate idea, convinced that he was only attracted to Derek on a base physical level that it’d snuck up on him and suddenly Stiles is realizing that he likes Derek. A lot. Maybe even—
Ugh, this line of thinking has no point.
Still, Stiles masturbates to the fantasies of Derek every night now, he can’t help it, nothing else will get him off, and sometimes they’re weird, too— Stiles distinctly remembers jerking it off to the idea of Derek and him cuddling. Like fully clothed, not doing anything in particular, just Derek nosing at his hair and laughing softly, like where does Stiles’ brain even come up with this stuff?
“Stiles, you okay?” Derek asks from the other side of the car.
“Yeah,” Stiles says, jerking away from his face was smashed against the window. “Do I have a mark on my face?”
Derek chuckles. “Yeah, you do. Here, let me,” he says, crossing over and then rubbing his thumbs across the indent on Stiles’ forehead.
Stiles can see every fleck of gold and gray in Derek’s green eyes, the way his eyes are crinkling in the corners, and he feels the sudden urge to kiss him—
Stiles coughs before he does anything stupid and just says, “Thanks.”
Derek pulls back, falling into to his seat.
Stiles looks out the window and is relatively startled by the changing landscape; they’ve been on the freeway for less than an hour, and he hasn’t really been paying attention, but the slopes of jagged rock rising out of the ground are kind of spectacular.
“Vasquez Rocks,” Derek says. “They’re pretty awesome. You ever been here before?”
“I’ve only been to SoCal, like once in my life before, when I was a kid,” Stiles says. “I vaguely remember going to Disneyland, and that’s it.”
“A lot of people forget that L.A. isn’t just a city, it’s in the midst of mountains and deserts and oceans. There are a lot of great places— I used to hike here a lot, before.”
Before I got famous, Derek doesn’t have to say. Stiles understands and recognizes the look that means Derek doesn’t really want to talk about it, changing the subject.
“My dad’s gonna flip when I tell him I was on the set of Other Side Of The Law. He’s a huge fan of the show, says the actual lawkeeping stuff is ridiculously cheesy and inaccurate but I still catch him tuning in every Tuesday night anyways. You’ve guest starred on this TV show before, right?”
As far as Derek’s character, Conrad Stone, goes, Stiles knows from the script for today’s episode that Conrad has no actual relevance to the episode’s actual plot, he kind of just shows up and banters with the main character, Michelle Green, the U.S. Marshal who has been hunting down the serial killer that murdered her family in the first season.
Derek looks uncomfortable. “Yeah.”
“Are you okay?” Stiles asks.
“Yeah, fine, I mean you sent me the script last week, and I only have a half page’s worth of lines. And we went through them together, so I got ‘em all down,” Derek says, flicking the button for the window up and down, looking distractedly out the window.
“You’re only gonna be in the episode for like, a minute of screentime, seems like kind of a huge deal to drive out here on site for just that; we’ll be here the whole day, dude,” Stiles says, flicking through his tablet and looking at Derek’s schedule. This day of filming had already been scheduled before Stiles started the job, meaning Derek’s been intending to do this for months, but it seems kind of weird to him.
Derek shrugs. “I mean, I was a recurring guest star last season, so it’s really just to rile up the fans, especially since this is the season finale, the producers want to kind of leave it up in the air whether Michelle is gonna say yes to Jack’s proposal.”
“Dude. My dad got really emotional when that happened, like he was super happy they got past their trust issues, especially with that murder cover-up.” Something occurs to him, and Stiles snorts gleefully. “He is totally gonna hate your character.”
“What? Why?” Derek says, looking more alarmed than he should be about Stiles’ dad’s opinion about a fictional character he’s playing.
“Because you’re like, basically playing the guy that got away, right? Um—” Stiles flicks through his tablet until he’s got the script pulled off. “Conrad Stone, appeared in season three, episodes five and fourteen, you guys had lots of sexy tension and then Michelle played the ‘I only work alone’ card and Conrad rode off sadly into the sunset…”
“I thought you said you didn’t watch this show,” Derek says.
“I don’t, but you try living with someone who loves a thing and not end up learning anything about it. Anyways, it’s kind of funny that they’re bringing back Conrad just to keep people guessing whether she’ll say yes to Jack over the hiatus, but whatever works, I guess.” Stiles bites on the end of the stylus, thinking. “Unless you’re shooting the next season with them and Conrad is gonna be around? My dad is like, a diehard Michelle-Jack shipper, he’s gonna be pissed.”
“No, I’ll be shooting Green Lantern then,” Derek says, looking strangely relieved. “Plus, the show is gonna be moving back to film in Florida, anyways, and I can’t commit to that.” He coughs. “So, does your dad like any other shows?”
Stiles has no idea why Derek wants to know, but he’s happy to oblige everything he knows about his dad’s taste in television, and then they’re well into movies (Derek is amused to know that Stiles’ dad has seen more of his movies than Stiles has, but then again, he’s more than willing to sit through ridiculous action movies than Stiles is) when they pull off the highway and into the park.
The set is bustling already with trailers and craft services and the minute Derek and Stiles get out of the car Derek is greeted warmly and then practically whisked away to makeup and wardrobe.
Stiles wanders around the buffet section, piling up a plate of tasty-looking muffins and trying to surreptitiously sneak a few pictures of the set for his dad. He gets a few shots of the impressive sandstone rising out of the ground, and of a few props laid out.
Someone is chuckling behind him.
Stiles immediately sticks his phone in his pocket and turns around. “Oh, hi! Sorry, I was um… I have bad reception and was trying to send a text?”
Braeden, the star of Other Side of the Law, is giving him an amused look. She’s already wearing her Michelle Green outfit, complete with leather jacket, gun holster and U.S. Marshal badge hanging from her neck. “It’s alright, just don’t let any of the producers catch you. I sneak pictures all the time.”
“But, you’re the star, you can totally do that,” Stiles says, grinning. “Hey, can I get an autograph? My Dad’s a huge fan,” Stiles says, grabbing the first thing he sees— a napkin.
Braeden laughs. “Sure thing. Tell you what, I’ll do you one better than a napkin. I’ve got a stack of eight-by-tens in my trailer, I’d be happy to sign for you, c’mon.”
“Awesome,” Stiles says, following along as they walk through the set.
Braeden disappears into her trailer for a second and then comes out with a photo, scrawling her signature on it and then presents it to Stiles.
“Thanks, this will totally make his day,” Stiles says, taking the photo.
“Absolutely welcome,” Braeden says, tilting her head curiously. “I don’t think I’ve seen you on set before, and the set location was a secret, so you can’t be a random fan…”
“Oh, I’m with Derek,” Stiles says, holding his hand out for her to shake. “I mean, I’m his P.A.,” he corrects, blushing when he realizes what he just said.
Braeden gives him a firm shake, her eyes lighting up. “He’s here already! Awesome,” she says.
“Yeah, I think he’s in wardrobe,” Stiles says.
“Great!” Braeden says, “I’ll catch you later—”
“Stiles,” he offers, and Braeden nods, distracted. She’s already walking off towards the wardrobe and makeup area, and Stiles watches her plop into the empty seat next to Derek, kissing his cheek warmly.
Derek laughs when he sees her, and then hugs her.
Stiles, holding his muffins and his autographed photo, suddenly feels rather pathetic, standing there in his worn-out jeans and faded graphic tee, while glamorous Braeden is listening intently to Derek say something while a stylist works on his hair. Apparently it’s an inside joke because they both start laughing hysterically, Derek making the stylist fuss at him when he moves.
Well, this explains why they came all the way out here, Stiles guesses.
He finds his way over to the parking area and spots Amy in a fold-out chair next to the car, sunning herself. “Hey,” Stiles says.
“Bored already? Thought you were excited to see this set,” Amy says.
“Eh, buffet table was boring, that’s all I really was interested in. Besides, your wife’s cooking is way better,” he says, taking a bite out of one of the muffins. One of those foods that looks a lot better than it tastes. “Mind if I stash this in the car?” he asks, waving his photo.
“Go right ahead, it’s open,” Amy says.
Stiles yanks open the car door, tosses the photo in the back seat and then shuts it harder than he intends to, and sighs.
“You okay, kid? Those muffins can’t be that bad,” she says, setting down the reflective board and looking over at him.
Stiles leans on the car. “Yeah, I guess. Maybe? I don’t know,” he admits.
“What, Derek run out of things for you to do today?” Amy teases.
“I think he’s plenty busy right now,” Stiles says darkly.
“Aw, but I don’t think he’s ever brought an assistant before to these short shoots,” Amy says. “You must be good company.”
Stiles forces a hollow laugh. “I don’t think so.”
“Chin up, buttercup,” Amy says. “Why don’t you go get me one of those muffin things. I think I might have another reflector in the car if you wanna tan with me while we wait for Derek.”
“Yeah, okay,” Stiles says, grateful for the distraction.
The set a lot busier now, the lights and cameras are all set up. Stiles can see Braeden getting some last minute fixes to her hair, and then she’s getting ready with a few other actors in front a familiar looking outcrop.
Stiles is trying to place where he’s seen this rock before when Derek appears next to him. “Hey, there you are,” he says, smiling.
“Do you need something?” Stiles asks sharply, immediately regretting his tone when Derek’s face drops a little. “Sorry,” he adds quickly. “I, ah, was on the hunt for some decent muffins, and Amy wanted one too, but these all kind of suck.”
“That’s true,” Derek says. “This particular catering company is always a little bleh. C’mon, I think they always put aside the best bits in the VIP area.”
He tugs on Stiles’ elbow, motioning for him to follow. “Don’t you have scenes to film?” Stiles asks curiously.
“Yeah, but not for awhile,” Derek says. “Let’s go get some muffins,” and Stiles feels that particular swooping sensation in his stomach again.
It’s silly, but there’s a bit of a thrill ducking under the rope that’s marked off with a VIP sign, and Stiles can’t help but laugh as Derek puts a finger to his lips and hums the James Bond theme.
There is indeed a basket set aside, and Derek plops three muffins onto a napkin, and then snickers when a security guard approaches them. “Let’s go!” he calls out, and Stiles finds himself jogging after Derek, laughing as they get away.
They catch their breath, and Stiles quirks an eyebrow but accepts the napkinful of muffins as they walk to the parking area.
“We wouldn’t have gotten in trouble, you know,” Stiles says. “Well, you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.”
“Yeah, well, I couldn’t let security catch my favorite assistant,” Derek says.
“I’m your only assistant,” Stiles says, but he smiles all the same.
The parking area is mostly empty, with the other drivers either hanging out on set. Amy’s the only one sprawled out on her chair, reading a book, reflector shining on her face.
“Hey, you’re back,” she says, looking from Derek and then back to Stiles. “And you found Derek! No more reason for the long face, right?”
Stiles hands her the muffins and gives her a dark look.
“What long face?” Derek asks.
“Mm, this one’s nice, thanks!” Amy says, munching on one of the muffins. “Oh, nothing, Stiles was just being pouty earlier that you didn’t leave him anything to do.”
“I wasn’t pouty,” Stiles retorts, but he’s a little grateful Amy doesn’t actually know why he was feeling down.
Derek looks apologetically at him. “I probably shouldn’t have asked you to come along, I knew it wasn’t going to be too busy. I just remembered you said your dad liked the show before and you wanted to see the set…”
“No, it’s cool! The set is really cool! I like it, thanks for thinking of me,” Stiles blurts out.
Amy looks at them both staring blankly at each other, and then away quickly, shaking her head. “I’m going to be really boring if the two of you are gonna hang out with me all day. Why don’t you go for a hike or something? Derek, you have some time, right?”
“Yeah,” Derek says, nodding. “My scene isn’t until this afternoon. Stiles, do you want to…?”
“Sure,” Stiles says, giving the landscape another look. “That would be awesome.”
As they walk away, Stiles can swear he hears Amy mumble something under her breath that sounds suspiciously like “dorks.”
After grabbing water bottles from the buffet area, Derek leads Stiles onto a trail that veers off the main Pacific Crest Trail that barrels through the State Park, and it’s the most fun Stiles has had in a long while. The path leads through chaparral and the blue sky is a pleasant contrast to the oranges and reds of the drastic rocks rising out of the ground, and, well, watching Derek’s butt in front of him isn’t a bad sight either.
“Hey, I wanna show you something,” Derek says. He must know the area well, doesn’t even pause to look at the signs at a trail junction, heading off confidently down the path. Stiles follows behind him and then Derek nods at a boulder. “Look.”
Stiles steps forward and places his hand on the cool edge of the stone; there’s a rust-colored pictograph etched onto the rock face of a person holding their arms up triumphantly underneath a sun.
“Wow,” Stiles says, awed. “This is incredible. How old is this?”
“I forget exactly, we can check out the visitor’s center later if you want,” Derek says.
It’s kind of a perfect moment, Derek smiling at him, the sense of wonder of standing in a place under the sun where people ages and ages ago also stood under the sun and wanted to immortalized how they felt. There’s a breeze rustling through the trees, and the trailers and lights and cameras of the crew seem quite far away, even though Stiles can still see the shine of the cars and the setup from where they are on the trail. He looks back at the pictograph of the person and is amazed how a simple few lines can convey so much feeling, of place in the universe.
It feels good.
