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So You Think You Can Dance  season eleven auditions, Chicago.  

Stiles Stilinski has been waiting for this day for years. He just turned eighteen yesterday, so he just barely makes the cut to audition.

"Are you nervous? You shouldn't be nervous, Stiles, you're so talented. God, your mom would be so proud of you. Don't let that put pressure on you though! I don't want to make you nervous."

Stiles laughs. "Dad, Dad, calm down. I'm fine. Trust me, you're way more nervous than I am."

Sheriff Stilinski runs a hand over his face nervously. "Probably." He claps Stiles on the shoulder. "I am really proud of you, son. It takes a lot of guts to do this."

The dancer shoos him away. "Go, go take your seat inside. I can handle signing up on my own."

The sheriff pulls him in for a quick, absurdly tight hug. "I love you."

"Love you too, Dad. Now go!"

 

Stiles hands in all of the paperwork and receives his number, placing it proudly on his signature red hoodie. Then he gets in line (again) to do his interview. 

"Okay, this is easy," the producer says as he sits down, checking her clipboard. "Who are you, how old are you, what do you do, and what style to you specialize in?"

"My name is Stiles, I just turned eighteen yesterday, and I am from Keokuk, Iowa. I am trained in tap, ballet, and jazz, but I specialize in contemporary."

"Tell me Stiles, when did you start dancing?"

"My mom always told me that I was born dancing," Stiles says, his wide smile softening into something misty, soft. "I started classes when I was three."

"Your parents?"

"My father is the sheriff of Lee County. He's here with me today, actually. Mom was--" Stiles clears his throat. "Mom was a dancer with Ballet Chicago until she broke her ankle at twenty-four. She and Dad had me a year later."

"What does she do now?"

"She... she passed away when I was eight. Lung cancer."

"Oh, I'm so sorry."

"No, no." Stiles shakes his head. "It's her faith in me that lead me to pursue this path. I'm glad I had her while I did." 

He gets the hell out of Dodge as soon as he can, rushing to find a place in the auditorium to wait for his number to be called. His fingers are wrapped around his Saint Vitus pendant, asking him and his mom for help with this audition.

Stiles can do this.

He can.

Stiles' number is called.

Holy shit.

 

So You Think You Can Dance season eleven auditions, Los Angeles. 

Danny smiles. A smile brings the world to you, his mother likes to say. Well this time it provides him with a sticky number to plaster on his tight-fitting wife-beater. 1734. Better than last time, not that the order has any effect on the end result.

"So you go through there and the manager will..."

"I know the drill, thanks," Danny replies. He grins more widely and she reddens as she sends him on his way. The dimples at work, excusing his stress-induced rudeness.

The waiting room is packed, a curious mix of loud and quiet patches of people. He finds a chair between a lanky guy lounging and a skittish girl who looks like she's fourteen. He sits down, quietly pulls his phone out, nearly dropping it as it buzzes twice right then.

From Stef: Good luck bro! Kick it and I love you!

From Mom: Call me tonight. You can still go back or come back home. I love you.

He saves the first text, erases the other. No negativity today. "Second time's the charm, no third attempt," he whispers.

"What's that?"

Danny looks over to the guy to his left. "Nothing, just trying to psych myself up."

The guy smirks. "Let it go." He looks him up and down. "Ballet, huh?" Danny nods with a frown. "Shoulders are a tell. Give up, I have this one, it's my specialty."

Danny leans back. "Really?"

"Number 1568!"

The guy stands up and looks at Danny over his shoulder on his way out. "Really. Jackson Whittemore's the only name people will remember from this competition, regardless of the genre."

......

"OK, Danny Male..."

"Mahealani. It's Hawaiian."

"Oh nice!" the manager replies. Danny almost rolls his eyes at the fake enthusiasm. "So tell us your story."

Danny sighs. Don't mention last year. They will do it soon enough. He clears his throat and smiles. "I'm Danny Mahealani. I'm 20 years old and I study at the Los Angeles Ballet school, a lot of genres but modern ballet's my favorite. I'm also doing a BA in computer science at CSU."

"That's a lot, any time for a life outside of school? Family?"

"Not really. My family is still in Hawaii. I'm on my own in LA but I like it. Any time I have is for dancing."

"That's the spirit. So tell us Danny, why do you want to win So You Think You Can Dance?"

His smile disappears, just a little. "Dancing is what I am meant to do. I want to prove it."

He falls quiet. Forget it all. This year is yours.

.

Stiles takes the stage, answers the usual questions, is called "precious" by Mary Murphy and takes his position, all in a blur.     

He can almost hear Mom saying, "Deep breaths. Stand up straight. Posture is everything."

The music starts-- "Hungry Like the Wolf," because no one likes irony more than Little Red.

The beat takes over, and Stiles launches into the routine he could do in his sleep. These moves are as much a part of him as his blood, the number itself rehearsed to perfection. It shows off his flexibility, versatility, and general style in just a handful of bars.   

He's panting by the end of it, rising from show coma into a crashing wave of applause.   

The judges each hold a ticket above their head.  

"Vegas!"

Holy shit.

He did it.

 

Danny stretches one last time, his leg far up on the wall and both hands around his ankle. A few deep breaths help feeling the slight burn of the pulled muscles disappear. What doesn't go away is Jackson, at the far end of the room but still loud enough that Danny can hear him. So the guy got  a ticket after less than 30 seconds. Big whoop.

"1734, you're up!"

Jackson winks at him as he passes him, raising his ticket just a little. "I've got a spot. Natural talent they said."

Danny shrugs. "So I heard. But talent isn't everything." 

....

He steps on the stage. His hands tremble slightly, he turns it into a fluttering motion against his thighs. He's heard and seen enough about that part.

Witty. Charming. Memorable. The winning trio. He aims his answers accordingly, even removes his wife beater when Mary gushes over his abs. The cheers make him blush and grin, which gains even more applause. Nigel manages to get a relatively quiet room with a few annoyed "Please people, Mary, thank you..."

Once the music starts, all timidity disappears. The flowing music, with just the edge of an urban rhythm underneath, is a recent mix from one of his friends. Something they concocted together and dancing to it feels like second nature to him. He doesn't get too lost into the sounds, but instead keeps a tight leash on his body. Making sure every movement is finished, controlled, perfected. You don't make the same mistakes twice, not with your passion on the line.

He finishes his set with short breath but a satisfied smile. Nailed it. The compliments (perfect technique young man!) and the golden ticket confirm it.

He makes a point of shoving the glittery paper directly in Jackson's face when he goes back into the room.

 

Stiles takes his ticket gratefully, hugging Nigel and Twitch and going so far as to press as smacking kiss to Mary's lips with a hoot. (Eat your heart out, America.) He goes running down the aisle and through the auditorium doors into his father's arms.    

"I'm so proud of you, Stiles," John murmurs, his hug tighter than ever, "and I know your mom is too."

Stiles films final reaction shots, hugs Cat Deeley (holy shit) and sneaks back into the auditorium to keep watching.

It always helps to have an eye out for competition.         

A Latino tutter in a battered Mets cap catches his attention. The boy is all puppy dog charm, the kind of guy people pick up the phone for just because he's cute. Stiles is about to write this McCall kid off-- until he starts to dance. His rhythm is impeccable, his moves incredible, and his control admirable.   

When Scott McCall makes the "hot tamale train," Stiles marks him down as someone to beat.

 

Danny sticks around for a few hours. Getting a vibe of the other contestants, and winding down after the intense first part of his day. 

Just his luck, one other person is determined to do as much. They end up sitting side by side again, near one of the monitors and observing the auditions closely.

He's deep in thoughts, taking notes from a fluid guy that manages to make hip-hop look graceful, when his phone rings again.

"Yeah," he answers without taking his eyes off the screen.

"Did you make it? " an excited voice asks him.

His face softens and he grins. "Of course I did Stef. You can tell mom I'm not going back anytime soon. I'm taking it to the end!" he replies, the excitement seeping into his voice.

She screams in delight and congratulates him a couple of times before hanging up, She's already eager to tell everyone, she says. Danny is still smiling when he puts his phone back in his pocket.

"Girlfriend? I heard squealing," Jackson asks, off-handed.

"Little sister. She's 13, she gets loud when she's happy," Danny throws back.

"Must be nice, having a family that cares," Jackson mumbles. Danny frowns and shoots him a look but Jackson is purposefully looking away. He doubts he's actually looking at something but when he follows his stare someone grabs his attention.

A tall brunette, face very pale and eyes wide with anxiety, is looking around, and pacing her corner of the room in long strides.

Jackson notices him and grins. "Nice choice. She has killer legs, I don't blame you."

Danny scoffs and takes a step back. "No, Not my type."

"How can she not be? She's gorgeous!"

"My type’s guys in general, anyone who isn't you in particular," Danny replies, making his way towards the girl.

 

A brunette in a hoodie and black work-out pants plops into the seat beside Stiles not long after Scott McCall goes running out with his ticket to Vegas. She's pretty, in that 'look at me and I'll kill you kind of way,' and Stiles bets she has a killer smile-- that she graces on very few.

She nods in his direction, a short upward jerk of the head that is honestly more than Stiles was expecting from her. "Cora."

"Stiles."

"That's a name?"

"It's my name."

"Cool."

Stiles watches as a girl in a black leotard with a flowing blue ballet skirt takes the stage. She's beautiful, and looks kinda like Cora-- except the girl onstage is smiling.

"My name is Laura Hale," she says softly.

The girl beside him bursts into life, standing to holler, "Whoo, go Lau-ra!"

Stiles laughs without thought. "Girlfriend? Sister?"

"Sister." Cora looks at him like she's seeing into his soul. Stiles can't help but squirm under her gaze. "You aren't half bad."

"Thanks, I guess."

 

"Hey." Danny greets the girl with a gentle tap on the shoulder. She spins on her heels and replies with a tight smile. But a friendly voice.

"Hi!"

"Are you... Are you OK?" Danny tries. She goes even paler and instinctively he reaches for her arms. "Whoa, you look like you're going to pass out!"

She sighs and grips his hand. "I won't. This... It's just a lot of stress and..." She eyes him up and the hint of a smile, more relaxed this time, appears on her face. "Can you do lifts?"

Taken aback, Danny automatically blurts out a "yes" (he's done his fair share of pairs dancing at school) and she grins eyes sparkling, and immediately takes position, legs close together, arms raised in a delicate porté. He shakes his head once and shrugs. Why not? With a firm grip on her waist he pulls her up, over his head and lets her arch in his hands. She moves fluidly between his fingers, instinctively finding the balance and power to move without overbearing him.

He holds the position a few more seconds, until he sense her pushing to bring her legs back down, to the ground. He releases her gently, she lands with a soft thud and closes her eyes.

"Thank you," she breathes out. She looks back at him. Already her face is more colored and vivacious. "I don't dance by myself, normally. My boss told me I could do this but... It's so different, being just on my own and... I needed that, just that one pairs move helped, thank you," she repeats.

Danny shrugs again, with a little more empathy this time. "You're welcome. Danny Mahealani." He extends his hand, even if it seems superfluous given how close they just were.

She shakes it nonetheless, with surprising energy. "Jennifer Blake, pleased. You have great strength by the way." She catches a glimpse of the gold ticket in his pocket. "I'm not surprised you got one of these."

"Thank you. You'll get one too I'm sure. I've never seen someone as... pliable? I mean it as a compliment," he quickly adds.

She laughs, low and quiet. "Thanks, let's hope so, because I'm on my first and last chance."

"Really?"

"Age limit, I'm just 6 months under it. I'm probably the oldest here..."

Danny winks at her. "Age... Experience I say. With that, your skills and that beautiful face? It's in the bag."

She looks down at her hands, stops twisting them. "Thank you Danny, you're really sweet."

He sits her down, takes the seat next to her and bumps her shoulder. "Just because it's a competition doesn't mean we all have to act like independent assholes." He glances at the back of the room. Jackson is still there, no longer interested by the monitor but instead by a striking, minuscule redhead. Who looks thoroughly unimpressed by his discourse, judging how hard she focuses of her nails. Good.

 

Laura goes through to choreo (though Stiles would have sent her to Vegas, but they didn't ask him) and the next person takes the stage.

"So, Cora Hale, what's your style?" Stiles would try for suave but he thinks she'd castrate him for flirting.

"Krump."

"With a contemporary sister?" Stiles grins. "I bet that's fun."

She stares at him blankly until his grin falters and falls.

"Ignore me, it really is for the best," he mumbles, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Stiles keeps his eyes on the stage, where a girl is succeeding in making a fool of herself, but not much else.

"Freak reel," he mutters under his breath, and Cora snorts.

Hey, he made her laugh! (Or well, ish. He's gonna count it though.)

Score one for Stilinski.

Cora makes it through to choreo, but there aren't enough male dancers and only a few agree to dance twice.

"I'll do it," Stiles calls out when the choreographer asks for volunteers. Part of him is thinking about how this'll look to America at home, and part of him just doesn't want to watch Cora fail.

Christ, he's getting attached already.

Ah, fuck it. He needs the brownie points.

When he takes the stage to learn the routine, Cora graces him with a ghost of a smile.

He was right- it is beautiful.

 

Jennifer soon leaves for her final prep before stepping onstage. Danny manages to be left in peace for a grand total of 3 minutes. After that length of time, Jackson takes the seat vacated by Jennifer and smirks.

“Danny, I think the title is not the only thing I’ll get from this competition.”

Danny stays silent. Maybe if he ignores him long enough he’ll leave him alone. But curiosity killed the cat, in this circumstance makes Danny follow Jackson’s intent stare. The girl he was talking to turns around, just a second too late, enough for Danny to see her face and its many expressions. Uh, so it’s possible to look furious, guilty, aroused and amused at the same time. Who knew?

“She loves me already.”

Danny tries to concentrate on the monitor (Jennifer still looks so scared, damn it) but Jackson makes it impossible. Muttering about the girl, over and over. Lydia, Danny learns, is a ballroom dancer. A prodigy. The youngest to win a state title. She has a beautiful pout. She can kill with a squint, she was reluctant at first but she's clearly into him, etc.

"Man, why are you telling me about your little crush... I literally could not care less."

Jackson looks at him questioningly, crossing his arms. "She's the one with the crush, what are you talking about?"           

"Sure. Just... Leave me alone, OK?"

Jackson stares with a playful smile. "Nah. You're a good listener and you don't play for the same team. Until I kick you out of the competition, I think we should and will get along."

There isn't an eyeroll dramatic enough for this line.

.....

It comes very close to a total disaster. Danny watches with baited breath the judges conversing quietly. They are frowning and bear serious faces. It looks like a done deal but Mary seems more enthusiastic and keeps shaking her head with vehemence. They turn back towards the stage.

“Jennifer, obviously your anxiety made your performance stilted, you know that.” Jennifer nods, cheeks flushed.

“We expect more confidence from a dancer of your age and level of experience,” Mary continues.

Danny can almost hear Jennifer’s heart sink and he’s surprised to find himself just as upset as well.

“But you have natural grace and your masterful and easy expressiveness saved your performance. We’d like to see you at the end of the day. Get a grip on your stress and impress us like I know you can, OK?”

The auditorium erupts in cheers and Danny, in the waiting room, is the loudest of everyone there. Jennifer lets out a relieved sigh and thanks the judges many times before flying backstage. Danny doesn’t hesitate and lifts her into an epic hug as soon as she re-enters the waiting room.

“Let’s get you ready, I’m not going to Vegas without you, I won't survive only knowing Jackson there.” he says, face half-buried in her curls. She laughs, a little shaky, but pulls away and leads him to a calm corner with renewed confidence.

 

They walk through the steps once, twice, three times, and Stiles is kind of amazed at how easily Cora picks everything up.

"Are you classically trained?" he asks her as they wait in the wings for their turn onstage.

Cora pauses in her quick run through of her part to side-eye him. "Not as such, but I sat in on almost all of Laura's classes."

Stiles steps in to help her mark spacing. "You're good."

"For a krumper, right?" Cora asks with a sneer, spinning out from his grasp.

He spins her back in, catching her against his chest as she kicks. "No. For a dancer."

Another ghost of a smile, and Stiles adds a point to his "Get Cora Hale to Smile" tally.

....

"Stiles, Cora, step forward," Nigel says, looking at his notes.

They do so.

"First of all, thank you, Mr. Stilinski, for staying to help," Mary says with a smile. "It reminded us that we were right in sending you to Vegas."

Stiles blushes, rubbing the back of his neck and ducking his head. Cora elbows him in the ribs and he stands straight again.

"Now, Miss Hale-- we were concerned that, as a krumper, you wouldn't be able to keep up in the competition," Nigel begins, "Though you are quite talented in your own field."

There is a long, painful silence while Cora digs her fingernails into the back of Stiles' hand.

"We were wrong!" Mary yells, waving a ticket. "You're going to Vegas!"

Cora's mask breaks for a shining second, her shock overtaking her expression. She launches herself into Stiles' arms for a brief moment before running down the steps for her ticket.

He follows her out into the lobby, laughing until his chest feels tight and his face feels fragile. The tough-as-nails hip-hopper waits until they're out of range of the cameras before she presses a kiss to his forehead.

"I owe you one," she says with another almost-smile. "I couldn't have done it without you for my partner."

Stiles grins. "Pay me back by joining me for group night in Vegas."

"You've got a deal, Stilinski."

 

"You will have an hour to practice. Danny and Jennifer, you'll go first."

The contestants sparse themselves across the stage. Danny drags Jennifer away from all the others. She's been strangely silent all throughout the demo. occasionally mouthing to herself. The choreography is simple enough, more upbeat than what they're used to but she's been solid with it from the start.

"You have this, right?" he asks, while they take a couple of steps backstage.

She shimmies around, biting her lip and slacking out her shoulders. "Pretty much. This is more my turf. Not the style, obviously, but a class setting... OK normally I'm on the other side but still." She flexes a hand and calls him to her. He smiles and swirls her around.

"You teach?"

"Assistant at a ballet school. I mingle with the students and demo with them directly. I do stand-ins in rehearsals for the shows too. So usually I'm paired up," she explains, swinging left and right in Danny's arms. She twirls and he dips her way down, with one steady arm.

"Good for you that I'm sticking around then!" he laughs. She winks and slides back up.

"I agree!"

Practice flies by, easily. The steps come to them naturally and from the way they move with each other, you'd think they've danced together for years.

Chemistry must play for something because swing numbers and ballet dancers don't usually mix well. The gold ticket Mary waves proudly for Jennifer proves that with the right people, it can work magic.

They high-five, breathless, relieved and happy. After filming their reaction footage, they head out. It's enough for today.

 

So You Think You Can Dance, season eleven auditions, Miami 

"So twins, same genre, same training. Any competition between the two of you or do you stick together?" 

"Both, depending on the situation," Aiden replies with a sly smile. "For now we support each other. Once the going gets rough, that will change."

Ethan smiles but his eyes don't. His brother and his dramatic instincts.

The manager nods. "Nice. Can you tell us about your specific style? You both do ballet, right?"

Ethan sits up straighter and crosses his arms. "Well, we do classical mostly but we bring something more to the table, on several levels. I think our audition will show that and earn us a trip to Vegas." He glance at Aiden. "Both of us."

"That sounds intriguing," the interviewer replies flatly. "I think we have everything for now, you can go. Good luck guys."

Ethan rolls his eyes. So many contestants, no wonder she doesn't even bother with intonation and surprise anymore.

They make their way to the stage, confidence in every step. It sticks with them as they face the judge and introduce themselves.

"Aiden and Ethan Monroe. We're ballet dancers and this our take on a classical choreography from Giselle."

The music swells through the speakers, they face each other and with one look they start moving, in perfect unison. The sequence flows from one emotion and atmosphere to the other, first showing their skills and rhythm by having them play off each other like a mirror, before going back to the original number but having them switching from one role to the other. They finish by turning the normally simple, heartfelt choreography into a battle, twisting the steps so the kicks and leaps of one fall dangerously close to the other one, almost attacks. It's a packed minute, but one they practiced for months so it's flawless.

The music stops, Aiden's arm an inch from Ethan' face as he's knelt on the floor, panting. They share a look. The entire room is close to dead silent. None of them dare look at the judges. Not necessary, the combined voices yelling "Vegas!" tell them what they need to hear.

 

So You Think You Can Dance,  season eleven auditions, LA

"So, Kate, you're back."

The blonde leans in seductively, showing off her rack in the sultry red ballroom costume. "Of course I'm back. You couldn't keep me away if you tried."

"This is your third and final try. What makes you think you'll make it to the top twenty this year, Kate?"

She tosses her hair over her shoulder and gives her most beguiling smile. "Why, my charisma of course." Her laugh has a bite to it. "No, I've been working my ass off on both my style and the others. I'm ready this year, baby. I don't intend to lose."

The manager clears his throat awkwardly. "Well, I think you're done. Thank you."

"No, baby, thank you." She walks off with a sway in her step, aware of the camera trained on her. 

She takes the stage with her latest partner, a twenty-one year old by the name of Tyler who really only serves as a prop for her routine. The Pizziola piece fills the stage, and they ignite. Every embrace, every pasada, every cuatro, lustrada, and toque is precise, calculated, and sultry.

Kate Argent is amazing at the Argentinian tango, and it is about damn time the world knows it.

She makes it to Vegas. Tyler does not. Apparently "set piece" doesn't look good to the judges.

Poor boy.

----

Morrell doesn't bother trying to charm the audience in her interview. Her dance will tell her story, why should she?

She takes the stage quickly, answers the few questions Nigel asks with as few words as possible, and sets for her mark.

Her dance tells the story of a girl left behind, chasing the ghost of her past with every step. Morrell throws herself into every step. She reaches with every particle of her body, lines carefully poised, leaps rehearsed to a science.

Nigel praises her lines, Mary her face, and Adam her story.

She isn't surprised.

---

Isaac takes the stage, his shoulders bowed, his eyes cast down.

"And your name is?"

"Isaac Lahey."

"And what, Mr. Lahey, will you be dancing for us today?"

"Contemporary, sir."

"When you're ready."

Isaac stands center stage, feet together, arms at his side, head down.

"Cue music!"

The opening chords of "Tristan" by Two Steps from Hell start blasting, and Isaac launches into his adaptation of one of Sonya Tayeh's routines. The number is strong, every move anchored in the floor. Isaac's lines stay crisp, his back rod straight, facials fierce.

There's a moment of silence before the audience goes wild, and Isaac can't help but blush.

"You're going to Vegas!"

 

So You Think You Can Dance, season eleven auditions, Miami 

With long, elastic strides, Kali makes her way onstage, her long skirt swishing around her legs and flowing between them every other step.

"I remember you... " Mary says with a grin. "The belly dancing tigress!"

Kali grins, striking a pose and making the ribbons on her hips flutter. "I knew I made an impression. I'll take it further than Vegas this time."

"One level at the time, young woman." Nigel retorts. Kali nods with a regal air and takes her position.

Last year she was eliminated during Vegas weeks, her inexperience with modern dances being more than what her talent could compensate for. She strengthens her pose and stare becomes more serious. A year of rigorous practice, of new experiences have fixed this flaw. She sticks to her specialty for the initial audition though.

The traditional gypsy melody starts and her hips do as well. The music has a layer of more tribal rhythm and she adapted the choreography accordingly. Strong arms, hard and decided gestures that should clash with her rapidly moving hips but don't. With this number, belly dancing is no longer just a seduction, it commands respect. Demands and obtains it. Along with a ticket to Vegas.

She leaves the stage with few words and a satisfied bounce in her walk.

.....

"Your name, sweetheart?"

Her eyes get colder, instantly. "Allison Argent," she replies without a smile. Damn her sweet face, she means business, not cuteness.

"And what will you present us with?"

"Jazz."

"Very well, go on," Nigel says, letting her go with a flicker of the hand.

The heavy piano notes of Back to Black begin and she disappears into the music and story. There is a man on stage, not really but in her mind and she tells their tale. She has limited time but she uses it well. Soft, pleading gestures at first, turning around where the man would stand, then the anger rises in her and the steps become sultrier, hips swaying more seductively, while her face hardens more and more. She steps all around the imaginary guy, in long strides, kicks that get higher and higher. She juts her head back, dramatic an vengeful. She bends backwards, one leg way up in the air, and brings it back fiercely at the very end, with a glare in her eyes. Perfect control and finish.

The judges clear their throat and start discussing. Her character fades away and she grows pale, except for the flush on her cheeks coming from exertion.

"Quite the powerful performance Allison. Your flexibility is impressive and your sense of theatricality as well. You deserve this ticket," Nigel announces.

All darkness goes away and she rushes to grab the golden ticket with a huge grin on her face.

....

"Another familiar face!" Mary exclaims, clapping her hands.

Ennis stops in the middle of the stage, hands on his hips and an expectant look on his face. It's not his place to ask questions but he's curious nonetheless. Third attempt, he knows a lot of the contestants. Went pretty far last year, until drama shot his concentration and sent him packing. This year he has his eyes on the prize. No distraction, he didn't even wait with the others, selecting to practice in a secluded corner instead until his number was called.

"I'm glad you decided to come back Ennis. Do think this time you'll make it?"

"I know it," he says.

"Show us what you got then."

Ennis nods and as soon as the music starts his body becomes lax. Lax but controlled. He smiles internally (the number isn't suited for a happy face), this is forte and he can feel it working, for the crowd and the judges. Movements seemingly easy, just the beat becoming gestures and steps, when actually there is a complexity behind them. Making it look fluid and natural is key and makes the whole number work on an undefinable level.

He gets out of his headspace and lets himself relax, completely, only when the last step is done.

Mary is grinning. "Wonderful, Ennis. You have that magic touch in your moves, it's beautiful. You could easily go for the hard and loud hip-hop, with your stature and looks but you choose a different genre and it's fantastic." She waves the coveted ticket in the air.

He laughs and throws a fist in the air before running down the few stairs to get his ticket.

"You can join Kali in Vegas!"

His face falls. His ex made it through, again?

So You Think You Can Dance,  season eleven auditions, Atlanta

 

A hulking beast of a man takes the stage.

"And what, my good man, is your name?" Nigel asks with eyebrows raised.

"Boyd."

"And is that your first name or your last name?"

He smiles, mouth closed. "Last name."

"Do you have a first name?"

"Vernon. Call me Boyd."

"Okay, Vernon Call-Me-Boyd, what will you be dancing for us today?"

"Tap."

"Take it away."

The number Boyd and his choreographer cooked up is technically complicated while still allowing him to show off his best tricks. Every tap is perfectly on rhythm, and he sticks his flips perfectly.

He's going to Vegas.

---

"Your name, dear?"

"Erica Reyes," she says with a confident smile, a jaunty hand on her hip.

"And what will you be dancing for us, Miss Reyes?"

"Well, I'll be dancing contemporary, but my specialty is pole-dancing.

Everyone's eyebrows raise.

Mary is the first to speak, "Like exercise-based?"

"Like stripping," Erica says with a practiced giggle. "But they wouldn't let me bring my pole."

Nigel looks at the stage manager accusingly. "Why didn't we okay that?"

Mary slaps his arm. "Let the girl dance."

The girl dances.

The girl will be riding the hot tamale train straight into Vegas.

Fuck yeah.

---

Greenberg twerks.

Greenberg goes to Choreo.

Greenberg is going to Vegas. 

Not even the judges believe it.

 

So You Think You Can Dance, season eleven auditions, Denver 

Heather and David stand right behind the curtain, whispering.

“I can’t believe we made it there!” she says, gripping his hand almost convulsively. He gives her a tight smile.

“Me neither. It’s kind of freaky.” He pauses, bites his lip and pulls her so she faces him. “Are you sure about this number? Shouldn’t we use last year’s Regionals number? We know it a lot better.”

She shakes her head sharp and decided. “Nope. You don’t get selected by playing it safe. This one has so much more pep. It’ll dazzle them, believe me.”

He kisses her quickly and tries to smile back. “I love you,” he tells her and she says it back, pulling him in for another kiss before their audition. Their number is called and he follows her onstage.

Their fox-trot on Forget You is complicated but impressive. Several lifts, intricate footwork and quick changes. Heather is stellar, all bubbly energy and sassy moves. David falters a couple of times and falls behind the rhythm towards the end.

After a minute of deliberation, Mary announces that while they are an adorable couple, only Heather moves on to the next round. They don’t let go of each other’s hand as they exit, and Heather’s joy could hardly be called that. Leaving her partner and fiancé behind doesn’t feel right, Vegas or not.

....

"Danny! Over here!"

Jennifer gestures widely until Danny sees her. He jogs up to her and hugs her.

"How are you?" she asks while they make their way into the auditorium. Most of the other contestants going to the next round are already there, twenty or so.

"Good. Stress-free, for now. You?"

Ugh." She sighs, runs her hand through her hair. "Already freaking out and thinking of details I need to fix. The usual." She lets out a short breathless chuckle. "But I'm just trying to let it go, enjoy the moment, you know?"

Danny bumps her shoulder affectionately. "I do." He spent half of the evening on the phone with Stef, trying to get a word in between a flurry of congratulations. It helped him not focus on the rest of the family and their silence.

They mingle with the rest of the dancers and while they wait for a few more and Cat, a small hand grips Danny's arm.

"Danny, right?"

He turns around. Lydia Martin. She stares at him, sizes him up actually. "You'll be my partner for the callbacks."

He glances at Jennifer and Lydia clicks her tongue. "Oh no sweetie, not her. Too tall, too relaxed. I'm the best but I still need someone to make me shine. You have everything I need."

He pulls his arm away. "No wonder you like Jackson. You guys are made for each other, go get him instead."

Her eyes narrow and a faint blush appears on her cheeks. "I do not like him. He's an arrogant douche," she states in a clear voice.

"Made. For. Each. Other." Danny mutters. Cat arrives just then, unknowingly stopping a fit from the tiny redhead.

"Hello guys! Now that we're done with the auditions here, take a good look around you. This is just a small part of the competition you'll be facing. Make friends but remember, at some point it will be you or them. Now let's shoot your group shots, shall we?"

Chapter Text

Stiles spends the three weeks between his audition and his flight to Vegas in alternating fits of excitement and nerves.

"Now Stiles, are you sure about this? You can always drop out. There's always next year. You have plenty of time to try again. You're only eighteen, so you don't have to--"

"Dad!"

John stops talking, sheepish. "Sorry, kid. I'm just--"

"Nervous, I get it." Stiles laughs. "But you have to trust me. I know I'm ready, I know I can do this. And if I don't make it as far as I would like, there's always next year. But to quit before Vegas Week? I'd hate myself for life."

John pulls him in for a manly hug. "You are so much like your mom. She'd be so proud of you."

"Thanks, Dad. Now shoo, I have to finish packing and your nerves are clouding my aura."

Stiles' phone lights up with a text not long after his dad leaves the room.

From Cora Hale: What the hell do I pack for this shit? I don't own a closet full of sparkly dance costumes.

To Cora Hale: Hell if I know, sorry. Guys just pack pants, shorts, and shirts. And then the shirts are never unpacked.

From Cora Hale: Thanks bro, really helpful.

Stiles tosses his phone onto the bed and finishes packing his one bag, and then checks his carry-on.

Laptop, charger, ipod, charger, phone charger. 

Someone appears at the door to his room.

"Go back downstairs, Dad, I'll be fine."

"Not your Dad," a softly accented voice floats in through the door. "But thanks. Your dad is hot."

Stiles laughs, looking up to find Derek Juarez standing in his doorway. 

"Hey, man, what are you doing here?"

"What, can I not wish Little Red good luck?" Derek sprawls out on his bed. "Los Lobos are behind you the whole way. We intend to take over the polls come the live show."

"I still don't know why no one else wanted to audition this year."

Derek shrugs. "None of us were ready. Or really wanted to audition. This years is yours."

"Thanks, man. That means a lot, coming from you."

"No problem, little dude. Just don't fuck this up."

"Oh trust me, I don't intend to."

 

Danny mentally checks items off the list as he puts the finishes touches to his suitcase. Workout outfits. Dancing ones. Some comfortable clothes to lounge in. A few more dressed-up options, just in case. On the top he carefully deposits three new, freshly broken pairs of pointe shoes. He doubts they will let him do much ballet but having them will be... comforting. And he doesn't want to fall behind on his routines.

He zips it up and drops it near the front door. One last look around his place. He hopes to not to see it for several months. Fridge is emptied, everything cleaned up. He's ready for the long haul.

His phone rings and he picks it up while checking his carry-on. "Yeah?"

"Hello Daniel."

The soft voice of his mother makes him look up and straighten his posture, by pure reflex. "Hi mom."

"You're leaving today, aren't you?"

"Yeah..."

She sighs. "Well, I just wanted to tell you good luck and be safe."

He frowns. "OK, thank you." He can't help himself. "No lectures today?"

Another sigh. "Honey, I can't make you change your mind, I know this. But I just hope you realize things on your own."

He drops his bag and rubs his neck with his free hand. "And what would that be?" he groans.

"That you're squandering your energy on the wrong opportunity. You putting your scholarship, your place at the ballet school and your whole future in jeopardy and for what? For a spot on a flimsy reality show?" She grows louder and more pleading with each word.

So can he. "Look mom, do you know what this shows has, what you so casually ignores? Visibility. Access to the professionals of the industry. Contacts. Experience, different experiences actually. I get to widen my style and learn from everyone."

"Still a risk for your career and I still think you should reconsider."

"I won't. Thank you for the encouragement but I don't need to think about this anymore. It's my second try, this time it feels right and I'm taking it home. And you'll see, it will have been the good choice."

He hangs up, feeling briefly guilty over ending the call so harshly. He shrugs it off and picks up his bags. She'll get over it and he has a plane to catch.

.....

Jackson texts him 10 times while he's on his way to the airport.

From Jackson: This seat sucked. At least we’ve landed.

From Jackson: OK the ride to the hotel is pretty nice.

From Jackson: I take it back we're packed and that guy smells weird.

From Jackson: Hotel room is TINY!

From Jackson: Just checked, Lydia's not here yet but your lady friend is. Gonna say hi.

From Jackson: Dude those legs, up close they're amazing.

From Jackson: She's mean though.

From Jackson: Lydia's here. She tries not to look at me, it's cute.

From Jackson: Where are you man?

From Jackson: Missing some nice prospects here.

Danny sends two texts back.

To Jackson: How did you get my number?

To Jackson: We're not friends, remember?

As he boards, he gets a reply.

From Jackson: You don't check your things when you dance and I’m sneaky. And no, I don't remember.

Danny decides to pin down Jackson as competition, asshole and problem. With a smile on his face that he fails to wipe off.

 

Stiles checks in as quickly as possible and heads up to his room, which he will be sharing with--

"Scott McCall, nice to meet you." The man-- boy really, he seems even younger than Stiles-- extends a fist.

Stiles bumps it with his own. "Stiles Stilinski, same."

"You were at the Chicago auditions, weren't you?" Scott asks, sprawling out on the bed he's already claimed.

Stiles tosses his suitcase on the rack and sets his messenger bag on his own bed. "Yeah, I was. You were the tutter, right?"

"Exactly." Scott smiles, and Stiles resists the urge to pat him on the head. "You remember me?"

"Dude, you were pretty memorable." Stiles finds himself drawn to this guy, despite his promise to himself that he wouldn't get attached. "I'm gonna take a quick shower before they call us down for opening remarks. Did they say solos or hip hop first?"

"Hip hop, I think. They only put about one-twenty through to Vegas, fifty less than last year. They aren't trimming as many in the beginning."

"Just means a higher bar, man." Stiles grabs a pair of basketball shorts, a pair of underwear, and one of his Los Lobos tank tops out of his suitcase, snags his toiletries bag and pops into the bathroom.

Okay, Stilinski. Time to focus.

 

The closer he gets to his designated room, the louder the music gets. This is not a good sign.

 409, 411, 413. 415. Yup. There it is, blaring through the door. Danny takes a deep breath and switches his suitcase's handle from one hand to the other and opens the door.

Of fucking course.

Jackson is standing in the small patch of floor they have available in the room (he wasn't lying, this is a tiny space), popping up some moves and mumbling along the lyrics. Danny stands in the doorway, caught between conflicting feelings. One is annoyance, because sharing a room with Jackson cannot be a restful experience. The other is, as much as he hates admitting it, is amazement.

 The stomping hip-hop beat is matched by Jackson, perfectly. To see him perform something so far from ballet, all abrupt and random moves, and do it so well... Yes, the judges said it. Natural talent.

"Hey Danny," Jackson says breathlessly, never stopping, "you finally got here! They're going to make us do hip-hop first, I'm getting into it a little."

Danny drops his bags on the bed, shaking his head. A little. The man moves as if he's done it all his life. He gets the sinking feeling in his stomach again.

No. You made it past the auditions, it's already better than last time. You're not stopping there and you are NOT letting your nerves get the best of you!

"Good idea," Danny replies. If he's stuck with Jackson, he might as well stop fighting him. "Need a partner? I could use some freshening up on this style too."

 Jackson grins and invites him in with a jerk of the head. Danny sheds off his hoodie and kicks his shoes off. They immediately gets into the rhythm and soon there is no competition, just two guys breaking loose and dancing, spurring each other on and making faces.

 It's nice and he even finds himself chuckling at times. Jackson does funny things with those eyebrows.

 They keep at it for twenty minutes or so, until Danny's phone goes off, with a text from Jennifer asking him where he is.

 They're starting to call people downstairs. The mood grows more serious instantly.

 

Everyone gathers in the atrium area outside of the auditorium, a nervous-yet-excited hum filling the air. People are throwing tricks and stunts, showing off for the cameras and for each other.

Scott gathers a crowd quickly, one of the few tutters who made it through to Vegas this year.

 Stiles decides to find a spot along the wall to focus, mind running over all of the basic concepts the Wolves taught him over the years. Groove means loose, tutting, tight. If they tell you to do isos, do the motherfucking isos. It's all in the feel, the emotion, the pure-- he hates to say it-- swag that you put into every move. Go for technical perfection, but put a lot of effort into the feel over all.

Deep breaths. You can do this.

 

Danny and Jackson make their way downstairs, silent. Their workout energized them but the anticipation is creeping up and dampening their excitement.

"The most gruesome week ever is about to start," Danny comments as they enter the atrium.

"I'm ready for it. Aren't you?" Jackson asks.

"I'm prepared, I would say, but you never know. I've seen this part break a lot of dancers."

Jackson throws his arm around Danny's shoulders. "Not us man." He scans the room with an unimpressed stare. "I'm winning this thing and I'm not minding you finishing second. It'd be fun to have you around until the end."

Danny follows his look and tries to feel as confident as Jackson appears to be. It works, kinda, until he gets a good view of the dancers assembled.

Most are already forming groups and showing off their skills, as if they're auditioning for each other. A few guys are looking very at ease, obviously hip-hop is their jam and they're loud about it. Among the loners, many are sporting the same look of confusion and quiet panic. He spots a few who look secure (a set of twins, hot) or just plain excited (a blonde with wide eyes and an devilishly cute grin), and more he can't pinpoint just yet (a dark-haired girl with a sultry look, a guy standing on his own at the far end of the room). Competition, diverse. Scary.

Cat arrives and Jackson takes a step away, suddenly more focused. Danny straightens as well. She walks up to the doors leading into the auditorium, followed by the camera crew, and produces a mike. Her tone is serious, despite her gracious smile.

"Welcome everyone. I know most of you have travelled a lot today and just got in but you won't get the night off anyway. I need you to form 12 groups of ten and designate a leader. We will be calling you randomly and test your ability to both learn a new routine and also adapt to the first genre tested, hip-hop. Good luck to you all and I'll see you all backstage."

 

"Fucking hell," Stiles mutters under his breath. "I hate when they try to 'shake things up' with a new format."

"You ain't kidding," a tall, dark hulk of a man says from a piece of wall beside him. "This'll be worse than season seven, with its 'top eleven.'"

Both men shudder, laugh quietly, and hurry to find groups.

There's no time for distractions, not now.

Scott grabs Stiles immediately. 

"You're in, right dude?"

"Um, duh. Now we just have to find five more girls and three more guys."

Stiles follows Scott through the crowd, the man's effervescence and obvious talent making his job easier.

They collect a nervous, mousy tapper named Alexis and a krumper named Nicole right away. Cora is the next person they talk into joining them, and Stiles claims her as his partner the moment she says yes.

"Eager much, Stilinski?" she asks with eyebrows raised.

He laughs. "Much. Now come on, we need more people."

 

Danny and Jackson exchange a look. Jackson opens his mouth but Danny doesn't let him talk.

"OK, yes, it's not like I have a choice. But for the love of God let me do the talking or we'll never find anybody else."

Jackson frowns. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Danny sighs and drags him towards a group of loners, shaking his head. "It means you're an ass and the longer we can keep it under wraps the better we'll do in the group numbers. Move."

Jackson puffs but picks up the pace nonetheless. They found Jennifer already taken by an almost all-male group and she shakes her head with a sad look, mouthing "sorry" at Danny. Lydia is still free and Jackson asks, with his eyebrows and rather vehemently, that Danny makes her join. She accepts with as little enthusiasm as possible. They enlist a quiet guy (Boyd, he introduces himself) and a girl with crazy hair with can't stop tapping beats with her foot. Then they seem to run out of options, most people already in groups too big to add theirs.

Jackson pulls Danny aside. "We might have to drop someone or split to join other groups. Plus we really need someone who knows hip-hop more, otherwise we won't have any help from the inside. I might be awesome but it wouldn't hurt to have a professional on board."

Danny nods. "I know." Time is ticking, only 10 minutes to go. He looks around and his hands starts to sweat.

 

Scott and Stiles ask about half the room, but the numbers just aren't working out, until---

"Hey, I see a group over by the stairs," Stiles says, eyes honing in on a shock of red hair and the surrounding people. "I'm counting three guys and two girls."

Scott, Alexis, Cora, and Nicole follow him through the crowd quickly.

Stiles steps forward. "Hi, Stiles." He points as he speaks. "Scott, Cora, Nicole, Alexis. Contemporary, tutting, krump, krump, and tap. You guys in?"

 

Danny looks them up quickly. Not that he's in any position to be picky but still... Some would say a sub-par group would make the best dancers shine more easily but he knows they can also bring you down with them.

The "leader" seems strong and Danny remembers seeing him observing the crowd from a distance. So a thinker. That could do. The rest of his group looks competent, and just the style theirs need.

He nods and smiles. "Sure. I'm Danny, this is Jackson. We're into ballet, mostly. Lydia is ballroom, Boyd does tap and Izzie is contemporary. Good to have some modern styles in the mix. You want to be the leader?" he asks Stiles.

Jackson steps up and Danny stops him with a hand on his arm. "The fastest we decide this, the earlier we can get it done and move forward. We still have to pair up."

 

Stiles nods once, sharply.

"I can do that." He looks at the group, mentally comparing heights and body types. He pairs accordingly. "Cora and I are together. Izzie, Scott. Alexis, Jackson. Nicole, Boyd. Lydia, Danny. Any objections?"

 

Danny eyerolls. Seriously, fate has it with him this time around. He might have passed auditions but did that really warrant being stuck with Jackson and now giving Lydia what she wants?

But arguing would create unnecessary friction so he smiles tightly and agrees. Restraining a fuming Jackson again.

"This is bullshit man, I can't work with a krumper, they shouldn't even call themselves dancers! And how come you get Lydia, she's the only one who could keep up with me!" Jackson whispers roughly. Danny turns around, a steel look in his eyes.

"Listen man, this is temporary. Stiles' choices make sense, besides being paired with someone whose style is closer to hip-hop is a blessing so shut up. We don't have time to negotiate this." He looks up.

Lydia is smiling victoriously at them.

"Trust me, you got the better end of the deal," he adds. He turns back to his group, they look satisfied. "It works for us," he tells Stiles. "Let's get a move on, I don't know for you guys but I'd rather not stick around and compare myself to everyone else, I'd rather get this done."

 

"Agreed."

They head for the producer with the headset and tell her they're ready.

Cora slips back to tuck an arm through Jackson's before he can stop her. She smiles, a pasted-on bare of the teeth, and digs her nails into his arm.

"You say krump isn't dance one more time and I will hand your balls to Lydia personally after removing them with a plastic spoon. Understood?"

Jackson nods, eyes wide.

Stiles risks life and limb when he dares to pull Cora away from Jackson, but no one deserves what she was threatening.

Cora smirks. "I don't think we'll have trouble with him again."

"Down girl." Stiles' gaze flickers around the group, seeing who is really ready to do this. He keeps landing on Danny, though...

He shakes his head to clear it. He doesn't have time for this.

 

Danny takes place on the stage, last one on the left in the back row and gives the group a global look. Apart from the threat Cora gave Jackson (this girl is scary but Danny likes her already, she muzzled Jackson), they seem to mesh well. They're all talking quietly and introducing each other, showing a couple of moves. It's all they can do to pass the time and the stress until the choreographer arrives but they are doing it effortlessly. Most of them.

Danny turns to Lydia and mentally braces himself. "Are you ready?" he asks her, holding out his hand. She grips it tightly and he pulls her to him. She rolls with the gesture perfectly, adds some footwork before stopping an inch from his chest. "Always," she replies.

He grins and spins her away. "I can see that but can you do hip-hop?"

She flicks her hair. "I can recreate a routine after seeing just once. I touched every genre since I was three. I prefer ballroom but believe me, I have this."

He chuckles and lets her go, rolling his shoulders to slack them up. "Good then. Don't get so intense and we should work out." She lives up to the hype, he'll give her that, and at this point a talented partner is all he can wish for. Attitude, he can deal with.

He glances at the other couples. Jackson is actually talking to his partner and she doesn't look like she's about to slap him, that's good. The other couples vary from friendly (that Scott guy is a doll, Izzie is all smiles) to serious (Boyd and Nicole are all business) to almost too comfortable with each other (Stiles obviously knows how to handle Cora). He catches the latter looking at him and smiles broadly in return. No harm in making friends. 

 

"Okay guys, pay attention," a voice resonates and a small guy quickly climbs the few steps and stands at the edge of the stage. "I'm Mark and I'm here to teach you your routine."

The choreographer and his assistant show them the number once before breaking it down into pieces.

"And ta ta-ta-taa, and a one two three, ba da dum, da doo ta."

It's groove, easy enough for a krumper and a contemporary artist.

Cora corrects Stiles' posture more than once, smacking him on the arm or the ass.

"You have to relax into it, idiot. Do it again."

Partner work. Christ.

Their group picks up the choreography quickly, and Mark leaves them to rehearse on their own as they await their turns before the judges.

Stiles and Cora drill through the number five, six, seven times.

"Was it ba-pata pow?" Stiles asks.

Cora shake she her head. "No, I think it was ba pow pata."

They lock eyes and crack up.

"Okay, let's focus. We have shit to do."

 

Lydia clams up as soon as the demo starts, eyes focused on the teacher. Danny does the same. While she can boast and he can be somewhat secure, they need every second of this lesson to make it work.

He slides gracefully, pops one shoulder, then the other, counting the steps in his head, keeping an eye on Lydia on his side. She glances back and frowns.

"What?"

"You have great rhythm," he replies, still dancing. The steps are easy enough but the beat is still foreign to him and he needs all his concentration to keep up. She clearly doesn't.

She stares forward and adds more swag to her hips movements. "Told you. This is like swing without the classy factor, I can totally nail it." She grins and bumps him. "You're doing as well as I hoped yourself. Loosen that face though, they nitpick on facial expressions you know."

Danny nods and tries to shrug it off.

They get to practice the number a couple more times. Danny's focus switch from the routine to his teammates. Separately, most seem to have the steps down. But it feels a little disjointed. He ponders about it, tries to get Jackson's attention (hopelessly, the man is either engrossed in his practice or stealing glances at Lydia), before setting his sights on Stiles. After all, he's their leader, right?

He quickly walks up to him and gently taps him on the shoulder, trying to not interrupt him too suddenly. As soon as he has his attention, he dives into the subject. Time is ticking.        

"I think we should regroup and coordinate, it looks like we're all drifting into our own thing. What do you think?"

 

Stiles runs his fingers through the hot mess his hair has become and thinks about what Danny said.

"Yeah, we really need to practice as a group. We're too disjointed, and if one person is off we all look bad."

Stiles lets out a piercing whistle, and everyone, amazingly, pays attention to him.

"We need to rehearse together. I say Danny counts, so we all stay on time together."

 

Danny nods and smiles. He slaps Stiles on the shoulder. It's a nice vote of confidence.

He twists around and faces the group. "We should forget pairs for now. Let's just concentrate of being in synch as a group."

Everybody steps apart, trying for an equal spacing.

He takes a step back, leaving the front spot for Stiles. "Lead the way, you had it down," he tells him with another smile.

"One, two, three, four," Danny starts repeating. Over and over.

 

Danny's voice like a metronome in Stiles' mind, he starts to dance.

He's finally reached the level of transcendence that his best numbers’ reach-- his body moving like he's known the dance his whole life. His mind evens out, the stressed buzzing finally stops.

"One, two, three, four..." the count grounds him, reminding him of years of lessons, insane amounts of work.

He focuses on his face, the rest of him handling the rest.

"That's my Stiles. Born dancing."

 

Danny loses himself in the beat. Structure. Discipline. That's what he can rely on. Every step becomes easier, more natural, and soon he can focus on his expressions and the minute details of his performance. Everything counts, at this stage and onwards.

They repeat the whole number a few times, until Danny can literally feel the energy from everyone meld into a single vibe. He can't help the boyish grin that comes with the realization. He loves group numbers for that reason.

An assistant comes out of the backstage area and waves at them. Danny stops counting and turns around, a little out of breath.

"Your turn," the guy says simply, gesturing for them to follow him to the performance stage.

 

"Who is your leader?" Nigel asks them, eyes on his notes.

Stiles steps forward. "I am, sir."

Nigel looks them over. "Okay then. Places."

They arrange themselves around the stage, and take their places. The music starts, and they start to dance.

Stiles can almost hear Danny's voice counting along with the music, and the number takes over.

 

The harmony they developed over practice falters under the watchful eyes of the judges. Danny maintains a strict, tight beat in his head but can feel the stress altering his expression. It lasts for the first seconds only, the time for his resolve to push through and get back into the mood.

It doesn't go so well for some of their group. Nicole pales up more and more as the number goes on and her moves turn sloppy. Izzie is too fast and Alexis falls into the same trap towards the end, neglecting her expressions on top of it.

Danny cuts it off of his mind, focusing on Lydia and connecting with her. The trick works and she throws herself in the number as much as he does. They make it through the routine without a single misstep and end the number on a high note and a perfectly executed dip.

He surveys the other couples. Stiles and Cora look solid. The others... The mistakes took their toll and palpable stress is spreading among the rest.

The judges thank them quietly and ask them to leave the stage.

"We need a few minutes to deliberate guys, we'll call you back with our decision."

Danny takes a deep breath. There's hope, if it was that bad they'd have sent them all home on the spot.

 

Cora grips Stiles' hand tightly as the judges deliberate, his fingers turning white as he loses blood flow.

"Straight line, please."

They line up, and Stiles is very conscious of the cameras trained on them.

"Izzie, step forward. Nicole, step forward. Alexis, step forward." They do so, shaking. "Ladies, I am sorry, but your time with us has come to an end. Never stop dancing. Back row, you are on to the next round. Thank you."

Cora pulls Stiles into a tight hug to hide her face from the cameras. "Fuck, I'm so happy."

Stiles laughs, hugging her back. "We did it."

"We did it."

Their group walks out together, consoling Izzie, Alexis and Nicole.

Stiles stops to talk to Danny. "You're good. Don't get too stuck in your head, though, Mr. Ballet. Relax into the music sometimes."

 

Danny frowns. There isn't condescension in Stiles' tone, maybe some kind of playful, off-handed concern but the remark, mixed with the huge wave of relief and emotion the judges' announcement provoked in him makes him go off.

"I did that a little too much in the past. You know what it got me? The worst critics and a ticket back home. Don't tell me what works for me, I got through this time, didn't I?"

He regrets the words the second they leave his mouth. Unfortunately he can't apologize for them, given that Jackson jumps on him and pulls him away with a laugh, eager to celebrate their passage to the next step.

 

Stiles frowns, blindsided by the bitterness thrown by the previously friendly dancer.

He shakes it off, following the others out to the pool. They have the evening to themselves before Jazz in the morning and ballroom in the afternoon.

 

"Man we made it!" Jackson says, ruffling Danny's hair and shoving him forward. Danny tries a smile but looks back at Stiles heading out. He didn't deserve this outburst.

Congrats Danny, you move forward and join the ranks of the douchebags.

Jackson keeps on, oblivious. "Man I rocked! So did you by the way," he adds with what he must consider a gracious smile. "We should get a drink, celebrate. My treat."

Danny's eyes are still fixed on the hallway where the rest of the group disappeared. Alcohol, alone with Jackson, basically alone with his thoughts, doesn't sound appealing.

"We should stick with the group," Danny replies, thoughtful. "The girls will need cheering up and..." His smile comes back. "Lydia went to the pool with them."

Jackson perks up. "Sounds good," he says.

Yeah, that will be a useful trick.

 

Stiles runs up to his and Scott's room to change into his board shorts and grab some sunscreen and his phone.

He heads up to the rooftop pool, where most of the others who have made it through are relaxing. Or, well, pretending to relax. There's still a lot of week left, and several hoops to jump through.

Scott waves him over. "Did you see that jazz dancer with the long legs and the brown hair? I think her name is Allison." He points out a girl sitting at the swim-up bar.

"Dude, that chick looks like she'd knife you in the ribs if you so much as spoke to her," Stiles says with a chuckle. "I think she's too focused on the competition for you, sorry."

His gaze drifts to the man on the stool beside Allison, a tall, lithe kid with curly blond hair.

"Now him, on the other hand..."

Scott's eyes widen. "He's..."

"Yeah, man. Try that one."

 

A long shower later, Danny finally shows up on the roof, a little more relaxed and spirits much higher.

Sad to say, his first instinct is to look for Jackson. But the man is already busy, a drink in one hand, the other around Lydia's waist. She doesn't seem to mind so much anymore.

Next on the list (should have been first), is Stiles. He spots him at one end of the pool, with Scott.

"Danny! Finally!"

Jennifer pulls him into a tight hug and he, keeping one eye on Stiles, hugs her back.

"I heard your group did really well, almost everyone to the next round, impressive!"

"Yeah," he replies with a chuckle," still wondering how we did that, most of us are not the groove type."

"Tell me about it," she says, pulling away. "I suppose my partner helped again this time, although he's hardly the hip-hop type either. She looks over Danny's shoulder and wave energetically.

"You'll love him, he's gorgeous and I'm pretty sure he swings your way," she whispers. "Ethan, this is Danny, the guy who saved my ass in LA." she says pointing at Danny.

Danny turns around. Holy shit it's the twin. From up close, the hotter one.

Because there is such a thing, when said twin directs a killer smile in your direction.

 

Stiles and Scott are in the middle of chatting up some very lovely girls in very lovely bikinis when Cora calls him back over to the chairs.

"What?"

She throws a towel at his head. "Dry off. You need to put some sunscreen on."

"I just did that," Stiles protests, though he's already toweling off.

"You've been here for an hour, dumbass, and you're gamer-dude pale." She calls her sister over and does the same thing, right down to the towel in the face.

Laura bends over to kiss the top of her head. "It's cute that you care, sis."

Stiles dutifully reapplies sunscreen.

"I'm gonna head over to the bar. Can I get you ladies anything?"

Cora shakes her head, but Laura says, "Could you just grab me some juice or something, thanks."

Stiles gets his beer (no one is carding, no one cares), a bottle of juice for Laura, and a bottle of water for Cora.

She looks up at him, surprised, when he hands it to her.

"Thanks."

"No problem," Stiles says with a grin. "You saved me from certain lobster-hood."

 

Heather tentatively puts one foot in the water. Nah, it isn't hot enough. She hugs her towel around her shoulders and settles for sitting by the edge of the pool and letting her toes dip here and there.

It's just as she feared. Not much fun without David. Everyone's partying, flirting or getting drunk. Or all three. For a while swishing her foot around and tuning out the voices is her only amusement. A tall, quite burly guy sits next to her. She looks up and he stares back at her. One small attempt at a smile from her part and he reciprocates. He lets his legs dip to mid-calf and sighs. She nods, as if she knew what he means. Given how quiet he is, like her, maybe she does.

"Heather," she says softly.

"Boyd."

She splashes some water with her foot on his legs. "Nice to meet you."

He smiles and splashes back. "Likewise."

The next half-hour is spent in silence.

 .....

 Isaac clears his throat. Come on, for once in your life make the first move...

"Is it your first year trying out?" he asks.

The brunette nods sharply and continues to sip her drink, never glancing at him. Not a word either.

He shrugs and turn away. So much for trying.

He misses the look she ends up giving him. Not a displeased one, almost... Interested. 

....

 Ennis takes one step onto the crowded roof. One look around reassures him. Not a sign of Kali. Then again she was never big on socializing. Not without a goal in mind anyway, and it's too soon for that, in his judgment.

He finds a part of the pool void of people lounging lazily and starts swimming lengths. It's the best, most complete exercise. Plus she's not here and nobody else can distract him from keeping his mind on the task at hand: winning.

.....

 Ethan is a having a blast. The high of being selected to move forward (only him, Jennifer, Aiden and Silvia made it from their group) can only be rivaled with this. Danny is gorgeous, fun and has dimples to die for. Being introduced by Jennifer only seem to have helped his cause, they clearly care for each other and he can guess her opinion has value to him. He was nothing but a gentleman with her during their routine, it must have gained him some points.

He laughs at Danny's tale of how the tiny krumper put Jackson back in his place and as he throws his head back, catches sight of his brother looking at him. More like glaring. He rolls his eyes and shakes his head at him.

Fuck you, I can flirt all I want. Just because you choose to be Mr. Anti-social and alienate everyone doesn't mean I don't get to have fun.

He really wishes that twin connection went as far as conveying exact words. The look seems to be enough anyway, Aiden leaves him alone for the rest of the evening.

 

A blonde with a banging bod and a blood red bikini makes her way over to where Scott is holding court and Stiles is playing court jester.

"Hi, Erica Reyes," she says with a confident smirk. "From what I hear, you two are on the list of people to beat."

 Scott's eyes fix on her chest, but Stiles is focused on her face, wondering why she seems so familiar.

 "Erica Reyes... we had a dance class together, right? Like, a million years ago."

 Erica's fake smile transforms into something softer. "Yeah, that was me. Your mom taught that class. How is she?"

 "She passed away when I was eight."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Erica says quickly. She pulls Stiles into a hug before he realizes it. "She really was amazing."

"Yeah. Yeah, she was."

She pulls away and smiles at him again. "Well, I guess now is your chance to make her proud."

Stiles smiles back. "It is."

 

"C'mon, lil mama, lemme buy you a drink."

Morrell waves the boy away like he's nothing more than an oversized fly. "No, you may not. Bother someone else, Greenberg."

"Aw, that's no way to be."

She lowers her sunglasses long enough to level a glare at him. "Go away, or I will make you go away. You'd really hate to go home because you can't dance with bruised genitals."

 Greenberg's eyes go wide, and he backs away awkwardly.

 The woman sprawled on the chair beside Morrell smirks. "I like the way you work, honey. I have a feeling we're gonna get along just fine."

"Doubtful."

 "Kate Argent," she offers anyway.

 "Morrell."

 "Pleased to meet you."

---

Stiles crawls out of the pool and dries off. He takes his towel and finds a piece of poolside real-estate that doesn't have twelve dancers standing on it, spreads the towel out and starts to stretch.

No matter what happens, you stretch in the morning and you stretch in the evening. Don't injure yourself.

"I am not switching partners, you can forget it," she states, cold as ice.

"Why not? I know Danny would much rather dance with his long-legged hag and I'd rather have you," Jackson says, his hand sliding dangerously low on Lydia's back, "Than anyone else."

Lydia smirks and reaches behind her, grabbing Jackson's fingers and bending them at an unnatural angle until he yelps. Loudly. "Sweetie, I'd rather have a partner who can show me off than use me like a prop. I saw what happened to the girl paired with you. That won’t be me."

She leans forward, still holding on to his hand but with less force. Her mouth stops an inch from his ear and she makes a point of breathing hotly against his skin, as much as possible. "On the dance floor," she specifies. She pulls away, satisfied by his flushed face and loud swallowing. She lets his hand slips from hers, deliberately slow and walks away.

Not as steadily as she wishes, because she swears his scent clings to her. She bites her lip and shakes her head. Damn him and his (delicious) cologne. Seduction is not as efficient and interesting if it's working both ways. 

.....

Danny is having fun. Too much fun. The sun has set, a lot of the dancers have deserted the pool but they're still talking. Sharing dance stories, school drama, even family details. Jennifer has long abandoned them, with a smile that said "my work here is done". It's been a while since he was able to click with someone so fast. Then again, he remembers where he is and once he realizes the passing of time, he interrupts Ethan.

"Sorry man but I really have to get back to my room."

 Competition means work. The only way to win.

 Ethan's face falls a little but he smiles nonetheless. "Sure, sure. Anyway, we'll see each other around. I'm in 602 if need me."

 Danny feels his face grow a little hot at the thinly-veiled suggestion and nods. He turns around and walks away, so fast and inattentively that he nearly trips on a guy doing stretches on the floor.

 "Sorry ma... Oh Stiles. Hi," he blurts out.

 He stops in his tracks and rubs his neck. "Sorry about before, I was stressed out and... It's a long story. I shouldn't have snapped at you."

 It's a little late but why not?

 

Stiles shifts from his position with his legs splayed into a center split.

 "It's no problem, man," he says with a smile. There's no reason to create enemies, not now at least. "I understand, this shit is stressful."

 He lets out a low groan as he sinks deeper into the split.

 "Tension is hell on the body and the mind, right?"

 

OK after a couple of hours of intense flirting, Danny does NOT need the sight of a (rather hot, he has to admit) guy sprawled out and moaning. Jesus Christ.

 "Y-Yeah," he mutters. "I'm still working on ways to get rid of it, here it's way worse than anywhere else." He tears his eyes away from Stiles, only to see Ethan grinning at him with glinting eyes.

 Yeah no this is not the right place for him, not if he's to make sound decisions.

 "So good to know there aren't hard feelings, I'll see you," he says rapidly before making a run (almost) for the exit.

 

Stiles watches Danny leave like he has a fire under his ass and shrugs. Whatever.

 Cora walks over and smacks him upside the head. "C'mon, stop with the floor show. I think you broke a few people."

 Stiles stands gracefully. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

 "Right..."

 He walks her to her room, and then heads back to room 1015 and a hot shower.

 

 As soon as he reaches his room, Danny aims for his bed and lies down, head first.

 He groans into his pillow. Great. One day away from home and already he's straying from the objective. And now he's too tired to practice.

 Jackson enters, all happiness and bluster. More reasons to groan.

"Come on Danny boy, this has been an awesome day!" he says as he falls down on his own bed. "I think I can expect Lydia to seek out my room any time now. Maybe tonight."

Danny turns around to face him. "Do you think of anything but that girl? You do remember this is a competition, THE competition?"

 Jackson sighs and pushes himself back up. "Fuck, yes I do! Damn Danny, I thought you were finally loosening up! Sure looked that way when you were talking with that guy." He grabs his phone and goes back to the door.

 "It's not always about work Danny, having fun won't disqualify you, you know..." he shoots as he leaves.

 Danny frowns and buries his face deeper in the pillow. Ethan's smile is still on his mind, along with his room number.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes bright and early, runs through his stretches quickly, and hops in the shower, all before Scott rolls out of bed. He eats with the other early risers and runs through a few exercises with some people while they wait for the camera crew to get there.

Cora comes in with the second wave of people, wearing a red leotard with a black ballet skirt instead of her usual hoodie/black sports bra/black leggings combo.

"Wow, you look--"

"Ridiculous, right?" Cora pulls a face "Laura made me bring this shit. Said it would look better on camera."

"I was going to say beautiful, but whatever." Stiles looks from her outfit to his red tank top and black shorts. "And we match."

She half-smiles. "Yeah, we do."

Eventually, everyone trickles in and the production team comes in.

"Everyone on the stage, you're learning this together," Cat explains. "Sonya doesn't have time to teach you in groups."

 

Danny steps closer to Lydia and tries to shake it off. He had a crappy morning and it's following him into practice. It started with a bad headache, some indefinable guilt. He took a long shower, talked himself into the right attitude (No more flirting, no more outbursts, just work. You've come too far to ruin it all over little things.). It didn't really take, apparently.

He brings his attention back to the choreographer.

"So a third of you are already gone. It's fast, it's merciless. It's going to get worse'" Sonya announces. She brings her hands together and starts pacing the entire length of the stage. "Now today we're doing a jazz routine."

Danny shuffles around, uneasy. Somehow jazz is not really coming easy to me. He glances at Lydia, hoping for some comforting sign. She's got some kind of secret smile going on...

"For jazz, you need two qualities, and two body parts," the teacher keeps on. She lists them intently on her long fingers. "You need class, and rhythm. And you need your eyes and your hands."

A few sniggers in the back. Her head snaps up. "No, not jazz hands. It's just that you tell the story with your eyes and your hands. Every gesture, every flicker of the hand counts, and the judges will be on the lookout for any kind of sloppiness there. And be careful with your expressions."

She stops in the middle of the stage. I'll let you listen to the song we'll be using once and then we'll move on to the routine. She nods and the music starts.

Lydia is still smirking, almost pensive, obviously not completely there.

"What's going on with you?" Danny whispers.

"Nothing," she hisses.

Danny looks at her, doubtful. He glances at Jackson, at the other end of the room. He's looking at Lydia, which isn't new, but he has that expression...

"Fuck you guys slept together!"

Her eyes widens. "What? No!"

"Lydia..."

"OK fine, maybe. So what?"

Danny sighs. "I don't  even know anymore... Just... Can you focus on the routine please, and not him? Jazz isn't my forte and I need you on this one, OK?"

She pouts and turns away. "Same goes for you. Your head isn't in the game this morning," she states.

No point in arguing with that, she’s right.

 

"You are madly, passionately in love," Sonya tells them. "You have to show me heat, you have to show me connection, you have to show me raw emotion and pure sex."

Stiles and Cora exchange a look.

"Do you even like girls?" she asks flatly.

"Sure." Stiles shrugs. "I'm equal opportunity. I just like people."

Sonya keeps talking. "I don't care if you just met your partner this morning, I want you to fall in love with them in this moment. I don't care if you swing that way or not, if you don't sell this you are gone, no matter how good you are technically."

Cora and Stiles stare at each other for a moment.

"Think you can fall in love with me for two hours, Stilinski?"

"I think I'll manage."

 

Danny takes a deep breath and closes his eyes.

 "You OK?" he hears Lydia ask him.


"Yeah... Just trying to conjure up my best acting skills."

 She swats him on the arm. "Hey, I'm not that hard to look at!"

 He chuckles and finally looks at her. "I'm not saying you're not..." He grabs her hand and pulls her to him. He cups her chin and lifts her head until he can look deep into her eyes. His smile grows wilder, more devious.

 "That's it!" he hears faintly, coming from Sonya. He lets her go a little, her face is red and her eyes wondering.

 "I take it back," he says. "Think of Jackson, I'll do what I just did," he thinks back (broad shoulders, a moan, sparkly eyes, tempting mouth), " and we should able to nail this on the head."

 She can only nod in agreement.

 

Cora spins into Stiles' chest, her leg hitched over his hip. Their eyes lock, and the air seems to crackle between them.

"Great chemistry you two," Sonya says, adjusting his hold on her

"Y-yeah," Cora breathes.

Stiles' mind is buzzing, but he forces himself to focus.

"Yeah, I think we've got it."

 

Danny's focus comes back slowly as the practice goes on. Being in his headspace helps, as well as the electric atmosphere. But as much as he tries, the vibe between Lydia and him cannot be molded the way it should be. He can see it happening around him (Cora and Stiles might as well get a room, God), but they just can't.

 He slides his hand up Lydia's back, dips her low with his palm holding her nape. She winks at him and purses her lips.

 It's more playful than intense but... Maybe they can work with it.

 "I'm thinking this will be our spin on this routine," Danny says, pulling her up and spinning her away.

 She rolls her hips and tilts her head, just a tad more than necessary. "Yes. Let's see how they take it."

 He brings her back to him, back against his chest and she looks up at him. "Besides, most will go with the sizzling factor, this could set us apart. " She shrugs and smirks, a glint of irony in her eyes as she rolls against his body. "I'm a risk-taker."

 

The first group of four couples goes before the judges.

Half can't manage the steps, the other half can't manage the chemistry-- except for Morrell and her partner, Adam. Everyone else is sent home.

Cora and Stiles are in the next group, and she's vibrating out of her skin as they take their places.

Stiles squeezes the back of her neck to ground her, their eyes locking.

 "We've got this," he murmurs. "Okay? We know the routine."

 "And... cue music."

 The dance itself is complicated, obviously designed to weed out some of the less-capable dancers quickly. Stiles throws himself into the music, catching Cora properly, every gesture careful and precise. 

 The air crackles between them, and both are out of breath by the end of the performance.

 "Step back while we deliberate, please."

 The group does so. Cora resumes her grip on Stiles' hand, knuckles turning white.

 "You've got this," Stiles murmurs. "We killed it, okay? Deep breath."

 Cora inhales shakily. "Thanks."

 "No problem."

 The judges sit back in their chairs. "Anya and Matt, step forward."

 Matt goes through, Anya doesn't.

 Kierstan goes through, Jake doesn't.

 "Cora and Stiles, please step forward." They do so. 

 "Your connection was phenomenal," Sonya says, waving a hand in the air. "And I couldn't ask for better technicality."

 "You are both through to the next round," Nigel says with a smile. "And you have set the bar quite high."

 Stiles lets out a huff of air, not quite daring to react any more than that. Cora hugs him and pulls him down into the audience.

 "We did it, bitch!"

 

Lydia licks her lips and flicks her hair. Danny isn't fooled.

 They're both waiting backstage, side by side, not touching but feeling each other nonetheless. The parade of couples has the same effect on them. She can pretend being fine and unimpressed, he knows better. He feels it too.

 So many of them are fantastic. Electric, connected, with some couples the fire is so intense he can almost see the tension floating between the dancers. And technically? Most are flawless.

 He swallows, throat tight and searches for her hand. Her face remains the same but the way she grips it with gratitude tells him everything.

 The couples getting cut are the most worrying. He would have let most of them go through.

 "You're still sure?" he whispers. She nods, mouth sealed and stressed. A lie, but it's too late.

 Technique, work, that's what wins. Last time you winged it, you crashed. His memory is a bitch.

 Yeah but sometimes you have to work with what you've got, go with the flow, he counters. It flashes in his brain that he's actually following Stiles' advice.

 Their names are called and he's being pulled onstage by a determined Lydia.

 They share one final look, one final agreement and as the music starts, he lets go of everything. The insecurities, the last-minute doubts. He still keeps in mind the comments, still keeps every movement controlled and significant. But they stick with their interpretation, keeping the steps light, the touches flirty but ironic.

 Lydia is her usual amazing self, reactive, sassy. Her face is priceless, all pouts and shining eyes, and he falls into it more and more. That's them, naturally.

 He lifts her up for the last step and she lets herself fall back with a huge grin and an exaggerated sigh. He grins, breathless and pulls her up for a hug before settling her down to face the judges.

 They seem perplexed and Danny keeps Lydia close. Risk, but will there be the reward?

 They deliberate for a minute. "That was interesting, Danny and Lydia," Nigel starts off. "We've come to expect great technicality from both of you and you delivered."

 They both hold their breath. There has to be a "but" coming.

 "But you surprised us by being inventive and make this routine your own. This took some guts and we don't see such risks being taken so early. You didn't wait for us to tell you to be original. Impressive. You're both moving on to the next round."

 They keep their countenance until they're behind the curtains. There they're free to high-five to their heart's content.

 

Stiles sits up when he sees Danny walk into the atrium for lunch.

 "Go get him," Cora says with a wave. "I'll talk to Scotty boy, here."

 "Don't kill him," Stiles says, standing and crossing to Danny and Lydia.

 "You two were brilliant," he says excitedly. "You went about it in a different way and blew it out of the fucking water."

 

Still high from his success, Danny smiles broadly.

"Thanks man. We couldn't have that..." he waves his hand, "sizzle, so we had to improvise. Lydia came up with most of the moves."

 Lydia beams with pride and kisses him lightly on the cheek before sashaying away. "Thank you sweetie," she says over her shoulder, making her way to Jackson. Already.

 Danny shakes his head with a laugh and returns his attention to Stiles. "You guys were amazing. I've never seen a couple so much into it, so soon."

 He almost wants to look away, thinking back to them. It felt like intruding on a very private moment, watching them dance together. And it might have put Stiles in an unsettling light in Danny's mind.

 

Stiles waves a hand wildly. 

"Yeah, it's like... and then... I actually have no idea what really happened there. But we made it, so I guess it worked." He runs his fingers through his shaggy hair. "You're really talented, you know. Your technicality is fantastic."

 

"I have school to thank for that."

"No. You're not at the level we're looking for. You can leave, thank you."

 Danny looks away for a second. No more about last time. "I wish I had your flexibility. You're like rubber on stage. The good kind. You're a natural."

 And you aren't, not enough. his mind says. His smile falters as he chases the thought away.

 

Stiles touches Danny's arm without thinking. 

 "Hey, I don't know what you're thinking, but stop. I... I know you didn't make it through last year, and I still say it was a mistake. You are fucking talented, don't doubt that for one second."

Danny stares at Stiles' hand, shocked out of his reverie.

"I... Thank you."

 He pulls away and clears his throat. "It... It sneaks back on me, sometimes. I mean, I'm here but like a year ago I didn't even make it to Vegas. That shit sticks."

 He frowns. "I'm surprised you remember me."

 

"I've been obsessed with the show for years. I've seen every episode at least twice." Stiles shrugs. "What can I say? You were memorable."

 

Danny pauses. He personally remember cockiness, a very messy choreography that he thought was edgy and a very lonely feeling as he left the stage. His turn to shrug.

 "I guess the way my jaw hit the floor when they sent me away was hard to forget."

 

Stiles shakes his head. "It was your soul." He isn't used to seeing so much self-hate in one person. "And remember, we are our own worst critic."

 

Danny nods numbly and looks at Stiles. Really looks at him. Something in his voice (honesty), he isn't used to hear it from someone younger, a stranger almost. Insight, care too, Stiles has surprising layers. It makes him wonder.

He shuffles from one foot to the other. "You want some company for lunch?"

 

Stiles brightens, not expecting the invitation.

"Yeah, that'd be great."

 

Stiles has a very nice smile, contagious. Danny can't hold his back.

 "The buffet looks pretty nice," he says, tugging on his shirt to make him follow him. "Come on, you can tell me your life story while we eat. I feel at a disadvantage here."

 They go through the line, and Stiles gets a plate of mostly salad and whole wheat bread-- along with a pile of curly fries.

 At Danny's skeptical look, Stiles just says, "Curly fries are my one major weakness."

 They find an empty table near the back wall, and Stiles tucks into his food.

 "What do you want to know?" 

 

Danny pokes around his plate. "I could be the strategist and ask you about your dance experience, your favorite styles, etc."

 He eats a few bites of chicken salad and looks up at him. Somehow he doubts he could be anything be genuine with this guy. Not that it's in his habit to lie but he’s usually more guarded.

Doesn't feel right now.

 "Actually," he adds "I do wanna know about all that- but not to play you."

 

Stiles chuckles. "Thanks, man. Good to know."

He thinks about how to start, poking at his salad.

"I've been dancing for longer than I remember," he says. It's as good a start as any. "My mom was a dancer, and then a dance teacher, so I've been around it my whole life. I started with the Baby Tap class at three, started jazz at four, and hip hop at five. I was in the studio more than I was at home. I..."

He clears his throat awkwardly.

"I took a year off when I was eight."

 

Stiles' eyes are cloudy. Danny digs back into his plate. He'd rather not push it too far so soon, so he tries an upbeat tone, resuming the conversation after a few bites.

 "It doesn't show, you seem very comfortable. In your body and almost every genre."

 

"Thanks." Stiles half-smiles. "I owe that to the teachers of the Keokuk Dance Academy. They took care of me when my dad was working, helped me with my homework, taught me my multiplication tables-- taught me to dance. I took every class possible, I was exposed to every style you could find in Dumbfuck, Iowa."

 

Danny chuckles. "I'm sure it was more than me. Growing up on an island, you don't have access to as much culture as you would here. Or even in Dumbfuck, Iowa.".

 

Stiles laughs. "I guess. Anyway, when I was sixteen I started tagging along with Lee County's one-and-only dance crew, Los Lobos. I was the only white kid, the only contemporary dancer. Hence, the Little Red persona."

 

Danny tilts his head, tries to picture Stiles in a read, hooded cape. It's not conclusive. He takes another bite.

 Not sure about that one. Could be cute or just... kind of ridiculous. he thinks. Then again he's just getting carried away, it's just an image, not his actual costume. At least he hopes so.

 "Did you tour a lot? Or were you guys mostly local?" he asks. He's not familiar with the troupe but then again, he's so new to the scene still...

 

"We'd dance locally, but most of our competitions were in Chicago. Los Lobos became my family when my Dad just couldn't handle his pansexual, dancing, walking-anxiety-attack of a son."

Stiles shrugs, taking a few bites.

"They're the reason I was comfortable enough to come here. That, and Derek wouldn’t let me be a chicken shit about it."

 

Danny focuses on his plate, a little taken aback by the sudden information. A lot of it, fast. No more mom, anxiety issues. Pansexual. Not the first things you tell people, normally. He smiles. He doesn't think Stiles is the kind of guy normal applies to, besides he asked him so it's on him as well.

"I'm glad he did. You've got everything this competition likes: talent, versatility, training. You're gonna go far." he says.

 He puts his fork in his now empty plate. The meal did him good, the company too. He can feel his mood come back to his usual cheeriness. "I'm going to win anyway but you won't be far behind."

 

Stiles laughs. "Oh no, ballet boy. I'm winning the whole damn thing. I didn't come here to lose."

He stands, picking up his plate and bottle.

"Maybe you can tell me about yourself at dinner."

 

"Maybe, if you're still around. Ballroom in a couple of hours, guess it's my turn to have the upper hand."

 He looks up at Lydia, who's deeply involved in a rather handsy conversation with Jackson.

 "If I can get Lydia to focus on the routine, we'll be the ones setting the bar this time."

 He gathers his things and walks alongside Stiles, until they've dumped their plates and are heading for the exit. "If you make it through, come and get me. Maybe we can try one of those restaurants I heard about."

 And you are not supposed to think about this kind of things here... he thinks. He still smiles at Stiles.

 

"I'll have to do that," Stiles says with a grin. "Since I'm staying to the end and all."

 Cora pulls him away with a frown. "C'mon, stop flirting. They're calling us together again, and I've never done ballroom to save my life."

 Stiles laughs. "I wasn't flirting, Cor. I was just being friendly."

 "Not flirting, my ass."

 

Good, I wasn't alone, Danny thinks when he hears Cora's not-very-subtle voice. He decides he can waste a couple of seconds watching Stiles being dragged away.

 Not more, because he doesn't want to sit on his reputation or his laurels. He walks over to Lydia and Jackson. Thank God they stopped groping each other.

 Jackson greets him with a raised eyebrow and an amused air. "Hey Danny, scoring much? Ethan yesterday, today Stiles... I'm impressed."

 Danny rolls his eyes. "Shut up Jackson," he says with a fake annoyance, but no denial. He extends a hand to Lydia. "Let's go, time to show them how ballroom is done."

 Lydia takes his hand with a flourish. "With pleasure. Jackson," she adds over her shoulder, "you better find yourself a capable partner because I'm not done with you."

 Danny chuckles at Jackson's somewhat worried and flustered face. "Don't worry man, I think I saw Laura, that cute tall brunette, walking around alone earlier. I think she moved on without her partner. She'd be a great fit."

 He slaps him on the shoulder and walks away with Lydia. She munches on her bottom lip for a few seconds before cracking. "How tall and cute exactly?"

 He pulls her more tightly against him. "Nothing to worry, she's too old for him. For his health I hope he stays in line."

 "Yeah, he better," she mumbles darkly.

 He just laughs some more and they enter the auditorium. It's shocking, how many people have gone already. There are barely 40 dancers onstage.

 

Nigel takes the stage in front of the gathered group.

 "There are forty-seven people sitting in front of me right now," he says. "This is unprecedented for this stage in the competition. Therefore, I have made the executive decision to bring thirteen people that we possibly cut too soon back to the competition, and to move group round to tonight. If you make it through ballroom, you will be on to group round. Make it through group round and it's on to solos. Good luck."

 He leaves, and the choreographer and her assistant take the stage. 

Cora and Stiles exchange a look as the thirteen lucky bastards join them onstage.

 "Shit..."

 

"Here I thought we had most of them out of the way..." Danny whispers. Lydia doesn't reply, but her eyes are already hard and focused and her expression one of intense concentration.

 No worries, Jackson is far from her mind and she means business. He breathes a sigh of relief and follows her example.

 The routine is a Viennese waltz, simple on the surface. Classic form and music. So this is another test. Creativity has no place here, it's going to be a question of technique and posture.

 Lydia corrects his hold on her a dozen times before she's satisfied with it.

 "Listen to me, they're leveling the field, we're all being judged on the exact same sequence of movements. Every tiny detail will count. Do. Not. Let me down," she warns him.

 He straightens his back, splays his fingers exactly on the right spot on her back. She nods approvingly and they start the routine, again.

 

"Graceful, Cora, think graceful."

 Cora digs her nails into his arm. "I don't do graceful. I'm a krumper for fuck's sake."

 Stiles cups her face in his hands and locks eyes with her. "Listen to me. This is your dream. You have to do tough shit for the shit that matters. You are not leaving the competition, leaving me, because of one fucking waltz. Understood?"

 She nods, eyes hardening in resolve. "I can do this. We can do this. I'm going on to with this fucking competition."

 They resume position and pay even closer attention to the choreographer. They aren't going down.

 

Practice flies by, dictated by Lydia and her high standards. Before long they're being called onstage, one by one.

 Danny can't keep his eyes off of the couple onstage. He's heard all about Jackson's abilities, seen some bits of them, but observing them from up close, without being distracted by his own work... The guy was not kidding, he has serious skills.

 He moves with metronome-like rhythm, glides around with grace and his face is the perfect kind of seriousness. And, surprisingly, he shows off his partner incredibly well.

 What's not surprising are the positive comments the couple gets. Danny applauds them heartily when he hears they're both going through and Jackson thanks him with a head jerk and a smile.

 Lydia sighs and drags him on stage. "Come on, and remember, posture and hold. I need you firm."

 They take position, lock eyes. And burst out laughing.

 Danny shakes his head and readjusts his hold. "Firm enough?"

 She smirks and holds her head up. "I'll tell you once we're done."

 

Stiles watches fantastic couple after fantastic couple, and something in him just snaps.

 

"I can't do this, I can't do this, I mean I don't do ballroom, maybe Dad was right, maybe I should have waited a year, how in the hell am I supposed to do this, fuck, I can't--" He's interrupted by a sharp slap. Stiles blinks at Cora, confused.

 "Pull yourself together, bitch," she says as she shakes him. "You can fucking do this, you hear me? We can do this."

 Stiles takes a deep breath, letting Cora's hands on his shoulders ground him. "Sorry, I.. sorry."

 Cora pulls him into a tight hug, and he startles before hugging back.

 "We can do this."

 

Danny and Lydia’s laugh blows off just the right amount of steam and they fly through the routine.

 Strong position, constant rhythm, he leads her decisively all around the stage, their natural and reverse turns strung together easily. He keeps an arched back throughout and counts the 3 beats, without looking like he’s doing it, of course.

 One last whisk and they stop, right on the last note. He hears scattered applause and he smiles at Lydia, a little dizzy (there are a lot of turns, OK?) when he hears the right words.

 "Beautiful! Fluid and strong, you both move on!" Mary exclaims.

 They bow quickly and exit. They almost bump into Cora and Stiles on their way out. Stiles looks like he's freaking out and Cora's doesn't seem to fare much better.

 They're in a tight embrace but pull away as Danny pass them. He grabs Stiles' wrist, gently.

 "You'll do great. It's just a waltz and you know it all, don't you?. Just hurry and then we can go eat. There's supposed to be a very good Mexican place a couple of blocks from here," he tells him with a smile.

 

The obvious assumption that he'll make it through give Stiles the confidence he needs to pull his shit together.

"Mexican sounds fantastic. I'll meet you in the atrium at six."

 Stiles and Cora are next.

 He forces himself to focus on the steps, the style, leading Cora well.

 They make it through. By the skin of their teeth and pure determination, they make it,

 Cora walks out with him. "Now, go get yourself all pretty for your date with the Hawaiian," she says, slapping him on the ass, "Because, right now, you look like a hot mess."

 Stiles runs up to his room, takes the world's fastest shower, and shimmies into his good jeans. He takes a minute to decide what to wear with them, finally ending up with a white t-shirt and his red vest. He slips his feet into his Chucks and heads down to the atrium.

 

Maybe it's a stupid fear of jinxing him but Danny doesn't stick around for Stiles' routine. Besides he stands by what he said, he knows he'll make it. The kid is too resourceful to get axed now.

 5:30, plenty of time to get ready. He leaves Lydia at her room and enters his own. Jackson is lounging on his bed, fully dressed but hair wet. He looks up from his phone when Danny enters.

 "You look happy, Guess Lydia delivered and made you guys move on?" he comments.

 "I did my part too. I'm taking a shower then I'm out." Danny replies with a smile, throwing him his sweater on his way to the bathroom.

 "Eww, gross man!" Jackson yelps, throwing it back. "Date?"

 Danny pauses, one hand on his bag of toiletries. It's a dinner with a guy he likes. Not the perfect setting but... "Maybe," he replies.

 Jackson leans back and resumes playing with his phone. "Good, then you can lay off Lydia and I, since you're no better."

 Danny ponders the remark and just gives up. He'd rather not let Jackson make him late.

 A couple of minutes before six, he's freshly dressed, simple black trousers, casual dark green shirt and waiting in front of the elevator. When the doors open, he steps in with hesitance.

 "Hey there, Danny."

 "Hi... Ethan."

 

Stiles sits on a bench by a ficus, dicking around on his phone as he waits for Danny to come down for their-- date?

He's having dinner with a guy he finds attractive who also happens to be fantastically talented and confident and amazing.

So... date? Dinner? Whatever.

 

"You look great," Ethan comments, running a finger on the outside of Danny's arm. "Going out?"

 "Just for dinner," he replies, inhaling sharply. Why does he feel like he's justifying himself? "I need out of this hotel for a little while."

 Ethan smiles and steps closer, his hand nearing the small of Danny's back. "You want company? I'd love to continue our conversation around good food."

 They arrive at the first floor before he can answer. The doors part and he sees Stiles, focused on his phone. The sun hits him in all the right spots and his clothes fit him too well.

 You like him a little too much right now... his head warns.

 Danny turns to Ethan with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, maybe another time." He isn't really sure he means it. "I have another conversation to finish."

 He walks towards Stiles, trying to slow down eager steps.

 

Stiles looks up to find Danny walking toward him, a bright smile spreads across his face.

 "Hey." He stands to greet him. "You look--" Hot. The man looks hot like burning. "Nice."

 

Danny grins. "Thanks." He's never sure how to respond to compliments but with a succinct reply.

He rubs his neck, otherwise he feels he'd reach out for Stiles. That might be premature.

 "You look very nice too. It's good to see you in something other than dance clothes."

 Or swimwear but he's not thinking about that moment. Nope.

"We can walk to the restaurant if you want, it's not far." 

 

"Sounds cool."

 They walk side-by-side, and Stiles resists the urge to take his hand or link arms or something. He's a tactile creature, often too much for his own good.

 "So, how did you start dancing?"

 

Danny makes an uncertain face. "Kind of all over the place. I always wanted to dance but there weren't many opportunities to learn back at home. So I picked up what I could here and there. Internet, classes whenever I could find some."

 He shakes his head. Thinking back at those hurried, amateur classes, in random basements and with questionable techniques is embarrassing. They showed him basics but not much more.