Derek steps a little closer to him, and his perfect hair is a little mussed in the wind. It’s kind of adorable. He pulls out his phone and raises it up. “Hey, take a picture with me?”
“Sure,” Stiles says, hoping the hammering of his heart isn’t audible when Derek drapes an arm around Stiles’ shoulders. They grin at the camera as Derek snaps a few shots of them together and the scenery behind them. Stiles is startlingly aware of how close Derek is; the warmth of his cheek next to Stiles’ face, his body pressed up close. Stiles isn’t sure what to do with his hands for the photo and somehow an arm ends up around Derek’s waist. It should feel awkward, but isn’t.
Derek slips the phone back in his pocket, and then turns towards Stiles— they’re still practically holding each other, and Stiles attention is suddenly drawn to how close Derek’s lips are—
Suddenly there’s a intense repeated buzzing— Derek and Stiles’ phones both vibrating furiously— and they spring apart.
Stiles has a few missed text messages that all seem to be some variant of “where the hell is Derek” and “GET HALE ON SET NOW,” and there’s an incoming phone call from an unknown number.
Derek is glancing at his phone too, unperturbed, hanging up on whoever is calling him.
Stiles picks up his own phone call hesitantly. “Hello?”
“You Derek Hale’s P.A?” a voice barks at him.
“Yeah,” Stiles says, and then has to hold the phone away from the yelling that starts. “I think that they want you on set,” Stiles says after he tells the guy Derek will be back soon.
Derek chuckles. “Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I wandered off, c’mon, I bet by the time we get back they’re be barely setting up for the scene.”
The hike back towards set seems a lot shorter, and sure enough when they’re back on set the props people are still arranging some cacti here and there. Derek’s hair gets fussed over, and Stiles is content to just sit back and watch everything.
Derek chats with Braeden in between takes, and she punches his shoulder playfully. They go through their lines as Conrad and Michelle for the cameras, and once after a “Cut!” Derek looks over his shoulder and waves at Stiles, looking reassured that he’s still watching and being entertained somehow.
Stiles just waves back, a little embarrassed but pleased, and by the end of the day he’s forgotten about even being jealous at all.
Not that Stiles would say that’s what he was feeling, nope.
Amy pulls the car back into the garage of the house, and Stiles yawns, stretching as he climbs out of the car, clutching his autographed photo. “Thanks for the day out,” Stiles says. “It was fun.”
“Yeah, it was,” Derek says.
“Think I’m gonna go pass out, catch you tomorrow,” Stiles says, heading up the stairs. Derek nods, heading off to his study, and Stiles makes his way to his room. He takes a quick shower and calls his dad, who is really excited about his present and wants to hear all about the set and the cast.
“Yeah, Braeden’s really cool, she’s just as badass in person as she is on TV as Michelle Green. She like, totally intimidated all the gun prop people because she figured a thing out before they did, so it was pretty cool to see,” Stiles rambles on.
“I can’t believe you’re not telling me anything about the episode,” his dad grumbles over the phone.
“C’mon, I thought you hated spoilers,” Stiles teases.
They chat for awhile about stuff going on at home, and Stiles says goodnight before his dad starts asking about Derek and more about the job. Stiles hasn’t actually told him yet about the soulmate thing yet, since he’s pretty sure his dad wouldn’t like the idea of Stiles deciding to never tell Derek about it but continue to hang around and work for him anyways.
Stiles’ stomach grumbles a little, so he heads downstairs in his pajamas, bare feet squeaking on the hardwood floors. The kitchen is empty, but he can hear voices from the den. Sounds like Derek’s playing video games with Isaac.
Stiles finds a tray in the fridge of chocolate covered rice krispie treats, labeled “Midnight Snacks! <3 Maggie.”
“Best job ever,” Stiles whispers to himself, grabbing a square and munching it happily.
He’s about to go back upstairs when he hears his name.
“Still can’t believe you came back tonight,” Isaac is saying.
“I didn’t want to make Stiles wait for me,” Derek responds. There’s a “K.O!” announcing in the background and Isaac groans.
“Rematch, asshole,” Isaac says. “And you said you didn’t have to take Stiles with you to this thing in the first place, so remind me why you’re not currently hooking up with Braeden right now, like you always do whenever she’s in town?”
“I don’t always—” Derek starts. “We’re friends, Isaac, just because we’ve slept together a few times doesn’t mean—”
The music of the game they’re playing starts swelling up, a fake crowd cheering as Stiles presumes a character gets punched out or something.
“Ha! Well, you’re missing out. I thought you guys always pencilled each other in for funsies, like, way in advance, dude.”
Derek mumbles something unintelligible, and Isaac laughs.
“I just-- I just didn’t feel like it, okay,” Derek says indignantly, and Isaac is still laughing.
“Dude, this is a Stiles thing,” Isaac says gleefully. “I get it. You brought Stiles to the set because he randomly mentioned like a week ago that he wanted to see it, and then you guys went on a cute little hike and then you came back home with him like a sad pining loser instead of—”
“Shut up,” Derek says. “I don’t like Stiles like that. And I came home tonight specifically so I can kick your ass at Street Fighter, and wow, guess what’s happening…”
Stiles walks slowly out of the kitchen, careful not to make any noise, and as soon as he makes it up the stairs he rushes all the way to his room.
Alright, so Stiles had totally guessed right about Braeden and Derek having been a thing in the past. He actually feels a little guilty about Derek choosing to hang out with him and not going through with his long-scheduled hookup. Derek was just being nice, Stiles thinks, and yeah, he was definitely imagining that moment on the trail when he thought Derek was about to kiss him.
Stiles feels a cold finality and— relief, he tells himself—at Derek’s words. Derek doesn’t like him like that, and he doesn’t have to wonder about the possibility anymore. He can just go on with his job and not even have to think about it, just make Derek’s life better-- it’s not a problem. Solves a lot of problems, like the fact that Stiles might be developing feelings—
Stiles’ phone rings to the tune of Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend,” and it manages to belt out the first few chords before Stiles picks it up.
“Scotty,” he says, flopping back on his bed.
“Stiles!” Scott says, his voice laced with panic.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Stiles asks immediately.
“Allison— she— I—” the rest of Scott’s sentence is jumbled up and Stiles can barely understand.
“Whoa, slow down, is she okay? Are you okay? Breathe, Scotty, breathe.”
Scott takes a deep breath. “I think Allison wants to call off the wedding,” he says miserably.
“No way,” Stiles says in disbelief, all of his own worries immediately pushed to the back of his mind to focus on Scott. “What happened?”
“I met my soulmate,” Scott says sadly.
“What?!” Stiles exclaims. “How— what are they like?”
“Her name is Kira, and she’s really nice. She’s a tattoo artist.” Scott sighs. “I just didn’t think it would matter, you know? I mean, I love Allison and nothing will change that, but then Allison like, was the one who met her and then when she found out about the fox soulmark she just— I don’t know! Allison introduced us today and then suggested we go get coffee. I freaked out and ran away. I don’t know what’s happening, Stiles, I’m so confused.”
Stiles’ head is spinning, and he’s trying to process this information when his laptop chirps with the Skype ringtone. “Hang on, I’ve got an incoming call from— Allison.”
“Ooh, can you—”
“I’m not getting in the middle of this, guys,” Stiles says, and he clicks “accept call,” intending to just tell Allison and Scott to talk to one another, but then blinks at the video.
Allison is holding up two different boutonnieres. “Which do you like better, for the groomsmen?”
Stiles puts Scott on hold, and turns to face the webcam. “Allison, you do know I have Scott on the other line freaking out about how you want to cancel the wedding, right?”
Allison sighs. “Is he really,” she says flatly.
“You met his soulmate and then just told him to go on a date with her, like how do you not think he’s freaking out?” Stiles exclaims.
“Well, I thought he might like to get to know her, you know, I don’t want to take that option away from him,” Allison says.
Stiles groans. “Hang on,” he says, and puts the Skype call on mute, and then unmutes Scott. “Okay, Scott, you know Allison loves you and doesn’t want to cancel the wedding, right,” he says.
Stiles can practically see Scott’s little uneven jaw wobbling. “Yeah, but she wants me to go out with Kira!”
“Because she wants to give you a choice!”
“I feel like this is a trick question. I don’t like it,” Scott says sullenly.
“Just talk to her,” Stiles says.
“Okay,” Scott says. “Love you, man, thanks.”
“Love you too, Scott,” Stiles says, hanging up.
He returns to Allison’s Skype call and unmutes it. She’s considering the two different arrangements, smelling them. “So my dad really likes these, but I remember you telling me you’re allergic to tulips, so I was thinking probably this one with the peonies would be better...”
“Allison, you don’t want to call off the wedding, right?” Stiles asks.
Allison looks down at the flowers.
“What about Scott,” she says. “He deserves a chance to be with his soulmate, or at least to meet her and see if he likes her.”
“Ally, you know he wants to be with you,” Stiles says, frustrated, and then he sees Allison’s bedroom door open behind her and Scott walks in.
There are hugs and kisses and apologies and Stiles is about to end the call and let them have makeup sex when Allison starts freaking out again.
“I just need to know for sure,” she says. “Like if you go out on a date with Kira and at the end still want to marry me, then I’ll be so relieved about all this.”
“Okay, but what about you? This isn’t fair, me being the only one meeting my soulmate just to see if—I’m not going to do it unless we go find your soulmate as well. You deserve to have options too, Allison,” Scott says, looking at her adoringly.
“You guys are really the most digustingly perfect couple in the universe,” Stiles says under his breath.
“Fine, we’ll do that. And then if we both still want to, we’ll get married,” Allison says, looking right back at Scott. “But where would we start…”
“Actually, I might be able to help you with that,” Stiles says.
Aw, we're getting close to the end! If you haven't noticed, I've put a definite count on 15 chapters and it'll be the end. Almost there, guys! Thank you for sticking with me so far.
Just for fun, if you're interested, since this fic is closer to ending, I've started another AU in which Derek and Stiles are pornstars that you can check out here.
"Soo, soulmates," Stiles says over breakfast, just as casually as you please.
Derek setting down his cup of orange juice alarmingly fast, and Isaac just looks over curiously.
“Soulmates,” Stiles repeats, waggling his eyes at Isaac.
“Uh,” Isaac says nervously, looking at Derek, and then at his breakfast.
“I mean, like,” Stiles says, waving his fork around, “What do you think of them? I mean, I feel like I should get to know you better.”
Isaac shrugs, taking a bite of his omelette.
“I mean, I’ve already seen that wolf on your butt, we’re like family now,” Stiles presses on.
“When did you show Stiles your butt?” Derek says, narrowing his eyes.
Isaac coughs around his mouthful, and it takes him a minute to swallow it down. “I didn’t,” he says firmly. “And you know my soulmark isn’t on my butt, Derek, it’s always been the lower back, geez.”
“His swim trunks were sagging when we met,” Stiles offers.
“Dude, that was ages ago,” Isaac says. “You remembered what it looked like?”
“Yeah, I have a vested interest,” Stiles says, thinking this is a good lead in to the Allison situation.
Isaac looks up sharply. Derek is now eating his omelette silently and with much concentration, and Isaac casts him a tentative glance and then looks back at Stiles. “Uh, actually, now that you ask, I think the idea of soulmates are cool, like you know that there’s someone out there who can be... uh, compatible with you, but like, I’m not really one of those people who think it’s an absolute kind of thing, like if you can totally want to be with someone who’s not your soulmate…” Isaac trails off.
“Great! Because I know who yours is, but like, she’s engaged to my best friend? And they’re having like a weird last minute pre-wedding jitters thing, and I was wondering if you’d be down to meet her? But not like, date her, since she’s already… Well, actually, I think Allison wrote down what I was supposed to say...” Stiles is already babbling when he remembers the careful and politely worded paragraph she had emailed him last night, which he dutifully printed out and the folded sheet is now sitting uselessly in his pocket. Oh well, too late for that. It’s good to hear, at least, that Isaac doesn’t seemed to be aligned with the “all soulmates are destined to be together” mentality.
Isaac looks at Stiles incredulously, and then starts laughing, taking Stiles completely by surprise.
“So is that a ...yes?” Stiles asks.
“Sorry, I just thought you were about to tell me like that you were my soulmate or something, and that would have been awkward because--” Isaac jerks up suddenly, and Stiles can see Derek glaring sideways at him for some reason.
“Uh, nothing,” Isaac mumbles. “I mean, I can meet your friend, yeah.”
“You’re sure?” Stiles asks. “You know I’m not really, like, setting you guys up or anything--”
“It’s fine, Stiles,” Isaac says. “I’m guessing this is the Allison of the Scott-and-Allison you’re always telling Derek about? Your friends who are, and I quote, ‘the epitome of love and happiness’?”
Stiles looks curiously at Derek now, who seems to find his omelette extremely interesting. “You just talk about your friends a lot,” Derek finally says, “I, um, I just like telling Isaac your stories.”
“He forgets that I also live in this house, and I’ve heard plenty of Stiles’ stories on my own time,” Isaac remarks dryly. “But you do hang out with Derek more, I’ll give you that.”
“Right, okay,” Stiles says, not really sure how to respond. “I’ll just let them know, they’ll probably want to come down for this weekend, then,” Stiles says, pulling out his phone and typing out a quick text. Allison texts him back a few seconds later about how she and Scott are probably gonna use their Comfort Inn points since Malibu does seem to have one in town. “And they’re booking a hotel, cool.”
“They don’t have to do that,” Derek says. “They can stay here, we have more than enough room. I’ll just tell Reginald to set up a room for them.”
‘Oh, okay, sure,” Stiles says. “This won’t be weird at all…” he says vaguely.
The strangest thing is, it actually isn’t.
Scott and Allison arrive Saturday afternoon, and they pull up the long driveway. Stiles waves enthusiastically and laughs when Scott barrels out of the passenger seat, running for Stiles. Stiles grins and leaps into his arms, and they topple to the ground, laughing hysterically.
“I missed you so much. It feels like it’s been forever,” Stiles says.
“Dude, it’s been like five months since you moved down here,” Scott says. “Can’t believe you haven’t come back to visit since then.”
“Derek keeps me busy,” Stiles says.
“I bet he does,” Scott replies, waggling his eyebrows. This results in Stiles wrestling him to the ground and Scott laughing and retaliating with tickling-- Stiles’ weakness--until they’re both gasping hysterically with laughter.
“Boys,” Allison says, getting out of the car. She shakes her head in amusement as Scott scrambles to his feet, pulling Stiles up with him.
“Ally! Welcome to my humble abode!” Stiles says, opening his arms wide.
Allison hugs him back, snorting as she goes. “Really? Yours? You already--”
“Shut up,” Stiles says as Reginald walks up behind him.
“If you would, miss, I can park your car in our structure and take your bags to your room,” Reginald says politely.
“Dude, an English butler,” Scott whispers to Stiles.
“Right?” Stiles says, high-fiving Scott.
Allison rolls her eyes as she hands Reginald the car keys and follows Scott and Stiles inside the house.
Derek is sitting on the living room couch, and he looks nervous, though Stiles really can’t figure out why. He stands up when they enter the room, and Stiles says, “This is Derek.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Derek says, offering his hand to shake.
“Thank you so much for letting us stay here,” Allison says brightly.
“Not a problem at all,” Derek says.
Allison gives him a considering once-over. “Hm. Stiles was right. You are hotter in person.”
“Allison!” Stiles says, embarrassed. He can feel his face turning red already.
Allison shrugs. “What? He is. I like the fluffy hair and thumbhole sweater look a lot better than-- what was the last thing I saw you in? I think it was Full Throttle Four--”
“Five,” Scott corrects, “The one with the leather pants. You were really hot in that, but I agree with Allison, I like the sweater getup a lot better.”
“Um, thanks,” Derek says, chuckling.
And just like that, all the nervousness Stiles has about his friends meeting Derek just evaporates. The tension in the air disappears, and Maggie brings in freshly squeezed lemonade for Scott and Allison, and they all settle into the couches, talking about the Full Throttle series.
“No way, I refused to do number six,” Derek says, when Scott asks him about it. “I stopped being able to figure out what was happening in the plot after number three, but Peter had me stuck in an ironclad contract to finish five of those movies.”
“The only saving grace of that series was your--” Allison and Scott start in unison, and Stiles jabs them both in the arms before they finish the sentence. He remembers a phase in high school when the Full Throttle series was still popular (they were only on number two) where they had all been at some party and Stiles had been drunk and apparently talked about Derek’s leather-clad butt for hours.
“--acting,” Stiles finishes graciously, not before glaring at Allison and Scott, who look at each other and burst into giggles.
They end up talking about Allison’s work as an archery instructor, and that turns into the story about how Scott and Allison met at the Renaissance Fair.
“And then, Scott just decides to blow the rest of his money on hiring these trumpet guys to follow him to the archery area and just serenade with poetry Allison after her final competition,” Stiles says, laughing. “It was the cheesiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
“All because you saw something that looked like your soulmark on her arm?” Derek asks.
Scott laughs. “I guess? I mean, I really saw Allison first, like the way she was standing there, letting those arrows fly into target after target, so beautiful and strong, and I just wanted to know her. And then I got really excited when I saw that part of the soulmark, like the shape of the ear, that it looked like it could be a possible match to mine. It seemed too good to be true. So we ended up getting coffee, and it turned out our soulmarks weren’t a match, but we just clicked, you know?”
“They got kicked out of the coffeeshop for laughing too loud,” Stiles remembers fondly. “And then we went to a diner and didn’t end up leaving until two in the morning.”
Scott and Allison look at each other, and Stiles swears he can practically hear the violin music swell as they’re remembering just how they started to fall in love.
It’s a sweet moment.
Then the front door opens, and Isaac walks in and stops, clearly startled at the tableau in front of him. “Uh, hello,” he says awkwardly.
“This is Isaac,” Stiles says, gesturing at him. “Isaac, this is Allison and Scott.”
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you in person,” she says, standing up to shake his hand.
“Wait, you guys have met?” Scott asks, furrowing his eyebrows.
“Oh, on Stiles’ Skype, very briefly. He helped me with some input on flowers for the wedding,” Allison says, shrugging.
Isaac reaches to shake Scott’s hand next, and he surprises Stiles by smiling warmly (and is he checking Scott out? What is happening?) “Don’t worry, Stiles gave me the shovel talk yesterday. I mean, not the shovel talk, but um, you know what I mean,” he says, patting Scott’s hand.
“So, uh, we should go out?” Allison asks, looking from Isaac to Scott.
“You guys must be tired, driving all the way down here, we can do it tomorrow,” Isaac suggests.
“No, it’s fine,” Allison says, voice firm. “I don’t mind, we can go now.”
“There are a few good cafes in town. Amy, my driver, can take you, it’s no problem,” Derek offers.
Reginald sweeps neatly out of the room, and a minute later the sound of a car engine pulling up to the front is heard.
“Oh, okay then,” Allison says. “Shall we?”
They make for the door, and Isaac turns around to give Scott a tentative smile and wave before they leave.
The door shuts, and Scott flops onto the couch, pressing his face into the cushion. “I’m doomed,” he mutters. “Isaac is gorgeous. And he seems super nice. Did you see his cheekbones? Or his sparkly blue eyes? His hair looked super soft, too.”
“Hey, Scotty, it’s gonna be okay,” Stiles says, grabbing Scott by the shoulder and flipping him over.
“Yeah, you don’t have anything to worry about,” Derek adds. “Hey, Stiles told me you’re in med school?”
“Yeah,” Scott says, looking up from the pillow.
Derek is doing the thing with his eyebrows that Stiles knows it means he’s really proud of something but also embarrassed about it. “I, um, guest starred on an episode of House once, and I kind of went overboard with my research. I really wanted to understand what I was talking about so I ended up adding a whole new section to my library.”
Somehow Derek gets Scott off the couch and immerses him in conversation about pediatrics and nutrition, listening thoughtfully to Scott as he explains one of his current courses that he’s taking. Stiles ends up following them to Derek’s study, watching them talk about the books Derek has read, and Derek asking detailed Scott questions that go over Stiles’ head, but Scott lights up, eager to talk his studies.
Stiles sips on his lemonade, and Reginald appears silently next to him with a tray of cookies. “Vanilla almond wafers,” Reginald announces.
Scott is too busy excited flipping through one of the many books Derek is pulling off the shelf, and Derek seems to be making a… pile on one of his desks. Stiles helps himself to a cookie, which is crisp and sweet, perfectly saturated with the taste of vanilla beans.
“Maggie also instructed me to tell you she wishes you the best of luck. Meeting the friends is an important step in any relationship,” Reginald adds dryly.
Stiles splutters, crumbs falling all over his shirt front. “Relationship? What relationship? There’s no relationship. This is just my best friend hanging out with my… er…Derek.”
Reginald lifts one eyebrow at him, sets the tray of cookies down, and walks neatly out of the room.
Stiles, Scott and Derek are playing Mario Kart and Stiles has just won another race.
“Can’t believe you blue shelled me,” Derek grumbles.
“All’s fair in love and war,” Stiles quips before he realizes what he’s just said. Stupid brain to mouth filter.
Derek laughs, apparently throwing in the word ‘love’ hasn’t fazed him at all. Or maybe it’s just a common enough expression that it doesn’t seem weird.
Reginald comes through the front door, holding what looks like today’s mail-- a few envelopes and a small package. He heads towards Derek’s study to drop them off.
“Stiles told me you like Call of Duty, Scott,” Derek says eagerly, getting off the couch. “I just ordered the new one, I think that was it.”
“Dude,” Scott says to Stiles, waggling his eyebrows.
“What?” Stiles flickers idly through the game menu, wondering why Derek ordered the newest Call of Duty when he distinctly remembers a conversation two weeks ago where Derek told him that he hates shooter games.
“Keep him,” Scott mouths as Derek exits the room.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Scotty,” Stiles says, elbowing him in the ribs.
“Seriously, like, I know you haven’t told him anything about the soulm--”
“Shh!” Stiles hisses, casting a wary eye towards the hallway for Derek, or any of the staff wandering around. “He’s not interested in me like that, okay. I heard him telling Isaac. It’s fine.”
“Right, well, for someone who isn’t having feelings for you, he sure seems to be trying hard to win over your friends,” Scott says. “He told me he wants to give me all his medical texts, and like five of those books are ones I actually need for next semester’s classes. Did you tell him I wanted to go into pediatrics?”
“Mentioned it probably,” Stiles says, scrunching his nose.
“Well, um, like those books looked really new. Like brand-new, published this year. When did he play that doctor character again?”
“I don’t know, Scott, like three years ago,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “It’s a big coincidence, okay. He’s just nice. And it’s not difficult to like you, everyone likes you.”
“Stiles, this isn’t like, a normal meet my friend’s friends thing,” Scott insists. “He got me a present. Specifically tailored to me. And it’s nice too, like something I actually need, and it was cute how he tried to do it not in the I-am-rich-and-can-get-you-anything way.”
“Are you trying to tell me Derek bought you a gift that was carefully constructed to look like an offhand casual thing?” Stiles asks.
Derek appears in the hallway, holding the brand new game aloft. “Here it is! We can play it now, if you want.” He hands the game to Scott with a hopeful expression.
Scott gives Stiles a pointed look.
Okay, maybe Scott has a point. But Derek can be just trying to be nice, right? It’s not a weird thing to want to get along with your… employee’s friends.
“You guys get started, I have to make a phone call,” Scott says, sighing. “Allison told me I had to set up the date with Kira, and I haven’t done it yet.”
“Sure thing,” Stiles says, taking the game and loading it.
Derek looks at the loading menu apprehensively, plopping down on the couch.
“You don’t really want to play this, do you,” Stiles remarks, sitting next to him.
“Not really,” Derek admits. “I, uh, bought it because I thought you and Scott might want to play it while he was here.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Stiles says.
“It’s not a big deal,” Derek says, shrugging.
“But thank you,” Stiles says, smiling at him, and Derek smiles back at him.
There’s a few seconds of them sitting on the couch together, with Stiles unable to look away from Derek’s eyes, wondering how true Scott’s theory was, and if there’s any way to test it--
“Kira has a girlfriend!”
Scott is striding back into the room, a relieved expression on his face.
“I just asked her out, and she told me that I seemed nice and thank you, but she’s happy in her relationship,” Scott says. “She thinks soulmates can be friends, though, and is open to keeping in touch.”
“That’s great,” Stiles says.
“But what if Allison…”
Derek hands Scott the controller.
They play for about an hour before Allison and Isaac come back. Stiles can hear them from the foyer; their bright laughter echoing down the halls.
Scott looks up, the worried look starting up on his face again, and then Isaac and Allison walk into the room.
“So…” Scott says into the palpable tension, standing up, wringing his hands nervously.
“So, nothing,” Allison says, walking right up to Scott, and pulling him in for a quick kiss.
Scott drops the controller and looks at Isaac, who shrugs. “But…”
“I like Isaac,” Allison says. “But I’m in love with you.”
“I love you too,” Scott says, and he sweeps her into his arms and dips her, kissing her again.
Stiles coughs and yanks on Derek’s sleeve, and they silently steal out of the room. Isaac watches them kiss with an unreadable expression, and then follows them out shortly after.
“So Maggie told me she made a cookie-making station, with like dough and frosting and stuff if you guys wanna,” Derek says. “And there’s ice cream for cookie-and-ice-cream-sandwiches later, too. I thought it might be fun, or like a good idea if things went…”
“Did you have a contingency plan for if someone ended up brokenhearted?” Stiles asks.
“No, I just like ice cream,” Derek says, leading them to the kitchen.
“Thought he was on a diet,” Stiles whispers to Isaac.
Isaac snorts. “I don’t even know what to say about this anymore--”
Allison steps into the hallway, grinning at them. She waves at Isaac. “Hey, tell Scott that story you were telling me about your sculpture exploding in the kiln, he’d think it’s hilarious.”
“Um, ok, sure,” Isaac says shyly, giving Stiles one last look. “Go make cookies with Derek,” he says. It’s almost like an order.
Why does Stiles feel like everyone in this house knows something he doesn’t?
Did you guys notice the marker in time? GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
Thank you so much for all the comments and kudos and following through on this fic. <3 <3 <3
Quick overview, in this chapter everyone plays a card game called Bullshit. Here are brief explanation of the rules: the deck gets split evenly with all the players, and the goal is to lose all your cards. The round begins with just the order of the cards, i.e. ace, two, three, etc all the way to king and then repeats. Each turn the order of the cards advances, so player one starts with aces, then the next player has twos, etc. Each player names what they're putting down when it's their turn, and how many of that, ex: "two jacks." Any other player can call bullshit if they think that person is lying, and the cards are revealed. If they were in fact bullshitting and were caught, that player has to take all the cards in the pile. If they were telling the truth, the accuser has to take the cards.