 "My mother wasn't very enthusiastic so I did it mostly on my own. A dancing career in Hawaii means being an amusement for tourists, not something any parent wants for their child."

"You seem to have managed." They've made it to the restaurant, and Stiles opens the door. "Where did you learn the ballet?"

Danny gestures for him to enter first and they wait to be seated.

 "I picked up a few classes back home, really basic stuff. I kept at it on my own until two years ago. Then I got a scholarship at the LA school of ballet. Amazing luck there, and it got me some proper training."

 They're being led to their seats and he dives into the menu. It's not a lie, but he's not ready to revisit his first year on the coast and how stupidly he almost squandered this opportunity. He hides behind the menu, his cheeks burning. He's still ashamed and while he was just 19, there was no excuse for how he behaved.

 "That's fantastic." Stiles can sense that Danny doesn't really want to talk about the school in LA. "You know, I always wanted to go to Julliard."

 Danny breathes more easily, is more in control. Talking about himself, still not a forte, and he's genuinely interested in Stiles. He looks up. "That would look amazing on a resumé. Why aren't you trying out? You could totally make it."

Stiles shrugs. "I still might. It'll only work out if I get a scholarship, or one hell of a job. The Sheriff of Lee County doesn't exactly get paid enough to send his son to school in New York."

He toys with his fork. "I can understand. Well, my family is pretty well-off... OK no that's an understatement, they're really well-off. Still, they didn't want to pay for anything related to dance schools because it would be a waste of money, according to them. So that scholarship was needed for me too."

He pauses, looks at Stiles. That guy has it all. "You could land a scholarship, easy. I've seen enough of what you can do to say as much."

 Stiles smiles, blushing at the compliment. "Thanks. We'll see what happens with the show, first."

Danny chuckles and waves at the waitress. "We already know that. First prize," he says, pointing at his chest, "and runner-up," gesturing at Stiles. "No offense."

Stiles laughs. "None taken. I'm gonna win this shit, bitch."

"Cora's rubbing off on you. I'm no bitch," Danny says, leaning back with a smile, "and I'm taking it home without mercy, no matter how much you want it, or how much I like you."

 He clams up as soon as the words leave his lips and he's quite grateful for the interruption the waitress provides.

"How much I like you."

Stiles shakes it off, giving the waitress his order and his menu.

"We'll see. First we have to survive group night."

Danny orders and nods. He chooses his words more carefully. "We have great partners, it's a good starting point. I'm not worried."

 No suggestions, nothing too revealing. Better. But he's still curious.

 "You and Cora, that's a dangerously efficient combination. You knew each other before?"

"We met at the Chicago auditions, though I had heard her name in the community before." Stiles shrugs. "We just clicked."

"Contemporary and krump, unlikely. You guys make it work though, and she's pretty good."

 A glimpse of their jazz number springs to his mind, Cora all wrapped around Stiles, their faces all heat. He clears his throat, maybe because of how Stiles looked, maybe because of their tension.

 "You clicked all right."

Stiles blushes, feeling the heat lick up his neck like flames.

"Yeah, she's... she's something all right. We work well together."

 Their food arrives and Danny doesn't comment any further, digging into his tacos instead. He's torn between congratulating himself for a crush toned down and kicking himself for sabotaging himself, again.

 It's the right move, considering the circumstances. Head in the game, not on this guy. It doesn't mean he likes seeing Stiles so flustered.

 If only he could make up his mind.

 The silence stretches and he can't bring himself to break it.

 

Silence. Silence is the worst. The Stilinski house was silent for years. Stiles hates silence.

"Did you know that authentic guacamole is just avocado and lemon juice? American restaurants added the salsa."

Well, that was intelligent.

 Danny looks up, swallow his unreasonably big bite with difficulty. "I like mine with just garlic, actually," he croaks out.

 He coughs a couple of times. "Anything to cut the awkward, right? That was... adorable," he confesses.

Stiles blushes again, kicking himself.

"I am a wealth of useless information."

"Knowledge is never useless," Danny replies, staring at Stiles. One of the few lessons his mother taught him that he agrees with.

 Stiles blushing is adorable too and Danny can feel his own cheeks reddening. Fuck. He looks away. "I'm sorry."

"Wh-- why are you sorry?"

Danny sighs and pushes his plate away. "I'm... I don't really know what I'm doing here, with you and I feel like I'm leading you on."

 He shakes his head. "Or maybe I'm not. I don't know. I'm sorry for being weird, I guess."

 "I didn't plan on..." His voice trails off.

"Getting attached. You're here to win, not to make friends." Stiles doesn't know what happened to his voice, but it comes out flat. "No worries, man. I get it."

It's stupid really, but he reaches over the table anyway and grabs Stiles' hand.

 He's wanted to touch him all evening anyway. Damn his hand is warm and nice.

 "It's not personal, you know," he says in a low voice.

 He tries to shut up the part of his brain that screams for him to make an exception. He takes his hand off before he can't anymore.

 "Yeah, man, it's no problem." Stiles forces a smile. "I totally get it."

Chapter Text

"There are fifty of you left. Divide into groups of five, then report for your random song assignment. And... break."

Cora grabs Stiles hand, and he scans the room for Danny and Lydia. Before they can reach them, however, they are blocked by Scott.

He's towing the pretty-yet-scary brunette and the tall-yet-precious curly blond from the pool.

"Stiles, can Isaac and Allison and I join you and Cora?" Scott gives him his best puppy dog face.

Stiles looks to Cora, who shrugs. "They're talented. You won't hear me argue."

His gaze locks on Danny for a moment before returning to Scott. "Okay, we're a group."

 

Five. How nice, splitting couples who are finally getting into a rhythm. Danny muses.

He glances at Lydia and she shakes her head with energy. "Oh no mister, we are not splitting up, I'm just getting the hang of you." She turns around, searching the crowd. "Jackson and Laura are right there, let's snag them," she says.

Danny nods. Stiles is nowhere in sight and anyway it's better this way. Too distracting. He frowns and tugs at Lydia's sleeve. "Can you handle him with us?"

She stares him down, grabs his shirt and drags him. "Shut up, of course I can. I can control myself, God."

They enlist Jackson, Laura and an indifferent blonde bombshell, Erica. It's not perfect but it's the best they can do. They go and stand in line for the song assignment. And there is Stiles. He tries not to stare and instead chats Erica up, to make her feel more included. She's not the most responsive, it doesn't look good. 

 

Stiles and company receive their cd, take their player and find a piece of unoccupied hallway to call their own.

They wait for the camera guy to get ready, and Stiles presses 'play'. The steady, synthesized beat of the opening to Fever pours through the speakers.

Stiles and Isaac exchange a grin. Scott and Allison look a little bewildered, and Cora just says, "Adam Lambert, really?"

Stiles laughs. "Oh, we can work with this. I'm thinking..."

"Orgy," Isaac says quietly, a slow smirk growing on his too-handsome face.

"Let's get to work."

 

They're silent as they head for the rehearsal room. None of them want to say it but it's obvious, this isn't going to be easy, not with a freshly formed group.

Lydia toys with the CD they got for a second. "Let's pray for something classical..." she says as she puts it in. Danny puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Yes, given their background, something classical would be best.

"Speak for yourselves," Erica says, stretching her back, a little removed from the group.

A pulsing, deep beat starts and they look at each other, paler and more freaked out by the second. A pleading, somewhat sultry voice.

"Is that..." Jackson starts.

"Yeah," Danny chimes in. "Closer." The lyrics are cleaner but it's that one. He raises an eyebrow. "Nine Inch Nails. They're getting bolder."

Erica laughs and gets closer. "Thank God, otherwise I wouldn't be here. Move aside, let me show you how we're going to do this one."

 

They plan out the overall concept, working in pieces for everyone to show off their specific skill, and then get to work.

 For hours.

 And hours.

 Allison refuses to let them be the "drama fodder group" this year, so they force themselves to keep calm and just keep working. Luckily the five of them make a pretty good group, and any squabbles are quickly resolved.

 Around two am, Isaac finally says, "It's a good number, and we have it down. I say we hit the hay and work on it again in the morning before we go on."

"Agreed."

 They all end up in Stiles and Scott's room, Scott tucked in between Allison and Isaac and Cora asleep on Stiles' chest.

 

"No, no, no. No way. I am not doing that move, are you kidding me?" Lydia's voice is shrill and Danny winces. He looks around and sighs, of course the cameras don't miss a thing of the catfight emerging.

"Listen, Lydia..." He tries.

"No, Danny, I'm not. This is cheap and I don't do cheap."

Erica throws her hands in the air and starts pacing the room. "I can't work with her, fuck!" She points to Lydia and Danny. "You convince her because I'm telling you, this fits!"

Lydia turns away and stops the music. "No," she repeats. "You might be used to this kind of music, you might be more skilled in planning routines on this genre, I'm willing to give that to you but I'm not buying that I have to virtually undress you onstage for this number to work!"

"If you would just listen to the lyrics, you would see that it's not about selling out and being tawdry for the shock value. This has meaning."

Lydia just sits down on a chair and glares. Jackson comes back in, arms full with snacks and bottles of water. "Guys, I think we have a problem...." he says.

They all turn to him. He drops his supplies haphazardly and starts distributing bottles to the group. "I passed a few rooms on my back and, given what I heard, well..." He takes a hurried sip and clears his throat. "They're keeping up with a theme, I mean, the songs are all different but from what I recognized they're all rather explicit. Different genres but the message is clear: sex." He shrugs. "I guess we can count ourselves lucky to have Erica but unless we get with the program..."

They all share a look and Lydia stands back up, before Danny has a chance to ask her. "Fine. I give up. If that's what they want then that's what they'll get."

She starts the music and gets back in position, next to Erica and surrounded by the other three. "Let's do this again."

....

It takes 5 hours for them to make the number perfect. They focus on storytelling, the only way to properly showcase everyone's talents. Erica rules them with confidence and an iron fist and after a while, they all accept it. The chemistry starts to build up, the music gets under their skin and by the end of rehearsal, around midnight, even Lydia is getting into it and risking a smile.

She even stays behind to run more moves once they call it a night. Jackson wants to stay too but Danny drags him back to their room. He has no desire to practice in a room where they would have been left alone.

 

Stiles wakes early, as usual, extricates himself from Cora, and runs through his usual routine.

They can't fuck this up.

He pulls on his black dance jeans (now with extra spandex!) and a tank top. The shirt doesn't matter, it's coming off anyway.

Stiles wakes Cora gently with coffee and a bagel in hand, then does the same for the others.

"We have a number to nail, people. Let's get to work."

Everyone is dressed and downstairs by nine, the boys in black jeans and the girls in tight black tank tops and red dance shorts.

"I feel absurd," Cora whines, pulling at the shorts she had to borrow from Laura.

Stiles laughs. "Maybe, but you look hot as hell so stop complaining."

They run through the number once, twice, three times before they are given the warning that they're up next.

 

A knock on the door wakes Danny up and he answers it automatically, with mussed hair and sleepy eyes. Lydia is standing in the hallway, with Erica of all people. Beaming smiles and fresh faces, as if they hadn't rehearsed until the wee hours. Not fair. He mumbles a greeting and they come in. Thankfully they're bearing coffee.

It takes a while to pull Jackson from his bed, even Lydia can't seem to find a way to make him leave his pillow at first, The guys take a quick shower and they head for Laura's room. She's fidgety and pale, but ready to go.

Their dance room is as they left it and they don't waste time, going through the routine a couple of times. Enough to reassure themselves, they still got it. Erica joyously sends them out to get into the costumes she chose. Nothing fancy, black pants, flowing white shirts and tan sports bras for the girls. They then make their way to the auditorium. Something about over-rehearsing that Jackson said convinced them to take it easy until their turn was about to come. Luck has it, they're the last ones to go.

When the groups start doing their number, their mood varies. Some have the whole sexy thing down, some are downright ridiculous and awkward. It still looks good for them, until Stiles' group step onstage.

He stands up, at once and heads for the exit. His excuse that he wants to get back into their number sounds false even to him. But he's simply not ready. Not ready to see Stiles in this kind of setting again, after the jazz number.

Yet he stays near the door, eyes fixed on the stage.

 

The Spitfires (Isaac's idea) take the stage and get into position. The girls flank Scott, Allison plastered along his front and Cora his back, her outer hand on Allison's ass. Isaac and Stiles take their place like they're dancing in a club, Isaac's lips against Stiles' throat and the shorter man's arm thrown over his neck.

The first two counts of eight are pose changes, following the synth beat. Sexy and simple, nothing too complicated-- yet. The first verse starts, and they move into a sensual ooze of a routine, mixing up the arrangement of their mass of flesh. Jazz meets contemporary meets a little hip hop for the best possible configuration of their talents.

There he goes, my baby walks so slow. Sexual tic-tac-toe, yeah I know we both know it isn't time. But would you be mah-mine?

The chorus hits and they shift into straight lines, girls in front. They move in Gaga-esque synchrony, every movement crisp and on time.

Stiles throws himself into it, facials all constructed to look like he's in the throes of passion. The show high takes over, and any worries fly out the window.

By the bridge, they're in one large carefully chaotic mess, everyone coming to the front of it at least once to really show off their moves.

The last chorus is more synchrony, more tricks-- more softcore porn.

They end as one, Scott curled possessively around Stiles who has an armful and a mouthful of Allison who has her hands on Cora who has her ass on Isaac, who has his hands on everyone else.

They're panting when they break apart, and Stiles is half-hard in his (gloriously restrictive) dance belt.

 

The group meets up backstage a couple of minutes before their calling time. Fluttery nerves, they discuss the details of the numbers and the sequence softly, with minimal gestures, as if they're saving the energy for the performance. Jackson gets louder when Danny joins them, a little late, a little flushed.

"Man your boy's team was something else! I'm almost willing to bet they're all doing each other as we speak, given how they were onstage. I never thought a group could sell the orgy concept so well." He smirks. "Yeah, they must be doing it because damn... You missed something awesome!"

Danny frowns. "Since when do you praise others, right before we go on top of that?"

Jackson slaps him on the back and pushes him closer to the edge of the curtains. "Since this shit got me hot and bothered. We're going to kill it anyway and they just warmed me up more!"

Danny thinks back to Stiles slithering through their number, hands everywhere, panting at the end... Warmed up? Sure. Focused? That's less likely.

....

The primal rhythm begins and they fall into it, as flawlessly as they did in rehearsal. Erica is stretching up, her body moving as a blooming flower. The others are scattered around her, laid on the floor, rising at a slower pace. They move in closer with each bar, perfectly synchronized.

The first line is sung and Lydia leaps forward, crowding Erica with frantic hands and hungry eyes. They lock eyes and it becomes a distant tango where Lydia both begs and commands Erica, until the latter half-loses her shirt, has it slide way down her back and she falls behind with a broken face. Lydia takes the center stage and Jackson moves forward.

It flows from there, a continuous circle of seduction, each getting the part of the lover, the chaser, the voyeur and the exhibitionist. They make a point of keeping it apart, no one actually  touching anyone. The overall movement suggests everything, their faces tell the story and their bodies, through each of their personal style, show the impact of the heavy seduction they're demonstrating.

Laura gets the final spot as the victim, regal as she fights off Danny's advances. He moves closer, they devour each other with their eyes and he finishes with the right power-hungry sequence, rapid footwork and decided twists and turns. She gives up, throws herself down in a calculated leap and hides her face in the remnants of the shirt she tore off herself midway through her part.

He stands alone among the seemingly wrecked bodies of his partners. The air is still sizzling and he can almost taste the toxicity on his tongue. They don't move, don't break the spell of their number. Not until the applause starts. 

They make it through with flying colors.

 

Stiles sat in the auditorium for Danny's group's number, and now he's regretting it.

He shifts in his seat uncomfortably, carefully ignoring Cora's knowing gaze.

That was hot like burning.

Stiles' body is lit with desire, but remembering Danny's obvious rejection the night before douses the flame.

"It isn't personal."

 

Once the judges announces that they're all through, it becomes a blur of hugs and celebration. Jackson seems to be incapable of letting him go, until Lydia gets a hold of him and they engage in a make-out session that, even considering the theme of their number, is highly inappropriate. Thankfully Laura pushes them away fast enough and Erica and Danny follow her with more measured steps. 

"Thank you Erica, you saved our asses this time. That choreography was brilliant."

She smiles and shrugs. "I have my moments." Her face turns serious. "It was about time they let me show that pole dancing has its merits. And I did it all without my main prop."

Danny throws a tired arm around her shoulders and brings her closer. "You did awesome. You're going to blow them all away."

Her smile widens. "I know," she says confidently, but her eyes tell her gratitude.

They get pulled apart by several contestants congratulating them. Danny instinctively look for Stiles, or someone from his group. He should tell him how much he liked his performance, even if it's dangerous.

He doesn't get very far, an arm reaches out and pulls him in a corner. A second later he has Ethan's body pressing him against the wall and lips an inch from his.

"That number..." Ethan whispers hoarsely.

Danny swallows audibly. HIs skin is still abuzz from the dancing, Ethan's body heat is mingling with his... Stupid decisions were made with less. Without thinking he brings a hand to the back of Ethan's head and tilts his own. "What about my number?" he asks, eyes half-closed.

The only response he gets is a moan and a mouth crashing against his.

 

Stiles doesn't mean to follow Danny, he really doesn't.

Running into him sucking face with the gay twin (Ethan, right?) brings bile into his throat.

"Nothing personal" his ass.

Stiles manages to find Cora, who takes one look at him and pulls him in for a hug.

"C'mon," she says after a long moment, "let's go find the three fucksketeers and get a good cuddle in before final solos."

Stiles laughs quietly. "Who are you and what have you done with Cora?"

She chuckles, dragging him over to the piece of floor Allison, Scott, and Isaac have claimed for their own. They tuck Stiles right in the middle of their puppy pile, no questions asked.

And you said you weren't going to get attached.

 

Ethan is a fantastic kisser, Danny isn't going to deny that. But as great as it is to be kissed senseless, his reason hasn't completely left him (thank God) and after a few seconds of heated embrace and roaming hands, Danny tugs at Ethan's shirts to make him stop.

Which he does, although he doesn't let him go completely. "You OK?" he asks, breathless.

Danny shakes his head, still catching his breath. "Y-Yeah, just... Slow down, OK?"

Ethan chuckles and takes a step back. "Sure." He smiles that winning smile and slides a furtive hand under the collar of Danny's shirt before leaving. "You know where I stay," he says as he walks away. Danny chuckles, running a hand through his damp hair. Exhilaration courses through him, just a minute.

Lydia is in his face by then. "What kind of game are you playing, Danny?" she spits.

He shrugs. "I don't know what you mean."

"I mean the look on Stiles' face when he saw you and Ethan. I mean you give me and Jackson shit for hooking up here but you play musical chair with these guys. I mean you better decide what it is exactly that you're doing here."

She gives him a hearty slap on the arm and turns around on her heels. She pauses and turns back, digging her finger in his chest. "I like you, Danny. You're a good guy. And there's nothing wrong with having some side fun while doing this competition. But you better get your shit together and keep yourself in check because emotions run high here. And from what I've just witnessed, you did some damage already. Fix it or I'll revisit my opinion of you, along with my taste in dancing partners."

She walks away swiftly and Danny, confused and feeling sick to his stomach, manages to do what's important: go look for Stiles. He figures he'll know what to say to him by the time he finds him.

 

Stiles finds himself with his head tucked into Scott's shoulder, Allison's hand entwined with his on Scott's abdomen.

Cora is curled around him, Isaac around her.

Cuddles can do a lot of good, he has to say.

Nothing personal.

He stamps down the memory and tries to focus on the people wrapped around him, the floor beneath him, the high of passing through to solos.

 

There seem to be a lot of people lounging around, the toll of the day being felt. Nobody's practicing, there are just people spread around the lobby and the rehearsal rooms.

Stiles' room is a dead end, nobody's responding to his knocking. He just hopes it doesn't mean Stiles is looking at him through the peephole and refusing to open it.

The rehearsal rooms have no one from his troupe.

The lobby is a bust too.

He trips on Isaac's legs and his heart jumps in his throat when he finally sees Stiles, almost buried under protective arms and comforting bodies. He thinks Cora is about to hiss at him when he finds his voice back.

"Stiles, hum, could I talk to you for a sec?"

As if you have any idea what to say to him, his mind teases.

 

Cora tightens her grip on him, but Stiles murmurs, "Let me go."

He slides out of the clump of people and stands.

"C'mon, let's do this away from my guard dogs." Stiles walks Danny down the hall, stops, and crosses his arms. "What do you want?"

 

Danny glances in the direction of Stiles' friends. “Guard dogs” seems an appropriate term and he gets that feeling in his stomach again. Someone needing protection from him, the thought churns his insides.

He takes a step forward but stops himself before reaching out for Stiles again. He doesn't trust himself with contact at the moment.

"Look," he sighs, "I know you saw me with Ethan and I wanted to..."

What? Apologize? Does he actually owe Stiles anything? If not, why does he feel so guilty? He shakes his head and unconsciously rests his hand on Stiles' arm.

"I meant what I said last night, I didn't plan anything. It was a spur of the moment thing and... I don't really know what's going on between us or between you and me but I didn't lie to you. I need you to know that."

Stiles believes him. Call him crazy, but he believes him.

"It's cool, man. I believe you. I understand the whole--" He waves a hand, not knowing how to explain it. "Besides, there's no telling who's gonna last the day, let alone final cuts tomorrow."

He laughs. "I'll call Cora off, don't worry." He sobers some. "Your group number was fantastic, by the way. You're really talented."

Danny smiles, relieved. That silly habit he has, of always having everyone like him... But with Stiles it's not just that, he genuinely likes him and wants it returned. Along with more of that great laugh.

"Thanks. It was touch and go at first, we're not used to that kind of music but Erica made it work for us."

He looks away and heat comes back to his face. Stiles' own number is fresh in mind.

"You... You were amazing." he mumbles.

He can't say much more without becoming even more confused. He can still feel Ethan's lips on his, his hand on his hips. But he can also see Stiles' gorgeous eyes and lips and remembers the way his nimble body was displayed onstage, how it moved...

He's fucked.

Stiles blushes. "Thanks. We worked our asses off on that number."

He's confused, sure, but he doesn’t want to lose the potential friendship he has going with Danny. Emotions be damned.

"It showed. You guys mesh well together too, you have this natural vibe others have to work for." he says with a smile. Finally he notices his hand and removes it quickly.

 

People start passing them by and crowding the hall. He glances at his watch. Lunchtime.

"You're meeting your pack for lunch or we can continue this?"

"Let's eat together. They can handle themselves."

They walk down to the atrium and go through the lunch line together.

"Are you sure about that?" Danny jokes, picking up a couple of sandwiches and a side salad. "It seems like an intense group, which I can relate to. I have Jackson and Lydia in mine after all."

Stiles laughs, going for the curly fries. "Well, I'm fairly certain Allison, Isaac and Scott either are banging or will be before the competition is done. Cora dubbed them the Three Fucksketeers."

He lets out a happy yell when he snags the last poppyseed muffin. "And Cora has her sister to hang with."

"Yeah, Laura..." Danny says slowly. He leads Stiles to a secluded table and sits down. "She's quiet, compared to Cora. They must be happy to be here together."

He downs a third of his water bottle and wipes his mouth, pensive. "I have Jennifer, Jackson, I guess, and Lydia. Family would be nice but I'm glad I have friends here."

He looks up at Stiles. "I shouldn't be but... Turns out you can't really be a loner here."

Stiles smiles. "Dancers are friendly people. We crave human contact." He shrugs. "I like having people I can count on."

That stings. No matter what they say, Danny still feels as if he broke a promise.

"Me too." He keeps his eyes on Stiles'.

"You need to give people a chance to see if you can count on them, that's the hard part," he adds quickly.

Stiles pokes at his salad, gears churning in his mind.

"Yeah, I think you're right."

A small victory. Danny smiles to himself and focuses on his meal. They're moving forward though and his mind is more at peace.

"You have an idea for you solo already?" he asks.

"I have my solo choreographed down to the last second," Stiles says with a laugh. "I've had this solo ready for almost two years now."

"A surprise or you can share?" Danny says, with a playful look in his eyes.

"Oh, it's most definitely a surprise," Stiles says with a laugh.

"I'll make sure I don't miss it then, if I can't have a preview or spoilers." Danny comments.

"You know how to tease, Stiles." he whispers. It's inappropriate but he can't help it around him.

Stiles smirks around his straw.

"Oh, babe, you have no fucking clue," he says quietly.

"Bitch." The word escapes him without his consent. He tames it with a chuckle and takes a swig from his bottle, despite his tight throat.

Stiles is about to respond when Cora walks over.

"C'mon, I need an opinion on my solo and Laura is never critical enough."

Stiles looks to Danny. "Is it cool if I go?"

Danny coughs and grabs his bottle again. "Sure."

It's a good thing actually, Stiles leaving. The conversation takes a turn for the flirtatious too often, too soon with Stiles.

"I need to get ready myself."

 

Stiles follows Cora back to her room and watches her run through her solo once, twice, three times.

"Your timing is just a hair off toward the third eight-count," he says. "And the back-handspring back-tuck was shaky on the landing."

Cora nods, tying her hair up. "I'm gonna get this," she says fiercely, almost to herself. "I'm not going home."

Chapter Text

Danny goes back to his room for a quick warm shower and some stretching. He walks back to the main floor and walks around for a while. He stops in a rehearsal room, where Jackson and Lydia are actually practicing and not jumping each other. Maybe because Jennifer is there as well. Ethan isn't and Danny is relieved to notice it.

He doesn't stay for long. He moves to the main stage, deserted for now, and takes off his shoes and socks.

No need for music, he knows it by heart in his head. He plays it as he dances across the shiny floor, getting reacquainted with the texture and feeling of it under his feet.

He's not going to be able to use it for long but he'd rather rehearse on the actual spot he's going to play his place for the next round.

 

By the time Stiles finally signs off on Cora's solo, he has just enough time to get ready for his solo.

He showers quickly, stretches, and pulls on his nude dance belt and a pair of pure-white cotton pajama pants that are just loose enough to look too big. He slips his hoodie and flip flops on to head downstairs, though both will remain in the wings when he goes on.

"You can do this. I know you can."

Stiles runs through his solo once, by himself in an unused corner backstage.

He has this.

 

Danny gets shooed away by a frustrated assistant and he hides in a quiet corner of the audience. Jennifer sits next to him and holds his hand tight, without a word. They just exchange a stressed-out smile.

He observes the competition for a while. He has time, he's among the last to go.

Greenberg, that weird, improbable kid, somehow get through. Danny has to admit, he's not memorable but he has an unparalleled energy when he starts dancing.

Jackson does an aggressive number on the battle music of Star Wars Episode 1, of all things. He pulls it off brilliantly and moves on.

Erica rocks everyone's world with her sultry number, perfect flexibility and musicality.

Jennifer gives him a quick kiss and leaves him to do her own number-- smooth choreography on Only Time. She's an angel onstage and gets her spot on the next round.

He leaves soon after to stand in line for his number and visualizes his routine one last time. He pushes it aside for a awhile, the time to truly appreciate Stiles' performance.

 

Stiles takes his place, and the music starts-- P!nk's "Glitter in the Air." His routine isn't technically difficult or complicated, that's not what he's here for. 

Stiles is telling the story.

He can see her, if he concentrates enough-- the girl of his dreams. He had Malia play her for the first few runs, cementing her placement in his mind.

He chases after her with leaps and bounds, showing off his ballet training along with his musicality. Finally, he reaches her and she dances with him, perfectly in synch. But... she leaves him, broken and empty after tasting paradise.

His arabesques are perfect, his leaps graceful.

He worked his ass off for this level of perfection.

Stiles is crying by the end-- like every time. She is real to him, and his heart breaks a little every time he does the number.

 

Danny is shocked, to his very core. He's seen Stiles use his body, dance with purpose and passion but this...

He leans forward as the number unravels in front of him and grips the curtain. His heartbeat quickens.

It's a whole drama, a tragedy, that Stiles is telling with his moves. He can almost see the phantom partner Stiles imagines and when the final notes play and Stiles breaks down, he feels his eyes moisten as well.

He contemplates Stiles' back as they all await for the judges' decision. He's transfixed really. He might have fallen in love with Stiles a little, just now.

 

Stiles wipes hastily at his face as he awaits the answer.

Mary is the first to speak, dabbing at the corner of her eyes. "That was so beautiful," she says shakily. "You made her real for me, and that takes skill."

"Young man," Nigel begins, "I have had a few doubts about you. Your age for one, your maturity for another. You blew that out of the water, and I applaud you for that."

Stiles heaves a shaky sigh of relief. He won Nigel over.

"You, my love, are on to the final round of cuts," Sonya says with a smile. "I can't wait to get the chance to work with you again."

Stiles almost collapses with the rush of pure joy.

He made it.

He made it to the final call.

"Th-thank you," he croaks, voice rough from crying. "Thank you so much."

 

Danny can't go back to his mental preparation, not yet. He pulls away from the line of people waiting, his face breaking into a huge smile when he overhears the judges' compliments.

He's waiting for Stiles to come backstage. When he does, he stops him with a hand on his chest.

"Stiles..."

Stiles stares down at Danny's hand on his still-bare chest and then up at the man's face.

"Yeah?"

 Danny is speechless for a good 4 seconds. His hand almost slips on the (burning) shimmery skin of Stiles' chest, he takes it off in a flash once he regains his senses. Burned.

He licks his lips. A sudden image in his mind, Ethan pushing him. He can see why that happened now, but he can't do that to Stiles. He shakes his head imperceptibly.

"You..." Can he explain it, what this number did to him? The talent, the technique, the emotion? His heart sinks. Stiles is the whole package. He's in a league of his own. In dancing and everything else.

He steps back, eyes darkening. "You're going to win this." he breathes out.

 Stiles smiles faintly. He has to resist the urge to do something stupid, like throw himself at Danny.

"You really think so?"

 Danny has a fucking lump in his throat, his eyes still humid. Of course he does.

He's there to win but for a minute, he's going to concede the obvious.

He leans forward, puts his mouth right next to Stiles' ear. "I hate to say it but yeah."

He takes a deep breath, insanely refuses to pull back.

 All Stiles has to do is turn his head, and he'd be kissing Danny.

Just... turn his head...

He's mere millimeters away from Danny's lips when Scott comes bounding over, wrapping him in an enthusiastic hug.

Stiles startles out of his Danny-induced reverie violently.

"Man, that was so fucking awesome," he says with a laugh, swinging Stiles around. "You're, like, the best dancer ever."

"Scott, I think you may have intruded," Allison chides, gaze directed at Danny.

 

People. All around them. Allison, Scott, now wrapped around Stiles.

His turn coming up.

The competition.

His routine.

All good reasons that make him finally pull back.

"No, not at all." he forces out. He turns towards the stage. "I have to go, I just wanted to congratulate Stiles." He just has to look back at him and he wants to believe he's not too pleading, with his voice or his eyes. "Maybe we can continue this once I'm done and off to the next round myself?"

 Stiles' smile is small, private. "Sounds great. I'll see you after you make it through."

Danny smiles back. It sounds like a vote of confidence and a nice, comforting heat spreads in him.

Just in time, he's about to go on.

.....

He turns his attention inwards. The number requires focus and intense concentration. He perfected it over months with his teacher. An ambitious project, given the rhythm and scale of the song, mixed with his relative inexperience. Still he knows it will be effective.

The version of the theme of Requiem for a Dream he's using is shortened, of course, but he kept the chanting, the escalation and the brutal finish.

So it's become the perfect platform to showcase what he lacked during his first try: discipline, knowledge, technique, learned skills.

Slowly at first, he makes the most of the more languid beat, showing straight form and strong positions. As the rhythm quickens, he throws himself into his leaps and arabesques. The footwork is arduous and intricate as the song swells, and he smiles internally (the music doesn't call for mirth). He can feel every muscle respond in perfect timing, the figures being executed to perfection as a result. When the song reaches its thunderous and frantic climax and he keeps his spins accelerating and controlled for the entire finale, he knows it's won.

He put all he's ever learned in this number. Not his most emotionally invested performance but it's flawless, technically.

"This time," he thinks as he's trying to catch his breath, "they can't say I'm not up to par."

They don't. He's in the final round.

 

Danny thanks the judges profusely and runs backstage. There, he gets accolades from everyone, everyone but Stiles. He shakes it off quickly and returns the hugs and pats on the back with a smile that can't be wiped off.

He's made it, and even if he's not around, he knows Stiles will meet with him. He's a man of his word.

Another shower is needed and he changes into his most comfortable outfit, simple black trousers, black tank top, white shirt. He chuckles at himself as he rearranges his hair in his mirror. He was wearing almost the same outfit this morning, during his group number. The thought brings some color to his cheeks.

He makes his way downstairs. He has an idea where Stiles might be and when he exits the elevator and sees him on the bench, he's secretly satisfied by his educated guess. It's nice that he knows him already.

Stiles stands when he sees Danny, smiling.

"Congrats, man. You kicked ass on that solo."

"Thanks. I had a score to settle with that number, I feel it's done now."

He shuffles around. Stiles is making him nervous, with his grin and tight T-shirt.

"You want to go out?" he asks him, fast.

"Out sounds great. As long as we're back by nine thirty to film the 'whoo hoo we made it' shit at the party the show throws."

"Right, no problem." Danny looks around. No cameras for now, thank you.

"I could do without the Big Brother aspect of this competition but what are you going to do?" he shrugs.

He nods towards the door. "Lead the way, it's your turn to pick a place."

If he glances down when Stiles walks in front of him, no one can blame him. Those jeans fit like a glove.

"It gets better when you make top twenty," Stiles says as they walk out. "Then it's more about the dancing than the drama."

 

Stiles manages to get them to a small Italian restaurant, a local hole-in-the-wall Manny suggested.

Danny sits down and peruses the menu. It looks surprisingly good, considering the place.

He looks up at Stiles. "You know, I have a feeling the drama won't really stop once we're just twenty. Depending on who makes it, it might get worse."

He thinks about Lydia and Jackson, what could happen between them. Ethan, Stiles, Cora, himself. Yeah, talent all across the board but tempers and... complicated situations too.

"Off camera at least," he adds.

Stiles shrugs. "We'll see what happens. I'm just glad they don't film in the house."

They order, and Stiles sips his tea.

"Tell me about yourself."

 Danny plays with the rim of his glass of water. "I'm not sure there's much to tell. Danny, 20 years old, computer science, ballet. Unattached, lives in LA. Family in Hawaii. I guess that covers the basics. Any topic you want details on?"

Stiles bites his straw thoughtfully.

"Favorite color? Movie? Book? Song? Form of potato?"

Danny bursts out laughing. "Are you kidding me?"

He takes a sip of water and leans back, still smiling. "Fine. Green, The Abyss, not really the bookish type, these days it's Get Lucky and I have no idea, does sweet potato count?"

He puts his glass down. "Satisfied?" he asks with a falsely serious face.

Stiles grins. "Quite. And sweet potato counts, if barely."

"It so counts. Less carbs, better taste." He crosses his arms. "You're something else, Stiles, I never know what's going to come out of your mouth," he says and the smile is back on his face.

Something else alright. Charming, killer smile, unexpected.

Lives on the other side of the country and won't be around a few weeks from now.

His smiles falters but he persists.

"If I were to ask you the same questions?"

"Red. Star Trek IV. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 'Sail.' and curly fries." Stiles slurps at his tea. "The very fact that you say sweet potatoes taste better makes me worry."

"I can make you some recipes with them that would make you switch religion so yeah, they taste better."

He pauses, the time for the waiter to drop their plates on the table. He digs into his eggplant parmesan with gusto. "Worry about what, exactly? My sanity? My sense of taste? Your interest in me?"

His eyes widen and he shoves a forkful in his mouth. Damn it that last one wasn't supposed to be out loud.

Stiles' eyes narrow slightly as he looks at Danny over his ravioli.

"The first two, mostly." He blows on the bite on his fork and eats with a moan. "God, this is good. Manny was right."

A discreet sigh of relief (man you are too far gone already...) and Danny eats a few bites in silent agreement of Stiles assessment. He can't comment, not with a moaning Stiles in front of him.

"If you win, what will you do with the prize?" he asks after a while.

That's good. Safe topic.

"Pay Dad's mortgage. Go to Julliard. See if I can get a job in Step Up 27: Martian craters." Stiles shrugs. "You know, the basics."

"Step Up, really?" Danny shivers. "Anyone with limited skills could do that, the way they shoot and edit those movies. You can do better." he notes.

"It's nice of you though, helping your dad. Very nice." he says with soft voice.

Stiles shrugs, stabbing a ravioli. "He deserves it, putting up with me my whole life."

Danny stops eating, drops his fork. Stiles' voice has a darker edge to it.

His hand reaches over the table, stopping an inch from Stiles'.

"Hey, he's not putting up with you, I'm sure. There's nothing to put up with, he's your dad, he supports you and that's it."

It's speculation but he's confident about it.

Stiles moves his hand, twining his fingers with Danny's.

"God, I hope you're right." He takes a deep breath, pushing away the looming panic attack. "I just want to make him proud."

Fuck. Just the touch of Stiles' fingers on his is as intense as when Ethan had him pressed against the wall.

He keeps them there, tightens them around Stiles' just a tad more.

"You're blowing everyone away." he whispers, sincerity behind every word. "Just making it this far is amazing, and you're not done. He's proud, believe me. If he cares at all, he's proud."

A smile spreads across Stiles' face slowly but surely.

"Th-thanks." He clears his throat. "Thank you. I needed that."

Stiles pushes his free hand through his hair. "I'm like a fucking puppy, I crave affection and reassurance."

Danny grins, threads his fingers more securely with Stiles'. They fit pretty well there, he muses.

Let go, let go, let go.

"It's fine by me."

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Soon he'll need to either shut down this voice in head or get on board with it.

Stiles stares at their hands, smiling.

Then the visual of Danny swapping spit with Ethan slams its way into his mind.

He pulls away gently, returning to his ravioli like it holds the answers to the universe.

 

Stiles made the choice for him. Good. Distance it is.

He can't look away though, and his plate holds little interest to him. Contrary to Stiles', but it feels off, forced.

"You OK?"

Stiles swallows hastily. "I'm fine. Why would I be anything other than fine? I mean, I made it to final cuts and I've only been dreaming of this for twelve years."

Danny lets out a dry chuckle, but his face shows more worry.

"The show hasn't been on the air for that long and you're basically vomiting a generic answer. What's wrong?"

Don't say it, don't say it, don't say it...

"What about Ethan?"

Fuck.

Danny swallows thickly. Just the name and already he's reminded of flirty eyes and one hell of a kiss. He shakes his head and looks at Stiles. Ethan and Stiles. They're so different.

He details the pale skin, those funny moles, those big amber eyes.

His gaze ends on Stiles' worried lips. He doesn't think about Ethan's kiss so much now, rather wonder what one with Stiles would feel like.

He looks back up, locks eyes with Stiles. "I'm not having dinner with him, am I?" he replies. Lightly but decidedly.

Stiles' panic recedes.

"No, I guess you aren't."

He smiles, and digs into his ravioli-- actually tasting it this time.

Chapter Text

Danny grins and finishes off his plate. He's strangely reassured, confident.

He's going for more than a title here. He shouldn't, but he is.

He signals the waiter for the check. "My treat," he says. "We should think about heading back."

 

They walk back to the hotel hand-in-hand, and Stiles can't stop smiling.

Christ, the wolves would mock him for acting like such a wuss. He can almost hear Malia telling him to "just fuck him already, you know you want to."

But this is nice. Walking under the bright Las Vegas lights holding hands with a boy he likes.

They are ushered into one of the suites by a menacing woman with a clipboard.

"Reaction footage is always big," she explains. "So have good clean fun for the next forty-five minutes. Then you can do whatever the hell you want."

Danny straightens his posture. He's half-tempted to do a salute but wisely restrains himself. He tugs on Stiles' hand and leans towards him.

"Wanna meet up once this is over?" His thumb can't stop grazing over the back of Stiles' hand. "We could check up on the others in the meantime."

He shuts up the "There is no way I can keep fun clean with you at the moment." line that's on the tip of his tongue.

"Sounds like a plan." Stiles bites his bottom lip. "Scott's bunking with the other fucksketeers, so if you want to crash with me you can." He blushes. "You know, if Jackson and Lydia sexile you or something."

Danny grins, pushing the invitation, along with Stiles’ blush and oral fixation aside because it's not safe to dwell on it right now. "They probably will. Given how fast they're going, they're going to hit the "doing it like bunnies" phase pretty soon."

He looks around the room. Sure enough, his roommate is half-hidden behind a high potted plant and through the leaves he can see two long legs around Jackson's waist and a hand buried in his hair.

He sighs. "Like right now."

 

Cora pulls Stiles away and into the crowd of dancers.

The party is fantastic, considering they have to keep it family friendly for the first forty-five minutes. Danny spends a good 15 minutes trying to dance and to have a good time, while avoiding the glares from both Jackson and Lydia. Apparently neither likes being interrupted and shoved in opposite direction of the room. But it had to be done, before the producer throws them out and he regrets nothing.

Jennifer helps, they have a blast revisiting some of their favorite routines together and catching up on the day's event. She doesn't mention Ethan, maybe the way Danny keeps looking in Stiles' direction is enough of a hint.

He knows exactly where he is when the producer releases them. He turns to Jennifer, she twirls one last time and lets go of his hand.

"Go get him. I'm all good," she says with a wink and a nod towards a group of guys who are obviously checking her out.

Danny raises an eyebrow and she waves him off. "I'll be careful, go!"

He turns and makes eye contact with Stiles, nudging to the door.

"Meet you outside," he mouths to him.

Stiles squeezes out of the crowd quickly, straight for the door and a gaze full of promise.

Stiles almost passes him by, pushed by a few guys coming out at the same time. No way around it but simply pulling him by his shirt until he's colliding against his chest.

"H-hey. I didn't see you there."

"I noticed." Danny grins and balls his fist in the back of Stiles' shirt. There is still a bunch of people around and they're leaving in a disorganized fashion.

He doesn't want Stiles to be knocked around, that's why he keeps him close. Yes.

"What do you want to do when we get out of here?" Stiles murmurs, trying not to react too much to the proximity.

Danny lets go of Stiles' shirt slowly, but his hand stays there, the palm almost cupping his hip and the tips of his fingers toying with the idea of sliding underneath the clothes.

He looks around, far less people now, and turns his head back to Stiles. Fuck his eyes are beautiful from this close, full of expectation.

"Everything I shouldn't," he whispers back.

His fingers slip an inch under the shirt and graze heated skin.

Any hopes of not reacting go flying out the window.

Stiles leans in, pressing Danny to the wall. He brushes his lips over the shell of the shorter man's ear.

"I like the sound of that," he breathes.

Twice in the same day, hot words, firm body against his. Danny rests his head against the wall and closes his eyes. Don't compare them, please.

What kind of game are you playing Danny?

Is that what he's back to being? The tease?

Stiles' breath is lingering on his skin and he shivers. No, not a tease. He's chosen and he acts.

His hand snakes up higher on Stiles' back and the other climbs up his arm. He keeps his eyes closed, his voice low.

"Good. Where's your room?"

"I'm in ten oh two. I would advise the elevator." Stiles stands straight again, reaching for Danny's hand. "C'mon."

He doesn't need to be told twice and follows him, hand gripping Stiles' tightly but legs rather weak.

The wait for the elevator is long, too long. Also they're not the only ones waiting for it so he lets go of Stiles. He needs to calm down, just a little bit.

The elevator finally arrives, and what seems like twelve million people swarm on. Stiles tells the operator to hit ten and then stands in the corner of the small car, facing the wall.

Christ, he hates this. Hates the feeling of being unable to escape.

 

Danny gets pushed away from Stiles, locked between two groups of very chatty girls.

"I can't believe Mark didn't make it. I've been dancing with him since the auditions! I'll never find a partner I like as much now!"

"Well, at least he was just your dancing partner. Melissa got cut too and I don't even know if she'll ever call me."

"Of course she will, she likes you."

"So what if she does? I'm in Florida and she's all the way up in Ohio. It's not like it was ever going to lead somewhere."

He tries to block out the conversation happening behind him and the murmurs of sympathy they're now giving each other.

The elevator dings, level after level. More people come out, no more get in, until they reach Stiles' level. Danny's got his eyes on the ground and a bad feeling in his stomach.

That elevator ride took too long, maybe.

 

Stiles walks out of the elevator and takes a deep gulp of air.

"Holy hell, I hate elevators," he says quietly. He looks back at Danny. "You coming, babe?"

The pet name makes him freeze on his way out.

You can't do this. It will only end badly.

I can. It doesn't have to be serious. Fun on the side, right?

As if you were ever good at the no strings thing.

He stares back at Stiles. He can still feel his lips on his ear and he has yet to know how they are on his mouth. He takes a couple of steps forward.

"Y-Yeah."

Stiles stops, frowns.

"Are you okay? You seem... unnerved or something."

"I am," he admits without being able to stop himself. He links his fingers with Stiles', rubs them gently. Maybe he is kidding himself. Maybe he's already in trouble, in too deep.

Stiles is looking at him with those big worried eyes. He smiles what he hopes is a reassuring grin.

Carefree, breezy "It's fine."

 

They get all the way to Stiles' door before Stiles says, "You can back out, you know. No means no and all that. We can just, I don't know, watch a movie and make fun of the actors or something. I don't want this to be anything other than awesome for both of us."

Danny steps behind Stiles and leans to drop a small kiss on his nape, just behind his ear. It's always a favorite spot of his and damn it Stiles' skin is infuriatingly soft there.

"I told you, it's fine." he whispers.

Stomach in knots, trembling hands, yeah right. It will be fine, as soon as he gets a grip. He inhales deeply.

Keep yourself in check.

A few more breaths and his mind loosens. Better. It's just sex after all.

Stiles shivers and opens the door to his room. Scott's things are gone, so he was right about him bunking with Allison and Isaac.

He closes the door and locks it.

 

Danny takes a couple of steps inside the room, listens to Stiles locking the door. A thrill runs up his spine and he turns around, walks back to Stiles, still by the door.

That part he knows, he's familiar with. The aftermath will be another thing but he pushes it far from his mind. He just brings a hand up, curls his fingers on Stiles' neck, makes him turn to face him. His thumb settled on one of those enticing moles, his other hand reaching for his waist, he pulls him closer. There's a rapid heartbeat under his finger, matching his own and he grins.

"I've thought about this all day," he says, closing the gap.

Danny kisses like a dream. Stiles kisses back eagerly, hands sprawling over the muscles in Danny's shoulders.

"Me too," Stiles admits between kisses. "Couldn't get you out of my head."

Danny smiles into the kiss, drags his hand around Stiles' waist and presses him against him. Stiles taste delicious and feels even better. He pulls away to catch his breath but can't go far, it's too good. A flash of the Adam Lambert's routine in his head, of Isaac's moves on Stiles. He drags his mouth down, under his chin, down his neck.

"Your number this morning... Gave me ideas." he pants. His tongue flicks out to tease a spot on Stiles' jaw.

Stiles groans, tilting his head to give Danny more room to work. He's seriously regretting the choice of jeans.

Danny spends a very thorough and intense minute mapping out Stiles' neck before coming back up to his lips. He keeps him close while he explores his mouth, more so when he starts walking back in the direction of the bed.

The edge hits the back of his knees and he lets himself fall on the plushy covers, dragging Stiles with him. He lets out a breathy laugh. It's pretty awesome, having Stiles, hard, all sprawled over him.

Stiles grins, hands scrabbling to peel Danny's shirt off.

"Wanna finally fucking see you," he mumbles, throwing the shirt across the room. Stiles trails kisses down Danny's neck, hands roaming over his fucking toned body.

Danny chuckles again. Stiles in action is as frantic as he imagined. Heat is rushing in waves inside of him, under the attack of Stiles' mouth on his skin and his nimble fingers fluttering around.

He buries one hand in Stiles' hair, lets him do his thing. A very, very good thing at the moment.

He thrusts up, moans in synch with Stiles.

Stiles kisses across Danny's god-like chest to suck and bite at his left nipple, fingers playing with his right. He ruts against Danny's leg, just for a second, to take the edge off.

"You're so." Kiss. "Fucking." Nip. "Beautiful." Lick bite suck

Danny throws his head back, stretching and flexing his entire body under Stiles' ministrations. He
can't reply, only sigh and moan. Fuck this kid is talented at everything.

He's already painfully hard, Stiles as well, he can feel it. He grabs a handful of Stiles' ass through his jeans, groans in disappointment. It's not enough.

He brings his head back up. "Take your clothes off, I wanna see you," he says. voice hoarse and strained. "Please."

Stiles stands long enough to peel off his t-shirt and shimmy out of his jeans. He helps Danny out of his and returns to his spot on top of him.

"Better?"

Danny roams his hand over the freshly-revealed skin, so soft, so addictive. They settle on his hips, a secure grip.

"Fuck yeah," he murmurs, lifting his head for one more kiss. He rolls his hips, tries to coax Stiles.

His mind gets cloudy.

More. He just wants more.

Stiles' skin is buzzing, his dick is throbbing, and his mind is fogging over. He rolls his hips against Danny, groaning into his mouth.

"How-- how far?" he pants out.

Danny kisses him harder, thrusts more urgently. Because he wants to, and to drown out the voice in his head.

This is already too far...

Shut up.

Danny flips them over and slides one hand down Stiles' underwear, palm flat on Stiles' hipbone, an inch from his cock. "A little farther maybe?" he asks just before sucking mercilessly on Stiles' neck.

Stiles whines, arching into Danny's touch. He ruts mindlessly for a second before reaching down to shimmy out of his underwear.
Yes. Yes.

Danny copies him, sliding out of his tight, to tight bowers and kicking them out of the way. He curls one hand around Stiles' hip, aligns their cock and starts a quick rhythmic motion. An horizontal dance.

He groans and plunges for another kiss, one hand trembling around Stiles' cheek.

"Fuck you feel so good Stiles..."

Stiles grinds rhythmically, hands roaming over Danny.

"Too fucking hot," Stiles gasps out, smiling. He kisses him again. "Not gonna... fuck, not gonna last."

Danny smiles, pushes harder, kisses more ferociously. "Right... there with you," he breathes out.

He slides his hand between them, fingers teasing one cock then the other. His heartbeat is completely erratic, his mind almost useless, but he makes sure the escalation is equal for them.

Stiles tumbles over the edge first, stutterfucking into Danny's hand and cursing in three or four languages.

Danny follows Stiles soon, mixing his seed with Stiles'. He blanks for a few seconds and all strength leaves him then. He gathers enough of it to crash on the bed and not on Stiles.

He catches his breath, feels around for tissues and having found them, wipes his hand on a couple.

He rolls to his side, and brings new tissues to clean up Stiles, gently.

Stiles blinks blearily at him, smiling. "That was awesome. You're awesome."

Danny throws out the used tissues. He runs his fingers all around Stiles' chest, sleek with perspiration, glides them down his arm and links them with his.

He props himself up, looks at Stiles and kisses him. "You're amazing," he says against his lips. And kisses him again.

Stiles kisses Danny lazily, the week's stress and the lovely post-orgasm glow combining to wear him the fuck out.

He manages to get them tucked into bed with some difficulty, as his limbs won't cooperate.

"'M glad I got to meet you," he murmurs, eyes drifting shut.

Danny wraps himself around Stiles, tangle their legs. He doesn't want to leave.

"Me too," he confesses, breath hitched.

It's bad.

He rests his head on Stiles' shoulder. The near sounds of his heart lulls him too. He blindly wishes he'll be able to let go in the morning.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes early, as usual. He isn't used to the warm body in his bed, though. He smiles and snuggles sleepily into Danny's side for just a moment more before he makes himself roll out of bed.

He pulls on a pair of underwear and starts in on his morning stretches.

A fucking awesome hook up is no reason to get out of shape.

 

Occasional grunts and shuffling wakes Danny up. Blinking lazily, he stretches fully and rolls around in the covers. He sits up, runs a hand through his hair.

The next minute is spent staring quite intently. He's seen all of Stiles yesterday, especially during the evening. But it doesn't mean he can't enjoy the show of Stiles getting warmed up. A great showcase of flexibility and muscles.

It warms him up, in a different way. He grins and shakes it off.

"Hey," he greets in a soft voice, making Stiles turn his way.

Stiles grins, shifting in his lunge to face the bed. "Morning, beautiful. Sleep well?"
Danny does not blush. Not at all.

"Pretty well. You seem to have had a good night too," he says, sliding out of bed and into his pants. Commando for now, he'll fix this back in his room.

"Oh, definitely." Stiles sits on the floor, bending over his legs. "See, I finally hooked up with this superhot guy I've had my eye on."

"Really?" Danny asks, moving around the bed and leaning against the dresser, arms crossed. "Congrats. I got lucky myself, this crazy talented and hot dancer."

Stiles stands, crossing to hook his fingers in Danny's belt loops. He brushes a kiss across the man's forehead.

"Lucky bastard."

Danny's hands wander slightly up Stiles' back.

"I know," he replies, eyes cast down but a fleeting smile on his face.

Don't push your luck.

He pulls away, keeps his smile on and takes a couple of steps back. "I should go," he says slowly, gesturing to his chest. "Get ready for the day," he adds. He picks up his discarded clothes as he speaks, one eye on Stiles.

Stiles waits for Danny to get dressed before he hauls him in for one last kiss.

"Good luck," he murmurs, forehead to forehead.

Danny's heart flutters, he chides it.

But kisses Stiles again anyway. In a hurry, but meaning it anyway.

"You too."

He runs back to his room. It takes some time but he manages to switch his train of thoughts from Stiles to the task at hand. He doesn't like how hard it is already.

 

Stiles hops into the shower, washing quickly. He's still floating on cloud nine after his night with Danny, but stress creeps in anyway.

He's made it so far, but what if he isn't good enough after all?

What if he doesn't make the top twenty?

What happens if he just goes home?

No top twenty, no Danny, no Cora, Scott, Isaac, Allison...

Stiles shakes his head to clear it.

He can do this. He can.

 

When Danny gets to his room, he finds Jackson on his bed, already in gear, and the shower still running.

He raises an eyebrow, Jackson grins. "Lydia," he explains.

Danny nods and rummages in his dresser for clean clothes. Jackson sits closer to the edge and elbows him. "So, you and Stiles already spending nights together? I dunno if I should congratulate you or warn you."

Danny turns around and nods in the direction of the bathroom. "It's no different than you and Lydia."

Jackson chuckles. "Actually it is. We know where we stand, and we have a good chance of being here together until the end. Can you say the same about Stiles and you? Both of you can't make it all the way."

Danny waves vaguely and turns away. Jackson being reasonable, and right? That's not something he's ready for, so early.

"It's fine," he says. "We're just having some fun, I don't need to think about this."

Lydia leaves the bathroom, radiant and Danny takes her place. He closes the door fast behind him but still hears Jackson's words.

"You might have to eventually."

No. It was just a hook-up. He starts the shower and, once again, forces his thoughts back to the competition.

 

Stiles roots through his suitcase bare-ass naked, trying to decide what he wants to wear for this ever-so-important results show.

He ends up with the same thing he wore out with Danny, white t-shirt, red vest, awesome jeans, and Chucks.

Once he makes sure his hair looks as close to perfect as possible, he heads downstairs for breakfast, whistling.

Cora punches him in the arm. "Someone got laid last night."

"Was it you, and was it that Boyd dude?"

"No, it was not me. Besides, pretty sure he likes that pole dancer. I was talking about you, bitch."

 "Right, that." 

"You have good taste," Cora says, snagging a bagel from Stiles' plate. "Danny is hot. Wasn't he with one of the twins, though?"

Stiles shrugs. "Whatever. It was just a hook up."

"Was it? Was it really?" Cora waggles her eyebrows at him.

He shoves her, and they both crack up.

"Let's just focus on not looking like asses on National Television, okay?"

"Deal."

 

Jennifer takes Danny aside after breakfast.

"Are you OK? You're so quiet this morning..."

He glances at Stiles against his will, she follows his gaze and grabs his arm.

"Did something happen with Stiles?" she asks.

He shakes his head and forces his tone to be happier. "Well, yes but nothing bad." He pulls his arm away from her, his eyes away from Stiles and smiles. "I'm just worried about today. It's getting tougher and I don't want to get cut so close to the live shows."

She searches his face and smiles back, relieved. "If you say so, then OK." She looks back at their table, who's getting ready to leave. "Come with us, we're all rehearsing together this morning. We can help each other out until they call us in."

He thanks her and follows her. Getting back in the routine of competition and practice will do him good.

 

The manager calls them together and leads them to the "holding cell," a large room with rows of chairs facing double doors with the show logo on them.

"You will be called up, taken to be interviewed, and then you will go before the judges," she explains. "You will receive the news, and then you will come through those doors to tell the others. Good luck."

Jennifer tenses up and leans towards Danny. Their rehearsal freshened them up, energized them but now, with the actual news minutes away, the stress is back.

He loops his arm with hers. "Don't worry. Just with your solo yesterday, you're a sure thing for the top twenty."

She chuckles. "I don't know, they're going to bring my age into this, I just know it. They'll say I'm on the downhill."

"Then you just prove them wrong. You've done it so far."

She just nods and they stop talking. The first contestant is taken to his interview. Scott gives everyone a bright smile and two thumbs up in encouragement before leaving the room.

Danny smiles. He hopes he can rack up as much optimism before his turn comes up.

 

Stiles picks a seat in the back row, leg bouncing nervously.

He's got this. Right?

But the guys left are so talented--

But he's got this. He's worked his ass off to get this far.

Christ, he doesn't know.

And what if Cora doesn't go on? What if Danny doesn't? Scott, Allison, Isaac?

What if he's alone?

Scott comes back with the biggest, brightest smile ever and as soon as he passes the door, jumps and kicks in the air.

Someone just nabbed the first spot.

 

Danny looks around and mentally counts the remaining contestants. Subtracts the ones who will make it without a doubt (Stiles, Jennifer, Lydia, Allison). Calculate a percentage for his own chances. Panics slightly.

Deep breaths, you worked hard, you have practiced harder than anyone else this past year. You know what they want and you're giving it to them.

Then again, there are the surprises. A few contestants go out and come back defeated, a few in tears. Greenberg actually makes it through, Morrell too. He didn't expect it.

They might go for different this year, original. He might miss his chance, again. He might prove his mom right, again.

I can't, not again.

 

Scott, Greenberg. Eight spots left for guys.

(What the fuck is Greenberg's appeal? There were so many other people that could have taken that spot.)

Stiles can practically feel the tension waft off of Danny, but he forces it out of his mind.

Cora is called in, and Stiles starts to shake again.

He's nervous for her, there's a longstanding bias against krumpers on this show, just look at Mariah last year.

She comes out wearing the biggest smile he's seen on her ever.

"I made it!"

Laura and Stiles rush to hug her, Stiles swooping both girls off of their feet.

"So proud of you, Cor," he says softly, so the mics don't pick it up.

 

Danny is happy for Cora, sure. He's happy for Stiles too, that he has his friend moving on. He looks away from their embrace anyway.

More people come and go. Ethan makes it, beams at him, he smiles back, more subdued.

Aiden makes it as well and is damn proud of it.

Erica runs into the room and climbs up a chair after her turn, cheeks red and eyes bright. She then does a little number with said chair, for the delight of many guys and girls present.

Fewer and fewer spots available. Jennifer goes out and comes back in tears. Danny is about to comfort her when he realizes she's crying from joy. He hugs her for a good minute while she sobs of relief on his shoulder. The cameras have a field day with them.

Danny lets her go when he hears Stiles' name being called. He believes in him, but can't help worrying anyway.

 

"Now, how do you feel? Are you nervous?"

Stiles laughs, running a hand through his hair nervously. "Are you kidding me? Of course I'm nervous. But I worked my butt off for this, and that's all I could do, so..." He shrugs.

"Mr. Stilinski? You're up."

Stiles winks at the camera. "Wish me luck."

He walks the long-ass walk to the judges' table and stands with his hands in parade rest, twirling his bracelet nervously.

"Mr. Stilinski, we were blown away by your audition," Nigel begins. "Throughout the competition thus far you have proven yourself on par with dancers with far more training and experience."

"You're in the top twenty," Mary says with a smile. "Congratulations, honey."

Stiles freezes, the words sinking in slowly. "I... I made it?"

"You made it."

Stiles lets out a whoop of joy and backflips out of the room, much to the judges' delight. He bursts through the double doors grinning.

"I'm Top Twenty, bitches!"

 

Danny can't help grinning from ear to ear. Stiles made it.

He wants to congratulate him but Scott's already on it, Cora, Isaac, Laura and Allison too.

Besides he's being called out himself.

 

Stiles wants to wait for Danny's news, but the producer is shooing him out of the room. He waits in the lobby with Cora and Scott, waiting to find out if the people they care about made it.

He calls his dad, and he starts crying, actually crying.

"I'm so proud of you, Stiles. And I'm sure your mom is too."

Stiles feels a tear slide down his cheek. "I know she is, Dad. I could feel her there with me."

"I'm so proud, Stiles. So proud."

 

By taking long and calming breaths the whole way there, Danny can face the judges with a reasonably stable and serene air.

He's bursting with nerves on the inside but it doesn't look that way, that's the important part.

"So Danny, this is your second time on the show, right?" Mary asks him.

Danny nods. She knows it but it has to be revisited. "Yes, except last year I didn't go further than the auditions."

Nigel leans forward and folds his hands. "I remember your audition back then. You had potential but your technique was really inferior. It's not the case anymore. You took our advice."
Danny stands a little straighter. "Yes sir. I got into ballet school. Learned my lesson, in many ways," he explains

Nigel smiles and leans back. "You certainly did. I never saw such improvement in technique over such a short period of time. You have a gift, young man, and you made it flourish. We want you in the top twenty."

The weight is lifted from his heart, mind and soul. He's a million times lighter and smiling is the most natural, easiest thing in the world at the moment.

Hi voice is firm but thick with emotion. "Thank you so much. I won't let you down," he says, and walks out with as much restraint as he can. He doesn't keep it for long and soon he's running towards the waiting room. Not many people are in there anymore but he's welcomed by Jackson and Lydia and a fierce group hug anyway. It's enough for now.

Once he's out, he's assaulted by Jennifer and Erica. He returns his their hugs with enthusiasm but as he does so he catches sight of Stiles.

Finally.

He untangles himself from his ladies and makes his way to him.

Damn those cameras, Stiles looks so good, all happy and relieved. He wishes he could just kiss him to congratulate him.

He slides his phone into his back pocket and stands, holding his arms out.

Danny grins. Fuck it.

He swoops Stiles into a hug, his face buried in his neck. "I knew you'd make it. Well done Stiles," he whispers.

"I'm glad you're coming with me," Stiles replies, hugging back just as tight.

"So am I. I'm not done with you," he murmurs. Damn, he always lets those out.

He pulls away and lets his hands fall down. They want to stay close though...

And a few inches away, Stiles' eyes are even brighter. He manages to step back though, with some serious self-talk.

One hand strays on Stiles' hip for a couple of seconds.

Stiles smiles softly. "Good."

Cora walks over. "We were gonna head to this little local bar Laura knows, away from the strip. You guys wanna come with?"

Stiles looks to Danny.

"Sure," Danny replies, stepping a little further away. He looks around, sees Jackson emerging with a satisfied smirk.

One more to move forward.

"I'll text my friends, in case they wonder about me. Or if they want to join us. Otherwise I'm good to go."

Stiles grins.

"Awesome."

They catch a taxi-van to the little pub, and Laura talks their way into a private room upstairs.

"Okay, so are any of you going home for the off-week, or are you all going straight to LA?" Cora asks.

"I'm probably going to go home for a day or two," Stiles says, "grab a few things, see my dad and the wolves, see Derek."

Danny stares at Stiles for a second. He's kind of jealous of those plans. But he doesn't really have anyone to go back to.

"Sounds nice. I'm going straight there. I could use my own place, I'm not that far, but I'd rather stay where the action is, keep my head in the game," he chimes in.

Maybe it's a good thing that Stiles is going away for a while. Now that the adrenaline is wearing off, he doubts again: his focus, his interest in the guy, the prudence or lack of, his whole behavior.

"Anyone else coming?" he wonders aloud. He better get out of his own head at the moment.

"Cora and I are going straight to the house they provide," Laura says softly. "Our uncle is watching our apartment, and there's no reason to go home."

Cora shrugs. "I might visit my friend Paige for a day or two. We'll see."

"Nice," Danny comments. "I'll show you guys some good spot while we have the time."

His phone goes off and he checks it quietly.

From Jackson: We're in. Top twenty and the bar I mean. ;)

He grins and glances down through the large window of their room. He spots Lydia's fiery hair and sees his friends already wrapped into each other and commandeering the entire floor with their moves. They are celebrating alright. Maybe he should get with the program too, tonight at least. Keep his worries for later.

He turns back to the small group. "Laura, can you get us something to toast with? Unless you guys prefer celebrating our success on the dance floor?"

"I say both."

Laura procures two bottles of champagne and a tray of glasses, popping the corks and pouring everyone a glass.

Danny downs his glass in a few gulps. The next one as well. Too fast, he's a little wobbly, excitement, fatigue and alcohol being a dangerous mix.

He stands up, offers his hand to Laura.

"You make a good pair with my roommate, wanna see if we work well too?" he asks her with an uncertain smile.

His body wants Stiles, on the dance floor, but he's not too far gone to make Cora dance with her sister.

Laura smiles and takes his hand. "I'd love to dance."

Stiles downs what's in his glass. "Come dance with me, Cor."

She lets him lead her onto the dance floor without argument. It's jazzy, and Stiles leads her in a swing routine easily.

"So, going home to see Derek or to... see Derek?" Cora asks, innuendo dripping from her words.

Stiles spins her into his chest and rocks them back and forth. "The first one. Like he'd ever want to... see me like that."

He doesn't say anything about Danny.

Cora shrugs. "You're hot. And legal now."

"Still. I'm just the dorky kid in his dance crew," Stiles says quietly.

"Does he have eyes? Everyone who has eyes who likes boys wants to fuck you, Stiles."

He arches an eyebrow. "Everyone?"

Cora just stares blankly at him for a moment before leaving the dance floor to find her sister.

 

Danny sobers up once the music gets in his skin and he meshes with Laura. He spins her around a few times, turn their improvised routine into something a bit more intimate, once the beat allows it.

He dips her and brings her back up. "Your sister and Stiles, they make a great pair," he notes. Not a big deal, just a random observation, dancer to dancer.

She laughs and spins a couple of times before replying, head thrown back, close to his face. "Oh, you got it bad Danny, don't you?"

He blushes and twists her until she faces him. "I shouldn't." he simply says.

She shrugs. "You could. Cora's not looking for anything personal or serious here, as far as I know. Why not take a chance?"

He rocks with her for a few bars. "Many, many reasons." he says, his eyes trailing off to Stiles anyway.

She gets out of his arms and makes him look at her. "If you want something, go get it. That's why we're all here, isn't it?"

He stays silent.

"I'm going to get some water. Think about it." she says, walking away.

He hesitates, following her and going for Stiles both valid options. He sees Lydia and Jackson at the far end of the floor, smiling, chatting as they dance. He rolls his eyes and makes his way to Stiles.

Stiles startles a little. "Hey."

"Hey," Danny says back. Stupidly.

What are you doing?

Getting what I want.

"We won't get a chance to dance together on the show, not really. Wanna try?" he asks, stepping closer. It's not all he wants but it's a start.

Stiles grins and holds his arms out.

"You lead."

Danny gives a barely noticeable nod and wraps one hand around Stiles' forearm. A sharp tug and he makes him get close. Chest to chest. Too close. His hand wanders up to his shoulder, the other to his waist. Too close. Stiles smell like the wine they just drank, a little sweat.

He smells a little like last night. Too close.

He steps back, smiles slightly. Starts off his best footwork, eyes locked on Stiles'.

"Keep up with me" he says over the music.

"No problem, babe."

Stiles figures out Danny's style quickly, and he starts in with him.

They fit together perfectly, and Stiles was right-- heart plus technique equals fucking magic.

Soon enough, people form a circle to watch them dance, in awe of how well they work together.

Stiles barely notices, caught in the pull of Danny's gaze.

Stiles is the best partner he's ever had. Responsive, creative, he picks up on the subtlest hints and brings it to another level, every time. He switches styles, tries his best tricks, pushes himself. Stiles is right there with him. Really the best he's had.

That and he's never had a partner this passionate, this naturally emotional. What his body is doing is impressive but Danny can't look anywhere but at his face. Evocative eyes, mobile mouth. It's hypnotizing.

Despite the public (he can feel their number is now an attraction in the club), he gets more and more into Stiles' bubble. Inevitably the routine turns into something more intimate than a dance-off.

Stiles pulls Danny in closer, bodies moving sinuously to the beat of the music.

"You're fucking amazing," he murmurs. "And dancing with you is magical."

One hand on Stiles' hip (really his new favorite spot), Danny follows his partner's new lead.

"We will have to do it again then," he replies.

He thinks about the week ahead, Stiles away and him in the house. Then weeks of competition. Then one of them eliminated. Then a return to separate lives.

He shakes the thoughts of a too distant future. Now is good.

"Don't take too long to get to the house next week. I'll be waiting."

Stiles presses kisses to Danny's neck.

"I don't intend to leave you for long."

Danny sighs, stretches his neck. Closes his eyes and curses.

"You're not making it easy," he whispers, to himself mostly.

He still keeps Stiles close, a little while longer.

"I don't leave until tomorrow," Stiles murmurs. "We still have tonight."

Good point.

"And we don't have to worry about performance or more tests for tomorrow," he murmurs back.

He grazes his lips over Stiles'. "We should take over my room tonight, to piss off Jackson."

They're still moving along the music, although more distractedly.

Stiles chuckles.

"Sounds like a plan," Stiles murmurs. "Wanna get out of here?"

Danny tears himself away from Stiles, looks towards the bar. Laura lifts her glass to him, the smile of the proud big sister on her face. Cora has an amused yet unimpressed look on hers.

Far in the back, Jackson and Lydia are once again wrapped into each other. They don't need anyone else.

"Yeah, yeah." he says. They're good to go.

They catch a cab back to the hotel and head up to Danny's room.

He keeps some distance as he fiddles with his key card. Of course, it refuses to work and he has to slide it in several times before the door unlocks.

"Sorry," he mumbles, stepping into the dark room, hearing Stiles a couple of steps behind him. He almost hesitates to face him.

Two nights in a row with him. Laura is right, you've got it bad.

It doesn't matter at the moment, or so he tells himself. He turns around and meets Stiles' stare.

Stiles smiles reassuringly and holds his hands out.

"C'mere."
Danny obliges, loops his fingers in Stiles' belt and pulls.

"You're awfully comfortable with this, for someone your age," he notes.

"You aren't that much older than me," Stiles says with a chuckle, wrapping his arms around Danny's neck. "And I'm not exactly a blushing virgin."

Danny chuckles, remembering Stiles' aptitudes the night before. "Oh I know that but..."

He pauses, leads him slowly to the bed. That should give him time to find the appropriate way to describe whatever it is they're doing.

"Guys your age normally don't do casual sex so easily... Sometimes too easily but not like you do it."

"I like you, Danny," Stiles says quietly. "I'm not one to sleep with someone I don't have some level of fondness with."

Danny sits on the bed and tugs at Stiles' belt until he does the same next to him.

"I like you too," he admits. There is no point in denying it. He smiles, cups Stiles' cheek, brings his lips to his.

That will be the problem.

Stiles cups Danny's face in his hands and kisses him soundly.

"Good."

Danny kisses back, giving in. To Stiles. It's not really hard, plump, delicious lips and teasing tongue and all.

He pushes him softly, until they're both lying down. Their legs tangle together naturally and for a couple of minutes he's content just making out lazily. Mapping out Stiles' mouth with his tongue and his body with curious hands.

A reminder for the days to come.

Stiles works a sizeable mark on Danny's collarbone.

"You're so fucking beautiful."

Danny blushes (he's thankful for darker skin and dark room, it doesn't really show), mumbles a thanks and, wrapping a leg around Stiles', flip them over.

"My turn," he says. His skin is tingling where Stiles' lips were, a mere second ago, and he wants to cause the same impact. Tenfold if possible.

He goes to town, grinning in between licks, soft bites and greedy sucking.

He didn't get to realize this enough yesterday, but Stiles' skin tastes fucking good.

Stiles moans, hips twitching in search of friction.

"F-fuck, Danny."

He catches a nipple between his teeth and flicks his tongue on it. The reaction is just as he wants it to be.

He licks a trail upwards, sucks avidly at the tight flesh on his neck.

"If you want me to," he whispers in his ears, his hands getting bolder, lower.

"Hells yes." Stiles reaches down to undo his jeans and shimmy out of them. "I want you in me, want to feel you when I'm on the plane tomorrow."

"You will." Danny grins against Stiles' neck, his teeth scraping the reddened skin, before pulling away. His pants are quickly discarded and it takes just a few seconds for him to find the lube and condoms in his bag. He had felt kind of stupid bringing them in the first place, but a "better safe than frustrated" he told himself had convinced him.

When he goes back to his bed, to a naked Stiles, he's thankful for that random decision. He drops the supplies next to them and returns to mouthing on Stiles' chest, except this time his hands grope and touch with more purpose.

Stiles runs his hands all over Danny, touching every inch possible. After a few moments he lifts his legs, holding them open easily.

"Touch me," he pants out. "Touch me, please."

Danny's eyes shine with a mix of arousal, amusement at Stiles' eagerness (they have all night after all, although he's just as hungry for it as Stiles is) and appreciation for his flexibility.

Danny has a type: agile guys.

He scoots down on the bed and runs his hands down Stiles' legs, from his calves to his firm thighs. Spreads them further while keeping them up, leans forward and flashing the flushed guy under him a smirk, gets his tongue at work on him. Everywhere.

Stiles didn't specify to touch him with his hands.

Stiles curses, head flying back against the pillows as Danny licks-- well, fucking all of him.

He fists the sheets, struggling to remain in control.

"Y-you've gotta fuck me," he whines. "I don't wanna come yet, c'mon."

Danny pulls away. A few seconds. One hand has reached up and is splayed against Stiles' heart and the rabbit-fast rhythm he has found there is matching his own. Maybe a cool down period is necessary. He rests his head on Stiles' hip, catches his breath and lets Stiles do the same.

But not for long. His other hand has instinctively found the lube and is fumbling to open it. He works on the cap with both hands now and fuck it, his mouth returns to Stiles' dick.

He can't keep away from it: perfect size, perfect weight on his tongue. His fingers join the scene, working at loosening Stiles further.

He stops sucking Stiles for a second, just enough to speak.

"Almost ready..."

Stiles shifts his hips, moaning at how perfect Danny's fingers feel. He feels loose enough.

"C'mon, Ballet Boy, get in me."

Stiles as a power bottom, he should have figured it out on the spot. "Bossy much..." Danny whispers for good measure, tearing open a condom and putting it on. Fast.

He can play it off as much as possible, he wants it just as bad.

Hooking Stiles' leg on his shoulders, he presses in, a little more roughly than necessary, but his hands caress Stiles' skin, balance things out.

Stiles breathes deeply, focusing on relaxing enough to let Danny in.

"Fuuuckk..."

His hands sprawl over the broad planes of Danny's back and shoulders, holding him close.

Danny rolls his hips hard, settling into the familiar motion. Angling his thrusts upwards, holding his lover's hips in place gently.

Stiles' sweat is mingling with his own, Danny's head is nestled in his shoulder, where he can smell him, taste him so much. Stiles is pulling him close, impossibly so. That too is familiar. He closes his eyes and curses under his breath.

"So good Danny, fuck you're so good..."

Alex's swearing in his ear.

Alex's hands grasping as much as they can, holding on to Danny's shoulder, sliding down his back with fever. Holding him close.

"Fuck yes, so good... I-I love it, you so much..."

Danny's stupid confession. Alex's hands becoming still, letting go. Alex's embarrassed face. Embarrassed for Danny.

Danny lifts his head, opens his eyes, searches for Stiles'.

"Turn around," he asks softly, slowing down "I want to take you from behind."

Any position but what they're doing now.

There's something there, Stiles can tell. Something bitter and sad. But now is so not the time to talk about it.

He pulls off of Danny with a hiss and turns around onto hands and knees.

"C'mon, Ballet Boy. Fuck me like you mean it."

He doesn't need to be told twice, positioning himself behind Stiles and entering him again.

He fucks him with abandon, strong deep strokes, hands tight around his waist, lips resolutely sealed.

What are you trying to prove Danny? That you can be the selfish, insensitive one?

He only lets out a few moans when his movements become erratic and he can feel himself nearing the edge of release. He slides one hand to grasp Stiles' cock and jerk it in rhythm with his thrusts. He can't leave Stiles behind.

He's not that selfish.

Stiles fucks forward into Danny's hand and back onto his dick, chasing his orgasm like a man possessed. He comes with Danny's name on his lips, dropping to his elbows as he rides out the aftershocks.

Stiles' orgasm triggers his own and he comes after only a couple more thrusts, quivering muscles barely holding him up. Trying not to listen to Stiles' mumbling his name.

He pulls out immediately and falls to his back, reaching with a trembling hand for tissues to wipe off Stiles' come from his hand. His mind is shot, memories mixing with current sensations. He can't really sort himself out, so he just concentrates on the little things. Taking off the condom, tying it and throwing it out. Getting a washcloth for Stiles and him.

Removing the stained blanket and settling under the thin sheet.

At some point he'll have to look at Stiles.

 

Once Stiles gathers his wits enough to control his limbs, he rolls onto his side, facing Danny. Who seems to be having a meltdown.

"You okay, babe?" He asks quietly.

"Sure," Danny replies automatically. He turns to face Stiles, finally, and forces his features to relax. Because Stiles is relaxed himself.

Maybe that's part of the issue. Not that Stiles is so comfortable with this, but that Danny wishes he could be. But with his track record...

He shakes his head slightly and drops a lax hand in the dip of Stiles' waist.

"That was a proper send-off, I think," he murmurs.

Good, non-committal. Good job Danny.

Something still feels off, but Stiles is content to let it lay for now.

"I'm gonna miss you while I'm home," he murmurs. "Is that weird?"

Danny shuts his eyes, his heart speeding up. Damn it.

"No." he whispers.

Don't say it back. He has to bite his lip to make it so.

"It'll make it better when you come back." he ends up saying.

Again, well done Danny. Because think about when he'll be home for good, when there won't be a coming back . Do you really want to go down that road?

He doesn't add anything.


Stiles scoots closer to Danny, craving the warmth.

"You know, there are dance schools just as good as Juilliard in LA," he says quietly.

He kicks himself internally. Why the hell did he say that? This is-- for now-- just casual sex. He doesn't need to seem creepy.

Danny's hand on Stiles' hip flies off, as if it was burned. He can't say things like that, not now, not to Danny.

"Why would you say that?" he asks, voice thick.

Stiles recoils.

"I was just... I was just thinking... and you're in LA... and... and..." He stops abruptly. "Nevermind."

He goes to roll out of bed, mind buzzing.

Danny's breathing stops and his mind goes in overdrive.

What if? What if you weren't the only one doubting this, wanting more. Or at least the option for more?

He flings one arm over Stiles and stops him. He brings his palm to Stiles' cheek and threads the tip of his fingers in his damp hair.

"You would..." he stammers.

He can't finish this sentence, can't risk it.

"I don't... I don't know." Stiles shrugs. "Maybe? I know I want to get a job dancing, go to school for more training. Why not do all that closer to... to you?"

He should run away, or at least tell Stiles that's a stupid, juvenile idea. That he shouldn't give up Juilliard so easily. But he doesn't because damn it Stiles feels great in his arms now and he would like to keep it so for longer. Maybe a lot longer. Instead he kisses Stiles with a renewed passion and pulls him on top of him.

You're in big trouble Danny.

Stiles settles some when Danny doesn't tell him off.

"I have lots of time to think it over," he mumbles between kisses. "I have to win the competition first."

Danny slides his hand through Stiles' hair, kisses him once more.

"We'll see about that. When I said you were going to win, I meant it, but I won't make it easy for you."

Stiles tucks his head in the space between Danny's neck and shoulder.

"I believe it." He yawns. "You're fucking talented."

"Thanks. You know are too." Danny shuffles a little on the bed, pulls the sheet over them. Stiles is somehow well encased on him, not really heavy. He can definitely sleep like this, he thinks, as Stiles' yawn becomes contagious.

He senses some trepidation but also a nice slumber flowing over him.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes later than usual, thanks to the champagne and the awesome sex. Danny is beautiful when he's sleeping-- peaceful.

But time waits for no man, so Stiles rolls out of bed reluctantly and starts to stretch.

Slowly, the lack of warmth and weight wakes Danny up. He props himself up, watches Stiles stretch with a funny sense of dejà-vu.

He slides out of the sheets and gets into the bathroom, smiling, letting his hand run quickly over Stiles' outstretched back on his way.

A nice hot shower finishes waking him up. He goes back into the bedroom, his eyes fall on his luggage. Right. They're leaving today. He refuses to let this ruin his mood.

Stiles presses a quick kiss to Danny's cheek and hops into the shower.

He's excited to see his dad, see the pack again, but he isn't looking forward to leaving Danny.

He dries off and pulls on the clothes from last night.

"Cora and I are flying out at one," Stiles says once he checks his phone. "Laura and Scott are going straight to the house."

Danny looks at Stiles in the mirror and stops fixing his hair (it's as good as it’s going to get anyway).

"I thought both sisters would go home." He shrugs. "I have to check with Jackson when he wants to leave, he'll be on my case if I don't, but I'm flexible. You want to say goodbye here or you want to do it at the airport?"

Either sounds bad to him. They both mean parting.

"Airport," Stiles says decisively. The more time together, the better. "And Cora has some things to tie up, but Laura wants to keep her head in the game."

He finds his room key.

"I'm gonna go pack and then grab some breakfast."

Danny nods. "I'll meet you at 10 in front of the hotel then."

Just as Stiles is about to leave, the handle turns and Jackson steps in, hair mussed, tired eyes. He perks up at the sight of the two guys.

"Thought so." he sneers.

"Good morning to you too, Jackson." Stiles heads up to his room to finish packing.

 

"Rude, Jackson." Danny says.

Jackson shrugs and picks his suitcase up. "Not really. You guys gave quite the show in the club yesterday, I just made a comment."

He looks around the room. "You aren't packed? We're leaving today, you know."

Danny shrugs and gathers his toiletries. "It won't take me long, anyway I'm going to the airport with Stiles before heading to the house."

Jackson raises an eyebrow. "How domestic of you. Fine then, I'll go ahead and settle with Lydia. I'll pick us a good room, you can thank me later. I'll think of something."

 

Stiles packs his belongings, checks and double-checks his carry on, and heads down for breakfast.

Cora is waiting for him with a poppy seed bagel and coffee just the way he like it. He kisses her cheek and sits beside her.

"You are a life saver. All packed?"

"I am. Ready to say goodbye to Danny for a bit?"

Stiles shrugs. "I'll live."

 

Jackson and Danny finish packing quickly, interrupted a couple of times by visitors. Jennifer is heading to the house as well, is making a list of everyone going there, basically planning a complete group road trip for those interested. Someone is the self-appointed mother hen...

Lydia comes by and announces that they'll be riding with her, to Jackson's surprise. She smiles broadly. Danny chuckles at their exchange. Apparently Jackson is learning what it's like to have less and less control when near Lydia. Good, and entertaining.

They head downstairs for breakfast, and before long Danny is standing outside of the hotel, waiting for Stiles.

"You'll be OK Danny?" Jennifer asks, worry in her voice and hugging him tight, for the third time.

"God, yes Jen! There's a later flight I can take. I'll be only a couple of hours behind you guys, probably."

She smiles and pulls away. "Fine, I'll see you soon. Wish your boyfriend a safe trip for me!"

He gives her a friendly push. "Stop that and go on now!"

 

Stiles and Cora walk to the lobby together, but she goes straight for the taxis lined up outside.

Stiles finds Danny waiting for him and he smiles.

"Hey gorgeous. Have a good breakfast?"

"Fine, crowded. The lovebirds and Jennifer. They left in her car a few minutes ago, I got some alone time, that was appreciated."

He takes one of Stiles' suitcase in one hand and offers his free one to Stiles.

"Come on, let's get you home."

Stiles squeezes his hand with a smile.

"Sounds like a plan."

They hail a taxi and tell him to take them to the airport.

"Thanks for staying behind to send me off," Stiles says softly.

Danny reaches for Stiles' hand, the long fingers splayed on the seat a little too tempting.

"It's nothing. More time with you is a good thing, you had the right idea."

He clears his throat. "I didn't tell you yesterday but... I think I'll miss you too."

Stiles hopes his face doesn't register his surprise.

"Really?"

"Yeah," Danny continues. "I... You're easy to be around, you're fun, smart."

He leans and drops a small kiss just under Stiles' ear. "You're fantastic in and out of bed and hot as hell," he adds in a whisper.

Returning to his seat, he looks outside to seem more casual. "So yeah, I think I'll miss all of that."

Stiles can feel his blush spread like wildfire.

"Surely I'm not all that..."

Danny chuckles and resists the urge to kiss Stiles on the spot. Just to see if he would blush more.

"Where's the confident Stiles I know?"

He stops himself there.

Trouble, Danny.

"I'm really not as confident as I seem. I mean, about my dancing? Hell yes. My actual personality? Not so much."

"Well then, for what it's worth, yes you are those things, all of them."

Stiles leans over to kiss Danny on the cheek.

"Thank you."

Danny shrugs but a smile lurks on his lips. "You're welcome."

The taxi parks on the curb and Danny comes out to take Stiles' luggage out of the trunk while Stiles pays.

They walk in silence through the airport, until they reach Stiles' terminal.

Danny hands him his suitcase. "I guess this is goodbye, for now," he says softly.

"For now." Stiles pulls him in for a kiss and a tight hug. "I'll be at the house in like two days."

Danny kisses him back, maybe longer than necessary.

"Enjoy your free time at home," he says as they part. "You won't get any for a while. I'll see you in two days."

It's a promise, sounds like it at least.

"Two days."

Stiles checks in and goes through security, still feeling Danny's hand on his hip and his lips on his mouth.

God, he's got it bad.

It's a solitary ride back. He checks flights and departures on his phone, books a 5pm one and goes back to his room. It's quiet there without Jackson, or Stiles. Too quiet. He stays only long enough to grab his stuff and head down.

The hotel is deserted, only the lobby is busy, with people checking out mostly. He follows them, nods at some and gets out as soon as he can. He sticks around for a couple minutes before giving up and waving a taxi.

Might as well wait in the airport.

He buys some food in the terminal and finds a comfortable (sort of) seat. He's all settled, texting Stef, when Laura sits next to him.

"Seems like we'll be travelling mates." She drops her purse on the floor, crosses her legs and nudges him.

"So... Missing him already? I'm kind of going to miss Cora's constant frowning." She chuckles. "Not really. Seriously though, how are you faring?"

"I'm good," Danny replies, his eyes still on his screen. "We've only know each other for a few days. I think I'll manage."

He tries to keep his voice steady, his face straight but fails and blushes when she bursts out laughing.

"Oh honey, no. Not with the way you look at him."

 

Cora is waiting in the hotel lounge when Stiles gets there, and they board together.

"So... he fucked you last night?"

Stiles turns twelve shades of red. "How did you...?"

Cora cackles. "Oh, please. No amount of stretching removes the walk of the freshly-fucked. Besides, you seem really happy."

"Okay, good to know," Stiles says with a laugh, making a mental note not to fuck before the live shows. "And I am. I am really happy."

"Is it serious?"

"I don't know... I hope so."

 

"So Jennifer is picking us up?"

"Yeah, she should be here any minute now. You have everything?"

She nods and they make their way out. Jennifer jumps him as soon as they exit the airport.

Danny chuckles and hugs her back. "Really, miss me that much?"

She hugs him tightly. "Remind me to never lock myself with these two, for any length of time, ever again. So glad you're here."

"Hey, you invited them," Danny teases, pulling away. She agrees, reluctantly, greets Laura with a smile and a kiss on the cheek, before getting back behind the wheel and heading for the contestants' house.