It can get to be a very long game, but pretty fun.
Also see end notes for recipes based on foods mentioned in this chapter. Have a happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate the holiday, and best of wishes to everyone!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The weekend passes quicker than Stiles thought it would. With all the pressure off from Allison and Isaac’s first meeting, it turns out to be a ridiculously fun visit that makes all of Stiles’ Skype sessions pale in comparison.
Sunday morning Stiles heads downstairs, humming to himself, thinking about what they could do today. Derek had offered to let Amy drive them wherever they wanted to go, even came up with a few touristy suggestions: the Griffith Park Observatory, Mann’s Chinese Theater, or possibly the Santa Monica Pier. Stiles had been surprised and said thank you, but knew Scott and Allison just wanted to relax and maybe go on a hike up in the in the hills behind the property, but mostly just hang around the house.
“Okay, I can ask Maggie if we can do a barbeque, then,” Derek had said earnestly. “Do you think they’d like the pool? I always have the waterfall turned off but I can ask Reginald to turn it back on.”
Derek just looked so excited about it Stiles really couldn’t say no. He wonders if Derek has many friends other than Isaac; the entire time he’s worked here he hasn’t seen Derek spend much quality time with anyone outside of work. Sure, Stiles has scheduled Derek for the occasional lunch with other stars in the business, but he’s pretty sure Derek doesn’t hang out with any of them for fun. He seems to really like Scott and Allison, though.
Stiles yawns, stepping into the kitchen where there’s a pot of coffee brewing and a plate of blueberry scones set out. He pours himself a cup, and then hears giggling from the living room, so walks over to investigate.
Scott, Allison and Isaac are on the couch, whispering and laughing to each other.
“Uh, good morning?” Stiles asks.
“Stiles!” Scott says. “Hey, what time is it?”
“Dude. It’s like eight in the a.m,” Stiles says, casting a glance at the coffee table littered with DVD cases, empty mugs, crumb-filled plates. Last night he and Derek had baked two dozen cookies together, talked about the prospects of their team in the upcoming Inner-City Little League game, then came back to the living room with cookies and ice cream, to find the three of them watching Lord of the Rings.
Derek had peaced out to get his beauty sleep during Fellowship and Stiles had gone to bed not too long after (Stiles always ends up crying during Boromir’s death. It’s not pretty.)
“Did you guys get through the entire trilogy?” Stiles asks, stunned, and then he realizes the on-screen DVD menu is from the Fellowship.
“Guess not, I think we’ve been just talking,” Allison says, looking up. “Is it really morning?”
“Yeah, it is,” Stiles says, catching Scott’s eye and saying duuuuude silently with his face.
Scott just grins back and makes a duuuuude face back, which makes Stiles naturally very curious, but before he can start having a silent conversation with Scott, Reginald appears in the doorway behind him.
“Coffee and a light continental breakfast is served in the kitchen,” he announces. “I believe a hearty brunch was originally planned, and then scrapped when Mr. Hale learned you had not made any plans to sightsee today.” Reginald’s expression doesn’t change, but Stiles catches him glancing ever so quickly at him and then refocusing his gaze towards Scott and Allison, voice cool and professional. “In the afternoon Mr. Hale has a barbeque planned in honor of your visit. The pool is a pleasant eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit, and the waterfall can be quite picturesque.”
“Sweet,” Isaac says. “Maggie’s unbelievable on the grill, you guys are gonna love this.” He yawns, stretching as he gets off the couch. “Gonna take a nap, but definitely see you guys at the pool later.”
He leaves, whistling cheerfully, followed by Reginald, turning gracefully and following him into the hallway.
Stiles looks from Allison to Scott, who then eye each other and burst into simultaneous laughter.
“Okay, what is going on?” Stiles asks.
“Nothing, what’s going on with you?” Allison asks, giggling. Clearly no one in this room has gotten any sleep. “I mean Isaac’s told us some pretty entertaining stories about you living in the house… with Derek.. you know, your s--”
“Shhh!” Stiles hisses, turning to look at the hallway and the disappearing two men.
“You’re ridiculous,” Scott says. “I really have no idea why you haven’t told him yet, he clearly adores the shit out of you.”
“Yeah, as an employee and a friend,” Stiles snaps.
Allison looks at Scott and opens her mouth to say something, but lets out a huge yawn instead. “Okay, that nap idea sounded awesome. See you guys later,” she says.
“Call of Duty?” Scott asks, wiggling a controller at Stiles.
Stiles laughs and plops onto the couch next to Scott, and it almost feels like college again, with a sleep deprived Scott cursing after every shot. Except for being stuck in their small dorm, playing with headphones to keep the noise level down, with their small television precariously balanced between their desks (it had been the only spot available where the power cord would reach and still be in a good gaming position.)
They play quite a few missions, laughing and joking. The game gets paused when Stiles is outraged that Scott outranked him in number of kills in the last round, and Scott is complaining that Stiles sniped his target out of nowhere. It ends in Scott tackling Stiles to the ground, and then Stiles tickling in retaliation, until they’re both gasping and giggling hysterically like children, rolling around in the floor.
Stiles has Scott pinned to the ground and Scott is laughing. “Surrender!” Stiles demands, continuing to tickle Scott ferociously.
“Never!” Scott wheezes. “Oh, hey, Derek,” he says casually, looking over Stiles’ shoulder.
Stiles scrambles off Scott immediately, and Scott has an all too pleased expression on his face, like he knows exactly why Stiles is embarrassed.
“Morning,” Derek says slowly. He’s already dressed for the pool in a casual t-shirt and swimming trunks. “Uh. Enjoying the game?”
“Yeah, except Stiles is a sore loser,” Scott says.
“I am not,” Stiles insists, shoving Scott playfully.
“Oh wow, that looks good,” Scott says, looking out the window, distracted. Maggie waves cheerfully from the backyard, having just set down a large metal tray filled with sausages, burger patties, marinated chicken thighs, and thick steaks marbled with fat.
“Yeah, I remember Stiles mentioning neither of you were vegetarians, but uh, I wasn’t sure what you guys liked, but so there’s chicken, pork, and beef. Oh! Reginald told me he let you know about the pool and the waterfall and stuff? It’s pretty fun to do a jump off the thing into the pool, but Reg probably didn’t tell you about that.” Derek rushes through his words, and looks up hopefully at Scott for a response.
“Sounds incredible,” Scott says without hesitation. “Thank you so much, for everything. You really didn’t have to go to all this trouble.”
“Not a problem at all, I just-- just want you guys to have a good time,” Derek says, eyes widening when Scott steps forward and gives him a warm hug. Derek pats Scott on the back, relaxing a little.
“Dude, you’re the best,” Scott says, finally letting him go.
Stiles laughs, not sure whats happening. “Maybe you should just invite him to the wedding already, if you guys are gonna keep up with the bonding and everything.”
Scott brightens. “You know what? I think I will. Derek, wanna come to me and Allison’s wedding?”
Derek shifts on his feet, visibly pleased but then his face falls. “Thank you, that really-- that’s really nice of you, but I don’t want to turn your big day into a paparazzi debacle.”
“Aw, really? We already invited Isaac.”
“You did?” Stiles asks, shocked.
“Yeah, we talked about it yesterday, and I know Allison would love for Derek to be there too. C’mon, it’ll be awesome,” Scott says, grinning at Derek. He holds his hand out for a high five. “Yeah? Don’t leave me hanging, man.”
Derek returning Scott’s infectious smile and gives him the high five. “I’ll think about it.”
“Anyways, I’m gonna go get Allison and we’ll get ready for the barbeque,” Scott says. He picks the game controller off the floor where it had been cast aside in the tussle earlier, and then hands it to Derek. “Here, you play with Stiles. Kick his ass or something,” he adds, with a weird emphasis on the or something.
Stiles glares and Scott just winks at him while Derek is busy staring at the controller, and then disappears down the hallway, whistling innocently.
Derek looks up from the controller in his hands and then at Stiles, looking a little lost. It strikes Stiles suddenly how different he’s come to see Derek in the time living here and working for him-- the arrogant, brash movie star he perceived him to be and the quiet, lonely man he actually is.
Stiles walks over to the console and ejects the game disc, replacing it with the one for Mario Kart. “It’s okay, I know you don’t like shooter games,” Stiles says. “C’mon, boss man, kick my ass,” he challenges, waggling his eyebrows.
Derek chuckles and they settle on the couch into the easy camaraderie they’ve developed over the months Stiles has been here and start playing the game. It’s very different from the dynamic when Stiles plays video games with Scott; somehow. The thought of getting into a tickle war with Derek makes him blush, distracting him. Stiles’ character, Diddy Kong, falls to fourth place, as Derek’s Princess Peach skids ahead.
“Oh no you don’t,” Stiles mutters, throwing a banana peel so that asshole Luigi falls off the track, and now Stiles is third place. He speeds up, careening around Toadstool. Derek’s still ahead of him, driving rapidly towards the finish line. “Hey, Derek,” Stiles says, headbutting him on the shoulder, and Derek yelps as he loses control of Peach, causing her to veer to the right on the screen, giving Stiles just enough time to race ahead and finish first.
Stiles cheers, throwing his hands up.
“Cheated,” Derek grumbles.
“You’re supposed to push him back,” Allison says in a cheeky tone behind them.
Stiles turns around, and tosses a controller at her. She and Scott are clearly ready for the pool; Stiles can see the bright strap of Allison’s swimsuit poking out of the collar of her shirt, and Scott is wearing a tank top and his board shorts.
“Once in college we both got into the final round on my dorm floor for an epic Mario Kart competition and I won by sitting on Stiles the whole time,” Scott says.
Derek says something too quiet to hear, and Stiles is in the middle of a victory dance anyways to really catch it. He looks over mid-groove sees Derek blushing and Scott laughing.
“What?” Stiles asks.
“Nothing,” Derek says. “Here, let’s make this four player.”
Okay, apparently Derek had been going easy on Stiles, because he’s ruthless now with Scott and Allison in the mix. Isaac shows up after awhile, also ready for swimming, sprawling easily onto the recliner. They take turns playing, and it’s ridiculously fun, and Stiles loses track of time until his stomach growls loudly.
As if on cue, Reginald shows up with a tray laden with chips, guacamole and salsa, and announces that lunch will be ready soon. Stiles passes the controller to Isaac and digs in, groaning around the fresh mango salsa and the crunch of the chips in his mouth. He’s watching Isaac, who doesn’t seem all that invested in winning, more so about watching Allison’s reactions. Stiles really can’t blame him, he doesn’t know what happened on their coffee date or even in the last twenty-four hours, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s the same awestruck look Scott had the first time he met Allison.
Stiles would almost feel bad, like he was giving Isaac a glimpse of something he couldn’t have, except Isaac seems to be also watching Scott in equal fervor, eyes trailing over his arms in the black tank top and following Scott’s full-body laugh when he scores.
Isaac passes the controller back to Stiles, who gets ready for the next race, but still keeps a curious eye on Isaac. He’s got a hunch but isn’t quite sure yet.
Stiles’ suspicions are confirmed when Scott munches on a chip and Isaac says, “C’mon, you gotta try this salsa, Maggie was cutting up mangos last night and the marinated them in like the perfect amount of jalapeno oil, plus these tomatoes are grown in our backyard, just--”
“Oh, I totally will, man, just when I beat--”
“Here,” Isaac says, scooping salsa onto a chip and then feeding it to Scott, who automatically opens his mouth, taking a bite.
“Mmm, that’s amazing,” Scott says.
“Ooh! I want one too!” Allison pipes up, eyes glued to the screen as her Mario takes first place.
Isaac prepares another chip with salsa and gives it to Allison with a bright smile.
Derek is next on the couch, and Isaac falters, like he’s realizing what he’s doing. “Uh--” Isaac starts.
Derek chuckles. “I’m good.”
Scott opens his mouth. “Do me, do me!”
Isaac obliges with another chip.
Allison wins the race, and she pumps her fist in the air while Stiles groans in frustration. She grins, grabbing a handful of chips, dipping them and eating them quickly, humming happily with each bite.
“Oh my God, this salsa is incredible,” Allison says, grabbing the bowl to bring it even closer. “And there’s guac,” she says excitedly. She stands up, walking around the coffee table to where Stiles is sitting in front of the guacamole to dip chips in that as well.
“Good, isn’t it?” Derek says. “We have an avocado tree, too. This year’s been really nice.”
“I’m going to do a thing,” Allison says, picking two particularly large chip and using them to pick up a generous amount of guacamole together, then spooning a large mound of salsa on top. It’s rather precarious as she brings the creation to her mouth, wobbling--
“Ally!” Stiles warns. She’s standing right over him.
It’s too late. At the first bite, it all falls apart and lands all over Stiles, splattering down his shirt.
Stiles startles at the sudden cold, jumping off the couch. “Guh,” he mutters, staring at the colorful mess now staining his shirt, and he hastily grabs a napkin to wipe it off.
“You should just take off your shirt, Stiles,” Scott says. “I mean we’re all just going to the pool later anyways, right?”
Stiles throws him a look that says what are you doing and Scott just grins and shrugs.
“I’m gonna change,” Stiles grumbles. Traitors, that’s what all his friends are.
Stiles comes back downstairs, having changed into the first t-shirt he saw, a black graphic tee with the Batman logo. He’s still wearing his jeans, adamantly refusing to dress for the pool. He hasn’t swum at all since he moved in here, although he’s been tempted, but the risk is too much.
Lunch is on the patio, a gorgeous spread of plump burgers, grilled chicken thighs, just-so slightly charred thick sausages. There’s also grilled corn that’s spread with a peppery-looking cheese sauce, and roasted bell peppers and giant portobellos glistening with olive oil. Maggie’s at the grill finishing off a number of steaks, talking to everyone about their preferences.
“Whoa,” Stiles says, jaw dropping at the sight of the table. He’s seen a lot of incredible food in his time here, but this is a veritable feast.
“Hey,” Derek says, holding out a plate with a steak. “You like yours medium rare, right?”
“Yeah, thank you,” Stiles says, taking it and following Derek to the table. He piles on peppers and mushrooms and takes a few cobs of corn, and just starts digging in. The steak is perfect, juicy and tender, and Stiles groans around every bite.
He’s in the middle of eating his corn noisily, talking with his mouth full, trying to tell Maggie how amazing it is.
“What?” Maggie asks, scrunching her nose.
“I think Stiles is telling you the food is good,” Derek says, laughing.
Stiles nods in rapid succession.
“Thank you so much,” Allison is saying, holding up her burger (it looks like it’s also topped with that mango salsa, ooh, what a great idea). “This is the best burger I’ve ever had.”
There’s ice cold beer and good, easy conversation and laughter. Derek’s fascinated by Allison’s stories about her teaching archery, and they get into heavy discussion about stuntwork and the difference between certain weapons used in movies versus real life.
Isaac is openly talking about his newest sculpture to Scott and Stiles. It’s funny, Stiles can’t remember Isaac ever being this open about his artwork before. Stiles vaguely kind of knew Isaac had a studio down in Malibu somewhere and that he did some kind of art, but he’s always been very closed off about it. Stiles never asked because he figured it was personal, but here Isaac is, eyes lit up, telling them (well, mostly Scott) about his latest piece.
Stiles sighs happily, finishing his steak and corn and trying to decide what delicious food to try next. He spears a sausage onto his plate, cutting it up and then dumping more mango salsa on it, listening as Derek attempts to explain his next movie role as Green Lantern.
“It was Stiles’ idea, really,” Derek is saying.
“Really? I remember it was totally yours,” Stiles says. “I just told you about how awesome Kyle Raynor was and you were like yeah I wanna do this, so.”
Isaac’s eating a sausage rather salaciously and no one else is noticing how he’s basically attempting to deepthroat it until Stiles coughs loudly and says, “Hey, I’m gonna get Scott, he’s been awhile helping Maggie bring out dessert.”
Isaac startles, dropping the sausage on his face.
Stiles snickers. “Knew it,” he says.
Isaac flushes a bright pink. “I was just eating,” he mutters.
“Right,” Stiles says.
“Well, at least I know how to flirt,” Isaac retorts.
“Really? He isn’t even here-- wait a minute, what are you trying to say?” Stiles is suddenly nervous, and Isaac smirks at him like he knows something.
Holy shit he knows.
Stiles throws Allison a I can’t believe you look but the silent communication doesn’t work as well with her as it does with him and Scott, but she seems to get the gist, shrugging innocently.
Scott and Maggie return, carrying a huge tray of delicious looking homemade popsicles surrounded by heaps of cut fruit. “Alright, we’ve got fresh fruit, and also popsicles! Peach-sangria and blueberry-matcha-green-tea, who wants?” Maggie asks.
Isaac grins and raises his hand.
They end up playing cards for awhile after lunch, starting with Bullshit. Stiles loves this game; he’s awesome at it and being a dick to his friends while playing is the most fun. He uses the strategy of alternating between always lying or always telling the truth, because his favorite thing is when someone calls him out on a card but is wrong on it. He’s played this for years with Scott and Allison but still manages to throw them off every time.
It’s Stiles’ turn. “One king of hearts,” he says, placing a card face down in the center pile. He waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
“Uh, bullshit?” Isaac says, reaching for the card.
“You sure?” Stiles asks, snickering.
“Wait, no, it’s a double bluff,” Scott says. “He does this all the time. Don’t fall for it, Isaac! If you wanna call bullshit, call bullshit!”
“I think you’re about to take this entire pile,” Derek muses, nudging the huge pile of cards with his foot.
“No way. I call bullshit.”
Stiles flips the card over, revealing it is in fact, the king of hearts. Isaac groans. Stiles snickers and pushes the cards towards him, and next to him Derek is doing the same. He catches Stiles’ eye. “I knew it wasn’t a lie,” Derek says, smiling. Stiles knows Derek is talking about the card game, but it still makes his heart skip a beat.
The game eventually ends because Allison starts throwing the game, deliberately collecting most of the cards and just refusing to let the game move, calling bullshit on every turn. Just as well because the sun is hot overhead and the waterfall is splashing invitingly into the pool.
Stiles sits back in the deck chair and watches as shirts are shed, sunblock is slathered, and everyone gets in the pool. Allison is in the deep end, treading water and giggling as Scott and Isaac start fighting each other with pool noodles. Derek does a few laps and then gets out of the water, sitting down next to Stiles. His wet skin glistens in the sunlight, and the soulmark standing out dark in contrast to his skin, much more prominent than when Stiles saw it on a grainy paparazzi video so many months ago, and even darker than when he saw it at the photoshoot.
Stiles wonders what it means. He’s not an expert, vaguely remembers some old story about soulmarks getting darker with time, or with a completed bond, but that’s all pseudo-science anyways. It’s not like he and Derek have bonded at all.
“You gonna swim?” Derek asks curiously.
“Nah, Amy says she’s gonna teach me magic card tricks,” Stiles says.
Amy hums in agreement, but clearly no teaching is going on, as she’s sitting in Maggie’s lap, slowly feeding grapes to her wife.
“So very busy, no swimming for me,” Stiles says, flicking a card at Derek. It sticks to his chest and he laughs, peeling it off.
“It’s okay,” Derek says. “As long as you’re having fun.”
“I am,” Stiles says sincerely. “I, uh-- I don’t like the water, actually. Think I’ll just hang out here on the sidelines, you know?”
“Just wanted to warn you, because Scott and Allison and Isaac were talking about getting you in the pool,” Derek says.
“Ha. Ha. Very funny. I have no idea what’s that about,” Stiles says, shaking his head. First the salsa and now this, he swears next thing he knows they’re gonna try and wet T-shirt him to reveal his mark or something. “But thank you for the warning anyways.”
“It’s gonna be really boring when they’re gone,” Derek says.
“Boring, what are you talking about boring?” Stiles chuckles. “You’ve got that commercial on Wednesday you’re filming, and then Friday is the championship game for ICLL.”
“I mean like, I know exactly what’ll happen on those days. Not like it’ll be boring or anything like that.. I just…”
“Back to regular life, I know,” Stiles says, musing. “It’s fine, I don’t think anything exciting is gonna happen either, but there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Random extra: Stiles can't see, but while he and Derek are having this conversation, Allison, Scott and Isaac are making kissy faces and rude gestures at them.
Photos and recipes for the foods mentioned in this chapter:
- Ultimate Grilled Steak
- Mango Salsa
- Fresh Guacamole
- Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken
- Roasted Bell Peppers
- Roasted Giant Portobellos
- Grilled Corn on the Cob With Chili-Lime Butter and Cojita Cheese
- Peach Sangria Popsicles
- Blueberry Matcha Green Tea Popsicles
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! It's not Thanksgiving in the fic but I gave them a feast anyways.
Also, rating will move to explicit next chapter.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! My gift from me to you.
Thank you to Michelle for the last minute beta work! Thank you to Jay for permission to use her turtle story.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After Isaac “accidentally” locks Stiles into Derek’s bedroom with him for a good portion of the afternoon (not like it was wasted, they had a good time playing Bullshit for a few hours, the card game getting strangely difficult with just the two of them), Stiles has to pull Isaac aside. It’s the third time this week he’s deliberately arranged it so Stiles has been alone with Derek, and it’s beyond suspicious now.
“I know,” Stiles accuses, poking Isaac in the chest.
“Know what?” Isaac asks, blinking at him innocently.
“I know that you know.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Scott and Allison told you that I’m--”
Isaac’s eyes light up in anticipation.
“Never mind,” Stiles says, crossly. He steps back. “Just stop it.”
“Stop what? Whatever it is you think I’m doing, I’m not doing it,” Isaac says, the hint of a smile on his lips.
“Not doing what?” Derek asks, walking down the hallway, reading his Green Lantern script.
“Uh--Isaac did a sculpture making fun of my nose,” Stiles improvises quickly.
“Nope,” Isaac says cheerfully. “It’s a nice homage. Doesn’t he have a cute nose, Derek?” Isaac reaches out with a finger and taps Stiles on the nose. Stiles makes a face.
Derek looks up from his script, looks at Stiles, who suddenly feels self-conscious about his nose. He flashbacks to third grade when Jackson oinked at him for an entire recess, calling him pig nose the whole time.
“Yes,” Derek says simply, goes back to reading his script, and continues walking down the hallway.
As soon as he’s out of earshot, Isaac smirks at Stiles. “He thinks your stupid nose is cute. I don’t know why you’re not going for it.”
“Shut up, my nose isn’t stupid--hey!”
Isaac is already laughing to himself, walking down the hallway, disappearing into his bedroom.
Stiles rubs his nose, and he heads to his bedroom, passing his reflection in a decorative mirror. He pushes it up, staring at his reflection. He’s come a long way since third grade, he’s pretty sure he grew into the shape of it.
Derek thinks it’s cute.
Stiles can’t help smiling as he walks away.
Maggie and Amy are both on vacation, taking a week off for their anniversary. Stiles is totally happy for them, except that he misses Amy’s jokes and Maggie’s wit and colorful hair. Not to mention her amazing cooking. Maggie did prepare a bunch of food for them and leave it in the fridge, but somehow it really doesn’t taste quite the same.
Stiles checks the schedule to go over today’s tasks; Derek’s already spent two hours on videocall of the director of Green Lantern, so that’s all good and done. They have the championship ICLL game to catch later, and Stiles knows none of the fancy cars in the garage have enough gas to actually make it downtown.
He calls for a car service, tapping his fingers on his desk and feeling productive.
can’t believe u told Isaac bout the thing, Stiles texts Scott.
A few seconds later his phone chimes with a message. it was ally’s idea. we love u bro, we just want u to b happy.
Stiles sighs. He can just picture Scott’s well-meaning face now. Sure enough his phone chimes again. u rly wont tell him?
i don’t need to, Stiles jabs, typing out a series of messages in quick succession. we’re fine. we’re friends. i like being around him n if i tell him it’ll mess everything up, n i wont b able to be here to help him. if i end up leaving it’ll suck for derek, his new assistant won’t be able to keep peter from fucking things up. i just want to be here to help.
Speaking of Peter… Stiles glances up through his open door, and he can see through to the other end of the hallway where Peter is heading down the stairs, holding a fat folder in his hands. He looks remarkably cheerful about something, which makes Stiles immediately suspicious.
Stiles might as well go downstairs, see if he can figure out what Peter is up to.
u got it bad, texts Scott.
It’s nothing like that, what Scott’s trying to say. There’s no way it could end well, Stiles telling Derek the truth. Derek doesn’t want a soulmate, Stiles is sure. Stiles knows Derek is right to be wary of soulmates, or at least people claiming to be them, from the way he decided not even to look at any of the letters or propositions in the beginning.
Stiles just… he cares a lot about Derek, right? He can’t risk leaving this job where he’s prime position to make sure Peter doesn’t take advantage of Derek. Stiles doesn’t trust him, and obviously Peter isn’t making the best choices for Derek’s career, signing him up for five of those Throttle movies. Sure, those were blockbusters, but Derek needs something that can challenge him. Stiles knows he can act, Derek totally deserved that Best Supporting Actor award last year for that Civil War epic. He should be taking roles that he enjoys, like Green Lantern, or roles that can get his abilities recognized.
It’s not like Stiles isn’t proud of the work he’s done, being Derek’s assistant, helping him find scripts and getting him places on time, it’s more of being here for Derek. Plus he gets to see Derek do that little smile he does when he thinks no one is looking, the one that makes his face look all adorable, the way his eyes scrunch up as he reads a script--
Stiles freezes, halfway down the stairs, struck by a realization.
He’s in love with Derek.
His heart is pounding away rapidly in his chest, and Stiles forgets to breathe for a second, and then it hits him all at once, and he doubles over, grabbing his knees, inhaling slowly, trying to stave off a panic attack.
It’s okay, it’s okay… this doesn’t change anything just because Stiles has figured out his feelings. He wasn’t going to tell Derek about the soulmate thing anyways, and it doesn’t matter now. Stiles is here to do a job, and this isn’t going to be a problem.
Stiles is distracted by a text from the car company, telling him they’ve arrived, so he shakes himself. Back to the job. He makes his way to the front door, and sure enough, in the driveway is a well-meaning guy who introduces himself as Rob and has just turned off his engine.