"How was it, with Stiles?" she asks after a couple of minutes.

Danny stares out the window. "Fine, I guess." His hands ball up nervously. "I... I just hope I don't focus on him too much. Either that or the next few days pass quickly. Either."

"Well a lot of the contestants are already there. We'll keep you occupied," she replies.

 

The plane ride isn't too bad. Stiles and Cora play about twenty-seven rounds of hangman and twelve games of war.

(Cora doesn't travel well.)

They land in Chicago and collect their bags.

Los Lobos is waiting in arrivals with a huge sign that says "Little Red" in red glitter.

"I have a feeling they're here for you," Cora drawls sarcastically.

Stiles does the dramatic run across the airport into the arms of his crew, hugging everyone he can.

"We're so glad to see you, Little Red," Derek says as he swoops him into a hug. The large latin man is the first to spot Cora. "Ay, who is the chica?"

Stiles takes Cora's hand and pulls her into the group. "This is Cora Hale. Cora, Derek Juarez, el lobo alfa."

"Pleasure to meet you, Cora," Derek says with a charming smile. He extends a hand, and she shakes it. "Are you coming with us to Keokuk?"

She shakes her head. "I'm staying in the city to wrap some things up, see my friend."

"Okay then. Stiles, say goodbye for now, we have a long ride ahead of us."

Stiles hugs Cora tightly. "Call if you need me."

"You know I will."

 

The house is HUGE. Danny was expecting something nice, open, kind of luxurious. It's that, 5 times over.

Laura and him stare for 30 seconds straight once they enter it.

"Fucking A..." Laura whispers.

Danny grins. "Now you sound like your sister."

He lets her in the hallway, still impressed, and goes upstairs. A long row of bedrooms on his left, small studios on his right.

Jackson's head is peeking from one room and he signals him. Danny smiles and follows his lead.

He gets a hearty slap on the back and a tussle of his hair as soon as he enters the room.

"Top twenty man, for real!"

"I know," he replies, smiling but more calmly. "Hi Lydia."

She nods, eyes cast down on a notepad on her knees.

Danny frowns. "Homework?"

She shakes her head. "Not really. Planning. I have everyone who made it so far, styles, weaknesses, strengths. Making sure I know what I'm up against."

"Whoa, OK." He drops his bag on the bed not occupied by Jackson's stuff and starts unloading it. "So who's already here?"

"Almost everyone. Scott, your boy's friend, is here. We have Erica, Boyd, Kali, Allison, Ennis" She pauses. "Aiden, Ethan and Kate."

"Oh, cool," Danny replies, not so calmly.

 

The ride back to Keokuk is insane. Everyone wants to know who made it, what the competition was like, if he met any hot chicks, if he banged any, who he banged, and did anyone actually wear those fucking dance belts?

Stiles answers their questions the best he can. He shoots off a text to Danny ten minutes away from home.

To Danny: Missing you already. Wish I was at the house instead. Contemplating murder-suicide. Remind me why visiting my crew was a good thing?

They pull up to the Stilinski house, where John is waiting on the steps. He envelops Stiles in the world's greatest hug.

"So proud of you, son."

Stiles does not cry.

(Okay, maybe a little.)

 

Danny's in the middle of an orgy of Thai food (they collectively decided that diets and good sense could be forgotten for one night of over-salty, delicious food) when his phone buzzes.

He pulls it out, sees Stiles' text. Is torn between smiling fondly and laugh out loud. He does a little of both.

To Stiles: Seeing your dad outweighs this. Stay strong and please don't kill anyone, least of all yourself. I'm waiting for you, remember.

He puts his phone aside, which turns out to be a bad idea because Jackson snags it immediately and check the text exchange.

"Man, that is some cuteness right there. You guys at the "L" word already?" Jackson teases.

Danny retrieves his phone with a swift move.

"You're one to talk."

"Lydia and I are totally casual."

"Sure. So you don't mind Aiden chatting her up then?" Danny says, pointing at the redhead and Aiden on the other side of the living room.

Jackson blanches and jumps to his feet.

"Thought so," Danny mumbles, taking another bite of pad thaï. He smirks, remembering Jackson saying the same thing earlier. He catches Ethan glancing at him with a smile and looks away, back to his food.

 

Malia manages to steal Stiles' phone while he talks to his dad (Sneaky little bitch).

To Danny: who r u?

To Danny: O u must be the cute Hawaiian guy.

To Danny: stiles must liiiiike u :)))))))

To Danny: this is Malia, btw

To Danny: stiles rlly needs 2 change his password

 

Danny's phone keeps buzzing, over and over again.

He chuckles at the messages.

To Stiles: Hi Malia. Yes I guess that's me, well I hope he likes me and yes he needs to change his password.

He pauses.

To Stiles: You need to learn to type properly. ;)

 

To Danny: :P

Stiles manages to wrestle his phone back from Malia, and he groans when he reads the text history.

To Danny: I am so sorry. Changing my password right the fuck now.

 

Danny settles back into the cushions he's thrown on the floor and types back.

To Stiles: It's OK, at least she didn't pretend to be you.

Music starts blaring through the speakers around the room and Erica, Scott and the twins start some sort of group number.

To Stiles: It's getting loud in here, I'm going to head to my room.

To Stiles: Would be nice to have you there.

He pushes himself back up and grabs his drink before going back upstairs.

 

Stiles stifles his tired groan.

To Danny: Don't taunt me like that.

To Danny: I'm currently in the middle of a dogpile, now is not the time to be thinking about your bed.

To Danny: ROOM. I meant room.

 

Danny stops midway in the stairs to read Stiles' reply. It brings a sly smile to his face.

To Stiles: I meant bed.

To Stiles: Anyone special in that dogpile? Just checking.

To Stiles: Should have asked that before teasing you, maybe.

"Going to bed already Danny?"

Danny looks down to see Ethan leaning in the doorway leading into the living room.

"Yeah, I'd rather not take up bad habits before we get back into the competition," he replies rapidly.

 

Stiles looks up at Derek, who has his arm around him, and down at Carlos sprawled across his lap.

To Danny: No. No one special.

To Danny: I'm glad you meant bed.

Carlos looks up at Stiles with those big chocolate eyes and smiles that heart melting smile. "I'm glad to have you home, bro. Even if it's only for a little bit."

"Glad to be home, Carlos." Stiles runs his fingers through the boy's curls idly. "I missed you guys."

"We missed you too," Derek rumbles.

 

"Very wise of you. You always make smart decisions like this?"

Danny looks down at his phone, back at Ethan. "No." he says honestly.

Ethan smile's widens. "Good to know. Sleep well Danny."

Ethan walks away, long, lazy strides.

Danny stares for a while. He shakes his head and heads for his room. He needs sleep, rest, but he doesn't turn his phone off just yet.

To Stiles: Good night gorgeous. Miss you.

 

To Danny: Good night, beautiful. Miss you more.

He settles in with the boys like old times, but Stiles can't keep himself focused.

How can he, when everything he wants is in Los Angeles?

Derek pulls him aside when he gets up for another drink.

"Are you okay, Little Red? You seem... off."

Stiles forces a smile. "Of course I am. I've got my boys, got my dad, got into the top twenty. I'm on cloud fucking nine."

Derek kisses his forehead. "Good. I was worried about you."

Stiles stomps down the last hopeful remains of his crush with an iron boot.

"Don't worry about me, alfa. I'm just fine on my own."

 

Danny indulges in a very long sleep, finally slouching out of bed around 10:30. He gets some sniggers when he appears downstairs, most are already in gear and stretching out but he waves them off.

He's spent every day working his ass off, he's going to relish this one day (kind of) off.

He pours himself a glass of juice and drinks it slowly, rummaging around for something that could work for a brunch-like meal. Bagels and a couple of eggs, that'll do.

He eats by himself, idly listening to the chatter in the house. It's a bad idea, lounging like this. Stiles' voice isn't among the ones he hear and yet he finds himself constantly searching for it.

Jen pops up in the kitchen and pulls at his shirt.

"Come on Danny, we're doing some routines from Don Quixote, I need you to show them how to do his big solo. I'm sure you can nail it."

"Ethan or Aiden would be a better choice, they do classical."

"Not like you can. Show them honey."

 

Stiles wakes early to work out and make breakfast for himself and his dad.

"It's good to have you home," John says with a smile around a mouthful of pancakes. "And I'm so proud of you for making top twenty."

Stiles laughs. "I know, Dad. You keep telling me that."

"And I keep meaning it."

He spends the day dancing with the wolves, getting back into the swing of things on his home turf.

Carlos pulls Stiles away from the group toward dinner time.

"Meet anyone in Vegas?" he asks quietly, nervously.

Stiles sighs. "Yeah, Carlos. Yeah, I did."

"Okay. I-- okay. As long as you're happy."

Stiles pulls Carlos into a hug. "I am. I want you to be too."

"I will be."

"Good."

 

Danny spins, faster, faster, extends his leg out, brings it back in. Keeps the spin on the spot and fierce with strong pushes. He stops it in a flash, arms up, face still.

"That's the whole difficulty with Basilio's number. It's all about contained energy, released and then stopped. It's not technique that fails you when you do the role, it's the stamina. You have to save your strength."

Ethan nods. "You're right. I've seen it happen. Never saw such a well dosed performance of it though. And it's not even your forte."

Danny shrugs with a smile. "It's my favorite ballet. I like the freedom of modern but classics have their challenges and charm."

Ethan steps forward, and starts a couple of movements to stretch. "True," he says with a wink.

Aiden sighs audibly. Danny looks away.

 

It's getting late, and everyone drifts off one by one.

"I'm heading to bed, kid." John hugs him again. "So proud of you."

"Goodnight, Dad. I love you."

"Love you too, son."

At last it's just Stiles and Derek, sprawled out on the couch in the basement.

"Are you going to remember the little people when you're an All Star?" Derek asks with a soft chuckle.

Stiles smiles. "Of course not, Der. I know where I got my start."

Derek leans in. "When did you grow up, Little Red?"

"It happened before I left, Derek. You just weren't watching."

 

Danny heads back into the kitchen, grabs a bottle of water and leans against the refrigerator.

He's not surprised when Ethan comes in as well.

He steps aside to let him get his own bottle. Soon they're leaning side by side, exchanging glances.

"You and Stiles are a thing, I heard," Ethan starts.

Danny nods. "I guess we are."

"You don't know?"

"It's too soon. I'd rather not say, plus this," he replies, gesturing to the house, "is not..."

"It's not like real life?" Ethan offers.

Danny takes another sip, thoughtful. "Maybe. I'd rather not get ahead of myself."

Stiles' eyes, so bright. The way he moaned his name. His smile when he calls him beautiful. Like you aren't already ahead. Way ahead.

Ethan smiles. "And you don't want to make too many bad decisions, right?"

"Right."

Ethan lets his bottle on the bother and locks his eyes with Danny's. "You can afford to make a few more," he says with intent before leaving.

 

Stiles stands. "I'm going to bed. Go home, Derek."

"Aw, c'mon, Little Red."

There's still a small part of Stiles that wants to invite Derek to bed with him, but it is overruled by the part of him that knows Danny is waiting for him.

"Goodnight, Alejandro. I'll see you in the morning."

He heads up to his room, strips to his underwear, and crawls into bed.

To Danny: Thinking of you.

 

Danny goes back to his room (this number drenched his clothes already) and sees his phone lit up on the night table.

To Danny: Good night, beautiful. Miss you more.

To Danny: Thinking of you.

Both from last night.

To Stiles: Good morning, just got your texts. I hope you have a better time at home than me here. People just think about practice here.

He stops. It's not entirely true, not for everyone.

Bad decisions.

To Stiles: I shouldn't tell you that but come back soon.

He hits send before he can change his mind.

 

To Danny: I'm having a good time, but I wish I was there.

To Danny: Don't worry, I intend to. I fly out at eight am tomorrow.

Stiles goes to work with his dad, talking to the deputies and going on coffee runs.

It feels just like the good old days.

 

Damn team spirit and whatnot. Forget about day off. So far, that got him a sullen mood and uncomfortable moments.

He spends the day in one of the studios. Routine after routine, styles after styles, he pushes himself to the limit. He takes a couple of breaks, chats with Jackson for a few minutes late in the afternoon. Re-reads Stiles' texts more often than he should. At least time passes faster.

He gives up, exhausted, around 8 pm and drags himself into the shower.

 

Stiles finds himself unable to sleep, and he pulls out his phone without thinking.

To Danny: I have an early flight, I should be sleeping.

To Danny: I can't sleep.

To Cora: Did I tell you Derek tried to make a move on me?

To Danny: I miss you.

 

Wet, warm and relaxed, Danny stumbles into his room and crashes into his bed.

His phone won't let him sleep.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

He lazily reads the texts and perks up. Enough to be able to respond

To Stiles: I miss you too.

To Stiles: Should I tell you a bedtime story?

There's a knock on his door.

 

Stiles smiles fondly, sinking back into his pillows.

To Danny: A bedtime story sounds lovely.

From Cora: No, really? Did you take him up on it?

To Cora: No.

From Cora: Why not?

From Cora: Nvm, I know why not.

 

"Come in," he replies offhandedly.

To Stiles: A PG-13 story or a R-rated one?

The door opens slightly, bringing some light into the room. "You done for the day? I was hoping for another demo," Ethan says softly.

Danny's eyes shoot up and he scrambles to bring his sheets over his mostly naked body.

Which only makes Ethan chuckle and lean against the doorway.

 

To Danny: Whichever. Though I prefer R. ;)

Stiles doesn't know exactly what they are, but he likes it. Likes Danny.

 

"No need to be shy. So?"

"Hum, no, I spent all day training, I'm more than done." Danny says. He stares him down, gripping his phone.

Ethan sighs. "OK then." He pauses, his hand on the handle. "Look man, I know you have something with Stiles but it can't be serious. Anyway, I hate wasting time so tell me. Do I have a chance or should I just give up?"

Danny sits up, looks at his phone. It doesn't take more than a second to realize that Ethan, great kisser, great dancer, very attractive guy, is not doing it for him. Not anymore.

"I.. No."

"OK, thank you for the honesty." Ethan sighs. "I was hoping for one more bad decision, guess you won't make it."

"Sorry," Danny says, except he doesn't sound like it.

Ethan leaves and closes the door softly behind him. Danny goes back to his phone at once.

To Stiles: Once upon a time, there was a guy with a strange name who entered a national dance competition. He was hoping to win but he didn't know he was going to get more than one prize.

He's grinning like an idiot.

 

Stiles grins when he gets Danny's text.

To Danny: I'm liking this story so far.

 

To Stiles: It gets better.

To Stiles: The dancer started off strong, He had impressive skills and easily got into the top twenty. Along the way, he caught the judges' attention, also made several dancers worried, and some very interested. With a winning smile and an ass that wouldn't quit, it was inevitable.

 

To Danny: It's true. My ass will not quit.

 

To Stiles: I appreciate that about it. A lot.

To Stiles: Once the competition started, things got heated. The top twenty was a mix of very different, very attractive people.

Danny stares at his phone after he sends the last texts. He's not sure where the story goes from there.

 

To Danny: The guy with the strange name formed a true alliance with a ballet dancer with rocking dimples.

 

To Stiles: You won't sleep if you write the story yourself. ;)

To Stiles: The alliance was very effective, leading both dancers to the semi-finals. They would practice together, avoid the flirting of insistent competitors, and even though they grew closer, never let it distract them from the job to do.

Danny leans against his pillow and closes his eyes briefly. I hope that's what will happen.

 

Stiles yawns, curling in on himself in bed.

To Danny: And the boy with the weird name and the dancer with the dimples lived happily ever after.

To Danny: Good night, beautiful. Thank you for my story.

 

To Stiles: You're welcome gorgeous. Sleep well.

He drags the sheets over his head, still smiling.

Chapter Text

Danny comes down earlier the next day, stepping into the kitchen around 8. There, he finds Lydia and Jackson, engaged in what he can only described as a feeding game.

Lydia pops a grape in Jackson's wide open mouth, he chomps on it with a smile and kisses her lightly. She pulls him in for another and lets him go. Danny tries to be discreet and heads for the cupboard, picking out a muffin and some fruit on the counter. He hears them whisper softly and Jackson passes by him as he leaves. He's attempting to put on a serious face but the fond smile seems hard to wipe off.

He sits at the table in front of Lydia with his food. She blushes and looks away.

"What?" she asks rapidly.

"Jackson and you, it's for real, isn't it?"

She turns even more red. She shakes her head. "We, I mean..." She sighs and buries one hand in her hair, looking down. "I love him."

Danny looks up, surprised. "That real?"

She nods. "I don't know how it happened. We barely know each other but... He can be so sweet, when he's not in public and showing off. And it turns out we have a lot in common."

Danny smiles softly. "That's great Lydia." Honestly, he's happy for her. For them.

"Stiles is coming back today," he adds.

She chuckles. "You guys are well on your way too," she teases.

Danny shrugs. "It's not like you guys between us. It can't be."

"You know, you don't really get a say in this. It happens, that's all. You think I would have chosen Jackson?"

Danny chuckles and rolls his eyes. "No, not if you could help it. But you guys are good together anyway."

"Yes we are."

 

Stiles checks in and goes through security before heading straight for the Starbucks for caffeine.

To Danny: I'm boarding the plane.

To Danny: I should land around eleven.

To Danny: Please send someone to pick me up. I hate cabs.

To Danny: Soon, I won't have to miss you.

To Danny: I have to turn off my phone now.

 

Danny jumps in the shower and when he comes out a flurry of messages wait for him on his phone.

No matter how much he tries to hold it in, each text brings a bigger smile on his face.

He walks around the house until he finds Jennifer, casually stretching in front of the TV.

"Hey, can I borrow your car?"

She leans forward, extends her arm until she's almost face down on the ground. "Sure, keys are in my purse on the table there," she says.

"Thanks. I'll go get mine sometime this week, I don't want to be stuck here or borrow yours all the time."

"It's fine," she says, pushing back up and reaching for her ankle. "Where are you going?"

"Picking Stiles up."

She grins, arches her back. "No nasty business please, wait until you're back here."

He's tempted to throw her purse at her but he just leaves with the keys instead, with some restraint.

To Stiles: Wait for me outside the terminal, I'll be there.

 

Stiles sleeps through the flight, sleepless nights finally catching up with him.

He grins at his phone when he turns it on after they land. He had hoped Danny would come, but he wasn't sure.

To Danny: I just landed. I'm gathering my bags now.

 

To Stiles: Already there. Look for a black Chevy Tahoe.

His fingers are drumming on the steering wheel, his eyes already searching the people exiting the terminal.

He's eager alright.

 

Stiles grabs his things and heads out to pick-ups. He finds the Tahoe easily in the slew of taxis and sportscars and heads straight for it.

God, he can't wait to see Danny.

 

Danny sees him navigating between the crowd and smiles. Stiles looks good, tired maybe but happy. He pops the trunk and exits the car, circling it to meet Stiles at the back.

 "Hi," he says. It's the only thing that comes to mind.

"Hey." Stiles puts his things in the car and holds out his arms. "C'mere. I missed you."

Danny loops his arms around Stiles and pulls him to him.

"Me too, " he murmurs, face hidden in Stiles' hair. He might be breathing in Stiles' scent while he's there.

Stiles takes a deep breath, the band of tension around his lungs loosening when Danny hugs him.

He turns his head to kiss him.

"Let's get out of here."

 Danny nods briefly before capturing his lips. He keeps the kiss brief, but it's as intense as he remembers it.

 He releases him slowly.

 "Let's."

 He goes back behind the wheel and wait for Stiles to get into the passenger seat. "I can't wait for you to see the house. And to have you settled and get some time with you."

Stiles rests his hand on the console, palm up.

"I can't wait to see the house. And I would love some time with you."

 Danny drives back to the house just a tad faster than the speed limit.

 

"How was it, seeing your dad and friends again?" he asks after a couple of minutes of silence.

"It was good. Dad couldn't stop saying how proud he was, which was both endearing and annoying." Stiles smiles fondly. "I liked being able to train with the crew again. They're getting ready for a big competition in Philly right now."

"Do they have any chances of winning, without you?"

 Stiles chuckles. "Yeah, they do. I've been teaching Malia my part of the routines for months, getting ready for my departure. She has a different feel, a little different style, but she's good. And Carlos can step up if she injures something."

He focuses on the road for a while, his hands tightening on the wheel.

"I've never been part of a troupe but don't you miss it, dancing with the people you're used to? Aren't you going to miss it too if you win and go solo?"

"I miss it every day," Stiles says with a shrug. "Those guys are my family. But I don't think I'll ever go all the way solo. Even after I win, I'll spend time with Los Lobos."

Danny chokes back a bitter laugh, covers it with a cough. Of fucking course.

 See Danny? He's going back with his troupe, back home. Thought you had learned your lessons about trusting whatever is said in the aftermath of a fuck.

 At least now you know where he really stands. This will end here. Well you can adjust.

 "I'm sure they'll love to have you back. Replacements can't be as good as the real thing," he comments with a smile.

 He can adjust.

 "Of course, it'll be during the summer season. I can't dance with them while I'm at school."

 "Sure." Danny says, eyes fixed resolutely forward.

 Enjoy it while it lasts.

 He parks the car, turns the engine off.

 "I'm going to give these back to Jen," he says, jiggling the keys, "meet you back in your room?"

 

Stiles leans over to kiss his cheek. "Sounds like a plan."

 He grabs his bags and heads inside, marveling at the house. There's a whiteboard on every door, like college, and he finds a room with his and Scott's name on it in neat block letters. Underneath their names it says "I’m actually in with Allison and Isaac, have fun."

 Stiles laughs, hauling his stuff into his open, airy bedroom. He sets his suitcases on the dresser and his messenger bag on the desk.

 He takes a running leap for one of the beds, sprawling out with a happy sigh.

 

"There you go Jen, thanks." He drops the keys on the dresser of her room. She lifts her eyes from her book, her legs bouncing off the edge of the bed.

 "You're welcome love. Got your boy back safe?" she asks.

 Danny smiles lightly, strums his fingers on the dark wood of the furniture. "Yeah. Got him back."

 She tosses her book aside. "What are you doing still here then? You have only a few days off before competition starts again, go make the most of it!"

 He nods, chest tight and smile faltering. "True. See ya Jenn."

 "Hey, wait."

 "What?"

 "You and I will have a talk soon. I don't like that look you just had on your face."

 "Fine," he shrugs.

 He heads for the room he knows Scott and Stiles are sharing, forcing his spirits back up. He knocks and steps right in.

 

Stiles sits up enough to see Danny, a smile spreading across his face.

"Hey, beautiful."

"Hey yourself," Danny says, stepping towards the bed.

 Definitely. Stiles is beautiful, almost completely sprawled on the bed.

 He sits next to him, runs a hand up his thigh. Tugs at his belt until he's close enough, and leans to kiss him.

 Make the most of it.

 His mind eases and he deepens the kiss. That much he can do.

Stiles cups Danny's face in his hands as he kisses back, drowning in it.

"God, I missed you," he murmurs when they come up for air. "So fucking much."

 Danny's hand grips his waist, almost too tightly. He goes back in for another kiss, his free hand going for the back of Stiles' head.

 He's not letting him go just yet.

 "Me too," he says against his lips.

 I did. I shouldn't but I did. And I will, once this is all over.

 Stiles slides his hands to Danny's back, holding him close.

"Wish you could've come with me."

  Maybe, maybe, maybe... He wants you home with him. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

 Danny quells the teasing, appealing song in his head. No maybe.

 He lowers Stiles down, swings one leg over him and goes back to kiss him.

 "I would have been in the way. Anyway, we're here now."

 

We're here now."

Carlos kisses Stiles rutting against him.

"Forget everything, forget Derek. You're here with me now.”

 

Stiles flips them gently, shaking off his memories.

"You're right."

He kisses down Danny's neck, pushing his collar aside to work at the mark he left.

 "Fuck, yes,” Danny moans. His hickey burns a renewed fire under the assault of Stiles' mouth.

 Fucking talented guy.

 "You... That's what you want to do right now?" he asks, already panting.

 "Hells yes," Stiles murmurs against his neck. He starts on another hickey, moving just long enough to strip Danny of his shirt.

"Great," Danny says, sending his shirt flying to the floor. He takes the opportunity to do the same to Stiles, while they're not glued one to the other.

 He brings Stiles down back with him, relishes the feel of his tongue on his skin. Loses himself in the sensations, the purely physical pleasure.

Stiles kisses down Danny's torso, laving the man's nipples with his tongue.

"Wanna suck your cock," he confides to Danny's abs, tracing them with the tip of his tongue and his teeth.

"I'm all up for that," Danny replies. A frisson shots through him. Teeth will do that to him.

 He can't help thrusting a little, teasing Stiles' too close hand with his hard member.

 "Pun fully intended," he breathes out.

Stiles undoes Danny's jeans with nimble fingers, sliding them down along with his boxer briefs.

His hands guide Danny's legs apart enough to settle between his legs and suck marks into his inner thighs.

"No, no," Danny sighs, head trashing. His hands run around until they reach Stiles and grasp desperately at him.

 "Don't tease, please, I can't... Can't take it."

 Stiles' skin is like warm silk under his fingers, he scrapes it without meaning to, in his hurry.

 "I..." His voice trails off and stops.

 I missed your touch too much, say it.

 Stiles kisses the head of Danny's dick lovingly.

"You what, babe?"

 "Fuck, I... Just suck me," Danny pleads.

 He closes his eyes, grabs a fistful of the sheets. Stiles has to stop teasing him like this. And not just physically.

Stiles licks from root to tip and sucks him down. He bobs his head sloppily, licking everything he can.

Danny can't thank him or say anything really, just grunt erratically.

 Stiles' mouth is everywhere, touching everything, fuck.  Well everything that matters is that tongue licking him and sending him on a precipitated slide towards orgasm.

 It takes every ounce of the focus he can spare to maintain his thrusts to a painless level for Stiles.

Stiles runs his hands over Danny's thighs, throwing himself into his pleasure.

He hums to himself as he swallows Danny down.

"Stiles, "Danny warns.

 His entire body is tightening and he stills, on the verge of release. One hand flutters up to Stiles' shoulder and he gasps.

Stiles pulls off and says, "Come for me." He dives back down onto Danny's cock.

It takes a couple of pulls for Danny to comply. His hips stutter and a long sigh escapes him as he comes violently in Stiles mouth.

Stiles swallows and licks him clean, hips shifting against the bed.

Danny slumps down and throws his head back. He feels like he's made of jelly.

 "I'm... I'm going to need a minute but I'll reciprocate," he pants.

 "Unless you have another idea..." he whispers after a second and one more breath.

Stiles kisses up Danny's chest. "Can I fuck you?" He whispers, tracing patterns over his sides.

"Yes, God yes."

 Just the thought of Stiles' nimble body wrapped around him, pinning him down, is enough to make him hard again. Or at least wish he could.

Stiles kisses his neck. "Give me five seconds."

He scrambles for his suitcase and finds the lube and a condom. He returns to Danny, dropping them by his hip.

"You're so beautiful, baby."

Danny smiles, stretches his whole body languidly. Maybe he's the tease now.

 "I'm naked on your bed, I don't think you need to sweet-talk me further," he says softly.

"Maybe I just like complimenting you, ever think of that?" Stiles slicks his fingers and toys at Danny's entrance.

"Don't need to but thanks... " he moans. He shifts his hips up, giving more room to Stiles.

 "Gimme more..."

 Stiles' fingers are magic.

Stiles sinks his middle finger into the tight heat of Danny's ass slowly, carefully, working it in and out a few times before adding his index finger.

"So beautiful," he says, kissing Danny's neck with the same slow rhythm. "So open for me."

Danny keens and spreads his legs further, instinctively bending his knees and sliding his feet up. Open, more and more.

 The familiar burn from the stretching is like a warm wave, seeping through his body. He's been missing it. His eyes roll back when the long fingers sliding in him hit the right spot. Enjoy it, while it lasts. His mind floats back.

 

"I want to fuck you Danny." Alex's pace is methodical, but increasing.

 "Like you need to ask," he whispers hotly.

 

"Fuck me Al-Stiles," Danny says, biting his lip.

Stiles sits back, fingers sliding from Danny with a squelch.

"Wh-what did you say?" He asks, clenching his fists to keep from shaking.

Danny's eyes flutter open and he takes a deep breath to calm his heart. He scrambles to think clearly, still trembling from Stiles' touch and his memories.

 The mood is now glacial and he feels terribly exposed.

 He lifts his head and his tongue darts out to wet his lips. "I asked you to fuck me, wha-what's wrong?"

 What the fuck did he say to make this happen?

"You said 'fuck me Al-Stiles,'" Stiles says quickly. "I'm not 'Al-Stiles,' so who--" He cuts himself off. "Nevermind."

Danny's legs fall on the covers and he sits up. Great, wrong name slip up. As if he wanted Alex now.

 "No, not never mind," he says in a whisper. He shivers and grabs a pillow to drop on his lap. "I'm sorry."

 "No, don't be." Stiles goes for flippant, unaffected, but he fails miserably. "I mean, it's not like we said we were official or anything."

Shut up, Stiles.

"No reason to be sorry. This isn't anything."

You're a lying liar who lies.

"Give Al Whoever my--" Did the room always feel this small? "My regards."

He can feel the panic constrict his throat.

 Danny's breathing stops just as Stiles' become ragged. He spring to his feet and in a second has Stiles lying down and his head carefully cradled between is hands.

 "Stiles, listen to me, " he says, trying to keep his own panic at bay. "look at me, breathe with me."

 

S ee what you do Danny? You screw up. Every time.

 

"Come on, deep breaths Stiles!"

 He tries to hold Stiles shifting stare. His hands shake around Stiles' face.

 "Stay with me..."

Stiles forces himself to take a deep breath and hold it. Danny's voice blends into Derek's in his mind.

You can control it. You don't have to let it control you.

He lets the breath out in a rush, bleary eyes focusing on Danny's worried face.

"I'm okay," he says quietly. "I'm okay."

Except he's not, because Danny almost said the wrong name-- someone else's name-- during sex. But the panic attack has gone down.

 "Thank God!"

 And even if it's the worst thing to do when he's barely breathing normally, Danny leans forward and presses a desperate kiss to Stiles' lips.

 "You scared me to death," he lets out. He looks Stiles over, runs his hand through his hair and kisses him again, softly.

 "I'm so, so sorry. Alex is nothing, a stupid ex who popped in my head at the wrong time. There's no one else Stiles, I swear to you."

 He bites his lip and stops. He's shaking all over and damn it, Stiles got to him again. He's too close.

Stiles stares at Danny, the words no one else pinballing around his head for a moment before finally sinking in.

"Oh, thank fuck."

He throws himself at Danny, pinning him to the bed as he kisses him soundly.

"I thought I was the only one who felt that way."

Danny's heart almost seizes at those words. He kisses back numbly, wrapping his arms around Stiles.

 Damn you Stiles.

 He's going to fall, he knows it.

 He pulls away, traces Stiles' cheekbone and jaw with his fingers. Gets maybe a bit lost in those huge, gorgeous amber eyes.

 "No, you're not," he murmurs.

 

 Damn you Stiles. You're going to leave soon and I'll be left picking up pieces of myself. Like always.

 

What if he's just another Stasia? Another Carlos? Another Amber?

 

Stiles squashes down the voice of doubt rankling in the back of his head.

He kisses Danny lovingly.

"Have I completely ruined the mood, or is this moment salvageable?" he asks with a cheeky grin.

It's different this time.

 Danny hooks his feet behind Stiles' legs, rocks against him experimentally.

 His mind is still a little fried, his body still quite spent. But the stirring in his lower abdomen is also still there.

 He chases Stiles' tongue with his own, drags his hands down his back, feeling every muscle on the way.

 "You can definitely still fuck me, if that's what you're asking," Danny replies once they part.

Yes. Fuck me, make me yours. I'm going to regret it but only later. I'll deal then.

Stiles gathers what is left of his wits and the lube, and returns to opening Danny up.

One two fingers are slipping in and out easily, he starts to scissor and crook them, looking for Danny's prostate.

Stars behind his eyelids, Danny rocks in synch with Stiles' movements.

"So talented..." he moans. The fire is back, the urgency. The need. 

"Now, I'm good, need you now." he whispers.

Stiles fumbles to get the condom on and slicks himself up with a hiss. He lines up and pushes in slowly, so slowly. (Partially for Danny's comfort, partially not to come too soon.)

Danny focuses on relaxing, accepting all of Stiles inside of him. His legs, still weak, make a few attempt to hike up higher before finally wrapping themselves around Stiles' waist.

It's too soon for him to get hard again but his whole body craves more contact with Stiles. He curls one hand around Stiles' neck, brings him down for a sloppy kiss and to feel his chest against his own.

Plus he'd rather kiss him than leave his mouth free. Too much he could say by accident then.

Stiles bottoms out and stills for a moment, kissing Danny sloppily as he pulls his wits together.

He starts to move, long, slow thrusts that drive him insane in the same breath as making him groan.

"So fucking amazing."

Danny nods mutely, closes his eyes, arches his back before lying down again and burying his face in Stiles' shoulder, mouthing at the skin there.

Stiles' rhythm is perfect, he feels perfect in him.

He plasters his hands on Stiles' back, urges him on. Because Stiles tastes amazing, smells amazing. His voice drives him wild and he can't take this sensory overload for much longer. He'll need it to be over soon, before he's unable to let Stiles go at all.

"Come on," he breathes out.

Stiles takes the cue and speeds up his pace, hips working sinuously.

His breath comes in short huffs against Danny's cheek, his shoulder.

He could drown in him and be happy.

Danny wraps himself around Stiles tighter, meets every thrust with the same enthusiasm.

He's burning all over and the same heat comes off Stiles.

"Fucking perfect," he whispers, rolling his hips faster. "You're perfect."

It fits too well and he gives up, almost choking at the intense pleasure he's feeling.

Stiles comes with a choked-off groan, stutterfucking through his orgasm.

"F-fuck, Danny." He mouths at his neck, his shoulder, panting heavily. "You're the perfect one."

 

Danny slides his hand up and threads his fingers in Stiles' hair. It's soft, damp, his palm encompasses his head easily.

"You too," he lets out before guiding Stiles' face to his and kissing him gently.

He suddenly feels constricted, almost short of breath, so he quickly untangles himself and lets Stiles pull out.

He breathes in and out, carefully, and stretches on the covers. Regrets his words as he looks away from Stiles' gorgeous body, even if they were true.

It sounded too much like... Something he shouldn't say. Not now, not this soon. Not ever.

Never trust what is said in the aftermath.

 

 

Stiles can feel Danny recoil as he comes down.

He stands, tosses the condom, knocks on the door of the jack-and-jill bathroom, and retrieves a washcloth to clean them up. 

He wants to curl around Danny, or at least lay his head on his chest, but he doesn't know how well that would be received.

Stiles perches on the edge of the bed awkwardly, running fingers through his sweat-damp hair as he wonders what to do, how to fix this.

 

Danny’s breathing evens out and he turns back his head to see Stiles sitting far way. Waiting. Another image that reminds him of his failures. 

 

Alex pushes himself to the edge of the bed, swings his legs to the floor and nervously rubs his neck.

"We should stop this Danny. You... We clearly don't want the same things and..."

"No, it's OK, it was just..."

"I don't love you Danny," Alex interrupts him. "I never will. I made that clear. Right from the start."

 "I... We can still..."

 "It wouldn't be a good idea, for either of us."

 

Danny sighs, twist around until he's closer and trails his fingers down Stiles' exposed back. Up and down, a messy pattern.

"Lie down with me," he says.

You suck at this Danny.

I know.

  

Stiles leans into Danny's touch for a moment. 

 It feels nice to feel wanted.

 He turns, curling up against Danny's side and resting his head on the man's chest.

 Danny relaxes his body, his touch even more, as soon as Stiles complies. He lets his fingers roam over every part of Stiles they can reach. They dance around, slide easily over both taut and lax muscles, slick skin.

 He drops a small kiss on Stiles’ hairline.

 Once again he has to keep some words at bay. He thinks it through before speaking. Maybe he's starting to learn his lesson.

 "I could stay like this forever."

 Then again maybe not.

 

Stiles smiles, though something in his chest is twisting painfully.

 "I like that plan."

 He knows Danny has his ghosts. Hell, Stiles has enough ghosts for a season of Supernatural. He just wishes they wouldn't haunt him here.

 It can't be. It can't be. It can't be.

 This moment, this reunion might seem out of time but reality is lurking.

 You want to be the mature, older one? At least pretend to be.

 Stiles is so open, true. Genuine.

 It's not like you can't talk to him.

 "What's your plan?" Danny asks softly. His heart skips a beat but he pushes through. "For us?"

 

 "For us?"  Stiles thinks for a moment, trying to figure out how to voice his thoughts.  "I plan on being with you every second we aren't wrapped up in the competition, even if that means we only get nights of exhausted sleep and five-second breakfasts together. I plan on the two of us going all the way, straight to the finals. Then, I'll win. Or you'll win. One of us will be alongside Lydia, that bitch is a force to be reckoned with." He smiles, pressing a kiss to Danny's chest. "After that, we'll have a week or two apart, dealing with shit at home. Then we go on tour. Then we figure it out from there."

 

You asked.

 Danny hates it. Hates that there is no way to know what they will be, past this competition.

 Do you really need to know? Maybe it's just meant to last for a short while. Maybe you'll break a little more because of it. Do you really want to let this, him, slip through your fingers just for this reason? Just because it's not forever doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.

 "You... That's a great plan," he finally says.

 

 "I..." Stiles clears his throat. "I've already been sent information from the International Dance Academy in Hollywood, and UCBerkley is offering me a scholarship for next year."

 Danny's hand stops its dance and slides down to tangle with Stiles'. He's almost afraid to breathe and can't really look at Stiles.

 "You always change your life, your long-term plans for a guy you met less than a week ago?"

 He wants to shoot himself.

 You always sabotage yourself Danny?

 Well, there's his answer.

 "UCBerkley is offering me full ride, all four years. Juilliard hasn't even looked at me twice," Stiles says quickly, staring at the wall. "That's just a logical choice. Being closer to you would just be a plus, but it wouldn't be a deciding factor."

 "Oh."

Well done Danny. Somehow you manage to be both insulting, patronizing and self-centered in one sentence. A personal best.

 "You deserve the scholarship but I still think Juilliard would take you. It's still the best school, you shouldn't give up on it because it's hard."

 You want him to go away? No? Then stop.

 "I... Doesn't mean I want you that far away."

 Stiles half-smiles.

"We'll see what happens after I win the competition. I could train in Europe or some shit, once I get enough publicity."

 "Sure," Danny replies flatly.

Push and pull. Closer then further apart.

He shifts around, plays with Stiles' hair some more.

Fuck it.

"I like you Stiles. I've been burned before and I don't get attached easily," he says in a breath. He chuckles. "That's not true. I get attached too easily, and then I get burned. And I like you way too much already."

 He rests his head on the top of Stiles’. "I guess what I'm trying to say is... I wish we'd met elsewhere, because I think this," he says, showing off the room, "is going to be a huge problem. And I can't help thinking about way down the road. It's just how I am."

 

 "And I spend way too much time overthinking the present, and the past, and so I never think about the future." Stiles rubs Danny's side. "I've been through shit of my own, but we have to give this a chance. Give each other a chance. Or I'm going to spend the rest of my life wondering what might have been."

 "Yeah," Danny replies, holding Stiles a little closer.

 "So basically I try to be more patient, you try thinking ahead, we meet in the middle and fuck a lot while we're there?"

 He's smiling and his tone is more upbeat but there's a tightness around his heart.

 This isn't casual anymore.

 Stiles nuzzles into Danny's neck.

 "You always have the best plans." He pulls the blanket up over them, and settles back in. "This is why we work well together. Yin and yang and all that shit."

 

 Stiles' phone buzzes on the bedside table.

 From Derek: Missing you already, Little Red. 

 For all intents and purposes, he tries to look away when Stiles grabs his phone. But when he twists it around in his hand and brings it closer,  he can't help seeing the text.

 You have no right to ask him about that.

 If we were casual, maybe.

 "Derek?" he wonders aloud.

 "El alfa," Stiles explains quietly.

To Derek: Fuck off.

"It's his crew."

 "That's it?"

 Stiles' voice has a harsh edge to it and he can't say he doesn't feel how tense he now is.

 "He... I..."

From Derek: Now, don't be like that, baby.

To Derek: Not your baby.

"I had, like, the world's biggest and most obvious crush on him for two years," Stiles explains. "But el alfa never noticed. Until I got back."

"Had a crush? It just... went away?"

 He bites his lip. Thinks about Ethan's advances. Did Stiles had something similar? Did he turn it down too?

 "I found someone who wanted me for me," Stiles says with a fond smile. "I didn't need the hero worship. And I definitely didn't need his star-fucking attentions."

Danny smiles back. "Good to know."

 "I'll give you plenty of attention."

Stiles places his phone on the bedside table and leans up to kiss Danny.

"Is that a promise?"

"Yes." Danny replies, kissing him fully.

 He buries his hand in Stiles' hair and keeps him close.

 "I mean, as much attention as I can spare from the competition." he says once he can convince himself to stop kissing Stiles. "Which reminds me, we should maybe take a shower and eat something. Mingle. Practice. Get back to reality."

 He grins. "Even if it sounds awful."

Stiles chuckles, nuzzling into Danny's neck for a moment more.

"Okay, fine. Reality it is."

 

Stiles rolls out of bed, grabs his toiletries bag, and heads for the bathroom.

He leaves the door open behind him.

Danny stares at Stiles leaving, unabashedly, and laughs to himself when he notices the open door.

He slides into the bathroom and into the shower stall right behind Stiles.

"You said every moment together, didn't you?" Danny says in a husky voice, his hands circling Stiles' waist.

Stiles leans into the heat of Danny at his back.

His smile is small, private.

"Yeah. Yeah, I did."

He washes quickly and turns in Danny's arms to wash the darker man reverently.

It's nice being the one taken care of, for a change. Danny lets Stiles clean him without interruption, except maybe for an occasional, quick but tender kiss.

 

They part only long enough for Danny to go back to his room and change.

 He goes back to Stiles' room, finds him as ready as he is.

 "Come," he says with his hand extended. "I'm sure a few people downstairs would like to see you too."

 Stiles takes Danny's hand with a smile and follows him downstairs.

 Other people.

 

"Well, they can leave the bed, can you believe that? Got that frantic sex out of your system now?"

 Jackson looks up from the couch and removes his arm from Lydia's shoulders. He smirks, Lydia follows his stare and sends them a gentler smile.

 "Don't listen to him. If anything he's worse than you two."

 Jackson yelps. "TMI Lydia, God."

 She shrugs. "It's true," she says, pursing her lips. 

 Danny chuckles and leads Stiles to the kitchen. "I don't need to know any more. We're just grabbing some food and leaving, if that's all you guys can talk about."

Erica is rummaging through the fridge when they walk into the kitchen, tossing the makings of an omelette on the counter.

"Sup, bitches. Hungry?"

"Hells yes." Stiles smirks. "Erica, light of my life, goddess among men, would you be so kind as to help us out?"

Erica rolls her eyes. "Fine, but only because you are one of the few people who truly appreciates my awesomeness."

"I'm hurt, Erica," Danny says as he sits at the counter. "Siding with Stiles when we helped you get here."

 "Dude, please. I brought your ass and your teammates' in this house." Erica sneers.

 "Maybe," Danny concedes with a smile. "Now feed us."

 He gets a slice of bell pepper in the eye for that one.

 Stiles snags the pepper from the counter, chomping on it happily.

 Morrell walks in and goes straight for the fridge. She grabs a bottle of water, nods in Stiles' direction, and walks out.

 "She's a barrel of laughs."

 "You have no idea," Danny says. "I haven't heard her speak yet."

 

There's a ruckus in the yard and a couple of seconds later Scott's smiling face appears in the patio door, with Allison's right behind, more measured.

 "My man!" Scott exclaims.

 Stiles stands and holds his arms out.

Scott comes barreling in for an epic bro-hug.

 "It wasn't the same around here without you, man," Scott says as he steps back.

 "Missed you too, bro." Stiles turns to Allison. "Yo, you gonna hug me or what?"

 Allison rolls her eyes, but she hugs him anyway. "Good to have you here, Stiles."

 Erica puts a small omelette in Danny's plate and another in Stiles'. "Eat up lover boys!"

 Danny digs in his plate. He glances around as he chomps on the (delicious) meal Erica concocted. There's undeniable camaraderie going on. It's going to be hard to see any of them go. His gaze drops to Stiles and he smiles fondly, even if his eyes are serious.

 Stiles sits back down and starts to eat. He smiles back at Danny.

 Some of these people feel like family to him. He can only hope he won't let it distract him from the competition.

 

It's a hectic afternoon, getting Stiles reacquainted with the other occupants, newly acquainted with some (the meeting with Kate does NOT go well, her predatory nature not welcomed by Stiles or Danny) and exploring the house.

 They have a group dinner, everyone contributing a dish and while most decide for a movie marathon, Danny feels his quota of interaction for the day almost reached.

 "I think I'm going to tuck in early. Get back into the rhythm tomorrow," he announces.

He leans towards Stiles and whispers in his ear.

"I've gotten used to sleep with you I think. My bed doesn't seem that appealing now."

"I'm exhausted from all this social interaction," Stiles says aloud. He kicks Cora when she snorts knowingly. "Goodnight all."

He heads upstairs after Danny, headed straight for his room.

 Danny enters Stiles' room as if it was his own. He turns around with a knowing smile and starts undressing. He keeps only his boxers on and gets under the covers, waiting for Stiles.

 "Maybe we should just switch rooms. It'd be easier if my stuff was here."

Stiles strips down to boxer briefs and crawls into bed after Danny.

"Scott's shacking up with Isaac and Allison anyway. We can move you in tomorrow."

"I'm sure Jackson and Lydia will appreciate having a room too."

 Danny gathers Stiles in his arms, spooning him, his mouth easily finding its spot under his ear.

 "Everybody's pairing off it seems. It's going to be interesting to see how that'll work once people start leaving."

 He sighs, drops a kiss on the warm skin. "I'm going back to intense practice first thing tomorrow. I'm not slacking off and getting eliminated soon, not as long as you're around."

"I need to get into the swing of rehearsing again," Stiles admits. "This week has thrown off my routine."

He nuzzles Danny's neck. "I'm going to start working on my solos in case I get put in the bottom."

 "As if that could happen. But you're right, better safe than sorry," Danny replies. "I'm going to try broadening my range with those too. I get the feeling they like the variety this year. Sticking to my one favorite style, that might not be enough to save me if I'm in the bottom."

"We can work together," Stiles says. "Each of us has different strengths, different weaknesses."

"For a while, yes. I'm not sure we'll all be so friendly once the live shows start."

He kisses Stiles' neck again. "I will, with you at least." He ponders for a second. "Scott probably will too. In a different way of course."

"Scott is like a puppy. He lives for affection." Stiles shrugs. "We'll deal with shit as we come to it."

He yawns, snuggles closer.

"M glad I met you," he mumbles sleepily, eyes drooping.

"Me too." 

 

Danny can't imagine this competition without Stiles anymore.

Chapter Text

Strong pounding on the door.

 "Danny, let go of Stiles and come out here. I need my partner!" Lydia hollers. "I thought you wanted to train early!"

 Through the door Jackson's voice is still audible. "I'm right here you know, available."

 "Shush, Laura is back, go get her, you guys work fine together. You're nighttime, Danny's dance time."

 "Jesus..."

 Danny rolls off of Stiles reluctantly, groaning.

Vacation's over..." he mumbles.

 

Stiles rolls out of bed and into the bathroom.

"I'll see you downstairs."

He showers quickly, pulls on a pair of compression shorts, basketball shorts and a tank top, and heads downstairs for breakfast.

 

Lydia drags Danny to his room, pushes him in the bathroom and refuses to leave until he's ready.

 Even once he's dressed she presses him, leading him to one of the studios where Heather (freshly arrived, not in the higher spirits if her long face is any indication) and Boyd are already at work.

 She puts a bagel in his hand, a glass of juice in the other. "Eat and make it fast. We have a lot on our plate."

 

Stiles eats quickly and heads upstairs for his dance bag.

 Cora is leaning in the doorway of one of the studios when he gets downstairs, waiting for him. He sets the bag on the floor by the door and roots around for his jazz shoes.

 "Are those...?" Cora leans over and pulls out a pair of women's ballroom shoes (the black strappy style). "Based on the size, I'm assuming these are yours."

 Stiles laughs. "Yeah, they are. I got them after Malia challenged me, saying that I can dance, but could I do it all backwards in heels? The answer is yes, by the way."

 "Okay, then... I will be asking you to show me eventually." Cora shakes her head to clear it. "Let's get warmed up."

 

Quickly and efficiently, Danny stretches while Lydia goes through the music library of her ipod with Boyd looking over her shoulder and commenting in a low voice.

 Heather sits by him and idly copies his stretches. She's obviously already warmed up, the moves and flexes coming to her easily and fluidly.

 He glances at her sideways. "Are you OK?"

 She shrugs. "Not really but who cares?

 He stands up, extends his hand. She sighs and grabs it. He pulls her to her feet and without more ceremony brings her to the bar lining the room and lifts her leg on it.

"I do," he says, helping her extend towards her leg. "Come on, what's wrong?"

 "It's just... I came back home for a couple of days and my fiancé was... An asshole, basically. He took forever to come see me... I think he's still resentful I passed and not him."

 "He's your dance partner too?" Danny asks, palms flat on her back and pushing slightly.

 "Yeah," Heather says, breathing out. "Since we were kids."

 Danny whistles softly. "That's hard, leaving all this behind to be here."

 She cracks a sad smile. "You do what you have to do. I wish he was more supportive is all. I missed him and when I was back home, it didn't make that go away."

 She changes legs and looks toward the back. "Boyd is sweet though, that helps."

 Danny smiles, squeezes her shoulder reassuringly. "We'll all help."

 "Danny, come here, we've found something nice. How do you feel about big band songs?"

 ....

Lydia and Danny look intently at Boyd and Heather's feet.

 "See? Step, ball, step, slide, ball, step." Boyd explains as he dances across the floor, guiding Heather perfectly. "Fast, and you just repeat, then you can add whatever you want to it. Lifts, jumps, whatever."

 Lydia makes a small pout. "Easy enough. I should have done more numbers on 50's songs, that beat is so versatile."

 Danny nods. "Same here. come on, let's give it a try."

 They go through an array of standards and show tunes, until they've spent all their ideas for creative combos and sequences. Heather, who's finally been smiling more, suggests a break for lunch and shower and they all agree.

 Danny's the first one out and he makes a quick stop by his room, picking up his stuff and carrying it to Stiles' room. Might as well get this out of the way. He nearly drops it all once he enters the bedroom and sees Stiles.

"Are you wearing heels?"

 Stiles smirks. "Yeah, I am. I bought them to win a bet and brought them on a whim. It was Cora's idea that I wear them to lunch." He lays back on the bed and points his toes at the ceiling, admiring the shoes. "I really do like them, though."

 Danny clears his throat. "Please don't stay in that position, " he says quietly, pulling Stiles to his feet.

 "They do make your ass pop out in a very interesting way..." His hands wander for a second.

 Stiles smirks. "I take it you like them?" He leans in and nips at Danny's ear.

 "You rock them, how can I not?"

Danny turns his head to kiss Stiles, teasing him further with a dart of his tongue.

 "Just don't ask me to try them on."

 Stiles chuckles. "Don't worry about that." He kisses Danny one more time. "Now, let's go. I'm hungry, and I want to see Jackson's face when he sees these."

 Danny nods and moves to let Stiles pass.

 "I need to see that ass again," he says, completely unapologetic.

 

They get downstairs and Jackson is speechless. His mind is clearly going a mile a minute and going through every possible joke but can't settle on one apparently.

 Stiles hops up onto the counter, feet swinging.

 "Something you'd like to say, Jackson?"

 Cora cackles. "Holy shit, I think you broke him."

 Danny is purple from the contained laugh. "Man," he blurts out, "just give up, he's got you."

 "But, but... Stripper shoes! Dancing! Pole or... There's something..." Jackson sputters.

 Lydia rubs a hand alongside his back. "Sweetie, he's right. You've got nothing."

 Erica's head pops out from the cupboard. "And watch out what you say about pole dancing, pretty boy, or you won't stay pretty," she warns.

 He looks down and grumbles and they all share a laugh.

 "Cora, darling, can I take these fucking shoes off now?" Stiles asks, still laughing.

 "No, no. I want the rest of the house to see them." Cora smirks. To the others, she says, "You should see him dance in them. I about jumped him."

 Danny raises an eyebrow. "Please don't," he jokes. He moves around the counter and helps Erica put out veggies to prepare a massive salad.

 He winks at Stiles and Cora. A little, very little but persistent part of him recalls their sizzling jazz number.

 They're just kidding around, he tells himself.

 Stiles snorts. "No worries there, babe."

 He removes the shoes with a happy sigh as soon as everyone has seen them, stretching his feet.

 "I'll dance for you tonight," he tells Danny quietly. "You're allowed to jump me."

 "Oh I will," Danny replies with a quick kiss on Stiles' temple. He lets out a discreet sigh of relief.

 

He distribute plates to the contestants, half of them hiked up on the stools around the long counter, the rest of them either is the dining room or sprawled around the living room.

 He grabs his plate and a bottle of water and picks a spot in one of the window seats.

 Stiles takes his plate and joins Danny in the window. 

 "Did you have a good morning?"

 "Educational. Heather and Boyd showed us some faster, traditional routines. I think I can integrate some of those moves in my numbers. It was fun."

 He attacks his sandwich with appetite. "You?" he asks between bites.

 "I worked through three or four short solos, ran through a crap ton of possible routines with Cora. She helped me with the krump, I helped her learn to loosen up some." Stiles shrugs. "It was productive."

 "Good. You guys got a lot done." He pauses, thinking.

 "Lydia told me they're letting us pick our partners for the first part of the competition this year."

 He looks up at his partner, her legs propped up on Jackson and picking at his salad.

 "I'm really getting into it with Lydia, I think I'll stick with her. Plus it's better she dances with me than Jackson, no matter how much he wants to. The world is not ready for these two on stage."

 "I think Cora and I will stick together," Stiles says thoughtfully. "We work well together, and she picks up new styles easily."

 "She's impressive. I can't remember the last time I saw a krumper make it this far, so easily."

 "The judges like her, and she's more versatile even than Mariah was last year." Stiles sips his water, thinking. "I have high hopes."

 

Danny nods in agreement and looks around the open room. Most dancers he knows, at least by name. His thoughts start wandering forward, again.

 He kinda wish he had Lydia's list at the moment.

 "I think you're both top ten material. Lydia, Jackson too. Jen, I hope." He pauses. "Ethan probably."

 "Your guesses?"

"You. Scott, Allison. Erica, maybe. Boyd." Stiles shrugs. "There's no telling, though."

"Yeah. The public doesn't like you for X reason, bam you're gone. That part sucks. I'm gonna have to turn on the charm."

 He slides one hand to tease at Stiles' naked foot. "Not just for you I mean."

Stiles smirks. "America won't know what hit 'em."

 

They eat, and separate back into groups to rehearse. Stiles decides to hit the gym instead, which is how he ends up doing push ups with Erica perched on his shoulders.

"You gonna dance in those slutty little shoes for ballet boy?" She purrs, kicking his side. "Do you have girls' clothes to match?"

"You're... a... bitch..."

She laughs lasciviously. "You didn't say no. Kinky little fuck."

"Bite... me..."

"Only if you say please."

 

Ennis takes charge after lunch. Danny hasn't had the opportunity to talk to the guy since the beginning of the competition. he learns quickly that this one is all about business.

 Within 20 minutes he has most of the guys in one room and working on energetic hip-hop routine. Greenberg somehow escapes him and follows Morrell around instead, Stiles is MIA and Boyd is impossible to convince. The rest of them spend the entire afternoon following Ennis' barked orders (sorry, advice) and learning the steps.

 Scott is having a ball and is grinning like crazy, all loose limbs and explosive moves. Danny doesn't fare as well and when 3 pm rolls around, start to be really exhausted.

 "Why are we doing this again?" Ethan wonders aloud, breathless.

 Danny shrugs, tries to keep up. "Because we clearly are not up to par on this style and we can't let this dictator win with it."

 Ethan chuckles. "Very true man." He winks at Danny. "Bet you I can outstep you."

 Danny immediately picks up the pace, even if it earns him a glare from Ennis because he's no longer on point with the music.

 "You're on."

 

Erica makes one hell of a drill sergeant, and she puts Stiles through his paces without hesitation.

"Come on, you can't stop now. Partner work means lifts, and lifts mean upper body strength."

She finally lets him cool down around five.

"Help me stretch," he asks from his place on the floor.

Erica sits across from him and places her feet against the inside of his ankles, spreading his legs wide.

"Deep breath, gumby. I don't want to pop anything."

 

"Man, I am done. Anything but hip-hop, at least for the next week or so," Ethan sighs, grabbing  a bottle of water and handing another to Danny.

 Danny grins. "You only say that because I beat you."

 "I'll get a rematch, one way or another," Ethan responds with a grin of his own.

 Danny looks away with a little laugh. Most guys are leaving, except Scott, who's still popping around to the music.

 "This guy is unstoppable." Ethan comments.

 Danny shrugs. "Yeah, and impossible to hate."

 Scott twists and turns, flies around and grins at them.

 "Fucking jumping puppy," Ethan grumbles and they both laugh.

 

Danny and Ethan walk out of the studio together.

 Ethan stretches his arms up, groaning. "Ugh, I need a shower. And some air or something. I can't be stuck inside too long."

 Danny nods and looks around. Stiles is nowhere in sight. Well.

 Ethan is looking at him quizzically. Danny shakes his head and the question off. "I'm with you on that one. I should go get my car too, while I'm at it."

 They walk upstairs slowly. "You want a ride there? I rented a car as soon as I got here. I like my mobility."

 Danny smiles lightly. "That's nice of you. Thanks."

Erica finally lets Stiles go.

"I'm gonna go take a shower. I feel disgusting."

 

Hair wet and a towel around his waist, Danny's rummaging through his stuff, looking for a not too wrinkled shirt and some pants when he hears the door opening.

 He looks up to see Stiles and his face softens. "Hey there. Where were you? You were MIA all afternoon!"

 He goes back to his bag, finally finds appropriate clothes. "You missed a brutal lesson in hip-hop."

"I was in the gym, working my ass off under Erica's careful tutorial," Stiles says with a snort. "The bitch is crazy, but she kept me motivated."

"From what I saw during our group number, I believe you. But hey, if it works for you..." Danny says with a smile.

 He puts on his briefs, pants and quickly buttons his shirt before walking up to Stiles and kissing him softly.

 "You look good even post-work out, how do you do that?"

Stiles waggles his fingers. "Magic." He leans in for a second kiss.

Danny hums happily and kisses him back. He pulls away, drops one last kiss before stepping away completely.

 Definitely magic.

 "I have to head out for an hour or so, dinner when I come back?"

"Dinner sounds great. And that gives me time to shower."

Stiles kisses Danny one last time and pops into the bathroom for his shower.

 

Danny runs downstairs, to a smiling Ethan.

 "So, where do you live?" Ethan asks once they're in the car.

 "South Gate. You need directions?"

 Ethan shakes his head but fiddles with the GPS anyway. "Once we get closer yeah but I'm good till there. My mother lives here, I know my way around."

 Danny smiles and settles into the seat. "Cool. Thanks for this by the way."

 Ethan shrugs. "No need to thank me. I get to hang out with you, you get your car. Win-win."

 There's nothing that comes to Danny's mind as a reply, and much of the trip is then spent is relative silence. It's not too uncomfortable though.

 

Stiles luxuriates in his shower, letting the hot water work out some of the tension his work out built up in his muscles. 

 He dries off, shaves, and stands bare ass naked in front of his suitcase, trying to decide what to wear. Stiles puts clothes away in his dresser and his half of the closet as he thinks, settling in.

 Finally, with some help from Lydia, he settles on his black jeans and a forest green button down Lyds says brings out the "creaminess of his skin," whatever the hell that means. 

 "Damn, Stilinski, you look hot as hell," Erica says, leering.

 "She's right," Cora says quietly. 

 Stiles blushes, then kicks himself for blushing. He has a date with Danny, not one of the girls.

 

They park side by side. Danny slides a hand across the console with a small smile. He missed his Highlander. Ethan taps in his window and opens it.

 "You  hungry?" he asks.

 Danny looks up to the house. "Again, already taken for dinner," he apologizes

 Ethan's smile stays on anyway. "Stiles." he states, shaking his head. "That other time we talked about is not going to come around, isn't it?"

 Danny gets out of the car, beeps it locked and starts walking towards the house, Ethan in tow. "I guess," Danny replies. He turns around with a thoughtful look on his face. "Unless it's as friends, you know."

 Ethan stares at Danny, pats him on the shoulder. "Sure, I can do that."

 

The girls roped him into watching the first part of some movie. Erica has her legs draped over his lap, and Cora is tucked into his side.

He hears Danny and Ethan come in and attempts to extricate himself from the pile.

"Girls, my date is here."

"Then let him come rescue you," Erica says with a smirk. "I'm not moving."

 

Ethan raises an eyebrow and tugs at Danny's shirt, bringing him closer.

"Everyone wants a piece of your boyfriend man," he points out with an amused smile.

 Danny's breath hitches, just for a second. "We're not there yet and whatever, I don't blame them. Have you looked at him?" he replies, voice a little unsure.

 Ethan smirks and heads for the stairs. "Yeah, he's hot I guess. There's hotter here, I think."

 "Go get your not-boyfriend before this turns into a Scott-Allison-Isaac thing, with more boobs." he sends over his shoulder.

 

Danny chuckles dryly and walks up to the couch. "Girls, do you mind?" he says, with gentle slaps on Cora’s and Erica's legs.

 A part of him just wants to growl at them, but he has manners.

They roll off of Stiles and he stands. He throws his arms around Danny with a grin.

"My hero." Stiles leans in and brushes a chaste kiss across Danny's lips. "Where are you taking me for dinner?"

 "I know this nice little food cart on the beach, it doesn't look like much but the food is amazing."

 He loops his arms around his waist. Stiles' neck is literally calling him.

 "Then we can go for a swim, if you want," he breathes against his skin."

 Stiles smiles, leaning into Danny's touch. "Sounds fantastic."

 Danny lets Stiles go long enough so they can go pick up their stuff and get into the car.

 

It's a quick drive to a small, pretty quiet beach. A food cart specialized in tacos at the end of it, a few people scattered on a less than sandy beach. 

 "I used to come here all the time when I first arrived here. My friend went to college here and kept telling me about it. There are better beaches but this one is less crowded."

 "Hey, when you grow up in Iowa, any beach is a great beach." Stiles grins. "It's beautiful."

 

They order dinner and sit at one of the picnic tables around the food truck. 

 "Fuck I had missed those," Danny moans. He takes a huge bite, munches happily on the perfect mix of fresh veggies, spicy meat and crispy tortilla. He's done in a few bites.

 He licks his fingers, looks around the beach. It's not the warmest of days and people look mostly about to leave, as the sun is slowly going down. He looks back at Stiles, who's practically shining in the soft light. Fuck he's gorgeous.

 The whole day is slowing down, so it seems, which is much appreciated.

 "I love this." Danny says quietly, eyes in the distance.

 "Me too."

 Stiles watches Danny with a soft smile, chin in his hands. He never expected to find someone who was this easy to just... be with. Not so soon, at least.

 

Danny glances up. Stiles' stare is not really a bother, it just makes him all warm inside and he smiles back. He's so glad he's never brought Alex, Sean or anyone else here before. No bad memories attached to this place. It's always been his, and his alone.

 But it just felt right to bring Stiles here.

 

"Come on," he finally speaks, breaking the spell. He waggles his eyebrows. "Let's get wet."

 Stiles pulls his shirt over his head and kicks off his shoes.

 "You're such a whore. I love it."

 "Takes one to know one." Danny jokes as he undresses. "You're a popular one too."

 Stiles folds his clothes and sets them on top of his shoes.

 "What the hell are you talking about? I'm a socially awkward nub."

Danny lets out a short laugh and picks Stiles up. He marches until the waves start licking at his toes

"Sure, that's why Scott is already a BFF, and Cora your knight in sarcastic armor, and Erica is lusting after a single afternoon. You might be awkward but it's definitely working out for you."

His tone is getting more serious than he likes. He chases it away with a smile.

 

"Now should I drop you in the water or not?"

"No! No nononononon--" Stiles is cut off by the rush of water over him. He sits up, spluttering. "Ass."

"You know you love it."

Not to be too mean, Danny walks a few steps against the tide and plunges, swimming back to Stiles.

Stiles pulls Danny in for a salty kiss. 

 "Yeah, I kinda do."

Danny deepens the kiss immediately, his tongue searching for Stiles', his hands going for Stiles' thighs and lifting him until he wraps them around Danny's waist.

He holds on to his back, keeps him flushed against his body.

This is perfect. Little to nothing hasn't been with Stiles, actually. Laughter, sex, chemistry, all easy.

He won't say it but he knows.

He runs his lips on the wet, tasty skin of Stiles' throat. Keeps the words in.

The water laps at their waists, Stiles bobs along gently, anchored only by Danny.

Fuck, this is so perfect.

 Stiles moans quietly, tilting his head to give Danny room.

 

"Thoughts on ocean sex?"

Danny looks around, tearing himself away from Stiles with difficulty. He swallows thickly. Already interested.

"Not the most convenient but...."

He leans in, voice dropping as he lets go of Stiles completely.

"There's a immersed cave just around that part of the beach." He points out the spot, maybe 30 feet away. "Race you."

Stiles takes off like a shot. They may not have the ocean in Iowa, but he's spent plenty of time in pools.

 

Damn it, the guy's fast.

Danny makes long, energetic strokes and manages to catch up to him, barely. He dives and goes around Stiles, emerging in the cavern first. He turns to face him, triumphant.

"Too slow."

Stiles throws himself at Danny, pressing him to the slick cave wall.

 "Maybe. But I got one hell of a view."

 "Again with my ass. Pervert." Danny sneers. His breathing is already a little quickened, not just by the exercise. He's no better.

 It's his turn to wrap his legs around Stiles. Except he only lets them there for a second, the time to hook his foot in Stiles' swim trunks and pull them down.

 Stiles barks out a surprised laugh.

 "Like you're any better." He moves one hand to slide Danny's trunks down, the other groping his ass.

 "Fuck, yeah, with you I am," Danny moans, sliding his legs between Stiles'.

 

The waves are splashing around him, pushing him against the rocks. Stiles is going to be bruised and scraped all over, he knows it.

 He couldn't care less.

 Stiles moves a hand between Danny's shoulders and the wall, using the other to pull them together.

 "You're so fucking beautiful," Stiles breathes.

Danny pushes Stiles' dripping hair from his face, runs his finger down his cheeks, runs his thumb across his bottom lip to catch the few drops of water sticking there.

 "You have no idea how gorgeous you are," he whispers back.

 He presses himself more tightly against Stiles and kisses him hard. The contrast of burning skin and colder water is driving him crazy

 Stiles ruts against Danny, swelling to full hardness despite the cool water.

 Danny undulates with Stiles, a mess of limbs and hard flesh.

 

The water slicks everywhere, cools down what shouldn't be refreshed. He slides a hand between them and grabs Stiles' cock. They can't do much more than this here

 "I'll make you come first."

 "Is that a challenge or a promise?" Stiles hisses between clenched teeth.

 "Hey," Danny pants, "I'm just looking for equality here. I won the race in here, you win this one."

 He jerks him off fast, with precise twists of the wrist and just the right grip. His own dick is throbbing and he adjusts their position so it rubs against Stiles' hipbone.

 "But if you're feeling competitive..."

 Stiles groans, dropping his head to Danny's shoulder. He adjusts his grip on Danny and the wall, freeing a hand to wrap around Danny's dick.

 Danny bites gently on Stiles' earlobe, rocks forward into Stiles' hand.

 The rush is coming, fast.

 "Oh no you don't," he murmurs, his own hand moving faster on Stiles' cock..

 Stiles whines, blushes about whining, and whimpers.

 "Cheating... bastard..." he pants out, hips twitching into Danny's grip.

 Danny bites a little harder, runs his tongue on the shell of Stiles' ear as an apology. He would defend himself but Stiles' touch is making it hard to speak.

 "Finish line baby," he says in a breath, one hand groping Stiles' ass while the other pulls without mercy.

Stiles comes, gasping Danny's name. He barely manages to keep stroking, keep floating, keep breathing.

No time for gloating. Danny can only manage a smirk of satisfaction before his body seizes and he comes, hands scrambling to hold on to Stiles and not drown. 

 Stiles pulls himself together enough to push Danny into the wall and hold him up as he strokes him through his orgasm.

"So beautiful."

 Danny sputters and curses as he rides it out and pulls Stiles to him when his lover releases him.

 "You're fucking amazing," he says, and gives him a sloppy, grateful kiss.

 

They kiss languidly for a while, and Stiles marvels at how lucky he is.

 "I could get used to California," he murmurs.

 "I'd make sure you love it here," Danny says without thinking.

 If there wasn't solid rock behind him, he'd throw his head back in embarrassment.

 

Do you have to take every casual, mindless remark so seriously?

 

Stiles smiles fondly. "I know you would." He kisses Danny, interrupting his obvious internal monologue.

 Danny returns his kiss briefly then kicks his leg a little, letting go of Stiles so he can slide his trunks back up.

 He smiles back at him, shyly.

He's good at disarming you, this one.

 "You... You always know the right thing to say or do, it's pretty awesome," he says softly, running a hand down Stiles' arm until their hands meet.

 Stiles squeezes his hand. "Trust me, I'm not always this awesome."

 "I have yet to see that." Danny says, tugging Stiles towards the open water. He lets go of him and swims ahead, putting some strength back in his legs.

 "So it's something about us then..." Danny risks when he returns next to Stiles.

"We make one hella great couple," Stiles says with a grin.

Danny swims a little closer. "So when Ethan called you my boyfriend, I shouldn't have corrected him?"

"I wouldn't have..." Stiles reaches out for him. "Unless you don't want us to be boyfriends or whatever."

"I'm pretty sure I'm too far gone on you for that," Danny admits quickly. He puts Stiles' arm around him and tilts his head to kiss him lightly.

 

It's sweet, and painful. Because it's real now. It can and will hurt now.

 

He kisses him again.

Stiles holds him close as they kiss, marveling at how lucky he is.

They don't stay in the water much longer, the quickly disappearing sun making it colder by the minute.

 

They dry off and head back to the house. Danny can't completely let go of Stiles on the way, his fingers always reaching for his thigh, his hand, his neck. Some contact with his... Boyfriend.

 

What happens when you become competitors? What happens when he realizes just how fucked up you are? What happens if (when) you go home?

 Stiles shoves the nervous thoughts to the back of his mind, pushes away the insidious doubts.

 He's happy, dammit. Let him be happy.

Chapter Text

The few days before the live show fly by. It's both a good and a bad thing, Danny thinks.

Bad, because this whole vacation with Stiles is awesome. He shows him around LA, works out and trains with him, spends cozy (and hot) evenings with him. He's reluctant to give that up.

Good, because many contestants are getting restless and tempers are flaring up. It turns out Kali and Ennis are old flames and the fire is not completely put out between them. Their fights are already reaching screeching level. Also having the competition start will give Jackson and Lydia something else to do besides each other. By now everyone has walked in on them fucking and it has to stop.

....

Danny carefully removes his arm from under Stiles and slides out of the bed. 6 am has finally rolled around. He's been awake for a long time, just waiting for a decent hour to get up. Who can sleep the night before the first show?

He looks at Stiles with a small smile. My boyfriend.

Maybe he's overusing this title but as long as he can, he will.

 

Stiles wakes around six thirty like usual, only to find Danny stretching on their bedroom floor. The man is shaking slightly, obviously nervous. 

 

Stiles isn't nervous, not really. This first live show is just a few showcase numbers between footage of their finding out the top twenty. Real work starts tomorrow.

Stiles is dancing in a Travis Wall (yes, that Travis Wall holy shit) contemporary number with Isaac, Morrell, and Laura.

 Danny, Jackson. Ethan, Aiden, and Jennifer are all in a ballet number. The powers that be put Scott, Ennis, Greenberg, and Cora together for a hip hop number. Ballroom (and tap) are being represented by Boyd, Lydia, Kate, and Heather. And Kali and Erica are doing one hell of a duet.

 They're all dancing together in a Sonya Tayeh number. (Stiles thought Isaac was going to keel over with excitement when she adjusted his position personally.)

 

"Morning, beautiful," he says around a yawn. "Excited?"

Danny stands up in a flash and forces a smile. He's boiling up inside, as if his skin cannot contain him. Not in a good way. Stretches didn't help, if anything he's worse than before.

"I wouldn't use that word exactly but yeah, sure, excited."

He takes a deep, if uneven, breath and bends to kiss Stiles.

"You?"

"I'm excited." Stiles pulls him in. "The nerves will probably hit later, but for now I'm excited."

Lucky bastard.

Danny attacks his lips and crawls up on the bed. Maybe he can steal a bit of Stiles' calm attitude. If not, just kissing him is always good for him.

They make out lazily for a while, until Stiles pushes Danny off gently.

"We have to be at the studio at ten to get ready for grand dress, and I still need a shower."

"Yeah," Danny replies, a little dazed. 

Stiles does wonders for him but he's fine enough to roll off  and let him get up. So he thinks.

 "I'll go after you," he says, running his hands across his face. Already the nerves are coming back., that knot in his stomach.

 Get a grip. You have this. It's just exhibition.

 He groans. Sure. It's just the first impression for the public. It's just thousands in the audience, millions at home. Just that.

 Stiles crawls out of bed.

 "Shower with me. I think a handjob in the shower would do us both wonders." Stiles walks into the bathroom, leaving the door open behind himself.

 Stiles' words get through the jumble of worry in Danny's mind and spark things up.

 He jumps to his feet and follows Stiles, shedding his pants and underwear on the way.

"You  have the best ideas," he says as he steps into the steaming shower.

 "I do have a good one, now and again."

 

Stiles washes himself quickly and tosses the washcloth to Danny as he stands under the spray.

 Danny squirts some shower gel on the washcloth and turns around.

 He soaps up, runs the cloth over his skin. He's distracted by just the presence of Stiles behind him. Not seeing him doesn't really change anything.

 At least it's better than worrying about the show.

 He takes a step back, tries to get under the spray.

Danny steps right into Stiles, tucking himself in against his chest. Stiles helps him rinse, lingering in more... reactive places.

Danny throws his head back, resting it on Stiles' shoulder. The stream falls a little on his face. Stiles' hands on him are too interesting for him to notice.

 His hips roll and buck slightly, enough to further entice the hardness he feels behind him.

Stiles gives up the ruse of washing and takes Danny's growing erection in his right hand, teasing his balls with the left.

Danny moans, loud and unrepressed, enjoys the expert touch of Stiles on his cock. He's starting to know exactly what works for Danny.

 

It goes both ways.

 

Danny reaches behind them, the palm of his hand pushing to bring Stiles closer to him, his fingers curving on his ass cheek and teasing his entrance.

Stiles moans into Danny's neck, rutting against his ass. His grip tightens on Danny.

Danny turns his head slightly, mouths at Stiles' neck and jaw. His free hand slams on the tiles in front of him for support, his arm curled around Stiles still holding strongly.

His orgasm takes him by surprise and he comes messily, panting and bucking more into Stiles' hand. Stiles works him through it gently, murmuring sweet nothings as his hand slows.

 

A pleasant numbness courses through Danny and he smiles lazily. His grip loosens and he can feel his legs do as well.

 "Let me help," he murmurs, sensing Stiles' urgent need.

 In one fluid motion he turns around, falls to his knees and swallows Stiles' cock to the hilt.

Stiles orgasm hits him like a freight train, nearly knocking him off his feet.

Danny steadies his hold on Stiles' hips, hold him both up and in place as he bobs his head carefully, swallowing Stiles' come and gently running his tongue along the softening length.

 He lets him slip out slowly and stands back up, gathering Stiles in his arms. His mind is pleasantly shot.

 

"Love waking up like that with you," he says a little loud in Stiles' ear, over the sound of the falling water.

Stiles smiles. "It's one hell of a way to start your morning alright."

Danny starts to shiver, the rain on his back becoming colder by the second. He brushes a quick kiss on Stiles' lips.

 "OK we've killed our water limit I think and I'm starving. Time to get out of here."

 

Erica is making omelettes again when they get downstairs.

"Your cooking is quickly becoming one of my favorite non-Danny parts of being here," Stiles says approvingly, swiping a piece of pepper.

"I'm honored."

Danny walks around the counter and goes into the fridge for juices. He pulls out glasses and cups from the cupboard and starts pouring drinks and coffees for everyone.

 "Seconded. I mean non-Stiles part for me."

 Erica smirks and folds the omelettes on the plaque. "You two are sickening. Cute but sickening."

 

The other contestants start to invade the kitchen and soon enough it's a beehive of excited chattering and clanking utensils and plates.

Cora stands behind Stiles' chair and wraps her arms around his neck.

"Excited?"

"I am. You?"

"Scared to death, but I'll manage." Cora nabs a piece of melon from his plate.

"Good thing you're going for aloof. You don't have to worry about being charming."

Cora snorts. "Thank fuck, right? Anyway, tonight's the easy part. I'm worried about the actual competition."

"Hey, you'll be great. America will trip over themselves to call for you."

Cora kisses his cheek. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Stilinski."

 

Danny chooses a seat a little apart from the group. He's back to a musing mood, observing everyone. Most seem excited, nervous but eager. In the meantime he has a black hole in his stomach. Or wishing he could disappear in one.

Fucking exhibition.

Hey, you knew what to expect. It wasn't going to be private showings all the time.

Yeah but it still sucks.

 Ethan goes by him to drop his plate in the dishwasher. He nods to greet him and stops. "You OK man?" he asks.

 Danny shrugs. "Jitters. It's nothing."

 "We're going to kill it. You have a great part too." Ethan drops a reassuring hand on Danny's shoulder. "We have your back too."

 "Thanks."

 He appreciates the sentiment but it doesn't help with the idea of cameras and millions of eyes fixed on him. Live, no redo.

 

Ethan pulls Danny aside as soon as he exits the kitchen.

"What the..." Danny sputters.

Ethan cuts him off. "I've been watching you freak out more and more for the past half hour. What is it, really?"

Danny sighs. God he wants Stiles right now, wants Stiles to make him laugh, feel better. But Ethan is there, genuine worry on his face. It's better than nothing.

"You ever done shows, big ones?" he asks.

Ethan frowns. "A few, why?"

"I've never done one, ever. And the idea of all those cameras and people watching me..." His throat closes up and he stops.

"Ever? But you seemed to be doing fine so far," Ethan notes.

Danny shrugs but words tumble out of mouth anyway. "I spent a week preparing myself for the audition, telling myself it was all recorded and we could do more takes if needed. Plus the crowd was so small, in comparison. After that I just used that moment, the audition, since it went well, to help me so far. But now it's live. It's millions Ethan."

Suddenly he's surrounded by two large arms, pressed against Ethan's chest and one hand is rubbing soothing circles on his back.

"Hey, don't panic," Ethan whispers. "You said it, you used the audition to ground yourself, you can do it again. Forget the numbers."

He pulls away slightly and Danny's face heats up under Ethan's stare. "You can do this. Lose yourself in the number, that'll help and if you need more while we're onstage, look my way, OK?"

Danny nods and gets out of Ethan's embrace with a small smile. "Thank you Ethan." He can't really say much more but it's heartfelt. Ethan's advice actually makes him feel a bit better.

Ethan grins. "I'm doing this for the both of us you know, I can't make it if you fall apart during our routine."

"Whoa, how nice," Danny jokes, eyes rolling. Ethan smirks in return and they head upstairs.

...

The group loads into the vans the show sends and heads for the studio at ten.

Grand dress goes swimmingly, well enough that Stiles starts to worry. What if everything they say about good dress rehearsals is true and the live show is shit?

They are released at three, to return at six for make-up and preparation to go on at eight.

 

Stiles seeks Danny out the moment they are released.

"How're you feeling?"

"Better," Danny replies.

 There was that one moment during his number where the tension inside of him rose, when he was held and lifted by the other ballet dancers. Ethan' strong hold on his calf reminded him of his advice, and he'd relaxed.

 "I'm not 100% but I think I'll make it," he adds. He lets out a little chuckle. "I think the worst part will be when they call us out onstage one by one. Those few seconds when you're completely on your own and one misstep can make you look like such an amateur..."

 Stiles squeezes his hand.

 "You're gonna be great, okay? America is going to fall in love with you."

 "The little part of it who won't be head over heels for you? Maybe. Still stiff competition."

 He squeezes his hand back. Stiles' fingers in his palm... They fit well there and he has missed them over the day.

 Stiles kisses him chastely. "Hey, for right now, all we can do is stay alive. Send some of the others home, then worry about the two of us." He nuzzles Danny's ear. "Trust me, Los Lobos will single-handedly keep the two of us here."

 Danny rests his cheek on Stiles’ hair and chuckles softly. "Somehow I don’t see your ex-crush voting for your new boyfriend but thank you for the pep talk."

 He runs a hand down Stiles' back, slowly. "I don't want to think about one of us eliminating the other. I know it might come to that but..." He shrugs. "Let's just not."

 "Deal." They sit like that for a moment, until Stiles breaks the silence. "I bet Greenberg goes home first."

 Danny nods. "Probably. He's got some skills, otherwise he wouldn't be here but he really doesn't stand out. And twerking is not like krump, most people won't click with that."

 "I'd like Kali to go too, how she fights with everyone and Ennis in particular is annoying but she's strong."

 "Kali is a threat, but I'm worried about Heather. Her mind just isn't in it." Stiles shrugs. "We'll see what happens."

 "She misses her fiancé. Not everyone can be as lucky as we are," Danny says softly.

 

The contestants start regrouping near the entrance, Erica is giving them a "are you coming?" exasperated stare... Danny stretches and gets up and nods towards the door. "Time to go, I guess."

 Stiles stands and takes Danny's hand again. It grounds him, helps him not get caught up in his head.

 

The ride home and the early dinner are much quieter, the reality of the competition finally sinking in for almost everyone. Erica does try a few jokes, Jackson a couple of sarcastic comments, Kate some sneer remarks and Scott is just one big bouncing ball of happiness but the nerves show anyway.

 

Danny selects a casual spot for their last hours of freedom, cuddled up on the couch, his plate on his lap, Stiles pressed against him.

Whenever the panic rises, he scoots closer, touches his boyfriend randomly. Just the contact is enough. At times he catches Ethan smiling at him and he nods in response.

 He can do this.

 

Stiles is a live fucking wire.

 Danny is grounding him, for now, but he can feel the nerves around the edges of his consciousness.

 He can do this. It isn't really anything he hasn't done before.

 Except this goes out to millions.

 No, no. He can do this.

 

Jackson taps on Danny's shoulder.

"Danny, enough with the cuddlefest, we have to go." Danny looks up. Jackson might be dishing it out but he's holding Lydia's hand so tightly that his knuckles are pale.

 He doesn't comment on it, knowing full well how he feels. He pulls Stiles to his feet and they head for the vans outside. They're the last ones to leave, the cameras are out there, filming the contestants climbing in the cars.

 Danny stops just short of the door and gently pushes Stiles against the wall.

 "While we still can," he whispers, before kissing him fully, putting everything, his stress, his feelings into it.

Stiles kisses back furiously for just a moment, until they have to separate and get into the cars.

 

Everything is a whirl when they get to the studio. People are called for make-up, for hair, for last minute costume alterations.

Stiles checks his costume for the final number and changes into the pure white linen pants for his first routine.

He goes to hair and makeup next. They style his hair flat, carefully so, and add striking black eyeliner. Another assistant paints careful silver swirls over his left shoulder and pectoral.

"Smudge that and die," she says, entirely serious.

"Yes ma'am."

An assistant walks him through the line-up, though by now he knows it by heart.

Cat will open the show and introduce the judges. Then they'll play the reels for the first dancers-- the hip-hoppers-- with a commercial break between Scott and the others. The hip hop number will go on, and then it's the contemporary reels. And so on.

Stiles nods, mind whirling over the routine already.

He can do this. He can.

 

Jackson picks at the blue body paint on his chest, frowning.

"That shit itches."

 Three make-up artists and the four other ballet dancers stare him down. He rolls his eyes and drops his hand. "I'm just saying."

 Danny laughs quietly. Better laughing at Jackson than focusing on the upcoming show.

 He looks down at the sparkling indigo waves on his skin. They're not the most comfortable but he likes the overall look. His group is water. Contemporary is air, hip-hop is earth (he caught a glimpse of Cora with forest green streaks on her face, she looked about as happy as Jackson) and the ballroom dancers are fire, red flames coursing over their arms.

 It's fitting, each choreography goes beyond the simple association of the rhythm and the element and instead evokes the emotions inspired by each.

 Danny lets the assistant put the finishing touches to his makeup and gets in line behind the scene.

 Fluid and sleek like the rain, he thinks. His whole body is tense, it's not going to be easy.

 

Cora is called first and she jumps onstage. They go through the hip-hop number (and damn if it isn't fantastic) and start the reel for the contemporary dancers.

 

Stiles watches his reel, and it finally clicks.

 He's on So You Think You Can Dance.

 This is his dream.

 Oh Christ, he's gonna fuck this up.

 The room starts to spin and his heart pounds in his ears.

 His breath comes in wheezing pants.

The panic is strangling him.

Oh god, he's gonna die before he even has a chance to fuck it up.

 

Out of habit Danny focuses on Stiles a few feet ahead of him. He can only see his back but it's a comforting sight nonetheless. Plus he looks especially good in those tight pants.

 He looks more closely. Stiles is shaking, there's a trembling in his hands.

 "I'll be right back," he whispers at Jennifer. She nods and lets him pass.

 He walks up quickly and places one hand in the small of Stiles' back. His own apprehension is fading at the sight of Stiles' panic.

 "You are the best one here. Remember? You'll win it all, and starting tonight everyone will see how great you are," he murmurs. "Deep breaths baby, I believe in you and you can control this."

 

Stiles manages to focus on Danny's voice, on his hand on his back.

 He holds his breath until the band around his lungs loosens.

 Stiles sucks in a ragged breath and turns to bury his face in Danny's neck.

 "I'm gonna fuck up."

 Danny gently holds Stiles' head close, careful not to mess up his hair.

 "Never. You're a star."

 His heart clenches and he stops talking. He wishes he could kiss him now, or say more.

 Stiles pulls the reassurance into himself, uses Danny's words to push away all the doubt.

 "I can do this," he whispers. "I can do this."

 Isaac is being called and Danny pulls away slightly. He cups Stiles' chin, locks eye with him.

 "Yes you can. Now go."

 He steps away carefully, keeping his eyes on Stiles and what he hopes is an encouraging enough smile on his face.

 

They rock it.

 Every step, every move is perfectly in tune.

 Stiles focuses everything he has on the routine, on being there to catch Laura, on perfect arms and perfect expressions.

 They finish flat on the floor, and Stiles is high on the crowds reactions.

I'm gonna win this thing.

 

 Danny finds his own comfort and calmness by watching Stiles soar and set the bar high for everyone.

The commercial passes too fast and soon Jackson, then Aiden, then Jennifer step onstage.

 Ethan leans forward. "You ready?"

 Danny breathes out. "As I'll ever be."

 Ethan smirks and slaps him on the shoulder. "Let's show them what ballet really is."

 They follow their cue. And by some miracle, advice or Stiles' example, Danny doesn't fuck up. His mind is firmly on his technique. They all roll and move in perfect harmony, as one composed element, as one wave. Jennifer is the showcase of their number, rising like a goddess from the 4 men dancing around her, but they all get a moment to shine and Danny pulls it off brilliantly, with a strong form and perfect finish.

Only when the number ends and Cat starts talking does the reality strike again.

Live. Live. They're all watching you.

The lights on him are burning his face and he starts losing focus. Blood is draining from his face.

He looks backstage, looks for Stiles in the shadows.

 

Stiles sees Danny faltering, and moves so he can be seen without the cameras picking him up.