“You’re way early,” Stiles says. “Wanna hang out for awhile? We’ve got cookies.”
Rob is thankful to escape the heat, and Stiles leads him inside, sets him up in front of the TV with a plate of Maggie’s snickerdoodles.
Now to see where Peter got off to. The study, probably. Stiles heads down that direction, and as he gets closer he can see the door is mostly closed, and Peter’s talking to Derek about something. Probably business. Stiles should probably go and not eavesdrop.
He lingers outside the door anyways.
"It’s been five months," Derek is saying in a sour tone. "Why am I still getting these proposals? You know these are probably all fake marks."
What proposals? Stiles had gotten rid of all the soulmark propositions months ago. He’s sure of it. And he’s been handling all of Derek’s mail since, so the only way something new could have come in is if Peter has produced it.
A sudden wave of fury rises up inside Stiles. How dare he, Peter should know this is a sore subject for Derek, especially after someone pretended to be a match and used him.
"You’re going to have to date someone." Peter’s voice drifts into the hallway, dripping disappointment. "We need to drum up press before your next movie comes out, and people love soppy-I-found-my-soulmate stories. As your manager, I strongly suggest you—"
Stiles forgets about all propriety, barging into the study, blithely pretending he has no idea what is happening and just happened to want to talk to Derek about--oh right, the car. "Hey, Derek, I’ve got those scripts you wanted to look at, and the car is already here for some reason to take you to the Inner-City Little League charity game, but I told the driver to—"
Derek looks up from the couch, making a slicing motion with his hand to tell Stiles to stop, looking from the fat folder of whatever Peter’s produced and then at Peter, clearly horrified.
Which will definitely not do. They should leave now.
“I told the driver that we’ll be down shortly, since traffic in L.A. is terrible, and we can’t disappoint any of those Little Leaguers,” Stiles says, grinning brightly.
Stiles really can’t help but throw a satisfied smirk in Peter’s direction, who just rolls his eyes. Derek gets up to leave, relief written all over his face.
Stiles ignores whatever lame passive aggressive comment Peter throws at Derek, eager to get Derek out of there. Clearly whatever Peter was trying to pull had stressed him out. It doesn’t even matter to Derek that they’re going to be two hours early if they leave right now.
Rob is chatty. He’s a fan of the Throttle movies, and new to the private driving business. He eagerly asks Derek about the upcoming Green Lantern project, even though Derek still seems to be in a sullen mood and barely responds. Stiles tells Rob when movie is filming and there will be a probable release date for next year, but they don’t know yet. He neatly turns the conversation away from Derek and starts to joke with Rob about other DC comics, watching Derek out of the corner of his eye.
It seems like Derek’s finally started to relaxed a bit, now the attention isn’t on him. He looks out the window at the traffic, and Stiles watches him, fondly.
“Alright, we’ve got lots of time, what do you wanna do?” Stiles asks.
“I already said, whatever you want,” Derek says, leaning back in his seat. “I trust your taste.”
Stiles thinks for a moment. They haven’t been out for awhile, there’s a new exhibit at the Museum of Natural History that Derek would probably like, but they really only have about two hours. They should probably save that for another time, since Stiles figures Derek would want to see all the exhibits.
“You hungry?” Stiles asks.
“Yeah, I could eat,” Derek says. “What are you thinking?”
Stiles scoots up and pokes his head into the partition, giving Rob directions. They end up on Broadway, not too far from Dodger Stadium where they need to be later, so there’s plenty of time to just relax and pull Derek out of this funk.
Umami Burger isn’t too crowded, and nobody bats an eye when Derek and Stiles walk into the restaurant, although Stiles spots a few people whispering excitedly to each other, trying to surreptitiously snap photos of Derek with their phones. Luckily the owner, Amanda, is one of the many people Stiles has communicated with over the past few months about potential outings and the need for discretion in their restaurants, and she leads them immediately to a private booth in the back of the restaurant.
Derek is staring awkwardly at the menu, so Stiles just takes it away. “Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I got my head stuck between the bannisters at Scott’s house? I was like, eight, and I was determined to prove that you couldn’t get stuck. And then guess what happens?”
“You got stuck?” Derek asks, the corner of his lip quirking up.
It’s practically a smile, and Stiles, encouraged, launches into the story of the night how he and Scott practically went through the entire McCall kitchen trying to find something to help Stiles get unstuck from the stairs. Apparently they had both heard that butter works, but there wasn’t any butter in the house, so Scott had gone through a jar of salsa and a carton of orange juice before they gave up. Scott had brought Stiles his Gameboy and they spent the rest of the night playing Pokemon with each other until Melissa came home and after shaking her head in disappointment, got Stiles unstuck very neatly by just removing one of the railings with one hand.
“Whoa, my mom has superpowers,” Scott had said, and Stiles had nodded, wide-eyed.
“To this day I’m not entirely convinced she doesn’t have superpowers,” Stiles says, pleased to see Derek is leaning back in his seat, an amused expression on his face.
“She sounds amazing,” Derek says.
“Yeah, Melissa is awesome,” Stiles says. “You’ll get to meet her when you come down for the wedding!”
“Yeah, about that, I still think it might be weird...I mean if I wasn’t…” Derek makes a wavey hand gesture that Stiles knows is to indicate his famousness or whatever.
Stiles grabs his hand and pushes it it to the table, giving Derek a stern look. “Look, no one in Beacon Hills is gonna care. Besides, Scott and Allison invited you, you don’t wanna disappoint them, do you?”
Derek shakes his head, like he’s surprised. “I thought you didn’t want me to come to the wedding. You know, keep your work life and personal life separate.”
“When did I say I didn’t want you to--”
“You just seemed weirded out when they invited me, that’s all.”
“Only because I would have invited you!” Stiles blurts out. “I mean, I get a plus one anyways… they didn’t need to…” He trails off when he realizes what he’s just said.
Derek raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t look shocked or horrified. “You mean you were annoyed they stole your thunder because you wanted to ask me to go as your date?”
Stiles can feel the blood rush to his cheeks, and he also realizes his hand is still on top of Derek’s, so he lurches back, rubbing the back of his neck, embarrassed. “No, I mean, like… you know… as friends. We’re friends, and we’re close, I figured you might want to see how the other half lives, meet my friends…”
The waiter luckily at that point chooses to stop by their table, and Stiles heaves a sigh of relief. Derek glances at the menu he hadn’t had a chance to look at and just makes a go ahead look at Stiles.
Stiles orders the Especiale for Derek and himself, the one with parmesan, truffle aioli, arugula and topped with a fried egg. “Oh, and a thing of curly fries,” Stiles adds on a whim.
“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t make curly fries,” the waiter says, pointing at the menu and at the fries section. “We have thin fries, smushed potatoes, and onion rings.”
“Oh okay, that’s cool, just forget it,” Stiles says, waving off the water.
“Can you make curly fries, though?” Derek asks.
The waiter pauses, pen poised over his notepad, shaking his head, and then Amanda comes over. “We can definitely make you curly fries,” she says pleasantly. “Sorry about that.” She drags the waiter away, bopping him on the shoulder with the menus.
Stiles blinks in surprise. “Dude. You didn’t need to do that.”
Derek shrugs. “It’s not a big deal. You wanted curly fries, we can get you curly fries.”
“You know me way too well,” Stiles says, grinning. “One time Scott and I drove to Nevada just because we heard this one restaurant was going to make fries as big as your face. Like I literally don’t know how that would have worked, they clearly did something to put two potatoes together.”
Derek looks interested, so Stiles tells the rest of the Nevada road trip story. He kind of wants to comfort Derek somehow, tell him that Peter was being a dick, trying to force him to date one of those fake soulmark people he had produced out of nowhere, but has a feeling bringing it up now will only make Derek feel worse, so distraction is probably the best bet. Distraction and amazing food. Plus they’ll be at the game with the kids later, and Stiles knows that will make Derek happy for sure.
The food arrives and the burger is absolutely mouthwateringly perfect. Stiles knows Derek is trying not to laugh at him as he digs in, so he just exaggerates all his enjoyment of the food, taking extra care to make amazed facial expressions as he eats.
Stiles jams a bunch of curly fries in his mouth, closing his eyes in appreciation. They’re done really well; it’s a pity this restaurant doesn’t have them on the regular menu. Not only are they seasoned perfectly, the right texture of crisp and delicious, but they’re also smothered in this cheese and truffle sauce that’s just heavenly.
Derek is watching him, eyes crinkling up, and he’s finally smiling.
"Aha! There’s the Derek those kids need to see!" Stiles says triumphantly, swallowing down his food, pointing at Derek’s face. "Not the brooding, unapproachable movie star, but someone real!"
"I am real," Derek replies, and the smile is gone. Shit. Probably not the best approach.
Stiles pats Derek’s arm, hoping it comes across as a comforting gesture. "I know that," he says, scooting closer to Derek in the booth. Stiles contemplates throwing his arm around Derek for a hug or something, but that would probably be too much, right?
Derek looks at him gratefully, and Stiles might be imagining it, but it feels like Derek is inching a little closer, face only a few inches away, and Derek’s arm is soft and warm underneath his hand, and then Stiles is staring at his lips...
Stiles forces himself to move back, pulling his arm back, glancing away, hoping Derek hasn’t noticed anything weird. He casts about for a new subject and spots a couple with a dog sitting docilely in a purse a few tables away. “Look! Puppy in a purse,” Stiles blurts out, although inwardly he’s cringing at himself. “You know, I’m really surprised that the puppy isn’t moving around or freaking out, but I guess it’s probably used to it. I mean, if you put any animal into a space it’s not used to it’ll freak out. Like one time in high school Scott had found a turtle, and it was on the way to school, but he was determined not to let it get run over on the street, so he just put it in his backpack. He worked at this vet’s office after school, so he was planning to just take the turtle there, but Scott kept opening his backpack to check on the turtle and try and give it food and water, and then of course everyone wanted to see what was in there. I mean, word of a secret turtle gets around fast. Anyways we were in Chemistry and the bag starts moving, and then Mr. Harris was just like, ‘Mr. Stilinski, principal’s office now.’ Oh man, I got patted down and everything to make sure I wasn’t smuggling more turtles.”
“Wait, why did you get in trouble? Wasn’t the turtle in Scott’s backpack?”
Stiles scoffs. “You think Harris cared about that? Nah, he totally thought it was my fault. I mean, look at my face, you think anyone would expect anything from this face?”
Derek looks at him, smiling, and wipes a stray bit of cheese from his cheek.
Booking the entire Dodgers Stadium for the ICLL championship game is probably overkill, but Stiles knows this is Derek’s favorite charity. The first few rows of the bleachers are filled with proud parents, friends, and family members of the kids, and there’s even a small section for press, charity sponsors, and Derek’s fans who bought tickets to support the fundraiser for a new home field for the kids.
The game goes well, and Stiles cheers when Jessica scores a home run. All the kids have really improved, and Stiles is more than proud to have watched it happen over the past few months.
Derek absolutely is great at this, cheering them on, correcting Bobby’s batting stance, and telling each and every kid how proud he is of them. He takes a little time to sign some autographs and take some pictures with the fans in attendance, but his attention is all on the kids.
After the game is over, Derek joins the kids on the field, picking up a bat and letting all of them pitch at him, pretending to be terrible even though Stiles is pretty sure he knows Derek used to play baseball in college.
Plus his ass looks great in those pants as he squats down to bat.
Stiles shakes his head, eating his Cracker Jack and watching Derek play with the kids. They’re all celebrating their win, getting louder and more and more rowdy by the minute, and soon the “game” Derek is playing with them dissolves into a game of tag.
“Mr. Stiles, you should come play with us,” one of them says--Vivian, Stiles thinks her name is, ponytail bobbing excitedly as she grabs him by the elbow.
Stiles never really needs an excuse to run around like a little kid, so he eagerly leaves the stands and joins them on the field for a game of tag. In the distance he can see a groundskeeper looking in dismay at what they’re doing to the grass, but Stiles just gives him a jaunty salute. He’s pretty sure Derek’s rented out this field so the kids could feel special, playing where all the pros do, and if they wanna play tag, they can sure as hell play tag.
Stiles catches Derek, who makes a mock-affronted face, “freezing” in place in such a ridiculous pose Stiles has to laugh appreciatively.
He totally isn’t expecting it when the ice cold water is dumped on him, sending a shocking wave of cold through his body as his shirt gets soaked to his skin.
Stiles splutters indignantly, and he whirls around to see Bobby and Jessica laughing uproariously, dropping the empty coolers into the grass. Derek’s laughing as well, clearly just good-naturedly enjoying their prank, even if he’s gotten wet as well, but Stiles isn’t one to just stand still.
Stiles grabs a handful of ice, and the two clearly realize his intention and start running away, shrieking.
“Take my sweet icy revenge!” Stiles calls, just as someone pelts him with ice from the side. Ah, Joey, that short little rugrat.
Stiles chases him down, stuffing ice down his shirt, and soon the tag game evolves to ice tag, with real ice. They do have to call it to a halt when several ambitious kids start to try and get more ice from the vendors, and the afternoon is at its end, parents collecting their out-of-breath children.
Stiles is still laughing when they make their way to the parking lot and climb back into the car. “Oh, that was great, man, did you see Joey when I got that ice down the back of his shirt?”
He’s dripping all over the car seat, but hey, it doesn’t really matter, it’s a rental.
It’s a little cold now, but no big deal, they can just turn the heater on for the way back to the house, and then Stiles can change out of his wet clothes.
Derek hasn’t responded to the Joey question, so Stiles looks up, expecting maybe for Derek to be gazing happily out the window or something, reminiscing about a great afternoon.
Instead, Derek is staring at him, wide-eyed. “Stiles?” he asks, voice unsteady.
“Yeah?” Stiles thinks for a second that this is a really weird reaction to him getting the seat wet, and he fiddles with the edge of his t-shirt, and then he realizes.
His white t-shirt.
Derek is leaning in closer, his gaze never leaving Stiles’ hip, and the very obvious outline of Stiles’ soulmark showing through the translucent fabric now. Stiles doesn’t know what to do, can’t think, frozen where he is. Derek doesn’t seem to be that much more cognizant either, stumbling over his words, and then he touches Stiles, fingers grazing the mark through the shirt, tracing the edges of it.
“Stiles?” Derek asks again, a bright questioning hope in his eyes.
Stiles sighs. There’s no turning back from this. He lifts up his shirt, the wet fabric seeming a lot heavier than it is, and his wet skin hits the cold air, exposed.
His raven stands out on his skin, and Stiles hadn’t been paying attention to it much these past few months, but it looks stronger and more radiant than he’s ever seen it, darker than any tattoo possible.
Derek reaches out to touch it, mouth falling open, and his finger brushes across just the edge of the raven’s wing, and the most peculiar thrill of pleasure rushes through Stiles’ body all at once. It reminds him of the first time Derek shook his hand, but so much stronger, like Derek’s started an electric charge just by that barest of skin to skin contact. Stiles doesn’t want Derek to stop touching him, but he does, withdrawing his hand, and looking at Stiles in awe.
Forget everything Stiles has ever said about making fun of soulbonds, because he can fucking feel it right now, wants to touch Derek, everywhere, Stiles’ skin singing with need and want. It’s more than the bond, though, and Stiles knows that’s just the basic biology of their bodies, some strange destiny that has declared them compatible with each other.
The feeling coursing through his body right now is mostly due to the realization he had this morning that he’s in love with Derek, fell in love in him without ever even trying to complete the physical bond.
Stiles wills himself to wait, watching Derek process the information that Stiles knew long before they ever met.
“Were you ever going to tell me?” Derek finally asks.
Stiles still isn’t sure what Derek thinks about this, his face carefully schooled into a blank expression. The question isn’t accusatory, just...curious. All Stiles has to go on at the moment is that Derek is surprised by the information, that’s all. "Would you have believed me? What, should I have just texted you, 'hey we're soulmates tbh' and called it a day?"
Derek just looks at him, like he's waiting for more of an explanation.
Well, time to be brutally honest. “Look, I just wanted to get to know you. Even if I couldn’t be your soulmate, I wanted to be a part of your life somehow. Make it better.” Stiles looks up at Derek, hoping that this explanation will make his actions make sense, excuse the fact that he’d been keeping this a secret the entire time.
Derek reaches forward and takes Stiles’ hand. The contact makes his skin heat up automatically, Derek’s fingers brushing over his own. “You do,” Derek says sincerely, and he brings Stiles’ hand to his own chest to touch his collarbone where his own mark is. It’s the first time Stiles has ever come close to touching it. Does this mean Derek wants to-- maybe he’s just saying he does, like he’s acknowledging Stiles’ work as his personal assistant, him being a great friend--
“You definitely do,” Derek says, and then he leans in close and kisses Stiles.
Stiles forgets about the uncomfortable wet clothes he’s wearing, the confines of the car and the noise of the traffic outside. All he can feel are Derek’s hands gently cupping his face, his soft lips on Stiles’ own, warm and wet and perfect.
Something is singing in his heart at last, at last, and it feels so right, so good, Derek’s lips parting for Stiles’ tongue to slip inside, Stiles moaning and pulling Derek closer, letting Derek climb on top of him, pinning him to the seat.
There’s a moment where they pause to catch their breaths, and Derek looks back at him in happy disbelief, chest heaving, resting his forehead on Stiles’ own. Stiles just grins back, giddy with excitement, and kisses Derek again.
Umami Burger is a real restaurant, with the most ridiculously amazing truffle-oil-cheese fries.
STAY TUNED. AS SOON AS I HEAR FIREWORKS GO OFF I WILL POST THE LAST CHAPTER.
Thank you to Michelle and Niamh for looking this chapter over!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stiles loses track of how long the car ride is; he knows it should at least be forty minutes to an hour to get back out to Malibu, but it feels like it’s only been a few minutes.
Derek looks just as dazed as Stiles does when the car pulls into the driveway of the house, flushed and embarrassed when Rob opens the door for them and Stiles scrambles off Derek’s lap.
Stiles’s lips are swollen from the kissing, and his face is probably all red from Derek’s beard. He steps out of the car, coughing awkwardly, and thanks Rob for the ride.
“No problem at all,” Rob says, winking at them.
“Right, okay, thanks, bye,” Derek says, grabbing Stiles by the hand and pulling him inside.
Stiles lets Derek pull him inside and then up the stairs, stopping only once for Derek to press him up against the wall, kissing him ardently.
“Derek,” Stiles gasps.
“Is this too much? We can wait, it’s okay,” Derek says, taking Stiles’ hand and kissing his knuckles. He takes a step back, shyly looking at the floor.
Stiles watches Derek’s cheeks turn pink. It’s overwhelmingly sexy and adorable all at once.
“I’m just surprised I haven’t come in my pants already,” Stiles says. “Did we really just make out for the entire car ride?”
“Yes,” Derek says, nosing at his neck, placing a kiss there that makes Stiles shudder. “Are you sure? We can make out more… or do whatever you want.”
“Bedroom,” Stiles says firmly, leading him down the hallway.
“You want to-- okay, yes,” Derek says, following him eagerly.
They’re interrupted by Peter, walking out of his wing of the house. “Oh, good, you’re back. Derek, I’ll need you in the study, we need to discuss this soulmate business.”
“We really don’t,” Derek says, pushing right past him.
They stumble into Derek’s bedroom, and Derek shuts the door, locking it, and turns around. He doesn’t waste any time getting the damp t-shirt off Stiles, tugging it over his head and dropping it to the ground.
Stiles stands there shirtless, as Derek just looks at him like he’s something precious.
“And you,” Stiles says, nodding at him.
Derek takes off his own shirt, the wet fabric making a soft plop when it hits the floor.
“Stiles,” Derek breathes out, stepping forward. He takes Stiles in his arms, kissing him slowly, and it’s dizzying. Their bare skin touching is electric, and Stiles is already lightheaded and on edge. “Even if you weren’t,” he says, faltering on the rest of the sentence, touching Stiles’ soulmark, graceful fingers tracing the mark.
“Yeah, you, you too,” Stiles says. “I don’t know if I would have--I wouldn’t have met you if I wasn’t so determined to prove that it didn’t mean anything, the soulmates thing. And I got to know you, and fuck, Derek, I’ve loved, I love--”
Derek kisses him, taking the words right out of his mouth. “I love you too,” he says, kissing Stiles again. “And I am so glad you did,” he adds gratefully.
Stiles steps backwards, tumbling onto the bed, and Derek stands in front of him. “I want to see you,” he murmurs softly.
“Yeah,” Stiles says, and Derek unbuttons his jeans slowly, unzipping and pushing them and his underwear past his hips. He pulls them off Stiles’ legs one by one, kissing Stiles’ ankles, until Stiles is naked in his bed, looking up at Derek.
Derek grabs his thighs and pulls him to the edge of the bed, and then he gets to his knees, kissing the inside of Stiles’ thighs, inching closer and closer to his hard cock.
“Derek, are you gonna touch me or wh--ah!”
Derek looks up from his lashes the entire time, Stiles’ cock in his mouth, keeping a steady rhythm that’s wet and hot and Stiles’ entire body quakes on the bed, sliding on Derek’s soft silky sheets. He finally gives in to the urge to run his hands through Derek’s hair, and Derek makes this sexy little noise when Stiles yanks on it a little, something Stiles makes a note to remember for the future
Oh wow, there’s going to be so much more of this, Stiles realizes. This is--this is the beginning, and he gets to have Derek forever.
Stiles makes a joyful noise in the back of his throat, guiding Derek forward when he pulls off to take a breath. He pulls him onto the bed with him, kissing away Derek’s affronted, “Stiles, I wasn’t done--”
Derek’s ass feels amazing in Stiles’ hands, and it would probably feel more amazing out of these pants. “I want to touch you too,” Stiles says, unzipping Derek in a hurry and wrestling him out of the last of his clothes.
Finally they’re both naked, and there is so much skin Stiles wants to touch, and he finally can, so he does, running his hands reverently along Derek’s body--his shoulders, his torso, his hips, his ass. Derek leans into every touch, sighing contentedly when Stiles kisses him on his collarbone, right on the soulmark.
Derek trembles when Stiles gets him on his back and spreads his legs, lying down between them to face Derek’s cock. Stiles runs a finger down Derek’s bare stomach, the slightest hint of hair, forming the faintest of trails heading downwards. “I can’t believe you asked me to shave you,” Stiles whispers. “I had to jerk off right after because I was right here and I couldn’t do this.”
This being what Stiles now takes pleasure in, taking his time to drag his tongue along Derek’s balls, then along the base of his cock, and up the shaft.
Derek moans, grabbing at the sheets, fingers scrabbling for a grip, as Stiles swallows him down, sucking hard. “Fuck, Stiles,” he gasps. “Please, I want to get you off too.”
Stiles takes a minute to reposition himself, turning around so his hips are in Derek’s face, and goes back to paying attention to Derek’s cock. The position is a little distracting, as his body keeps rubbing up against Derek’s, and then Derek is sucking him down. Not for long, though, it must be difficult for Derek to concentrate, something Stiles is pretty proud of.
“I’m just gonna--gonna admire your ass,” Derek says, between breaths.
Stiles hums in agreement, around his mouthful, arching his back a little as Derek squeezes his ass. It feels good, and then there’s a hot breath right over his hole--
“Stiles, can I…?”
Stiles stops what he’s doing and looks over his shoulder to see Derek giving his ass the most amazed look. He’s got one hand on each cheek, spreading him open, and it makes Stiles ache a little in want. “Yeah, you can,” Stiles says, and then Derek is licking at his rim, slowly and then faster, teasing him.
It’s a lot more difficult to concentrate on cocksucking after that.
Stiles does his best, and he’s sure he makes Derek lose track of what he’s doing a few times as well, and then Derek’s mouth gives way to lubed fingers, slipping inside him, stretching him.
Stiles gives up on blowing Derek, just lays atop him, cheek to his thigh, watching his cock pulse, as Derek opens him up. “Please tell me you’re planning on fucking me,” Stiles says impatiently.
“I dunno, I’m really enjoying this,” Derek says, crooking his fingers inside Stiles. “Bet you could come from just my fingers,” he says, adding a third finger inside him.
“Fuck,” Stiles gasps, jerking away. He tumbles off Derek onto the bed. “I really want to ride you, I want to come with you inside me.”
“Yeah--we can do that,” Derek says. He reaches for something in his nightstand, a condom, unwrapping it and rolling it on. He scoots up to the headboard, and Stiles can’t wait any longer, sinking himself onto Derek’s cock.
He’s full to the point of aching, and Derek moans when Stiles starts rocking his hips, slowly at first, but then he can’t hold back anymore, Derek just feels so good. Stiles just rides him harder, going faster until Derek just closes his eyes, wraps his arms around him, leans forward, and whispers, “Slow down, Stiles, I’m gonna--”
“Please,” Stiles begs, because he wants to see Derek fall apart beneath him. He slows down anyways, but it’s no less intense, because Derek grips his hips and thrusts upwards, and oh, that’s Stiles’ prostate.
“Stiles,” Derek gasps, surging forward, and Stiles kisses him once again. It’s overwhelming, being this close, Derek inside of him, moving in tandem with Stiles, Derek’s hands across his back, holding him close.
Stiles collapses forward into Derek’s neck, feeling the soft heat of the skin there, pressing his lips to the skin.
On impulse, Stiles keeps kissing down to Derek’s collarbone, and then kisses Derek’s mark.
Derek pants, and he looks wrecked, like this simple act is affecting him more than Stiles grinding down on him. “Does that feel good?” Stiles asks, but he already knows somehow, knows that the undercurrent of emotion running through his body isn’t just his own anymore, a repeating StilesStilesyoufeelsogoodStilesIloveyouStiles in Derek’s soft voice, playing over and over.
“Stiles, we--I can feel you--”
“Yes,” Stiles groans, fucking himself on Derek, and then it’s too much, the overwhelming pleasure coursing through his body that is the both of them, together. He comes spectacularly all over Derek’s chest, and then Derek is coming, his body shuddering as he thrusts up one more time. Stiles feels it, the jolt of white hot pleasure in his mind, and it’s new and wonderful and amazing.
He leans forward, the both of them panting desperately. Derek is blinking in surprise. “We’ve bonded,” he says in awe. “I didn’t know it would feel like that.”