 "You've got this," he mouths. "I believe in you."

 

Danny smiles weakly at Stiles, reading his lips.

 He's not so sure on his feet but maintains a strong enough posture. For long enough too, until they are dismissed and file back behind the curtain.

 Ethan's hand is grazing his arm as they walk. "Told you you'd make it. You were fantastic out there."

 "Thanks," Danny replies automatically. His eyes and mind are not on him, not even on the competition. They're both on Stiles and he heads for him as soon as he can do so without being caught on camera.

 "You saved my ass back there."

Stiles cups Danny's face in his hands, leaning their foreheads together.

"You saved my ass with the panic attack. Call us even."

"OK," Danny laughs, still a bit breathless.

 "Do you know how badly I want to kiss you now?"

"About as bad as I want to kiss you." Stiles pulls him back into a darker corner of the wings.

 "We don't have much time," Danny whispers before claiming Stiles' lips. 

Stiles kisses back with every ounce of excitement and gratitude in him.

Maybe it's the high from his successful number but Danny feels on fire. Maybe it's just Stiles too.

He pushes him against the wall, hikes one of his legs around him and kisses with all he has.

Making the most out of it. Little time, little privacy.

Stiles is the one to break it, panting.

"We have to change for the group number." He adjusts himself awkwardly. "Damn, these dance belts are uncomfortable."

"Tell me about it," Danny chuckles. He's more turned on than he'd like. More distracted too.

They go their separate way with a knowing smile on both part.

Danny tries to bring his focus back. Group number. Trying to carry that good first impression further.

Trying to be singled out, fast.

Stiles changes and has his make-up redone. Everyone is in ragged 18th century peasant wear for a very Tale of Two Cities look. The make-up artist makes him carefully dirty, and his hair is tousled artfully.

They can do this. He just has to focus.

 

They're about to take their places for the final number and Danny, understandably, has trouble tearing his gaze away from Stiles.

 The guy pulls off every style very well.

 "Danny."

 He looks behind him at Jennifer. "What?"

 "I'm happy for you and everything but this is contemporary dancing, not Stiles staring. Don't let him distract you, OK?" She emphasizes her words with a shooing gesture and he turns back around.

She's right, he's not entirely there.

 

It's starting already. You're going to throw this chance away because of a guy. In a way it's more pathetic than last year's screw up.

 

Stiles' mind buzzes like a beehive until they take their places and the music starts.

Nothing exists outside of the number. Sonya pounded each step into their heads, and Stiles can hear her voice in his head.

"Keep it tight, keep it together. You're fighting for your lives, for freedom, for equality. Believe  what you're dancing. Live it. Breathe it."

Props suck, prop guns especially, but Stiles lets it become a part of him.

"What are you fighting for? You have to show me."

They bring the house down.

 

He can't get off the stage fast enough. As soon as Cat says the final goodbyes to the audience and the cameras stop rolling, Danny runs away.

 The first corner of darkness is fine and he slides down the wall. His hands won't stop shaking.

 You nearly lost it. How many times did you fumble with those guns? Three, four times? Sure your moves were technically good but where was your emotion, your thoughts? Oh, right. On Stiles.

 Great. Might as well drop out and just become your boyfriend's cheerleader. Apparently he matters so much more than your dreams.

 He buries his head in his sweaty hands. Shut up.

 

Stiles is flying. Post-show high is even higher with an audience this size.

Lydia stops him on his way to change.

"You need to be careful on your right leg. Your knee was wobbling on those pirouettes, and your extensions were crap toward the end."

Stiles laughs. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Lyds."

"No, really." Lydia squeezes his arm. "You are one of the best guys here and I don't want to see you throw it away by hurting yourself."

He nods. "Thanks for the advice."

"No problem."

As he cleans up and comes down from the adrenaline rush, a twinge of pain shoots from his knee.

Lydia was right. He needs to be more careful.

 

His skin has turned clammy, his shaking has subsided. The bad taste in his mouth remains.

 Jackson almost trips on him when he walks by. "There you are! I've been looking all over for you."

 "What do you want?" Danny asks somberly.

 "Whoa, dark much here Danny boy?" Jackson sits down next to him. "What's the matter?"

 Danny looks at him, bewildered. "Did you even see our number? How much I fucked up?"

 Jackson frowns. "You didn't. There was a fumble or two, guns aren't your friends, but we all had some minor trouble. Hell, I nearly threw Erica to the floor instead of holding her up at some point. I'm lucky she holds on like a vise."

 "Whatever," Danny sighs and wipes his hands on his thighs. "I wasn't focused and it showed."

 Jackson picks at a loose thread on his shirt. "Stiles?" he wonders. Danny nods. "Look man, if it's just a sex thing and it distracts you this much, then break it off. It's not worth losing your spot here over."

 Danny shakes his head. "It's not just that."

 Jackson shrugs. "Then I don't know what to tell you. I mean, I'm making it work with Lydia so far but I honestly have no idea how we're doing it." He chuckles. "Maybe it works because I know she'd castrate me if either of us would cause any trouble to the other and cost us the competition."

 He gets up, kicks Danny softly until he does so too. He swings one arm around him and pulls him towards the dressing rooms. "Talk to him, figure something out. I told you, I'll be the one kicking you out of here but not this early."

 Danny follows him silently. He doesn't want to speak his mind.

 In the end it's still about choosing Stiles or the competition.

 

Stiles changes into shorts and a tank top and wraps his knee carefully. He can't risk his knee, not with so much on the line right now.

To Danny: Where are you?

 

Danny's phone buzzes and he picks it out as he's undressing. Stiles.

He types a quick reply.

To Stiles: Changing. I'll meet you out front.

He's feeling heavy, inside and out, but gets back into his own clothes fast anyway and gathers his stuff.

 

Stiles sits on a bench out front, elevating his leg. He dislocated his knee when he was little, and it still gives him trouble every once in a while. Lydia made the right call.

Stiles watches the door, waiting.

 

Danny walks out slowly but as soon as he sees Stiles, leg propped up, his pace accelerates.

 He drops his bag and plops down on the bench next to him. His hand hover over Stiles' knee, not daring to touch.

"What happened? Did you hurt yourself?" he asks. He already has one arm around Stiles' waist and worry is knotting his stomach.

 Your choice is obvious Danny.

 Shut up.

 Stiles bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling.

"I'm fine, really. My right leg is just weak from an injury years ago, and I overworked it. To be honest, I'm surprised it didn't go out after Vegas."

He runs his fingers through Danny's hair soothingly.

"I'm okay."

Danny leans into Stiles' touch and smiles softly. He's mostly comforted.

You're done Danny. Completely done.

 He looks at Stiles' face, trusting eyes, the hint of a smile he wears. Competition, what competition?

 "I'm still going to worry and keep you off of it all evening, you know?"

Stiles nuzzles his ear.

"I know. I kinda love it."

 

They return to the house, where a folder awaits them both.

"This week's schedule."

 Danny makes sure Stiles is securely settled on the bed, a pillow under his knee, and grabs the folder before sitting next to him.

 He pulls out a couple of sheets of paper, neat schedules. Busy ones.

 He hands Stiles his and peruses his own.

"Well, at least they don't waste any time. We get our appointed style tomorrow morning, first thing. And Lydia was right, we pair as we like."

 He elbows Stiles lightly. "You get to keep your grumpy krumper."

Stiles chuckles, eyes running quickly over the available information.

"Five hours with the choreographer and half an hour with the costumer tomorrow. Then four hours of pair work and three of group work Thursday and Friday. Fittings and interviews Saturday. Off Sunday. Brushups and final fittings Monday, and grand dress Tuesday morning." He lets out a low whistle. "They're working us hard."

Danny thinks back on his performance, the bitter taste of failure flooding his mouth again. "I don't mind, especially if I get something way off my style'" he comments.

 He's going to need all the help he can get, all the focus too.

 His hand lets go of the sheet, rests with care on Stiles' leg. "Are you going to be fine with this rhythm?"

"I'm gonna be fine, babe." Stiles reaches to take Danny's hand. "I just have to be careful with it. It'll be great."

He kisses Danny's cheek. "Let me worry about me."

"OK," Danny replies, somewhat flatly. He stretches his legs and crosses his hands behind his head.

 His phone ringing stops his reverie. As soon as he fishes it out of his pocket and sees the caller, he jumps to his feet.

 "It's my sister, I'll take this in the hallway so I don't bother you. It could take a while."

 

Stiles goes over the schedule again and pulls out his laptop and a notebook.

Time to watch tonight's show.

He skips through the footage from Vegas, cutting straight to the dance numbers. He watches each more than once, making notes on the technique, the emotion.

Lydia was right-- his knee wobbled on the turns.

 

"Hey Stef," Danny says with as much enthusiasm as he can. "Did you watch the show?"

 "I did Danny and it was so good!" Stefany's rapid flow is in full swing already. "I mean, you were the best obviously but seeing you with all those other dancers... Like this blonde girl, Erica, she was so flexible and then all the guys you were dancing with were great too and hot and..."

 Danny chuckles. "You're flailing again Stef, slow down."

 "Sorry," she mumbles, tone immediately more serious. "I'm... I'm just proud of you, you know."

 "I know, thank you lil' sis. It means a lot." He sits down on the floor near the door. "How are things at home?"

 "Same old, same old. How's the life at house? Come on, gossip Danny! Who's the bitch, who's the asshole, etc."

 "You know, I can't really talk about this Stef. It wouldn't be fair to them."

 "Have you made any friends at least? Can you tell me that? I don't want you to be all alone and on your own there Danny. You get in your corner and..."

 "Stef..." Danny warns.

 "Sorry, I know, rambling. So?"

 He chuckles again. "Yes, I made some friends. Most of the contestants are pretty nice." He glances at the door. "I... I kind of met someone."

She gasps. "Oh my God Danny, that's great! Is it that tall one, Isaac? He's so cute with his curls and big eyes!"

 Danny shakes his head, as if she can see him. "No, it's the other guy in that number, Stiles."

 "Mmm, he was cute too I guess. Not my type but you go Danny! Is it serious?"

 Too serious.

 "I guess."

 "I'm so happy for you, doing so well on the show already and snagging you a man!"

 "Thank you Stef."

 Except he's not doing it all right. He lets her keep on, commenting on the performances, and he leans his head back on the wall, closing his eyes.

 

Stiles is about halfway through his rewatch when he gets a call.

"Yo."

"Hey there, Superstar. You got any time for the little people?"

Stiles laughs, setting the laptop aside for a moment. "Of course I do, Malia. But keep it fast, I have a big day tomorrow."

"You looked really good out there, hermano. I felt so proud of you." Someone speaks in the background. "J.D. wanted to me to ask you about your knee. Said it looked wobbly on the--"

"The turns, I know. And I'm fine, Lobita. Tell J.D. to stop worrying before he gets wrinkles."

They talk for a while, Stiles adding to his notes occasionally when Malia brings things up.

"I'm going to send you the video of our latest piece, so you can sign off on it before Philly," Malia says after a while. "I think you'll like it."

"I'm sure I will. And I'm sure you'll make a far sexier Little Red than I ever did."

"You know it, hermano." There's rustling on the other end. "Stiles, bro, I love ya. Careful on the knee. Kick some ass for us. Derek wants to talk to you."

"Love you too, Lobita." Stiles sorts through his notes as they play pass the phone.

Derek is loud in his ear. "You've done the pack proud, Little Red! You kicked ass out there tonight."

Stiles grins despite the pain in his leg. "You really think so, Der?"

"I know so. You're gonna have America under your control in no time."

"Kinky," Stiles says with a laugh. "But really, any critiques?"

"Just be careful on the--"

"Turns, I know. You know my knee has problems some times."

"And you never take care of yourself. I worry, almost as much as J.D. And he has wrinkles already!"

"You care about me too much, alfa. Let me do this on my own."

 

"Mom wants to talk to you," Stefany says after 15 minutes of intense chatter, on her part mostly.

 Danny slides back into an upright sitting position.

 "Hello Daniel." The measured voice is friendly, for now.

 "Hi Mom, how are you?"

 "I'm fine sweetheart. I- I saw you tonight, you did well."

 "Thanks." He has no idea what to say and a heavy silence grows on the line. He sighs. "I'm sorry I hung up on you the other day."

 "It's alright honey." Silence, again. "So, you're really doing this."

 "I am, Mom."

 "OK, " she breathes out. "Anything worth mentioning?"

 Danny brings his hand to his eyes, rubbing them. If he doesn't tell her, Stef will let it slip anyway. "I met a guy."

 "Oh. Someone from the show or... another dancer?" she asks with hesitance.

 "A dancer. Did you see the contemporary number, Stiles, the brown-haired guy?"

 "Oh yes, I saw him. He seems... like a nice kid." Her tone is broken. "So I take he's not from LA, since you haven't mentioned him before."

 Here it goes.

 "No," he sighs, loudly, "he's from Iowa." He can almost hear her smile of derision.

 "Oh honey."

 "Don't start Mom."

 "I'm not saying anything, just that ... Splitting your attention? First the dance school and your BA, now you can't even concentrate on this competition, that is supposedly so important to you. I just, I knew it."

 "Knew what, exactly?" he asks impatiently.

 "That it wasn't serious, this whole endeavor."

 His hand drops. "Not serious?"

 "Well, you have time to find yourself a boyfriend, obviously you don't care that much."

 "I do."

 "If you say so honey."

 The derision is palpable.

 

"Just don't fuck this up, Little Red. You're destined for something greater than Los Lobos can offer you. I couldn't bear to see you fuck it up by getting injured."

 Stiles sighs, plopping back on the pillows. "I know. I know, Derek. Stop mothering me."

 "Oh, trust me, Stiles, the things I want to do to you don't include mothering."

 Stiles blushes top to tail, but it doesn't feel... right.

 "Goodnight, Derek. Give my love to the pack."

 Stiles hangs up before Derek can respond and returns to his notes.

 

Danny manages to end the conversation without raising his voice or hanging up on his mother. It's not close to being pleasant though.

He stays in the hallway for a minute, but his legs are starting to feel asleep and so is he, so he goes back in the room.

 Stiles is still on the bed, studying his notes. Danny can feel his heart melt a little. He's so talented, so focused and yet he's with Danny.

 Not serious. You worked so hard this past year, what about now?

 His mother's words, an icy reminder. He chases them away with a sigh.

 "Ready for bed?" he asks, shedding his clothes and putting them away, carefully.

"Absolutely." Stiles puts his notes and his laptop away and strips with minimal difficulty. He crawls under the covers, careful with his knee.

Danny curls around Stiles under the covers, keeps his legs at some distance from Stiles'. He takes a minute to run his lips on Stiles' skin, those two moles on the back of his neck he's come to learn and love.

 His mind is running a mile a minute, he kisses Stiles lightly one last time and closes his eyes. Tightly. Still he knows sleep won't come easily.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes early on Wednesday and stretches carefully. His knee seems fine, but he'll wear the brace during rehearsals, just in case.

He showers quickly, and he's going over his notes in the nude when Danny finally awakes.

All he sees when he wakes is the long, white expanse of skin that is Stiles' back. He smiles and, still a bit groggy, wiggles around until he's close enough to touch and kiss softly.

"Good morning gorgeous. How's the knee?"

Stiles hums at Danny's touch, flipping pages.

"Good. I'll have to be careful on it, but I'm good to work."

"Great news."

Danny keeps at his work on Stiles' skin. Until he sits up and sees the notes.

What he should be doing. He slips out of bed fast.

"I'm going to take a shower, I'll be right back."

 

Stiles bites his lip almost raw as he commits the notes to memory.

Focus on your lines. Everyone except for the ballet bunch need work on lines.

Careful on the knee. No really.

Feet. Feet feet feet feet feet. Mme. Noelle would be appalled.

 

The water cascades on Danny as he stretches in the hot humidity. Thank God for big shower stalls.

 He rolls every muscle of his back, flexes his legs, extends his arms to the very end of his fingers.

 Feel your body. You know it, know the motions. Make it respond the way it's supposed to. No more fumbles.

 Stiles pressed behind him, whimpering, His own body shaking and flushed, barely controllable.

 His eyes flutter open and he curses, turning the water colder and washing up quickly.

 Not serious. What, or who, is not serious now?

 

 Stiles spends some time before breakfast going back to basics-- plies, battements, the works.

Feet. Feet feet feet feet feet.

He's seen feet be the downfall of too many dancers to let it happen to him.

 

 Danny gets dressed fast, eats his breakfast even faster. Squeezes in some warm-ups in between.

 He doesn't let himself be distracted, even if he's ever aware of the presence of Stiles around him.

 When the producer calls them to the cars so they can go to the studios for the first draw, it's a relief.

 She's wrong. He's serious.

 

 Stiles props his knee up in the car, half-draped over Cora's legs.

 "You're an angel," he says with a smile. "An absolute angel."

 Cora shrugs. "Hey, you're helping me make top ten. Least I can do is prop up your bum-knee."

 He can do this.

 

Jackson keeps glancing at Danny the whole ride there and Danny's not really surprised when he takes him aside while they wait for Cat and the set people to put everything in place.

 "What's with the sour face? Is it about last night because I'm telling you, you did fine..."

 Danny gestures vaguely and takes a step back, annoyed. "No, it's not that." He sighs. "Well, not just that anyway, I had a crappy call from my mom yesterday and it's throwing me off." He sees Stiles some distance away. "I might not be living with her anymore but she has this way of judging me and somehow I still care about her opinion..." He shakes his head. "Never mind."

"No, I get it. I mean, my parents wouldn't even think of calling me, except to tell me how much they deposited in my account but seeking approval and stuff..." He wraps his arm around Danny's shoulder. "I know that feeling. Sucks."

 

"You seem super focused," Cora notes. "It's a good look for you."

 Stiles chuckles. "Thanks, I think. I just... I can't afford to fuck this up. I can't go back to Keokuk without trying my fucking hardest."

 "I know that feel, bro." Cora nudges him with her shoulder. "We're gonna be great."

 

Cat finally enters the auditorium and the lights zoom in on them. The cameras start rolling all round them and Jackson's face tightens as he lets go of Danny. "Here we go," he whispers, Danny nods.

"Good morning everyone, welcome to your first draw of the competition. I will ask the ladies to come forward and you will each announce your partner and pick a style for your first duet. Jennifer, if you would please start."

 Jennifer smiles shyly and walks up to Cat, plunging her hand in the black bag. "I'm dancing with Ethan, on..." She pulls out a tiny sliver of paper. "Charleston!" She beams.

 Cat thanks her and she runs back to Ethan, whispering.

 "Allison, if you may."

 More calmly, Allison announces her pairing with Scott (Danny can't help glancing at Isaac, who seems fine with it) and draws contemporary.

 Lydia is next, Danny only starts breathing again when she gets modern dancing. Luck is on his side.

 

Cora goes after Lydia. "Stiles and I will be dancing..." She pulls a piece of paper. "The quickstep."

 Stiles curses under his breath. Seriously? So soon?

 aura and Jackson get lyrical hip hop, the lucky bastards. Boyd and Heather get Broadway, and Isaac and Kali get Afro-Jazz (which, honestly, Stiles cannot wait to see). Aiden and Erica get the foxtrot, Ennis and Kate, the Argentine Tango, and Greenberg and Morrell-- disco.

 This is gonna be one hell of a week.

Cat and the cameras leave, and a tall, imperious woman with a clipboard takes the stage. 

"Good morning, dancers. My name is Talia Peters and I will be your handler for the duration of the live shows." She checks something on her clipboard. "Your papers have the name of your choreographer and the studio number where you'll be learning your routine. You have three hours this morning, half an hour for lunch, and four hours this afternoon. You will be pulled for costumes as they need you. Any questions?"

Everyone is too busy discussing their assignments to bother asking questions.

 

Lydia snags Jennifer as she walks past her and Danny.

 "No "broken puppet" moves and watch your smiles. People always get sloppy and overdo it with charleston."

 Jennifer's brow furrow but a smile soon changes that. "Thanks Lydia."

 She shrugs. "I just can't stand it when it's parodied. And you looked way too enthusiastic."

 "OK, I'll tone it down..." Jennifer replies with a chuckle and leaves. Lydia's face return to seriousness and she yanks on Danny's arm.

 "You better not let me down Danny because I'm freaking out here," she says rapidly. She looks around, grab their assignment and starts dragging him towards the studio.

 Danny stumbles behind her. "What's the problem? Modern dance should be no problem for you."

 "Steps and such? Sure. Expressiveness? A whole other thing. I'm about form and technique Danny, ballroom doesn't exactly require a ton of emotion and telling a story isn't what it's about. Our assignment is and that's your field." she claims.

 They stop talking (and moving) as soon as they enter their studio, almost in perfect synch. Travis Wall is waiting for them. Danny has seen him around but having him there, as his personal trainer and choreographer, is mind-boggling.

 It takes a few second for Danny to get over it, once he does it goes incredibly smoothly. Travis is easy to work with, Lydia is entirely focused and is putting her ego aside for the time being, all ears and eager to better herself. Their number is slow, demanding on control and emotion. Lydia uses her best waltz moves, adapting them, and Danny coaches her on how to make them more about feelings. This is what he was born to do and he starts to get his bearings back again.

 When he stops to pay close attention to the lyrics, his mind drifts to Stiles. He reels it in, sweeps the tight feeling at the bottom of his stomach under the rug. Practice is what counts. He can't risk losing this one.

 

"I. Fucking. Hate. The quickstep," Cora grits out between clenched teeth.

 Stiles laughs, though he feels way too conscious of the cameras. "Join the club."

 They work for hours, working their asses off to come near to getting the accursed quickstep.

 "Lighter, Cora," Jean-Marc corrects. "Think light. This is not your krump, where you are stomping and whatnot. This is the quickstepyou should be light as air."

 Cora's frown deepens, and Stiles can practically feel her brain work over the problem.

 When they finally break for lunch, Cora buries her face in Stiles' neck.

 "I can't fucking do this," she says at last. "I shouldn't be here."

 Stiles slaps her arm. "Shut up. You deserve this every bit as much as the rest of us. You are a fucking fantastic dancer, and we are going to kick the quickstep's ass. Got it?"

 She half-smiles. "Got it." 

 

Travis makes them work hard all morning before sitting down in a corner of the studio with them before lunch.

"OK guys, you have a good grip on the routine I think, one as good as we can hope at this point. After your break, I want to work on the meaning of the number and the song. Both your techniques are top notch, if we can nail the other part, you two will be unstoppable."

He nods at them. "You're talented, but you're also hard workers, I appreciate that. Think about the song, talk about it over lunch and we you come back, we'll fine tune it all." 

Danny thanks him, helps Lydia to her feet and they head for the room where the caterer is set up. He turns his phone in his hands for a few second before sending the text. 

To Stiles: Lunch together?

From Stiles: Sounds good. :)

Danny fixes himself a plate and picks a spot near the back of the room. Lydia runs to Jackson first chance she gets, an apologetic wink and a "we'll discuss the song after, OK?" thrown over her shoulder.

 He's not paying attention to his food, merely picks at it, even if he's famished. His eyes are fixed on the door, waiting for Stiles.

 Think about the routine.

 

Stiles and Cora walk down to the room with the food arm-in-arm.

Cora leans her head on his shoulder, and Stiles gives in to the urge to kiss her forehead.

"We can do this."

Stiles and Cora split as they walk inside. He searches the room for Danny, and tosses a wink in his direction as he gets in line.

Once he's filled his plate, he sits beside Danny.

"Hey, babe. How was your morning?"

 Danny snaps out of his thoughts and smiles at his boyfriend. "Pretty great. We have Travis and he's amazing. Lydia is more stressed than usual but she's doing well." 

He slides his hand and tangles it with Stiles. This is so much better, he's missed it. "You?"

Stiles resists the urge to bang his head on the table.

"Motherfucking quickstep. You could not get any further from either of our comfort zones."

 "You can do it, you're fast and flexible enough for it. It's just a matter of getting used to the timing." Danny thinks for a second. "You and Cora just have to practice the hell out of it," he says, and takes his hand away.

 It would do him good to do the same.

Stiles nods, and starts to eat. "We'll get it down, of course we will, we have to get it down. I mean, I'm not letting quickstep send either of us home. No way. We just have to practice practice practice."

"Same here. We might have a style we're familiar with, or I am at least, but it's not won, not without work."

You're not serious.

Yes I am.

 He expedites his lunch and stands up, running a quick hand and a kiss in Stiles' hair to hide a sigh. There's a growing pit in his stomach, not nerves, not hunger, obviously. A sense of foreboding maybe.

 "I have to get Lydia, break's almost over. I'll see you tonight?"

 "Of course." Why wouldn't he?

Stiles chalks it up to nerves and finishes eating.

He and Cora throw themselves into rehearsal for the afternoon session, only breaking for water and for costuming.

 

"No, Lydia, you can't throw yourself at Danny so hard. Measured steps, controlled hesitance. Come here."

 Travis brings his hands to Lydia's hips and guides her through the sequence. "See? Your body needs to be turned towards Danny but your legs not immediately. They catch up later. Show the struggle. It looks imperfect, just like the song and the story is."

 She nods, repeat the steps a couple of times on her own.

 "Yes, like this!" Travis exclaims. "Remember the emotion too. You want to hold on to those moments you share but you know it's not lasting. It's tearing you apart, you don't know how the other feels... It has to show."

 Danny nods, uneasy. Travis frowns. "Are you OK Danny? You seem out of it."

"I'm fine," Danny replies quickly, repositioning himself and catching up with Lydia.

 "OK then, but remember to connect with Lydia as you dance. You go into your head as you dance, they'll see that."

 Danny doesn't say anything, just dances.

 

"It has. To be. Perfect! One misstep and you both crash and burn!"

One and two and one and two and...

Stiles' mind drifts for just a moment to the awkwardness at lunch.

"Mister Stilinski! You must focus, or your lovely partner will end up on her keister. Again, from the top!"

"I. Fucking hate. Quickstep."

Focus, dammit.

 

"It's enough for today, you both can go. Good job but remember, it won't be the steps that'll carry you to the next round. You have to feel the number inside."

 Travis swings his arms around both Lydia and Danny. "I know you two can't feel that way for each other but you're comfortable enough to make it appear so. Find the inspiration, find your own connection to the message and bring it into the routine."

 He pushes them softly towards the door. "Listen, practice and talk. You do that, you'll make it. Beautifully."

 They step outside slowly and sit on the bench.

 "He's fantastic, and he gives good advice," Lydia comments. She chews on her lip. "I'm not a fan of that song. What it means anyway."

Danny sighs. "Me either." He grasps her hand and tries a reassuring smile. "it's fitting though. That should help."

She purses her lips. "We'll see."

 

"Okay, we are done for today. I expect you here at eight tomorrow morning. Mr. Stilinski, work on your arms. This is not So You Think You Can Airbend. Miss Hale, your footwork. I expect you to float on air, not dent the floors of my studio. Dismissed."

They gather their things and head out.

"I'm gonna kill him," Cora mutters. "Dent more than his studio floors."

Stiles stops, holds his arms out. "Hug me."

"What? Why?"

"After that rehearsal, we need it."

Cora thinks it over for mere seconds before wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face in his chest.

"I'm a good dancer, right?" she asks, muffled.

Stiles wraps his arms around her. "Of course you are, baby. You wouldn't be here otherwise."

 

Jackson comes out soon and Lydia gets up at once. She waves at Jackson with energy and turns around to look at Danny. She has a weird mix of hope and sadness on her face.

"It doesn't have to be, you know... Like the song. Right?"

 Danny smiles. She's so... in love.

 He shakes his head. "No Lyds, it doesn't have to. Go, he's waiting for you."

 She smiles broadly and runs to her boyfriend, kissing him as soon as she's close enough.

 Here's that tightness inside again.

 

Stiles and Cora shuffle out arm in arm, and Stiles detaches as soon as he sees Danny.

He walks straight for him with the mildest of limps.

"Hey beautiful."

 Danny springs up and wraps an arm around Stiles' waist, trying to be subtle about making him lean on him.

 "Hey gorgeous," he whispers against Stiles' hair. He keeps the worry in check in his voice, even if it's going on in his head.

 No Lyds, it doesn't have to be.

 We'll see from there.

 Obviously you don't care that much.

 I'm too far gone on you.

 "Shut up, all of you," he thinks. He's taking the night off.

 

"Ideas for dinner or you just want to hang out at the house?" Danny asks.

"I vote hang out at the house," Stiles says as he nuzzles his favorite spot on Danny's neck. "I'd love to go out, but I'm afraid I'd pass out in the appetizers. That, and I need a shower."

A sharp shiver sparks through Danny at Stiles' touch. "Seconded. I'm pretty sore myself."

 He helps Stiles to the van and once they're home, up the stairs and in their room.

 It feels good, taking care of Stiles.

 "Need help, or company in the shower?" he asks, hand still supporting Stiles' back.

"Mm, company in the shower sounds nice."

Stiles strips slowly, carefully. His tanktop, shorts, and compression shorts get thrown on the floor beside his shoes. He leaves the brace for last, hissing quietly when he finally gets it off.

 Danny undresses, eyes lingering on Stiles as he does so.

 That hiss hits him, hard.

 "Stiles..." he warns, already at his side and moving him towards the bathroom. "You should have said something. Quickstep has got to be the worst for your knee at the moment."

 

Stiles forces a laugh, starting the shower.

"Babe, it's fine. I know when my body has had enough. I just need to ice it tonight, it'll be fine." He turns back to Danny, puts his arms around his neck. "You don't have to mother me, okay? You worry about you."

 Danny steps in behind Stiles and starts lathering up a washcloth.

 "Well I'm the oldest child in a family with no dad and a mom who works 16 hours a day. I can't help it. If I care, I mother."

Stiles stands under the showerhead, moaning as the hot water pounds at his aching muscles.

"I'm flattered, then."

 Danny starts massaging Stiles' shoulders, letting his hands dig deep in the knots he feels there, and lower in his back.

 "I aim to please."

Stiles melts under Danny's touch, rolling his shoulders with a little moan.

"God, don't stop."

 Danny smiles at the sound he can make Stiles emit.

 "I don't plan to."

 His own fatigue fades away as he works his hands over Stiles, alternating gentle wipes of the washcloth and stronger grips on his tense muscles.

Stiles luxuriates in it for a while before swatting his hands away.

"Let me reciprocate before I fall asleep."

He starts to wash him gently, working out the knots he finds.

 

Danny melts under Stiles' touch. Not enough to remove all good sense though and as soon as Stiles has cleaned him up, he stops his hands and wraps them around his neck.

 "Enough work for you," he says, leaning and pressing a delicate kiss on Stiles' lips.

Stiles pulls him in for a proper kiss.

"You spoil me."

"Maybe," Danny replies with a smile.

 He runs his hand over Stiles' wet hair, cups his cheek. Fuck he's so beautiful, he thinks. He really is, with his easy grin and those eyes, closing up under the caress with so much trust.

 "You're worth it."

 Stiles leans into the touch for a moment, hand fumbling back to turn off the shower.

 "I need to sit down," Stiles says with a yawn. "And food. We need food."

 Danny nods, his hand leaving Stiles. Spell broken. That will happen here.

 "Get dried off," he says, reaching for a towel and handing it to Stiles. "I'll get us something to eat downstairs and bring it back here."

 He sneaks out of the bathroom and gets dressed quickly.

 

The kitchen is abuzz but he bypasses everyone, silently preparing sandwiches and stealing some of the coleslaw Erica prepared. He grabs a couple of bottles of water and a box of chocolate cookies (they can indulge) before heading back to his room. All pretty mechanically.

 Music, lyrics he heard too many times today, keep rolling in head. Clashing with his impression of Stiles.

 "Why do you sing Hallelujah, if it means nothing to you?"

 He's just tired, spent, like you. Or maybe he's just way more casual than you and you're wasting your time. Maybe she's right, you don't care. Or you care for what you shouldn't.

 One look at Stiles on the bed makes him put it away.

 He drops the food on the bed, without much spillage, and settles next to him.

 I want to take care of him, screw it.

 

"You are a life-saver," Stiles says. He downs half a bottle of water. "An absolute angel. You'd better get used to me, because I am never giving you up."

 He stops abruptly, eyes going wide.

 Shit shit shit.

 What if he doesn't want to keep him? What if this is just a fling, just a show thing?

 

Danny goes still, very still.

 Joke about it, he's rambling, he doesn't mean it.

 He puts his plate on the nightstand. Slow and careful. Turns to face Stiles, who looks about to have another panic attack.

 He means it alright.

 "I... I'm not either," he replies, his hand inching to rest on Stiles' leg.

 He feels like he can't breathe and is relieved at the same time

 Oh, thank fuck. Thank the gods.

 Stiles takes a deep breath and rests his hand over Danny's, entwining their fingers.

 "Good. That's... that's good."

 Danny looks down at their hands. He's not breathing any easier but the views is perfect.

 "We're fucked, aren't we?" he whispers.

 "So totally fucked," Stiles says with a breathless laugh. "But I think I can get used to this."

 He leans over to kiss Danny's cheek, his temple, behind his ear. "It won't be easy, but I think it'll be worth it."

 Danny chuckles, wraps his arms around Stiles and pulls him down with him.

 "It will be," he says and brings Stiles in for a real kiss.

 

I'll do what it takes to make it worth it. His throat tightens briefly. Everything?

 What it takes.

 The words wants to say burn his lips but he still keep them in and just kiss his boyfriend.

 

They kiss for a while, until Stiles' grumbling stomach interrupts them.

 "Okay, food first. Make-out second."

 Stiles inhales his sandwich, his water, and his half of the cookies.

 "You know, my Dad is coming into town for the live show," he says quietly.

 Danny sweeps the crumbles from the comforter with his palm. Oh shit.

 He sits back next to Stiles, reclaims his hand. It's better when he holds it.

 "Is he going to hang around for a while?" he asks, rubbing his thumb over the back of his hand.

 "I think he's flying in Tuesday morning and flying out Thursday morning." Stiles scoots closer so he can rest his head on Danny's shoulder. "So he'll be here for the after-party and for dinner Wednesday evening."

 "So..." Danny starts, keeping up with the gentle motion on Stiles' hand. "I should prepare myself to meet him?"

 "Yeah... yeah, you should." Stiles takes a deep breath. "I want my dad to meet the guy I can't stop talking about."

 Danny might be blushing a little. Might.

 "Good things I hope." He pauses, sensing Stiles' hesitance. "I told my family about you too, you know." he confides.

 "Oh?" Stiles kisses his neck. "Good. Glad to know I'm not a secret." Again.

 "I could never hide you. Or how I feel about you." Hell, he's done anyway. No point in holding back.

"Me neither." 

 

 Stiles' heart is in his throat, his knee is throbbing, and he still isn't confident about the motherfucking quickstep-- but he's happy. Happier than he has been in ages.

 

"You mean so much to me," he murmurs. "Almost as much as dance, and you know how important that shit is."

"I- I do."

 Dance. The competition.

 

 We might kiss when we are alone           

When nobody's watching           

We might take it home

 

 Maybe his number will be about Stiles after all. But he won't worry about it. No. Not tonight.

 "Stiles... I..."

 Can I tell you and not run away? Not make you run away?

 Stiles sits up some, so he can see Danny's face.

 "Yeah?"

 God these eyes will be the death of him. His hand slides, so easily, in Stiles' hair, curls around his head.

 He should just kiss him. He's good at it. It's safe, pleasant, everything they are and need right now. But it wouldn't be true, not entirely. Not enough.

 "I love you."

 

Stiles chokes on air for a second.

 I love you.

  I love you.

The possibility never... never crossed his mind. That Danny would... would love him. Would say it so soon. Or at all.

 I love you.

 He loves him.

 Holy shit, he loves him.

 

I don't love you Danny, I never will.

Stiles is silent. Stiles is still here but is utterly mute. Killing him more with every second that passes. Making Alex's words more appropriate too.

 You made it real and see what you got? Again?

 But when will it ever be clear enough for him to say it? He's fallen for this guy, why should he keep it in? It was the right time, wasn't it? He said he didn't want to give him up, he wants to introduce him to his dad, they're boyfriends...

 "Please, say something. You don't have to say it back but say something Stiles, please."

 

 "I love you," Stiles says, almost to himself. "Holy shit, I love you."

 Danny grins so wide, he's surprised his face doesn't break.

Fuck, he actually said it back.

He pulls Stiles over him, carefully so his leg doesn't get stuck or bumped. His hands can't let him go now.

 "Fuck I love you so much. Kiss me, I can't take it anymore. "

 I love you. I love you. I love you.

 He'll never forget those words, how they were said. Who said them.

 Stiles smiles into the kiss, hand going to Danny's jaw.

 "I love you." Kiss. "I love you." Kiss. "I love you."

 

"Fuck, Stas, I love you."

Stasia smiles, and it isn't until later that Stiles realizes it doesn't reach her eyes. "I love you too, Stiles."

 

Stiles pushes the thoughts away, focusing on Danny beneath him.

 "I love you."

 

"I don't love you," Alex had tossed at him, coldly.

 "I love you." Stiles repeats, over and over.

 The contrast is astounding. The words, the tone. The passion with which Stiles keeps saying those three magic words. For once it's a chaotic fight in his head he doesn't mind.

 He pulls away, just for a second (because goddamn Stiles kisses are, he swears, 10 times better now). "Are you OK? With all this I mean? Because I know it changes pretty much everything..." he says softly.

 You know, because he likes asking for trouble.

 He loves you. Shut up.

Yeah well no one ever has before so...

 

 "Of course I'm okay with this." Stiles runs gentle fingers through Danny's hair. "I'm in this for the long haul, ballet boy."

Danny laughs quietly, closing his eyes. "I said it too soon. Now we're fucked."

 He blindly reaches up and kisses Stiles lightly. "You're the last thing I ever expected to find here," he murmurs. "You're the best thing I could have ever found too."

 He can almost hear his mother in his head. Giving the title up already? Sure, your boyfriend matters so much more. A fraction of a wince pulls at his brow.

Stiles smoothes his fingers over Danny's brow.

"Something is bothering you." It isn't a question. "What's wrong?"

 "This place is wrong," Danny blurts out. He shakes his head. "It's not what I meant."

 He reaffirms his grip on Stiles' waist. "I hate this setting we're in."

 Keep it short. You're happy now, enjoy it.

"I guess I understand that." Stiles presses a kiss to the worried crinkle between Danny's eyes. "Personally I like dancing all day and spending my nights with you."

"I'd like it better with no cameras, no 18 roommates and..." He breathes out. "No title and thousands of miles between us, soon."

 For the love of God Danny.

 

It hits Stiles like a ton of brick. He sees why Danny is so worried.

"Hey. We take it step by step. Make it through the week and regroup Wednesday morning. Repeat until it's us versus Lydia and Cora. Or possibly Erica. Deal with the consequences when we get there."

He sits up, good leg tucked beneath him, bad leg propped over Danny's lap.

"It sucks, not knowing. But we have to do our damnedest to win this."

 "You're right." Danny runs his finger up and down Stiles' leg, pensive. 

 "I wanted to win this, so bad. I still do. But you came along and I can't even imagine fighting you over this, "

 Admit it Danny, you're giving up already. Why did you even try to begin with?

 She's a tenacious bitch in his head.

Stiles fights the urge to slap him.

"No. No, you can't think like that. No. Thinking like that will get you sent home. I need you here. Fight me for it, you're one of the few people I respect enough to fight. Fight me for it, iron sharpens iron and all that shit." He shakes him gently. "Promise me you're gonna try and win. Promise."

"I promise," Danny replies at once.

Like he would do any different. It's his dream, after all. So what if he's never been able to deal with a relationship and his work before? So what if he always crashed and burned, something or someone always had to yield and get destroyed in the process before?

There's a first time for everything, right? He might not have to give anything or anyone up.

 

Somewhat reassured, Stiles resettles on the bed, propped up by pillows. He hauls Danny into his lap so he can kiss him without straining his knee.

"My beautiful ballet boy."

Danny slips one hand underneath Stiles' shirt, his palm pausing on the tight abs before moving to his hip and finally resting on his lower back. Skin so soft, flesh so strong. Like Stiles, hard resolve covered with a sweet nature.

Like Sean.

I'm not giving up that one.

He kisses him back, unhurried. "You're pretty cute yourself you know?"

And you love me. A thrill goes up his spine.

"Cute? All I get is cute?"

Stiles hands go Danny's shoulders, the broad planes of his back. There's so much strength there.

 Danny's hand hikes up further, hiking the shirt as well. It's easy to help Stiles lie down with one hand, he's not fighting him at all.

 He leans down. "I can consider bringing it up to hot," he says. He drops small, sucking kisses all over Stiles' chest. "Yeah, definitely hot."

Stiles' grip tightens on Danny's back.

"Mm, good..." a thought occurs to him. "I bet you could hold me up long enough to fuck me into the wall."

He slips and what was meant for a gentle suck on Stiles' nipple turns more into a bite. He flicks his tongue over it as an apology, clears his throat. The thought is already firing him up.

 "What do you want to bet?"

 Whatever the wager, he won't mind losing because sex with Stiles would pretty much compensate for anything.

 Stiles moans, arching into Danny's touch.

 "I don't know... God, just fuck me."

 Danny grins and licks up a trail from chest to chin. All tiredness is gone. For Stiles too, given how he reacts to Danny's touch.

 Taking off Stiles' shirt and his own, shimmying out of his pants and helping Stiles out of his own is a quick business. He barely takes the time to explore Stiles' skin as he goes. He still does, a little. 

He sits back, pulls Stiles in his arms. It's a little too good, too soon and he takes a deep breath. "I need an answer, or I'm just keeping you here. Make it interesting," he says in Stiles' ear. That's the kind of competition he likes with Stiles.

 He bucks his hips slightly. Fuck, bad idea. He's getting hard, so fast.

Stiles whines.

"Fucking tease." He bites his lip, thinking. "I bet you a round of post-show rimming."

"So if I can fuck you against that wall, I get rimmed? Works for me," Danny says. He pick Stiles up, mentally silencing his worn out arms and wobbly legs.

 He's going to make it work, damn it. He lets go of Stiles briefly and while he leans against the wall, Danny reaches in the nightstand and pulls out condoms and lube.

 

He can't get Stiles' underwear off fast enough.

Stiles strokes himself slowly, not wanting to get too excited too fast.

God, Danny is so fucking beautiful... and determined.

"Can't wait to rim you, babe."

 

Danny slicks his fingers without even looking, eyes fixed on Stiles' cock and hand. 

"I could say the same..."he replies, voice thick. "In fact..."

He leans forward, reaches behind with wet fingers and spreads Stiles' legs, pulling him away from the wall slightly. He tears his gaze away to wink at Stiles and reaches forward. One long swipe of the tongue, down Stiles' length, pass his balls and teasing further.

Stiles curses, eyes rolling back in his head. One hand slaps against the wall, scrabbling for an anchor.

Fuck, no one has done this in... over a year, shit.

"Nng, fuck. Don't stop, don't stop."

 

If Danny wasn't so busy, he would smile at the plea (command?). But there is a greater satisfaction in laving Stiles' ass with attention, spiking his tongue, teasing all around and making Stiles pliant, a whimpering mess.

 That he doesn't have any preference when it comes to position or... activities sure comes in handy, and seems appreciated too.

 He pulls away with regret, replaces his tongue with his fingers and comes up for air.

 

"Ready to see who wins that bet?" he murmurs against Stiles' squirming hips.

Stiles gasps for air, writhing on Danny's fingers.

"Fuck yes. Want you in me."

 "Great." Danny replies with a kiss. He pulls out his fingers, sheats his cock with practiced ease and speed and grabs hold of Stiles' ass. His muscles almost betray him when he coaxes Stiles to wrap his legs around his waist. He stops for a second, steady his grip and runs a gentle, worried hand over Stiles' knee as he complies.

 The pause doesn't last, with his desire way too intense to be restrained or care about fatigue. He slips into Stiles, slips home.

 "Fuck," he hisses, thrusting carefully. He'd rather not ram Stiles into the wall. Not yet.

Stiles moves his hands to Danny's shoulders, holding him close. He pulls himself together enough to lean in, kiss and bite at his neck.

"So fucking perfect," he says around moans. "Love you so fucking much."

He slides his hands between Stiles and the wall, cages him in his arms so he can fuck him properly. Head thrown back to enjoy Stiles' mouth, his breaths are shallow, movements still strong but disorganized.

 "I love you more," he groans. It feels so right to say it, to let it out so freely. This time he can trust those words.

 He slams into Stiles again, and again.

Stiles leaves scratches down Danny's back, bite marks in his neck.

His orgasm approaches quickly, aided by Danny's thrusts to his prostate and his dick trapped between their abs.

"'m close," he gasps out.

"Then come baby," Danny moans in his mouth. His hold weakens on Stiles' sweat-click body but he pushes through, for a couple more thrusts. "I'm right, ugh, behind you."

Stiles comes with Danny's name on his lips, holding on for dear life.

He feels like he'd float away with the merest breath of air.

Danny feels his legs start to give out when Stiles cries out his name and he steps away from the wall.

 "So close damn it," he whispers before dropping Stiles on his back on the bed, splaying over him again and resuming his thrusts.

 It takes less than a minute for him to come, babbling a mix of "yes, yes, yes" and "love you".

 

Stiles runs his fingers through Danny's sweat-damp hair, the other hand rubbing his back.

"So beautiful," he whispers. "Love you so much."

 Danny kisses him breathlessly and rolls off him, over Stiles' left leg.

 "I love you too."

 He chuckles, still panting, still buzzed. "I have to say, it feels fantastic to just say it."

"I know, right?" Stiles rolls to his side with some difficulty. "Feels good to know."

Danny cups Stiles' face with fluttering fingers. He feels... Electric.

 "So good," he whispers, leaning in for a kiss. His fingers flow down to his leg, brushing over the skin, drawing tiny circles over his knee. Gently.

 "Did I hurt you?"

Stiles smiles fondly. "No, I'm right as rain. No pain."

Danny sighs happily. "Good. Don't move, I'll be right back." He scoots off the bed and heads for the bathroom on unsure legs. After cleaning up, he wets another washcloth and goes back into the bedroom.

 He does avoid looking at himself in the mirror. He knows he looks stupidly happy.

 

"So, does it count as a win for you?" he asks softly as he runs the damp towel over Stiles' body and refreshes him with delicate touches and a few random kisses.

"Mm, I don't know..." Stiles smiles tiredly, eyes drifting closed. "You may have to show me again."

Danny tosses the towel aside and slips under the covers, pulling Stiles on him.

 "Another day then. I think we're both done for the day, in every respect," he says softly.

 "I will show you though." he adds. One last kiss in Stiles' hair and his own eyes shut. "I love you," he mumbles one last time, to an already sleeping Stiles.

Chapter Text

Fucking quickstep.

Cora and Stiles spend every spare moment rehearsing, both with Jean Marc and alone. Well, except for evenings. Evenings are for Danny. (And possibly Boyd, or maybe Erica, but Stiles isn't asking.)

Amazingly, his knee does fine. He keeps the brace on during rehearsals and ices it during dinner each night, and it seems to be handling the quickstep better.

The group number is huge, a lyrical hip hop number with Tabitha and Napoleon. It's fucking brilliant, once everyone picks it up.

He's still nervous over his and Cora's number, but they'll be fine. Right? Right.

Monday is tense, and Stiles figures tomorrow morning will be even worse.

--

He twists his knee in the afternoon brush-ups, pain flaring up suddenly.

"Fuck..." Cora helps him to a bench along the wall, where he can nurse his wounds and still watch brush-ups.

 

Lydia's nails dig dangerously deep in Danny's arms when Stiles' keel in pain and leaves the group.

"Don't even think about it. We're nowhere near ready enough for you to miss one second of practice to bemoan over your boyfriend," she says, forcing him to keep up with the routine.

He rolls his eyes, lifts her up. His eyes keep straying to Stiles, Cora and the medic at the far end of the room. "As if you wouldn't fly to Jackson's side if that happened," he replies as he lets her slide down his body.

She squints. "Well it's not the case. I'm not the one putting our place here in jeopardy, you are. Dance!"

Danny risks one more look in Stiles' direction, catches his eyes. "I love you," he mouths to him, with an apologetic smile. The choreographer calls back his attention.

"We'll see who's putting who in danger when we're doing our number," he hisses back.

If a glare could kill, he wouldn't have been able to take one more step.

 

Cora's nimble fingers work on the knot in his knee gently between rotations of ice.

"How you holding up?" she asks quietly.

"It's fine," Stiles says, gritting his teeth. "You should go rehearse."

Cora arches an eyebrow at him. "Without you? Are you fucking kidding me?"

He sighs. "Whatever. We can go over it more after dinner."

"Hey, we've got this. The group number is the easiest part. Just stay off it tonight, so you can dance tomorrow."

 

Rehearsal drags on forever, or so it seems. Danny makes it through without being called on (not too often at least) and without fighting with Lydia (not too loudly at least).

 

They are released around 5 and he wastes no time in rushing to Stiles. Lydia can sigh as much as she wants.

"How are you?" he asks, his hand sliding around Stiles' waist. "Honestly."

 Stiles leans back against Danny, biting his lip raw as Cora works on his knee again.

 "I'm fine. I'm in Cora's capable first-aid trained hands, and I should be good to go for grand dress tomorrow."

 Danny sighs. "If you say so. But I'm not letting you do anything tonight anyway." His hands make soothing motions over the small of Stiles' back, a small gesture but the only one he can afford at the moment.

He looks at Cora. "Practice can wait, besides you both have this number nailed."

 Cora rolls her eyes. "Please, like I would let him practice tonight. I don't want him to blow his chances by overworking himself."

 "Right here guys."

 "Hush," Cora says fondly. "We know, asshat."

 "Oh, bite me."

 Cora returns her attention to Danny. "Keep him off it, okay? I need him to be at top form tomorrow, or we're both going home."

 "Nobody's going home and you didn't have to ask me that," Danny replies seriously.

He looks down at Stiles. "Looks like another cozy night in for us. It'll be good for me too, I feel it's wise I stay away from Lydia in particular today.

 He gets up and with Cora's help, bring Stiles to his feet as well.

 "Let's head home."

 

When they get back to the house, Stiles finds himself fussed over by both of his mother hens. They get him settled in bed, leaning against a huge pile of pillows. It takes Danny twenty minutes to shoo Cora away, although she insists on bringing them dinner before going. Stiles' partner is more caring than her exterior shows.

Danny sits by Stiles and changes his ice pack.

 "You have one hell of a partner."

"Yeah, I really do. I'm still not sure how I lucked out with her." Stiles smiles fondly. "She's fantastic."

Danny entwines his fingers with Stiles.

"She is." He bites his lip. "Can I confess something to you?"

"Of course you can, babe."

Danny contemplates their joined hands for a second.

"It's kind of stupid but... I'm glad we're together, that we happened when we did. It would have killed me to see you with Cora."

Stiles startles slightly.

"I... I'm glad we happened when we did too."

He's noticed Stiles' nervous reaction. Stubbornly, he won't comment on it. Won't ask if he'd hooked up for Cora. Won't ask if he'd consider it, if they hadn't took a turn for the serious so soon.

 No, he just caresses his hand.

"We're past that kind of worrying, I know."

 Stiles brings Danny's hand up to his lips, brushes a kiss along his knuckles.

 "Yeah, we are." He smiles warmly. "I love you."

 "I love you too," he says, with a similar smile.

 Seriously, damn this guy. With his smile and how he owns him with a few words.

 "Movie night OK for you?"

 Something to escape his own mind. It's a dangerous place at the moment.

 "Sounds good. You pick."

 

While Danny is deciding what to watch, Stiles takes a moment to text his dad. The response takes about half an hour, as usual, but it makes Stiles grin.

 From Dad: Wild drug busts couldn't keep me from coming, kiddo. Can't wait to see you.

  To Dad: Same. Love you.

 From Dad: ily2

 

Danny ends up putting on The Town (he might have a thing for Jeremy Renner and a gritty Ben Affleck), pulling Stiles close and settling the laptop on his lap.

 "Your dad?" he comments when he sees Stiles fiddling with his phone.

 He almost forgot about that. Shit.

 "Yeah." Stiles grins. "I can't wait to see him. He has seats right behind choreo-row, so he has a great view."

 Danny swallows thickly. More stress to look forward to.

 "So his first impression of me will be the show?"

 Stiles side-eyes Danny. The stress is palpable.

 "If he gets in town soon enough, we may be able to have lunch between grand dress and call."

 Danny chuckles nervously. "I honestly don't know which one would be worse, or just more

awkward."

 He keeps his eyes on the screen.

 Stiles leans his head on Danny's shoulder. "He's gonna love you, okay? So don't get your dance belt in a twist over this."

 "I... I don't have the best track record when it comes to family, that's all." Danny shrugs.

 Trust me, I have plenty to get me stressed besides your dad.

 He keeps that to himself. He has manners.

 Stiles takes his hand, squeezes it.

 "Tomorrow is gonna be great. We're gonna knock America's socks off."

 "Yeah."

 Again, millions watching. Stiles' dad right there. Lydia's temper and their struggles with their number. Stiles' knee. One couple leaving.

 "Sure we will, " he says.

 

The rest of the evening is pretty quiet on Danny's front and even the movie's most gripping parts don't chase all his thoughts away.

 Stiles can hear the fucking wheels churning in Danny's head. Hell, if Stiles focused long enough on tomorrow he'd be a mess too. He just wishes he could take Danny's mind off of it somehow... besides sex.

 

"Have I ever shown you the Los Lobos videos?"

 "Not yet," Danny replies quickly.

 He might have googled them a few days ago. But he had a weird feeling, as if he was cheating just doing it and never even clicked play on the few videos he found on Youtube.

 "No time like the present."

 Stiles scoots over to the edge of the bed and pulls out his laptop. He pulls up the video J.D. made of the last routine they did before Stiles auditioned. 

 "Ta da."

 It's a delightfully complicated number to "Sail" by AWOLNATION. The style is pure Derek, harsh hip hop combined with the fluidity of Stiles' Little Red. The pack each represent a vice-- lust, gluttony, etcetera, all trying to drag Stiles down.

 Watching the video, Stiles can't help but miss the red hoodie.

 Danny watches, entranced. It's a little awkward with Stiles right next to him but only for a second. The magic of the number works soon.

 His trained eye notices Stiles' great form first, the way he moves with confidence and reacts with great synchronicity. The overall message and emotion of the number hits him next. Hunger and temptation on every dancer's face as they are surrounding Stiles and touching him. A seduction Stiles fights back with gracious leaps and mesmerizing expression.

 He looks damn good in that outfit, and commands attention.

 He has that spark, he muses.

 When the number ends and they all embrace, he's as hyped as the dancers on the screen. He frowns a little at how some of the members of the group linger on Stiles but brushes it off. They all get emotional and touchy after a number.

 His hand searches for Stiles'. "Stiles... You guys are so good. I don't blame you for wanting to stay with them," he murmurs.

 Like you needed to remind yourself of that.

 He turns and smiles at Stiles anyway. He really is one hell of a dancer, alone and with Los Lobos.

Stiles smiles, kisses him on the cheek, then the lips.

"Thanks, babe. We put so many hours into that. It was insane."

 

He goes to their YouTube page, bites his lip as he thinks. There's a video of his and Carlos' fucking awesome duet from the Chicago Slam, but he isn't sure how that would go over with Danny.

 "You have more to show me?" Danny asks, leaning forward to see the screen better. Most of the videos he found for the Los Lobos are on that page and he's intrigued. Wants to encourage him too.

 "Come on gorgeous, don't be shy."

Stiles shows him some of the early stuff, from before JD started managing them, crappy camera-phone recordings and all.

Finally, he clicks on the Chicago Slam video.

"I usually did this number with Derek, but he's been grooming Carlos to take over when he retires," he explains quietly. "We did it at the Slam in January."

Past-Stiles is wearing a soft, thin red hooded t-shirt instead of his usual hooded sweatshirt. His shorts are black lycra bike shorts and he's barefoot. Carlos-- a tall, lithe Latino of eighteen-- is in ratty jeans, a grey wifebeater, and a leather jacket.

Adam Lambert's "Sacrifice" starts.

It's very obviously Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf-- Carlos stalks Stiles before showboating with some (crazy impressive) tricks. Stiles resists-- for a while.

 Danny sobers up as the number unfolds. His eyes follow Stiles and Carlos intently, the crease between them intensifying with each lift, each touch.

 He leans closer still. It's not the technical side that fascinates (or worries) him, no, it's something in their eyes. Something in Carlos' eyes to be precise. A look that isn't faked, and curiously one that he's seen before.

 

"Danny that spin was killer!"

 "Thanks Sean. You didn't have to stay the whole rehearsal, you know."

 "I wanted to," Sean replies. Burning eyes on Danny and suddenly he looks far older than sixteen.

 

He stops the video and turn to Stiles. He has his own hurt in his throat but manages to keep his tone casual enough.

 "It's a beautiful number, for sure. Really intense and the choreography is ingenious."

 He breathes out, slowly. "So, how badly did you break the heart of this one?"

"This one?" Stiles bristles. "Christ, Danny, you make it sound like I went around breaking hearts for the hell of it."

He takes a deep breath, clasps his shaking hands.

"Carlos and I were together for almost six months-- which is forever for a junior in high school. It was great, I was happy, but-- he got so... dependent, I guess. Scared the hell out of me, because I knew I wasn't gonna stay in Lee County forever. I was sixteen, I didn't need the pressure of being the 'center of his universe' or whatever the hell else he called me."

 Danny toys with Stiles' hands for a second, persuades them to separate so he can slide his own in between.

"I didn't mean it like just... I know how it is, being in your position. Sort of."

 He shakes his head, wraps his fingers around Stiles. "At least you can still dance with him, it looks like he got over it enough."

"Yeah..." Stiles shrugs. "We'd both do anything for the pack. We ended up winning the duet division with that number."

"I'm not surprised," Danny says.

 

Could he had done the same with Sean?

 Come on, you know you didn't. You ran like a coward instead.

 He chuckles, hates the bitterness that the sound has.

 "I think we can do an even better job. If they ever pair us together for a number."

 You hope, his mind corrects.

Stiles' smile is soft. "We'd be fantastic together. Like, Tucker and Robert's Travis Wall number fantastic."

"With less tears and tragic backstory, more kissing perhaps."

 Danny's smile creeps up. That number was magical, and he's glad Stiles thinks they could be as well.

Stiles grins and leans in to steal a kiss. "I like the way you think."

"You inspire me," Danny shrugs, smiling into the kiss.

 

Push Sean, Alex, that Carlos and Derek aside. You and Stiles, you can make it.

Stiles yawns.

"Okay, bedtime. We have a big day tomorrow."

Chapter Text

Big day is an understatement. They're both wrestled from their bed insanely early by Lydia (Stiles more gently than Danny, given his condition) and pushed downstairs for a minimal breakfast. The troupe is quiet for once, even Kali and Ennis lay off the bickering.

The morning is a whirlwind, last-minute fitting, couples rehearsing in every corner, producers giving directions and explanations.

....

 

"How are you feeling?" Danny asks, jumping from one foot to the other to warm himself up. The backstage area is surprisingly cold and this costume doesn't cover much besides his legs.

"I'm fine," she whispers. The way she randomly touches her up-do tends to contradict it.

He slips his hand in hers and presses gently. "No, you're not. Talk to me Lydia. We need to work together on this one."

"I really am. I'm trying to get into character." She pouts. "Maybe Jackson was a douche, I mean more than usual and I'm still pissed at him."

Danny pulls her closer. "What did he do?"

"He said he was having fun with me. That's it. Fun." Her voice is dry. "I guess I can use this for our number."

Danny kisses her brow. "If you want. But I've seen how he looks at you and trust me, he's not just having fun. He loves you."

"Whatever."

"Danny and Lydia, pay attention, your cue is up!"

Danny sighs. Last thing he needed before going onstage for dress rehearsal was more drama.

 

Stiles finds Cora backstage, feet propped up on a make-up table, legs splayed, dress rucked up to her hips.

"Nice leo," he drawls, sitting beside her.

Cora snorts. "Thanks. Nice hair gel."

"My hair is fucking shellacked or something," Stiles complains. "Like I'm a refinished coffee table."

Cora rolls her eyes. "At least you don't have seven million hair pins stabbing you. I hate having my hair up like this."

"If it's any consolation, you look hot."

She does. The deep blue satin of the forties style gown suits her skin-tone, and Stiles has always been a sucker for red lipstick.

"Thanks. You do too."

Stiles in a black tux. Luckily, The seamstress let out the legs enough to hide his brace.

"Cora, Stiles, you're up after Danny and Lydia," Talia scolds as she flies through. "Get to the wings."

Stiles stands and takes Cora's hand as they walk to the stage.

"Ready for this?" Cora asks quietly.

"Born ready."

 

"Ok guys so you step up to the middle of the stage, Cat will get you for the judges' comments and then you exit on the right. Fast, OK? We have 8 more couples after you." The producer barely looks up from her clipboard.

 Danny and Lydia, still embraced and catching their breath, nod to no one and part.

 "Would be nice to have some feedback," Lydia mutters on their way out.

 "I think we did great," Danny says earnestly. They really worked this time, the routine was fluid and heartfelt. Well at least he felt it was and Lydia was actually responsive. Troubled but responsive, which incidentally works even better with their number.

 Jackson is cooped up behind the curtains and barely acknowledges them as they walk by.

 Danny tries to steer Lydia away but she frees herself from his grip.

 "Scared of the competition, Jackson?" she scoffs.

 "Just assessing." he corrects her with a smirk. "Don't be so judgemental, you're the same. We just do what we need to stay on top."

 She shakes her head and turns around swiftly, grabbing Danny's arm and pulling him further backstage. She liberates him once they're back in the dressing room.

"Can't believe I ever thought he cared. Fuck him," she mumbles, dropping on a chair. Her curls flap around her face and she pushes them away with an annoyed sigh. The light catches in her eyes, shining with contained tears.

 Danny has a fleeting thought about Stiles, he knows he's on right after him and he'd planned to check out his performance but he can't. He has to somehow find a way to comfort Lydia. Maybe punching Jackson in the face, he thinks.

 

They fucking rock the quickstep, even if Stiles' knee is on fire by the end.

"Fuck fuck fuck fucking fuck." Stiles makes it offstage without hobbling, but he sits the moment he's off.

Cora's natural frown deepens. "Will you be okay for tonight?"

Stiles grits his teeth. "Hell yes."

 

"I'll be fine Danny. Go, change, whatever."

 Lydia, brush in hand, examines her face in the mirror and adds one more thin layer of powder on her forehead.

 Apparently Lydia is skilled at turning an impending breakdown into some kind of angry focus.

 She stares at him through the reflective glass. "Seriously."

 "I'll show him who's on top..." she whispers as she returns to her makeup.

 "If you say so," Danny sighs. He hesitates on the door. His outfit, skin tight dark green pants, is not the most comfortable at the moment and he's dying to get changed. On the other hand, Stiles must be done by now.

 Changing can wait. He wanders the corridors until he finds Stiles sitting in a dark corner. Obviously in pain.

 

He's by his side in seconds.

Stiles forces a smile. "I was wondering where my handsome prince was."

Cora snorts. "Thanks." To Danny, she says, "help me get him to the dressing room? We still need to change."

"Sure," Danny whispers. He doesn't wait for Cora to be very far before looping his arm around Stiles' waist and helping him up.

 "I'll say, I'm half-tempted to just scoop you up in my arms and carry you," he jokes. It's not as genuine as he'd like it.

"I'd love to see Talia's face at that."

They finally make it to the dressing room Stiles and Cora are sharing with Jackson and Laura and Boyd and Heather.

 "What's with your boy toy, Danny? Were you rocking the casbah too hard?"

 "Shut up Jackson," Heather says, just as Danny flips him off. Jackson scoffs, offended but complies anyway.

 Danny sits Stiles down while Heather produces a small stool for his foot.

"Thank you."

 "No problem," she says softly, a hand on Danny's shoulder and a small smile for Stiles.

 He gets back up, finds the first aid kit and cracks an emergency ice pack. He bites his lip and puts it on Stiles' knee, delicately.

 "Stiles..." The reprimand is clear in his tone.

Stiles bristles. "Don't you 'Stiles' me. I had to dance. I have to dance tonight. It's unavoidable."

Cora sighs. "We're going to the medics during the break. Hopefully they can give him something to stop the swelling."

 "Good," Danny says to Cora. He looks up at Stiles and resettles the sliding ice pack.

"I will Stiles you. This is how permanent injuries happen."

Stiles sighs, leaning his head back against the wall.

"I know, I know. I can't afford to fuck this up."

"Damn straight." Cora slides out of her dress and hangs it up. She pulls a hoodie and oversized basketball shorts on and slides her feet into soccer slides. "Okay, Lover Boy, he's all yours."

 "Thank you Cora, for taking care of him."

 She dismisses him with a tiny smile and a wave on her way out.

 

"Now, we need to get you changed," Danny states, getting up. He looks around for Stiles' clothes, hands him his phone. "Any news of your dad? Do we need to reschedule lunch or something? Because you are seeing that medic, stat."

Stiles checks his phone.

"Dad just got in half an hour ago. We're on for Linner at that pizza place Boyd showed us at three. We should be fine."

 "Depending on what the medic says," Danny replies, handing Stiles his shirt and pants. He looks down and pinches his pants. "I might need to get into more appropriate clothes myself."

"I don't know... I kinda like that look."

 

Stiles changes as quickly as he can, and half-hobbles the few yards to Danny's dressing room.

Danny freshens up and puts on comfortable, worn-out but still clean-looking jeans, with a dark undershirt and a short-sleeved shirt.

 He spends too much time on his hair, not that it changes how unruly it is (one of these days).

 He's not nervous. Nope.

 He's not worried about Stiles. Nope.

 He hears Stiles' uneven walk before he sees him. "Damn it man..." he mutters, rushing to the hallway.

 "I could have gone back to your dressing room, you know."

Stiles resettles the messenger bag on his shoulder.

"Your dressing room is closer to the elevator. And I'm fine."

 "No reason for you to walk it without support. And your limping would suggest you aren't." Danny huffs. He automatically resumes his position. one arm around Stiles.

 It's infuriating but damn it he will force him to take it easy.

"Whatever. Let's just get me to the fucking medic so we can be on our way."

"Fine," Danny sighs and leads Stiles to the main auditorium, flagging the nearest production assistant.

 

"Can we get a medic for Stiles? It's his knee, I think it needs to be checked," he says rapidly, sitting Stiles in one of the chairs near the stage.

 The guy nods and takes a few steps back, speaking into his earpiece. Danny returns his attention to Stiles.

 Great, he's fuming and avoiding his gaze. Danny can feel his own blood boil.

 "Look Stiles, I told you, when I care I mother. You'd rather have me not care? 'Cause I can leave you on your own if that's what you want."

 Yeah right, as if you could.

The words drop like a rock in Stiles' gut.

"N-no! No. Don't leave. It's just..." he sighs. "I'm already the youngest person here. I don't like feeling inept."

Danny sits down on the nearest seat. "You're not inept, don't say that. Injuries happen at any age. But you are too young to throw it all away by pushing yourself too far," he says softly.

 He plays with Stiles' fingers, very gently, as his nerves calm down. "And... I won't leave."

Stiles heaves a sigh of relief.

 

The medic comes, says the fluid build-up is the reason it keeps getting worse, and explains how to fix it.

An hour later and Stiles has had 20 ccs of fluid drawn from his knee, a cortisone injection, and a prescription for a low-level steroid to keep the fluid from backing up again.

"I fucking hate needles," Stiles grumbles. "Hate 'em."

Danny glances at Stiles' knee, already less swollen, and shrugs. "They get the job done though." He motions to the door. "Come on now, let's get you home. We'll get my car and we can get  your meds before seeing your dad."

 He hides a sigh, casually, as he leads Stiles outside and into the show's van. Could this day get any more stressful?

 Well there's always the little matter of your number tonight, your place in this competition. You forgot about that?

 Another sigh.

Stiles pulls Danny in for a kiss.

"Thank you for being here for me." Kiss. "I love you."

Danny frames Stiles' face in his hands and kisses him back. It works its magic, unknot his nerves, a little.

 "I love you too," he says.

 These words help too.

--

On the way to the restaurant, Stiles' phone goes off with "Hungry Like the Wolf."

"Hola, Alfa," Stiles says with a half-smile. "¿Como estás?"

"Muy bien, gracias. ¿y tú?"

"I'm good. Just got that fucking knee treated again, but I should be good for the show. ¿que pasa?"

"Guess who managed to get tickets to next week's live show?"

"No way."

 Danny's grip on his steering wheel might tighten significantly as Stiles talks to Derek.

 Former crush, remember. Emphasis on former.

 Except Stiles sounds fucking excited.

 Just drive, OK? He'll tell you what's it about.

 Derek laughs, deep and throaty. "Believe it, Little Red. Malia, Carlos, JD and I are coming next week. Miguel couldn't get off work, the triplets are in school over the summer, and Tonio is sick again."

"Still! Half the pack is coming... oh, I can't wait to see you. Introduce you to everyone."

 Great. Just fantastic.

He stares resolutely forward, threading carefully in the LA traffic and pulling into the restaurant's parking lot. He stops the car and listens to the dwindling engine. It's better than listening to Stiles’ conversation and freak out.

Not everyone stays away like you. Some have friends and want to see them. Now you can be a douche about it or you can be happy for Stiles. You can deal with your social anxiety issues later.

He smiles at Stiles while he finishes his phone call. Second option it is. After all, he always does the nice thing, doesn't he?

Stiles grins back. "God, I'm so excited now. I can't wait for everyone to meet the man I love."

He can't exactly return the sentiment but hearing Stiles call him this way does make him feel better.

 He takes a deep breath. "Let's meet your dad first."

 Yes. One test at the time.

"Deal."

 

Stiles kisses him quickly and they head inside. John is waiting for them, resplendent as ever in jeans and a Cornhuskers t-shirt.

"Dad!" Stiles hugs him immediately. "It's so good to see you."

John grins. "You too, kid." He looks at Danny and extends a hand. "You must be Danny. John Stilinski, pleased to meet you."

Danny shakes Sheriff Stilinski’s hand with a firm hand and as big a smile as he can make it.

“Likewise, sir.”

John Stilinski seems like the typical friendly father, happy weathered face and all. Except the lines around his eyes and mouth also testify of a nature used to command respect (and fear).

Danny holds the evaluating look of Stiles’ father for a few seconds, until he sees Stiles wobble as he tries to sit down.

His grip slacks and he brings his other hand to Stiles’ elbow, steadying him at the last second.

Stiles thanks him quietly.

John goes into worry-mode immediately. "Son, what's wrong?"

"My knee," Stiles admits with a resigned sigh. "It was weak, I twisted it, they removed 20ccs of fluid, gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed me a low-level steroid to keep it from happening again."

John's frown doesn't ease. "Do you need to take a week off? Or come home? You don't need to ruin your career for a show, Stiles."

"I know, I know. But the medic said I should be fine for the show, and he's going to talk to Nigel about us getting a less taxing number next week." He reaches across the table to squeeze his dad's fingers. "I'm going to be fine."

"If you're sure..."

"I am." Stiles smiles over at Danny. "Besides, I've got this one to worry over me like a mother hen. He's taken good care of me."

John turns his gaze on Danny. "Thank you for looking after my son."

Danny takes a seat and picks up the nearest menu, fiddling it to occupy his hands.

 "It's the least I could do," he replies casually. One look from the appetizers section and he catches Stiles' smiling gaze. "I might have gone a little overboard but I couldn't help it," he adds with a smile of his own.

 "I'm glad he has someone to take care of him at the show," John says with a soft smile. "I know he won't do it himself."

 Stiles sticks his tongue out, and John just laughs.

 "So, what's good here?"

 

They order, and Stiles can't help his frown when his dad orders the Meatlover's with extra meat, or what the fuck ever.

 "Dad, I know this is a special occasion, but couldn't you have chosen something a little less... i don't know, deadly? You aren't eighteen anymore."

 John laughs. "Don't I know it? But between the neighbors and JD, all I eat is rabbit food. So I want to eat like a person, sue me."

 "You're going to clog your arteries." 

 The glass of water in front of him becomes a very appropriate device for Danny to hide his chuckle. He takes a long sip and puts it down carefully. It's funny and then again it's not. Because this must be like any regular meal at the Stilinski house, and it clashes with what he grew up with. A too big table, Stef and him huddled at one end, with a twice reheated dinner because she's going to work late again but they waited a while anyway.

 His eyes darken but he doesn't let them for long. He can't, not while looking at Stiles all animated and happy, despite his visible annoyance at his dad. he ends up chuckling again while the Stilinskis debate the cholesterol content of pepperoni.

 "I know where Stiles get that feisty side I love." he drops.

 Stiles blushes. John, on the other hand, beams.

 "Damn straight, kid. He's a Stilinski, through and through."

 "I can see that."

 He takes a deep breath and looks around. No sign of their food yet, but he's not in need of a distraction so much anymore. John isn't scary. So far.

 It makes him a little bolder.                               

 "So, do I get the police interrogation right away?"

 He might want to dig himself into the floor right after he says it. because seriously, who actually asks for that?

John cracks up.

"Don't worry, I usually wait until the food comes to start grilling Stiles' dates. Makes any awkward pauses less awkward."

Stiles groans. "Christ, Dad, don't go saying shit like that."

"Hey. Language, mister."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Whatever, Dad. I'm not six anymore."

John turns his attention back to Danny. "Don't worry. I don't bite-- unless asked politely." He winks.

Stiles covers his ears. "Omigod, Dad."

"I'll go with Stiles on that one, oh my god," Danny laughs.


Fuck it feels good to be this easy, this free. The usual dampening voice in his head is even keeping quiet.

 It should be too early to tell but he feels accepted. When the food comes and he digs into his pasta primavera, he's not even worried.

 

"So, Danny... what is it you do, exactly? I mean, I know you dance, but what's your background?"

Danny makes his bite disappear quickly. "Hum, well dance-wise I study ballet, mostly, at the National Ballet school here in LA. I have a scholarship there." There is no way his mother would have paid, not for that degree.

 "I'm also a student at CSU, computer science. I'm a part-time geek." He shrugs. "That's pretty much all me, putting those two together doesn't leave much time for something else," he adds with a sip of his water.

"That's pretty ambitious," John says with an approving nod. "I'm sure your parents are proud."

Danny 's eyes go back to his plate. Penne is very interesting, OK? He shoves around a piece of zucchini with his fork for a second before replying.

"Jury's still out on that one."

Stiles squeezes Danny's knee under the table.

John nods once. "Well, that's too bad. I'll just have to be proud of both of you."

Stiles hasn't loved his Dad this much in a while.

He awkwardly get a hand under the table and grasps what he can of Stiles' hand. Fuck he loves him so much, and his dad is awesome.

"It's... Maybe I made it sound worse than it is. I mean, my mother is proud of me, I guess. Not of me pursuing dance or participating to this show but going to college, being independent... I've never met my dad so that part I don't know."

 He shakes his head with a little. "But thank you, Mr. Stilinski. I appreciate it."

 He traces a mindless pattern on Stiles' hand with his index. An affectionate drawing.

Stiles kisses his cheek, whispers "love you."

They return to their food. John catches Stiles up on all the latest drama from home.

 

The first lines of "Girls" blare in the quiet restaurant. Danny turns crimson and pulls out his very loud cell phone. "Sorry," he mutters and takes a couple of steps from the table.

 "What is it Lydia?" he answers roughly. How she got past his encrypted password is baffling.

 "You better get your ass and the rest of your person here, pronto. Jackson and half of the others are already cramming in last minute rehearsals and Talia is getting all frazzled, looking for everyone not here yet. It's showtime, apparently," she hisses nervously.

 He sighs and runs an impatient hand through his hair.

 "We're almost done eating, we'll be right there. Don't get all panicky and bitchy, OK?"

 "Screw you Danny, and get here fast. And if you gorged on meat and get all woozy and heavy so help me God I'll..."

 He hangs up before she can finish her threat.

 He goes back to Stiles and brushes his hand on his shoulder.

 "Duty calls," he says softly. "I'm sorry Mr. Stilinski but we have to go."

"No problem. I'll see you after the show."

Chapter Text

They fly back to the venue and Stiles goes straight to the dressing room. Cora throws his brace at his head.

"Get ready, bitch. Not that I'm making you rehearse, but the Sean wants you in makeup for your group number look."

"Ma'am, yes ma'am."

 

Lydia drags Danny to a corner of the stage as soon as he's in view.

"OK we have the routine down, the steps, everything. I need to know where your head is," she fires out, hair flicking around and eyes doing the same.

"I'm fine."

"Not gonna cut it. Travis told us to watch our communication. If we're not in synch, it'll show."

 "OK then, I'll communicate. I'm happy, OK? And you're not. And if you're doing this number in that spiteful mode you're in, we're bottom two, for sure. It isn't what the choreography is about."

 She sighs and sits down, smoothing out her short dress and glancing around. Danny rolls his eyes. Of course she's looking for him, again. He kneels at her side. "Look, you and Jackson have problems but think about the better times. Remember what you told me about him and how he was with you." He takes her hand gently. "It's not over. You don't want it to be over and trust me he doesn't either. Focus on that."

 She takes a trembling breath. "You're right," she tugs his hand. "Still, doesn't fit your mood, all in lovey and blissful."

 He chuckles and kisses her cheek. "Believe me, I can put myself in your situation more easily than you can." Not that he wants to think about it but you do what's necessary.

 "Sad but true."

 

Talia paces the backstage area furiously, yelling periodically. "Half an hour people, start getting into place!"

Cora sits on the make-up table as Nick finishes Stiles' make-up for the opener.

"You ready to do this, Stilinski?"

"More than ready."

They get into place for the opener-- an ethereal Stacey Tookey number with the Company all in white.

"We're live in three... two..."

"America, this... is So You Think You Can Dance."

Lights up.

 

Danny doesn't have time to panic, so he doesn't. He can't even wonder if he's getting used to the stage, the audience, the cameras and the heat of performing.

 He just flies through the number, held by the melody, lost in the movements so often repeated they have become second nature. He thanks Lydia and her obsession with practice, that reignited his own. He leaps, lifts his partners high and light. It's amazing and he barely realizes it when the routine is over.

 They're spread in a semi-circle, half of them spread on the floor, the others stretched upright, glorious.

 Danny looks down from his spot in the back row, to a beautifully posed Stiles. Perfect form, gorgeous smile, the light catching the specks of gold in his eyes.

 "I love you," he mouths, panting.

 He can't stop grinning. They're going to rock this thing.

 The moment they go to commercial break, pandemonium breaks loose.

 People rush back and forth getting changed into their "opening montage" look, hip-hoppers in hoodies, ballroom dancers in their favorite costumes, et cetera. Stiles and Isaac are both in shorts and tank tops, though Stiles' is red and Isaac's is blue.

 They take their spots in the wings and wait for Cat to introduce them.

 "Laura and Jackson... Jennifer and Ethan... Kate and Ennis..."

 Everyone goes out, does their snippet of a move, and moves to the side.

 "... Lydia and Danny..." Stiles barely has time to admire his boyfriend before-- "... Cora and Stiles..."

 They run out, Stiles flips Cora, and they take their places, grinning.

God, Stiles loves this.

 

Cat says, "America-- your top twenty!"

 A thrill goes down Stiles' spine. He's really here.

 

"As you know, no one is going home this week. It is up to you to decide who is safe next week. Vote for your favorite couples, lines open at the end of the show."

 They zoom in for a close up of Cat as she talks about National Dance Day, and the dancers clear the stage to get changed for their duets.

 Danny walks (runs) to his dressing room and comes back a couple of minutes later, at a slower pace. The tight green pants he wears are comfortable enough but the absence of any other clothes is less.

Lydia pulls off being ready before him and is deep in thought in front of a monitor.

 "He knows how to work it..." she says in an undertone, smoothing out imaginary rumples on the flimsy ruffles of her leotard.

 The montage for Laura and Jackson's segment is running, a well-dosed mix of seriousness and appropriate quips by Jackson. He's charming and focused. Damn it, he's going to win some serious following just with this part.

 It gets worse when the music starts and they see him dancing. Lydia fumbles to grab Danny's hand and, because of emotion or anger, he isn't sure, she grips it almost to the point of breaking it.

 Jackson delivers one hell of a performance, and Laura is stellar. "Cleaning Out My Closet" is put in moves he could have never guessed, and the number makes a bigger impact with the roles as they are played, Laura portraying the memories and abuse, with a dark air and serious steps, while Jackson tries to evade and fight her. He bears a surprising sensibility throughout the number and Danny feels his mouth go dry. That's a side of Jackson he didn't expect, and makes him an even bigger threat. Nothing worse than versatility.

 Meanwhile Lydia is fascinated and he has to shake her to make her take her place, since they're about to go.

 "Let's give him a run for his money," he tells her with a smile. He wishes he could be more convincing, and convinced.

 "Let's," she says softly, but her eyes are still fixed on the stage.

 Cat starts showing their montage.

 

"Danny and Lydia, then we stand out on the step for the fly-by, then a commercial break," Cora says quickly, smoothing out her dress. "We're on after the commercial and our montage."

 Stiles nods, removing the ice from his knee and rolling down his pant leg. "Let's go watch Danny and Lydia."

 They find a spot in the wings in view of the stage and a monitor.

 

In the dark, Danny holds Lydia by the waist, high above his head, her hands resting on his shoulders. She looks down at at him. "Only one chance to make a good first impression," she murmurs, arms as shaky as her voice.

 He chuckles and tightens his grip. "I won't mess up."

 "Let's see," she whispers with a smile.

 The notes are strung out, mournful, and Danny lets Lydia slide down his body. Her fingers rake through his hair gently and they stare deep into each other's eyes. He feels it this time, they're making it work.

 We might make out

When nobody's there

It's not that we're scared

It's just that it's delicate

 Their lips brush occasionally (he can hear the crowd react at it and he has to force his smiles away), they do the fleeting touches, the lifts that fade in height and strength. Telling the story of a stolen love that flies away with time. It's not an overly complicated number but each movement counts.

 The look on your face, it's delicate

 Danny runs his hand on Lydia's cheek and leaps away.

 As the music swells, they separate more and more, dancing further apart, Danny initiating a reunification that Lydia misses by twirling away. Lydia stepping closer to be missed by a turn at the last second. Each time the sorrow is painted more clearly on their faces and in their pleading hands, each other mistaking the other's intentions and refusals. Gestures, half-finished on purpose, hesitant. Heartbreaking.

 He's deep in thoughts about Stiles and their future as he dances, and from the look in Lydia's eyes she's doing the same with Jackson. They have their own story to tell. Maybe Danny has more hope but he remembers that fear, deep inside, that the other might just be messing around.

 Why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to you?

Why do you sing with me at all?

 The music ends and they're on opposite ends of the scene, casting resigned yet still a little hopeful looks at each other. Too far. Applause starts and they snap out of it, smiling broadly as they rush to each other's arms.

 "Finally, we did it!"

 Danny can only agree and hug her more tightly.

 

Stiles' heart breaks a little with every passing bar, but he snaps out of it to listen to the judges' reactions.

All good, of course.

Cat starts on the numbers and Talia shoves Cora and Stiles onto the steps for the pre-commercial shot.

Stiles pastes on his best smile, arm around Cora's waist as they mug for the camera.

"You're clear."

Stiles and Cora run backstage for final make-up and hair touch-ups. Stiles finds Danny.

"That was wonderful, babe."

Danny's breathless from exhilaration (he made, really made it, the emotion was there, everything!) but he manages to reply.

 "Thank you gorgeous," he whispers before hugging him even more fiercely than he did Lydia. "We worked so hard on this one and the mood was so crucial and so hard to get..." He breathes in. "I'm just glad we got it, at last."

 He smiles and cups Stiles' face. "Now it's your turn to kill it."

Stiles smiles and ducks in for a kiss. "Wish me luck."

Cora blows through, snagging his arm.

"Kiss your boyfriend on your own time, Stilinski."

Stiles winks back at Danny. "Oh, I intend to."

"Gross. Come on, time's almost up."

Danny chuckles and lets them pass. Lydia comes back from her dressing room and tosses him a sweater.

 "Before you catch something," she says. He nods and slips it on.

 "Thanks." He hadn't realized it but the sweat on his skin is turning colder by the second, as the rush fades. "So, relieved?"

 "Hell yeah." She stretches her arms and loops them around Danny's waist. "You were great," she says, resting her head on his arm. "I was amazing  but you really stepped it up."

"Wow, how gracious of  you."

 "Shut up and watch your man."

 He keeps her close and turns his eyes to the stage. Stiles looks amazing there, already. He owns it.

 

The music starts, and the practice takes over.

They fly across the stage, feet flying and grins blazing. Cora only kicks him once, and the flips are picture-perfect.

They're a hot, sweaty mess by the end of the number, but Stiles can't stop smiling. One glance at Cora shows she can't either.

The crowd goes bonkers, and it take Nigel almost a minute to shut them up.

Stiles thinks his face will split for grinning.

The judges are admiring, though Mary points out Cora's kick and a weak spot in one of the slides.

The moment they go to commercial, Cora whoops and throws herself at Stiles with a kiss, much to the crowd's delight.

"Okay, dork, come on."

He carries her offstage.

Danny flicks Cora's hair, messing up her do, before Stiles drops her on her feet.

 "You were fantastic, little guard dog, but you don't get to kiss my boyfriend, not even on your own time," he teases.

 His hand goes for Stiles'. "And you were amazing. How's the knee holding up?"

"It's great." Stiles fists his hands in Danny's sweater and hauls him in for a kiss. "Fuck we were fantastic! They loved us!"

Danny grins and pulls him again, gathers him in his arms. "How could they not?" he says quietly. Kisses him again because he can.

 

Yeah, they were fantastic. All of them.

 

He only steps away slightly when Kali and Aiden walks briskly by then, dead serious, to take their place on the stage.

"We're done til Cat's final monologue," Stiles says softly, playing with the hair at the back of Danny's neck. "Wanna make out?"

"More than you know," he hisses. He's still wired, and Stiles' touch doesn't help.

 Lydia, Cora, the myriad of crew members around disappear, in Danny's eyes at least. He grabs Stiles’ shirt and hauls him away. He needs a secluded place, now.

They find a broom closet (god the cliches) and Stiles presses Danny to the door.

Danny hooks Stiles with his foot behind Stiles' leg and brings him flush against his chest. Suddenly the sweater doesn't feel necessary, but time is lacking to get naked. Later.

 "Might be too early for celebratory make outs but I don't care," he whispers. He buries one impatient hand in Stiles' hair (it's ruined by the dancing anyway) and kisses him hungrily. It's not enough. His lips slide down and he starts nipping at the tense skin of Stiles' neck.

 "I love you so much."

Stiles tips his head to the side to give Danny room to work.

"Love you so much."

They make out for a while, until there's a sharp knock on the door.

"Five minutes, boys," Erica says with an audible smirk. "You'd best be presentable."

Stiles chuckles breathlessly, kissing Danny one more time.

"We're being summoned."

"And we're so not presentable..." Danny comments, running a thumb over Stiles' kiss-swollen bottom lip. He has blotchy red spots on his face and he figures he fares no better.

 He shrugs, arms still looped around Stiles' waist. "Whatever. It'll give the viewers something to talk about."

 Reluctantly he lets go, one hand popping the door open, the other sliding in Stiles'.

 

They join the rest of the contestants at the entrance of the stage. Most seem pleased, some disappointed (Allison and Scott wear unexpected frowns), all are sweaty and vibrating. Post-show glow. Danny doubts anyone wears it better than him and Stiles.

Cora fusses over his hair, smirking.

"Ho," she whispers.

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

"Love you."

"You too."

They swarm onstage to stand behind Cat for the final shots and dance around during the credits.

Week one, done.

Chapter Text

Jennifer leans over Danny's shoulder. "Hey, we're thinking about getting some alcohol and have a little private party at the house, you guys in?"

Danny hums. "Underage here Jen."

She grins. "No one will know and I'll keep the kids in check, I promise. Eldest and all... We have tomorrow morning off anyway, live a little."

He shrugs, glances at Stiles. Why not? " I guess we can do that." He tugs at Stiles' hand. "You wanna see your dad and we can join them after?" he wonders, worrying his lip between his teeth.

"Yeah, I mean, he came all the way out here to see me, so I want to actually, you know... see him." Stiles reaches up and gently eases Danny's lip from between his teeth with a slight smile.

Jennifer shrugs. "You can always just bring him along. We're allowed to have guests in the house."

Stiles nods. "Right, right. I'll ask him."

Danny’s eyes widen at the thought of the sheriff at what will undoubtedly turn into a drunken frat party of some kind. A short nod at Jennifer and he secures his grip on Stiles’ hand as he leads him towards the building’s exit. Given how cramped the backstage area is, he ends up following him, after too many bumps and runs into the crew.

 

“That was rude of me, I’m sorry,” he says in Stiles’ ear as they near the door. “We can hang out with your dad, we don’t have to go.”

He chews on his lip again. “I just want to be with you tonight, I don’t need to be with everyone else. Especially if they’re all in that ecstatic mood.”

Somehow the idea of a drunk and boasting Lydia isn’t tempting. God knows why.

Stiles leans over to brush a kiss over Danny's lips.

"We'll talk to Dad, go from there. They're bound to party til dawn anyway, we may get the best of both worlds."

 

The three of them end up at O'Grady's Pub, a pile of loaded nachos between them.

"You were great tonight, boys. All of ya."

“Thank you Mr. Stilinski. We did our best, I think. So far.” Danny replies, carefully selecting the chip with the most cheese on it. It’s a thing for him, nachos.

“It’s all in the hands of the viewers now, at least to know who are the one to beat.”

He munches thoughtfully. He’d rather not be the favorite. Not yet. Too much pressure then, too much to prove and try to keep. He glances sideways. Stiles could bear it though, strong as he is.

“Your son will be high on their list I bet.”

Stiles can't help his blush, cursing his fair coloring. John grins.

"I hope so." His smile softens. "He got his charm from his mother, along with his dancing. I'm just a prickly old bastard-- Claudia was always the one to win people over."

It's good to hear his dad speak about mom so easily. 

Danny sneaks one foot up, rubbing the side of it against Stiles' calf. Just in comfort.

"He's won plenty of people over in the house, the country is next. She must have been amazing if he takes after her."

John's smile is misty. "She was. She really was."

Stiles bites his lip to keep from doing something stupid like cry or launch himself across the table to hug his dad.

"I felt like she was watching," he says quietly. "I could almost hear her. 'Stand up straight, I taught you better than that.' "

He picks at the label on John's beer for something to do with his hands.

John doesn't stop him.

 

"Excuse me, I'll be right back," Danny says precipitously before basically fleeing the table. He turns a corner and leans against the wall in the corridor leading to the bathroom. 

Deep breaths Danny.

He bumps his head on the wall, a few times. Maybe it'll force sense into it. Like he should be going back. But Stiles and his father are having such an intimate moment and he's intruding, not really helping. He clasps his hands over his face, breathes through his fingers, eyes closed. It's also an issue of getting rid of that stupid, disgusting, inappropriate jealousy. How could he be jealous of Stiles' situation?

For fuck's sake his mother's dead.

He had one, I can't say the same.

He might be sick if that keeps on.

You're the worst.

 

Stiles gives Danny almost ten minutes before excusing himself and heading after him. He finds his boyfriend leaning against the wall in the hallway, shaking slightly.

"Danny? Are you okay?" Stupid question, of course he isn't okay! "Babe, what's wrong?"

"Nothing."

He wets his lips, cracks a parody of a smile. "Nothing worth mentioning anyway," he adds, his eyelids fluttering. He just needs a second, one more.      

With a push of the shoulder he stands up straight, eyes clearer, breaths more assured. His mind is still cloudy, the guilt and weirdness is lingering but he'll manage. He always does, with these things. He smiles at Stiles, more frankly. Who isn't duped.

He sags a little. "I just... I wanted to give you and your dad some privacy. It seemed like it was the time for that."

Stiles frowns, reaches for Danny. He thinks better of it and retracts before making contact.

"Are you sure?"

A small crack inside of him appears when he sees Stiles so close, so concerned. it widens enough to make him really hesitate, almost spilling his guts right then and there.

A time and a place for everything. You forgot this way too often already.

"Yeah," and he laces his fingers with Stiles’ to add some weight to a reply seriously lacking conviction.

Half a truth is better than a lie, and at least he's not burdening Stiles.

Stiles knows the look of unresolved angst, but he also knows there's a time and a place for everything.

He squeezes Danny's hand and kisses his temple.

"Okay."

 

Danny takes the first steps back, slowly.           

"How weird does your father think I am now?" 

Stiles chuckles. "No weirder than us. Which, to be perfectly honest, is pretty weird."

John has ordered a second plate of nachos by the time they get back, and he offers it to Danny silently.

His own move to comfort.

Danny nods silently and digs into the chips again. Better that than to burst into tears which, while it's not common for him, is a serious possibility.

He waits for one Stilinski to break the silence but neither seems inclined to do so and it's starting to get heavy for him.

He wipes his hand on a napkin and balls it up, rolls it on the table. "Should we do the embarrassing stories about Stiles or am I on the spot?" he asks, still looking down but trying for an upbeat tone.

John's grin is evil. "Has Stiles told you about his Abba phase?"

"Oh god, Dad, no! Not if you love me, no."

"We haven't taken that step, no." Danny grins back, and breathes easier. "Please share Mr. Stilinski.”       

"I feel this is gonna be good," he whispers to Stiles.

 

Stiles seriously considers the possibility of drowning himself in his Dr. Pepper.

"Well, Claud was always a fan of Abba, and so we had the music around the house. Stiles here drug it all out in middle school and learned all the words." John laughs. "You haven't lived til you've seen a skinny twelve-year old do Dancing Queen."

"I'd settle for seeing an 18 year old do it. What do you think Stiles, should I start dropping hints at the producers to give you a disco number? Or you'll ask them yourself?"

"Hell no," Stiles exclaims.

John leans over to Danny conspiratorially. "I have video."

"I have an email address," Danny replies with mock seriousness. They both look at an outraged Stiles and chuckle.

And damn it if that's not the best part of his whole day, joking with his boyfriend's father, as if he'd always been part of the family.

 

They stay at O'Grady's til almost one, laughing and talking and exchanging stories.

They walk out together, and John claps a hand on Danny's shoulder.

"You'll have to get me your email address, son," he says with a bray of a laugh. "Those videos are too great not to share."

"Sure I'll text it to you. I'll keep the sharing to a few chosen people, unless I feel like spending forever in the doghouse..." He winks at Stiles. The trials of the day seem insignificant, with Stiles' hand in his, John's (he isn't too fond of the "Mr. Stilinski" routine apparently) on his shoulder, Two different touches but equally heartwarming and he sports a smile easily now. 

He checks the time. "Ugh, the party must be in full swing by now." He's half-lamenting but actually he wouldn't mind some more excitement.

"You two go on. I'm perfectly capable of finding my hotel on my own." John pulls Stiles in for a hug. "I'm proud of you, son."

"Thanks, Dad. We still on for brunch?"

"Definitely. I'll see you both in the morning."

 

Stiles and Danny walk back to his car hand-in-hand.

"OK," Danny starts as he drives in the still busy streets of LA. "My guesses: Kali and Ennis are having hate sex, Jackson and Lydia are probably either fighting or crying in each other's arms at this point, Scott and Isaac are playing DDR or Twister with the twins and Laura, Jennifer, Kate and Erica are probably up on the tables by now and Cora is sulking in the corner, judging everyone. With Allison. The four others are trying to sleep." he adds.

He looks at Stiles with a cheeky smile. "If any of that is true, I get to bypass the whole thing, grab a bottle of tequila and lock us in our room, deal?"

Stiles grins.

"I'll take that bet."

Chapter Text

The house is brightly lit when they arrive and from outside they can hear music playing faintly (thank God, they don't need a noise complaint).

 

Once inside, Danny's hopes get cruelly crushed. He's got it all wrong.

 Kali, Allison, Cora and Heather are having an angry face-off, or rather dance-off, on a cleared out section of the living room.

 Boyd is presiding what looks like a contest to see who, between Laura, Jennifer, Erica and Isaac, can do shots in the most convoluted position (Isaac's winning).

 Jackson and Lydia are tangled together on a couch, asleep or passed out, it's unclear.

 Greenberg is playing ping-pong (very uncoordinated ping-pong) with Scott, against Morrell and Kate.

 Aiden and Ethan are playing mad scientists with two dozen bottles, liqueurs, vodka, juices, mixing at random.

 Ennis is actually sulking in the corner.

 

Danny casts Stiles a desperate look. "OK, you decide. Does Scott playing a game of ping-pong instead of DDR count? Or maybe Ennis sulking instead of Cora does? Or I lose and we join whichever group you want...”

Stiles doesn't say anything.

He simply drags Danny through the living room and snags a bottle of tequila from the pseudo-bar the twins set up. He thinks a second and grabs a solo cup full of limes and a salt shaker, handing them to Danny.

Stiles pulls him up the stairs, shoves him into their room, and locks the door behind himself.

 "I love how generous you are with bets..." Danny sneers as he stumbles in to the room. He regains his balance quickly  and goes back to the door, pinning Stiles to it with one hand.

Bottle and limes are quickly set up on the dresser. He fiddles a little longer with the salt shaker.

"I want you to know, I plan to lick this salt off of several interesting places on your body."

 With those words he ducks and runs an agile tongue along Stiles' collarbone.

 Stiles moans. His grin is lascivious.      

"Good plan," he pauses. "Lemme sit down first, before my fucking knee buckles."

 Danny pulls away at once, hands flying down to Stiles' hips, to guide him to bed. Part of him is in protective mode, the other, the one that can still taste Stiles on his tongue, is hurried and inclined to throw him on the covers. He takes a step back grabs the bottle and cup and helps Stiles to the bed.

He helps Stiles alright. In 20 seconds he's got him on the bed, got his shirt off and his own too. He's also already straddling him and unscrewing the bottle with his teeth.

 

Hot damn, Danny is hot like this.

"Hot damn, you're hot like this," Stiles says with a breathy laugh. "I like it when you get all demanding."

 Danny smirks. "It's not really my standard mode but," he takes the salt shaker and sprinkles a trail on Stiles' rapidly drying skin, "I can do it when needed."  

He bends down, collect the salt hungrily with a long and thorough swipe. Stiles' reaction makes him smile again and he sits back.

 "And appreciated," he finishes, taking a gulp of tequila. He winces and shivers, reaches for a lime and presents it to Stiles. "Your turn with a shot or you help me with that part too?"

 Stiles rolls them so that he's kneeling between Danny's knees. He licks a line between Danny's pecs and sprinkles the salt.

 "Here, hold this and hold still." He pops the lime wedge between Danny's lips and opens the tequila, pouring a shot's worth into Danny's belly-button.

 Stiles licks the salt, slurps up the tequila, and kisses Danny around the lime.

 

A thesaurus' worth of curse words goes through Danny's mind and he can barely breathe. His skin, the inches touched by Stiles' mouth and tongue, is prickly and ultra-sensitive.

 He moans, fists his hand in Stiles' hair and pulls him away, just far away enough to spit out the lime. He brings him back immediately after.

 "Wanna taste you properly," he mumbles before kissing him ravenously.

Stiles' mouth is a mix of bitter, tart and salty. Delicious.

 Stiles collapses, his weight pressing Danny into the bed.

 "You're so fucking beautiful," he whispers

 Danny kisses him again, and again, lacing whispers of his own between each.

 He slides from underneath Stiles, carefully, and with a hand on his back makes him fall flat on the bed.

 "I'm not done," he explains.

 One long lick along Stiles' spine and he salts him up. He greedily licks it off, adding a couple of bites and nips for good measure (the moles call for it). His fingers slide along the muscles in Stiles' back, make him arch under the soft touch. Perfect. He lets the tequila pour slowly, creating a small river with the incline of Stiles' body, and laps it up as it flows.

 Finally the lime is pressed, cold and fast, on Stiles' shoulder blades and sucked away in a flash.

 He buries his face in Stiles' neck and mouths aimlessly.

 "Your whole body is a fantastic," kiss, "tasty," kiss, "playground."

 Stiles' mind is on fire.

He ruts against the bed, his poor erection trapped in his jeans.

 "Fuck, please," he pants out, fists clenched in the covers.

 Danny stretches back up and feasts his eyes on Stiles contorting himself, cat-like, on the comforter.

 “So beautiful,” he marvels, admiring the muscles at play.

 

One palm presses to Stiles’ hip, sneaks forward and up to his chest, lifting him up so he’s kneeling in the process. The other hand infiltrates Stiles’ jeans, settles on his hipbone and brings Stiles’ back to Danny’s chest. The fingers tease just a little further than his hips. 

“Please what?” he asks directly in his ear, grinding ever so slightly.

 Stiles moans pitifully.

 "Please, fuck me. Suck me. Let me suck you. Lemme fuck you. Let us suck each other. Lemme... lemme... lemme get out of these fucking jeans, just please."

 "You have a lot of demands. Good thing we have all night.”

 He turns him in his arms and lays him back on the bed. His hands go to work, sliding down Stiles’ abs and fiddling with the buttons, his lips return to Stiles’ neck. He feels like Stiles’ entire skin is vibrating and his moans drive him wild, make him kiss with more intent and palm Stiles’ hardness more firmly. He still wants to play and makes a point of tasting Stiles’ skin with deliberate care and slowness.

 “Yes, the kid is eager...” he breathes out with a smile at the sight of Stiles' bucking hips.

 

"I'm not a kid anymore Danny, when will you see it and do something about it?"

 "I can't, Sean."

 "Can't or won't?"           

He paused. "Can't."

 Sean smiled. "I can work with can't."

 

He shouldn't have said that.

A louder whine from Stiles bring him back and he continues the tongue-slide down his abs.

 "You're not a kid though." He circles his erection over his underwear with one hand. "Definitely not. What should we begin with?"

 Stiles forces himself to think, clearing the haze from his eyes for only a moment.

 "I want you to suck me. And then I want to suck you. And then I want you to fuck me. Sound like a plan?"

 

" I know what I want, and I want you, Danny."

 "No Sean you don't, not really."

 

Danny lifts his head and looks across the planes of Stiles torso, to his flushed face and eyes dark with desire. Stiles does want him, all of him.

 "A perfect one," he replies. He chases the ghosts of his mind away with one more swig of tequila and hooks his thumbs in Stiles' underwear. He jerks it down and off, savoring the view for a couple of seconds before bending over and taking him in his mouth..

 Stiles fists a hand in Danny's hair, back arching and eyes rolling back.

"F-fuck, dont stop."

 Danny bobs his head carefully, letting Stiles dictate the rhythm with his thrusting and arching.

 His tongue chases along the length, with varying pressure and Danny smiles when he feels Stiles' cock throb stiffer.

 He lets it go for a second. "I'll have to. Can't have you come so soon and see your plan fall apart," he murmurs against burning skin. His mouth slides, he bites the tempting spot near Stiles' hipbone before moving on to his happy trail. Which he explores thoroughly, up and down.

"What was that second part again?" 

"S-second part..." Stiles scrambles for what's left of his mind. "Second part, right. I get to suck you."

He flips them and strips Danny out of his jeans. He spreads his legs to fit between them and starts kissing and biting Danny's inner thighs.

 It's Danny's turn to moan and curse. He knows Stiles' mouth inside and out by now but he's still amazed by its prowess.

 His hands hesitate between enjoying Stiles' skin or just grabbing his head and bring him to his cock.

 "Not so eager now?" he pants out. More, more of him and his touch. A thought strikes him and he chuckles breathlessly. "By the way, I never got my prize for that other bet..."

 Stiles smirks, laving his tongue over one rather spectacular hickey. "That's right..."

 He helps Danny flip over, settling his hips over a pillow and nipping at the smooth skin of his ass.

 Goosebumps flaring all over his skin, Danny squirms against the pillow. Bad idea, it's an almost unbearably good friction on his straining cock.

 "You're driving me crazy..." he moans. "Please, get on with it..." 

 Stiles chuckles deep in his chest, hands spreading the globes of Danny's ass. He presses a sloppy wet kiss directly over Danny's hole and licks from his balls to the small of his back.

 Danny keels and his head drops in the pile of blankets.

 “Oh God, oh God, oh God.”

 His chanting is muffled by the covers but his physical reaction speaks loud and clear as he ruts against the bed, both chasing the friction and opening himself more to Stiles.

 Stiles can't help his chuckle.

"So eager, babe."

He presses a kiss to each of the dimples above Danny's tailbone before diving back in. Stiles licks and nips and works his tongue at his hole, holding Danny's hips still under him.

 Damn it, Stiles is relentless. Waves of hot and hotter pleasure rush through Danny and his mind gets flooded, too early.

"Fuuuuuck," he hisses, almost biting the blankets. He tries to squirm away but Stiles' hold is strong and steady, his tongue never stops... That tiny jerk against fabric is enough to send him flying over the edge and he comes, pulsing against the bed and Stiles' name, along with a few more fucks, on his lips.

 Stiles rests his cheek on Danny's lower back as he ruts against the bed once, twice, three times more. He comes with a whimper, hips twitching and gaze blurring.

When he gathers himself, he gets Danny cleaned up and tucked into the second bed.

 "Damn, that was amazing," Danny says lazily as he slides further into the covers. He relishes in the freshness of the sheets for a few seconds before moving on.

 "Raincheck on the last step of you plan?" He chuckles. "I think I underestimated how talented you are with that tongue."

Stiles crawls into bed and curls around Danny.

"Definite raincheck." He yawns, presses a kiss to Danny's cheek. "Love you."

 Danny turns his head and gives him a proper, lingering kiss. "I love you too."

 He wraps himself in a comfortable mix of sheets and Stiles. Bliss.

 He's half-asleep when a random thought pops in his head. "I wonder who's gonna be the most hungover tomorrow. Bet you it's Jen," he mumbles.

 Bets with Stiles work well for him.

 --

 Jen is indeed the most hungover.

 Stiles repays that bet by pulling Danny into a hall closet during rehearsals on Thursday and sucking his brain out through his dick.

 (Dancing with an erection is painful.)

Chapter Text

"Okay you two, here's my vision," Mia Michaels says, sitting them down on the floor with her. "Your characters come from two very different backgrounds. Stiles, you have some darkness in your past, some ghosts that still haunt you, and Cora knows that. You don't want to let yourself love him, Cora, but he keeps reeling you in."

Cora and Stiles exchange a look.          

"This number really relies on your connection as dancers, on the feelings you express." Mia claps once. "Okay, let's get started."

 

--

Stiles and Cora spend every spare moment together, to the point of absurdity. The dance is complicated as well as emotionally taxing, and they need all the rehearsal they can get.

"We should ask someone for their opinion," Cora says Sunday afternoon after another two hour session alone in studio B. "We won't see Mia til tomorrow, but we need fresh eyes on this."

"Who should we ask?"

Cora shrugs. "Danny and Lydia? He has a good eye for emotion and she has a good eye for technique."

Stiles can't deny that she's right, as much as he wants to. He's been avoiding showing Danny this number.

"Okay. I'll ask him."

 

 

 

"Ow! Danny, you know, stepping loses all its appeal when you do it on my foot!" 

Lydia hops away, one foot daintily touching the ground. She sits on the floor and massages her toes with one hand. "You have to watch your distance, you're becoming dangerous," she says somberly.

Danny's shoulders slack and he slumps down in another corner of the studio. "Yeah well you have the energy of a slug so... We all have our problems."

"Real mature Danny. Do I need to remind you that we can actually be eliminated this week? Can we please do this without the bickering?" She gestures towards the door, closed for now. "We're alone but when they are here, keep it in check. I don't want to be branded the bitch of the season."

"Like you could avoid that title," he mutters.

Her head jerks up. "I heard that," she hisses, her eyes dark and cold. She gets up, tries a couple of steps. Much better already. "What's up with you anyway? I mean, you're always snappy but these past couple of days, more so."

He runs his hand over his face, through his hair. "I don't know. Not much sleep, not for those reasons," he clarifies, killing her knowing smirk, "and Stiles is... I don't know. Different."

She pouts but shakes it off and walks up to him. "Join the club then. I'm sorry. But try to keep it out of the number, OK?"

He stares at her and she yields, shaking her head. "And I'll try to be more upbeat."

He offers her a small smile and jumps back to his feet. His phone buzzes before he can suggest they resume practice. A new text from Stiles.

"Speak of the devil," he says as he unlocks the screen.

 

 

"They're on their way up."

Cora looks up at him from her place sprawled on the floor. "What'd you say?"

"Just 'we need a fresh set of eyes. Can you and Lydia come critique us?'" Stiles shrugs. "It's the truth."

Cora nods. "Think you can handle this? I mean..."

Stiles stops her. "Cora, this is just a number. He'll understand."

 

 

Danny has to drag Lydia to Stiles' rehearsal room. Literally, he pulls her by the hand the whole way there. He has to suck up to make her move a little faster.       

"Come on Lyds, something different than this hip-hop thump thump thump is welcome. I need a break anyway, my thighs are killing me." Constant squatting takes its toll even on top-shape dancers and he winces when he attacks the stairs. Afterburn, not the good kind either. 

"I thought you'd jump at the opportunity to check out the competition."

She shrugs and jerks her hand away. "It's less fun when they ask you to do it."

Danny winks and knocks once on the door left ajar before entering. He seeks Stiles' eyes right away and gives him an encouraging smile. "So gorgeous, you have something to show me, let's see it."

 

 

Stiles can't help but smile back. Danny is just so warm...

Cora stands and adjusts the skirt she had to borrow from Laura to practice in. (Her costume is beautiful yet cumbersome, she needed the work.)

"Okay, let's do this shit."

 

Stiles starts the track, Paramore's I Caught Myself, and they take their places. The intro is spent in a simple waltz-step, and Stiles pulls her even closer when the verse starts. Cora pushes him away, dancing off with her head in her hands. They drift together and apart through the number, with Stiles chasing Cora the entire time.

 

The moments together are heated, hands all over, zero personal space.  

The moments apart are dark, pained.

 

They end with Cora's legs wrapped around Stiles' waist, his hands on her ass as she struggles those last clashing moments.

 

 

Danny lets Lydia start. She can give cool-headed comments at the moment, he can't.

She gives the usual accolades, celebrates Stiles' flexibility and Cora's rhythm. They need to watch their lifts, one was too hurried and had Stiles scrambling for a good grip, and the final spin lacked balance. Otherwise the emotion was palpable and the number effective That's it.

It's Danny's turn, he can feel all eyes on him, expectant.

Danny clears his throat and smiles, feebly but he pushes it to be genuine, as paradoxical as it is. "What Lydia said, basically. I think you're well on your way with this routine. Maybe check your expressions Cora? You come off a little too intense sometimes, it's distracting. And Stiles, well you were pretty much on point throughout. A bit lost in thought here and there but nothing major."

He can't bring himself to say anything about their sizzling, ever-growing chemistry. The room is still buzzing from it. He wouldn't be able to praise it without giving himself away, besides something in Stiles' face, a particular nervousness, tells him his boyfriend is aware of it.

You have nothing to worry about.

He fears he'll have to tell himself that over and over again.

 

 

Cora is first to speak.

"Right, I thought we rushed that lift," she says with a nod to Lydia. "And I'll work on the intensity."

"The spin was my fault. I wonked up my balance when I picked her up," Stiles says quietly.

Cora pokes him in the ribs. "And you need to focus, Stilinski. You flub that lift again and we're both going down."

"Oh, bite me."

She snaps her teeth at him playfully.

 

 

Just kill me, now.

Lydia is both oblivious and of no help. She just asks if anything more is needed from her and when they tell her no she leaves, saying something about a snack over her shoulder on her way out. Danny is left on his own, a tight smile on his lips and a pit in his stomach. Along with the urge to change the subject.

"You lucked out on the style, getting contemporary. I'd exchange hip-hop for anything else, if just to have Lydia be more enthusiastic about our number."

"Princess doesn't see the beauty in the style," Cora drawls. "I'm not surprised."

Stiles elbows her. "Be nice. We aren't all hip hop hardasses like you are."

"It's a damn shame." Cora shucks her skirt and pulls on a pair of men's sweatpants she borrowed from the laundry room. "I'm gonna grab some food. Don’t hurt yourself while I'm gone."

She saunters out.

And then there were two.

 

 

Stiles rubs the back of his neck nervously. "So, any private notes?" 

He takes a deep breath. He's going to regret it but he can't not answer Stiles, not when he's asking him directly and looks so anxious for a reply.

"You two only get better with time. And together. You have that... Positive tension," he admits.

That's a way to put it. A safe way.

Stiles' smile is brittle.

"Positive tension. I've never heard it put that way." He bites his lip, whispers, "I miss you. We share a bed and I miss you."

 

The air grows cold and bitter, and Danny can't look at him anymore. He sighs.

"I'm right here Stiles."

A pause. "Maybe you feel this way because you aren't, not entirely."

 

 

It hits Stiles like a fist to the chest, knocking the wind out of him.


He's right.        

You did this to Stasia too, you know. 

Pushing her away in the name of your dance career.

Just when you thought you learned.

"I fucked up," he gasps out between shaky inhalations. "I fucked up."

 

 

Danny's breathing speeds up. He's got it wrong. It's not what Stiles might do. It's what he's already done.

"How badly?" he asks in a ragged whisper.

 

"I don't... I don't know," Stiles says weakly. "I never realize what's happening until it's too late. Is it too late?"

Stiles shakes his head.

"Don't answer that."

He starts to pace, muttering to himself.

"I always do this, I always fucking do this. Why didn't I learn with Stasia? Pushing people away... people need people, isn't that how it goes? Fuck."

 

 

Danny, a little stunned, watches him walk around.

At least he didn't fuck her.

He frowns. Wow, classy there Danny. Regardless of the truth of that statement, there are more important things, like Stiles' showing the first signs of a panic attack (maybe).

He walks up to Stiles, stops him with a hand soft on his forearm. "It's not too late, of course it isn't."

 If he pulled away it's for a reason. A good one, probably. 

"But it's not about what people, or I, need, it's about what you want."

 

 

"You don't get it," Stiles yells. He closes his eyes, forces himself to calm down some.

"You don't get it," he says softly. "I always do this. I always push people away for my career. And I promised myself I wouldn't do it again."

 

 

Danny recoils when Stiles screams, comes back when he doesn't. Another type of dance. Except he doesn't touch him this time.

"You're not the only one who has given up people for dancing'" Danny says, leaning against the wall. "I do get it. But I'm not asking about what you do, I'm asking if that's what you want."

If you ask him that, you know what his answer will be. You know it, you’d give the same one.

He stills his breathing, his heart. "I... Don't you think that maybe you keep doing this because, deep down, you do care about your career more? Don't you think maybe it is what you want?"

 "I don't know." Stiles runs his hands through his hair. "I don't know."

Suddenly, he realizes what Danny is really saying.

"Do you think we should break up? Focus on the competition?" Stop pretending?

 

"No. I just think you should do what's makes you the happiest. If this isn't me, us, but the competition and dancing, yes, well..." He can't say it. He keeps his eyes on the floor, steady. Blurry.

 Fuck, I love him.

You don't (didn't) deserve him. And you should have known better than to trust whatever happens in a setting like this. He's not even that affected by it. You probably built the whole thing up in your head.

 

"I don't know.” 

Stiles slides down the mirror to sit with his head in his hands.

I love him.

But this is your dream.

But I love him.

But can you really give this up for him?

Why can't I have both?

 

 

"I don't know." That's the gentler, more polite version, isn't it?

"I think you do," Danny whispers. Damn his voice is getting hoarser by the second. He clears his throat, shuffles his feet around. Tries not to look at Stiles, again. "It's OK, we tried, didn't we?" he says with a passably normal voice.

You aren't fighting very hard for him.      

He wants out. I'll be better if I let him go before he does.

You sure about that?

He has thousands of needles in his throat by now.

 

If he's letting you go this easily...

No, dammit!

"Danny, wait--"

 

Danny stops, a foot out the door.

Get out. It'll hurt less now than later.

Stiles' voice, his tone, makes him doubt. Hope, which is a very dangerous thing to do. He turns around. What's the harm?

You're a fool.

"What?"

 

Stiles stands.

"Why do I have to choose between you and dance?"

 Danny stares back, confused. "I don't know. Why do you keep doing it?"

His face falls when he hears the words come out of his mouth, sharp and terrible. "It's not what I meant," he adds rapidly. He takes a few steps back inside. "Don't you feel this is what you'll end up doing anyway? Why would we have it all, when it's never been the case before?"

 

Because I love you.

Stiles can't make his mouth form the words. "Maybe... maybe you're right. Maybe this was inevitable."

 

Was inevitable. As in done, over with, signed sealed, delivered. Gone.

You should have left.

Now he stands, burned again. He sighs, walks up to Stiles. It's become an instinct: one hand on his hip, firm, the other cupping his jaw.

"Maybe," he repeats, eyes bright with tears. "I'll see you around Stiles," he murmurs before kissing him, one last time.

 

If he's already burned, he might as well set himself on fire with this farewell move.

 

 

Cora finds Stiles curled up in the corner of the studio, silent tears streaming down his cheeks.

She doesn't ask questions, just sits on the floor beside him and lets him cry into her shoulder.

She rubs his back gently and plots to kill Mahealani.

 

 

Don't fall apart, don't fall apart, don't fall apart. Each step down the stairs Danny repeats it in his head.

 "Come on Lydia, break's over, let's get back," he says as he enters the kitchen. Although his legs threaten to buckle at any moment, he has to keep it up. After what he gave up for it.  

She looks up from her book and takes a long sip form her juice, eyeing him.

"What took you so long? Make out session, again?"

His chest seizes up and he shrugs. "No, break-up one." Fuck saying it makes him want to throw up.

Lydia's eyes widen and she rushes to his side. "Are you fucking with me? You guys are in love, real one, you don't just break up like that out of nowhere."

"Like you and Jackson didn't do the same..."

She slaps him. "Stop it!" she yells. "Stop comparing Stiles and you to us, or using us as a fucking template. First of all, we didn't break up. Not yet. Second of all, you two are... You're the ones who are going to make the distance, everyone thinks so. Knows so," she adds.

He looks at her, hurt audible in every word. "Not over this competition. He's made his choice, so I let him go."

She sighs, wraps her arms around him (she still slaps him lightly on the back, for good measure). "You're a dumbass Danny. He loves you. Competition or not, that remains a fact and it's the most important one. You'll see."

 

I love you. Holy shit, I love you.

Don't. Don't think about it. It's over.

 

 

"You ready to talk?" Cora murmurs after a while, carding her fingers through Stiles' hair.

"I've been pushing him away, focusing entirely on dance." Stiles clears his throat. "He said to make the choice, him or dance."

"You chose dance." It isn't a question.

"H-he let me go so easily," Stiles says. "Dance has always been there for me."

Cora hums. "I understand."

"I love him, Cora." His voice is small, pathetic. Broken.

"I know, baby. I know."

Chapter Text

Danny wakes up with a gasp, drenched in a sweat. The room is still pitch black, Jackson's sleeping form in the other bed barely discernible. He grabs a couple of tissues to wipe his face, with trembling hands, while fragments of his nightmare come back to him.

 

The final show, last performance. He keeps ending up at the top of the list. Stiles dances, never stops. Keeps falling, breaking. Then it's the result show too, Stiles more and more in the darkness of the backstage. And he's so close, the title is right there, everyone's applauding, his mother looks so proud... And Ethan gets crowned. And he looks back and Stiles was never there.

 

The bed is cold, lonely. His entire body aches, his mind is not doing any better. He gets up, puts on some sweats and silently leaves the room. His room again now, not just Jackson's.

Like every night since (say it) the break-up, his steps lead him 3 rooms down the corridor. He sits on the floor, against the wall facing Stiles' door. It's the closest thing to home.

 Just don't fall asleep, OK?

 

Stiles wakes at two am the night before the show, certain he heard a bump in the hall.

Cora reels him back in. "Just a dream. Go to sleep."

He does, reluctantly, head on Cora's chest like it has been every night since... well, since.

Stiles just doesn't want to sleep alone.

 

"Danny?"

Jackson squats next to Danny, slumped on the floor, and shakes him gently.

" Come on Danny, wake up."

Groggy, a shooting pain in his neck, Danny wakes up. "Jackson?" he asks as he rubs the (kind of) sleep away from his face, voice hoarse.

"Yeah. Come on man, breakfast. It'll make up for another night on the floor."

Danny glances at Stiles' door, still closed thank God, and gets up with some difficulty. Jackson is nice enough to not comment on the embarrassing setup, or on Danny's flustered state. The get to the kitchen, deserted for now. Coffee, toasts and cereal are prepared in silence but Jackson can't not ask, not after finding his roommate in the hallway.

 

"Are you sure this was the right choice?"

Danny swirls the spoon in his lukewarm coffee. "I prefer to dump than be dumped. I'll manage. And I didn't choose, he did, I just made it easier for him."

Jackson looks down. "But not for you. You still love him."         

Danny doesn't reply.

"Will you be OK for tonight?"

"Yeah, I will. I don't have a choice there either."

 

People trickle in to the kitchen as the morning moves on. Laura pulls her sister in for a hug when she appears in the doorway.

"Morning, sis." She pauses, brow wrinkled, and sniffs Cora's neck. "Why do you smell like Stiles?"

Cora shrugs. "I dunno. We're partners?"

"No, you smell like his bodywash," Laura insists. "He's the only one in the house who uses Axe Phoenix."

Cora's gaze flicks to Danny. "I don't know, Laur. I think you're losing it."

Jackson's stare might be shifting from Cora to Danny, heavy with worry, but Danny refuses to acknowledge it. His breakfast is the only thing that has his attention. 

Really? You know, maybe they were fucking while you were outside his door. Maybe they showered together, like you used to.       

He takes a sip of his second, very hot coffee and sure, that's why his face is a little flushed.

Although you can say that he doesn't owe you a mourning period out of respect, since you dumped him. Or maybe he didn't even need one. Maybe it's not just dance that he loves more. She's a perfect fit for him.

No, he won't look up.

 

Stiles limps downstairs after his shower, cursing the timing of the low-pressure front. He's like a little old man whose joints act up when it's about to rain.

He heads straight for the coffee maker, and he's halfway through the first cup of many (he hasn't

been sleeping well) when he realizes he's being stared at.

"What the hell, you guys?"

Jackson stands up, pushes the stool away.

"Jackson, don't," Danny says under his breath, head still down. Just hearing Stiles is bad enough.

"Danny, man..." Jackson whispers, his fists balled up and angry by his side.

Danny shakes his head, gets up. "Then I'm not staying here for this," he says softly. He finally glances up where everyone's looking. Damn it, Stiles is still so gorgeous. Why would that have changed though? He takes notice of the brace on Stiles' knee. He smiles, a pathetic, small one, and speaks over the knot in his throat.

"Hope the knee gets better before tonight," he says as he leaves the kitchen.

Jackson's eyes follow him before returning, accusingly, to Stiles. "Can you keep it your pants for a while, Stilinski? I don't know, wait a week before parading your girlfriend in his face?"

"What the-- do you know something I don't, Whittemore? I don't have a fucking girlfriend." Stiles sets his mug on the counter and crosses his arms.

Cora sighs. "I smell like your bodywash, they jumped to conclusions."

Jackson snorts. "Bodywash, you guys are attached at the hip and more, and don't think I haven't seen you sneak into his room every fucking night, Cora. Sure, it's such a stretch..."

Cora bristles, and is probably about to rip Jackson's face off, but Stiles stops her.

"Did you know that I have diagnosable anxiety, Jackson? Or ADHD? Or flat-out insomnia? Because, let me tell you, I don't sleep well normally, let alone when I feel like a piece of me is missing." He stands, steps into Jackson's personal space. "Cora is my friend. I realize this may be a foreign concept to you. But she has been spending nights in my room, yes, because I can't sleep alone right now. So back the fuck off with your judgement, because you don't know shit about me."

Jackson's face crumbles for a second but his walls come back up as soon as he takes a deep breath. "Fine," he sneers. "You do your little therapy."      

He backs away, slowly. His eyes harden. "But don't flaunt it. He won't say it but it's killing him, just seeing you, and with her it's worse." He stops, shrugs. "Or explain it to him but in that case I want to be there. Because whatever you think, I know how to be a friend and I won't let you hurt him."

"Hurting him is the last thing I want to do, Jackson. I know you don't want to believe that, but it's true."

Stiles grabs his coffee and heads back out of the kitchen before anyone can stop him.

 

 

Cora stands, turns to Jackson. "I hope you realize that he loves him. Both of them fucked up, okay, and us battling it out over them won't fix this shit." 

"Someone has to do something." Jackson sits back down, shoulders slumping. "I mean, Lydia tells me he's completely out of it at rehearsal and he's not doing better during the down time. I'm just looking out for him."

He picks at the last of his breakfast, chuckling bitterly. "And of course he refuses to admit anything, he doesn't want to burden anyone, etc." He picks up the half-emptied plates and cups and starts clearing them out. 

"I know he does, by the way," he tells Cora over his shoulder. "What I don't know is how we're supposed to fix it. Because they clearly won't, those dumbasses."

Cora helps Jackson gather dishes.

"Look, Stiles said they broke up because Danny made him choose between him and dance. I don't know how much of that is bullshit, but I do know Stiles wanted Danny to fight him for it more."

Jackson' brow furrows. He puts the cup he’s holding in the dishwasher, slowly.

"Danny didn't make him choose. He gave Stiles the out he wanted. That's why he didn't fight it."

Cora groans. "The idiots. They didn't fucking communicate."

"Idiots," Jackson agrees. He leans against the counter. "Will they listen now? Danny's pretty closed off, resigned about it." He smiles. "Kind of a silent, sulking drama queen in a way."

Cora hops onto the island, feet swinging. "I don't know. Stiles is pretty torn up. Won't talk about it further, which is weird. You know how talkative Stiles gets."

She shrugs. "His friends are coming into town-- Derek, Carlos, JD, Malia. Maybe they can talk some sense into him."

Jackson nods. "Maybe. They must know him better than we do. I'll get Lydia on Danny's case. She can make anyone talk. Believe me."

"Until then, we just have to get them to focus on the competition. I'm not letting him get bottom three just because of relationship drama."

"Oh trust me, that won't happen. With you and Lydia, not a chance these two will slack off." He closes the dishwasher and starts it, letting the sound cover the silence for a few seconds. "You might have to work on morale though."

He looks at the lithe girl on the counter and smirks. "You're alright, Cora. Sorry about the judgment earlier." He winks at her and leaves the kitchen, heading for Lydia's room. She will need a debrief.

 

 

Cora throws together a sandwich, pours another cup of coffee, and heads up to studio b. As she guessed, Stiles is still stretching, trying to get his knee back in order. 

"I brought you food, and more coffee," she says as she walks in. "You can take a long enough break to eat them."

Stiles half-smiles, though it doesn't reach his eyes. "Thanks, Cor. I owe you one."

 

 

Jackson has a chat with Lydia that lasts longer than intended (she had some pre-show stress that needed relieving) and Jackson rushes to get to practice with Laura. Their jazz number still needs tweaking.

Lydia finds Danny staring off the distance in the middle of a leg stretch. A slap behind the head, a monologue about how far they've come and a castration threat later, they're back at rehearsing.

Danny fakes the emotion throughout the routine, well enough so it can pass for genuine. Lydia keeps sizing him up.

"What?" he asks, interrupting his footwork.

"Nothing," she says quickly, looking away.

She stays with the beat, doesn't miss a step. "You pretend. Quite. Nicely," she continues, a little breathless. The music ends and she stomps the last move, with perfect poise. "Make it work like that tonight so we don’t end up at the bottom. Then we'll have a little conversation about you, Stiles and your collective stupidity."

"I don't want to talk about this Lydia."

"Oh honey, you don't have a choice."

He stares at her and her infuriating, knowing smile.

"Guys they're loading up the vans for dress rehearsal, gather your things!" Scott yells as he passes the studio. Lydia's grin widens and she turns away to pick up her bag.

Danny can only sigh and copy her.

 

--

 

The line-up:

Opener. Group number. Commercial. Cast intro "solos." Bottom six announcement. Solos for the members of the bottom six the judges select. Commercial. Greenberg and Morrell's Bollywood number. Jackson and Laura's Jazz number. Commercial. Ethan and Jennifer's Cha-cha. Boyd and Heather's Rumba. Commercial. Danny and Lydia's step number. Aiden and Erica's salsa. Commercial. Stiles and Cora's contemporary piece. Ennis and Kate's Jive. Commercial. Isaac and Kali's Broadway number. Scott and Allison's Swing number. Commercial. Two sent home. Montages. End of show hugs.

Stiles and Cora are comfortably in the middle.

Grand Dress goes well, considering. Stiles does his damnedest to look like absolutely nothing at all is going on in his personal life, throwing himself into the number.

 

 

From Stef: I voted like crazy for you, spared a couple of votes for Stiles too. Good luck bro and make me proud!

From Stef: Maybe a surprise for you next week. I'll tell you soon.

From Stef: It's a good one, I promise.

His sister's texts come in at the right time, when the final touches are put to his make-up and costume for the group number. An uppity homage to Grease, fitting for a week full of joyous numbers but not for Danny's mood. The words of support help.

To Stef: Thanks little sis. I'll do my best. Looking forward to that surprise.

I'll need one.

Lydia's words and his sister’s remind him of the task at hand.

You came here for a reason. Prove it.

Dancing alongside Stiles will be difficult but all he has left is his place on the show. So better start worrying about the number, and the bottom six.

 

From JD: Dont fuck this up bitch.

From JD: You got this. We believe in you.

Stiles leans into the mirror to fix his drop-curl and his blood-shot eyes stare back at him.

You can't do this. You can't even sleep, how the hell are you supposed to dance?

He shakes it off. He can do this.

He's done more with less.         

 


Cat makes the intro with her usual cheerfulness, Danny struggles to pay attention to the cues. The group number comes and goes and he has no recollection of it.

Lydia shakes him during commercial in an effort to snap him out of it. No more smiles from her.

It's one thing saying he's concentrating back on the competition and actually doing it.

Intros go a little better, he puts the energy in it and not so much on everything else. Lydia sends him a relieved smile from her side of the stage.

He even manages to not mind so much that he only has Boyd between Stiles and him. They join the girls for the bottom six announcement and that brings him back to reality, fully.

Greenberg and Morrell. Ennis and Kate.

Stiles and Cora. 

He can't look at him. Can't breathe either.

You're safe, relax.

I don't want him to go.

He's not yours anymore, who cares.

I do. He can't be eliminated, this is everything to him.

 

 

"Bottom six."  

"Bottom six."

"Bottom six."

Stiles' heart is pounding arrhythmically in his chest as the words sink in.

I'm not good enough.

Bottom six.

Not good enough.

He shakes them off, squeezing Cora's hand tightly.

The judges want everyone to solo, want to see everyone dance again. And then his and Cora's number is perfect.

There's no way he's going home.

Right? Right.

 

Greenberg dances. Morrell. Ennis.

Christ he's almost up.

Kate dances, but she isn't her usual confident self. Maybe her age is finally sinking in?

Shit. Shit shit shit.

Stiles is next. 

 

He's panicking. He's having a panic attack. He won't make it.

Not your problem anymore.

Fuck you. It's not like I don't love him anymore.

Danny moves away from Lydia's side and runs the short distance to Stiles, who's trembling at the stage's entrance.

His fingers graze the back of Stiles' upper arm. "You can do this. Remember? You'll win this, I still believe it," he whispers.

 

Danny's words penetrate the haze in Stiles' mind, and pulls him back into focus.

Danny still believes in me.

I can do this.

Stiles barely has time to whisper a "Thank you" before he has to take his place. 

 

His music starts-- Ke$ha's deconstructed "Die Young"-- and throws himself into the solo.

Every step is perfect, from his first port de bras to his final (quadruple) pirouette is perfect, and he allows himself to show his feelings for just the barest of moments. 

 

Danny's eyes never stray from Stiles as he watches him dance his life off. It's painful, seeing him so desperate, yet it warms him to see Stiles so passionate, talented. Destined for greatness.

He's meant for this. He made the  right choice. This is the real Stiles.

This is also the Stiles he fell in love with. He steps back, in the shadows, when the applause and accolades start. Soon he'll be backstage, near him.

He knows Stiles is safe from elimination but it hurts. Success for Stiles comes at a price for him.

 

Stiles walks offstage shaking. His teeth are rattling, he's shaking so bad.

What if it wasn't good enough? You were in the bottom, after all.

 

Danny can't stop himself. His hand shoots out and he grabs Stiles. "You were amazing."

He can't let go, not when Stiles is still so unsure. His fingers curl around Stiles' wrist. "The best you've ever been."

Stiles stares at Danny's hand on his wrist, surprised.

"R-really? Because my second flip was shaky, and my knee wobbled on the pique, and--"

"None of it I could notice, and neither could the judges. You were perfect." 

He can feel Stiles' pulse, a flutter under the pads of his fingers. Steadying into a more normal rhythm.

Stiles forces himself to take a deep breath. Some of the tension at the base of his spine unwinds.

"Thank you. I trust your appraisal."

"You should. And everyone will agree with me."

He lets go, reluctantly, but it's time. Stiles is fine and he isn't, more with each second he's touching him.

He clears his throat. "Your... your number with Cora will finish buying your ticket to next week."

"Nothing is certain. But thanks for the vote of confidence." Someone waves for him over Danny's shoulder. "I really should go get ready. Good luck."

Stiles walks away and feels his heart stay with Danny.

He shoves it aside. Now is not the time.

 

Greenberg and Morrell fly by Danny and take the stage, he doesn't stay to watch. 

He sits in a quiet corner, rehashing memories, thoughts and self-advices, until Lydia gets him for their number.

"Let's stomp the yard," she says, her hand outstretched, "and toss that frown away. He's not going anywhere."

He can't fight with her now. Besides she's right, he was still worried about him. "Let's," he replies simply.

They kill it. Lydia at least, discarding her prim and dainty attitude for the ferocious yet playful number. She plays the timid student turned hip-hop prodigy to perfection, while Danny's character, the stern teacher who gets schooled by his student is less of a success.

Yes, his mind isn't fully there, and the nerves from Stiles' ordeal, mixed with the... moment they shared, disrupts his concentration. The judges call him on it but the overall praise of their technique makes up for it, a little.

They go backstage with serious faces and Lydia slaps him again, even if it's pointless.

 

Stiles and Cora nail it.

There's no other way to put it.

Stiles' current state-of-mind is perfect for his tortured-soul character, and Cora is a hell of an actress.

They get a comment about a wobbly lift and a weak turn on Stiles' part, but otherwise the judges loved them.

Stiles is still worried, as is Cora.

Bottom six on the first week? Seriously?

 

Lydia's foot won't stop tapping.

"Look, I'm sorry, OK?"

"Doesn't change anything now. I put everything in that number, I went miles away from my comfort zone and you put all this effort to nothing with your moping."

Danny sighs and grabs her hand. "I don't know what else to say."

Lydia lets go and steps aside. "If we're in the bottom next week, I'm strangling you, after I save our asses."

Danny sighs and turns away. Cat announces the return of the judges and the bottom six file to get onstage. He seeks out Stiles' eyes and gives him an encouraging smile.

Lydia's right, his mind isn't into it.

Why did you even come here if you're screwing it up for you and everyone? 

Another sigh. He'll wonder about that after the announcement.

 

"Morrell, step forward. Ennis, step forward." They do so. "You are safe this week, you may leave the stage."

Morrell and Ennis rush off of the stage to the others, everyone welcoming them with hugs.

"Mr. Greenberg, you truly surprised us during Vegas week, but we aren't sure you have what it takes to stay," Nigel begins. "Kate, you are very good at what you do, but are you going to be able to keep up with this pace? Cora, you need to be softer, more relatable. Mr. Stilinski, you are impressive for man of your age, but you have to focus."

Nigel checks his notes, and everyone onstage links hands.

Cora grips Stiles' hand so tightly he can't feel his fingertips. His heart pounds in his throat.

"Cora, Stiles, congratulations. You are continuing in the competition. Greenberg, Kate, this is the end of your time on the show."

Stiles barely makes it down the stairs before he's being hugged tightly, happy tears running down his cheeks.

 

Danny hugs Greenberg (the kid was harmless and pretty nice, in the end) and nods to Kate. She scares him and the icy anger that radiates from her doesn't change that. Ennis and Morrell are keeping to themselves, relieved but still a little shocked. Danny smiles at them but not much more. Cora is stunned, randomly hugged by everyone and Danny gets his turn too. She doesn't respond much, he's not that insistent himself. It's still awkward just to be near her.

The cameras have stopped rolling by  now, they could actually leave the stage. Stiles is still surrounded and he can't bring himself to sneak through. He's afraid of what he might do. The waves of relief, happiness, love are still rolling around in him, too strongly, when they shouldn't.

Deal with what you've done.

 

Once Stiles has hugged everyone at least once (some more than that, Jesus Scott), he extricates himself from the crowd, looking for Danny. He doesn't find him onstage, so he heads for the wings and the dressing rooms.

 

Danny flops down on his chair. His shirt and tie are anything but comfortable at this point, he has just enough energy to shrug them off and let them fall to a damp heap on the floor. Stiles will stay. He can't decide if it's good news or bad.

You couldn't even approach him. I'd say bad. He'll be around, and until you get over him it'll torture you.

He deserves to be here. I won't stop believing that.

You should be thinking about your own place here. It's by no means guaranteed.

He breathes in deeply, elbows on his knees, hands clasped behind his neck. That's true.

A knock on his door.

"Come in."

Chapter Text

Stiles opens the door slowly and lingers in the doorway.

"Um, hey." Damn, he almost forgot how hot Danny is. "Good show."

 

Danny looks up, startled. "Y-Yeah. Congratulations on your save." 

He gets off from his chair, awkwardly, if just so that Stiles isn't the only one standing. He shuffles around for a second. Stiles is still in the doorway, lonely.

Should he?

He'll be fine. You, maybe not.

It hasn't stopped him before, so he goes with instinct, walks up to Stiles and hugs him. Tightly.

 "I never doubted you would make it."

 

Stiles startles a second before relaxing into the hug, arms going around Danny.

"Thank you," he whispers into Danny's hair. "I couldn't have gone on for my solo without you."

 

"You're welcome," Danny whispers back.

Fuck, this is bringing back too many memories. He struggles to keep his hands, his whole body in check.

Not yours anymore. And you should keep it that way, if you don't want to get hurt. More.

 

Fix this. Tell him you made the wrong choice. Talk some sense into him.

Stiles steps back just enough to look in Danny's eyes.

"Danny, I--"

His phone rings.

"Fuck."

 

Danny's heart leaps. The way he said his name...

Don't. Not yours anymore.

I have to.

He puts his hand on Stiles'. "What, Stiles?" 

Don't pick it up. Tell me.

 

Stiles falters. It's Derek's ringtone.

"Danny, I just wanted to say that--" His heart is doing a rumba against his ribs. He clears his throat. "That I--"

The ringing stops, starts again.

 

Danny's eyes darken. He takes a step back.

Let it go, before you start hoping again.

"Answer it," he says dejectedly and sits back down.

 

Don't   fucking   back   down!   Do   you   even   fucking   care?

Stiles sags, answers the phone with a dejected "what."

"What do you mean, 'what'?" Derek booms, warmth filling in a few of Stiles' inner cracks. "You were fucking amazing tonight. Let us take you out."

Stiles doesn't want to go out, but he does want to see them.

"What about you guys come to the house? Everyone will probably be drinking and whatever. Join us."

 

I can't do this. Not his friends, all with him. His ex. His crush.

Get over yourself.

Danny nods vaguely, as if he supports Stiles' suggestion. It's the best he can do.

What he shouldn't do, but does anyway, is reach out for Stiles' hand. He can't even explain why, but tangling his fingers with Stiles' feels right.

 

Stiles' smile shifts from his "pack-smile" to his "Danny-smile" in seconds. He squeezes Danny's hand.

"Just come over in about half an hour, forty-five minutes," Stiles continues. "I'll text JD the address."

"Why JD?" Derek asks.

"Because he's the responsible one, dipshit," Stiles says with a fond laugh.

"I'm mortally offended."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Oh, bite me."

"With pleasure."

Something sticks in Stiles' throat.

"Look, Der, I've gotta go dismantle, or the costumers will kill me. I'll see you at the house."

"See you soon, Little Red."

 

Danny can't look away from their hands, still linked.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. How many times do you want to get hurt?

"What was it you wanted to tell me?" he asks softly.

Maybe one more time.

 

Stiles pulls himself up to his full stature, takes a deep breath.

"Danny, I think that--"

"Mister Mahealani, Mister Stilinski, we need your costumes."

Stiles seriously considers braining the girl with a hairbrush.

"Fuuuck."

 

Danny doesn't hesitate, shucks down his pants, picks up his shirt, tie and vest and dumps them in the girl's arms.

He slips his clothes back on, waits for Stiles to do the same.

Stupid, Stupid. Let it go.

He's too far gone for that.

 

Stiles shucks his clothes and gives them to the charmingly flustered costuming assistant whilst wearing nothing but his black dance belt.

"Yes yes, have a nice life." He all but shoves her out of the room and down the hall.

 

Bad idea. He can literally feel his entire body blush at the sight of Stiles. He hadn't forgotten but remembering and seeing are two different things.

He looks around for maybe sweats or a shirt for Stiles.

"Hum..."

This is getting awkward.

 

Stiles spots Laura's dressing gown and pulls it on without a hint of irony. It falls to just past his knees, and doesn't close quite right, but close enough.

"DannyIwantustotryagain."

 

Danny swallows, with much difficulty. He walks up to Stiles. He heard him enough, enough to give him the confidence to crowd him as such. Not enough to be sure.

"What?" he asks, an inch from Stiles' face.

 

Stiles takes a deep breath, tries to slow the staccato of his heart.

"I want us to try again. To try being an 'us' again."

 

"You won't push me away again? You think we can do this, with the competition, again? For good?" 

His voice is tense, but his hand on Stiles’ neck is delicate and soft, if hesitant.

You're gambling a lot Danny. There's no reason for this to work better the second time around.

 

"I don't... fuck, Danny, I don't know for sure. Hell, I'm eighteen, I don't know much of anything for sure." Stiles leans in to his touch. "What I do know is that I love you, and I want to be with you."

 

"Good enough," Danny breathes out before crushing his lips on Stiles'. He kisses him breathless, pulls away only for air and a few more words.

"I never should have let you go. I love you, so much."

 

Stiles inhales shakily.

"I want to take you on a date. A real date, just the two of us. Tomorrow?"

 

"I'm 100% behind this idea," Danny replies. He can't stop running his hands on Stiles' back, through his hair, on his cheek, everywhere. "I missed you like crazy," he adds, leaning for another kiss. 

"Tonight I share you with your pack but tomorrow, yes, date night," he says as he pulls away.

 

Stiles can't help his goofy grin. "Awesome."

He heads for his own dressing room to throw some clothes on and gather his things.

He and Danny are together. He's gonna see his pack again.

All is right in the world.

 

 

Lydia storms his dressing room a minute after Stiles has left.

"OK, here's the deal Danny. I refuse to go home because you mope around, missing your Stiles and whatnot and ruining our numbers. Especially when you guys wouldn't even be apart if you would talk instead of assume."

Danny sits back, crosses his arms. Might as well let her finish. 

She catches her breath and swiftly yanks him off his chair. "He never wanted to break up. You just though he wanted to focus on dancing and you were the casualty. Now go to him, win him over, I don't know, do your thing, apologize and get him back. Then we can try and salvage the mess we made tonight."

"Already done," he replies, calm. She stares and her eyes widen.

He stops her hand mid-air, before it can reach him. "You need to stop with the slaps, Lydia. Really, they sting."

"You're an asshole," she fumes, stepping back. She pauses, looks back at him. "When, how?"

"Just now and honestly I don't know how," he says.

He's grinning from ear to ear and her face softens. "OK then, one less thing to worry about. So I have your focus back, now that you're back to blissful happiness?" she mocks.

"Starting tomorrow morning, yes ma'am."

"Good."

 

Stiles carefully removes the last traces of stage makeup and returns his hair to some semblance of order before grabbing his bag an heading for the doors.

He settles in on a bench to wait, and Cora finds him first.

"You seem happy," she says quietly.

"I am. We're gonna try again."

She nods. "Good. Communicate, this time, and you should be golden."

"I know, I know. We need to talk like the adults I pretend to be."

 

To see Stiles in his usual spot, actually waiting for him and meeting his eyes, not avoiding them... It's tiny, a minuscule detail but it makes all the difference for Danny. He grins and jogs to meet up with.

Pace yourself man. Diving head first again, it's not the way to go.

His smile subdues a little as he gets closer but remains present. He nods at Cora, feels like he should apologize to her (why exactly he’s not sure but this cold between them is partly his fault, he knows that much).

"Hey Stiles, ready to go?" he asks. It feels too soon to resume the pet names. He adjusts his bag on his shoulder, extends his hand to help Stiles up. It's not too soon for that much. "It'd be better if you were at the house once your friends arrive."

And he tries not to picture how he's supposed to deal with a freshly patched-up relationship and all those people from Stiles' life.

It's not a competition, he loves you.

He loves them too, some more than others.

See how long you last with these kinds of thoughts. Relax.

 

 

"Totally."

Stiles holds Danny's hand the whole way back to the house.

"I'm gonna take a quick shower," he says, dropping a kiss on Danny's cheek. "If they show up before I get done, tell them I'll be right down."

He heads upstairs quickly, strips, and hops into the shower.

 

Danny hears the telltale sound of bottles being pulled from a cupboard and heads for the kitchen. Jennifer is already busy making an inventory of what’s left of last week’s binge, mouthing along with her counting.

“You miss the hangover that bad, already planning for another?” he asks as he sits at the counter.

She looks up with a smile. “No, definitely not. I’m staying on the giving side of drinks this time. No, I just thought it’d be nice to make the get together a weekly thing. You know, one last toast to the ones leaving, celebrating the ones who saved their place, etc.”

She starts slicing a lemon. “Of course it doesn’t have to get as wild as last week and we don’t have to drink as much every week but... Blowing off some steam will become kind of mandatory around here, I think,” she chuckles.

He nods silently. She furrows her brow, still smiling. “You’re quiet, and happy tonight. What’s up?”

He grins and she raises a hand. “Don’t tell me, we’re celebrating a couple getting back together too, aren’t we?”

“We are.”

“Oh, that’s so great Danny!” she says, beaming. “I’m so happy for you two. It’s not easy here but seeing you guys try and make it work, it’s really great.”

“Thanks, yeah we’re trying,” Danny replies. He looks around. No one else. “It’s pretty quiet around here. Can I ask you a favor?"

“Sure.”

“Stiles’ friends are supposed to be here any minute, I was hoping to squeeze in a shower before they arrive. Stiles is upstairs, can you just let them in if they get here before I’m done?” he asks, getting up.

“Oh you mean make sure you don’t face the jury until your boyfriend is ready and can back you? Sure, honey, go shower.”

He goes back to his room with a serious case of blushing. He’s really that obvious, apparently.

 

Stiles washes the twelve pounds of gel out of his hair as he bops around the shower, singing along to the music in his head.

"So I put my hands up, they're playing my song, butterflies flying away. Noddin my head like 'yeah,' movin my hips like-- shit!"

He stops singing and attempts to wash the shampoo out of his eye.

 

So showering, putting on a pair of strategically faded jeans and a V-neck that's not too tight (it's one or the other, not both) and fixing his hair takes a grand total of 12 minutes. He's been in his room for 17, the last five spent "re-fixing" his hair, the door open, hoping to hear Stiles come out of his room. Without any luck.

He looks at his reflection with critical eyes. "Enough." he says and heads out, nearly stumbling down the stairs in his newfound courage.

They're all there. In the living room, with Jen being a gracious and playful host, offering drinks all around. He discreetly wipes his hands on the back of his jeans and steps forward.

"Well Stiles should be down any minute, anyway you make yourselves at home, it's really casual here and... Oh Danny, good you're here."

And then, because she's actually twelve, she pulls him by the shirt, drags him to an empty chair and drops him there. "Guys this is Danny Mahealani, Stiles' boyfriend. I'm sure he's in a better position to entertain you until your little Red gets here."

She turns around gracefully and goes back to the kitchen, after feeding him to the wolves. Literally.

Derek, a tall, solidly built, Ennis-type, is the first to speak.

"It's good to finally meet this Danny we've heard so much about. I'm Derek Juarez."

Carlos is sitting to his right. He's smaller than Derek, built more like Danny. JD is a tall, squirrelly hipster, complete with glasses. Malia perched herself on the arm of his chair in all of her sultry beauty.

"Pleasure," Danny replies. He sits upright (thanks again, Jen) but makes no move to shake hands. They don't seem the type anyway.

"I've heard a lot too. Well, you know Stiles, he talks... He showed me some videos of your numbers too, you guys are really good."

Stiles.... Get your ass down here.

Maybe they've become telepathic, you never know.

 

Stiles pulls on a tank top and shorts and comes downstairs to find his crew in the living room.

"Ay, ¿que pasa?" he says with a grin.

Derek is the first up, swooping Stiles into a bearhug.

"You were fucking awesome, Little Red."

Danny gets up but stays behind. Stiles needs his moment, he reasons.

And if he turns around to help Jennifer with the drinks, it's just as much to give his boyfriend intimacy as it is to stop himself from looking at where hands are, how smiles are.

Derek sets Stiles down and he has a chance to hug Carlos and JD. Malia is the last to hug him, jumping up to wrap her legs around his waist.

"You were great tonight, and your boyfriend is hot as hell."

Stiles puts her down, eyes going to Danny. "Thanks. And I think so."

Danny smiles, just a tad smug. For show. "Well, I have to keep up with Stiles so..." He puts a friendly hand on Malia's shoulder and hands her a beer. "I liked you before, bad spelling and all, but you get some points here."

Malia grins. "Good. I hate it when significant others don't like me." She accepts the beer. "Thanks."

Stiles puts his arm around Danny, reveling in the contact.

"You." Derek points at Danny. "You are talented. It's not every day you see a danseur step well."

Danny slips one arm around Stiles' waist and holds on, grateful.

"Thanks. It's a perk from being here, you get to try stuff you'd never do at home or school."

His smile falters a little. "I wasn't at my best but it was nice, getting out of ballet/modern."

"I think you were great," Derek says like it's all that matters.

Malia holds a hand up. "I voted for you like two dozen times."

"More points for Malia," Danny chuckles. He turns to Stiles. "She's my favorite so far."

Malia grins and pokes Carlos in the ribs. "I'm his favorite."

"He just doesn't know you yet," Carlos taunts with a sneer.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Ladies, please."

Danny lets out a small laugh, feels most of his stress float away. A welcomed sensation, after such a rocky day. His arm falls from Stiles' side and he turns to the coffee table, handing drinks from the tray to Stiles.

"Before we have a showdown for the number one spot on my list, I suggest we drink to the real reason you guys are here," Danny announces.

He takes his mojito in one hand, Stiles' hand in the other. "To Stiles. Who tonight proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that this week's results were a fluke and claimed back his place at the top of this competition."

Everyone in their little circle raises a glass.

"To Stiles."

Stiles raises his glass again.

"To Danny, without whom I would still be paralyzed in the wings."

"To Danny."

"I just gave you a little push," Danny mumbles, a little embarrassed. He drops a tiny kiss in Stiles' hair before he stops himself. "You killed it all by yourself," he whispers.

 

He takes a sip and pauses. "So, we can get with whatever game the others come up with this time, I can, maybe, get us into a couple of clubs in town or the pack has its own suggestion? Guests pick."

"Ooh ooh, let's play Never Have I Ever," Malia offers with a little bounce.

"No, let's not," Stiles says quickly.

Derek shrugs. "I'm in. Danny?"

He shrugs similarly. "It beats Truth or Dare. Less scarring too," he adds with a chuckle.

"I'm not forcing you but it could be fun," he tells Stiles.

We'll see. Ready to  hear it all? Tell it all?

Maybe he feels bolder tonight.

 

Stiles sighs. "Fine."

They settle in with shot glasses and two bottles of Grey Goose.

"Danny first," Malia says with an evil grin.

"2 points off for that Malia. Carlos I'm starting to see what you mean." He crosses his legs and takes his time pouring shots for everyone. "Ok. Never have I ever made out with a girl."

Simple, not too revealing.

 

Everyone drinks, Malia included.

"Okay, me next," she says, pouring the shots. "Never have I ever eaten ass.”

She and JD don't drink.

Danny downs his shot. "Big surprise," he says, gesturing to his empty glass.

He fills his drink and Stiles', hands the bottle to Derek for the rest of them.

"Stiles, you go next."

 

Stiles bites his lip. How daring is he willing to be?

"Never have I ever smoked. Anything," he adds, eyeing Carlos pointedly.

"You don't know what you're missing, those cigars..." Danny states after he drinks. He has some fond memories of nights on Sean's deck and the Cubans they would share. Sean’s family always managed to smuggle a few back home after their trips.

He sees Carlos drinking and avoiding everyone else's gaze. He's not just about tobacco. Touchy subject for Stiles, obviously, given how he glares.

He pours another round with exaggerated flourish, just to get a few laugh. maybe the warmth in his chest is partly to blame too.

"Never have I ever cheated on someone." JD says.

Danny looks at his drink. Does it count? So they overlapped but he wasn't official with either...

You know it does.

Thank you conscience.

He drinks rapidly, eyes up and away from Stiles. 

 

Stiles doesn't drink, but he can't help but notice Danny does. He files it away for later.

"Never have I ever done drag," Derek says with a smirk.

JD and Stiles exchange a look and drink.

Danny half-smiles. "I've seen the shoes on their owner Derek, you won't get the reaction you want from me with that one."

He fiddles with his shot glass. "Carlos, you're up."

 

He's getting a little woozy and he leans slightly against Stiles, for comfort.

Stiles presses a kiss to Danny's temple.

Carlos bites his lip. "Never have I ever gotten hard onstage."

Stiles turns bright red and does the shot.

Danny drinks, muttering a "Your fault" to Stiles before doing so.

Malia drinks as well. "Trust me, it counts as such," she says defiantly after her shot. "Danny, back at you. If you're still up for it."

 

Danny nods, pushes himself back up, wobbily. "Never have I ever... fucked in a car. Which is tragic."

Stiles and Carlos are the only ones to drink.

It kind of sobers him up, just a bit.

Probably together.

No one's a saint here, grow up a little.

 

Malia smiles and commandeers the bottle. "Never have I regretted a break-up."

Danny looks down at his glass. Damn he'll be wasted tonight.

He drinks. Then pours himself another and downs it too.

 

Stiles drinks, wobbles backwards.

Shit, you're wasted.

Fuckers know me too damn well.

He rights himself and leans on Danny.

Let's just hope we still love each other in the morning.

Danny circles Stiles' waist with a slack arm.

"You want to stop?" he says in Stiles' ear. Working hard to keep the slurring to a minimum.

For health reasons, he hopes for a yes. And maybe he fears Derek's turn. There's a glint in the older man's eyes he really doesn't like.

"M-maybe." Stiles hiccups. "One more round. Then we should be done."

"Unwise. But anything for the man of the hour." Danny says. He lets go and stumbles forward, spills a little vodka around as he fills the glasses. Were he sober he would care more.

 

Derek lifts his drink. "Never have I broken someone's heart." He pauses, shrugs and drinks it anyway. "Gotta be honest."

Danny looks at Stiles and all the alcohol goes to his head and his throat simultaneously. Two more shots for Danny.

Stiles drinks twice, very aware of Carlos' eyes on him.

"I'm exhausted; also drunk," he slurs out. "I say it's bedtime. Danny?"

"Y-Yeah," Danny replies, barely audible or articulate at this point. "Bed."

 

He gets up, half-helping Stiles, half being helped by him. "You guys will be OK?"

JD smirks. "We're good. I'll get someone to drive us to our hotel or we'll just crash on the floor. You guys sleep it off."

Danny nods sleepily and drags Stiles upstairs.

"I missed your room. And you in it," he says.

Stiles locks his bedroom door and strips off his t-shirt.

"I missed you," he says sleepily.

"You won't have to now."

 

He sheds his clothes on the floor and slips under the covers. Stiles' familiar scent is everywhere around him and he closes his eyes to fully take it in. 

The world swirls and twists when he does that. The buzz of the vodka, mixed with the emotions, the moments of the day.

Stiles almost eliminated.

Stiles asking him to try again.

Stiles and Carlos.

Stiles breaking hearts.

Just sleep Danny. Worry tomorrow, or just later.

 

Stiles crawls into bed and curls around Danny, arm going around his waist.

"G'night," he whispers into the darkness. "Love you."

He drifts into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Danny wakes up with cotton in his mouth, sore legs, one arm trapped under Stiles' and one hell of a headache. Wonderful.

Carefully, he slides from Stiles' grasp, kisses his forehead lightly and goes to the bathroom. He leans in the doorway as he brushes his teeth, washing away the stale taste.

His mind isn't cleaned as easily. He's never been one to forget anything, even when completely drunk.

They might need to talk, soon. Scratch that, they need to talk, period. Then again he's not sure he's ready to answer Stiles' questions.

He rinses his mouth and sits on the floor, slowly working up some strength and flexibility back in his body until Stiles wakes up.

 

Stiles wakes with a pounding head, old-sock mouth, and a looming sense of dread.

He sees Danny stretching on the floor and rolls out of bed slowly.

"Gimme two seconds." He brushes his teeth, empties his bladder and brushes his teeth again.

Fucking Grey Goose.

Fucking pack.

 

He returns to the bedroom and sits on the floor across from Danny.

"Good morning, beautiful."

"Good morning gorgeous'" Danny says automatically. He smiles shyly, leans forward and kisses him lightly.

"I missed this the most, waking up like this with you," Stiles says softly. "Minus the hangover I mean,"

Danny stretches his arms up , cracks his neck. His smile doesn't stay on for long. 

"Interesting night. Interesting friends. There's not much they won't share."

Stiles buries his face in his hands for a moment.

"They like you. They trust you. This whole 'total honesty' routine only happens when a member brings someone home they feel will fit in well."

"Whoa, I've been like, initiated and no one told me? OK..."

Danny gently removes Stiles' hands from his face. "Why are you freaking out then? It's a good thing, isn't it?"

Stiles softens.

"Of course it is. I'm fucking thrilled they like you. I just..." He shrugs, eases their hands together. "The whole 'Never Have I Ever' thing sucked a bit."

"I know..." Danny breathes out. He holds on to Stiles.

 "We... You know we have to talk, if it's to work this time. So whatever you want to tell me, or ask me, you can."

 

Deep breaths Danny. Either you do this or it will end more badly than last time.

 

Stiles ticks off his questions on his fingers. "Cheating? Regretting a break up? And you've never had car-sex? That's just tragic."

Danny licks his lips and inhales deeply. "Yeah, the car thing is terrible, especially considering my own car is actually perfect for sex."

 It's a small attempt at lightening the mood. Not very successful either.

 "I regret my break-up with you. I should have... I just should have been more patient. And I left things with a guy quite bad. We weren't together but I hurt him anyway and I regret that. As for the cheating... I don't know if it's really cheating. I was still seeing Alex but we were never together, just hooking up. I slept with someone else before Alex broke our arrangement off."

 He stops here, uneasy. 

 Playing the pronoun game? How mature.

He looks at Stiles, hoping not to see too much disappointment there.

 Stiles bites his lip, nods once.

You're in no place to judge.

"Okay. Your turn to ask the questions."

"Carlos? Broken hearts?"

 He reaches for Stiles' hands again. Maybe it'll help. Both of them.

Stiles takes a deep breath, trying to soothe his rattled nerves some.

"Carlos and I hooked up in Junior year. It was... fuck, it was awesome. He was my first gay everything, and I thought we could be chill." Stiles shakes his head. "He ended up having feelings for me that I didn't-couldn't- reciprocate. I was a douche when I broke it off, made it so much worse than it had to be."

"And the other one?" he asks softly.

"Stasia." Stiles' gaze goes blurry for a moment as the memories come rushing back. "I thought I loved her thought we were meant to be. But... I pushed her away to focus on my dance, and before I realized it-- she was gone. Done."

"Oh." Danny struggles to find the words, squeezes Stiles' hands more tightly when he feels them tremble.

 "I... I love you, you know. I'm not going anywhere. I just need to know..." Danny's voice gets weaker and he curses himself.

 You're no good when you let them lead. He's got so much power over you, already.

 "Would you take any of them back? If Stasia was around... And Carlos still wants you, that's clear."

Funny how you can ask question you wouldn't answer.

I need to know. I'll never be sure of me, of him, of us otherwise.

Stiles shakes his head vehemently.

"I love Carlos, there will always be a place for him in my heart, but we would never work together as a couple. He'll move on. Just like I moved on from Stasia." Stiles brings Danny's hand to his lips. "I love you. I want us to make us work."

"I... I'm glad. And relieved," Danny admits. "I... I never thought I'd fall so hard, so fast but I have and...Fuck Stiles I'll make it work. I promise."

 

"And I'm sorry, for what it's worth."

Stiles can't help his stupid grin. He leans in to kiss Danny chastely, just a brush of lips.

"We need showers. I promised the pack brunch."

"Yeah. That reminds me." He gets up, pulling Stiles to him. One brief kiss to help him formulate this correctly.


"I... I think we should each keep our rooms. Just so we don't rush things too much? I don't want to crowd you and maybe once in a while we'll need a night alone, when the competition gets more stressful."

 

He cards his hand through Stiles' hair, gently. "I still want us to be together most nights. I was a mess this past week without you."

 Stiles leans in to Danny's touch.

"Agreed. As long as we add a nightmare clause that says you won't judge me if I come crawling into bed with you at three in the morning cause I can't sleep."

Danny's brow furrows. "I'd hold it against you if you didn't come see me then." He kisses him slow and deep, pulling him close.

"Whatever you need, you tell me. I'm there for you."

Stiles can feel himself melting. He wraps his arms around Danny's neck and rubs their noses together.

"Good. And the same goes for you. I'm here for you."

 

Danny hums in agreement and gives him a quick peck before untangling himself and head for his room. No Jackson in sight but his phone is lighting up on the nightstand where he left it.

 One missed call (no message) and three texts, all from Stef.

 From Stef: OMG you do hip-hop? I'm dead. When you're back home I'm making you twerk, jsyk.

From Stef: I think the whole island voted for you, given what I've heard. People must be bored or something. JK, you were great. Stiles too damn his number was hot!

From Stef: BTW surprise is almost ready. I'll call you tomorrow, I'll know for sure then.


He grins, sends her a thank you text, brief but heartfelt and goes in the shower, scrubbing away the remnants of his binge. The pack might like him so far but still, he's not one for bad second impressions.

 Plus they don't have the whole day off, it's still gearing up for another day in this competition.

 

Stiles scrubs everything. Twice.

When he no longer feels like he crawled out of the sewer, he pulls on jeans and a t-shirt. It isn't until he's half-way down the stairs that he realizes the shirt is Danny's, but he can't bring himself to change.

 

Danny watches Stiles coming downstairs with a smile that keeps on growing. His shirt on him is slightly loose at the waist and the shoulders. Barely noticeable.

He grabs the hem, where it flares the tiniest bit on Stiles’ hips and yanks him to his arms.

 “You should keep it. It’s kind of ridiculous how good you look in my clothes,” he whispers, head buried his Stiles’ neck. Stiles’ bodywash scent and his own cologne, it’s a mix he simply can’t resist.

 A minute and several lazy, open-mouthed kisses later, he finally lets go. Taking his mind off Stiles is helped by the sight of Jennifer popping up from one of the couches and tip-toeing out of the living room, disheveled and clothes askew, soon followed by JD in pretty much the same state, looking around for his glasses.

 “My God, she’s having a midlife crisis or what?”

 Stiles chuckles. "I think it's more of a quarter-life crisis. But don't worry, JD is good people." He nuzzles Danny's neck happily.

 Malia comes sauntering down the stairs in a familiar blue nightshirt.

 "Holy-- Lobita, is that Morrell's?"

 Malia chuckles. "Yes, Stiles, this is Marin's nightshirt. Why? Jealous?"

 “OK... Anyone here didn’t get laid last night? Beside me...” Danny adds in a low voice.

 Scott, Allison and Isaac walk down the stairs, with matching ruffled hair and goofy smiles.

 Danny groans. Jackson is right behind them, wearing his usual smirk and low-rise boxers.

 “At least you’re backing m-“

 Lydia follows him, of course. Hair messed up, satisfaction written all over her face and her moves languid as she hugs Jackson from behind.

 “Come on!”

 Jackson shrugs. “You weren’t in the room for once, can you blame me? Ow!” he yelps as Lydia pinches him. “I mean, I couldn’t resist her, etc.”

 “Better.” Lydia mutters but her eyes are playful.

 Danny leans toward Stiles. “I’m never drinking again. We had better reason than them too. I’m making up for this tonight, count on it.”

 Stiles chuckles, nuzzling his neck. "I intend to take you up on that, babe."

 

Erica and Boyd appear from the depths of the house and she starts on breakfast.

"Just coffee for us Erica," Danny announces, and starts making it himself. "As soon as the rest of Stiles' troupe gets out of whatever bed they ended up in, we’re heading out for brunch."

 "Just make sure you're back for one o'clock, I do not want to face that bitch producer all frazzled again because we're missing contestants." she says with a shrug and a wave of the hand holding a large knife.

"Sure, please put that down now. Thanks."

 He goes back to counting the scoops of coffee in the machine. Also counting off the members of the pack, and wondering where Derek and Carlos ended up.

Derek walks in with his arm around Carlos, fresh hickeys evident on the smaller man's neck.

Stiles freezes, heart dropping to the pit of his stomach.

Seriously?

 

Danny looks up and sees the two men entering the kitchen. Sees what Stiles must be seeing.

Then sees Stiles' reaction to them. It kills him that he's so shaken by it, a good portion of that feeling coming from jealousy, the rest from care.

 He lets one hand drop to his side, free for Stiles to rely on. His fingers brush his waist, not much more.

 

I  shouldn't have to... He shouldn't be so worked up about it.

 You don't get over guys easily yourself. Cut him some slack.

 

Stiles takes Danny's hand on instinct.

 

You're over them, remember? You have Danny, and you love him.

Doesn't mean this doesn't hurt.

 

Carlos avoids Stiles' gaze, but Derek makes eye contact with a smarmy grin.

"Sleep well, Little Red?"

For the first time, he hates the nickname.

"Yeah. Yeah, I did," he says flatly.

 "There, Derek," Danny says, handing him a fresh cup of coffee. "You look like you need it. Playing around seems to have really messed you up."

 "I mean, you look tired," he clarifies, without a hint of sincerity.

 He turns back to the cupboards and pulls out more mugs. He said what he needed to.

Derek raises his eyebrows at Danny's back. Stiles can't help but smirk.

"Litos, you pick where we eat," Stiles says softly, passing Carlos a glass of orange juice.

Carlos bites the inside of his cheek. "The diner near the theater? They have good food."

"Sounds good."

 

They wait not really in silence but in awkward, disperse conversation. Erica jokes around as she cooks but her heart isn't really in it, thanks to the visitors and their mood. Danny keeps to himself and makes a point to keep his face neutral. Not going to give Derek the satisfaction of looking sullen.

 

Once JD (the only one in a great mood and completely comfortable. Good people, like Stiles said) finally joins them and they head out.

 

"Stiles and I will meet you guys there, in case we have to drive to the studio directly I'd rather have my car, not bother you guys," Danny explains, leading Stiles with a discreet hand on his back.

"You OK?" he murmurs as he opens the door for him.

 "I'm fine," Stiles says softly as he gets into the car.

Once they're both in and the doors are closed, his façade slips.

"I'm not fine. God, I should be, but I'm not."

 Danny starts the car and puts it into gear, slowly. His hands grips the wheel more tightly than necessary.

"We can always ditch them," he says rapidly, eyes fixed on the road. "Find an excuse, explain it to Malia and JD."

He bites his lip. "I understand if it's too hard for you."

 

"Not over it, not over it. It will hang in the air between you."  the voice in Stiles' head sing-songs.

 

"No. We're going to brunch with my friends and I am going to face this fustercluck with the man I love at my side," Stiles says resolutely. "And I am going to figure out if Derek really does care about Litos. If not, I am going to suggest they vote in a new Alfa, because he is no longer worthy of the position."

Danny’s hand lets go of the driving stick to briefly stroke Stiles’ thigh.

“Yeah, if that’s how he uses his position...” he says harshly.

 

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. You have no say in this. You think he would judge you any different?

Not the same. It’s in the past.

 Still counts.

 

"I'm gonna nominate Miguel," Stiles says after a long moment. "Miguel deserves it. He's been there the longest, and half of the routines are his anyway."

Danny hums, pensive.

It’s a short drive and soon he’s parking the car a few spots behind JD’s. He watches Derek getting  out first with a grin and pulling Carlos out before leading the whole group inside.

“He doesn’t seem like the type to step down easily. Or at all,” he comments. He turns the engine off and faces Stiles.

“You’re sure you want to get into this now? You don’t need more stress at this point.”

"It'll be fine. I don't even have a vote, not since the show started. I'm officially on hiatus." Stiles pulls Danny forward and kisses him gently. "Thank you for caring."

"Of course," Danny sighs."It's just... If you bring this up, if you're the one suggesting Derek steps down... No matter how it ends, there'll be resentment when you go home."

"I'll deal with that if and when it happens." Stiles kisses him one more time. "Now, let's head out before they get suspicious."

Danny snorts as he exits the car. "Suspicious of what? That we're having early morning sex in my car? I wish."

 

They enter the diner and see the gang all settled in the back. Already coffee is on the table and Danny blushes in spite of himself.

Stiles chuckles and drops a kiss to Danny's temple before dragging him to the table.

"Ho," Malia says with a snort.

Stiles just sticks his tongue out at her. "So, you guys ready for the Slam?"

Danny lets them discuss competition and programs, quietly listening to Derek's boasting, Malia's salacious comments and Stiles' long stories about his life at the house.

 

He'd rather not attract attention for the moment, plus this is a window on Stiles' life he'll never have again.

"So, how've you two been?" JD asks, genuinely interested. "I'm sure shit gets crazy, stuck in the house like you are."

Stiles squeezes Danny's hand under the table. "We're great. Had our rough spots, but what relationship doesn't?"

"It's intense at times and maybe not the perfect setting, with  the others, the competition and the crazy schedules, but we're making it work."

 There's no need to go into deeper details, especially with Derek still smirking.

 Danny squeezes Stiles' hand back.

 "I mean, this place gets to everyone. JD, you saw it with Jen," he says with a grin. "Just so you know, she's a good friend of mine so... I hope it was clear and simple between you two."

He shrugs. "I have to do the speech, you know it."

JD grins, pushing his glasses up on his nose. "Yeah, no, we're cool. Just a no-strings-attached fuck-- or two."

Stiles just extends a fist, and JD bumps it.

"Good. Wouldn't want you all mopey and Stiles on my case because my girl broke his friend's heart."

 He glances at Carlos but looks away immediately. It's not his business.

 "When are you guys heading back?"

 He winces slightly.

 Yeah sure, you want them out of your hair so fast manners go out the window.

“We fly out at one, straight to Chicago for the first night of the Slam," Malia says.

"Better get a move on then," Danny says, waving at the waiter.

 

They place their order and the food gets there fast. They all dig in and the table falls quiet for a while.

 

Danny looks over at Stiles, the rest of the pack. Debates if the silence is comfortable, or the calm before a storm.

 "So, Carlos, how have your classes been going?" Stiles asks. "I know you were hating on that one professor when I left."

 "Oh god, Dr. Templar," Carlos groans. "The man was a slave-driver. I mean, it was Writing 101, not 465, Jesus."

 "Glad to have gotten those Gen-Eds out of the way?" 

"Yeah. You were right," Carlos says softly. "This semester is going so much better."

 Stiles grins. "Of course I was right, Litos. Why doubt me?"

 "You know why," Derek mutters under his breath.

 "History was the worst for me. You'll see Carlos, it's really a relief when all that random stuff is done and you can finally concentrate on your major," Danny says.

 He pops a piece of melon in his mouth, chomps on it. He could let Derek's comment slide but fuck it, the guy's getting on his nerves.

 "So, Derek. How is that passive-aggressive vendetta working out for you?"

Everyone stiffens with tension, but Derek looks unaffected.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Stiles burns. "Oh, fuck you, Derek. You know exactly what he's talking about."

Danny's eyes narrow. "You've got an issue with Stiles, or me, or us," he says, gesturing between his boyfriend and himself, "you say it, OK? We're all adults here, you don't have to take the roundabout way. Unless you get a kick out of being a douchebag."

 He's about to mention Carlos but stops himself before. He'd rather not assume anything.

'"There's no problem," Derek says coolly. 

 Stiles finally snaps. "Bullshit! You're just pissed that I didn't agree to be one of your conquests, and so you're taking it out on Danny. Derek, I love him. You can't just-- I mean-- this is so--"

 JD and Malia slide away from the table, squeezing Stiles' shoulder as they move to another booth.

Derek bristles. "You think this is about you?"

 Carlos' frown deepens as he curls in on himself.

 "Some of it, yes. But I swear, you hurt him and I will personally remove you from the gene pool."

Danny, a little irked, throws his napkin on the table. “Look, can we just treat each other like civilized people? Derek, I don’t care if you want to lead with your dick, just don’t be one. Carlos can fend for himself too, so can we just drop the act, the little stabs and threats, all that shit?”

His voice quivers with anger. He takes a deep breath, pushes the jealousy aside.

He’s got a right to defend him though.

Stiles is torn between being pissed that Danny is in the middle of this and being turned on by seeing him so assertive.

 

"Thank you, Danny," Carlos says softly. "It's about time that someone around here realizes I'm not the broken kid with daddy issues anymore. I'm an adult, and I guess it's time I start acting like one."

 He turns in his seat to face Derek. "I know you just slept with me because I'm one of Stiles' weak points. You were mad when Stiles turned you down, I get that. But you have no right to be. You didn't even see him like that until he made the show."

 Derek stutters out the beginning of a retort, but Carlos cuts him off.

 "No, don't even try to charm your way out of this." He raises his voice slightly, so that the obviously-eavesdropping Malia and JD don't have to strain to hear him. "Derek, you are misusing your authority as alfa, and I think it's time you step down. I nominate Miguel and JD, to be voted upon after the Slam. Any objections?"

 No one speaks up. Not even Derek.

 Danny, after a few seconds of stunned silence, snickers softly and leans towards Stiles. "It's never boring going out with you," he whispers with a kiss on his temple.

 "I don't have a say in the matter but I'm all for that plan, Carlos," he says with a smile.

 Plus this way Stiles, apart from a surprise elimination (but let's not think about that) will be far from most of the drama and conflict. A definite plus.

Stiles nods. "I agree. I know I can't vote, but as a sponsor, I approve."

"We like this plan," JD says from the other booth. "It's about time we shook things up."

 They finish eating without much else added to the conversation.

 

As they walk out to the cars, Stiles pulls Carlos into a tight hug.

"M proud of you, Litos."

Danny keeps on walking, slowly. He's just giving them privacy. He might also appreciate not having to watch them.

Malia an JD are just ahead, he catches up. "Guys," he says, wrapping one arm around each, "it's been... informative."

 "Delicious," offers Malia with a sly smile and a wink.

 "The best in a long time. I mean at one point Jen did..." JD starts. Danny pushes him away.

"No need to finish that sentence man!" he laughs. Malia joins him.

 "Still your favorite?" she asks.

 "After Stiles, sure." Danny replies. "Well, depending on what Jen has to say, I have to rely on her opinion..."

 He gets a good shove for that one.

Stiles and Carlos rejoin Danny, Malia, and JD. (Derek has already skulked off to the car.)

Stiles hugs JD, and kisses the top of Malia's head.

"Kick some ass for me at the slam," he says with a grin.

"Oh, we intend to."

Danny slips his arm from Malia to Stiles and grabs his hand. "Speaking of ass-kicking, we have some of our own to do. Well, depending on what we get."

 Please Lord no more hip-hop. Not this week at least.

"Hells yes." Stiles kisses Danny's temple. "Let's get on back."