“Everyone is different,” Stiles says, thinking about that awkward presentation in back in middle school, Your Soulmate and You. Everyone had laughed when the presenter had started talking about how bonds manifested themselves differently in people, possibly resulting in heightened awareness of their partner, or shared dreams, and even the occasional telepathic connection. Stiles had laughed the hardest at that. He didn’t really think this sort of thing happened at all. That bonded pairs were making it up, the sometimes we feel each other’s emotions thing.
He doesn’t want to move at all, but they’ll get pretty gross soon, so Stiles does, sighing at the empty ache as he eases off Derek. He flops back on the bed, content. Derek kisses him on the cheek, getting off the bed. He reappears with a towel from the bathroom, cleaning them both up and then lying back on the bed with Stiles.
It’s kind of amazing. Stiles can hear Derek breathing, can see his chest rise and fall. He takes Derek’s hand, fascinated by the whorls in his fingers, the lines in his palm, dragging his fingertips lazily across Derek’s skin.
In the back of his head, Stiles can just pick out just faintly, a thought that isn’t his own: happymineStileshappymine.
“Yeah, I am,” Stiles says out loud, even though he doesn’t need to.
Three Months Later
The airport isn’t that bad, but somehow there’s a small crowd of fans anyways, people with signs that say “BEACON HILLS LOVES DEREK” and “DEREK HALE #1 FAN.” You know, the usual.
Derek waves at them, but he’s holding Stiles’ hand in the other, something Stiles is still getting used to.
“You guys look so cute!” a girl shrieks at them from behind the barrier.
“Uh, thanks?” Stiles says, as she offers him a photograph of Stiles and Derek for them to sign. Stiles? She’s asking Stiles for autographs? Stiles is a nobody.
He signs her photo anyways, and she looks ridiculously happy, even before Derek signs it.
“You’re not nobody,” Derek whispers to him as they spot a guy with a sign that says “STILINSKI & HALE” at the end of the crowd.
“You heard that?” Stiles asks, surprised. “I thought it was really kind of random, the shared thoughts and emotion thing.”
“I thought you knew,” Derek says, waving at the driver meeting them.
“No? Did you figure out a pattern of when it happens and when it doesn’t?”
Derek is blushing. “Uh. Usually during and for awhile right after we, uh…”
Stiles gets an image in his head of the airplane bathroom. “Oh whoa, score one for the mile high club,” Stiles says, nudging Derek and grinning. Derek smiles back, kissing his temple, and a bunch of cameras goes off.
Stiles will never get used to it. He shakes his head, walking towards the driver, who looks familiar. “Hey! Rob!” Stiles says, as he takes their bags.
“Hello, Mr. Hale, Mr. Stilinski, my company figured you might want a familiar face while you’re in the area,” Rob says. He leads them to the parking lot and a sleek black towncar, stowing their luggage in the trunk.
“Trust me, there will be no shortage of those. I’m from here,” Stiles says, shrugging nonchalantly. “We would have driven, but unfortunately this was right in the middle of filming, Derek needs to be back in LA right after the wedding for Green Lantern, so.”
Rob drives them out of the airport, and Stiles stretches out in the roomy backseat, right over Derek’s lap. Derek is scrolling through his phone, catching up on whatever happened while they were in the air.
“Isaac is apparently having a good time,” he says, showing the phone to Stiles.
“Hm,” Stiles says, flicking through Isaac’s selfies. He’d flown into Beacon Hills a week early for the wedding, apparently to hang out or something. There’s a photo of Isaac and Scott at the Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital, with Isaac’s face covered in Sharpie, the muscles on his face neatly written out, a laughing Scott next to him. Another photo of Isaac at Allison’s archery range, and then a shot of them at the diner on Main Street, eating pancakes.
The next photo is of Stiles’ asleep, curled up in Derek’s bed.
Seeing it sends a curl of warmth through Stiles’ heart. Sometimes he can’t believe this is real, that this is his life. He reaches for Derek for a kiss, and Derek pulls him close, and then their bodies press against each other, Derek pinning him down to the seat.
It’s kind of silly and familiar, and before Stiles can remark on the déjà vu, he hears the sound of the car partition rolling up, and Rob saying, “There’s lube and condoms next to the mini-bar.”
Derek almost falls off of Stiles in shock, and Stiles steadies him, both of them looking startled. “What?!” Stiles exclaims.
“Oh. I just felt bad that last time you guys just like, fooled around for an hour, I mean this is a complete service, you know,” Rob says from the driver’s seat, voice slightly muffled now that the partition is up. “Okay, carry on. There are lube and condoms next to the mini-bar. I’m just doing my job. Letting you know and everything.”
“We’re not gonna fuck in the backseat of this car while you drive!” Stiles insists. Derek sits down next to him, ears turning pink. “Oh my God, you were totally thinking about it,” he says, nudging Derek.
“I--ah--no,” Derek says. “Unless you want to.”
“He can totally hear us!”
Derek raises his eyebrow, and well, okay, Stiles has to agree, he’s never let that stop them before.
They arrive late for the wedding rehearsal dinner.
Allison is resplendent in her dress, and she’s every inch the image of the perfect bride.
Including freaking out.
“What, what is it? Is everything okay?” Stiles asks. “Everything is beautiful, the flowers look amazing, all the decorations look lovely, and we’re all set for the perfect wedding, right?”
Allison wrings her hands. “No, no, Scott’s cousin Miguel got food poisoning last night. Apparently no one bothered to tell me he was allergic to shellfish!”
The dressing room is filled with bridesmaids and groomsmen, and one blatantly empty suit laid out on the couch.
“Shit, was he in the wedding party?” Stiles asks.
“Yeah, we could do the procession without him, but it’ll be all uneven, and you won’t have anyone to walk with you, and then the music cues will all be off, it’s a disaster, really,” Allison says, clearly distressed.
Stiles tries to remember from rehearsal yesterday all the meticulous planning that had gone into making sure the procession went exactly the way Allison wanted. She’d wanted this thing where all ten groomsmen would go first, two by two, and then the ten bridesmaids, the same. It was a little unheard of to do two at a time, but clearly both Scott and Allison were so well-loved they had to have a huge wedding party.
“Okay, it’ll be fine, Ally. Just uh--we can just have someone else walk in his place. Did you ask Isaac?”
Allison shakes her head. “He’s too tall. Suit wouldn’t fit him.”
Stiles eyes the suit, thinking quickly. “So... I have an idea.”
“This isn’t how I pictured walking you down the aisle,” Derek whispers to Stiles as they walk, rose petals soft beneath their feet.
“Oh, so you’ve pictured it?” Stiles whispers back, grinning as they head to the altar. They turn left, standing at attention as Scott walks up to the altar, face alight with happiness.
If any of the guests notice two of the groomsmen holding hands for the entire ceremony, nobody says anything. The attention isn’t on them, anyways.
Scott dips Allison into a kiss, and everyone cheers. Rice is thrown into the air as Scott and Allison walk down the aisle, hand in hand.
Stiles and Derek follow them out next, rice landing in their hair, sliding down their collars.
Derek smiles at him, and it doesn’t take a soulbond for Stiles to know he’s thinking: someday.
Thank you all so much for reading! Whether you've stuck with me from the beginning and waited patiently for each update, or just started reading today, I appreciate all of you so much! This has definitely been a journey. When heathyr first posted that prompt, I had no idea my little prompt fill would get the response that it did. It took a long while getting the companion piece out and actually finished, but here it is at last. I know the prompt itself got extremely popular, and there are many other fills, which is really neat to see other people put their spin on it as well. The prompt even traveled to the Merlin fandom! Very cool.
As always, thank you so much for your reading, kudos, comments and subscriptions. 2014 has been a great year, and I'm glad to have shared it with all of you.
And I know someone will probably ask about the Scott-Allison-Isaac shenanigans... that is a story for another time.
ART IN AMERICA- GALLERY REVIEW EXCERPT
Isaac Lahey’s latest series captures the elusive mystery of the human nose. Each sculpture is finely detailed and majestic, depicting the nose in a larger to life medium. Like Lahey’s previous works, his methodological inscrutability is visible in the style. Each piece is a different experience, a bold and daring study done on the macro level.
When asked for comment, Lahey simply replied, “Oh, I was just trying to prove something.” The artist subtly alludes to the nature of the human condition, and we at Art in America are certain these sculptures will withstand the test of time.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY- INTERVIEW EXCERPT
After the lackluster response to Ryan Reynolds’s Green Lantern, DC fans were left wondering if the franchise would ever make it to the big screen and do justice to the extensive comic mythology. Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight does all that and more. Fans won’t be calling it a reboot, but will simply ignore that the first was ever made.
Derek Hale plays an incredible Kyle Rayner: a man of depth and morality who channels the Green Lantern power through sheer force of will. Hale absolutely shines in his film, acting chops, as seen in The Last Soldier, put to great use. The writing is sharp and funny, fast-paced and thrilling, and the special effects are out of this world.
The best special effect is not computer generated at all: Hale wears a skintight green uniform for most of the movie.
LOS ANGELES TIMES- ARTICLE EXCERPT
The grand opening of the first of a series of middle schools dedicated to nurturing the performing arts in inner-city Los Angeles was a grand affair, attended by the mayor of Los Angeles, several board members from the California Department of Education and quite a few famous faces as well. Actor Derek Hale, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Last Soldier, spearheaded the fundraising campaign. He personally donated over three million dollars to jumpstart these specific schools. Ten more are planned to open within the year.
The first school is named for Paige Everhart, the actress who America fondly remembers for her Oscar-winning performance at fifteen in Notoriety, and then for her television show, Paige Forward. Everhart and Hale had been close friends, and there had been plenty of media speculation that the two were romantically involved before her tragic death.
At the dedication Hale talked about Everhart, a subject he has long been known to skirt around in interviews. Today he was solemn and open, and at the end of his speech there was not a dry eye in the house.
“Paige was my best friend, and a bright, clever soul. She was talented in so many ways-- I remember she used to play the cello in our high school orchestra, even though she didn’t go to our school,” Hale said, remembering fondly. “She got bored with her tutors on set, needed something to challenge her. That’s how I met her, in a band room that smelled like old sweat.”
Hale goes on to reminisce about their friendship, about how Everhart convinced Hale to guest star on her television show, jump-starting his own career as an actor. They remained close even as the whirlwind life of Hollywood descended upon them.
“Her death was an accident. I believed it to be my fault for the longest time, and my manager convinced me to keep acting, no matter what, because he said it was what Paige had wanted, and I followed blindly, throwing myself into roles that I did not enjoy, just doing the work.”
“That was a long time ago, and I realized that I can honor her memory in a better way. I hope she can inspire many more young people to pursue their dreams in the arts, and that these schools help provide the education the students in this city deserves.”
Hale took the time to talk more about education and posed for photographs with the first enrolled student class. The actor, long known to be somewhat of a recluse outside of his charity work, was wearing a v-neck shirt that casually displayed a hint of feathered wing from his raven soulmark. There were quite a few questions directed towards Hale’s relationship, specifically since the notable incident last year when an overly enthusiastic fan had pulled at his shirt, revealing his soulmark, but he simply reiterated the statement Hale Talents, Ltd had released a few months ago, that Hale was happily in a relationship with one Mieczysław “Stiles” Stilinski.
PEOPLE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW EXCERPT #1
P: So you’ve been together for…?
SS: I dunno. Um, more than a year?
DH: One year, four months, five days.
SS: Aww, you remembered.
[People Magazine would like to note at this point Stilinski is giving Hale the most adoring eyes, and Hale actually seems to be blushing.]
P: Tell us about your story! We know you were in a relationship for some time now, with that press release--
DH: Yeah, that wasn’t my idea. I mean, yes, Hale Talents did release the information to the press, but I didn’t want to go public with the idea, just yet.
SS: Wanted to keep me for yourself?
DH: [blushing again! Where is that photographer when you need her?] Yes.
P: Do you want to start from the beginning?
DH: He was wearing Batman boxers. It was adorable.
SS: [covers face] You totally are giving them the wrong idea!
DH: I don’t know what idea we’re supposed to be giving. I thought we were starting from the beginning, and the beginning was that you were doing a video interview for the position of my personal assistant, and you forgot to wear pants.
PEOPLE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW EXCERPT #2
P: So you never answered the question… are you two soulmates?
[At this point Stilinski and Hale look at each other, and the tension is palpable in the room. Almost as if they’re reading each others thoughts, like some bonded pairs are able to do.]
SS: [removes his shirt, revealing a matching raven soulmark on his hip] We have matching marks, if that’s what you mean. I know some people make a bigger deal out of it than others-- and I was never really about that destiny, that my match could be the only person for me, and I think I set out to meet Derek to kind of prove otherwise. And somehow meeting him, knowing him-- like I felt I just wanted him to be happy, whether I was in his life or not.
DH: I think I would have fallen in love with Stiles even if he didn’t have the mark. When I found out, I was already head over heels, I just had convinced myself that he didn’t want me, he was waiting for someone else. But it turned out that he was waiting for me, and yeah. We are soulmates. Maybe part of that was the catalyst for us getting together, but it’s not why we stayed together.
[Stilinski and Hale smile at each other, and reach for each others hands to hold.]
P: And why…?
SS: [shrugs] Because we love each other. The soulmate thing? It’s a bonus.
And that's all, folks!