 

 

Chapter Text

It's a mad dash to the studio, the brunch had taken way longer than expected.

 They're greeted at the door by their partners and a couple of producers, all 4 profoundly pissed off.

 Some touch ups and they head for the stage and the reveal of their style for the week.

 Isaac and Kali get hip-hop. They shrug it off, unimpressed. Danny's pretty sure these two could pull off anything, with their flexibility.

 Allison and Scott are excited for their rumba, go figure.

 Ethan and Jennifer get a tango and they smile but nobody's buying it.

 Danny and Lydia get mambo. Lydia is all smiles, Danny all dread but he grins anyway.

 Maybe hip-hop wasn't so bad.

 Stiles and Cora get jazz. They can handle jazz. It's better than any ballroom number.

Anything is better than ballroom. (Stiles bets they'll get the pasodoble at least once before they split up. The judges are sadists.)

 

Their first rehearsal is an endearing mess. When the finally get back to the house, Stiles flings himself onto the couch upside-down.

"Muscles I didn't know I had are sore," he whines.

"Trade you for a new jaw," Danny says, plopping down next to him and slacking his mouth . "I swear, if our coach tells us to smile like you mean it one more time, I'll poison his water bottle. The guy's a joy-junkie, I swear to God."

 Lydia scoffs. "You have a nice smile Danny, use it." She snaps her fingers at Jackson who scoots from Laura so she can sits on the couch as well. She props her feet on Jackson's lap and continues. "Especially if you don't pick up the pace by the end of the week, you'll need it to save yourself. I can't do all the work whenever we get ballroom genres."

 He sighs and nods, rubs one hand all over his face, mostly his chin, and shoulder-bumps Stiles. "On the plus side, just my face and legs hurt, my hands are doing fine. I can help you with those muscles later."

Stiles grins. "I intend to take you up on that. Right after we shower and go to dinner." He nuzzles Danny's side. "I still want to take you out."

Danny groans and gets up with difficulty. "OK but no solid food." He tests his jaw. "Damn even my cheekbones hurt." There's a snort coming from the couch and he turns towards the group there.

 Jackson is grinning like an idiot, diligently digging his thumbs in Lydia's heel.

 "Don't."

 "Come on man, I have like 28 blowjobs-related jokes fighting it out in my brain, I've gotta let them out!"

 "Sucks to be you, but no," Danny teases as he heads out.

 Jackson throws a hand in the air. "Another one, not fair man!"

Danny chuckles softly and slowly makes his way to his bathroom. A shower will definitely help him get back to a more date-friendly state.

Black pants, black undershirt, a new, dark green shirt with black graphics. Basic but killer. Danny smiles at his reflection before joining Stiles downstairs.

 Stiles looks too good to pass up so he pulls him in, trapping him between his body and the wall.

 "How come you can look so gorgeous after such a day..."Danny whispers, sliding a hand up Stiles' nape. "Not that I mind."

Stiles' hands go for Danny's ass.

"You don't look too bad yourself." He leans in for a kiss. "I love you."

Danny captures his mouth in a tender but short kiss. "Hands off the merchandise Stiles," he murmurs. "And you'll need better compliments than this to get into my pants."

 He grins and pulls away, linking their hands and leading him out. "But I love you too," he adds, squeezing Stiles' hand.

 

They get in the car and Danny taps his fingers against the wheel. "Where to?"

"I'm feeling Thai."

They head for the restaurant. Stiles debates with himself for a moment before settling his hand on Danny's thigh.

Danny's breathing speeds up immediately and he side-eyes Stiles.

 

Are you kidding me?

 

He's not sure if his reaction is one of indignation or violent interest.

 "Now?" he wonders in a raspy voice, still driving but hands less steady on the wheel.

Stiles smiles, the picture of innocence.

"What on earth are you talking about?"

Danny's eyes narrow. "You know exactly what I'm talking about."

He shuffles around on his seat and Stiles' hand feels fiery, even through the fabric of his pants.

"Don't play with a man's fantasy Stiles. It isn't attractive."

Stiles slides his hand up just a fraction of an inch.

"Fantasy, huh?" He bites his lip. "Ever received road head?"

Danny grips the wheel convulsively.

"I answered that yesterday." He glances at Stiles and feels his cheeks redden from the playful look he gets in return. "You're a terrible person and I love you."

Stiles looks out to see how close they are to the restaurant and curses under his breath.

"There's no time."

He pulls his hand away.

Danny parks the car in a screech and rests his forehead against the side window. "I hate you so much right now."

He turns the engine off and quickly exits the car. "This food better be amazing," he mumbles

Stiles squeezes his hand and grins. "I'm sure it will be."

 

They're seated, and Stiles slides his shoe off.

Danny orders spicy duck (the food does look great) and feels Stiles' foot play with his ankle.

He toes his own shoe off and slides down his seat, almost imperceptibly. "I'm sure I have you beat on this particular kink," he murmurs as he runs the sole of his foot up Stiles' shin.

Stiles spreads his legs just a bit wider.

"That's a competition I'd be happy to lose."

Danny chuckles and hikes his leg higher, until the heel is digging in Stiles' thigh and his toes are brushing up his groin.

 "I'm ahead, so far," he says casually, taking a sip of his water.

 Stiles is regretting the tight jeans.

 He feels like he's buzzing, hyper-aware of not only Danny's foot in his lap but of the other customers, the wait staff, the fact that they're in a restaurant.

 Stiles shifts his foot up Danny's leg, mimicking his position.

It takes a second but he schools his features to show no reaction. He’s played that game before, maybe not with someone as talented at turning him on as Stiles but he can still win it.

The waiter comes with their plates and he thanks him with a smile, while he applies a firm upward pressure of his whole foot on Stiles’ hardening cock.

Stiles barely manages to silence his dying alpaca noise, quickly drinking his water as a cover.

He retaliates by softly brushing his toes against.Danny's balls.

Danny's eyes widen and it goes as far as stopping his breath for a couple of seconds but that's it.

 Compared to when he was checking coats for the Junior prom and he had to keep a straight face while his boyfriend was giving him the blowjob of a lifetime, this is easy.

 He takes a victorious bite, munching happily in Stiles' face while his foot's motions gain in speed and dexterity.

Stiles rubs a little harder, turning his attention to his food

He slurps up a long noodle with a moan and licks his lips.

Danny smirks to stop himself from biting his lip. Stiles' upping it nicely.

 He digs his toes deeper, cursing Stiles for wearing jeans and making it more difficult for him. He twist and turns his foot, presses harder.

 His tongue darts outs, he runs it lazily over the edge of his teeth and his upper lip.

"Yield?" he asks softly.

 Stiles rubs the ball of his foot over the head of Danny's erection, breathing heavily.

 "Nope."

 Danny takes a long, slightly shuddering breath and shuffles on his seat. He rests his hands flat on the table. Concentration and balance.

 His other foot comes up, slowly, rubbing all the way up Stiles' leg. Sliding under his ass and teasing all he can reach. Thoroughly.

 A ragged gasp escapes Stiles' throat, and it's all he can do not to grind against Danny til he comes in his pants like a kid.

 "Uncle, uncle."

"Mmm, I'm not sure I heard you," Danny whispers, adding more pressure as he rides one foot along Stiles's crack and the other still rubs his erection enthusiastically. 

Stiles grips the edge of the booth, barely holding on.

"I give. I give. You win."

"Thought so," Danny says, grinning. One small, final nudge and his feet go back to the ground.

 He starts eating again (duck is still delicious, even lukewarm) and slips a discreet hand to his lap to readjust himself. It's a good thing Stiles gave up because he was closer to the edge than he would like to admit.

Stiles takes a deep breath as he pulls himself together.

Horror films. Naked old ladies. Malia's cooking. That one time he walked in on Miguel and Amber doing that thing with the saddle--

Okay, he's good.

He grins across the table at his wonderful, despicable boyfriend and returns to his food.

 

"I don't know which one of us is worse. I want to say that I can’t take you anywhere, because of what you make me do, but then again, maybe we just can't be taken anywhere, together at least," Danny says with a small laugh.

He looks at Stiles fondly. "I should have known back in Vegas, in that club. That should have been my first clue."

 He shifts again on his seat. Thinking back to that moment on the dance floor and what followed isn't the best idea at the moment.

"Hey, you love it," Stiles says with a grin. "You love me."

"I do," Danny replies. His smile turns mischievous. "All I'm saying is that at the rate this is going, our next date might get us arrested."

Stiles laughs. "Yeah, you have a point there." He stabs a shrimp. "There's an art opening at the gallery near the show on Saturday. Wanna take a chance on the whole getting arrested thing?"

Danny eats the last of his fried spinach before replying. "If we don't tonight when you give me head in the car? Sure."

Stiles laughs. "Sounds like a plan."

The rest of their meal is a blur, though Stiles vaguely remembers actually holding a conversation.

He insists on paying, and walks out of the restaurant with his hand in Danny's back pocket.

Danny starts the car and heads back, keeping a very leisurely speed.

"You know," he says after a wistful silence, "maybe one of these days we could sneak back to my place. We can be inappropriate there without caring about eavesdropping or, you know, laws."

Stiles moves his hand to Danny's crotch, rubbing gently.

"That sounds fucking fantastic." He snickers. "Fantastic fucking, even."

He unzips Danny's fly very carefully.

"Sometime soon then," Danny mutters under his breath. His mind is already in overdrive, looking around for a spot of any kind where he could park.

 There's a closed furniture store, large, unlit, private parking behind it. He drives the car into the last spot in the back, haphazardly parking it. He defies anyone to drive adequately with Stiles touching them.

 Not that he wants anyone else touched by him. No, Stiles' hand on his crotch is all he wants.

Well, maybe not all.

 "I'd rather not kill us just because I have this thing I've always wanted to try," he explains, pulling Stiles to him.

Stiles shifts in his seat as he kisses Danny, tucking his left leg under himself so he can angle properly. (He won't even try to say how much practice it took to be able to fold his limbs into a car like this.)

"Oh, it's fine." Stiles kisses down to suck a hickey on Danny's neck. "One rule, though. Hands stay on the wheel, or I stop."

Danny grips the wheel as if his life depended on it. "Oh they won't... Move." he breathes out, teeth clenched. Already his head is rolling back on the headrest and his pants are so very tight, suddenly.

He closes his eyes and just stops thinking.

Stiles undoes Danny's pants and slides them and his boxers down his thighs enough to free his dick.

"Beautiful," he whispers hotly against Danny's ear. "So fucking gorgeous, and all mine."

He strokes Danny a few times, teasing, as he undoes his own jeans with his left hand. (His sexy jeans are not actually conducive to sexy happenings. Good to know.)

"Yes," Danny hisses. "yes, all yours, fuck Stiles more, please..."

He can't bring himself to care that this one guy's got him wrapped around his finger, that it happened so fast and so strong.

 

It's OK to let go. Maybe you just needed the right one to do so.

 

His hold on the wheel doesn't falter, no matter how badly he wants to touch Stiles, give as much as he's receiving. "I'm gonna pay you back for this one, so much..." he whispers.

"I'll hold you to that."

Stiles can't help but marvel at the beauty of Danny unwound.

He starts kissing down his abs.

"Someday." Kiss. "I'm gonna." Kiss. "Tie you down and work you up." Kiss nibble bite. "Till you lose your fucking mind."

Danny's pretty sure he's gonna crack the steering wheel of his car. Soon. His knuckles are white and the leather under his fingers slick.

"Only... If I get to do the same... In one of the studios. The barre... has... possibilities."

Stiles' lips, wet and hot on his skin, makes his stomach quiver in the best way, his voice along with it.

Stiles has to reach for his own cock, gripping the base tightly.

He rests his cheek on Danny's thigh for a minute.

"Jesus fuck, you have the best plans," he gasps out.

Stiles lifts his head and licks the precum-slick head of Danny's cock.

"Have to find something..." Danny grunts, his hips bucking slightly. "For you... Since... I can't... fuck... touch you right now," he finishes in a ragged breath.

He focuses on keeping still, even if Stiles' tongue is devilishly inviting.

"Fuck Stiles you're the best."

Eyes still shut to better enjoy the sensation. Also because if he looks down at Stiles blowing him in his car. he won't last. At all.

Stiles licks his way around Danny, working at all of the weak spots he's found so far.

He then takes a deep breath and swallows him to the root, hand working at Danny's drawn-tight balls.

"God fuck damn it fuck fuck"

He loses all self-control, spewing more and more curses while his whole body tightens and his hips go wild. 

Stiles opens his throat and just lets Danny fuck his mouth. He can't help but stroke himself, cock leaking where it's trapped between his abdomen and his tucked-up leg.

He pulls off just long enough to say, "come for me, beautiful," and takes Danny back in.

Evidently his body responds to Stiles only because as soon as the words are said his eyes roll back and he stops breathing. His hands finally let go of the wheel and he releases in Stiles' mouth. Spent, dead, the best kind of exhausted.

 

"Damn..." he murmurs, still reeling, while tiny shocks course through him. His hands start wandering, through Stiles' hair, down his back.

Stiles licks him clean and pulls away before Danny can get too sensitive. He rests his head on Danny's thigh and shifts to get a hand on his dick, stutterfucking into his own fist.

He whines into Danny's skin.

Danny is still dazed, not so much that he can stay idle. One hand goes for Stiles' chin, entices him to sit back up. He kisses him hungrily, pouring all the frustration and contentment into the kiss, while his other hand goes over Stiles'.

 "Your turn baby," he moans into his mouth.

Stiles comes with a grunt, spilling over their entwined hands.

"F-fuck, Danny, fuck."

Danny rests his forehead on Stiles', chuckling as he helps him ride the aftershock. "I know."

 He lets him catch his breath, his fingers playing through his hair for a few seconds before he start fumbling around for the wipes he keeps somewhere in this car (a guy never loses hope for car sex, rightly so, the events just showed). He finds them tucked against the middle console and hands them to Stiles after grabbing a couple for himself.

 "I can't believe I missed out on this all this time," he says as he pulls his pants back up. "Not the most comfortable but damn that's a thrill. Or maybe it's just you and your ways."

 He grins and kisses Stiles quickly. "Next time I'm fucking you into the backseat. Or you me."

Stiles fumbles with the fly of his jeans.

"Fuck, that sounds awesome."

He smiles goofily at his boyfriend. "Anything with you sounds awesome."

Danny looks down as he tucks his shirt back into his pants, something to do to get away from Stiles' way too adorable face.

 "You make everything awesome," he says. "I don't even want to imagine what it would have been like here without you."

 He looks back at Stiles, more serious. "I love you, you know. Not just for the crazy good sex, although I like it very much," he teases. "But really, I love you."

"I love you too." Stiles leans in for a kiss. "Now, let's get back before they send out the dogs."

The ride back to the house is comfortably silent.

 

When they get home, there's a thick manila envelope on the counter with Stiles' name on it. He opens it, somewhat perplexed.

As he reads through the information, his jaw drops further and further.

Juilliard has invited him to apply for the spring semester.

Danny comes back from the kitchen with 2 bottles of water in one hand, his phone in the other.

 "I don't know what's going on with this thing," he says, thumbing the screen, "I keep missing calls and texts and..." He looks up, sees Stiles frozen in place.

 "Stiles? Are you OK?" he asks. There is a bunch of official papers in his hand, he doesn't dare to read them. "Bad news?"

Stiles sinks to a chair, still dumbfounded.

"N-no. Great news, actually."

In the packet is an application to the school along with the applications for three different scholarships.

They want him.

Danny dumps the bottles on a coffee table and grabs the pile as he sits on the armrest of Stiles' chair.

 Juilliard. An official invitation to apply, scholarships. That's basically begging, coming from them.

 Stiles' dream is about to come true, in New York.

 3000 miles away.

 He cracks a smile and give him back the applications. "That's amazing news Stiles. I knew they would want you in the end."

Stiles still can't quite believe it.

"Have I really made that much of an impression? I was in the bottom this week, for crissake." He leans into Danny's side. "I can't believe this."

"I'm pretty sure this was sent out before the show. They just saw your performance and it was enough for them."

 He puts an arm around his boyfriend. "They saw what I saw, talent they couldn't pass up."

 He drops a kiss in Stiles' hair and settles there for a while.

Stiles settles in Danny's embrace.

He pulls him down for a kiss. "Let's go to bed."

"OK."

 They walk upstairs hand in hand, but Danny hesitates in the hallway. He's missed sleeping tangled up with Stiles, but this turn of event reminds him of why he hasn't moved his stuff back into Stiles' room. Distance.

 "Maybe I should sleep in my room tonight." he tries. Start getting used to it.

Stiles frowns. "Why?" 

Danny sighs and circles Stiles' waist.

"Because you have a lot to think about," he says, nodding to the papers Stiles is loosely holding, "and because if we'll have to do the long-distance thing, I'd rather be prepared."

He plants a kiss on his cheek, ducks his head down for a couple more on his neck.

"O-okay."

He wants to say shouldn't we enjoy it while we can? But the words don't come out.

"Goodnight, then."

"Goodnight." Danny hugs him tight, and his arms refuse to let Stiles go. "This might be harder than I thought," he whispers with a low chuckle. "I love you."

"I love you too." He kisses him. "You sure about two different bedrooms?"

"No." He kisses him, slow. "But it's the reasonable thing to do." He still can't let go, Stiles fitting too well in his arms.

"Fuck this whole thing is going to suck, no matter what we do." he laments. He clears his throat hastily. "I mean, not the school but the distance and... Forget it." One more kiss. "You choose."

"Spend the night with me," Stiles says quietly. "Let us enjoy it while we can."

Danny can feel his resolve weaken at the same rate his legs do. "Okay. Okay." he murmurs. He lets Stiles lead them to his room.

 

Every night with him will make it harder to let him go.

I don't have to start tonight.

Except tomorrow will come faster than you think.

 

Stiles peels his clothes off on the way to the bathroom. He brushes his teeth quickly and heads back out.

Danny is right behind him, and gets under the covers fast. The routine is easy to fall back into. Too easy.

He turns to his side, looking at Stiles lying down next to him.

 

How will you ever let that, him, get away from you? 

I don't know but I'll have to.

He's exhausted, burned out, but still his hand reaches out and runs up and down Stiles' arm. "So, you try to win this competition and then New York, that's the plan? Because you'll apply, right?"

"Competition, tour, a few weeks at home and then-- hopefully-- spring semester in New York."

Stiles scoots closer.

"Spring break in LA?" Danny wonders aloud, enticing Stiles to rest his head on his chest.

"Mm, I could get behind that plan." He pulls the covers up higher. "Spring break with you sounds fun."

"It would be," Danny replies.

 

Fun. Yes Danny, a few months from now you'll be just a cool distraction from his life. A fun, inconsequential pause in a year filled with important stuff, real people who will be around him every day. Isn't it great?

 

He brushes the sarcastic voice aside. It's just the fatigue that over-analyzes everything, again. He snuggles against Stiles and lets sleep take him over.  

Chapter Text

For the first time, Stiles has a nightmare in Danny's arms.

He's stepping off the plane to LA, looking for Danny in arrivals.

When he finally finds him, there's another man curled around him, a different set of hands on his ass, different lips on his.

A rock drops to the pit of his stomach.

"Oh, Stiles. I had forgotten about you," Danny says blithely. "Guess the long-distance just didn't work out."

 

When Danny opens his eyes, the bedroom is in an uncertain grayish light, and his phone tells him it's barely past 4 am.

He stares at the ceiling for a few seconds, blinking slowly and getting his bearings back. Normally it takes a lot to wake him up before it's time.

He's cold and looking down he notices the covers have slid from him, so have Stiles. He's curled up, facing away from him, bundled up in the entire blanket. He tugs playfully at them but his smile disappears when he hears it.

Tiny whimpers, mixed with half-swallowed sobs and uneven breathing. Suddenly fully awake, he rolls Stiles back towards him and cradles his pained face in his hands.

"Baby, wake up! What's going on? Stiles, please, wake up."

 

The scene shifts to Danny's car, someone's head in Danny's lap.

Danny turns to make eye contact with Stiles.

"Stiles, please, wake up."

What the hell?

 

Danny lets go of Stiles to work at freeing him from the tangled sheets. His eyes keep coming back to his face, searching for more signs that he's waking up. His breathing worries him too.

"Come on baby. It's just a nightmare, wake up..."

"Just a nightmare. Wake up..."

Stiles wakes suddenly, chest heaving with shaky breaths.

Danny is almost head-butted when Stiles wakes up. He regroups quickly and scrambles to sit up

among the wrecked bedding and at the same time gather Stiles in his arms.

 

"Hey, hey," he whispers in a soothing voice, rubbing one palm up Stiles' trembling back, the other down his arm." Everything's fine. It was just a nightmare."

"Y-y-you forgot about me," Stiles says between gasping sobs. "I was in New York and y-you found someone-- someone new."

"It was just a freak dream, Stiles. Like that would ever happen." He holds him close and scatters kisses along his damp hairline. "You're hard, no, impossible to forget."

"It could happen," Stiles insists. "Because I'm just a weirdo who talks too damn much and has incapacitating panic attacks, and you're... you're you. And what'll happen when we're on opposite sides of the country and I can't keep you with me at night and I can't convince you to stay and and and--"

Danny turn's Stiles' head to look him straight in the eyes. "Hey, don't. I love you. Everything about you. So you talk a lot, OK. I don't. I love it because I don't have to wrack my brains to come up with something to say just to keep the silence away. You don't have to keep me or convince me of anything. I'm staying."

He brushes his lips against Stiles'. He sighs softly. "I should be the one worried. You'll be the gorgeous prodigy at that great school. Everyone will be after you, all year, and I'm supposed to compete? The quiet ballet boy you hung out with for a few weeks?"

"Hey, I love my quiet ballet boy. You anchor me." Stiles tucks his face into Danny's neck. "I'm so in love with you that it scares me sometimes. Scares me because it give you so much power over me."

"I'm one of the good guys Stiles," he says, his fingers sneaking up to slide in Stiles' hair. "I won't hurt you, I promise."

As if your slate is perfectly clean.

He closes his eyes and inhales deeply. "I'll use this power in the bedroom though, if you want," he teases.

Jokes won't always shut up your conscience Danny.

Stiles moves them until he has Danny spooning him.

"Promise?"

"Promise. Now sleep, we can still sneak in an hour or two."

He stares at the mole-dotted skin an inch from him, kisses it lightly. Stiles look so much smaller in his arms, all of a sudden.

"I'll do what it takes to keep you happy. I promise," he repeats.

Stiles settles back to sleep, soothed by Danny's promises.

At least for now.

It's a long two hours, spent watching Stiles' neck, listening to his steady breathing.

It might have been just a nightmare but the worry is legitimate.

 

When 6 am finally rolls around, he delicately remove his arm from under Stiles and takes a long shower. He's exhausted, his mind is in shambles but at least he's clean.

Stiles wakes cold and alone, his heart racing until he hears the shower running.

Danny is still here.

He slides out of bed and starts his morning stretches, wincing at the soreness in his back and legs.

 Danny comes out of the bathroom in his boxers, ruffling his hair with a small towel. Stiles is stretching and grunting, not just from effort.

 He dumps the towel on the dresser and sits behind Stiles, legs spread, hands on his shoulders.

"How do you feel this morning?" he asks, digging his fingers expertly in the flesh, rolling the muscles between them.

Stiles lets out a porn-worthy moan as Danny works on his back.

"Like hell, but don't fucking stop."

 Danny has a private smile and kisses Stiles behind his ear. "With that kind of reaction I won't."

 He scoots a little further away, works his hands downwards, taking care of the trapezius, deltoids and obliques on his way.

 "You wanna talk about it?"

"The massage? Or the... the nightmare."

"When it comes to my massage skills, I've heard it all. So, yeah, the other thing." He alternates between deep pushes and rolls and gentles caresses. "But only if you want to."

 Stiles takes a deep breath. Maybe this will be easier if he can't see Danny's face after all.

 "Okay. Okay." He takes a deep breath. "I've dreamt of going to Juilliard for... for my whole life, almost. My mom went there, you know? But... it's three thousand miles away from you and LA. I'm scared, Danny. Scared as hell that this is just a fling, that we'll move across the country after the tour and one of us will forget the other."

Danny runs the pads of his fingers all over Stiles' back, a very fleeting touch.

 "It's never been a fling, not for me. Maybe it should have been, something like what JD and Jen or Morrell and Malia had, only for a longer period." He sighs. "It would make it easier for us, now and later."

 He hooks his chin on Stiles' shoulder and slides his arms around him. "But it's not. I love you and I'll make sure this doesn't fizzle out because of the distance."

 He bites his lip. "Besides, who says I can't transfer for my senior year? They have a ballet school in New York and NYU offers the same BA. I can get a scholarship there too."

Stiles inhales sharply.

 "Y-you would do that?"

 

These things don't last. Something that seems too good to be true usually is.

Oh, shut up.

 

"I moved to LA just a year ago. Sure I have friends I'll miss, I guess I can add Jen, Jackson and Lydia to those but I don't have many ties here. I'm used to having my family in Hawaii, being in New York won't change a lot for them or me."

 He kisses Stiles' neck. "You were willing to discuss moving to LA, not so long ago. It's not a stretch for me to do the same."

 Stiles leans into Danny's touch. "That would be... that would be amazing. And, I mean, this is all assuming I get in. Otherwise, I'll be in LA for the Spring Semester."

 "Please. I never heard of anyone getting such an offer from Juilliard. You're a lock-in."

 "But thank you for the sentiment. I might bring it back up when I'm freezing my ass in the winter and regretting sunny California," he laughs.

 "Mm, I'll help you warm up your ass if you freeze it. I have personal investment in that."

 "How kind. I knew it was all about my ass for you."

 "Come on now, before we skip to winter, we have to survive rehearsal first."

-

Stiles pours himself into the Jazz routine, but during breaks he can't help but think about the applications sitting in his bag. He still hasn't told anyone besides Danny, isn't sure how everything would go over with the others.

 

He'll tell Cora after Group rehearsal.

Too good to be true.  

You never get everything you want.

-

"Good Danny, nice! The footwork is perfect. Remember to smile more, OK?"

 He's gonna kill him.

 They rehearse for another hour before plopping down in a corner with towels and bottles of water. Danny glances at Lydia. "You and Jackson, you talk about after the show, what will happen between you two?"

Lydia shrugs. "Not really. Not much will change anyway, except we won't live together." She takes a careful sip and examines him. "Is this about Stiles?"

 "Just asking."

 "Sure. You'll work it out sweetie. You two can do this." She pats his leg. "Now let's do this again. And gimme more smiles, OK?"

 He chokes on his last sip.

 

Everyone comes together around two to work on the group number.

Stiles has to focus completely on the dance, or he'll slip and tell the world.

 It can wait. Nothing is definite.

 Nothing good lasts.

 

When they finally break for the evening, a tired heap of dancers sprawled around the studio, Stiles pulls Cora into the corner. He explains about the envelope from Juilliard quickly and quietly.

 "Omigod, that's fantastic!" Cora throws her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. "I'm so happy for you."

 Jackson nudges Danny and hands him an energy bar. "What's going on with your boy and Cora?" he asks, sitting down in a mess of long legs. He winks at Lydia who sighs and scoots closer to rest her head on his shoulder.

 Danny shakes his head. "He's got some good news, I guess he told her."

 Jackson starts running his hand over Lydia's hair and stares at Stiles still embracing an ecstatic Cora. "Must be awesome news. What happened?"

 "Not for me to tell." Danny replies. "But it's good."

 Then why does he look so bleak?

 

Stiles finally extricates himself from Cora's grasp, and she slips into place between Boyd and Erica. (Stiles really doesn't want to know.)

 He finds Danny and sprawls out on the floor beside him, head in his lap. 

 "Hi."

 "Hi yourself," Danny says, stroking Stiles hair. "You were great today. It's going to be a fantastic number."

 Maybe small talk will get him out of his funk.

 "Thanks. You were pretty awesome yourself." Stiles closes his eyes, enjoying Danny's hand in his hair. "You too, Jackson, as loathe as I am to admit it."

 Jackson grins. "I'm inevitably awesome, it's about time you see that."

 Lydia and Danny roll their eyes in perfect sync.

 Danny leans forward. "Are you freaking out about... you know?" he whispers.

 "Yeah, a little," Stiles whispers back. "I can't help it."

 "One day at the time, remember? To think I used to be the one panicking ahead of time."

 He runs the back of his hand across Stiles' cheek. "This is good news, I love you and we have numbers to master. That's all that matters now."

 Stiles smiles. "That's all that matters." He frowns slightly. "Should I tell them?"

 "Your call. I didn't say anything."

 Stiles opens his eyes and looks over at Jackson and Lydia.

 "I've been invited to apply at Juilliard."

 Jackson' hand falls from Lydia's hair, just like his jaw drops down. Lydia perks up all smiles and happy squeals.

 "No way. I didn't get in and you do?" Jackson whines.

 Danny refrains from punching him in the face but Lydia elbows him so it's OK.

 Stiles shrugs. "I don't know for sure. I still have to apply and audition. Nothing is definite yet."

 Nothing good lasts.

 Stiles shakes it off.

 "If they watch the show, they'll take you for sure." Lydia states firmly. Jackson sends her a  betrayed look. "Oh let it go Jackson. I can recognize talent when I see it and the kid's got it, OK?"

 Danny smiles and gets up slowly, leading Stiles up with him.

 "Enjoy it, it's great news." he tells him.

 

 His phone rings at the other end of the studio, he kisses Stiles' cheek rapidly before jogging to get it. It's Stef's ringtone.

 "Hello little sis," he greets her.

 "Hi Danny! So, ready for your surprise?"

 

 Stiles stares up at Lydia and Jackson until Lydia pats her leg.

 "C'mere."

 Stiles grins, laying his head on her thigh.

 

 "Sure," Danny replies, the smile shining in his voice.

 "OK so this took a lot of arm twisting and puppy do eyes and I'm pretty sure I used up all my favors for the year but if you can hold on another 2 weeks there, which you can because you're awesome and we've been voting and we'll keep on voting so anyway..."

 "Stef."

 "Yeah?" she pants.

 "Get to the point please?"

 She giggles. "I'm coming to see you! For like, until the show's over!"

 He frowns. "What? How did you manage that? Mom's coming as well?" That would be a damper.

He turns around, his face softening at the sight of Stiles in a puppy pile with Lydia. Cute.

 Stef scoffs. "As if. I would never do that to you. No, that's the other part of the surprise. Sean came back from Europe, he's taking me!"

 Danny's mind goes blank.

 "Great," he replies numbly.

 

Lydia runs her fingers through Stiles' hair, nails scratching at his scalp. Stiles melts into the floorboards of the studio.

 "God, never stop."

 Lydia chuckles. "I won't for now, but I can't promise you forever."

  Nothing good lasts.

 

Danny regains some sense, enough to reply to Stef. His eyes stays on Stiles. "How... How can he do that, I mean it's weeks..."

 "He'll tell you himself, it's a long story and I know he'll want to tell it himself and anyway who cares we're both going to be right there to cheer you up and I get to meet Stiles and Lydia and those hot twins and..."

 "You're 13 Stef, calm down with the guy chase." he says quickly. Of course she doesn't know what happened, doesn't see why he can't have Sean around, for weeks on top of that.

Can't or won't?

She sighs exaggeratedly. "Fiiiine. But it's going to be awesome. So hang in there, don't get yourself eliminated or anything and we'll see you soon! Love you!"

"Love you too."

He turns his phone off slowly and heads back to Stiles.

"What's up?" Stiles asks. "How's your sister?"

 Danny smiles slightly, still a little shocked. "She's great, as chatty as usual."

 He pauses, toys with his phone in his hands. "She's coming in a couple of weeks to see me. If I'm still in the competition that is. Although I'm sure she'll come anyway since it's not like I'll be far away.

 He chuckles harsh. "She'll just regret not to meet the hotties from the show."

"Isn't she like, twelve?"

 "Thirteen," Lydia corrects.

 "Right, thirteen. Is she coming out on her own?"

 He bites his lip. "No. One of our friends is coming with her. I don't know how they'll make it here but he's got the means. I'm not worried."

That's not true.

 OK Sean's family is loaded but the other part? Blatant lie.

 "Oh. Okay."

 Lydia gives Stiles one last scratch before easing him off of her lap.

 "I've gotta go home and take a shower before our date," she explains as she gathers her things. "Congrats."

 "Thanks, Lyds."

Danny gives her a quick hug before turning back to Stiles.

Two more weeks. Push him away from your thoughts.

 "So, should we go too or are you cramming more rehearsal? I can hit the gym if that’s the case."

Yes, distractions.

 Stiles looks over at Cora, who has Boyd rubbing her shoulders and Erica, her feet.

 "I'm pretty sure my partner is being seduced and I really don't want to go there." Stiles bites his lip. "Can we just go home? Shower, veg out in front of the tv, whatever?"

 Danny sighs, relieved. "Yes. I think that would be awesome."

 

"Need help in the shower Danny," Sean calls out from his spot on the bench. There's a jokey smile on his face but a hint of dare in his eyes.

  "No Sean," Danny replies, fondly annoyed. That kid is persistent.

 

Danny shakes his head and smiles at Stiles. "An evening with you is all I want."

 

Get the fuck out of my head Sean. Alex almost ruined this, I won't let you do the same.

  Except you're the one who's not letting go of your exes here...

 

They head back to the house and shower separately. Stiles pulls on one of Danny's t-shirts and boxers and curls up on the end of the couch.

 

"Come on, Stilinski. Don't be so fucking useless."

  Stiles exchanges a look with Tiffany, his flyer.

 " How do you reckon he's useless?" Tiffany demands. "Stiles is a better base than half the other guys on the squad."

  Amber James steps into their bubble.

"We have to be the best. We can't be the best if dancer boy doesn't get his shit together." She scowls up at Stiles. "No wonder you haven't made it into college.”

 

Danny steps into the living room, snacks in one hand, a huge blanket wrapped around his other arm. He has a fond smile at the sight of Stiles.

 Sean never wore his clothes. That's something that's Stiles' and his only.

 "I really love it when you wear my stuff," he comments as he deposits the tray with crackers and drinks on the coffee table.

 Stiles doesn't answer and he turns to see him lost deep in thoughts. He sits next to him and drapes the blanket over them both.

 "Come here, and tell me what's wrong. You have the face."

 "Hate to break it to you, but I only have the one face. This isn't Repo." Stiles shakes his head to clear it. "It's nothing. Just memories."

 "Still, they're upsetting you. You can tell me you know, if it helps," Danny shrugs, flipping through the channels.

 You're one to talk.

 He reaches with his foot, drags the table closer until he can put the bowl of popcorn on the armrest. He elects to lean on Stiles' shoulder and discards the remote after picking out what looks like an OK comedy with Ryan Reynolds.

 "It isn't worth mentioning," Stiles says softly. He presses a kiss to Danny's head. "Not when I have you here with me."

 He wraps an arm around him, maximizing contact.

 

They're all eating dinner one big happy, chatty group. Except it's wrong. There are people from his school, Lucy and Philip, sitting there next to Laura. JD is back and talking with Jen.

  He turns to his left, to Stiles and Sean is right on the other side of him.

 " Stiles, didn't Danny tell you about us? What he did? You should know this," Sean says with a smile. He gets up and drags a curious, eager Stiles away from the table and talking animatedly to him with satisfied glances to Danny. And Danny is rooted in place while Sean pulls Stiles out of the room, further and further away from him.

 

Danny opens his eyes, confused and startled. His head has slid down to Stiles' lap. There's another movie playing out. He feels out of place and shuffles about for a second. He picks up the blanket, secures it around him. He's shivering. The AC is set too high.

 Stiles jerks awake when Danny moves, startling out of his dream.

 "...herkies are perfect, bitch," he slurs sleepily. He rubs at his eyes. "Babe? Something wrong?"

 "Just a weird dream," Danny replies, shaking.

 An omen.

 "Hey, hey hey, c'mere." Stiles pulls Danny into his lap and tucks the blanket around them both.

 He rubs Danny's back. "Wanna talk about it?

 Danny buries his face in Stiles' neck, inhales that spicy scent that he loves so much.

 "It wasn't anything, really, just stuff that didn't make sense." he mumbles.

  It will soon though. You'll have to tell him before it does.

"M'kay." Stiles yawns, shifting so they're lying on the couch, not just the end of it. He kisses the parts of Danny he can reach. "Love you." 

"I love you too," he whispers, scooting his back closer to Stiles' chest.

It's perfect there, loving, warm but his conscience still keeps him up for an hour before he falls asleep.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes feeling like a bag of knots, alone on the couch. Cora is perched on the coffee-table with her mug, looking truly well-fucked.

"I don't want to know. Where's Danny?"

Cora shrugs.

 

Things look better, less dramatic in the daylight. Danny takes a quick shower, brushes his teeth and gets dressed. Each step makes the dream and what it implied less threatening.

Soon. When it's right I'll explain it to him. There's nothing to worry about. We've both moved on and whatever wrong I did, it's forgivable.

He keeps repeating forgivable in his head as he comes down and back into the living room, to a ruffled Stiles (cute) and a sated Cora (ew).

"Cora people eat on that table. Your ass off of it please."

 

Cora sticks her tongue out at Danny as she walks back into the kitchen. (Stiles is fairly certain that's Boyd's shirt.)

Stiles yawns and runs his fingers through his hair. "G'morning, Beautiful."

 

Danny sits on the edge of the table (it's OK, he's wearing bottoms, she wasn't) and leans to kiss Stiles softly. 

"Good morning gorgeous. How did you sleep? Your hair is epic by the way."

 

Stiles shrugs. "The couch isn't exactly comfortable. But it was fine." He attempts to flatten his hair with his hand, in vain.

 

Danny stops his hand. "Let it go. It's really cute bed hair. Well, couch hair." 

He feels a tug at his heart. Mornings like this one, he'll miss them. He attempts a smile and pulls Stiles to his feet. "Come on, big day ahead of us, again."

 

Stiles lets Danny pull him into the kitchen, and he eats what's put in front of him.

He doesn't really wake up until after his shower, and he goes through his morning stretch a bit perkier than he did breakfast.

--

Rehearsal is a huge step back, at first. Danny slept on one his arm and the muscles are still sore, something he doesn't notice until the first lift of his routine and he drops Lydia on the floor.

He gets an earful from the choreographer and Lydia (slaps from Lydia too). It's a good thing, in the end. He spends so much time focusing on stepping it up, making for it, that he doesn't spare a thought for Stiles or Sean. Just dancing.

At the end of the day the choreographer has no criticism of their routine. Except maybe smiling more.

--

The jazz number is intense-- flips and tricks and combinations that don't seem humanly possible. And that's just the physical aspect.

"You love her, dammit. You love her, and you are losing her. Act like it!"

Stiles is an emotional wreck by the time they get to group work.

Though, all he has to do is give Scott his best puppy eyes, and he's wrapped in a Scott-Allison-Isaac hug.

 

Group number goes better for Danny too. It's more his style, calmer, more about control and precision than speed.

He gives his best performance there, to the point where even Jackson congratulates him. It feels good, pushing the personal worries aside and diving back into the dancing.

Of course once the day is done and Stiles is finally alone and looking at him, with those eyes, it's all out the window and he goes to him immediately, sliding his hand in his.

 

Stiles buries his face in Danny's neck, not giving a damn if they're seen. He doesn't say anything, just waits.

 

"Hey there," Danny says, voice soft. "Is everything alright?"

He brings his other arm up to pull Stiles into a hug, sending a dark glare in the direction of a nosy cameraman, making him effectively retreat.

 

"Super emotional number," Stiles explains softly. "Doesn't help the feelings of inadequacy or the abandonment issues."

 

"Wanna get away for the evening?" Danny asks, one hand rubbing soothing circles in Stiles' back. "We could go to the beach, or just pick up some food and hang out in my apartment. Just get you out of this setup."

 

"Hell yes. I want to be anywhere but here."

 

"Then let's."

 

They share a ride back to the house with Heather and Boyd, comfortable and silent passengers, freshen up quickly and within half an hour they're in Danny's car.

"Where to?" Danny wonders, fiddling with the controls to get the AC on at the right level. His stomach grumbles. "Whatever we do, food first because I'm starving."

 

Stiles bites his lip, fidgeting with the strap of his bag.

 

"Your apartment, please. We can pick up food on the way there."

 

"OK," Danny says. He extends a hand to twine his fingers around Stiles'.

He makes a quick stop at In-N-Out ("trust me, the best burgers you'll ever have. Plus their curly fries are great.") and soon enough he's parking the car in front of the familiar two-stories building. 

He grabs the bag of food and the tray of sodas and lead Stiles upstairs. "It's not a palace," he says in the dark and damp-smelling staircase, "but it's nice enough, and the rent is cheap so I don't have to put up with roommates. He fiddles with his keys and opens the door letting the confined air out for a second before entering.

 

Stiles follows Danny inside, struck for a moment that this will be the first time he sees Danny in his own space. Not a hotel room, not a room at the house. 

Danny's home.

 

"Here we are," Danny says, gesturing vaguely. "My domain." He turns on the lights.

On his right a minuscule kitchen with the bare necessities. On his left a small living room invaded by an ancient but still comfortable couch and a decent-sized TV. There's a portable barre along the back wall.

He points the hallway leading out of the kitchen. "Bedroom and bathroom are down there. For later," he jokes, stepping into the living room and settling the food on the tiny coffee table. He looks around, somewhat happy. There are scattered pictures all over the walls but that's the extent of personalization he did. It's never been a home, never had time to become such, but it's cozy, and his.

It feels even better with Stiles in it.

 

Stiles grins, immediately settling in on one end of the couch and pulling the world's ugliest afghan over his lap. (He's been cold, absurdly so considering it's July in LA.)

"I like it."

 

"Good." Danny says, and he's not sure if he's talking about Stiles' opinion, his smile or just the fact that he's here, in his place, and that it's like he was always there. Or should be, at least.

He digs happily into his burger, casting looks at Stiles here and there.

"Feel better?" he asks.

In any case he looks better.

 

Stiles swallows a mouthful of curly fries before attempting to speak. "I am. I think I just needed to get away from it all."

 

"We'll always have here as an option when it gets too much," Danny says, poking playfully at Stiles' leg with his foot.

He sobers up quickly. Yeah, even if he gets eliminated he'll end up here so... It'll still be there for Stiles.

 

Stiles notices the slight fall in Danny's demeanor. 

"You know, I've never had a place of my own," he says between fries. "I just graduated high school in May, and what I had of a summer before this was spent in the Den."

 

Danny leans back, balling up the wrapping paper of his burger and tossing it in the bag. A smallish smile appears on his face. Stiles, always good at talking him out of depressing thoughts.

"It's the best thing about college life. Real freedom, in all the little things. Of course it's stressful, money issues, etc., but I wouldn't go back to living with my mother for all the money in the world."

He looks around the cramped space, at the pictures on the wall. "I miss my sister and the friends I left back home but it's the price of independence. And of coming from an island with no dance schools worth considering."

 

"I'll have to live in the dorms at Juilliard," Stiles says quietly. "And it'll probably be dorm life for me out here, too."

 

Danny pokes Stiles's shin again. "Juilliard. Stop doubting."

He picks up his soda and sips it thoughtfully. "You can try the dorms for a year. By then I'll be done with my BA, hopefully working or dancing professionally. We could afford a place, even in pricey New York."

 

Stiles can't help his stupid grin.

"Christ, we'd end up in a shoebox in Bushwick, because even if one of us wins, the money should go in savings." He sips his Dr. Pepper, biting the straw into submission. "It would be the world's homiest shoebox, though-- with show posters and too many jackets on too few hooks and pictures of our friends and our shows."

 

"No problem with that. As long as it's big enough for you and a bed. And a barre."

He finishes his drink and dunks the cup like the wrapping paper, directly in the bag. He grins. 2 points.

"Oh and it has to have a T1 line. And decent wifi. Otherwise I can't work."

He looks at Stiles munching on his straw, wrapped up in the horrible throw that his aunt gave him and damn if it isn't the best thing he's seen in... forever.

"I'd live anywhere with you," he confesses in a low voice. Then steals a few fries to divert the seriousness of his statement.

 

Stiles smacks Danny's hand with a fond smile. "Hey, hands off the curly fries."

"I'd live anywhere with you, too," he adds.

 

He sneaks from under Stiles' arm and grabs two more fries.

"Even though I'm a food stealer?" he asks with a sly smile. He pops his loot in his mouth with a moan of appreciation. "You might be converting me, those are really good."

 

"You may be pushing your luck there, babe." Stiles holds the curly fries up over their heads. "Mine."

 

Danny raises an eyebrow. "I thought I was all yours. You can't have it all baby."

 

"I beg to differ. I fully intend to have it all. 

Nothing good lasts.

Stiles shoves the last few curly fries in his mouth and tosses the container into the bag.

"Two points."

 

Danny turns away with a tsk and crosses his arms. "Just for that, I should pout and refuse to put out. Teach you a lesson on life."

 

Stiles plasters himself along Danny's back, lips on his ear.

"Are you sure about that? Because I remember you saying something about being able to make noise and not get arrested."

 

Danny scoffs but his whole neck is burning and his heart rate picks up.

"You're going to have to do better than this. I'm really mad, they were delicious."

He tries hard to keep the smile and the trembling out of his voice.

 

Stiles kisses that one spot behind Danny's ear and rakes his teeth across it gently.

"Mm, I also remember something about interesting uses of barres. And you have a barre right there."

 

"Mmm,..."

Goosebumps flare all across his nape, shoulders and down his arms and he knows he's giving himself away.

"Not as fun as the one in the studios," he mumbles. A deep breath, to steady his heart, and he continues. "Especially if we tell Jackson we did something with it and then we can watch him freak out."

 

Stiles kisses down his neck with a smirk and starts on a fresh hickey.

"What if I say you can spank me for eating the last curly fries?"

 

Danny's breath hitches in his throat and he shifts against Stiles with a groan. The image is powerfully arousing, so much that his hands are twitching.

He turns around swiftly, surprising Stiles with a deep and inflamed kiss. "Then you should get to that barre, now," he says decisively after pulling away.

 

"Yes sir."

Stiles strips his shirts off and bends over the bar, arms spread parallel to the wood.

 

Dear God.

Danny admires the view for a few seconds before copying Stiles, shirt on the floor, and stopping a couple of inches from him. His hand runs easily down his back, and he leans forward, pressing gentle kisses across the planes of his shoulderblade.

"You're... Amazing."

How can he describe this guy who's so genuinely playful, arousing, so open and loving? Perfect.

He kisses his neck a couple of times and stands back up. He takes off his belt, links it around Stiles' wrists and the barre in a messy knot. A very loose one, he runs his fingers under each loop to make sure of it.

"Just so you don't get away. I'm keeping you," he whispers.

 

Stiles shivers at Danny's touch and the restriction on his wrists.

"You don't have to worry about that," he says breathlessly. "I'm here to stay."

 

Danny bites his lip, hard, because those words might have touched him too much. At least too much for a moment like this one.

"Good," is all he says, and he goes to work on Stiles, sliding his pants down, leaving his boxers on. It's a better sensation that way, let's just say jeans adds an unwelcome sting.

He runs his hand over the smooth curve of Stiles' ass, slowly, before pulling away and letting it fall. A short, strong but careful slap. The first of several.

 

Stiles moans, arching into Danny's touch. His head drops, hanging from his shoulders like a marionette with the strings cut.

 

Danny stops after a minute, even if Stiles' moans should push him to continue. He leans forward, chest to back, and kisses his neck, from base to right behind his ear.

"You're enjoying this a little too much, for a punishment." he whispers.

 

Stiles whimpers, pushing his ass into Danny's crotch.

"Please..."

 

"Didn't I say something about working you up too?" Danny soughs against Stiles' skin. He nuzzles the junction of his neck and shoulder, where it's warm, getting warmer by the second. He grins, kisses it softly. "Again, you'll have to do better than this."

But he offers a little something anyway, slipping one hand in Stiles' underwear, splayed fingers running down his ass and reaching for his balls.

 

Stiles' head drops and he lets out a guttural groan.

Fuck, Danny is so fucking awesome.

 

Danny's hand reaches further, comes back out, slides again, palm pressing hard on the cheeks before one finger slips in the crack.

"Still with me baby?" he asks in a shaky breath, leaning his forehead on Stiles' back. Just the sounds his boyfriend is making are enough to bother him. Greatly.

He inhales deeply. " 'cause I can do worse if it's the case."

 

"M s-still with you," Stiles stutters out, hands gripping the barre. "You c'n do more."

 

"I have to, you can still talk," Danny says with a smirk. He nips at Stiles' neck, works up a flagrant hickey (his turn), before pulling his hand out and dropping to his knees.

He sidesteps until he's under Stiles, the sound of his ragged breathing loud in his ears. and his erection right in front of him.

"Something like this might do," he says, yanking Stiles' briefs all the way down and licking a long, thorough stripe up his length.

 

Stiles' knees give out, a senseless garbled noise escaping his throat.

"D... Danny..." he gasps out.

 

Danny's hand reflexively shoot up to grab Stiles' hips, keeping him up and in place.

"Still..." He licks again and again. "Talking." He takes him fully in his mouth, sucking deep and teasingly slow.

 

Nothing escapes but moans and grunts. 

Not a word remains in Stiles' mind.

 

Danny enjoys the relative silence, sucks Stiles with even more vigor. Satisfaction, pride too, can be a powerful motivator.

He lets go when he feels Stiles' cock becoming too rigid and his breathing coming out is short gasps. "Got you right on the edge, good." He drops tiny kisses, infuriating (he hopes) nips on the quivering skin of Stiles stomach.

"What should we do now?"

 

Stiles scrambles to gather his wits from where they lay at his feet.

"F-fuck m-m-me," he gasps out. "Please, please fuck me."

 

Danny gets back up, faster than he would like to but given the erection he's sporting it's a relief to get into a less restrictive position.

"Begged like this, how can I say no." He shed off his pants and underwear, drops them on the floor. "Don't go anywhere," he jokes, heading for his bedroom. Lube and condom quickly retrieved from his nightstand, he goes back to Stiles.

He leans against him, one hand between them to prep Stiles, while he kisses that one spot behind his ear again. He's almost too excited to take his time but not so much that all care goes out the window.

"Are you OK? Your arms and everything?" he asks softly.

 

"M'good, babe," Stiles says sincerely. "Green, all systems go, full steam ahead."

 

"Then..."

He gets a couple more fingers in Stiles, to be sure, and blindly puts on a condom. He could make him wait for it, beg for it again, but Stiles' not the only one desperate for release. He buries himself in in fast, maybe carelessly but it's too intense for him to really care. His arms slide over Stiles' and he cover him entirely. His hips do all the work and his mind shuts off everything but pleasure.

 

Stiles rides high as Danny plows into him. The only things holding him up are the barre and Danny's hold on him.

He's close, so damn close, but he can't quite tip over the edge.

 

"Fuck Stiles, you feel so perfect. So damn right," Danny mutters.

His thrusts increase in depth, speed, force, everything. He can't control them anymore. So near, so soon.

"Come with me. Want you there with me." he groans in Stiles' ear.

 

Stiles comes seconds after Danny does, falling apart at the seams as his mind goes white.

 

Danny spends a minute resting on Stiles, completely disoriented and blissful, before his mind comes back into his body and he pulls away, releasing Stiles from the belt before making a quick trip to the bathroom to discard the condom and bring back a wet washcloth.

He runs it lovingly all over Stiles, lingering on the rosy marks on his butt and on his wrists.

 

Stiles sinks to the floor, pulling the god-awful afghan over himself sleepily.

"Y're so awesome," he slurs.

 

"Thanks, " Danny chuckles, "but it's no reason for you to sleep on the floor."

Despite legs barely holding on, he kneels down, picks Stiles up and carries him bridal-style to his bedroom.

 

Stiles settles into Danny's bed happily, almost purring when Danny climbs in with him.

"I love you," he murmurs, tucking his face into Danny's chest.

 

"I love you," Danny whispers back, arms closing over Stiles.

The euphoria is slowly wearing off. He casts a look around his room. Now, with Stiles wrapped around him, it feels like home.

I don't want to leave, I don't want to go back. I don't care. Just give me this, all the time. It's all I want.

It's the most terrifying thought. He's never loved like this, to the point of giving up.

Wait. It's just the aftershock.

 

Stiles is almost asleep, almost free, when the voice in the back of his head slips its bonds.

Nothing good lasts.

You were in the bottom. You could go home. What happens when you're back in Dumbfuck, back with the pack?

Juilliard may not go through. LA may not go through.

What happens if he doesn't want you anymore?

Nothing good lasts.

Stiles whimpers, buries his face in Danny's chest.

 

Danny's eyes remain closed but his brow furrow when Stiles moves around on him, when fingers curl frantically around his arm.

His hand goes from his shoulder to the base of his neck. "Hey, baby, what's wrong?'" he says, his hand making nonsensical patterns on his neck.

 

"Nothing good lasts," Stiles whispers without thinking.

The weariness and sleepiness overtakes the reason and are to blame for his immediate, unfiltered response.

 

"That's true," Danny replies.

His heart sinks and his eyes shoot open as soon as the words leave his mouth.

 

Stiles shakes it off, pulls Danny closer.

"I love you anyway."

 

"Love you too."

Danny resettles, closes his eyes. Buries his face in Stiles' hair.

Love him too much.

He's right, it won't last. Since when does he deserves it to?

 

"Love... you..." Stiles drifts to sleep, comforted by Danny's arms around him.

-- 

Danny wakes up slowly, sun filtering through the blinds and hitting him square in the eyes.

Fuck. What time is it?

He twists his head around to catch a glance at the alarm clock on his desk.

9:48.

His eyes widen and he shakes Stiles and sits up simultaneously, legs scrambling to get to the floor.

"Stiles, we're dead. Well, I'll be, as soon as Lydia gets her hands on me."

 

Stiles wakes abruptly and scrambles around for his clothes and phone and wallet and shit. He's dressed in two minutes. New record, to be honest.

Stiles shoves Danny out and follows him down to the car.

"Go go go."

 

He's never driven that fast in his whole life. Parking the car in front of the house, he regrets it immediately.

Lydia and Cora are sitting outside on the front steps, faces unreadable but Danny can imagine their thoughts.

Danny rests his head on the wheel for a second, turns the engine off. Deep breaths.

"Today is gonna suck...." he groans. He turns to look at Stiles. "How do you feel about running off to Mexico? They have this competition there too, right?"

 

"We have to go in." Stiles pulls Danny in for a quick kiss before sliding out of the car.

"Cora, I'm sorry, I--"

She holds up a hand. "Have you worked out whatever shit was rankling in your soul last night?"

To a point, yeah.

Stiles nods.

"Don't do this again." She turns sharply and heads inside. Stiles follows obediently.

 

"Lydia I'm sorry..."

"It's fine," she replies, lips pursed. "Did you have a nice evening, good sleep?"

Danny stares at her, dumbfounded. "Well, yeah. Thanks for asking."

"No need to thank me," she shrugs, "I'm just making sure you'll have the energy needed. Rehearsal starts now, ends at ten tonight. We’re stopping for snacks, the outfitting but that’s it."

He swallows back any protest. "O-Okay."

You put her in jeopardy too.

"You're in for a world of pain mister," she warns as she walks away briskly.

The following twelve hours prove her right, and Danny has no strength, energy or will to live left when the day ends.

 

Stiles and Cora are both sobbing wrecks by the end of the night, but their routine is damn near perfect.

"I just-- I don't want to leave you," Cora gasps into Stiles' chest. "I can't bear even the thought."

Stiles holds her close, pressing kisses to her hair. "I know. I know. I can't think about it either."

Danny leaving, though... the floor would drop out of your world, right?

Oh, shut up.

 

Danny drags himself to a shower and a change, incapable of more and drops like a bag of rocks on his bed.

Jackson is kind enough to leave him an energy bar and a bottle of water on the dresser before heading out with Lydia. A "sorry my girlfriend is a drill sergeant and nearly killed you" present.

He can't even bring himself to eat it.

It's worth it. You finally have the right speed, and the lifts flow perfectly now. Keep the energy up during the number and it's in the bag.

Will it be enough? After last week's mess? Plus the audience never clicks with ballroom numbers the way they do with contemporary.

He forces himself to sit up, grab the bar and eat a few bites. He has to make it work.

 

Stiles and Cora end up entwined on the couch, still shaking some despite food and Kim Possible.

"I really like them, Stiles," Cora says quietly. "Like, a lot. I can't stand the thought of leaving them."

"I know, baby." Stiles runs his fingers through her hair gently. "I just can't stomach the idea of Danny or I leaving."

Chapter Text

Sunday morning rolls around and Danny has no recollection of falling asleep in the first place. The half-eaten bar is on his nightstand and a blanket is haphazardly thrown over him. For a second he hopes Stiles is there but there is no sign of him in the room or the bathroom. One look to his left informs him that Jackson came back here for the night. Lydia too.                              

Well at least if they did it you didn't hear or see anything.

He brushes his teeth and gets dressed in basics. He gets downstairs, sees Stiles and Cora in a tangled mess of limbs on the couch. He shakes his head and goes in the kitchen, letting reason and jealousy do their usual battle inside. Heather is perched on the counter, feet kicking around and she pours him a cup at first sight of his face, handing it with a shy smile and no words.

 

Stiles is reluctant to wake up. He's warm, content. He goes to press his face into Danny's chest when...

"Tits! Jesus H Christ, not my boyfriend."

Cora scowls at him from the floor. "No shit, Sherlock."

 

Boyd and Erica stop down the stairs and contemplate the scene Stiles and Cora just created.

Boyd rolls his eyes and glances into the kitchen. "Hey," he hollers at Danny once their eyes meet. "Your boyfriend is a flailing danger."

 

Danny shrugs and walks up to them, his gaze following Erica's. Cora's getting back up and rubbing her hip, Stiles looks as sheepish as it gets. He can't help but chuckle. "Nobody died so far, we'll manage."

Cora rolls her eyes. "Your boyfriend reacted to his face in my chest like a fucking virgin."

"Hey, I was expecting Hawaiian pecs, not whatever-the-hell-you-are tits," Stiles replies.

"Well those Hawaiian pecs were in their room all night, you could have checked for them there," Danny points out.

Stiles scrubs a hand over his face. "I am not responsible for what asleep-Stiles does." 

"He conked out during the season two finale, and I'm not strong enough to drag his fat ass upstairs," Cora explains, softer this time.

"My ass is not fat." 

"You're a dancer. You have a dancer's ass."

"Which means it's all muscle."

 

"God you guys are like children. Too much interaction I think," Danny sighs. "Stiles, your ass is more than fine and I can judge that better than anyone. Cora, you may be able to kick everyone's ass here, but don't insult Stiles'."

He motions to the kitchen. "Can I have my boyfriend back, for breakfast at least? Until General Lydia comes back down and ruins my day again?"

"I heard that!" Lydia's voice booms from upstairs. Great.

 

Stiles takes Danny’s hand as they walk to the kitchen.

"We're taking the day off. I don't want to hurt my knee again, and our number is damn near perfect."

 

Lydia comes barreling down the stairs, Jackson in tow. "Oh no no no no. You two might be ready but I'm not finished with this one and..." 

Danny sighs and pulls Stiles closer to him. "Lydia, we're doing fine. We can afford a day off. Jackson, tell her, please."

Jackson waggles his eyebrows, hugs Lydia from behind and starts whispering in her ear. She goes cherry red and clears her throat. "Or we can do that," she says in an uneven voice.

Danny press a kiss on Stiles' temple. "Victory."

Stiles grins and tilts his head for a real kiss.

"That's a handy trick. We should remember that." He pours coffee for himself and Danny.

"Yeah, especially since it works on both of them. He's as gone on her as she is on him. It's cute."

He takes a sip of coffee and starts on breakfast, helped by Heather who’s working around the kitchen like a silent fairy.

"Plans?" he asks Stiles. "You're the tourist here, what do you want to do?"

Stiles shrugs. "I dunno. I don't have, like, a list or anything. I just want to spend time with you."

He thinks Heather may have cooed at that, but he isn't certain. Danny smiles at Heather, who ducks her head but has a rosy cheeks and a cute smile on too.

"I don't want to take you to the tourist spots, they're pretty generic. Unless you have a burning shopping need or the dream of seeing a random celebrity at a red light." Danny says. He frowns, peeks into the fridge. "We have a lot of food here. I used to go hiking in Griffith Park, we could pack up a lunch and go there."

"A picnic with you sounds absolutely perfect." Stiles accepts a plate of pancakes from Heather with a smile and a soft "thank you." and she nods, smiling.

 

Danny eats quickly and dumps his plate in the dishwasher. "I'm going for a quick shower, I'll be right back to make the food. Unless you can coerce someone to do it for us," he adds with a wink.

He takes his time under the water, massaging overworked muscles. Just walking will do him good.

You like that? Pushing the competition as far away as possible? Letting Stiles infiltrate your normal life? Make it harder for you when he won't be in it?

He lifts his head up, let the powerful stream run over his face and tries to  ignore the voice.

 

Stiles makes puppy eyes at Heather until she lets out a little sigh and opens the fridge. She hands him a cucumber and a knife. 

"Slice that. I'll make the sandwiches."

"You are an absolute angel."

"Oh, I know."

 

Danny comes down in khakis, loose T-shirt (he actually has one) and worn-out sneakers. He kisses Heather's cheek, thanks her warmly and starts loading up his backpack.

"I'll wait for you in the car," he tells Stiles. "Don't be too long." he teases.

Stiles showers in twelve seconds, pulls on underwear, shorts, and an oversized t-shirt. He's pulling on his sneakers as he slides into Danny's car.

Danny chuckles and starts the car. "Is it the prospect of fresh air or private time together that gets you so eager?"

Or he wants to avoid this place as much as you do.

"Yes to both. I love spending time with you, Danny." Getting out of the house is just a bonus.

"You're decent company yourself," Danny chuckles, gathering Stiles' hand in his affectionately.

 

It's a quick drive with the freeway and sparse traffic. The parking lot is already half-filled.

"It looks like it's going to be busy. But I know secluded spots. Half of this place is still wilderness. Unwatched wilderness."

Stiles grins. "Sweet."

They head into the park, following a trail Danny seems to have memorized. The trails turns steep after the first turn and their steps slow down.

"I love this path," Danny says, panting slightly. "nobody takes it because it's extremely steep all the way up but it's great. Reminds me of Stef's favorite one in Lahaina." He reaches behind him, grabs Stiles' hand and helps him to his level."Stef is like a chimp, always climbing. There are great hills behind the city and she's always begging me to take her there. It's too dangerous to go alone."

Stiles grins despite his heavy breath. "I can't wait to meet her. Maybe she can come do this with us."

"Knowing her she'll insist on it. Annoyingly." Danny scoffs with a smile. He can already picture her, shaking her crazy curls and bitching at him to hurry up.

Can you picture the lanky blonde guy she'll be with this time and how he stares at you when no one is looking?

"It's going to be fun. She'll love you I'm sure," he says rapidly, letting go of Stiles' hand to rummage in the backpack for a bottle of water.

And Sean will ruin everything. Why does he even want to come with her and see you? Didn't you hurt him enough?

"And I'm sure I'll love her." Stiles keeps trying to picture a thirteen-year-old girl version of Danny, but it doesn't quite work. "Who did you say was traveling with her?"

Danny takes a long, slow sip, weighing the different options on how to call Sean.

Lie your ass off.

Unlikely, he's a terrible liar, it'll come back right to his face and he wouldn't do that to Stiles anyway.

The truth then.

Which part? Kid with a crush on him? Guy whose heart he broke? His ex-... fuck, what? Friend, almost boyfriend, something?

He swallows, throat tight, and goes with the barest information. "Sean. He's a... childhood friend of ours."

Still the truth, just not fleshed out by the most recent details.

 

Something seems... sketchy. Maybe it's the pause, the visible scramble for what to call him.

"An ex?" Stiles asks flatly.

Danny stops in his tracks, fumbles with the bottle still in his hands for a second before shoving it back in the bag. 

"Depends on your definition of ex. Or ex-what." he replies in one breath.

"Have either of you had feelings for the other?" Stiles is going to regret asking this, but Danny knows all about him, so.

Danny sighs, drops the bag to the side of the trail and sits on a large rock. He rests one hand on the rugged surface, soaks up the warmth coming from it.

"I guess, both," he admits. "I mean, I grew up with him, I've known him my whole life, of course I have feelings for him. As for him well he's had this silly little crush on me the past few years." He stops, bites his lip. "He got over it, I think."

Definitely. Fucking him for a whole night and leaving as soon as he was asleep must have cured that infatuation completely, right Danny?

It wasn't like that.

Got another way to describe it?

He feels like throwing up.

 

"Have you ever--" Don't say it, don't' say it, don't-- "have you ever fucked?"

Well shit. You said it.

 

Danny's head drops. "Don't ask me that Stiles. Please." he whispers. It's an admission in itself. But actually saying it out loud, confessing it... it's dangerous. 

It's in the past.

It's still isn't right. It's still illegal.

 

So... yes. 

Stiles nods tersely and shoulders his bag. "Okay."

 

Danny can't look up. He's not even sure he can stand up right now.

Your baggage will always kill the mood, won't it?

"Okay, really?" he asks the dirt at his feet.

 "It's not like I have room to judge." Stiles says. "Carlos was here just last week."

 Danny breathes a little easier. Just a little, but enough to get back up, swings the backpack on his shoulder and try to resume their walk.

"It's a way to see things." he says softly. "Sean will be here for a while but anyway, I doubt he'll want to hang out much." He tries to keep his tone casual. Moving on.

Stiles shrugs. "Whatever. As long as the show takes priority."

Danny's stomach churns and ties up. "Sure," he mutters and walks a little faster.

You're my priority. he wants to say.

He shouldn't be.

Don't care.

Then you'll lose.

He sighs. Stops, and stops Stiles as well. "Are you..." he clears his throat and his fingers curl around Stiles' forearm. "Don't play it off like it's nothing, if it bothers you. You count for me, as much as the show. More."

Stiles thinks for a second, trying to decide how to word what comes next.

"You mean the world to me. Does that mean I feel sick at the thought of you spending time with this guy? Yes. Does that mean I feel even worse at the thought of you leaving? Hell yes. I want you to do well, I want us to do well. That means putting the show first when it comes to drama."

Danny lets go of Stiles but stays close, feet shuffling. "I... All I can promise you is that I will do my best. For you, for my place here. I owe it to us and to myself. But I suck at balancing these things." He looks away. "As for Sean... I want to see my sister. That's it."

Stiles pulls Danny in for a quick kiss. "Okay." He kisses him again. "I love you."

"I'm not sure why you do, but I love you too," Danny replies.

Chapter Text

When they get back from their hike, Stiles and Danny shower and crash. They don't wake up until Stiles' alarm goes off Monday morning

Stiles pokes Danny in the ribs as he slides out of bed.

"Up and at 'em, Ballet Boy," he says fondly. "It's brush-up day."

 

Danny gestures wildly, hoping to catch Stiles somehow. He settles for his pillow when his hand meets nothing but air, pulling it to his face.

"I hate mambo and waking up. And waking up for mambo," he whines in a muffled voice.

Just a couple more days and you'll have something else. Nobody likes a sour participant Danny, cheer up.

More smiles.

He lets out a dry chuckle in the pillow and gets up.

 

"Hey, just think, two days from now you'll be waking up for something else," Stiles says from the middle of his sun salutations. "Just keep positive."

 

Danny shoots a look at Stiles and sits on the floor for his own stretching.

"Reading my mind," he murmurs, planting a kiss on Stiles' shoulder.

He extends his legs, pops his shoulders.  All the while glancing at Stiles and his positions.

He's distracting you. You need to focus if you want to last for another style.

Can you blame me?

Lydia will.

Lydia wants me all smiles for our number. Stiles is the reason I smile.

Fair enough.

 

Stiles yawns, finishing his last couple of stretches as quickly as possible.

"I need to shower," he says as he rubs his knee. "Wanna join me?"

 

"It's probably the only alone time we'll get all day. So yes, 

Danny jumps back to his feet and shimmies out of his pajama pants.

"The idea of wet and naked you is an incentive too," he grins.

Like I said, he makes me smile.

 

Stiles shucks his boxers with a smile.

"That was my main motivation in asking you."

He stands slowly and heads for the bathroom, dragging Danny along by the arm.

 

Danny turns the water on full blast, jumps under it and brings Stiles with  him.

He lathers up the bodywash and cleans Stiles and himself indiscriminately.

"I get to smell you on me all day then," he says, ducking both their heads under the stream so he can kiss clean skin on Stiles' neck.

 

Stiles groans, kissing Danny's collarbones.

"That's gonna drive me insane today," he says as he mouths at clean skin.

(No hickeys. The group number is shirtless.)

 

Danny makes it through the shower without ravaging Stiles’ body against the tiled wall, even with the temptation of wandering hands and hungry mouths. Same with breakfast, he resists, despite eating side by side and with Stiles’ still-damp hairline teasing him.

That's progress. 

He cracks late in the afternoon, after the final group rehearsal (too many brushes and touches, wafts of his scent), and traps Stiles in his dressing room for a quick romp in the costumes.

Jackson is furious on the other side of the door but Danny couldn't care less.

 

Stiles can't help his breathless chuckle as Danny sets him on the empty countertop.

"I was wondering when you'd finally crack." He brushes his lips against Danny's pulse-point.

 

"Come on," Danny laughs, head thrown back and a moan caught in his throat, "you were seconds away from doing the same."

He runs his hands up Stiles' thighs. "Who got caught staring, twice, during the rehearsal?"

 

Stiles sits back and spreads his legs, biting his lip.

"I thought they were going to kill me." He chuckles. "I'll be better tomorrow."

 

"On a better behavior, or better at hiding your leering?"

He brings his head down, bites gently on Stiles' earlobe. "Whichever, try not to make me this distracted during the actual show, please. I'd rather not get hard on national television."

One more bite. "Dress rehearsal is fine though."

 

Stiles hooks his ankles behind Danny and drags him closer. "Good. I fully intend to turn you on all the damn time."

 

"OK but I'll hold my own. T'was pretty funny to see you on the spot like that, I wanna do it again," Danny mumbles in Stiles' neck.

More pounding at the door, Danny groans in response.

"Come on Danny, you have an apartment, a room at the house, man I just want to get changed and leave!" Jackson whines.

There's shuffling outside.

"Danny I'm calling the producers on you two! Communal areas are off limits, you know that!" Lydia threatens.

 

Stiles chuckles and hops down from the counter. "If we don't want to be tossed out on our asses, I think we should probably get going."

 

"Yeah..." Danny sighs. He makes a point of gathering his stuff as slowly as possible before getting the door.

He's about to unlock it but changes his mind, yanking Stiles to him with his free hand instead.

"They're really not understanding, I mean, I didn't even get to kiss you yet," he says, doing just so for several seconds before pulling away and opening the door.

Lydia is fuming, Jackson looks desperate, Danny just grins and leaves.

 

Stiles changes as quickly as possible and heads for his bench.

On his way out, Stiles collides with a guy carrying a stack of boxes. Stiles goes down with a curse, his weak knee twisting as boxes fall around him.

"Shit, sorry, sorry." The guy-- Stephen, his badge reads-- scrambles to help Stiles sit up. "I'm so sorry, I should have been watching where I was going. Are you hurt?"

Stiles leans into Stephen’s grip on him, the pain making it hard to sit up on his own.

"M-maybe."

 

Danny comes out the building jogging casually, his bag twisted and slung over his shoulder. When he's eager he gets messy. 

He still gets that twist deep inside when he sees Stiles waiting for him on the bench. He's always out first. Except he's not alone this time, some guy is standing there and there are boxes everywhere. More importantly, Stiles has on his face the pained expression Danny has come to know, and fear.

He turns to full on running and sits haphazardly next to Stiles. "Are you OK? The knee again?" he pants out.

 

Stiles inhales sharply as he's jostled, and Stephen reaffirms his grip on his arms.

"I wasn't watching where I was going and we collided," Stephen explains quickly. "I think he twisted something."

"M-my knee," Stiles says, forcing himself to concentrate. "I twisted my knee."

 

Shit, shit, shit shit.  

OK calm down Danny, you're not helping.

He glances at the guy. "Stephen, right? Can you get the medic? Tell him Stiles hurt his knee again, he'll know. Make him come here ASAP."

Stephen nods and darts off.

Danny tosses his bag to the ground. His hands flutter around Stiles for a second, settling for his tense shoulder. That spot seems safe.

"I'm not moving you until he checks you out," he explains. "How bad is it?"

 

"Bad, but not dislocation-bad," Stiles grits out. "Probably just a bad twist."

 

Shit. The day before the show? A twist's bad enough. 

Danny just sighs, leans his head against Stiles' and brings one arm around his shoulders.

The medic arrives before he can offer any words of comfort, he slides away to give him room.

Stiles' pants are carefully rolled up and Danny winces in sync with his boyfriend. On the outside the knee looks almost normal, a little red maybe, but there's a swelling around it, already growing.

 

After a few moments the medic says, "Water on the knee again."

They go through the usual song and dance with the syringe, the cortisone shot, and the antibiotic.

"Keep it elevated, keep it iced, and you can dance on it for the show tomorrow. No dress rehearsal, no practice tonight." He sighs. "I'm going to advise you take the week off. You won't dance in next week's show, and you will be automatically up for elimination the week after."

 

Oh. Shit.

"Ok, thank you," Danny replies, without thinking. It takes a minute after the medic has left for the situation and what was said to fully sink in.

"I don't even know why I said that, " he mutters, turning back to Stiles. Thank him for what? The amazing news? Pfff."

He stand up, reaches out for him. He can practically see the panic seep out of him and keeping his own worry at bay is a struggle. "Home?" he asks softly. "I'll be your nurse for the evening if you want. I'm sure I'm better than Cora," he jokes, but the weakness in his voice kind of kills any humor.

 

Stiles exhales shakily. "Yeah. Yeah, let's go home."

The ride back is quiet-- in the car at least. Stiles' mind is another story.

Danny helps him out of the car and into the kitchen.

"Laura, how much do I have to pout to get brownies? " Stiles asks pitifully.

She kisses the top of his head. "I've got you covered. No worries."

 

"And a bag of ice too Laura, please," Danny adds. 

Erica enters the kitchen, already changed in lounge wear, Boyd and Cora on her heel. She squints at Stiles. "What's wrong with Wonder Boy?"

"The knee again. Some guy ran into him, he twisted it," Danny says, nodding a wordless thank you for Laura when she gives him the ice. He hands it to Stiles and looks around. "Could one of you get..."

He doesn't have to finish, Cora has already brought one of the stools closer for Stiles to rest his leg on. He smiles gratefully at her, she shrugs in return. There's a worried scowl on her face though.

 

"Cor, I'm gonna be fine. And they'll bring in an All Star for you to dance with next week."

Cora's frown deepens. "I don't want an All Star. I want you. And I don't want you to be on the bottom next week."

 

Danny runs his hand up and down Stiles' back and nape, softly. "No one wants that Cora, but we have to deal with it. There's no other way, no other safe way at least." 

"Besides Stiles already proved that he can dance his way out of the bottom. Nobody's losing Stiles next week."

 

"I'll dance on the live show tonight, keep off it this week, and start dancing again after the show next week. I'll be fine. We'll be fine."

"Fine." Something occurs to Cora. "Ooh, I might get to dance with Marko!"

"I feel loved," Stiles deadpans.

 

"Hey I love you. For more than your dancing abilities, as opposed to some... I'd pick you over anyone else," Danny whispers, kissing his cheek. 

He chuckles. "Except if Robert comes back for the All-Stars pairings. Then all bets are off."

 

Stiles tries to punch Danny in the arm, but the pain meds make him miss.

"I'm so much better than Robert."

 

"Ow," Danny mocks, but his hand falls down to Stiles' hip and gives it a comforting squeeze. 

"Dance tomorrow, rest for a week and then you can prove to me and everyone else that you're better than ugh-ever-so-dark-and-hot-and-flexible-and-intense Robert," Danny laughs.

He gets up, keeps one hand around Stiles to help him up and the other is quickly filled by a plate of still-warm brownies. "Laura you're the better Hale and I love you."

Cora gives him the death glare, he shrugs it off. "Bring our stuff to my room and I might reconsider my judgment Cora."

He walks up the stairs carefully, watching Stiles' balance the whole time.

"My room is closer, so we're banishing Jackson for the night. I had already planned to sexile him so it works out anyway."

 

Stiles rests his head on Danny's shoulder.

"You are awesome and I love you."

They get him settled in Danny's bed (which smells like Danny which is awesome) and Cora brings him his things.

"You are awesome."

"I know." She kisses the top of his head and leaves, squeezing Danny's shoulder on the way out.

 

Danny undresses a very limp and cooperative Stiles and gets into comfy pants. No shirts because Stiles looks like he's in a cuddle mood. 

He moves around Stiles sprawled on most of the bed, carefully, setting the plate on Stiles' lap, his laptop on his and Stiles' head on his shoulder.

"I'm putting something easy to follow," Danny says, starting a brainless comedy, "because you're pretty stoned at the moment. I love you too by the way, even when you're high."

 

Stiles yawns and eats one of his brownies.

"I love you always. Forever and always even." He kisses Danny's shoulder. "You're so awesome."

 

Danny chuckles and reaches down, grabbing an ice pack on the nightstand and cracking it. He puts it on Stiles' knee, slips a pillow underneath it and leans back. One arm hugging Stiles, the other extending to steal a brownie. Payment for his caregiving. 

"I love you too, my little junkie."

For the rest of the evening the movie, the meds and the chocolate make them forget about the injury.

Stiles falls asleep halfway through the Kim Possible movie, head on Danny's chest.

 

Danny wakes up with a crick in his neck and a copious amount of drool on his chest. A scalding shower takes care of both. He checks up on Stiles as he brushes his teeth. 

He has to leave for dress rehearsal soon (Lydia has already texted him twice) but Stiles is fast asleep.

He goes back to the bathroom to rinse his mouth, returns to the room and grabs the complimentary pad on the nightstand.

A little note will do. Could be cute too. He bites the pen pensively. He's not the best at the written word.

 

Stiles' mind tosses and turns even as the meds keep him from thrashing in his sleep.

Injuries mean failure.

One week less to win over the crowd.

What happens if you have to go home?

What about Juilliard?

 

 

Hey gorgeous,

I had to leave for the dress rehearsal, I'm sorry I missed you waking up. Take care of yourself (I mean it, no effort!) and text me when you get up. The medic will check in on you, he'll be in the house while we're gone. I love you Wonder Boy (I like that name, do you?) :)

Your Ballet Boy

 

Danny shrugs. It will have to do. He grabs his bag and kisses Stiles softly, running a hand through his hair delicately.

Time to go, rehearse, and try not to worry. Easier said than done.

 

Stiles wakes around ten with throbbing pain in his knee. He reads Danny's note with a stupid smile and crawls out of bed to find the medic.

Adam checks his knee and gives him one more cortisone shot.

"You should be good to go for tonight. Keep ice on it."

Stiles nods sleepily. "Thank you."

"No problem, kid. I'm here to help."

 

"Danny I'm going to throw that phone against the wall if you look at it once more, so help me God."

Danny sighs and puts it back in his bag. "Sorry," he mumbles back at Lydia. "Stiles still hasn't texted me."

"I can see that on your mopey face. Your guy isn't dead, he's sleeping his meds off. Come on, we're on."

She shakes her hips to fluff off her dress and eyes him impatiently. He zips up his bag and walks up quickly to her.

Mind on the task at hand Danny. You don't have it easy with this number, you can't afford to lose focus.

 

To Danny: I'm up, medicated, and fed. Adam signed off on my knee. I can go for call at 6.

 

To Stiles: Great. Can't wait to see you.

He looks up, grinning and heads for the van.

Lydia fiddles with her bag, leaning on the door as they wait for the van. "I can see Stiles is better."

"Looks like he's going to be fine for tonight," Danny says.

She smiles softly. "I'm glad. For all of us."

 

Stiles is in the recliner half-asleep in front of the TV when everyone gets back. Cora comes over to swap his ice-pack for him and squeeze his shoulder.

"Missed you at rehearsal."

"Missed you too," he replies with a little smile.

 

Lydia sends Danny and then the pair a sentimental look and goes to Jackson. Danny drops his bag in the hallway (he'll need it back soon) and walks behind Stiles' chair.

"Hey gorgeous, how are you?" he asks, sliding his arms over Stiles' chest and kissing the top of his head. "Group number was weird without you."

 

"M'good," Stiles says with a sleepy smile. "Adam gave me new meds, and they don't make me all trippy. How did you and Lydia's number go?"

 

"OK, I guess. She threatened me again but I'm getting used to it. Having you nearby tonight should help, I was distracted this morning," he confesses. 

He shrugs and hugs Stiles more tightly. "We have the routine down, it's just a matter of focus and energy. And those fucking smiles. I've never capitalized on my dimples this much before."

 

Stiles grins. "They are pretty fucking fantastic." He yawns. "We have a few hours before call. Come nap with me?"

 

"Sure," and Danny can already feel the adrenaline wearing off at the prospect of rest. 

He keeps close to Stiles, his hand resting lightly in the small of his back, as they make their way upstairs and settle into bed.

He sets the alarm, unwilling to have Lydia or Cora wake them up in their usual fashion and checks his texts. A generic one from his mom, an enthusiastic one from Stef. One from Alex, that he deletes without reading it.

He curls up around Stiles who's already dozing off, and lets the steady sound of his breathing and heartbeat lull him into sleep.

 

Stiles wakes before the alarm goes off (he's been sleeping a lot lately) only to realize he's hard as nails. He shifts some, moaning when he brushes against Danny's leg.

He hasn't come in over forty-eight hours.

 

"Ballet Boy, dancing on me..." 

"Yes, yes, fuck yesss..." The chanting turns to mindless babbling as Danny rides Stiles harder and faster, hands pushing on his chest to get a better leverage.

His eyes roll back in his head behind closed eyelids and despite his mostly asleep state his hand is alert enough to reach for his cock.

 

Stiles can't help his sleepy chuckle when he realizes Danny is palming himself. He squeezes Danny's ass, pulling him against his hips.

 

Danny cants more, head thrown back, he rises and falls more quickly. 

"Fuck Stiles, I..." he whispers, his hand speeding up.

His eyes flutter open, close again.

 

Stiles leans up to kiss his neck, hands guiding him as he grinds.

 

He shifts his hips, tries to get more of him inside. Something's off. He looks down but Stiles isn't there. He tries to move but it's wrong, he's not on top anymore. He's being held, somewhere he's being kissed, touches get mixed up. Where is he? 

He looks down again, it's mixed up again, Stiles' hair is... different? He bends down, chases the weird away with a kiss. Stiles moans in his mouth.

"I can top too, Danny.

He moves his hips again, pulls away.

"Let me fuck you too, Danny," Sean hisses, biting his lip.

He opens his eyes, breathing shallow, heart frantic. His room. Everything's fine. His room.

Stiles behind him, rutting quietly. Not Sean. He takes a deep breath, twist his head around to kiss Stiles lightly. His hips return to motion.

 

"Mm, good to have you awake." Stiles rolls his hips faster.

 

Danny moans, still groggy and confused but coming back to reality fast.

"Good of you to wake me up like that. You're so much better than an alarm," he whispers, reaching behind to have Stiles' body flush against his. And much more welcome than his dream.

 

Stiles carefully hooks his leg around Danny's hip and ruts a little harder.

"I haven't come in ages. Wanted you to be awake for it."

 

"Nice of you." Danny's hand returns to his cock, palms it roughly. "Wouldn't want you too frustrated," he says in a low tone, "go ahead. Have it your way."

 

Stiles reaches around and bats Danny's hand away. He starts stroking in rhythm with his grinding, mouthing at Danny's neck.

 

“OK, OK, OK…”  Danny chuckles breathlessly. Not for long, Stiles' mouth is too good at shutting him up. 

Hooking a thumb in the waistband of his underwear, he tugs it down. Just enough to have skin on skin, at last.

He rocks back against Stiles. “God I missed this, you, damn...”

 

Stiles moans, eyes rolling back.

"Missed you too... fuck."

He runs his thumb over the head of Danny's cock and speeds up.

 

"Shit..." 

Danny can only manage a few more thrusts into Stiles' hand before he comes, his whole body shuddering. Some blissful seconds later, he regains enough sense to reach back and keep Stiles tight against his ass.

Stiles comes barely a minute later, thrusts going sloppy as he groans Danny's name.

Reluctantly, Danny gets up and cleans up before bringing back a washcloth for Stiles.

"Really wish we could crawl back into this bed but duty calls," he mumbles.

 

It takes a few minutes to get ready (he's still half-groggy, half-blissed out and he's not letting Stiles hurry) but they still join the rest of the contestants in time for a light dinner. 

The conversation is sparse and tense, everyone's mind either on their number or stressed over the impending elimination.

"You're absolutely sure? Like, positively, without a doubt sure?" Cora nudges and probes Stiles until he turns to face her.

"Yes, dammit. Yes, I'm sure. Adam signed off on my knee. Two dance numbers won't hurt me." Stiles runs a hand through his hair. "We have to do this together, okay? I'm doing this."

"Okay. Okay."

Chapter Text

"Positions, people!" the producer hushes and Danny hurries to settle next to Lydia. There are still jitters, a generalized quivering in his body but he can master it more easily now.

He winks and sends a warm smile at Stiles just before they jump onstage for the group number, which goes amazingly well. Not for everyone, he knows he missed a few steps at the end and he saw Erica and Heather lose the rhythm during the middle segment, but overall it's another success.

The commercial break flies by (Danny spends it fussing about Stiles, to everyone's amusement and Cora's annoyance) and so do the intros. Too soon, they have to regroup for the announcement of the bottom six.

Laura, Heather, and Kali. Ethan, Ennis, and Boyd.

Stiles feels bad for being relieved, but he's just glad he doesn't have to fight for his life and Danny is safe one more week.

Stiles runs offstage and swoops Cora into a hug.

"Thank fuck," she whispers before letting him go.

Danny walks backstage slowly, relieved at first. Then he sees Jackson comforting his partner. Laura has a stoic face on but her paleness says it all. Heather looks like she's about to burst into tears, Ennis and Kali are at each other's throat (who knows why), with Isaac and Allison trying to calm them down. And it's only week 3.

"It's gonna get so ugly in here," Lydia murmurs. She wraps Danny into a quick hug. "Promise me you won't get eliminated. And if you do it will be before me?"

Danny sighs fondly. "Okay Queen Bee."

They head for Jackson and Laura, Lydia giving Heather a friendly squeeze when they pass her. Danny nodding to Ethan who replies with a tight smile. They collect Cora and Stiles on their way.

Stiles shifts his weight from Cora to Danny. He kisses him on the cheek.

"I'm glad you're safe," he whispers. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

"We won't have to worry about that. Not for another week at least." Danny says, hugging him close. "I'm glad you're safe too, gives you a rest."

He glances at Laura. "We do have to worry about our resident baker leaving us." It's another attempted joke, Laura is nice enough to smile feebly at it. Maybe it was semi-successful at lightening her up.

Just in time, Kali is already stepping onstage for her solo.

 

Kali kills her solo-- quite literally.

She looks pissed.

Stiles is worried for her, though he honestly won't mind if she heads home. Less drama that way.

Ennis, smug and full of bravado, offers a flawless but very stilted performance. Heather gathers up some impressive, last-minute strength and is beyond reproach in her number. 

Laura shows a lot of emotion. Too much maybe, and her routine is less than perfect. Boyd isn't at the top of his game and a few fumbles in his tap number are immediately spotted by the judges.

Ethan is unreadable onstage, technically without fault but he seems not fully present.

Danny drinks some water, looking around at the contestants. It's gonna be a tough call.

He doesn't even register the commercial break is over, other than by how forcefully Lydia drags him to his feet. Right. They're the opening act this week.

Jesus...

 

Stiles can't help but worry. They put Danny and Lydia in the throwaway spot.

Their dance had better be pretty fucking memorable, or not even the entirety of Hawaii will keep them out of the bottom.

He settles into a chair in the wings, out of the way but in view of the monitors.

 

 

Smile, smile, smile.

Oh for fuck's sake!

He shakes it all off. The drama, the stress, the terrible style and spot they're in. Even the advice of the choreographer, of everyone. He locks eyes with Lydia, she graces him with her best grin and they link hands.

He dives into it with all he has. Speed, energy.

Be memorable. First to go, first to be forgotten.

Remember what you're dancing for. Respect, The top spot. One more week with Stiles.

Their technique is perfect and by now their chemistry is as natural as breathing. It's still mambo, still a style that doesn't rile up the audience that much, but it's a number damn well executed.

He's breathless and his face hurts at the end but fuck, they did it. Lydia isn't even forcing her grin (how can she do that?) and hugs him all the way back to the waiting room. 

He quickly sobers up and untangles himself from Lydia. In the dim light, behind the curtains, doubt creeps back. Maybe execution and the praise of the judges will be enough.

 

Stiles heads back to the green room to find Danny. He finds him in the corner, fretting.

"Hey." He pulls a chair up so he's on Danny's level and cups his frowny face in his hands. "You were amazing. Absolutely mind-blowing."

He kisses him. "And your dimples were cute as hell."

 

"Let's hope they showed on camera," Danny sighs. He pauses. "Thank you."

He wraps his arms loosely around Stiles' waist, fingers playing with his thin shirt. "I love you. You always find the right words."

He closes his eyes, kisses him quickly but softly. "Anyways, it's done. You're up soon, you shouldn't be worrying about me.

 

Stiles kisses him back. "I love you too."

He runs (well, hobbles quickly) to his dressing room. He peels off his shirt, touches up his make-up, and slides his shoes off.

Jackson and Laura are receiving their criticism when he gets to the wings. Cora drags him on for the pre-commercial fly-by, both grinning for the camera.

They go to commercial.

"You ready?" Cora asks around the make-up artist puttering over her.

"As I'll ever be."

They take their places.

 

Jackson and Laura enter the dressing room with matching, slightly disappointed faces. 

"Bad?" Danny asks and he feels guilty for missing his friend's performance.

Jackson shrugs. "Undetermined," he replies, pulling his wifebeater over his head. "They said it was great but I wasn't feeling it."

Laura just smiles with hesitance and starts fixing her hair. Danny rests his hands on her shoulders and she grasps one with gratitude.

"Go watch him Danny, we'll be fine," Jackson says. He smiles at Danny, not with his eyes but it's still genuine.

Danny nods and darts out of the room to find a monitor. Jen and Ethan are huddled around one, they make a spot for him.

His eyes zero in on Stiles' legs. He looks fine, for now. He swallows thickly.

Please be OK... He deserves it.

 

It's the story of a couple that is falling apart after the loss of a child.

The number relies on complete togetherness and raw emotion. They vacillate between moving together and falling apart, working to bring the story to life.

The lifts are graceful in their "brokeness," Cora pulling away in every way.

Stiles is openly crying by the end, and Cora throws herself at him as soon as the music stops.

Cat lets them embrace for a moment before leading them in front of the judges.

 

"How does he do that..." Jen wonders softly. Her eyes are brimming with tears.

Ethan clears his throat and looks away. "Talent. Just... Yeah, talent."

Danny tries to agree but he can't really speak at the moment. How Stiles could have ever been in the bottom makes absolutely no sense.

Stiles wipes at his eyes furiously and tightens his grip on Cora, who has smeared her mascara on his shoulder.

Their comments are tear-filled and full of praise. 

 

Stiles breaks down again as soon as they get off-stage, sinking to a chair and burying his face in his hands. A cameraman hurries to get a good shot but Danny is right next to him in a flash.

"Try that and I'll say fuck so many times so fast they won't be able to censor them all," he hisses.

The guy backs away carefully and Danny grins at him.

The smile fades as soon as he turns to Stiles, he drops to his knees and hugs him, his arms gingerly looped around him. 

"You were perfect," he whispers in his hair. His hands make random patterns on his back in comfort. "Let it out," he adds softly.

 

The dam breaks.Stiles puts his arms around Danny's waist and sobs into his shoulder.

"Hey, hey, it'll be alright. I'm here, I love you," Danny whispers.

The thought that maybe he's too invested in this, in his numbers, crosses his mind.

Don't. That's what makes him special. You were the same. Maybe you should still be.

It's a heart-wrenching combination of the week's stress and his knee and the feelings he pulled from inside for the number that keeps him crying.

"You can't leave," he whispers after a while. "I don't think I could bear it if you left. God, just don't... don't leave, okay?" 

Danny's hold becomes a fierce grip and he cradles the back of Stiles' head.

"Never, I'm never leaving," he whispers back, his voice breaking.

Never again.

You don't have what he has. You won't make it as far. You know it.

I can do it. I'll be here anyway, eliminated or not.

It won't be the same. It won't be enough.

 

Stiles manages to pull himself together after a few minutes, sobs settling into sniffles. He wipes at his eyes sheepishly. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Danny says softly. He runs his thumb over Stiles' damp cheek to wipe away a stray tear and kisses him tenderly.

"Are you going to be fine for the end of the show? Can I get you anything?" he asks after pulling away.

Stiles half-smiles. "I'm fine. I'll be fine." He pulls him back in for one more kiss. "I love you."

"Love you too," Danny mumbles against his lips.

He spends the rest of the show in this dark corner with him, a little conversation, a few kisses. They're left alone until it's time for the final reveal and Cora and Lydia come for them.

 

Laura, Heather, and Kali take the stage, and the rest gather in the reserved area in the audience to await the results.

"Heather, your number last week was... detached, to say the least," Nigel begins. "Kali, you are very impressive when it comes to technique, but emotionally you are a bit of a one-trick pony. A very angry pony. And Laura... Laura, you had some problems with technique last week, and your solo was shaky."

He pauses, and the entire auditorium holds its breath.

"Heather, you are safe. You may join the others."

Heather hugs the women still onstage quickly before barreling down the steps and into Boyd's arms.

Laura and Kali exchange a look but stay apart while Nigel clears his throat.

"Now this wasn't an easy decision. Not only because you are both very talented, but also because you are so different. It's impossible to compare you, yet we had to and we have come to a decision." He takes a breath and offers a half-smile to the girls.

"Kali, we'd like to see you continue. But you'll have to reign in that anger and explore other emotions if you want to win." he warns her.

"Laura," he continues on a softer tone, "I'm sorry, the journey ends here for you."

There's a wave of shock coursing through the auditorium, the audience reacting loudly while most of the contestants are stunned into silence. Kali thanks the judges and walks calmly back to the group, Laura doing the same with a wobbly, courageous smile that clashes with her devastated eyes. Jackson is hugging her before she's even off the stairs.

Cora peels Jackson off and the sisters hug and cry and hug some more.

"Kick ass for me, baby sister," Laura says through her tears. "A Hale can still win this."

 

Boyd, Ethan, and Ennis take the stage. 

"Ethan-- you are unparalleled in pure technique in your style, but you are too stiff. Robotic. Ennis, you have one face. Just the one. We never see another side of you. And Boyd-- you struggled last week. You know you struggled last week, so I'm not going to draw it out."

He pauses, as per fucking usual.

"Boyd, you are safe."

Boyd staggers off the stage, flabbergasted. It's obvious that he thought he was going home. Heather hugs him, and then Erica. Boyd swoops both Hales into a huge hug.

 

"It comes down to who has the most potential, who can grow'" Nigel states. Pause, again.

"Ethan, you are safe as well."

Ethan's entire body relaxes and he smiles widely, a smile returned by the judges.

"Let yourself go a little and you'll do wonders," Nigel comments. He grows more serious and turns his attention to Ennis. "I'm sorry Ennis, but we feel you are not open enough to change. We wish you the best of luck in your career."

They get offstage with matching straight faces, although they both crack once they reach the contestants. Ethan burying his face in Jennifer's neck, body wracked by relief, while Ennis is finally showing some emotion when Kali (!) hugs him to the point of crushing.

Everyone hugs everyone during the commercial break. They take the stage to watch the contestant reels.

Cora and Laura's knuckles are white with how tightly they're holding hands.

They all break down after the credits roll.

There's a fifteen minutes of messy hugging, crying, kissing and sloppy pats on the back, for everyone. They split up, emotions still high and abuzz, and head home.

Chapter Text

As soon as they step out of the van, Jennifer grabs Laura's arm and drags her to her car. "You’re coming with me. We're hitting the store and I'm buying all your favorites. Alcohol, ice cream, Doritos, tomatoes. Whatever you want."

Laura smiles confusedly but follows her anyway, with a shrug to Cora.

"We'll be right back, someone starts the ball please," Jennifer shouts as she's getting behind the wheel.

"I'm on it!" Ethan replies with a wave. Everyone else is scattering around, loudly.

Danny looks at the scene, then at Stiles. "You up for this tonight? Laura would like you around but I don't want you to tire yourself out."

"Of course I'll be there. I can handle sitting in the recliner and watching everyone make fools of themselves." Stiles lowers his voice. "Nigel pulled me aside before I went to change and said they had Cora covered-- Robert will be here tomorrow."

Danny pouts. "She can't go around and snag all the hot partners, it's not fair!" he whines. He winks and slides one arm around Stiles' waist, helping him inside the living room.

Stiles kisses his temple. "Thanks babe." He settles into the recliner, ready to hold court and elevate his knee at the same time.

Danny comes back, arms full of snacks and two bottles of water barely held by three fingers. He lets them drop in Stiles' lap and sets the food on the table. The armrest makes for a good seat at the moment, he settles there. "You get to be the parent tonight, kiddo," he says to Stiles with a smile, pointing at the bottles.

He opens one of and takes a long swig. "Solidarity," he explains, wiping his mouth. "For now. I'm not making any promises for later. We have good and bad news to drink to."

The ones eliminated, the ones saved. Stiles' amazing performance, all for nothing since he will be in danger next week. His own performance that might not be enough to be memorable.

He takes another big gulp of water and winces. Yeah, he will need something stronger at some point.

Stiles wraps his arm around Danny's waist and leans his head on the man's shoulder.

"It's cool." He smiles, watching everyone decompress. "I love you."

"Love you too."

 

Jen and Laura are back soon, as promised, and in a matter of minutes the party is in full swing. Some are having quiet fun (Ennis is buried in a chair and downing beer after beer), some are boisterous. Jackson is making the most of the final moments he has with his partner and is spinning her like there's no tomorrow. Come to think about it, there isn't. 

Alcohol is flowing and while Danny doesn't really leave Stiles' side, Erica keeps bringing him shots and experimental mixes. He's soon in a giddy, mellow state. Everything's fine. Nothing  really matters. The number was fine. Stiles is fine. Vodka is fine.

One more. Two more. Three more.

Boyd is on music duty and puts on a joyous, jumpy song. Danny's foot starts moving to the rhythm.

Ethan bumps into him, almost falling on his and Stiles' lap. "Dance with me Danny boy. Ballet's not... not being represented now," Ethan says with a slight slur, pointing at Jackson slumped in a corner with Laura and Lydia, talking animatedly. Aiden's passed out on the couch.

Stiles squeezes Danny's knee and withdraws his arm. "Dance. You don't have to sit around with me all night."

Do you want to sit around and seethe with jealousy?

Oh, shut up.

 

Ethan grins and tugs at Danny's shirt, pulling him to his unsure feet and onto the makeshift dance floor. They represent alright, a lesson in flexibility and strength. They even one-up Isaac and Scott's display when Ethan lifts Danny overhead and surprises everyone, Danny included.

Jennifer joins them and it turns into a playful triad, both guys fighting for her attention and skills. Danny can't stop grinning, buzzed, tired but happy.

Erica makes another appearance with a tray of shots. Ethan grabs one and lifts it high. "To my saved ass!" he proclaims, pouring the shot in his mouth. Danny laughs at him, only for a second because Ethan grabs his shirt, plasters his mouth on his and the warmed alcohol goes down Danny's throat. 

He pulls away quickly, eyes watering and stuck in a coughing fit. Ethan is grinning widely. "Shotgun!" he yells, arms in the air.

 

Stiles sees red, and he's about to go kick some ballet bastard ass when his knee protests. He groans out a breathy fuck and settles back into the chair. He crosses his arms over his chest and glares instead

My Danny.

What if he liked it?

My Danny.

What if he liked him?

 

Danny coughs, throat tight and burning and chuckles breathlessly. "Man, you ask before pulling stunts like these!" he spits out. He wipes his mouth quickly and shoves him aside.

Ethan looks unfazed. "It kills the fun when you do that," he answers with mirth.

Jennifer smiles but pulls Danny aside after she sees Stiles' look. "Be careful Danny," she murmurs, "everyone likes you and you're fun. But not everyone can have you, so watch yourself."

Danny nods, sobering up, and smiles a wordless apology to Stiles.

 

Stiles doesn't stop frowning. Well, until his frown is replaced by a grimace as Cora lands on him.

"I'm so tired, Stiles." She rests her head on his shoulder, curled up in his lap.

He rubs her back gently, happy to focus on anything besides what went down with Danny and Ethan.

 

Danny slides down the wall and sits like a puddle on the floor. His legs aren't working anymore and his head is fuzzy. He's got a weird taste, acidic, in his mouth and he frowns.

Did I throw up? No.

Not yet.

Vodka's bad. Especially mixed with other stuff

He closes his eyes and leans his head against the wall. Spinning, spinning, spinning in his mind.

I'm never drinking again. Oops.

His head falls to the side, onto a solid shoulder that's suddenly there, and he smiles, eyes still closed. That's nice, warm and comfortable. He can sleep it off there, right?

 

Cora falls asleep within moments, snoring softly. She reminds Stiles of the dog JD had for a while. They snore the same way. The long day and fuster-cluck that is his knee catch up with him, and he falls asleep not long after Cora does.

 

Danny wakes up with his face smashed into spit (his own, at least there's that) covered jeans. He twists his head around and sees Ethan's asleep face, his arm on Danny's shoulder, and his heart stops. He glances around. Most of the contestants are crashed somewhere in the living room and everyone's wearing clothes. That's good, reassuring. He untangles himself from Ethan and walks slowly to the kitchen. His head throbs, he's got remorse and guilt mixed with stale alcohol in his mouth.

And Stiles and Cora are embraced, again.

He sighs and rubs his stiff neck. Coffee, now.

 

Stiles wakes from a knee to the ribs as Cora squirms in her sleep. He yawns, stretches, and somehow manages to extricate himself from her grip. He hobbles into the kitchen, grabs the bottle of pain meds from the window sill and downs his pill before he even gets his eyes all the way open.

"Hey," Danny whispers, eyes cast down into his cup of coffee. He'd rather get a feel of Stiles' state of mind and mood before saying any more. Even if a few "I'm sorry" and "Never let me near alcohol again" are right on his lips, ready to be spilled.

Stiles blinks slowly, mind finally churning into gear.

"Hey." He leans against the counter, hip to hip with Danny. "Sleep well?"

"I wouldn't describe it like that, no." Danny says cautiously. "You?" he asks, taking another sip. Ow. Too hot, too fast.

"Meh. That recliner is not the most comfortable and Cora has a bony ass." Stiles yawns. "I much prefer being in bed with you."

"Me too."

No reproach. It shouldn't make Danny feel better but it does anyway.

Danny tries a little smile on and reaches into the cupboard for a cup. "Remind me to tone it down next week. I can't do this every Tuesday," he says as he pours a coffee for Stiles.

"Yeah, you are not a fun drunk." Stiles wasn't gonna say anything, dammit. Well, too late.

 

"I'm more like stupid drunk having the dumb kind of fun." Danny confesses, handing Stiles his cup.

Wow, what an apology.

I didn't do anything wrong.

You tell yourself that. You wouldn't feel guilty if it was really the case.

Stiles accepts the coffee with a quiet "thank you." He drinks it gratefully and contemplates how to break the silence. "I'm planning on watching last night's footage today. I'll be making notes... would you want yours?"

"Of course. Your opinion counts a lot for me." Danny downs his coffee in a  couple of hurried, way too large swallows and dumps his cup in the sink. "You want some breakfast? Here or upstairs maybe, so you can rest your knee?" he asks, voice unsure.

Stupid. He lets it slide so you're relieved, and you slip back.  Avoidance and mothering. Do you know any other way to deal?

 Apparently not.

Stiles sets his cup down and reaches out to engulf Danny in a hug. He holds the shorter man to his chest, squeezing him tight. "I love you."

Danny melts some in Stiles' embrace, tucking his head in his neck and breathing in the warmth. His arms encircle Stiles' waist, pull him closer. "I just want you to get well soon, "he shrugs. "I love you too," he adds, almost inaudibly, before kissing the tiny spot behind his ear.

Stiles kisses Danny's cheek and lets him go. "Okay, so we are going to eat-- downstairs, I'm not an invalid-- and then we are going to take a shower. Together, because I want my hands all over your body. And then we are going to reassess and possibly nap. Deal?"

Danny breaks out a smile, a more assured one. "Deal. I have nothing before our assignment this afternoon, you can be Mr. Bossy Pants until then." He tugs at Stiles' belt. "Especially when you come up with plans like these."

Erica stumbles into the kitchen, hair spiked up but eyes clear. "Step aside lover boys, this bitch needs pancakes, now."

Danny makes his best attempt at wide and hopeful eyes and his smiles perks up. He doesn't have Stiles' talent but he has dimples.

Erica rolls her eyes and swats at his arm, effectively making him move. "Fine, I'll make a double batch," she groans.

Stiles places a smacking kiss on her cheek with a grin. "You are an angel. A goddess among women. We are not fit to be in your presence."

Erica laughs. "Tell me something I don't know, princess."

Danny gorges on fruit pancakes (there are blueberries, raspberries and some kind of spice in there that's seriously addictive. Erica is the best).They seem to be a great cure for hangovers, on top of being delicious. He waits for Stiles to be done, his foot tapping a random beat on the bar of his stool and conversing quietly with Erica. He can be patient. Although he's tempted to press him on when the smell of food brings more people into the kitchen, a drowsy Ethan among them.

Stiles takes his time eating his (fucking fantastic) pancakes. He stiffens when Ethan walks in, but Stiles Stilinski has never been one to let anyone interrupt his meal.

Ethan walks in with uneven steps, picking at his jeans. "Danny, next time your face is in my lap, try not to leave such a mark..."

Danny lets out a choked chuckle, dry and brief, and looks away, tapping with his fingers on the counter.

How bad would it be to run upstairs to wait for Stiles there?

Stiles inhales the rest of his pancakes, grabs a bottle of water, and stands. "Well, I feel royally disgusting. I'm gonna go shower." He marches out of the kitchen without a falter. It's that or punch Ethan in his disgustingly perfect jawline.

Danny jumps to his feet and follows him. It's a sheepish obstacle course out of the kitchen, keeping his head low to avoid Ethan’s amused stare and Jennifer's disappointed one. He catches up with Stiles midway up the stairs, stays slightly behind. His hand reaches out but stops before he can grab his.

Say something!

He's got nothing and stays silent the whole way up.  Even if Stiles can't see him he blushes from the guilt.

Stiles strips as soon as Danny shuts the door, throwing his clothes in the hamper and peeling the brace off with a hiss. He starts the shower silently.

Danny hesitates, fingers fiddling with the hem of his shirt. Stiles' silence and purposeful avoidance secures his decision.

Fix this. For once in your life fix something.

Clothes are shed in a few seconds and he steps in the shower right after Stiles. arms looping low on his hips, he brings his mouth close to Stiles' ear. "He's a jackass but he doesn't mean to. Still, I... I should have said something." He closes his eyes and curses himself mentally. Maybe he should have just stayed quiet because this isn't cutting it.

You just want everyone to love you, don't you Danny? It's OK to run Derek down but when it's about you... It's pathetic.

He stiffens and keeps his eyes closed. "I'm sorry," he mumbles. That too, sounds pathetic.

Stiles takes a deep breath. "It's fine. It's fine." 

No, it's not.

"It's not. I let it go too far. You didn't deserve this."

Stiles turns in Danny's embrace, wrapping his arms around his neck. "It's fine. He's a tool, you're a nice guy. I get jealous too easily."

"I'm not always the nice guy," Danny mutters, mouth buried in Stiles' hair. "But I love you and I never want to hurt you." His hands hold on resolutely, the fingers digging deep in the flesh of Stiles' hips.

"I know. But it won't all be roses and wall-fucking. Life sucks sometimes, you can't stop that."

Danny thinks about Ethan and his relentless flirting. Sean coming soon. Stiles up for elimination again next week. An inevitable separation in their future, probably short-term, maybe not. Unchangeable variables. "I know." His hands slide up and around, slide under the water and over Stiles' skin. It's so soft, yet underneath he's so strong. Sometimes (often), Stiles is the wiser one. "I can choose how I am, how I deal with it though. That's still a work in progress."

Stiles kisses Danny's cheeks, his forehead, his mouth. "Aren't we all?"

"You're an awesome first draft. I have a lot of corrections."

Stiles shakes his head and kisses Danny soundly. "I'm nowhere near a perfect first draft. I just hide it well."

"Then don't," Danny replies. "Hiding is what got us in trouble in the first place." He brings one hand to Stiles' cheek, strokes it softly. "You can tell me anything, show me anything."

Coming from you, that's grand. You're not exactly the poster child for being forthcoming.

Stiles leans in to Danny's touch. "It goes both ways, okay? You can tell me anything. You don't have to do this alone."

Danny lets go of Stiles and reaches for the bodywash, starts lathering up some and cleaning Stiles' back. "Do what alone, exactly?" he asks, massaging Stiles' shoulders and moving down.

"Grow." Stiles leans into Danny's touch with a happy little moan. (That recliner is a bitch to sleep in.)

"Right. I've never really been good at that alone anyway," Danny replies.

Not without consequences

He tilts Stiles' head, rubs his neck in deep circular motions and kisses him deeply.

Stiles pulls Danny impossibly closer, kissing him languidly.

"If we're gonna fool around, we'd better hurry before we use all the hot water." Stiles "the romantic" Stilinski, everyone.

"Let's not wait for that," Danny says.He finishes cleaning them in a flash, cutting corners like a pro.

Stiles laughs, hugging Danny tightly. "I love you."

Danny chuckles. "I love you too." and hugs him back, even if their dripping skin isn't the best contact.

He makes it so easy.

Make the most of it then, it won't always be the case.

 

He hands him a towel and dries himself off quickly. He doesn't bother with dressing back up, selecting to slip under the covers naked.

Stiles puts the brace back on his freshly-cleaned leg and crawls into bed with Danny. "I don't know how I got so lucky," he murmurs. "I have a god in my bed."

Danny props himself up on one arm, trails one hand down Stiles' chest. "What kind of screwed mythology do you follow? I'll admit my abs are exceptional but..."

Make the most out of it. That means shut up and learn to take a compliment.

He shakes his head. "Never mind," he says and straddles Stiles carefully, keeping most of his weight up.

Stiles runs his hands over Danny's torso, his back. "A god of dance," he mutters, almost to himself, "born out of music itself."

Danny smiles, leans forward and brushes his lips over Stiles'. "Now you're just describing yourself baby."

Stiles runs his fingers through Danny's hair and pulls him down for a kiss. And another. And still another. His free-hand snakes across the planes of Danny's back and down to curve around his ass.

Danny lets go of Stiles' mouth (with difficulty), and starts working a wide hickey on his throat instead. "You have to whole week to have it faded enough for TV," he whispers, nibbling just short of too forceful. Instinctively his hips rise to give Stiles better access while he resumes sucking on his neck.

Stiles groans, tilting his head back. "Do you want me to open you up?" he asks, brushing fingertips over Danny's hole. "Let you ride me til you lose your mind?"

"Y-Yeah," Danny stutters. His hips stop moving and while his mouth still destroys Stiles' neck (he just tastes amazing there, OK?), the rest of his body waits. It's been a while, and that teasing episode the other day was great but not enough too.

Stiles fumbles for the lube, quickly slicking his fingers and just barely pressing his middle one against Danny's hole. "So beautiful," he murmurs, working the finger in slowly.

Danny moans softly, mouth going slack on Stiles' neck. His back arches and rolls, more and more as Stiles opens him up. The burn waxes and wanes, turns into the familiar heat that makes him ache. "More, Stiles," he mumbles, alternating sloppy kisses and mindless nips on whatever skin he can reach.

Stiles works him up to three fingers, nudging his prostrate purposefully. "You ready for me, babe?" he asks, mouthing the skin of Danny's neck.

By then Danny is a sweaty, quivering, slightly babbling mess and all he can do is nod blindly, burying his face in the pillow next to Stiles.

Stiles slicks up his poor neglected cock with a hiss, nipping at Danny's neck. He adjusts his hips so the head lines up with Danny's hole. "Go ahead, baby," he pants out.

Danny takes a muffled, useless breath and pushes his hips down slowly, impaling himself one inch at the time. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, yes..." he mutters, head still hidden. He sets an unhurried rhythm, steadying his arms on either side of Stiles' body and riding Stiles in a deliberate, deep fashion.

Stiles grips his hips with a groan. "So fucking beautiful."

Danny pushes himself back up. His eyes are hazy, so is his mind, but he needs to see him. One hand keeps him steady, the other goes to Stiles' cheek, makes him lock eyes with Danny's. "I love you, love feeling you like this, so much," he breathes out in harsh respirations.

Stiles kisses the heel of Danny's hand. "I love you too, Danny. Love seeing you fall apart."

Danny rises and falls more briskly, his arm trembling under the effort. He bends down to kiss Stiles, a deep and messy kiss, gets back up and shifts his weight to his thighs. "You... You're driving me crazy," Danny whispers, fingers curling around Stiles' jaw. His hand leaves the bed and goes to his dick, strokes it roughly. He's painfully hard and can't take it anymore.

Stiles bats Danny's hand away and strokes him quickly. The sooner Danny gets off the sooner he can follow him over the edge. Stiles latches on to Danny's neck, biting gently at the tendon there.

"Fuck you're bossy," Danny whispers. He manages a few more thrusts down, but Stiles' dick hitting his prostate, his tongue on his skin and the strong, expert grip on him prove too much to handle for any self-control he has left.

Stiles follows Danny over the edge, cursing into the skin of his neck as their rhythm dies. "Love you so fucking much."

Danny mumbles a "me too" but is too breathless to say more. He uses what little strength and consciousness he has left to roll off Stiles carefully and lie on his side to catch his breath. They made quite a mess but he's pleasantly numb and couldn't care less. It takes a minute but he can talk again. "That was amazing." It's an understatement.

Stiles kisses him. "Agreed."

Danny rolls out of bed and pads to the bathroom for a washcloth. Stiles cleans them up, tosses the cloth toward the hamper, and crawls back into bed.

"I'm setting my alarm for noon," Stiles says with a yawn. "That way you can get to the studio on time."

"Thanks," Danny replies, pulling Stiles closer and tucking him against his chest. He breathes in deeply, feels the lull of contentment flow through his body. A thought strikes him and his hand, that was roaming aimlessly on Stiles' back, stops. They didn't use protection

"We've been careless," he says quietly. It's a mood-killer but he forces himself to talk anyway. "Not that I'm worried but..."

"I'm clean," Stiles says quietly. "I have the test results in my suitcase if you want them."

"No, it's fine," Danny replies quickly. He sighs, pulls Stiles closer. "It's just that it's the first time I get carried away like this. I'm clean too, just so you know," he adds after a few seconds. "We're at that point now, I guess. Fucking without worry, I can get on board with this."

Stiles kisses him chastely. "I agree." He yawns. "I can also get on board with a nap."

"Mm-hm. Here's much better than the floor," Danny says, eyes already closed.

Chapter Text

Stiles sleeps soundly, despite his bum knee. Danny wakes up some time before the alarm. Groggy, a little disoriented, mostly refreshed, despite the soreness that comes with every great fuck. He nuzzles Stiles' hair. "Wake up, Wonder boy. I have to leave soon and I don't want to have to come up with another awkward note."

Stiles wakes with a grumble, pulling Danny back into his arms. "Don't leave."

Danny chuckles, tangles himself with Stiles. He can't help it."Don't ask me that, because I'll stay. They won't like it."

Stiles sighs. "Fine. You can go. But come home soon, deal?"

"Deal. I'll get my assignment, do the reaction shot and whatnot and come straight back, promise. You'll explain to Lydia why I'm not rehearsing right away though." Fuck the reality of the competition sucks, especially when it means leaving this behind, even if it's just for a few hours.

He slides away from Stiles' grasp and from the comfort of the covers. He gets dressed and returns to the bed. "Rest, elevate your knee, you know the drill. I love you."

"I love you too." Stiles drifts back to sleep in a nest of blankets that smell like them.

--

When he wakes, Stiles' brain clicks into gear and he realizes how selfish he's being.

To Danny: Stay. Rehearse. I'll be fine.  

 

The draw turns out weird, again. 

Erica and Aiden get hip-hop. Jackson and Morrell (they redefine "icy", the way they size each other up) get salsa, Cora and Robert are contemporary (which isn't fair, by Danny's standards), Ethan and Jen are the lucky bastards of the week with ballet. Kali and Isaac get lyrical hip-hop, Scott and Allison get the waltz, Heather and Boyd will do Jazz.

Lydia and Danny have tango and he's tentatively satisfied with it.

He's picking up his bag when his phone vibrates and he sees Stiles' text. He sighs.

To Stiles: OK. I'll miss you. BTW got tango, will picture you instead of Queen Lydia to be more appropriately inspired. I love you.

Lydia swats his hand playfully but with meaning too. "Come on Danny, show me how sexy you can get."

 

To Danny: I'll try not to be too jealous.

Stiles eats, medicates, and settles into bed with his laptop and notebook.

By dinnertime, he has twenty two pages of notes, fine-tuned to each dancer's weaknesses and strengths and every comment the judges made. 

 

Lydia shows Danny a basic routine of hers to assess him and two hours later she declares herself satisfied. "Your posture and hold are very good," she concedes. "We should be able to work with that."

"Gee, thanks Lydia. I had no idea I could have good posture, you know, being a ballet dancer..." he sneers, gathering his things.

She shrugs. "Whatever. All I'm saying is that we're good to go for our actual routine tomorrow."

He smiles at her and checks his phone. The usual post-show text from his sister, congratulating him (with more inappropriate comments on the sex-appeal of some of the dancers, Jesus), a missed call from his mother and a couple of texts from Alex. Erased at once again.

To Stiles: On my way. Dinner in bed sounds good?

 

To Danny: Dinner in bed sounds fantastic.

Stiles corrects a note, bites the end of his pen, and changes it back.

Maybe he's overthinking this.

 

Danny goes from the show's van directly to his own car and drives to his favorite pizza place. He's back within 20 minutes, carrying a half-veggie, half-meat lovers (not sure which one Stiles would prefer). He snags two bottles of water and balances a bowl of Erica's garden salad (for good conscience), a couple of paper plates and utensils on the box. He walks inside Stiles' room and dumps his supplies on the bed.

"Taking the SATs or doing homework in advance?" he jokes. He catches a glance of a dance video on Stiles' laptop as he hands him a plate with both kinds of pizza. "Oh, studying the competition. So, your thoughts?"

Stiles pauses the video (the group number, watching it for the sixth or seventh time).

"On you specifically? On everyone?" He sniffs the air. "Ooh, pizza. You are a god."

"Enough with the deity comparison, you're making it trivial. Wait until we're naked, then it's appropriate," he says with a wink, fixing his own plate. He sits next to him and stretches his legs with a low moan of relief and bites into a slice. "That's the stuff." He shuffles close to Stiles. "To answer your question, both."

Stiles clicks over to Danny and Lydia's number, checks his notes. "Out of all of them, I found the least technical errors in this one. Um... here." He pauses, points to Danny's hands on Lydia. "Your grip here was too low, so the lift was shakier than it should be."

He keeps playing. "That kick there was sloppy, but it was Lydia's fault for being a half-count behind for that tiny part. And right... there." He pauses again, shows Danny hyperextending to keep Lydia in the air. "You can hurt yourself doing that. You have to adjust your center of gravity more before she jumps."

Danny chews thoughtfully, scrutinizing the videos as he listens to Stiles' comments. Stiles is right, but he wouldn't have picked up on those errors himself.

"You're right." He sighs and leans back. "This is what I get for not doing couple dancing enough." He runs a hand through his hair, annoyed. "Last year, when they rejected my audition, they said I wasn't at the level of the competition. I should have known, only getting random training back home. But I was arrogant and thought I could do it anyway. So when I was cut, it was such a shock... I went to the LA school and spent every minute working on my technique. Alone. And now it's biting me right back."

He grabs another slice and picks at the mushrooms on it. "I haven't been in the bottom so far but soon they'll catch up on this and there'll be hell to pay."

"Trust Lydia. That's the best advice I have for you. She knows her shit." Stiles shrugs. "Record your rehearsals, we can go over it together." He takes a big bite of his slice. "I want you to succeed."

Danny wipes his mouth and kisses Stiles' cheek. "Thank you. You're so fucking great to me, I appreciate it you know."

If only we could both win.

"I know."

 

They go through the rest of the pizza and the rest of his notes number by number, leaving Stiles and Cora's for last.

"You want to parse mine?" Stiles asks. 

"I don't need to watch it," Danny says softly, "I remember all your numbers."

He thinks for a second. He's never fond of criticism, but when it's constructive...

"You know all about your knee and what it does. Shaky lifts, wobbly spins, etc. Other than that, the only problem are your emotions." He rubs his neck, uncomfortable. "You get lost in your head. I mean, the passion you put in your routine is great, and your chemistry with Cora is too but... Well sometimes it ruins your technique. Your last number for example. By the end you were almost two counts behind. Thankfully it wasn't obvious because you weren't close to Cora at the moment but it was noticeable. And your arm work lacked finesse."

"It's like you're trying to say too much and it gets muddled." he finishes, contrite.

Stiles runs his hand through his hair. "I know. Christ, I know. I just... there's no excuse, no matter how close to home a message is."

"Hey, it's more like you have too much of a quality than a real fault," Danny says. He thinks for a second, his hand reaches for Stiles' leg and strokes it gently. "How close?" he asks.

Stiles sighs. "Malia got pregnant over a year ago. She wasn't sure who the father was, and she turned to me for help. She lost the child, ended up in the hospital for over a week."

Danny's hand spasms lightly and his eyes darken. "Shit Stiles, I'm so sorry," he whispers. He tries to imagine the beautiful and lively Malia in this ordeal, a 16-years old Stiles, probably scared shitless, by her side. He puts one arm around Stiles' waist. "I can't believe you two had to go through this."

Where the fuck was Derek when a member of his pack needed him?

He doesn't realize the words didn't stay in his mind but also left his mouth.

"She didn't want to tell him," Stiles answers, bitter. "Didn’t want to risk her place in the crew."

"He would have kicked her out for this?" Danny says, bewildered. "Bullshit. You get a replacement for a few months, the time needed, but you don't lose a dancer like her, especially not for that reason."

"That's what Derek would have done. Malia was just paranoid." Stiles shakes his head to clear it. "Anyway, you can see why this number mattered so much."

"Yeah, definitely," Danny replies softly. "Some tough shit for someone your age," he adds.

Stiles' laugh is sharp, bitter. "You could say that." He turns back to his notes, adding Danny's observations to his number.

 

Danny clears out the pizza box and remnants of the dinner while Stiles straightens out his notes and crawls back in bed with him. "So," he starts, changing the subject because he needs Stiles happier than this. "I got tango and Lydia says I can do a convincing sexy face. That was good." He chuckles. "Cora got contemporary. With Robert. Can you fucking believe that? I swear this girl’s luck never ends."

"They'll nail it." Stiles shrugs. "And you got to meet Robert, so that's cool."

"He’s gorgeous in person and seems like a nice guy. A little reserved maybe." Danny comments. He grins and swoops Stiles down until he's lying down completely. "I don't know though," he whispers, running a hand down Stiles' chest. "I think the broody dark, tall and handsome thing is not really my type anymore. There's this new style: lanky, brunet, bright eyes, a little spastic... It's really doing it for me."

Stiles chuckles, hitching his leg over Danny's hip. "I really like your new type. Skews in my favor."

"Always," Danny says, kissing Stiles lightly.

Stiles yawns, curls in closer. "I'm so fucking tired. I think it's just because so much energy is going into healing."

"That's the idea." Danny arranges Stiles on him, mindful of the knee, and closes his eyes. A little smiles floats on his lips as he drifts off. "I'll have a little something for you, along the same lines. Tomorrow."

Stiles' eyes droop closed. "Sounds cool."

 

Danny wakes up step by step, first his mind, registering Stiles' breathing, the sun filtering in the room, the warmth of the bed, and Stiles' body around him. It takes a good 15 minutes of internal battle to finally get out of bed and into the shower. Stiles is still sleeping when he gets out, he walks downstairs and fixes a quick breakfast for him anyway, putting it on a tray, under Lydia's watchful glance.

"Nurse Danny..." she mutters.

"Yeah, so? You're going to give me shit for taking care of my boyfriend?" he says, pouring a glass of juice and setting it forcefully on the tray.

"No, but he's not completely out of commission. And I need your full attention today, all week actually."

Danny sighs, but Stiles' advice are fresh in his mind and he nods. "You're right. I'll drop this in his room and then you can boss me all day, OK? And I won't check my phone every 10 minutes."

She nods, satisfied.

 

Stiles wakes late on Thursday morning. There's breakfast waiting for him. "A guy could get used to this," he tells no one in particular.

To Danny: Thank you for breakfast. Have fun rehearsing.

He eats quickly and takes a long shower. Adam comes by around eleven to check in on him.

"You can do some basic exercises, but keep it light. No plies, et cetera."

"Thanks, Adam."

"No problem, kid. Just doing my job."

 

Their routine is fun. A tango with an ironic twist, silly costumes and a theme of dark seduction taken lightly. He plays a mage bewitching a girl who isn't as helpless as she seems. A perfect fit for them. He keeps his promise, focuses on dancing exclusively. But once 5 o'clock rolls around and they're set free, he can't shower and change fast enough. He sets up the studio like he planned, slaps a "Keep out!" sign on it and steals a dinner for two from Erica's feast, featuring tacos tonight.

Despite mushy legs, he runs upstairs and into Stiles' room. "Come on Wonder boy, surprise's ready."

Stiles looks up from his pile of application paperwork with a smile. "I'm coming, I'm coming," he says and gets up to follow Danny.

Danny walks downstairs slowly and leads him to the studio. A folding table is set up in one corner, with their dinner on it, and a mattress and a little suitcase are in another. Quiet peaceful music plays around. He lets Stiles take it in and hugs him from behind, hooking his chin on his shoulder. "Dinner, a little dancing if you feel up to it, because Adam brought me up to speed and you can't get too lazy, then a full-body massage because you like those hands, apparently."

"Jesus... I don't deserve you." Stiles leans back into Danny's embrace. "Thank you so much."

"You're welcome, and yes you deserve all of it."

 

They sit down to eat and Stiles gets the ball started with mindless chitchat. "How was your day?" he asks as he sips his water.

"Better than I hoped," Danny replies. "Our choreography is different but it works well with us. Lydia wasn't too bitchy and we already have a good grip on the number." He bites into his tacos (really spicy, delicious) and swallows quickly. "I took your advice and it helped, already. Plus Lydia really likes it when I let her be in charge."

"The woman knows what she's doing, I'll give her that much." Stiles inhales a taco. "Have you thought about working on your pas de deux skills too? We don't have a shortage of ballet buffs around here."

He nods. "I should, I know it goes quickly if you don't practice. But I'd have to steal Jen for that. I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone else."

"Good point." Stiles forces the image of Ethan and Danny dancing together out of his head and inhales another taco.

 

Danny chuckles. "I mean, can you imagine Jackson and I doing a dainty pas de deux? I think his face would explode and he wouldn't stop fighting me so he could lead."

Ethan would let you, he made that clear.

He can keep trying, I don't care.

He reaches for another taco. "I can't imagine teaching one of the girls, or even them being willing to learn it." He finishes his taco, licks his fingers pensively. "I'd show you if you want, but I'm not sure I could stay professional," he says with a wink.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Oh, I believe it." Don't say it don't say it don't-- "What about Ethan?"

"I don't think he could stay professional." Danny says calmly.

"Oh, I believe it too." Stiles downs his water. "You said something about dancing?"

Danny smiles, and wipes his hands. "If you feel up to it."

"I do." Stiles stands and pushes the chair back in. "Anything that means you and me together."

Danny stands up and pulls him close. "That's the plan." He keeps one hand on Stiles' waist, with the other he skips a few songs on the stereo until a slow ballad comes on. "We should keep it basic for now but I'll let you lead and you show me when you're up for more," he whispers, dropping the remote on the table and looping his arms around Stiles' neck.

Stiles puts his hands around Danny's waist, swaying them back and forth like a middle-school dance. "I love you."

"I love you too." Danny hides his face in the crook of Stiles' neck. "It feels like we're stealing time. I wish we could stay like this forever."

Stiles rubs Danny's back as they sway. "Forever sounds good. Implausible, but good."

Danny's grip tightens. "It's fucked up. This show is the only reason we met, at the same time it's the one thing throwing obstacles in our way." That and your past. And the distance. And persistent ballet dancers. Stop focusing on the problems. He's in your arms now. Make the most out of it.

"Life outside would be doing the same thing if we met some other way," Stiles wisely points out.

"True, but I wouldn't be so torn up about it." He sighs, kisses the warm pulse point on Stiles' throat. "Don't listen to me, I'm borrowing trouble, again..."

Stiles holds him closer. "It's okay." He nuzzles Danny's ear. "We'll figure it out. It'll work out in the end."

"We better, because I can't imagine giving you up now." Danny shrugs. "I think I felt that way already in Vegas."

"Agreed."

 

They sway like that for a while, until the song clicks over to something faster, more fun. Danny smiles against Stiles' skin and pulls away slightly. Nice change of pace. "Show me what you can do?" he asks.

Stiles grins. "Try and keep up."

He steps back and just... lets go. Lets the music flow through him without a care in the world. 

He just... dances.

 

Danny does keep up, after a few seconds of admiring watch. Stiles is a little wonky but hides it well, his rhythm and energy at the right level. He follows his lead, forgets technique for a second and lets Stiles’ enthusiasm be contagious. It's like in the bar in Las Vegas, ages ago. A dance-off that is anything but competitive. He pulls him close, grabs one hand, makes him spin and dips him gently, holding all of his back with one arm so the weight doesn't rest on his knee. "You're magic."

Stiles kisses Danny as he leans closer. "Only with you, babe."

"You obviously have not been watching your own performances." Danny brings him back up, cradles his face and kisses him back. "But thanks." He leads him to the corner. "Come on, let me get my hands on you. Different kind of magic."

 

Stiles peels off his t-shirt and sprawls out on the mattress."Best. Plan. Ever."

Danny kneels by his side, pulls the suitcase to him and takes out a bottle of oil and a few candles. "I think so too, having you under me," he jokes as he lights the candles and spread them around the mattress, at a reasonable distance. He taps lightly on Stiles' leg and opens up the bottle. "Come on, pants off too. This is eucalyptus, it'll energize you right back and I intend to use it everywhere."

Stiles shimmies out of his pants and lays back, bare ass naked. 

Danny gulps, loudly. "OK... Kind of thought you'd be wearing underwear but I'll make do." He straddles Stiles' thigh swiftly and tries to think in a clinical way. He pours a generous quantity of oil in the dip of Stiles' back and digs right in, with both hands. He slides them up, heels pushing on the muscles, fingers searching for knots and working them out. The oil makes for just the right slickness and he roams over Stiles' back easily.

"Let me know if I miss any spots."

 

Stiles moans, melting into the mattress as he relaxes. "Will do... fuck, you're amazing."

Danny grins, pushes his fingers rhythmically into the muscles along the flanks. "I do my best to take care of you," he whispers. He shimmies down and to the left, liberating Stiles' legs. He bypasses Stiles' ass (not easy) and drips a little more oil down his legs. He rolls his thumbs in his thighs, skips the knees (usually too ticklish) and works the same technique with the calves.The peppery scent tickles in the back of his throat, his hands are getting a little sore and his legs numb but he smiles, exhilarated. He can basically feel Stiles melting under him.

Stiles feels like putty, all but his dick tucked against the mattress. His eyes drift shut and his hips twitch slightly. Stiles can't be bothered to move any more than that.

Danny details Stiles' muscles one by one, loosens every one of them thoroughly, from nape to ankle. He stretches his hands, slacks off his fingers and runs them delicately over Stiles' skin, all over, once he's done. Stiles is practically purring, he smiles at the sound.He grabs a small towel, dries off Stiles and his hands."All good baby?"

Stiles stretches languidly, smiling sleepily. "So fucking good, babe, you have no idea." He ruts into the mattress softly. "Mm, fuck."

Danny chuckles and lies down next to Stile. "I didn't get that kind of response often in the past..." He leans up, plants a kiss on Stiles' nape and runs a hand over Stiles' hip, flips him slightly and sneaks further, until he can feel Stiles' pulsing member under his fingertips. "Mmm," he murmurs in Stiles' hair, "definitely not that interested."

Stiles twitches toward the touch. "Fuck... magic fucking hands."

Danny tugs a little faster, harder, more expertly. He kisses Stiles' neck, shoulder, sucks a small hickey on his shoulder blade. Grinning the whole time. "I call it talent but whatever..." he whispers.

Stiles manages to hold on for almost five minutes, a grand total of five minutes more than he was expecting, before spilling over Danny's knuckles.

Danny lets go of Stiles delicately, reaches back for the towel and cleans them both.

"I don't want to boast but I don't think you could do better, as far as caring boyfriend goes."

Stiles drags him into his arms, pressing his face into Danny's shoulder.

"I have the best boyfriend ever."

 

"I do it because I love you. Also buying myself some credit, just in case." Danny smiles, hugging Stiles tightly.

 

"OK you being naked and me fully clothed is weird," he says after a minute. "And if we fall asleep here someone will freak out tomorrow morning. Let's clean up and get back upstairs, m'kay"

"M'kay." They do just that, Stiles taking his bedtime meds and Danny stripping before they crawl into bed.

Danny falls asleep with a rested, smiling, happy Stiles in his arms and he feels exactly the same. Maybe he found the balance, finally.

Chapter Text

The days blur into the newfound routine. Rehearsals, fittings, shootings during the day. Group practices for their number, an energetic jive this week (a good thing Stiles is off, this one would have ruined him). Robert keeps to himself but proves a nice addition too. Evenings are reserved for Stiles, quiet dinners, talks, movies nights. They exercise together, get Stiles back into the rhythm slowly. Every night ends up with them tangled, naked and sated.

Danny eyes the applications papers on Stiles' dresser every day but only the morning of the show does he broach the subject again. "Have you decided yet?" he asks, coming out of the shower and toweling his hair dry. "Did you send the applications to all of them?"

"I mail the last packet today." Stiles stretches, sheets falling to his waist. "Carnegie Mellon sent me an invite, and I just finished those yesterday."

"You're popular," Danny notes. He sits on the bed, plays with the sheet. "I hope you hear back soon, so you can decide."

"Agreed." Stiles kisses Danny, slides out of bed, and kisses Danny again. "I need a shower."

He hops in, washes quickly, and hops back out.

Danny is dressed, bag ready for the day and waiting for Stiles at the door. Keeping his fidgeting to a minimum.

Long-term plans

Stiles in the bottom again

Tango

Last week's so-so performance

His phone beeps and he checks it while Stiles gets dressed. A new text from Alex. He deletes it. Eventually he'll get it. Nerves are really tested today.

 

Stiles heads downstairs with his mind whirling over the solo he finally decided on.

Adam cleared him to compete yesterday afternoon, so he can dance for his life tonight, despite being unable to compete with the others.

His solo is risky, but Allison-- the only person he lets see it-- said it is good enough to be worth the risk.

 

Danny frets in the dressing room. Jackson side-eyes him as he paces the small room, tugging at his red dance pants and adjusts his loose grey shirt.

"Calm down Danny," Jackson says, putting the finishing touches to his hair. "Lydia told me your number was the best you've done so far."

 "I'm not worried about that," Danny replies coldly.

Jackson sighs and turns on his seat to face him. "It should be the only thing you worry about. I know Stiles is in a difficult position tonight but he can take care of himself. When we're here, you have to focus on your own spot."

"Right," Danny replies briskly. He hates it when Jackson is right.

 

"You feel comfortable about this?" Allison asks Stiles in the mirror in make-up. "You can always use your plan b."

"I'm gonna do this. I can't afford not to make a good impression this week." Stiles pulls his tunic on and sits for Emma to work on his face.

 

"On stage in ten!" Talia's voice informs them from the hallway, and Danny jumps to his feet.

Lydia interrupts her quiet conversation with Jackson and glares at him. "If you’re going to go see him, make sure you’re both back on time."

Danny sighs a "Yes mom," and runs to Stiles' room and he finds him on his way out as he comes flying in.

"Whoa! Hey, babe," Stiles says. 

Danny stops in his tracks, before he crashes into Stiles (wouldn't that take the cake then) and loops his arms around his waist. "Hey," he breathes out, awkward smile on and feeling a tad ridiculous. Stiles looks calm and ready enough. "Just wanted to see you before the group number. Once it's on we won't have much time." He tries to keep the worry out of his voice.

Stiles kisses him. "Deep breaths, okay? I've got this. We've got this."

Danny kisses him back, a little too hard, and pulls away. "You read me too well," he says with a chuckle, and twines his left hand with Stiles' right one. "I'll try to believe you. We should go, before Lydia finds me." He takes a deep breath, as prescribed.

 

Stiles follows Danny into the wings and stays to watch the group number. Their jive, on the latest Beyoncé song (the miracles of remixing never cease to amaze Danny), is a resounding success and riles up the crowd to a new level. They hold the final pose throughout the applause, then Danny drops Erica to her feet with care and smiles at the cameras. This is off to a good start  and he feels energized. They get called one by one, he leaps through his intro with renewed enthusiasm. They huddle together for the bottom six announcement and Danny discreetly reaches for Stiles' hand as they stand in the back row.

Kali, Erica and Morrell are called.

Stiles is named next, with the explanation about his injury. Aiden is called next.

Then Danny.

 

Stiles' heart drops.

Shit. Shit shit shit.

Kali is up to dance first, and the others scatter to the wings. Stiles squeezes Danny's hand before pulling his ballroom heels on for his solo.

All or nothing.

 

Danny sits in a chair like a shapeless lump. He's rehashing the moment his name was called, at the same time his mind goes over every single number he can remember, trying to find something fitting, something that can save him. 

I can't leave, not now.

His eyes fall on Stiles, gearing up for his own solo. He's putting on heels. He frowns, finally back to reality.

"You're fearless," he whispers. "You'll knock them dead baby." he adds with a smile.

 Stiles leans over and kisses him. "So will you." He pauses, bites his lip. "Do the solo you did that first week we were in the house-- the one to Mirror. It shows your strengths and is modern enough to make an impact." He buckles his shoes. "Wish me luck."

"Good luck," Danny murmurs. His mind draws a blank at Stiles' suggestion. Worse, every number he's ever done seems to evade him, the moves becoming blurry and muddled, the sequences unclear. "I can't... I don't know..." he whispers.

You. Alone on stage. Messing up in front of millions. Just like you audition last year. A joke.

He drops his head in his hands, breathing ragged and panicked. Last year's audition. A messy number, in which he threw all his heart but none of the technique, since he hadn't mastered it yet. This one he remembers. A redo. That could work. He looks up, feeling a little bit better. "I know what I'll do," he says in a relieved tone. "I can't do Mirror but I found something else." He gets up, shaky but stable enough and pulls Stiles to him (he's tall in those shoes), tipping his head up to kiss him. "We'll make it. Go."

 

Stiles takes his place in the wings and goes sailing on to get in place when Cat calls his name. "Strut" by Adam Lambert starts, and he launches into the solo.

It's inspired by Yanis Marshall's style, but the number is pure Stiles, showing off his flexibility and poise, as well as his sensuality.

He's breathing heavily by the time he gets offstage, glowing with exertion.

 

Danny is replaying his number in his head, counting the steps, imagining the moves, this time executed with the knowledge and technique he's learned.

He takes a pause to watch Stiles perform and is dazzled, again.

Is there anything he can't do? 

He's waiting with open arms when Stiles is done. "This was amazing. You're safe, I guarantee it."

Stiles kisses him. "So are you. Go knock 'em dead."

Danny takes a deep breath and nods.He steps from behind the curtain with a confidence he has yet to feel inside. He takes position at the center of the stage and waits for the music to start.

 

The Swan Lake is one of the most recognizable melody in ballet. Last year, he thought he could mix styles he barely knew and pull them off on that music. It was a valiant effort but misguided: his emotions shined through but nothing else.

He knows better now. A year of discipline and hard work did that for him. This time the emotion colors his movements just enough and he concentrates on fluidity, strength and control. The choreography he had imagined finally comes to life coherently. a base of ballet, modernized and mixed with contemporary poses.

He finishes perfectly in synch with the booming brass finale, an ever-accelerating spin he stops right on time without faltering. He feels avenged, finally, when the applause starts, and he salutes the crowd before heading backstage.

 

Stiles is absolutely gabberflasted (so gabberflasted he mixes up the word in his mental monologue).

He's never seen Danny so... confident. So in tune with his body.

Damn, that was hot.

 

Danny hugs Erica briefly before sending her on stage. She's putting on the bitch face but he knows she's stressed. White knuckles don't lie.

He looks around for Stiles, hoping for a moment alone before his number and the unraveling of the show.

 

Stiles reaches for Danny and pulls him into a secluded corner, kissing him breathless. "That. Was so. Fucking. Hot," he says between kisses. "So proud of you."

Danny grins in the kiss, tries to give as much as Stiles is. "Thanks, I aim to please," he whispers. He cups Stiles' face and looks at him, suddenly serious. "You were brilliant. We'll make it."

He dives back for another hungry kiss. All he can get before getting back out there. They get to make out in the corner until Lydia comes for Danny.

 

Stiles spends the rest of the time before results buckling shoes, zipping dresses, and overall trying not to be useless. He sees more tits than he could ask for (dancers have no shame) but not even Erica's glorious rack does it for him anymore.

Damn, he's got it bad.

 

Danny and Lydia step aside to let Aiden and Erica pass (they nailed that hip-hop number) and Lydia grips his hand. "Come on, wizard me up," she says with a tight smile and pulls him onstage. They take position and he lets the costume, makeup, choreography and setup pull him into character.

Lydia owns the number, is the flirty and amused girl and brings her best work to the table with perfect execution. Her expressions are better than ever and he follows her lead. The number is more centered around her but she makes sure he gets his moment too. He almost misses the cue when she adapts a couple of positions so he's upfront but he's tuned to her by now and falls in line quickly.

One last lift, that she dismounts in a twirl. She hooks one hand behind his neck, brings him to the floor and lifts his chin with her other hand, a victorious smile on her lips, while he fakes a helpless look and posture. One smooth, fast sequence and the right finish to their original number.

He hugs her quickly as soon as he's back on his feet. "Let's hope creativity counts for a lot this time," he says.

She nods and hugs him back.

 

Comments are generally good, although they did pick up on the hesitance when Lydia changed things up. They praise the rest, thankfully.

Cora and Robert are next and last. Given the pairing and style, it's no surprise that they steal the show.Everybody comes back, the bottom six onstage, the others in their seats, and the girls are up first. 

Kali goes home. Some old dogs just can't learn new tricks.

The boys take the stage. Stiles grips Danny's hand tightly, audience be damned.

 

"Mr. Stilinski, we were sad to hear about your injury," Nigel begins. "However, watching you dance tonight it was as if it never happened. Take care of yourself, young man. You are safe, congratulations."

Stiles hugs Danny tightly, grips Aiden's shoulder in a show of solidarity and heads down to the others. Cora and Lydia flank him, digging their nails into his biceps. He can't bring himself to care.

Mary clears her throat. "Guys, this year has seen some incredible talent. Honestly, I was surprised to see either of you in the bottom, and your solos and pairs numbers confirmed my opinion. You are both extremely talented."

She pauses. "However, Danny you proved yourself more inventive, and technically more forward-thinking. We want you to stay. Aiden, I'm sorry but it's the way home for you."

Danny feels like he's going to pass out and can barely return Aiden's cursory hug. He's safe. Stiles too. He looks around numbly as everyone comes back up to the stage and hugs for the cameras. He zeroes in on Stiles and embraces him tightly. Only at the last second does he stops himself from kissing him right here and there.

Stiles buries his face in Danny's neck. "We're safe. We did it." He brushes his lips against Danny's pulse point. "Fuck, I am so proud of you."

"Me too," Danny whispers, a thrill going through him at the contact of Stiles' lips on him. "I was so scared for a second. Didn't want to leave this, or you, so soon." He pulls away for propriety reasons and glances at the group, spread around them. Ethan and Aiden are in an emotional hug, both trying to hold it in but somewhat failing. He frowns, he hadn't pegged either of them for the sensitive type.

He looks back at Stiles, smiles and slides his hand back in Stiles', grateful he doesn't have to say goodbye. For now.

Chapter Text

As soon as they can, everyone caravans back to the house and starts in on the usual drinking and dancing. Stiles curls up on the love seat with Danny, content to just be after such a stressful evening. "I love you. So fucking much."

"Me too," Danny says. He sighs, runs his hand through Stiles' hair. "I never want to live this stress again."

You'll have to.

"Not for a long time at least," he amends. He brings Stiles in his lap, tucks him under the blanket and settles for an evening of people watching.

Stiles lays his head on Danny's shoulder with a contented sigh. Something occurs to him.

"When is your sister coming, again?"

Danny tenses slightly. "She didn't say exactly, this weekend probably." He runs his hand over Stiles' back, slow and thoughtful. "She usually calls me the day after the show, I'll check with her then."

Is it possible to look forward to something and dread it at the same time?

Yeah, definitely.

"Mm'kay." Stiles yawns. "Y'anno, I saw Erica's tits like a billion times tonight. Cora has good taste."

"You're incorrigible, and I swear to God this group is turning into one big orgy." He holds Stiles closer and closes his eyes. "Look all you want but no touching. Well, apart from during a number. You're mine," he whispers.

"All yours," Stiles whispers back. "Love you forever."

 

It's another mess of people tangled with each other that greets his eyes when Danny's ringtone wakes him up. Stiles is still knocked out, has slid to his own spot on the sofa, allowing Danny to get up and grab his phone without disturbing him.

"Yeah?"

"Bro!" Stef cries in the phone, "I'm so happy! You completely nailed those numbers and saved your ass! It would have sucked if you got eliminated before I got there. And Stiles made it too, that's so cool! I'm sad for Aiden, he was cute and now Erica has to dance with Isaac, lucky girl and..."

Danny chuckles softly and walks to the kitchen, letting his sister babbles some more as he starts the coffee.

"So yeah I voted again, a lot for Stiles too because he didn't dance this week. Anyway I talked to mom, she was pissed that I arranged this without her knowing but she's too busy to really care, besides it's Sean so it's like travelling with family so she said yes and signed off on it and we'll be there Saturday morning! Can you pick us up at 10:30?"

Danny rubs his face, a little dizzy from the speech. "Sure, text me the flight number and I'll be there," he says without thinking.

"Thank you! Oh and bring Stiles, I'm dying to see him!"

She hangs up before he can reply and Danny is left processing the info, staring at the coffeemaker and still gripping the phone.

 

Stiles wakes with a back full of knots and pads into the kitchen mid-stretch. 

"Good morning, beautiful." No response. "Danny? Babe, you okay?"

Danny startles, pulled out of his reverie (more worrying than pleasant thoughts). He grabs the pot, and searches for mugs. "Yeah, no I'm fine. Distracted, not fully awake, that's all," he says, pouring Stiles and him a cup each. He debates adding anything else.

You'll have to start talking eventually, the clock is ticking.

"My sister just called actually. She'll be there Saturday morning. I said we'd go pick her up, that's OK?"

"That sounds great. I can't wait to meet her." Stiles sips his coffee. "She sounds amazing."

Danny smiles softly. "She's 13 so of course she comes with the usual annoyance but yeah, she is amazing. Just a ball of sunshine and all-around optimist. My biggest fan and personal cheerleader," he adds fondly. "She's going to get along famously with you."

Stiles grins. "I'm sure we'll be best friends for life or some shit like that."

"Please don't though, BFF tell each other everything. She knows things about me and trust me she doesn't NOT want to know about my love life."

Someone else knows and doesn't care about what to tell to who or not. After what you did, you think he'll have any qualms ruining this?

He shakes it off and smiles to Stiles. It's a little strained but it's better than nothing.

Shut up.

As you wish. Doesn't change the fact that he's coming.

Stiles stares at Danny for a moment before downing his coffee and setting the mug on the counter.

"Okay, stop arguing with your internal monologue and come shower with me."

He smiles more genuinely and drinks one last sip. "Fine." He kisses Stiles' temple and links their hands, leading him upstairs. "How you put up with me and my issues, I'll never know."

"I know my issues are just as insane. Gives me perspective." Stiles strips Danny and tosses the clothes in the hamper. "Your rocking body doesn't hurt either."

I doubt your conscience is as burdened as mine is. Danny pushes the thoughts away with difficulty but successfully. "You have admirable priorities,"

Danny says with a smirk, hands busy with removing Stiles' clothes as well. He pushes him until they're next to the shower stall and with a quick flick of the hand Danny starts the water. His grin widens. "I might have the same ones, " he says, bringing his mouth to Stiles’ shoulders and mapping out the moles there lazily.

 

Stiles steps into the shower and pulls Danny in after him. He soaps up a washcloth and starts to wash Danny carefully. "You... you know you can tell me anything, right?"

Danny's shoulders sag a little and he nods. Guess Stiles was bound to catch up and try to get him to talk. "I know. Some things though... I'm not sure you want to hear," he confesses.

Stiles frowns slightly. "What I want to hear doesn't matter. You can tell me the truth, no matter how painful or what the fuck ever." He presses a kiss between Danny's shoulder blades. "You could tell me you're actually a woman named Louise and you want to live on an alpaca farm in Peru and I would still love you."

Danny laughs, short and dry and fixates on the polished glass of the shower stall. It's easier than to turn around and see Stiles. "It's nothing like that, which is good I guess." He takes a deep breath. "I just... I'm... I'm scared," he admits. "Scared of seeing Sean again."

Stiles resumes washing, so his hands have something to do. "You wanna tell me what happened?"

"Depends," Danny says. He looks up, closes his eyes. "What's the worst thing you've ever done?"

Just so I know how bad I'm doing.

"Worst thing like most illegal or worst thing like morally?" Stiles shakes his head. "I'll give you both. Most illegal-- marijuana. Most morally dubious-- leading Carlos on too long."

"What if..." he swallows the bile and fear in his throat and continues. "What if I did worse, on both accounts?"

Stiles falters in his motions for a beat, two. "I'd guess it would depend. Like, how bad? Murder-y bad? Rape-y bad?"

"Not that bad. Not really."

 Danny breathes in deeply, the humid air thick in his lungs. Goes with the mood.

Get it out.

"He was in love with me, Sean. For years. But he was just this kid to me, you know, more like Stef's playmate than anything else in my eyes. But he kept pushing, pushing."

He shakes his head pulls away from Stiles. He can't do this with Stiles touching him. He might taint him.

"It's no excuse though. Right before I left home, I don't know why, I cracked. I fucked him and left him alone, just disappeared before he could wake up. I just used him."

He leans against the wall, hides his face in his arm. "That's bad enough. The thing is... I was 19. He was just 16."

 

Stiles takes a second to let that sink in.

Kid loves Danny.

Kid pushes.

Danny cracks.

Danny fucks kid and leaves.

Danny proceeds to beat himself up for weeks.

Okay. Okay, he can deal with this.

Stiles reaches out gently, splaying his palm over Danny's back.

"Danny, I want you to look at me."

 

Danny shakes under Stiles' touch and turns around, slowly. He can't say no to him.

 Say it Stiles. Say how you can't deal with this.

"Danny, I'm going to say this and I want you to listen to me," Stiles says slowly, calmly. "Really listen. Don't argue this, or deny it, or let that little voice in the back of your head talk you out of believing me. Do you understand?"

"Yeah," Danny says dejected. He looks up and tries to hold Stiles' gaze. Tries to believe him.

Whatever you say.

"I love you," Stiles says deliberately. "Yes, you made a mistake. No, you weren't entirely to blame. Yes, it was a dickheaded thing to do. No, I'm not leaving you." He pauses, brings a hand up to cup Danny's face. "I love you."

Danny frowns. "I... Statutory rape means anything to you Stiles?" he says, pulling away. "Of course I was, still am to blame for this!" He slips under the stream and rinses off. "I'm only lucky he didn't press charges."

Stiles washes himself quickly, cloth almost harsh on his skin in his haste. "Okay, eyes-of-the-law shit aside, was it consensual? Did both of you want to have sex the entire time you were having sex? Because honestly? That matters more to me than the absurdity that is the age of consent."

Danny slips out, wraps a towel around his waist. "Yes, it was consensual." he sighs in frustration. "Doesn't change the fact that I used his feelings, him, because he was there and I was horny. Doesn't change the fact that it was illegal and consent or not, that shit matters to me, OK?"

He sits on the bed, dripping on the covers and doesn’t care about it at all. "I like to think that I'm nice, you know. But I'm not. Not to him. He was a friend and instead of saving that, of dealing with his feelings I threw it all away for a fuck."

Stiles kneels on the floor in front of Danny so he can see the man's face.

"You fucked up." It's blunt, dry, almost harsh. "You fucked up. People do that. People aren't perfect, Danny, no matter how hard they try to be. You fucked up, broke a law, broke a friendship. But that doesn't make you a fuck up."

"It certainly doesn't qualify me for a nice person. I can't have a flexible conscience with this Stiles. I can't go: Oh it was a mistake, I'll do better next time." He looks away, down. "This was one of my best friends and I fucking played him, like I never suspected I could anyone. I haven't seen him in almost two years and now he's back and I don't know why he wants to see me again or if he's only doing this for Stef but I know one thing. I can't rationalize what I did or downplay it. I don't want to. I don't want to start thinking it wasn't so bad, and end up doing worse to someone else. To you."

 

"Okay. Okay, fine, hate yourself," Stiles says, standing and turning to the dresser for some clothes. "Spend the next fifty years beating yourself up for this. Even though it's not like you beat a kid up for being a fag every day for a year. You didn't lurk outside a ballet studio and threaten the girls with rape until the owner finally had evidence to press charges. You didn't throw an innocent kid onto the street because 'dancers are nothing but worthless faggots.'"

Jesus, he's too naked, too fucking exposed.

Stiles fumbles for a pair of shorts, hands shaking. "D-don't blame me for not hating you as much as you hate you, because I've seen worse shit, seen more people hurt. B-because I can't hate you, dammit. I can't do it."

Danny' head jerks up and his heart clenches in his chest, for another reason than his own hurt this time. He stands up, one hand keeping his fleeting towel in place and the other reaching for his shoulder, timidly. "I'm not asking you to hate me. This is my issue, mine to deal with. I just..."

 He turns around and leans against the dresser. "It's not a contest Stiles. It's just how I lived it and to me it's that bad," he says. He wants to touch Stiles but he seems... riled up, in the worst way. His hand drops again and he replays Stiles' speech in his head, tries to make sense of it. "Who... Did someone hurt you Stiles?"

"It doesn't, it doesn't matter," Stiles mumbles, pulling a shirt on over his shaking form. "Nothing matters, Jesus." He grips the edge of the dresser, forces himself to take a deep breath. "I'm hungry. Do you think it'll be omelettes or pancakes today?"

He puts on his clothes angrily, silently. He almost gives in to Stiles’ unspoken demand, almost lets it slide and pretend nothing’s going on. Almost replies “omelette,” in a  casual tone and exits the room. He doesn’t. Had this happened before he’d confessed, or had it been anyone else but Stiles, he would have taken this offer to flee. His nature would have gladly made him do so.

If you leave you might as well throw him in the trash on your way out.

I love him.

Then stay and listen to him. Make him talk, like he did with you. Put your shit aside, be there for him.

So instead he fights it and stays. Watches Stiles get dressed and struggle to regain control of himself, and pulls him to the bed as soon as he’s done. “Don’t do this, please. Talk to me, let me help.”

"No, I'm not-- this isn't-- god, it's your day for a breakdown, not mine." Stiles runs shaking fingers through his hair. "We need a goddamn schedule for this shit."

Danny just looks at him, until at last Stiles sighs.

"People where I grew up are closed-minded. It's just how it is. Guys who dance are automatically gay, girls who have ambitions are whores. That kind of shit." He bites his lip almost to the point of drawing blood. "There was this guy who harassed the dancers-- propositioned the girls for sex, threatened them with rape. Called... called us faggots. Pushed me into walls, knocked me down. S-said I deserved it. Said I must like it."

Take it, fag. I know you'd rather have me. Say it!

Stiles closes his eyes, pushing the voices away. "Dad eventually had enough recorded evidence to arrest him."

"Jesus, Stiles..." Danny leans his forehead against the side of Stiles' head, since he won't face him directly, and brushes his lips on his cheek. "You're safe here. You will be safe. You'll be at school soon, here, in New York, wherever, anywhere but there. You won't have to deal with this again, and if it does happen, you won't be alone."

Somehow both his hands have found Stiles' and are gripping them tightly. "I won't let anything happen to you." He closes his eyes too and his whole face hardens. "He better have received what he deserved."

"He did. Trust me, he got what he deserved." Stiles leans in to Danny's warmth, pushing the darkness back into the box it belongs in. "I just... I want you to know I love you anyway. No matter how much you hate yourself for what happened, I love you. I will always love you. You are such... such a good person, Danny."

"I try," Danny whispers, playing with Stiles' long fingers. "And I don't hate myself, not exactly. I hate what I did, but mostly I hate that I have this in me, this capacity to hurt someone I love, so easily. I hate that it can come out again."

He brings Stiles' hand up, kisses it lightly and keeps it wrapped in his. "I love you too. You're the best thing that ever happened to me."

Stiles squeezes his hand. "We all have that capacity. It's part of being human. And you're the best thing that ever happened to me, and look where we fucking are." His chuckle is drier than usual, but his smile is genuine. "I love you."

"You're amazing," Danny says, and it sounds more like a fact than a compliment.

They stay quiet for a minute, silently letting the closeness tone down past hurt. Danny pulls at Stiles' hand when his stomach starts growling. "Come, now it's not a diversion, I'm hungry too."

"To answer your question, omelettes. I'm pretty sure Erica is back from her sugar craze and Lydia will want to force protein and lean energy in our body for the new number." As they walk downstairs, fingers still entwined, they hear the girls discussing in the kitchen, both voices unmistakable and Danny smiles. "I'm getting good at this."

Stiles laughs and presses a kiss to Danny's temple. "Yeah, yeah you are."

Chapter Text

They settle down for omelettes and coffee and juice, content to just... be. They are rushed towards the end of coffee number three (an indulgence, even if Danny knows he'll be dehydrated soon and isn't sure caffeine and Stiles are a good mix) by their partners. Lydia chats Danny up the whole way to the studio, about how she's glad he saved himself but he can never scare her like that and ugh can he imagine having to build a rapport with someone new after so much time together and... He tunes her off quickly but slide an arm around her waist and keeps her close to whole ride. Cora tucks herself under Stiles' arm in the car, quiet in her contentment.

Everyone is brimming with tense excitement as they near the studio.

The finale is that much closer.

 

Lucky draw, Danny and Lydia get contemporary. Finally a respite. They step aside and wait for the other contestants and he grips Jackson's shoulder in solidarity, much needed when he gets his style.

"I can't believe this shit. A new partner's bad enough. Samba on top of it? Somebody up there hates me."

Danny chuckles and sits down, dragging his friend with him. "Karma man, somebody wants you to work on your attitude."

"You have got to be fucking kidding me," Cora says dryly, staring at the card.

"Guess we'd better get our best smiles ready."

Danny stretches back up and ruffles up Cora's hair. "Can't wait to see Grumpy Cat here all dolled up and bejeweled."

He kisses Stiles quickly, mindful of the audience. "Now you'll understand my pain with mambo."

"We'll be fine. I know Cora can smile, we've just got to bring it out on stage."

They sit through the rest of the picks and split up for rehearsal.

 

To Danny: Date night tonight? I wanna take you out.

OK maybe Danny doesn’t get a real respite. They get acquainted with the choreography and it's a workout. Danny's strength will be tested, this one has the most lifts he's ever done, and intricate ones at that.His phone is buried at the bottom of his bag and he only reads Stiles' text when he's already heading out. He waits on "their" bench outside, for once the first one done.

To Stiles: I'm all for that. Last time was fun. ;)

From Stef: US Airways Flight 8743, arrival 10:25. See you soon bro!

He half-smiles and closes his phone.

 

An exhausted Stiles comes out to find Danny on their bench.

"Okay, here's my plan-- thanks to Lydia, I managed to swing reservations at La Lune for nine. So home, showers, and then dinner.

"Whoa, she has connections. I could never get us in there, let alone on such short notice. And I know people." Danny shrugs and grins. "But yeah, sounds like a great plan. Gonna have to be on our best behavior though."

Stiles kisses his temple. "Oh, I will be. And if you are, I'll rim you tonight."

"Fuck Stiles," Danny says, pulling at his (way too stretchy and clinging) pants like a thirteen years old. "You can't say things like that when we're in public." He gets up, his bag slung in front of him, and pulls Stiles to his feet, one arm going casually around his shoulder. "Maybe after that I'll fuck you so well you'll have to take the day off tomorrow."

Stiles shivers. "You can explain that to Cora, then."

Danny grins and gets in the car. "I'll hide behind Lydia. She'll protect her partner at all cost."

 

They head back for the house and separate showers. Stiles cleans everything thoroughly-- twice-- and slides on his only suit.

Danny ponders his choices for a few minutes, finally deciding on a light green shirt to go with his suit. He adjusts the collar as he coming downstairs and a whistle greets him.

"Looking sharp man," Jackson comments.

"Looking whipped Jackson," Danny teases, motioning to Lydia's feet on his lap.

Jackson shrugs and digs his thumb in the sole of Lydia' s foot more firmly. "Not really," he replies and Danny notices his feet in Lydia's hands. She's frowning in concentration but looks up at the remarks.

"You." she orders. "You are both coming back here tonight. Cora and I are not dealing with runaway partners again."

Danny rolls his eyes. "Fine. I'm being kept from my own apartment by a tiny ginger. Unbelievable."

 

Stiles checks his reflection in the mirror, adjusting his hair and fixing the collar on his slate-grey shirt. "That's as good as it's gonna get," he tells his reflection with a crooked smirk. He heads downstairs and nearly runs into the banister when he sees Danny. "Damn..."

Danny looks down, blushing furiously, and grins like an idiot. "Damn yourself, gorgeous."

"God, you're beautiful." Stiles tilts Danny's chin up with a fingertip and kisses him. "Now come on, before we lose our reservations."

 "Your carriage awaits," Danny says with a flourish and he opens up the door for Stiles before sliding behind the wheel.

 

A quick look at the GPS refreshes his memory as to the exact location of the restaurant and he gets them there fast enough.

The Maitre'd looks down his nose at them, at least until Stiles says, "Reservations for Stilinski? I believe Miss Martin called."

His look changes automatically. "Ah, you are friends of Miss Martin, of course. Right this way, Msr Stilinski." He leads them to a private table in one of the more private dining rooms and takes their drink orders.

"God bless Lydia Martin."

"At times. Not when she's deciding my schedule. But when she provides fine dining, yes." Danny scans the menu rapidly. Everything looks good and he tries not to get stuck on the prices.

"You're ready to order?"

"I am... I think I'm going to get the poulette a la bretonné. It looks really fantastic. You?"

The waiter comes up to their table at that moment. Danny winks at Stiles and turns to him. "Mon ami va prendre le poulet à la bretonne, quant à moi j'aimerais le saumon à la sauce Mornay s'il vous plaît. Merci." He hands the waiter the menus and sips his lemon water.

Stiles just stares, water glass halfway to his mouth, dick twitching to life in his trousers.

That was mind-numbingly hot.

"It's payback," Danny explains. "You don't know what your Spanish does to me."

"That was... I just... christ." Stiles clears his throat and sips his water. "I ought to speak more Spanish, if that's what it gets me."

"Oui. Et je vais t'en donner pour ton argent," Danny murmurs, eyes fixed on Stiles. He's a little warm himself. Does this count as best behavior? Probably not but they're both going along with it so...

 

Their plates come and they dig in. "Damn, this is what heaven tastes like."

"Cojermè, estè es magnifico," Stiles says with a moan. He smirks across the table.

Fuck me, indeed.

"Séducteur." Danny replies. "And yes I will. But dessert first."

Stiles chuckles. "I figured as much." He eats slowly, savoring his meal as well as his view. "You really are beautiful, Danny."

"Always quick with the compliments... You do know you're getting laid regardless, right?" He smiles and savors the last bite of his rice Pilaf. "I'm sorry, I'm not that comfortable with them."

Lack of confidence or because it reminds you of Sean.

Not now.

Stiles shrugs. "I call things like I see them... and you are aesthetically pleasing."

"Aesthetically pleasing..." Danny repeats slowly. He smiles. "OK, I should have just shut up, beautiful was better." He fiddles with the dessert card. "I'm getting profiteroles. You?"

"I'll just steal one of yours," Stiles says with a shrug. "I don't really want much dessert."

Danny's eyes widen. "You're actually saying no to French pastries. OK. This will take some time to process." He signals the waiter and places his order.

Stiles chuckles, resting his chin in his hand. "Maybe I just want to watch you lick cream from your fingers."

Danny leans back. "Speaking French, now eating for your viewing pleasure... I'm doing all the work here." He crosses his arms. "Maybe I would have liked to see you get down and dirty with a crème brûlée, ever thought of that?" he asks with mock seriousness. 

Stiles smirks. "Is it really the crème brûlée you want me to get down and dirty with, love?"

"No, but the view would have been a nice opening act." he says back.

Stiles laughs. "Order me a crème brûlée then, love."

Danny orders the dessert when the waiter comes around with his small pyramid of cream puffs. He picks at the swirls of caramel at the bottom of his plate and the spun sugar decorating it, cracking it and eating small pieces with casualness. No point in giving a show before they can both play.

Stiles' dessert comes out in record time and he cracks the top with his spoon. "I haven't had one of these since JD went through his Good Eats phase," he says with a laugh. "Man, we were eating good for weeks."

Danny bites into the top puff. Perfect crust, airy center, decadently smooth filling. He groans in delight, catching a tiny flake at the corner of his mouth with a quick swipe of his tongue. "Damn that's delicious," he murmurs, eyes closed. He shakes it off and grins at Stiles. "Lucky you. The only time I ate well at home was when we were going out. I'm decent at cooking now, thank you college life necessities, but I can't make stuff like this," he says, pointing at his dessert.

Stiles takes a bite of the creamy deliciousness, eyes fluttering shut at the taste. "Jesus..." he licks the spoon, his lips, and the spoon again.

"Want a taste?" Danny asks with mirth. He picks a profiterole and holds it up delicately between two fingers. A string of caramel threatens to slide off the pastry. He smiles, dips his head and catches the sweet strip on the tip of his tongue, his eyes never leaving Stiles.

Stiles' eyes go blurry for just a second before he gathers his wits. He leans in and takes a bite of the pastry, tongue flicking at Danny's fingertips.

"Oh no, "Danny whispers, his voice thick. "A real bite." Even though his fingers are tingling, he pushes them forward, graze the tips over Stiles' lips and past them.

Stiles accepts the pastry, sucking Danny's fingers as he pulls back.

Danny's smile falters when his heart rate picks up. He flicks his hand away, resists the urge to either lick the wet fingers himself or shove them back in Stiles' mouth. "Okay this is backfiring..."he mumbles.

Stiles smirks, flicking his tongue over a spoonful of custard. "How, babe?"

"That tongue of yours, fuck..." He looks down, shoves the last pastry in his mouth. He doesn't really taste it, mind clouded by other ideas.

Stiles finishes the creme brulee and asks for the check. "Can't wait to get you home, babe."

 

Danny tries to pay, Stiles doesn't let him. He drives them back to the house, wishing the whole ride they could be heading for his apartment. He lets Stiles get in first, nuzzling his neck as they slowly make their way upstairs. "If we were at my place I would have had you against the front door," he whispers.

Stiles groans, dragging Danny into his room and locking the door behind them. "Mm, door sex will have to wait until after the show. Then we can have door sex, morning sex, kitchen sex, post-class sex, couch sex. We can have all the sex." He shucks his jacket and pins Danny to the door.

"Just as long as some sex is in the immediate future..." Danny says, tilting his head to kiss Stiles enticingly. "You know," he smiles, kisses along his jaw and descending, "at least hands or mouth in interesting places." Stiles' embrace is warm, more arousing than comforting though.

Stiles starts to strip Danny carefully. "How about I spread you out over my bed and eat you open until you're hard as nails? How about I make you beg?"

Danny freezes, pushes Stiles away. Just a few inches, so he can undo his pants and slide them off himself. More quickly and efficiently than Stiles could. One finger looped in Stiles' belt, he marches to the bed and lets himself fall on his back, bringing him down as well. "Do it."

Stiles extricates himself long enough to strip his clothes off and roll Danny onto his stomach. He lays on his abdomen between Danny's legs and presses kisses to his lower-back dimples.

Don't beg yet.

But he's playing around.

Not yet.

He squirms under Stiles' touch and balls his fist in the covers.He can hold on for a while. Maybe.

Stiles nips at each of Danny's ass cheeks in turn before kissing along his crack. Danny shuffles around again. His dick is already hard and heavy, pressed between his stomach and the mattress. The conflicting battle between friction and Stiles' mouth will begin soon.If Stiles can get on with it. He loves a guy who takes his time but when he's further than this point.

"Stiles, come on..." It starts off as a warning but turns into a whine at the end.

Stiles kisses Danny's hole sloppily and presses the point of his tongue against his rim.

His feet kick pointlessly on the bed, his face is buried in the pillows to the point of cutting his breathing. Sparks of burning electricity tease his whole body after each attack from Stiles’ tongue. But he doesn’t beg just yet.

Stiles spreads Danny's cheeks further, burying his face deeper. He ruts against the bed for just a second to ease some of the pressure and moans into Danny's ass.

Danny bites the pillow, whines, high and long, into the damp material. His hips don't respond to him anymore, jerking constantly, without care. He lets it go, pulls his head up. "I... Please Stiles."

Stiles smirks for a second. "What was that?" he asks, mere centimeters away from Danny's twitching hole. "I don't think I heard you."

"You are the worst," he mutters, teeth playing with the fabric in frustration. Stiles' breath on his hole makes him shiver deeply. "Please. Make me come, I need it," he moans.

"You've got it, beautiful." Stiles dives back to work, easing the tip of one finger in alongside his tongue and reaching between Danny and the mattress to grip the man's cock.

Danny reaches the babbling stage quickly, incoherence seeping from his mind to his mouth. The only focus of his brain is on his body, as it tries to take in all the sensations given by Stiles' touch, grip, and licking. He raises his hips, pushes them down again. Repeats, again. Again. Pleasure is everywhere and he doesn't know where it's more intense.

Stiles fists his hand around Danny's leaking cock, giving him something to thrust into as he thrashes. He lets his teeth just barely graze the rim of his ass, finger working deeper to rub at Danny's prostate.

He can't keep himself up, thrusts desperately into Stiles' grip with what little force his legs still have. He's wound tight, so close... When he comes, it's with a freed moan on his lips, the impression that his entire body is turning to jelly and a solid 5 seconds of total blankness in his mind.

Stiles works Danny through his orgasm and slithers up the bed so he can lay beside him while stroking his own angry red cock. "F-fuck, you are so hot..."

Danny grunts into the pillow in response, eyes half-closed. It takes a minute but he gathers his spirits enough to push himself up. One look at Stiles, jerking off, and he's fully back.

"No, you're not doing this by yourself," he whispers hoarsely. He scrambles to get on top of Stiles, still quite boneless but also eager. "I'm going to taste every inch of you," he says, nipping at the salty skin of his collarbone. "Then I'll give you the blowjob of the century."

Stiles groans, hauling Danny into a kiss. "Fuck, get on with it then."

Danny smiles into the kiss, glides his lips from Stiles' mouth. "I'm starting here," he says softly. He lets his breath ghost over Stiles' face as he explores the planes of his cheeks, the expanse of his neck, the smooth, delicious surface of his chest. He nips on every inch, as promised. When he rakes his teeth over specific spots, like Stiles'  nipples, or when his tongue darts out and flattens against every mole, that's just a bonus.

Stiles can't stop himself from writhing under Danny's touch, fists clenched in the sheets."H-hurry, babe," he whines. "I-- fuck-- I need you."

Danny pauses on Stiles' hipbone, traces along the subtle "V" there, nuzzles the happy trail he likes so much. "Who's begging now?" He smirks but obliges anyway, not even bothering with teasing and swallowing Stiles' dick in one go.

Stiles barely lasts a minute, hand scrabbling at Danny's head in a warning before he tips over the edge. He curses in three or four languages, praising Danny's mouth.

Danny swallows Stiles' come greedily, spurred by Stiles' hands and cursing, and runs a smoothing hand over Stiles' quivering stomach. He pulls away slowly, lets Stiles come back to Earth at the same rate. "You're so gorgeous when you fall apart."

Stiles runs his fingers through Danny's hair sleepily. "You're gorgeous-er."

Danny kisses his way back up and plants a couple of kisses along Stiles' jaw. "That's not a word baby, but thanks anyway."

Stiles hugs him tight, pulls the blankets up over them. "I love you so much. And not just because you just blew my mind." He snorts. "Blew my mind."

Danny chuckles sleepily. "And apparently reduced you to easy puns..."

"I love you too." He runs his fingers lightly up and down Stiles' chest, occasionally trailing over his hip and thigh. "I didn't know I could find someone like you. Someone I could click with, on every level. Someone who could love me too."

Stiles yawns, snuggling in closer. "It's like destiny or some shit like that." He kisses Danny's shoulder. "I'm so fucking happy with you."

"I'll do whatever it takes to keep it that way."

No matter what shitstorm is coming our way.

 

Stiles' eyes drift shut."I think we, Cora, and Lydia should be top four. Then one of them and one of us will reign supreme." He yawns. "I should probably sleep." 

"Yeah, yeah we both should."

Why does it always feel like this? Moments, perfect ones, then crashing back into reality. You won't always get through. Maybe he won't. Either way, both of you can't win. You have to start thinking about that.

An hour later, Stiles is fast asleep and despite the lulling rhythm of his breathing and the fatigue of the day, Danny is still awake. Eventually, exhaustion wins over worry.

Chapter Text

Rehearsal on Thursday and Friday goes swimmingly. Cora and Stiles have Bollywood fucking down, much to everyone's surprise, and the group number is a whimsical circus-inspired modern number that everyone seems to click well with. Saturday dawns and Stiles forces himself out of bed and into the shower, still sticky from last night’s escapades. (Whipped cream is the fucking best.)

It hits him half-way through soaping up.

He's meeting Danny's sister today.

The sister who is Danny's whole world, that sister. 

(Also Sean, but Stiles doesn't need to have a panic attack in a slippery shower stall-- again. Tile fucking hurts.)

 

Danny wakes up to the thundering sound of the shower (it's that loud in his head) and stretches lazily in the covers. Stiles' warmth and smell is still everywhere, but he also has the space. Fuck yeah. He taps around with his hand until he finds his phone and checks it.

From Stef: Whyyyyy does it have to so early?

From Stef: This was a bad idea. I'm zombying here.

From Stef: Sean has no idea my hot chocolate is actually espresso. He shouldn't have left me alone with the machine.

From Stef: I do what it takes to still be conscious when we get there.

Danny chuckles and tosses the phone aside, making his way to the bathroom. "Room for one more in here?" he asks.

Stiles takes a deep breath, his fake-smile not-so-fake when he sees Danny. "You babe? Any time." He steps back to make room in the shower stall, kissing Danny gently. "Good morning."

"Good morning gorgeous. That's even more true when you're naked and wet." Danny steps in, wraps one hand around Stiles' waist  and steals the washcloth with the other. He feels tense muscles under his fingers and squeezes lightly. "Nervous?"

"A little, yeah." He leans into Danny's embrace. "I just really want your sister to like me."

"She will. You're very adorable." Danny pulls Stiles closer, soaps them both. "It wouldn't change how I feel about you if she didn't like you. But she will, because you're you."

Stiles kisses him under the shower spray. "Okay, I feel a little better now." He kisses him again. "I love you."

"I love you too, so don't panic." I might and one's enough.

 

They benefit from another glorious breakfast from Erica (she's experimenting with frittatas these days and they're all successes) before heading for the airport. 

Stiles can't stop moving. His right knee bounces and then his left. He drums on the dash and the car door and his lap and his cell phone and--

"Jesus, I'm even driving myself insane," he exclaims, sitting on his hands. "How have you not strangled me yet?" 

"I prefer giving you hickeys rather than strangulation marks. We're not that kind of kinky. And I'd miss you too much. Plus trying to hide a body in LA is a bitch." He glances at the car clock. 10:19. "We might as well get to the terminal. It's a walk anyway."

He gets out and pulls Stiles out, grabbing his fidgeting hand in his. "Deep breaths."

Stiles takes a deep breath, allowing Danny's steady presence to anchor him. "Okay. Okay, let's do this."

 

It's a quiet terminal, despite the busy hour. Danny peeks between the people coming out of the baggage claim area. No sign of her. He sighs and looks around, rubbing his neck.

And there she is.

"Bro!" she yells, running his way, her worn-but-impossible-to-throw-out satchel bouncing on her shoulder. She jumps in his outstretched arms, lanky legs around his ankles and messy curls pushed in his face.

"Little sis," he says fondly. "Missed me?"

"Nope."

"Liar."

"Like you didn't."

"Touché."

He puts her back down and swings one arm around her shoulders, ruffling her hair even more while he's there. "Stef, this is Stiles," he says, pulling Stiles closer with his free hand. "Stiles, this is the little sis."

Stiles can't help but grin. She reminds him of Lou, JD's little sister. "Glad to finally meet you," he says, extending a hand. He finds himself engulfed in a hug instead.

"Ugh I finally get to see you!" Stef groans, squeezing Stiles ferociously tight, in spite of scrawny arms. She puts her mouth right next to Stiles' ear. "I know stuff about Danny. In case you need ammo. If he gets annoying, you have to have my back though."

Danny sighs and peels her off his boyfriend. "Enough with the conspiracy, let him like you a little before recruiting him. Also, wow, so much for family solidarity. You haven't even given me enough time to bug you," he adds with a little shove.

She sticks her tongue out. He grins and glances around. "Where's your luggage? You're not going to last weeks just on that thing," he points at the satchel.

She shrugs. "Manservant. Sean is on carousel duties. I hate those things."

"Dictator already," Danny comments, his throat constricting. He stays on Stef and Stiles. He doesn't feel like looking around for Sean just yet.

"Ooh, I like the way you think." Stiles extends a fist and she bumps it. "And I fully expect all the best childhood stories-- my dad gave him my Abba videos, it's only fair."

"What should I start with, bro? Your boy band? Your candle-making business?"

Danny groans and looks away. "Neither, please."

Stef grins. "Oh this is going to be fun!"

Stiles bites the inside of his cheek and squeezes Danny's hand. "No matter what, I still love you." To Stef, he says, "I feel like this is the start of a beautiful friendship."

"Definitely. Danny, I like him." Stef announces. She half-sits on the first chair available, only to spring back to her feet and run off a second later. "Sean, be careful that case has my makeup and shit in it!" she says.

"Stef language!" Danny shouts back automatically, his eyes following her. His hand in Stiles' starts to sweat.

 

"Relax little grasshopper, your war paints are fine," Sean sighs, parking the trolley next to her. "Hey Danny." 

He's changed. Still got the short haircut, the mischievous eyes. But he's a good 4 inches taller and 30 pounds of muscles more, and an obvious confidence coming off him.

"Hey... Sean," he replies weakly.

Stiles stares from Sean to Danny and back for a few seconds. He gives a mental to hell with it and extends his free hand.

"Stiles Stilinski. No that isn't my birth name, no you don't want to know. Nice to meet you."

Sean looks unsure but chuckles and grasps the offered hand, shaking it firmly. "OK, I believe you. Sean Prescott, pleasure." He lets go soon, looking at Danny with expectant eyes. "You going to stand there and gape?" he asks.

Danny clams up and shrugs. "It's been a while," he mumbles. I stared the last time I saw you. Asleep and so sure you had me, finally.

"Two years, I know." He shakes his head. "Come here," he says, and pulls Danny into a tight hug, clapping his back. "So good to see you man."

Danny tenses, barely returns the embrace. What the fuck?

Well shit. The man is attractive. Stiles can feel the panic flowing from Danny in waves, and he retakes his hand the moment Sean sets him down. He brushes a kiss against the shorter man's temple and murmurs, "deep breaths, remember?"

"Yeah," Danny whispers back, holding on to Stiles' hand like it's his lifeline. Which is kinda true. Inhale, exhale. So he didn't kill you on the spot, that's good. Fuck he doesn't even seem mad or resentful or anything.

Sean grins, although his eyes aren't completely on board. Danny is just stunned and Stef is looking at the three guys with some confusion.

"Guys? If you're done with weird reunion faces, can we like, go? I've been up almost all night. I wouldn't mind a hotel room, a shower, you know, rest."

Danny forces a smiles brings her back to him with his free hand. Clearly he hasn't told her about what happened. Thank fucking God. "Sure Stef, we'll drop you off."

 

The car ride is... well, about as tense as Stiles was expecting, to be honest. "So, who are you most excited to meet, Stef?"

When in doubt, mindless small talk.

"Shit," she starts, and she gets a glare from Danny, that she counters with a shameless smile. "Erica, because she's so great and so different and her smile is the best and I'm sure she's friendly even if she seems bitchy sometimes. Ooh and Isaac because he's sooo gorgeous like ugh!" She stops for a breath and brings her feet up. "I mean, you were first on my list Stiles because hello boyfriend to the bro but these two, man I can't wait!"

Danny glances in the rearview mirror to gage Sean's reaction. Nothing, he's still looking at the scenery, a little smile on his face. Danny brings his attention back to the road, one hand letting go of the stick to rest on Stiles' thigh.

Stiles tangles his fingers with Danny's on his leg. "Yeah, Erica is pretty badass. And Isaac is just plain ol' pretty."

Stef giggles. "That's an understatement."

Danny clears his throat. "Where are you guys staying?"

"The Hillcrest," Sean replies rapidly. "Just for a couple of nights."

Danny frowns. "I thought you were staying until the end of the show."

Stef grins and winks at Sean. "Oh we are, just not at the hotel."

Danny groans, takes his hand off from Stiles and sets the GPS for their destination. "Stef, you are not squatting my apartment, I told you Mom will kill me if I let you stay there alone. Well, she'll hire someone to do it."

Sean laughs. "It won't be needed. My stuff is coming in over the next few days, she'll stay at my place. It's been vetted by Her Highness Mahealani, don't worry."

"Your place?"

Sean chuckles and shrugs at Stef. "Yeah, I wanted it to be a surprise but I might as well tell you now. I got accepted at UCLA, I'm moving here. A little early but it's for a good cause so..."

Sean... LA... staying on... Jesus, something fried in Stiles' brain at that particular comment. What if you go to New York and leave them together? Forget plain old forgetting you, what if he just up and leaves? Long distance relationships are shit.

Stef bounces on her seat. “He’s not just moving here, he’s moving here! Wait till you see his place Danny, it’s so cool! He showed me pics and he’s got like a huge loft and there’s this kind of balcony upstairs and an entire wall of windows and...”

Sean reddens and shoves her playfully. “Let it go grasshopper, it’s not like I’m paying for it.” He looks up and shrugs. “It’s the father’s way of saying thank you for following in my footsteps.”

“So, political science,” Danny comments.

“Double major with languages, yeah. I’m fine with it, he’s ecstatic and generous.”

Danny nods and sticks to driving without adding anything more. What game are you playing Sean? You don’t pick up the conversation like this, as if nothing happened, as if the last night before I left didn’t happen. As if there hasn’t been two years of silence between us. He can feel a headache coming on. Stupidly he wishes he could be back to this morning, wrapped around Stiles. Bliss without complications. No thinking about this past of his life returning to present tense. But a glance at his sister, squirming on the seat behind him, makes him smile again. It has to be worth it, having his family here.

The silence is broken by Stef’s whining.“ Ugh soon I’ll be the only one left on that island I swear to God.” She digs a foot in the back of Stiles’ seat. “You in college yet Stiles?”

"Um no, not yet. I just mailed off my last application this week, though." Stiles runs a hand through his hair. "I'm looking at Julliard, Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkley or UCLA. It just depends on a) whether I win and have that money to use toward tuition and b) where the scholarships come in from. And whether I make it, of course."

"You will," Danny says softly. He looks at Stef through the mirror. "Can you tell him that he's killing it, that it shows just as much on TV? Somehow he doubts it."

Stef laughs. "Hey, I'm supposed to be rooting for you, dumbass! But yeah Stiles, you're like the one to beat. Not as hot as Isaac but you’re like, crazy good."

Stiles laughs. "I don't think most people are as hot as Isaac. The boy is like, an angel, or something." He smiles over at Danny. "Nowhere near as beautiful as Danny here, but he does set a high bar. And thanks, Stef. Your opinion means a lot to me."

“You’re welcome,” she replies primly with a grin. “See Danny? My opinion means a lot. You should get on board with boyfriend here and listen to me more often!”

Danny laughs, still blushing from Stiles’ compliment. “Not a chance.” He picks Stiles’ hand up and kisses it quickly. “You shouldn’t have said that,” he chuckles, ”she’ll never let it go.”

Sean snickers in the back and Danny frowns but keeps his fingers tangled with Stiles’. “What?”

“You guys are at that stage,” Sean says with a wave. “It’s cute.”

There’s no irony or sneer in his tone, which makes the comment even weirder. Danny lets it slide, just smiles at Stiles.

 

Soon they reach the hotel and while Sean checks in Danny and Stiles unload Princess Stef’s luggage. 

They all come up to the room and Stef immediately commandeers the bathroom, saying she plans to be there for a long time and bringing half her suitcases in there with her. Leaving the boys to themselves.

"She's thirteen, how much time can she take to get ready?"Memories of Malia at that age, and Lou just a few months ago, bubble up from the depths of his mind. "Oh, right. Thirteen. We may never leave."

Sean falls on one of the beds, and kicks his Doc Martens off. "Maybe. For a girl who can outrun me and spends half her days exploring mountains, she's surprisingly high-maintenance." He stretches fully and groans when a couple of joints pop, before sitting back up on the edge of the mattress. "That being said she only has coffee and a muffin in her system, with a little luck hunger will make her speed up."

"We can only hope." Stiles sits in the armchair by the window, hesitant to sit on the other bed. He looks up to see Danny still hovering in the doorway, practically frozen. "Babe, you okay?"

Danny nods, silent. He can feel his jaw tightening from the stress and it takes a few breaths to slack his face, shoulders, whole body. He ends up sitting on the other bed, eyes fixed on the ground. Without Stef, in this decor (it was a hotel room kind of like this one, last time), it's a little too surreal for him. Sean's easiness is way too surreal.

Sean chuckles. "I think Danny is a little freaked out. It's OK man, you can stop waiting."

"Waiting for what?" Danny croaks, looking back up.

"For the other shoe to drop. There isn't going to be one. No worries, it really is fine." He glances at Stiles. "About, you know."

Stiles stands and crosses to Danny. He kneels in front of him, hands on the bed on either side of his shaking body. "Babe. Babe, we're cool. Everyone here is okay. Breathe. We're okay."

Sean tilts his head and looks at Stiles. "Dude, you told him, didn't you?"

Another nod from Danny. Another surprise from Sean. "Cool, makes things less awkward. I suck at subtlety. But you know that already. Anyways." He gets up, sits next to Danny (actually shoves him until there's space for him, then sits) and leans forward to catch Danny's gaze. He smiles when he succeeds.

"I'm not mad at you. Not gonna go batshit crazy on you and beat you, or Stiles up. Not gonna declare my undying love for you either. Not anymore." He shoulder-bumps him. "We have shit to discuss, sure, which can wait until Stef isn't around, but when I say we're good, we are. Stiles' right," and he gives Stiles a wider smile, "everyone's okay here."

Danny might have a hard time believing it but he does breathe a little easier and manages to find one of Stiles' hands with his own.

Stiles kisses Danny's temple, squeezes his hand. "I love you," he whispers. "So, so much."

"Love you too," Danny whispers. Saying it helps, as always, but with Sean a few inches away, it's also incredibly awkward. You're the overreacting one here

Sean scoffs and returns to his reclined position. He digs a foot in Danny's ribs and the way it's eerily like Stef's mannerisms makes Danny smiles. Like old times.

"You guys are at that stage actually? Ugh it's going to be mushy..." he jokes, toes digging a couple more times, for good measure.

"We are fucking adorable," Stiles says with a laugh. "The cutest thing since chinchillas."

Danny chuckles and gets up, heart and mind lighter, and pulls Stiles in for a hug. "We are," he agrees, face mushed on Stiles' shoulder.

Sean groans and covers his face with his hands. "Grasshopper, make it fast!" he laments.

Stiles just laughs and kisses Danny's head.

"Love you."

The bathroom door opens and a slightly dolled-up version of Stef emerges, holding a curling iron. "What now? I'm not done with my hair, OK?" She glares and turns around swiftly.

Danny bites his lip in thought. "Never realized it before but Lydia and her are a little alike," he says. Now there's a thought worth shuddering to. But she's still the younger sibling. "Hurry up, I want lunch," he yells at the closed door. "If you don't... I'm not letting you meet Isaac."

There's a ruckus in the bathroom, the distinctive sound of knocked down products bouncing on tiled floor. A couple of "fucks" muttered.

"Well, that's one way to get her to hurry up."

"A hungry man's gotta do what a hungry man's gotta do." Danny shrugs.

He turns to Sean. "You still down with tamales? I know a good Mexican place."

Sean grins and nods, propped up on his elbows, and jumps to his feet to tie his shoes up again.

The casualness hits Danny again and his mouth goes dry. This will need some getting used to. And some resolution. He walks up to him, hesitates for a second and decides to stand. "Can we talk, tonight?" he asks, towering over Sean.

Sean's reply is immediate and he doesn't even look up. "Sure Danny. We have to."

Danny glances back at Stiles. Yeah, they have to.

Thankfully Stef is done and comes back out, radiant in a sundress and sporting her best smile.

Stiles takes her hand and spins her, smiling. "Don't you look beautiful, Miss Stef."

She staggers and nearly topples over but Stiles' grip is steady and prevents her from falling. "I don't have your partner's skills." she says with a breathless laugh. "Thank you Stiles."

Danny grins stupidly. He thought nothing would beat Stiles in his apartment but this is the clear winner. Sean stands next to him, looking pretty happy too.

"Your lessons never paid off with her," Sean comments.

"True, but she tried. It wasn't time wasted."

"You two would give a funny show, that much is true." Sean slaps him on the shoulder. "Come on, show me those tamales. Any chance they're as good as Sergio's?"

"Sadly, no." Danny waits for Stiles to let go of Stef, slides his arm around him and lead the way out. 

"You know, anyone swimming in your gene pool would be blessed," Stiles observed. "Mahealanis are just objectively beautiful."

"You got to keep all the gorgeousness to yourself. I had to share with the squirrel there," he replies fondly. He brings Stiles closer. "She's cute though, isn't she? I'm so glad she's here." Six months since the last time he saw her. Too long.

"Me too. I'm happy to meet her."

They drive to a tiny truck on Alameida street that redefines street food and place their order. Danny pulls Stiles aside while Sean and Stef debate how to split the savory and sweet tamales. "I'm sorry I freaked out, sort of, earlier. It's just... I don't know what I was expecting but anyway..." He takes a breath, runs a hand up Stiles' arm and cups his cheek. "I need to talk to him, soon, so I can..." He doesn't want to say move on, because he's already done that, but it's something along those line.

Stiles leans into Danny's touch, pressing a kiss to the heel of his palm. "I know. It's cool. I'll distract Stef back at the house, so you two can talk."

"Just parade Isaac in front of her and she'll be a goner. Allison and Scott might mind though." Danny says softly. "You're really amazing, you know?" he brings him in for a quick kiss, still getting the twist in his stomach when their mouths touch. "I love you."

"I love you too."

They sit to eat, Sean and Stef having finally figured out how to split everything.

Danny offers a trip to the beach but neither Sean or Stef feel inclined. Sean apparently spent the better part of his Europe trip on the sands of Mediterranean and Stef prefers the beaches at home.

So back to the contestants' house it is.

Chapter Text

"Stef, you keep a minimum of calm, OK?" Danny asks. "They are my friends and I'd like to keep their respect for a while."

 She pouts and slides down in her seat, a little, but she gives him a sharp nod anyway.

Stiles walks in first to warn everyone. "Teenager on the premises, batten down the hatches and button your jeans! "

There's a concert of groans and laughs in the living room and Cora slides off of Boyd's (and part of Erica's) lap onto the couch.

 Danny glances around. No signs of Isaac (probably upstairs with the rest of the fucketeers) but Erica will do for now. Plus it's better not to start with the worst (or best depending on who you ask) right away. He shoves his suddenly meek sister in front of him. "Guys, meet Stef, the little sis. Erica, you have a number one fan right here."

 Stef turns beet red and Danny grins. My work is done.

Everyone files over to meet Stef, and Erica draws her toward the couch. "Now, we fully intend to hear every embarrassing Danny story ever," she says with a grin. "Where should we start?"

Stef sits cross-legged, beaming at her audience. "You guys pick, " she says. "Danny' boyband, his candle-making business or babysitting stories? I made him do stuff when I was a kid." She winks at Danny, who's growing paler by the second. "I still do sometimes."

What would be best? Bribe her? Run? Shut her up, physically? He looks successively at Stiles and Sean. The first one is amused and satisfied, the other looks like he's dying to share stories of his own.

I'm doomed.

"Ooh, boyband!" Erica says quickly.

"Candle-making?" Jackson sneers.

"Boyband first," Stiles decides. "We have time." He mouths Abba video at Danny over Stef's head.

Not as bad as this Danny mouths back before slumping into a chair slightly away from the gang.

Stef waves her hand around to command everyone's attention. "Okay so Danny was my age, a lot less smart of course and under the delusion that he sang as well as he danced. There was this Christmas concert at school, anyone could sign up and because he's got those dimples, he managed to convince three of his friends to form D&D. Just because this guy Dominic was in the band he thought the name fit."

She smiles broadly and leans back. "So, like sixty thousands dick puns and geek jokes later, plus endless hours of traumatizing rehearsal, they performed this big mash-up of Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, because they thought they were still cool, pre-reunion and all. They had the white costumes on."

"He asked if he could be homeschooled the next day."

Stiles bites his lip as the wave of laughter descends. He stands and perches on the arm of Danny's chair. "I am so, so sorry."

"Oh god, tell me there's footage," Jackson says breathlessly.

Danny sinks in his chair and closes his eyes. "I'm going to kill her."

Stef laughs and nods enthusiastically. "It was a school event, at a posh private school, of course there is. There are dozens of videos. There are montages. Music videos."

"Slowly and painfully and cleverly so I can explain it to my mother and she won't suspect a thing," Danny continues.

Stiles rubs Danny's temples in apology. He leans in and whispers, "I'll make this up to you tonight, I swear."

"I think you'll have to ride me for a good hour to erase those images."

Stef pulls out her phone and Danny jumps to his feet and steals it away. "No no no, you're not sharing this here. They want it, let them search for it. A little break for me." She shrugs and mouths something at Jackson. Danny sighs. It's hopeless, she's going to send it anyway, he knows it.

Stiles settles into the chair and pulls Danny into his lap. "I could ride you... I could eat you out... you could spank me for inflicting this bullshit upon you."

"All of the above? But mostly riding? I've missed you on top of me lately." He frowns, and snuggles in Stiles' arms. "Then I got off easy on the ABBA thing? Or I missed my cue to make you forgive me?"

"You got off easy." Stiles hugs him closer. "But this more than makes up for it. Your sister is a sadist."

"Definitely."

She's still presiding with another humiliating tale. Although this one is debatable. Being her horse can be considered cute. Of course he didn't have to do it down main street but she wanted ice cream and the parlor was there... He blushes when they all turn his way with laughing eyes but the way she's smiling takes away at his annoyance. "It's OK. She doesn't have it easy, I can let her have a moment at my expense."

Stiles kisses his neck. "You are an absolute angel, Danny. Far more giving than your mere mortal of a boyfriend."

"The Cas to your Dean then. Except I do more than just eye-fucking you." He stretches his neck, allows a bigger playground for Stiles. A random thought about Dean's guilt-ridden nature and how it suits him too makes him sober up. And glance at Sean, who's sitting on the floor, looking very entertained  by stories he actually witnessed. Guilt he might be able to let go of soon.

Stiles nips at a tendon. "You'd look hot in a trench coat."

He hums happily. "I'll buy one in New York. It never rains here."

Stiles smiles against Danny's neck at the casual way he mentions New York. Like it's a given. "That'd be awesome." He tilts his head to kiss him.

Danny kisses him back, ignoring the catcalls and groans."You are all worse than me," he says once they separate.

Stiles laughs. "There are so many pots and kettles in here, we look like a kitchenware store. I intend to kiss my boyfriend, like it or not."

Stef squints. "Ew," she mocks. "Stiles, remember when I told you about having my back when Danny would get annoying? Well seeing him make out is annoying. And gross. Help a friend out?" she says with a helpless gesture.

Danny rolls his eyes and stands up from the chair."Cockblocker," he mumbles without thinking and thank God he doesn't speak very loudly because she does not need to hear that.

Stiles snorts. "Hey, aren't you just glad to see him happy?"

Her smile softens. "Yeah," she says, "it's been a while." The mischief soon returns in her eyes. "But if you guys are into PDA, then I will be too. I can gross out my brother too. Where's Isaac?"

Danny's eyes widen and he pulls away. "Whoa there, precocious one, no making out for you, with anyone. Besides Isaac is very much taken." The way her face falls is both comical and sad.

 

The three fuckstekteers choose that moment to make their appearance, walking down the stairs hand-in-hand(-in-hand). "What the-- has an angel descended into our living room?" Isaac says with a soft smile when he sees Stef.

"She looks too much like Danny to be anything other than mortal," Scott says with a smirk. Allison whacks him upside the head.

Stef's eyes grow wide, wide, wide as she takes in the three dancers, their linked hands, Isaac' words... Danny is about to jump and catch her before she faints, but it's not necessary. She just lets out the most undignified noise he's ever heard, cracks the biggest embarrassed smile and scrambles to hide her face in Erica's shoulder.

Erica smirks and pats her awkwardly on the back. "You broke her Isaac. Danny will be mad..."

Danny chuckles. "He made her speechless, I'll thank him instead."

Isaac steps away from the others to approach Stefanie slowly. "You're the sister I've heard so much about," he says quietly. "I must say, photos do not do you justice."

Erica smacks Isaac's shoulder and hisses, "You're being unfair."

Stef whines and the redness on her face spreads to her arms.

Danny steps forward and yanks Isaac away, just a little. "OK it's all fun but don't be too mean and player, she's thinks you're flawless and illusions can be nice," he whispers. "Sis, come on, at least hug him and freak out later."

She lets out one more squeak. Danny shakes his head. "Star struck."

She twists her head and side-eyes him. "Do you want to talk about the time Zach Quinto was on vacation back home and you spent 20 minutes staring at him and talking to yourself on the beach. Do you?"

Danny clams up and retreats.

"Jesus, Quinto? Really?" Stiles retreats slightly at Danny's glare.

Isaac runs a hand through his hair. "I'm not teasing, but okay." He holds out his arms. "Come on, while the offer lasts."

"It's a geek thing, no judging," Danny hisses.

Meanwhile Stef finds hidden boldness and leaps in Isaac's arms as if he would actually disappear the next second if she didn't.She giggles then sigh. "Dear God that's heavenly." she says. She closes her eyes and one hand slips into Isaac's hair. "And that's off the bucket list," she adds with a grin.

"I was on your bucket list?" Isaac asks, laughing. "I feel honored."

“Touching your hair is, well was. I have very specific items on that list.” She bites her lip in embarrassment and her grip slackens. “I don’t mean it in a creepy way!” she exclaims. She untangles herself and steps away. She blushes more, now that she’s talked to him, and bounces from one foot to the other. “Meeting you was there too, I mean, like talk to you because you seem real nice and sweet and watching you dance in person and...” She slams one hand on her mouth, takes a deep breath and removes it. "I ramble sometimes."

Danny scoffs in the background.

"Fine, often," she corrects. She tears her eyes from Isaac, meets Scott's and Allison's amused stares. "So... it's you, Scott and Allison?" she wonders, unsure.

Isaac nods and she ducks her head shyly. "It's cool. You guys ever dance together?" she asks, looking back up. "Because it could be awesome and we don't see numbers with three persons often and Allison is so good and Scott has good rhythm and with you it's..." She bites her lip and sits back down heavily. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Isaac says with a fond smile. "And we do dance together, just not on air."

"Oh, can I see? Like one of your routines? I promise I won't say anything or film it, just watch!"

Danny returns to the chair and Stiles. "She's completely forgotten about me, but it's fine. I'm just the bro, he's Isaac. Lucky she's here for a while, it gives her time to get over her crush."

Stiles nuzzles Danny's neck. "It's cute. She's happy, that's what matters."

 

The others clear the center of the living room and Allison pops her iPhone onto the dock. "It's not the kind of music we do on our own," Allison says, her finger gliding over the screen to find one of their songs, "but it suits us." She taps the play button and turns around, smiling at her boys and beckoning them with a playful finger as the first electronic notes play.

We Found Love

Danny chuckles. It's fitting for many of them actually. He leans back and enjoys the performance the triad puts on. They were hiding some serious show.

Flirty, energetic, they have a chemistry and a natural flow between them that are remarkable. It's the boys showing off Allison, Allison then pairing with Scott with ease to support Isaac's solo, until he sweeps Allison away and they become background dancers to Scott. There are constant looks between the three of them, touches (more emotional than sexy). It's a perfect combination.

"That was... wow," Cora says with a low whistle.

Stiles agrees, arms tightening around Danny's waist.

Allison chuckles breathlessly (normal, considering she's upside down, neck in Scott's hands, waist in Isaac's) and comes back to a standing position. She gives a peck to both before going to her iPhone. Isaac and Scoot grins ruefully and Isaac fumbles to grab Scott's hand.

"Thanks Cora," Scott says once the applause from the other spectators die down. "We worked hard on that one. It sucks that we won't get to do those numbers on the show but it's fun so it's not time or effort lost."

Danny shrugs. "You never know man, They could be willing to go there." He contemplates the trio, the love and chemistry so obvious between them. "They should."

"Talk to Nigel about it," Stiles adds.

"Maybe," Isaac replies, holding on to Scott and sharing a smile. They join Allison on the couch and settle in their usual indecipherable pile of limbs.

"Anyone else wants to demo? Since we're clearly not practicing, this could count for it," Scott says. "Isaac told me you don't really dance Stef, what about you?" he asks, nodding to Sean.

Sean laughs and holds his hands up. "I'm worse than her, I promise you. I like to watch it, that's all."

Jackson squirms around on the couch, replaces Lydia in his lap. "So, anyone? I'm getting bored here, someone take the stage or suggest something, because otherwise I'm going upstairs." He winks at Lydia. "I always have fun there."

Stiles fake gags. "Oh please."

 

Cora pulls at his arm. "The Slam number you taught me, the one Miguel did for Malia and JD."

Stiles slides out from under Danny and pulls his phone out. "Fine, fine." He docks it and flips through his playlists til he finds the song. In My Head. Done to death, but still good to dance to.

Stef walks up to Danny's seat and uses the arms rest as a perch, resting her chin on her knees.

"No more crowding Isaac?" Danny asks merrily.

She pouts. "I don't intrude on couple time. Except yours but that's my job."

He pretends to shove her down the chair. "Brat."

She grins. "Proud of it."

He doesn't reply, just slides his arm around her waist and half-squeezes, half-tickles.

Stiles starts dancing then, stealing everyone's attention. Cora and him have that power. It's a rougher style than their usual fare, far more electric. By the time they hit the last pose, both are panting heavily, Cora's legs around Stiles' waist. (Very carefully not his hips.)

Stef elbows him, eyes bright and sneering.

Danny forces a smile. "I know. You get used to it after a while."

"Sure."

"Really. You should have seen me a few weeks ago. At least now I don't get paranoid and panicky after each number they do."

Cora hops down and Erica pulls her into a soul-sucking kiss. "So damn hot," she murmurs.

"Sweet Bejesus," Stef murmurs, She squirms and looks at Danny. "I thought Erica was with Boyd."

"And Cora," he finishes simply.

"Oh, OK. Lucky her."

 

Stiles is finally within reach and Danny pulls him close. "That was amazing, my Wonder Boy."

Stef rolls her eyes. "Ugh everyone's paired up and I'm not even allowed to kiss anyone."

"Kid, you're thirteen. It'd be all kinds of illegal."

She scowls. "I know, I didn't mean any of you. It's just. It still sucks to be surrounded by couples and threesomes, when all the guys back home are stupid."

Danny ruffles her hair. "Aren't you the surly spinster all of a sudden. You have time for this Stef,  trust me."Relationships, love, make-out and more, and everything that comes before and after it? Yeah she has time. The later the better.

She nods and sighs. "No more dancing? Everyone seems over it," she says and seeing every couple wrapped up into each other, Danny can only agree. "Stiles, what do you guys do for fun here? Fun I can have I mean."

"We can go to the beach. We can dig up karaoke-- though we can't promise that'll be pretty."

"A D&D revival? Too soon. Beach it is. Let's see how they compare to home," she says, jumping to the floor.

Chapter Text

No other contestant wants in, so it's just Sean and Stef, Stiles and Danny, who makes a quick trip around the house for towels, snacks and such. The car is loaded up in a matter of minutes, the drive to the beach is over in just as little time. It's not the same one he brought Stiles to (that one will remain theirs only), but it's equally nice and quiet.

Stiles peels off his shirt and starts to put sunscreen on (Studio-pale skin, people. SPF 50).

Danny ogles, subtly. Or not.

"Bro, you see him everyday. I shouldn't even have to tell you to take a picture because it'd last longer," Stef says with an exasperated look.

She chucks her dress down, revealing a floral-patterned combo of shorts and bikini top. "I'm testing the water, back in an hour if it's good, a minute if it sucks."

"I like the way you think." Stiles laughs. He hands the sunscreen to Danny. "Get my back? I always miss something if I do it myself."

"Sure." He squirts some in his hands, massages it in Stiles' skin. He feels relaxed under his hands, unlike Danny, who keeps switching moods and stress levels faster than an obsessive surfs channels.

Sean stretches on his towel, still completely comfortable, regardless of the setup. "You sure look like you need all the SPF you can get Stiles. I take it you're not from around here or anywhere near hot climate."

"I'm from Iowa," Stiles says. "And I spend a lot of time indoors."

Sean chuckles. "Then you fit right with Danny. Between his computer and dancing, he was never outside, he's lucky he's got that natural tan," he says with a wink. "If it hadn't been for Stef and me, taking him hiking, I think he wouldn't even had realized the seasons passed."

Danny shrugs. "Not that you really see a difference in Hawaii."

Stiles laughs. "I believe it." He kisses Danny on the cheek. "Thanks, babe."

"You're welcome," Danny says, wiping his hands on his swimsuit trunks. He settles on his own corner of the towels, brings his knees up and circles his legs loosely with his arms. It's still surreal, especially in calmer moments like this one. On one side you have Stef frolicking in the ocean (looks like the water is to her standards) and Sean already reading on his phone. On the other Stiles sprawled next to him. Past and present (future) side by side, and it's all too easy and without conflict.

He's caught staring by Sean, who grins, genuinely, at him and he looks away. His hand finds the way to Stiles' hair and stays buried there.

I don't think I'll ever be OK with this.

Then talk to Sean, make it OK and get the fuck over it.

I don’t think I'm ready for this talk either.

He keeps on threading his fingers in Stiles' hair.

 

Stiles purrs, melting beneath Danny's touch. After a while, he stops ignoring the tension radiating off of Danny. "Talk to him," he murmurs. "I'll go swim with the mermaid."

He removes his hand, with hesitance, but the gesture says "yes" anyway.

Stiles heads for the water and Sean doesn't flinch, just keeps on flicking pages on his phone. "Are we doing this now?" he asks, off-handed, after a minute of silence. "That wasn't a very subtle move there," he comments.

Danny sighs, still looking forward. "Sorry."

"It's fine."

Danny turns towards Sean. "No, I mean for everything. I'm really sorry, and I shouldn't have waited so long to tell you." and his voice is barely audible. 

Sean looks up, frowning. "I mean for everything too."

"How? How can you be so..." Danny gestures vaguely, "fine with this, me, what I did," he finishes dismally.

Sean sighs and sits up. "I wasn't, at first. Of course I wasn't, because you were a dick. I'm not gonna lie, I cried because of you, I felt like shit, I was so angry at you... It didn't make a difference because you were gone and I certainly wasn't going to go after you, not after what had happened. So yeah, the first few weeks after that night, I was a mess."

"Sorry," Danny repeats.

Sean continues, imperturbable. "Then I realized something. I saw that you could be a douchebag. What you did, it made me see you in a different light. It kinda knocked you down that pedestal I had put you on."

Danny recoils a little, face down. Sean reaches out, his fingers slowly curling on Danny's forearm. "But after a while I also realized that I wasn't going to give up on 16 years of friendship for this."

 

"How old are you, again?" Stef asks as Stiles splashes her.

"Eighteen," Stiles says with a laugh. He swoops her into his arms and dunks her. When they come up spluttering, he adds, "I actually made the line for auditions by twenty-three hours precisely."

"You're younger than Sean is," Stef observes.

"I guess you are right."

 

"Turns out Danny is great as a fuck," Sean continues, "because honestly I couldn't have asked for better for my first time, but he’s crappy as a love interest..."

Sean's hand prevents Danny from fleeing, like he wants to.

Take it. You know he's right.

"and I can stand to lose either but damn it Danny... You and Stef are my best friends. I love you. This made me realize that maybe I wasn't in love with you, not really, but I didn't erase our past. Danny, the friend one, was still great. I missed him." 

Danny lets out a shuddering breath. "I missed you too." Sean' hand creeps up, across Danny's chest, around his shoulder, and pulls him into a hug. Danny, like a rag doll, lets him. "I'm so sorry. I... I never thought you would forgive me," Danny mumbles into Sean's neck.

"I forgave you because I knew you regretted it. With some distance I knew."

Sean holds him more tightly. "Because I know you."

 

Stiles looks over to see Danny in Sean's arms. He stamps down the wave of jealousy that threatens to crash over his head.

They need this.

 

Danny detaches himself first. Because it's a little too much, too mixed up, still, to be completely platonic and comfortable. "Thank you," he says awkwardly.

Sean shrugs. "You're welcome. I told you, I'm not a kid anymore. I can take it. For what it's worth, I'm sorry I made you uncomfortable and insisted that much back then."

"It's OK," Danny replies, and they're silent for a minute

He smiles, soft and small but it's a smile. "I was pretty hot, it's understandable."

"Still are," Sean counters. He looks at Stiles splashing around in the water. "He has good taste," he adds with a nod in his direction.

"He has good everything," Danny says fondly.

And just like that, Sean and him, it feels a little more normal, right.

 

Stiles tires long before Stef shows signs of stopping. He heads for the shore and sprawls out on his towel beside Danny.

"You good?" he asks quietly, pillowing his head in his arms. 

Danny glances at Sean, who's back at reading on his phone with a half-smile on, and nods. "Better, yeah. Thank you." He rakes his fingers through the dripping strands of Stiles' hair, follows the droplets that course down his back with his index. "How's the mermaid doing? Any hope she comes back to land?"

Stiles shrugs. "Not that I noticed. She seems happier in the water than on land." He yawns, eyes drifting shut. "She wore me out."

"That's my job," Danny chuckles. "I'm glad you get along with her." Things are falling into place, nicely. Which is usually when shit hits the fan, but he pushes the idea away, with every passage of his hand up and down Stiles' back.

"Me too." Warm, content, Stiles falls asleep to Danny's touch.

An hour later Stef finally leaves the ocean, when the sun starts to set and the water isn't at that perfect temperature she demands.

"Is he dead?" she asks, pointing to Stiles, immobile and covered in towels (Danny didn't have the heart to wake him up or the lack of to let him get an epic sunburn).

Danny kicks some sand in her direction and she jumps back with a shriek. "Nope, you just proved too much to handle. Again."

"Jerk." She plops down next to Sean. "Seaaaaan, Danny's mean."

"I'm reading, grasshopper. And you know I don't pick sides between you two," he replies, with a quick wink at Danny.

She pouts and Danny laughs. "Come on lil sis, with that level of cranky I think it's time you guys get back to the hotel. Stiles and I have to get back to rehearsal mode too, eventually."

 

Stiles is quiet during the ride back, content to just be a spectator to the Mahealani show.

"Be nice, don't bug Sean too much, call Mom, OK?" 

"Fiiiine."

Danny hugs her one last time, hugs Sean as well. "Enjoy LA. I'll see you after the show, if she gets antsy before that call me."

Sean chuckles "I can handle her just as well as you, but yeah, I will. Good luck with your number."

Danny thanks him and gives him a hearty slap on the back and leave them on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, getting back into the car. As well as the day has been, surprisingly, he's glad and somewhat relieved to be back alone with Stiles.

 

Once they are on their way back, Stiles says quietly, "I'm going to early mass at Our Lady of the Angels tomorrow."

Danny eyes him up. "I didn't know you observed. Haven't seen you do it so far." He pauses briefly. "But it's OK. You want some company?"

"Mom's birthday is Wednesday. I won't make it then, so I'm going tomorrow," Stiles says. "And it's up to you."

Danny's hand rests on Stiles' knee and squeezes. "Stiles..." What can he say? "I want to. Be there for you."

Stiles entwines their fingers. "Thank you."

He brings their hands up, kisses the inside of Stiles' wrist, one eye still on the road. "You're welcome."

After a while, Stiles says, "I'm not religious, not really. Mom was raised Catholic, and we would go to mass for Christmas and Easter. After... after she died, I added her birthday. I like the idea of life after death, even if corporate religion is a little iffy."

"It's a comforting idea," Danny agrees. He looks straight ahead. "I don't believe. My mother tried, took me to church every Sunday, the works." He scoffs. "Even if for her it's more a socializing thing that a religious one." His hands grabs the wheel more tightly. "She dropped the issue when I came out to her. That was her way of being supportive I guess. I still went sometimes, to please her, but it didn't feel fair. Once I moved here I stopped going completely." Another pause. "I'll go with you though."

"Thank you."

 

Dinner is in full swing when they get to the house, plates waiting for them in the oven. Stiles drops a kiss to Erica's head by way of thanks and sits at the dining table.

"You had a nice time?" Lydia asks him between bites of Erica's gastronomic version of tuna casserole.

Danny nods, mouth full.

"Good, because tomorrow I'm not letting you out of the studio. We're not slacking off."

Danny swallows, nearly chokes. "Yeah. I just have something to do with Stiles early morning, then I'm all yours."

She raises an eyebrow questioningly.

"It's personal Lydia. Don't worry, we'll still practice  most of the day."

He's thankful when she lets it go and returns to her plate. (and playing footsies/foot foreplay with Jackson. Everyone can see that's what they're doing).

Stiles gives Danny a grateful smile before returning to his conversation with Isaac and Morrell about gender roles in contemporary numbers.

Yeah, dancers are weird.

 

Danny eats rapidly, gives Stiles a quick kiss before escaping to his room for a quick shower. He almost falls apart under the hot stream of water as the day catches up with him.

Stef here. Your family's with you.

Sean forgiving him. You can let go now.

Stiles being so supportive, despite his own hardships. He loves you, really loves you.

He struggles but keeps his breathing relatively under check, his shaking to a minimum. But when he leaves the shower stall and sees his reflection in the mirror, he still looks wrecked.

 

Stiles heads upstairs as soon as possible, eager to spend some time alone with his boyfriend. He finds Danny breaking down in the bathroom.

"Hey, baby... you okay?" Stiles puts his arms around Danny's waist and looks at him in the mirror.

Danny stares back. He can barely feel Stiles' arms around him, just his skin thrumming in response of the touch. "I don't know," he whispers. "It's been one hell of a day, I just didn't realize it at first." He wraps one arm over Stiles', to feel it more. "It's weird, when I came here I thought the competition might be too much to take. Turns out it's the easiest part of my day."

Stiles presses a kiss to Danny's neck and guides him to the bed. "You don't have to think about anything right now," he murmurs, finding the massage oil. "Just relax for me."

Danny stays silent, buries his face in a pillow and lets Stiles work on him.

Don't think. Over-analyzing brings you trouble.

Top ten soon. You won't make it unless your head is in the game.

Chapter Text

The next two weeks fly by, and before he realizes it, Stiles has made top ten.

Top ten.

Holy fucking shit.

--

Stiles, Danny, Scott, Jackson, Ethan, Lydia, Allison, Morrell, Jennifer, and Cora make up one hell of a top ten.

The blogosphere is calling it "the year of the ballet dancer," and it is all kinds of astonishing, how well everyone is doing.

Cora misses her boyfriend and girlfriend, and the fucksketeers are mourning Isaac's departure as well.

--

They receive assignments and allstars-- Stiles gets contemporary and Melanie.

Melanie.

Holy shit.

….

 

"I don't like it. Why can't they just let us pair up like before, make us dance more numbers so we fill the 2 hours by ourselves?"

"Because you can't be showcased properly if you have to learn four routines and if both partners have to outdo each other for votes."

"I don't need your logic, Ballet Boy. You have salsa and Chelsie, you got off easy. I'm stuck with the nerd and hip-hop. Again."

"Lydia, Twitch is the best at this. You'll be able to school Scott and Cora once he's done with you."

"Still, this sucks."

"Could it be that you don't like change? Look at Jackson. He's changed partners several times and he's doing fine. He's having a ball with Lauren."

"What?"

Danny chuckles as Lydia stomps away. He crosses his legs, settles more comfortably on the couch and returns to his notes. His choreography is intricate and for all her smiles and easygoing exterior, Chelsie is demanding and strict on technique.

 

Melanie is a goddess. Stiles may be in love.

They partner like they've been dancing together for years, and Melanie's sheer talent sets the bar even higher than before.

Stiles refuses to be yet another male contestant overshadowed by his partner.

He's worn out by the time he gets to his bench Thursday evening, but it is totally worth it. 

 

"Firm, sharp, swift. I want you to be chanting this in your head. And watch your tempo. You lose it in the lifts and it throws the routine off." 

Danny nods, shutting his mouth and picking up his stuff. She knows this shit. Trust her. 

Still, it looks like nice guys do finish last and get stuck with the bossy partners. With Lydia he had time to build a friendship, this time it's purely business.

He gets out of the building and smiles immediately. His pace picks up and he quickly makes his way to Stiles' spot.

Maybe you need that. Something to bring you back to the task at hand.

Maybe. but I'm off the clock now.

"Hey gorgeous. How was rehearsal?"

Stiles grins. "Hey beautiful. Rehearsal was awesome. Melanie is... she's a goddess. Absolutely amazing. How was yours?"

"Fine, I guess. Chelsie's very professional. Can't complain." He links his hand with Stiles and drops a kiss in his neck. "My butt hurts. I didn't know it could but salsa does that, apparently."

Stiles chuckles. "I'll just have to make sure you get pampered tonight, then."

"I'd like that. I need to unwind." He sighs. "I'm worried, Stiles. Ballroom is never the most popular with the audience and... Well I could make it work with Lydia, we had it figured out. Chelsie... Let's say my technique has never been better but that's it." He shakes his head and squeezes Stiles' hand. "Sorry, I said no complaining and I can't even hold to that for 2 minutes."

Stiles shakes his head. "No, no. It's okay. Never feel you have to hide what you think from me."

"It's not that. There's just no point in unloading stuff on you, stuff you can't change." He gets in the van and drops his head on Stiles' shoulder. "Plans? I'm wide open, I can get the lil sis if you want. I'm sure Sean would like a night off." He stretches lightly, pops his shoulder and closes his eyes. "Whatever you want."

"Babe, you're exhausted." Stiles brushes a kiss against Danny's hand. "What do you say to dinner and a movie in our room?"

"Dinner in our room too?" he whispers, eyes still closed. "I'd like that idea."

Our room. The whole plan to stay a little apart some days lasted... didn't last at all actually. Jackson and Lydia approved. His thoughts keep on wandering on the ride home, from their room to evenings spent cuddling to more time together to New York plans. He's dozing off pretty heavily by the time they arrive.

Stiles gets Danny inside and up to their room without waking him up all the way, helping him settle into bed. "Sleep." He pulls out his laptop and starts trawling the blogosphere while Danny sleeps, content to just chill.

 

He's spinning Chelsie around, fast, so fast. She's brilliant, on point. Shining like a star. Then she stops, drops her arm and frowns.

"You don't deserve me, you're barely present, or trying. I'm going to talk to Nigel, they shouldn't have let you get so far."

"You can't do that," he protests weakly.

"Oh baby, sure I can. I'm All-Stars. You're just a fraud. I thought you got here because you worked your ass off. It sure doesn't look that way."

She hustles out of the studio. Nearly knocks Stef on her way out.

"You left me alone for this," she says, eyes swimming in unshed tears. "You said it meant so much, that you would make me proud..." Her voice quivers and breaks his heart.

"I do. I will."

She shakes her head, so fast her hair flies in her face. "No, you're just giving up."

 

He trembles underneath the blanket and his eyes flutter open. He can't even remember where he is for a good twenty seconds. "I try," he breathes out.

Stiles startles slightly when Danny wakes. "I know you do, babe." He runs his fingers through Danny's hair gently. "I know you do."

Danny leans into Stiles' touch. He's surprised to feel his eyes misty and he has to blink a few tears away. He regains enough control to turn around and not be too embarrassed to face Stiles. "How do you do it?"

Stiles' brow furrows, confused. "Do what, love?"

"All of it, make it all work. Family. The show. Us. Is it even possible?" He twists, sneaks his head on Stiles' lap. "The further I'm getting, the more I feel like I'm letting everyone down in some way. Little by little."

"It isn't easy. But somewhere along the way I realized that not everyone is going to be happy all the time." Stiles shrugs. "I focus on the show during training, I call my dad every Wednesday, and I give my evenings to you. I work really hard on balance."

Danny sighs, lets the warmth of Stiles' thigh comfort him. A little. "I spent two years doing nothing but school. It was dance and computer science, period. I set out for that,” Danny murmurs. “Now... I can't split my focus like this, I don't know how to anymore." He pauses briefly. "I think something will give and I... I don't want any of it to go away."

Say it. You're afraid that you don't have what it takes for your dream to come true. Worse, that you'll give your dream up and resent the reason you're doing it later.

Stiles kisses Danny's forehead. "Is there any way I can help?"

"Be patient?" He bites his lip. "Forgiving? I fear I'll screw up at some point, and I don't want to lose you. Ever."

"I can do that." Stiles rubs Danny's temples. "I'm here for you. I want us to work out, even if that means one of us snaps and we spend a night apart. I promise to still love you in the morning."

"Okay. It's all I need." His stomach growls a few seconds later. "Okay maybe I need food too."

 

They wander downstairs in search of food and head back up with sandwiches and a half-gallon of ice cream.

"I'm supposed to audition for Juilliard a week after the finale," Stiles says between bites.

"You finally heard back? That's great Stiles!" He swallows his bite, takes a swig of the bottle of water they share and smiles. "It's just going to be a formality. Halfway through it they'll say yes. As long as you ease up on your knee until then, there's no reason your audition won't be more than enough to get you in."

"In, maybe, but if I don't win I can't afford it." Stiles sighs, runs a hand through his hair. "I need hella scholarships."

"Why wouldn't you get them? And even if you don't, there are other solutions," he says softly. Don't. Don't go there.

"Other solutions? I'm not going into debt for this, not when I have a spot waiting at UC Berkley."

"No," Danny stutters, "I meant like... Private scholarships?" Is that even a term? He looks down at his plate and picks at a stranded piece of lettuce. "Like... I could help you."

Stiles coughs up the lettuce fragment he inhaled, eyes watering. "You-- you would... I mean... I can't let you just-- why would..."

Danny smiles a little, gives Stiles careful slaps on the back and hands him the water. "Yes, I would. You're my boyfriend, I love you and this is your dream, that's why. "He shrugs. "And maybe it's not the appropriate thing to do but I think you should accept it, if it comes to this." He looks away. "I told you my family has money. I didn't want it, I got a scholarship for pride reason but I know I can get my mom's company to sponsor you." He chuckles dryly. "She'll find a way to deduct it from her taxes."

Stiles takes a deep breath. "I don't... I don't know. I'll take it under advisement. See what happens."

"Hum... OK. I still believe you'll get a scholarship but the offer stands," Danny mumbles lamely, returning to the last bit of his sandwich.That's what you call indelicate, Danny. You don't shove money, charity, under your boyfriend's nose.

It wasn't charity.

From an outside perspective yes.

Stiles wants to shake it off, but his mind is racing.Too-short pants. Sneakers with holes in them. Dad's worn-through boots. The Jeep. Second- third- fourth-hand books and clothes. 

They were never "poor," per say, but the sheriff of Lee County and a dance teacher don't make that much. It rolls around in his head for a minute, the word (charity, charity, charity), like a hurtful pebble.

"It wouldn't be charity," Danny ends up blurting out, and he nearly slaps himself for saying it.. He tries to recover. "I just... I'd do anything to see you make your dream come true. I can't be happy if you aren't, and Juilliard would do that for you.”

"I... no, I know that," Stiles says stiffly. "I know."

Aaand now that's how he sees it. Congratulations Danny, once again master of tact. 

That's not what I wanted.

Poor little rich boy, can't be understood in his generosity... Spare me.

"If it makes you uncomfortable, pretend I didn't say anything," Danny says, clearing their plates and walking to the dresser to get changed.

Stiles bites the edge of his thumb, thinking. "We never had a lot of money," he starts. "I mean, I paid for my dance classes by working at the studio. The idea of you just giving me the money because you love me... kinda blows my mind."

Danny tugs his shirt over his head, strips down to his boxers. Gives him time to phrase his reply correctly. "I always had it, never liked having it to myself. If you need it more than I do, then it's yours, simple as that."

"Thank you," Stiles says softly. He strips down to his boxer briefs and crawls into bed.

"'s nothing," Danny says with a shrug, head down, as he's getting into bed as well. He hates that feeling, like he should be ashamed because he's well off, or because he hasn't earned it.

Oh again, poor baby.

He grabs the ice cream on the nightstand, shoves a couple of spoonfuls in his mouth before presenting one to Stiles.

Stiles accepts the spoonful, licking it clean. "Don't go getting lost in your head again, okay? I love you."

Danny stays pensive, alternating spoonfuls between Stiles and him. "It's what I do," he replies softly, and late. "Not everyone says it all right away without a filter like you." He winces. "Sorry that wasn't fair. I'm sorry, I love you too."

Watch yourself Danny. 

Stiles stands and heads for the bathroom to brush his teeth-- and give himself a moment to think. He doesn't say anything when he returns to the bedroom, just sits on the un-used bed and pulls out his laptop.

You're tired, your fuse is too short. Let it go.

Danny pulls the covers over his head, creates a tiny dark cocoon and tries to slow his thoughts down enough to fall asleep.

He'll forgive you in the morning, and this way you won't say more hurtful things.

Despite the doubt he listens to the voice in his head.

Stiles falls asleep with his laptop still open, sprawled out on top of the covers. He curls toward the wall in his sleep, away from Danny.

Chapter Text

Danny wakes up way too early, the room is even still dark. But after 5 minutes spent staring at the wall, he knows he won't be able to steal any more sleep. He slips out of bed, into the bathroom. Shower and brushing his teeth doesn't take long. He dresses in the dark, makes up his bed too. All the while Stiles' steady breathing dictates his rhythm. He turns around, finally looks at him, curled up, avoiding him. His hand stops an inch from his shoulder, instead reaches for the notepad.

Wonder Boy

I'm sorry. I'm around in the house if you want to see me. I'd understand if you don't.

Ballet Boy, still yours.

He lets the note in plain view and exits the room quietly.

 

Stiles wakes at his usual time, cold. He showers and pulls on some clothes before reading Danny's note.

Does he want to see Danny?

Yes. He always does.

 

Danny has a coffee cooling on a small table in the studio, classical music playing at a low volume. He stares at his reflection but sees only the movement of his legs and arms, not himself. 

Hand on the barre, barely holding any weight, he goes through the routine. Feet positions, pliés, fouettés, pointes. Back to basics. It's easy to avoid thinking when you focus on every single muscle of your body.

Stiles stops in the doorway of Danny's studio for a moment, just watching him move. Danny has great form, fantastic lines, perfect feet (which have always been Stiles' weak point.) Stiles believes the man has what it takes to win-- or at least to make final four.

He pads in quietly and takes a place at the barre beside Danny, quickly picking up the exercises.

Danny risks a smile, a furtive one, and returns to the sequence of steps. First, second, third position. Starting off easy. Stiles follows, breezy, no surprise there. He picks it up, alternates more elaborate steps and arms positions. Stiles keeps up, with perfect form, as if he’s done nothing but ballet his whole life.

He really is a wonder.

Danny locks eyes with him in the mirror, for the first time, and his smile widens. “Don’t try this one,” he says.

He lifts to a pointe position, takes minuscule steps away from the barre, extends one leg and starts spinning. He’s out of practice but still manages 5 solid fouettés en tournant before putting both heels back on the floor.

Stiles leans against the barre, eyelids heavy. "Damn, that was... damn." He chuckles. "Super hot, babe. I love a good old-fashioned show of skill."

Danny grips the barre again and stretches his leg, twisting the foot around. "Thanks. Just trying to keep up with my boyfriend. He's kind of the guy to beat and has frightening skills," he replies cheerily. His smile fades gradually and he looks away. He switches leg, focuses his attention on his foot again. "I'm sorry, you know, for last night."

Stiles sits to stretch, careful with his knee. "I know you are."

"So... We're okay?" Danny asks, lifting one leg and putting it on the barre. He tries to stare at it and not at Stiles on the floor.

"Yeah. We're cool." Stiles lays on his back and raises his legs-- 15 degrees, 30, 45, until his knees are almost level with his head.

That's enough stretching for you. Danny lets his leg fall to the floor and walks up to Stiles, kneeling next to him. His hands reach for his thighs, applying gentle pressure on them and helping them stay straight as he stretches.

Cool. Said in a casual tone, a little off. He pushes the thought away, just like he pushes on Stiles' legs.

Stiles breathes as deep as he can, relaxing deeper and deeper into the stretch. "Mm, fuck. There's my limit." He lets out a few deep breaths and eases his legs back to the floor.

They do the same with each leg, until Stiles feels like noodles. Danny doesn't let his hands linger. Warmed up, trembling flesh under his fingers make it difficult. He gets up, offers to help Stiles on his feet as well. "We should get to rehearsal."

 

 

"Okay, you have got to nail the final pose. This holds the message of the entire number, so if you fuck this up your number is fucked. Got it?"

Stiles and Melanie exchange a look and nod decisively. "We've got it."

 

 

By the end of rehearsal, Stiles feels like he's been tenderized, but the number is fantastic. He pushes himself further, harder, all to keep up with the powerhouse that is Melanie.

"I think we've got this," Melanie says as they pack their things. "Want to run through it Sunday afternoon?"

"Sunday sounds good. Gives me a day to rest."

They walk out together, and Melanie heads to her car. Stiles sits on his bench and leans his head against the wall, eyes closed.

 

  

He flings his towel and bottle of water in his bag and zips it fast, almost ripping off the tab. He nods in Chelsie's direction, in Tom's too. It's not their fault and while they aren’t exactly friends, they're friendly enough for him to retain some manners.

Not their fault. But whose is it?

He walks briskly out, nerves and mind bubbling. It dies down, a notch or two, when he sees Stiles. "Hey gorgeous," he says flatly, "ready to go?"

Stiles stands, picking up his bag.

"Yeah, I am, I--" Stiles draws up short when he looks, really looks, at Danny. "Babe, are you okay?"

Danny runs a hand through his hair, shifts his bag from one hand to the other.

"Not really." His mouth closes tight and he has every intention to keep it at that, vague and enough. But it bursts out anyway. "You're pulling away. Or I am. I don't know anymore. This number is the most draining one I ever did and it's mechanical as shit. I don't have any fun at it. I miss dancing with Lydia, as crazy as it sounds. I miss Stef, she's barely around even though she's 15 minutes away." He drops his bag and slumps against the wall. "I can't even remember why I'm doing this."

Stiles bites the inside of his cheek as he tries to decide what to tackle first. "Why did you start dancing?" He asks at last.

"I don't know. It's just something I had to do." Danny tilts his head back, as if the answer, the one Stiles wants him to find, is somewhere in the sky. He sighs, closes his eyes. Thinks and feels and some words come to him." It's... I had to let it all out this way. Like I would have gone crazy without it.” Danny shrugs, muttering, “I don't have to do it here though. Dancing is not the issue," he adds, and his audible frustration is annoying even to himself.

Stiles bites the inside of his cheek, again. "Okay, I'm not gonna pretend I know how to fix the big picture here. I can't find your motive for you." He squeezes Danny's shoulder. "I can, however, take you out to dinner tonight. And I can call Stef and get you a day with your sister tomorrow."

Fuck it. Fuck holding it together and being in control all the time. He wraps one arm around Stiles' waist and pulls him close. "I don't deserve you. I'm sorry, I'm just... Frayed, I think." It's the first word that comes to mind. The knot in his stomach loosens up some more, the tighter he holds Stiles, the more he buries his face in Stiles' neck. "Can we just sneak into my apartment? I don't know, get some junk food and spend the evening on the couch? I... I miss normal life, I think."

"Junk food and an evening on your couch sounds like heaven right now," Stiles says, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend. "I want nothing more."

"I... I want you close, that's it." He ponders stopping there but he's all in today, apparently. "It hasn't felt right recently."

Stiles' heart drops. "It just doesn't feel right, Stiles. I'm sorry." He shakes it off. "I kinda get what you mean."

Danny tries to keep his breath steady. It's never good when the other one feels it too. He's supposed to say that it's all in your head. He keeps him in his arms a few more seconds, pulls away and links their hands, Routine gestures that he hopes will calm his worries.

 

The ride home is quiet, not completely comfortably so, and the pattern of shower, packing, getting food is similar. When they get to Danny's place, he's half-relieved, half-terrified.

What if I can't get it back? That easiness, loving feeling we have (had)? He shakes his head and unlocks the door. I'm not letting this competition and its (my) bullshit take him away from me.

Chapter Text

Stiles bounds inside and heads straight for "his spot" and the delightfully ugly afghan. "Okay, so I'm thinking an MCU marathon, though I am also open to Star Wars. Ooh, or anything with Sendhil Ramamurthy in it. I love me some Sendhil."

Danny smiles (Stiles makes him do that with his adorableness) and heads for the kitchen with the food. "Pick whatever you want, but we're not watching past season two of Heroes. Or the new trilogy if it's Star Wars. I have standards."

He splits the pizza slices, dumps a copious amount of curly fries on each plate and balancing both on one arm, grabs the soda trays with his free hand before returning to the living room.

Stiles has Iron Man pulled up, and he hits play when Danny sits."I usually watch them chronologically by release date, but I pretend the atrocity that was Norton's Hulk never existed," he explains, attacking his curly fries. "So, Iron Man first."

"Norton was fine," Danny replies. He fights with a string of cheese that just won't break for a second before adding "Not as bland as Bana at least. But I won't argue with Iron Man." He takes a few more bites before dropping his plate on the coffee table, shuffling closer to Stiles and picking it up again. Lounging against Stiles, he feels better. "This is better," he voices softly.

It's so much easier to get it back, here.

"So much better." Stiles smiles fondly. "I can't wait until New York. Coming home from classes or rehearsals and having you there with me." It's the first time he's said anything about New York like it was definite. It feels good.

"Having you nag me to come to bed because I'm still in front of my computer at 1 am,” Danny adds. Danny kisses Stiles' cheek, chuckles then wipes away the smudge his lips have left on the skin.

This is why you do it. Moments like this one. A future like this.

Shouldn't it be about you?

Steadfastly, he ignores that last thought and keeps on watching the movie.

Stark has just made it out of the cave when Stiles says, "Having a regular order at the Thai place. Making my classmates jealous because of my hot older boyfriend."

"Finding the one spot apparently nobody knows about in Central Park, hiding there on Sunday evenings," Danny offers. Tony is blowing up a tank when he speaks next. "Being the loudest in the audience at your Juilliard exhibition shows."

"Cheering for you when you walk at graduation," Stiles offers as Obadiah smarms his way across the screen. "Spending months visiting museums and making snide comments about art."  

"You'll be neck-deep in exams when I graduate," Danny says rapidly. He frowns. "And too far away." New York-LA. Doesn't get much further apart than this. The upcoming school year is going to be tough.

It's just one year. Not even a full one.

"I'll work around it. I want to be there." Stiles brushes his nose against Danny's cheek. 

"OK." Danny smiles and nuzzles Stiles back. "The upside is," he says, kissing him lightly, "I can come to New York with you right after. Nothing will be keeping me here then."

"We can find you an apartment and I can move in as soon as school is out." Stiles can't help his goofy smile.

"Worst-case scenario I'll bunk in your dorm room. Annoy your roommate while you're in class."

Stiles laughs. "Sounds like a plan." He kisses Danny's neck. "I love you."

"I love you. So much." Danny sighs, happily this time, stretches to dump his plate on the table and quickly returns to the comfort of Stiles' embrace. "You're really magic, you know? You might not make it all better, but you make it better enough, easily."

"If I'm magic, you're magic too." Stiles throws the afghan over Danny's legs. "I love you."

"That's magic right there. You, with me. Making it so far, together." He shuffles to get fully under the ugly but soft blanket. "OK we worked hard but it's still kind of a miracle."

Stiles pulls Danny further into his lap."We've made our own miracle."

 

The credits start to roll on the TV, Danny watches them without really seeing them. "Think we're capable of making me like ballroom? Because that might be beyond our reach."

"I think I can manage." Stiles kisses his favorite spot behind Danny's ear. "Have you ever danced ballroom with a lover?"

"Ballroom, no." Whatever it was Alex and him danced to, it couldn't qualify as ballroom. He twists his head to capture Stiles' lips. "I wish I could dance with you on the show," he murmurs.

Stiles kisses him lovingly. "I would love that. Dancing with you would be amazing."

Danny turns around completely, makes Stiles lie down under him. "Think they'll pair us sometime soon? For one of those bromance numbers?" He nips at the skin under Stiles' chin, courses his lips over his throat. "Or they know I can't pretend with you and they'll keep us apart?"

"I dunno... this may be the year they let a gay number on air," Stiles says, tilting his head back. 

Danny runs his tongue over the offered stretched skin. "They should. You deserve the showcase."

You too.

"But I'm not sure I could control myself." He grins against the skin. "Maybe you should dance with Ethan."

"I don't know about that," Stiles arches into Danny's touch. "And you deserve the showcase too, babe."

Danny's hands wander up, bundle Stiles' shirt to expose his stomach. "Maybe." He slides down, mouths at the skin he's revealed. "I might end up being very inappropriate, you'd be willing to risk it?"

Stiles moans quietly. "Fuck yes, I'd be willing. We'd get votes anyway, thanks to the fangirls who are speculating if we're together."

Danny's head perks up. "We're speculation material?" he wonders. His hands get more active, tugging unequivocally on Stiles' shirt to remove it. "Can it be called," Kiss, "speculation," Kiss, "if it's so true and obvious?" He presses ardent kisses on Stiles' chest, a trail from the hip to the collarbone. "I'm pretty sure I blatantly eye-fuck you during every group number." He traces the outline of a pec with his tongue. "Or anytime we're onstage together."

Stiles pushes Danny away long enough to rid him of his shirt before dragging him back down. "Mm, I do the same fucking thing," he groans. "So I don't think it's speculation after all.” Stiles fists one hand in the fabric of the couch, the other on Danny's back.

Danny lets go of Stiles for a few seconds, enough to peel his shirt and pants off, Stiles' as well, and brace his boyfriend in his arms. He sits up and sits Stiles in his lap. "So many people would be jealous. I've got the hottest guy." He latches on Stiles' neck, sucks mercilessly. "The fangirls would go mad." he says, pulling away only to go back in with more intensity. 

Stiles runs his fingers through Danny's hair, hips shifting in the cradle of Danny's lap. "You're wrong," he pants. "I've got the hottest guy."

Danny smiles, reaches up and swallows Stiles' protest in a searing kiss. His hands slither down, cup Stiles' ass and brings him closer. His mouth quits Stiles' to go back to his shoulder, an addictive spot tonight. "Don't start this argument," he mumbles against the damp skin, "we both know I'm right." His hips snap up and forward, in a slow but determined rhythm.

Stiles grinds in rhythm with Danny's slow thrusts, hands splayed over his shoulders. "S-so fucking good to me," he breathes. "So fucking beautiful."

Stiles' response spurs Danny on, makes shim buck more wildly. "You're everything Stiles," he murmurs, his hands scrambling on the soft skin of Stiles' back. "I'm never letting you go, fuck."

"Don't let go," Stiles says. "Never let go." Stiles tucks his face into Danny's neck, hips moving even faster.

Danny whimpers and keeps on. "Never. Never." He can't stop saying it. Time blurs and disappears. The last "never" fades on his lips as he comes between their bodies, hips finally coming to a stuttering halt.

Stiles spills over their abs with a faint whisper of Danny's name, hands holding him ever closer. "Love you so much."

"Love you," Danny whispers back in Stiles' hair. He keeps him cradled in his arms, one hand reaching out for the napkins on the table and finding a use for them.

Once they're cleaned up, Danny leans back on the couch, Stiles comfortably tucked on his chest. His hand makes a languid journey on his back, up and down, drawing something like an infinity symbol on the damp skin. "Did I ever tell you that you're my first love?"

"Your first love?" Stiles shakes his head, tucked against Danny's neck. "I feel honored. You're mine, too. Well, first one that isn't one-sided." His hand snakes lower, grabs the afghan and pulls it over them.

"I'm glad I got to you before someone else."

"Me too." Stiles snuggles impossibly closer, eyes fluttering shut. "I like what we have together."

"Me too, especially right here," Danny murmurs, his hand slowing down. No stress, No competition, between them or the others. No freak-outs. Outside it's everywhere but here they're safe, and free.

Stiles yawns, content. "I love you, Ballet Boy."

Danny isn't sure if he actually says it back, barely conscious as he is. But Stiles knows it anyway.

 

They wake up around midnight, groggy and sore. Danny manages to drag Stiles to a belated shower. Said Stiles is less reluctant once Danny strips him of what little clothes he still has on and tackles him against the tiled wall of his shower. Stiles looks fully on board when Danny drops to his knees for one hell of a blowjob.

They make it to the bed around 1 am, and this time Danny makes sure (3 times) that his alarm is on.

 

~*~

 

Stiles wakes to his phone ringing. "Y'llo?"

"Oh, did I wake you?" A soft female voice floats down the line. "I forgot to take in the time difference. I'm sorry, Stiles."

"Stasia?"

"Yeah, it's me."

Danny groans and shakes his head around, eyes firmly closed. "Too early baby."

Stiles slips out to the living room. "So, how's... how's life?"

Stasia laughs, soft in his ear. "Life is good. Yours?"

"It's..." Danny, the show, Juilliard. Danny. "It's pretty awesome."

"Good. I'm glad." She pauses, and Stiles can almost see her twirl the end of her braid nervously. "I'm flying in for an audition tomorrow. I'll be at the show on Tuesday."

"Okay, wow... I guess I'll see you soon, then."

 

"We're gonna be late Danny, hurry up!" 

Danny increases the pace but the stop is further than it appears and it takes many strides to get to it. Too many, he's out of breath and yet still missed the double-decker bus.

Stiles throws his hands in the hand. "Great. How are we going to make it to rehearsal now?"

Danny's brow furrows. Taking a bus to rehearsal? That doesn't make any sense.

There's faint conversation in the background. No, just Stiles' voice actually.

His eyes finally flutter open and a quick look around informs him that 1. He isn't late, far from it, and 2. Stiles is on the phone right outside. He gets out of bed slowly, puts his boxers back on and slips out of the room and into the kitchen. He gets some coffee started, giving Stiles space to finish his call but still keeping an ear out, just so he knows when he can go to him.

"It won't be weird, right? Tell me it won't be weird."

"Of course not, Stas. Look, Danny's awake. I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Okay. See you Tuesday, Stiles."

He hangs up and pads into the kitchen, pulling Danny's shirt closed around his torso.

"Good morning gorgeous," Danny says softly. He leans against the counter and gestures to Stiles to come closer.

Stiles steps up and kisses him.

"Good morning, beautiful."

Danny kisses him back and hugs him tightly. "Ugh it's so early, I can barely call it morning," he groans. He pulls away, turns around and rummages for mugs. "I'm going to need some of this," he says as he pours the coffee. "Was that your dad on the phone?"

"No." Stiles turns to the cabinet for granola bars. "It was Stasia."

"Oh." The name rings a bell. A drunken night, a severe hangover. One of Stiles' exes. Great.

"Good news?" he says tentatively, handing Stiles his coffee.

"She's flying in for an audition. She'll be at the show." To be honest, Stiles isn't sure whether it's good news or not. "You keep pulling away from me, Stiles. You're always gonna choose dance over love."

Danny tries on a little smile. "Well, it'll be nice to have someone in your corner of the audience, besides Stef. I'm glad you have friends visiting, it's been a while." He almost stutters over the word friend but makes it anyway. Stiles doesn't look very convinced. "Are you... Are you glad she's coming?"

"I don't... I don't know." Stiles runs a hand through his hair. "I really don't know."

Danny takes a minute to think it through, sipping his coffee. It's never something you look forward to, broaching a subject like this one. Nor is it ever a good time. He puts his cup down, threads his now free fingers with Stiles'. "Why is that? It's just... You haven't talked about her much so I..." He shakes his head, squeezes Stiles' hand. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"

Stiles stares down at their hands. "She was my only real relationship before you. I thought... I thought I loved her. But I got so wrapped up in dance, in preparing for the show, I... well, I pushed her away. I hurt her without even realizing it. She broke up with me, officially, about a month before the auditions."

Danny rubs his thumb over the back of Stiles' hand. A firm pressure, even if he's nothing but certain at the moment. "She's the one asking to see you. It's a good sign that she's moving on, over it you know," he says reassuringly.

A month. Just a month. How were you, a month after Alex, or Sean? And it's not like you were in a real relationship with either.

"You didn't seem... You looked like you were fine yourself, even in Vegas." He bites his lip. Is this our own universe? Or maybe just a rebound, amped up in his mind?

"That's just it. I didn't love her. I had already broken up with her mentally long before she broke up with me." Stiles runs his hand through his hair. "There was no angst on my side. hurt her."

"She made it through, apparently. She wouldn't seek you out if it wasn't the case. Just like Sean with me." He pulls on Stiles' hand, forces him to come in his arms.

"So Carlos and Stasia, I'm sensing a pattern," he murmurs, his head on Stiles' shoulder. He hugs him more tightly. "Just promise me you'll tell me before it gets to that point between us? If you're not in it as much, you'll talk to me?"He doesn't want to think about the possibility. But better safe than sorry, even if it wouldn't make it hurt less.

Stiles leans in to Danny. "I promise. I refuse to fuck this up."

"We both have a shaky track record but I think we're doing well, so far. We just have to... Not be idiots again." He kisses Stiles' neck. "I don' want to lose you. Ever."

Stiles hums happily. "Agreed."

Chapter Text

The night away and Stiles can do miracles, really. The next few days find Danny with a renewed light and interest and it shows. His number gets even better, his relationship with Chelsie too. She warms up to him and a chemistry builds up quickly, just in time. 

He gets to spend almost the entire Saturday with Stiles, Stef and Sean, another expedition in the Californian hills. Stef is true to her nickname and leaps (or climbs) the whole afternoon. Danny is happier than ever.

There is the worry of the upcoming elimination, like every week. Also the worry about Stasia and how her arrival will change things or Stiles himself. He sees Stiles' eyes get darker sometimes, and it's clearly weighing on his thoughts at times. Apart from that things are good, really good.

But not for everyone, as he realizes on Monday night. He's making a quick snack trip to the kitchen when he almost trips over Ethan, sitting on the floor with his legs spread out and a bottle of tequila in the other. Looking both drunk and depressed. "Hey man," he says quietly, trying to gauge if Ethan is in a receptive mode. "You shouldn't drink the night before the show. You'll get dehydrated."

"Not gonna change anything, I'm out anyway," Ethan replies bitterly, and he takes another swig.

Stiles is going over his notes in preparation for the show when Cora knocks on the door-frame.

"Can I come in?" she asks quietly, pulling nervously at the sleeves of Boyd's shirt. 

Stiles clears a spot on the bed for her. "Yeah, no problem."

She sits beside him, knees pulled up to her chin. "I'm worried, Stiles."

"Why?"

"I was in the bottom last week. What if I'm in the bottom again? What if I don't do well? You know lyrical is my weakness."

Stiles puts the laptop away and pulls her into his arms. "You're gonna do great, okay? You are fully capable of kicking this number's ass."

"But what if I'm not?"

"You are."

Danny stops on midway to the fridge. "What? You're quitting?" he asks, incredulous. Ethan is a fierce competitor, it makes no sense.

"No." Ethan chuckles dryly, puts the bottle aside and tries to get up. He wobbles, slides up and down the wall until Danny walks to his side and help him. They sit side by side at the counter, Ethan swaying a little. "I don't need to. I'm getting cut this week, I know it."

"You can't know for sure," Danny says softly.

"How many times have I been in the bottom Danny? Four. The only reason I'm still here is the judges' decisions. That's out the window starting this week."

Danny looks down. "You can make it without them, you're talented. Really."

Ethan shrugs and his shoulders slump. "I don't have the fan-base to keep me here. I'm expendable. You all have that thing that make people get behind you. Scott is the puppy everyone loves. Jackson's the heartthrob. Stiles is the genius kid. You're the beautiful second chance story. I'm just the other ballet twin."

Danny can't look at him, just lets the words sink in. Ethan's... kind of right. But it's wrong. "It shouldn't be this way," he says.

Ethan has another shrug, shoulder bumps Danny. "It's what it is. I only wish I could have gotten something out of my time here. I don't have anything to show for it." He has a weird, lopsided smile, and gets up. He bends to pick up his bottle, stops and turns back towards Danny. "I would have settled for getting you." His eyes twinkle. "Or maybe something like what you and Stiles have. Would have been worth it."

"I'm not... I'm not charming, Stiles. I'm not supermodel pretty, or a genius, or whatever. I'm grumpy, and not even mysterious like Marin is. I'm a fucking krumper. Krumpers don't win."

Stiles kisses her temple. "You're versatile. Capable. You show emotion when you dance. You are super fucking talented. You are a dancer, Cora. Don't doubt that."

Cora tucks her face into his neck. "I miss them, Stiles."

"I know you do, baby."

"Can I sleep with you and Danny tonight?" she asks, voice small. "I know you don't fuck before show day."

"You'll have to ask Danny, but I'm cool with it."

"Don't give up Ethan!" Danny throws at him, who waves without looking back and slowly gets back upstairs.

Danny shakes his head and returns to the fridge. A couple of bottle of water, two small parfaits that Jennifer made (she's not as good as Laura when it comes to desserts but she holds her own) and he's also back on his way upstairs. He smiles warmly at Ethan as he passes his open door, who replies with a dazed, unsure grin of his own, raising the bottle still clutched in his hand.

He doesn't know how to feel about this. He's still pondering Ethan's speech in his head when he enters Stiles' room. "So Ethan is having some sort of existential crisis, although he might be right on some... Oh hi Cora."

Cora scoots out of Stiles arms when Danny walks in, hiding behind her hair. "Hi Danny."

Stiles nods in her direction. "Same. Despite how fantastic she is."

"No, we can't have that. I need Cora to be insolent and confident, otherwise the world doesn't make sense." He hands Stiles the desserts and throws the bottles on the bed before sitting on the corner. One hand goes the usual route around Stiles' waist, the other, for a change, reaches for Cora. Danny pushes her hair away, tucking a thick strand behind her ear. He might prefer her spunky and kind of mean, but she's more approachable when she's like this. Less threatening, even if he's learned not to feel that way about her anymore. Mostly she's less guarded, and that way he can help her. "What about all your plans to rule the world with your moves and shove your success down the throat of the non-believers?” Danny asks, teasing. “I'm still waiting on you to do that to Jackson by the way."

Cora half-smiles. "Any day now. I'm just waiting for him to shove his foot the rest of the way down his esophagus." She sighs. "I'm just worried. And lonely." 

Danny curls a finger under her chin and lifts. "I know you miss them, and they miss you too I'm sure. And it's not the same but you're not alone here. You have friends." He smiles, trying to catch her eyes. "We want you to make it." He winks. "Mostly because Stiles will be unbearable if he doesn't have his bitch partner around until the end."

Cora shoves him playfully. "Jerk."

"There's the prickly Cora we know and love,” Stiles says with a grin.

Cora punches Stiles in the arm. "Bitch."

"Love you too, Cor."

Danny leans back and pokes at Cora with his foot. "Come on Grumpy Cat, pick a movie and get your cuddle on. We haven't got all night, tomorrow's a big day."

Cora picks High School Musical, threatens their lives if they ever tell, and curls up between them. "Thank you," she whispers.

Danny bumps their shoulders together. "Anytime." He kicks around and pulls the blanket over the three of them. He reaches over for a kiss on Stiles' cheek, drops one on Cora's head on the way back and snuggles.

Cora konks out half-way through the movie, relaxing for the first time in two weeks. Stiles falls asleep easily to Danny's familiar breathing and Cora's soft snores. 

 

~*~

 

The alarm is particularly infuriating the next morning. Danny wakes up from a fucking great sleep and he turns his phone off with regret. It means taking his arm off from the warmth of the mix of blankets and limbs it was lodged in. He turns back to his bedmates. Cora is practically glued to Stiles, holding for dear life it seems and her hair all over his face. How they can both sleep like this is beyond him. He leaves them be for now, slipping deftly out of bed and getting in the shower.

Who knew a night of cuddling, with a girl and his boyfriend, could feel so great? He laughs, alone in the bathroom, but not for long. As he washes himself, the prospect of the day makes him sober up.

Better gear up for the show, the elimination, Stasia. You never know what will fuck up your day.

 

Stiles wakes to the shower starting. He extricates himself from Cora's grasp and pads into the bathroom. He locks the door behind himself, strips down, and climbs in with Danny.

"Good morning, beautiful." He kisses him. "Sleep well?"

Danny smiles, steps back into Stiles' arms. "Really well. You guys are some comfortable sleeping partners." His hands sneak behind him, looks for Stiles'. "How did Wonder Boy sleep? And how on Earth did you get out of Cora's arms? She looked like a leech."

"I slept amazingly well. And she has a few weak spots, so it's like popping off a pentapus." Stiles hooks his chin over Danny's shoulder.

"Cool. As long as you didn't break her as you went." He falls silent for a minute, hands Stiles the washcloth once he's done. "It sucks, you know, her losing both Boyd and Erica at the same time. It wouldn't be perfect but at least one of them still around would mean the world to her." He bites his lip. "I don't even want to think about after the show, how it'll be for her."

"She's talked about moving to LA. She doesn't have anything keeping her in Chicago, except for her sister. No school, no crew." Stiles washes quickly and grabs the shampoo. "Erica has a steady job at a club and classes she teaches. Boyd is already working on a movie."

Danny steals the bottle away, squeezes some shampoo in his own palm and starts lathering Stiles' hair. "That would be great, the three of them here." He rakes his fingers through the strands, massaging the scalp on his way. "Plus with Jackson and Lydia here as well, she wouldn't lack entertainment." He leans in. "We'll be on our own in New York, but whenever I bring you to Hawaii we'll do a pit stop here."

Stiles ducks forward for a kiss. "Sounds like a plan." He moves them so he can stand under the spray, and starts washing Danny's hair. "I want to dance on Broadway. Is that weird?" Stiles asks, determined to get a real answer while Danny is defenseless.

Danny refrain from purring under the touch of Stiles' fingers. "No, I don't think so. Broadway, you, with your expressivity, it makes sense. Why would it be weird?"

"I've heard some people talk about Broadway like it's beneath them, that classical dancers shouldn't deign to even audition." Stiles shakes his head. "Stupid, right?"

“Exactly.”

~*~

They drag a barely awake Cora downstairs, just in time for group breakfast, then it's a mad dash to the studio for dress rehearsal.

… 

 

Ethan is so hungover he can barely keep up. Danny tries to focus on his own part but he's worried. It's at that point where he doesn't want anyone to leave.

Someone has to. Better him than you. 

It's a selfish, foreign thought. Wishing someone to fail...

Why are you here if not to win? You can't make everyone happy Danny, that's not how it works.

Stiles keeps an eye on Cora, but she seems to be handling everything well. He throws himself into the rehearsal, determined to do his damnedest at every step of the way. It isn't until after dress is over that Stiles has time or brainpower to think about Stasia again. He ends up half-dressed, slumped over with his head between his knees as he forces down the wave of panic crashing over him.

 

Danny is slipping his T-shirt back on when his phone beeps. He fumbles with one sleeve while checking his phone.

From Stef: Free for lunch? Sean says he's found a great Greek place, of all things. You probably knows it already but he wants to show you anyway.

From Stef: Oh and we're on for tonight! Got our tickets for the show and everything! :DDD

He smiles. She's still as excited, even if she's there every week. But he has talked to Stiles all morning and lunch is their only downtime of the day.

To Stef: Rain check lil sis. We'll hang out after the show, OK? Don't tell Mom, I shouldn't keep you up that late but whatever.

There's the familiar pang of guilt, he shoves it away as he packs his bag. On his way out he hears a thud in the dressing room next to his. A quick look in, out of concern and he stops. Ethan is on the floor, hugging the trashcan. The stench in the room tells him what happened. He calls out but Ethan doesn't respond, barely flinches. He hesitates, pulls out his phone after a few seconds.

To Stiles: I'll catch up with you at the house. Something's come up, I'm sorry. I love you.

He slips the phone back in his pocket, walks up to the vanity and wets a washcloth. He hands it to Ethan with a sigh, kneeling at his side and dropping a comforting hand on his back.

It's Scott and Allison that find Stiles. Scott brings him some water, and Allison rubs his back, talking him down.

"Danny?" he asks at last. Allison hands him his phone.

He sighs. "Okay. Okay."

They help him dress shaky limbs and head down to the car.

(For a moment, Stiles thinks this must be how Isaac felt-- cared for.)

"I told you to watch it last night," Danny keeps rubbing soothing circles over Ethan's back. Ethan, who's regressed to a caveman stage, grunts before doubling over the trashcan and retching. Again. 

Danny looks away and tries to ignore the sound as well. And the smell. 

It takes half an hour for Ethan and his stomach to settle. Danny brings him a Gatorade and a light snack, and carries on a random conversation (alone) while he recuperates.

"Thank you," Ethan says, sheepish, after a lull in Danny's monologue. "I think I overdid it, last night and this morning. Not a great combo."

Danny shrugs, partly amused, partly annoyed. "It's nothing. But you should really find another outlet. You don't want to jeopardize things, not now."

Ethan looks down, takes another careful sip of the Gatorade. "I know. I'm sorry to have unloaded this on you." He smiles. "At least it wasn't literal."

Danny chuckles. "At least there's that."

"So you're gonna be fine?" Danny's fingers fidget around the handle of his bag. Antsy.

"Yeah, yeah. Just tell the van I'm staying here for the day. I'm gonna rest, recharge. Think." Ethan smiles weakly. "I need alone time too. But really, thank you for, you know, being there."

"You're welcome."Danny gives Ethan a quick, one-armed hug and sprints for the main entrance the second he's out of Ethan's dressing room. The road back to the house takes forever it seems. Time is flying today, except when it should.

"Wonder Boy, I'm home!" he exclaims as soon as he sets foot in the house, dropping his back in the entrance and making his way to the living room.

 

Stiles doesn't say anything. He's worked up a good sulk, dammit, he's not gonna let Danny lighten it.

Danny glances around the room, catches a glimpse of Allison and Scott upstairs. Scott actually gives him the dirty look and isn't that the weirdest face he's ever seen him make. It takes him a second look to see Stiles, bunched up in the window seat. "Hey gorgeous," he says, quickly walking up to him. The final syllable dies on his lips.

"Hey." Stiles focuses on his sandwich.

There is no place for Danny on the seat, so he crouches down. So many bad vibes are coming off Stiles, he doesn't even try to touch him. "Are you alright?"

Stiles shrugs. After a moment, he says, "Panic attack."

Danny's heart jumps to his throat and he sinks to his knees, his hand immediately going to Stiles' neck, fingers curling protectively around it. "Shit Stiles... Are you... Was it really bad? Are you fine now? Can I do anything? Do you need something?" He's babbling. Not his usual style but guilt can make him do that.

"I'm fine."

Danny's hand drops. The tone was icy, like he's never heard it before. Enough to make him backtrack. "O-OK."

Say you're sorry.

Like he would hear it.

A third voice. Sorry for what? You were helping a friend. You can't always be at his heel, like a good dog.

He bites his lip and gets up. The knots in his stomach are tighter than ever, because the last voice might be the one he wants to let out the most.

 

You're being petty.

He wasn't there when I needed him.

Do you want to push him away too?

"Danny--" His voice cracks. "I'm sorry."

 

Danny stands, awkward, at Stiles' side. His throat is still tight as fuck but he pushes through. Just like with his hand, returning to Stiles' neck. Barely grazing it this time. "What for? You've done nothing wrong," he forces out.

"For being petty. You must have had something important to do-- I don't need to be the center of your world."

"You aren't. I mean, you are, but not?" He shakes his head, steps closer until he can make Stiles' head rest against him. He takes a deep breath and lets his fingers slide up, into the soft hair. "You're the most important part of my life right now. If I had known, I would have been there. And I don't resent you for wanting me near when you're having a hard time, that's just normal." He sighs. "I was with Ethan. He didn't feel very well after rehearsal, I helped him out." He omits the details, for both Ethan's and Stiles' sakes.

"It's okay," Stiles says softly. He leans into Danny's touch. "Scott and Allison talked me down."

"Good. You have great bros with these two." That explains the dark look. He slides his hand down, tugs lightly at Stiles' collar. "Come here."

Stiles moves into Danny's arms, nuzzling into his neck.

"Love you," he mutters.

Danny wraps his arms protectively around Stiles. "I love you too. Wanna tell me what triggered it?" he asks, his hands splaying on the small of Stiles' back. Better late than never. Maybe he can help with the cause, instead of the result.

Stiles stiffens, before forcing himself to relax. "I was thinking... about Stasia."

"It was that bad?" Danny whispers, rubbing his thumb in the tense muscle of his boyfriend's back.

"I've been on edge for a while now. I think she just... tipped the scale."

"Talk to me then, before it gets to that point. That's what we agreed on, no?" He brushes his lips against Stiles' fluttering heartbeat. "It won't be as bad as you think. Look at Sean and I, it turned out fine. It will for you too." He lets go of Stiles to rap his knuckles against the windowsill. "Wood. Just in case."

Stiles chuckles and pulls Danny into a tight hug. "Thank you for being awesome."

"Keeping up with you, that's all.” Danny returns the hug, just as strongly. "And you deserve it."

Chapter Text

It is only thanks to Lydia that they manage to get up and into the van for the show. Together, the two of them nap pretty damn hard.

From Stasia: I'll see you soon!

 

Danny keeps Stiles' hand in his own the whole ride, only letting go when they have to part to get into their costumes. He puts on the (tacky) salsa outfit and stares at his reflection with a grimace.

Next to him Jackson is busy fixing his hair, almost manic with the hair products. They groan, almost in unison. They share a look in the mirror and both laugh.

"Top ten man, this is getting real. I can almost touch the prize."

Danny nods with a tight smile.

You should be feeling like him.

But he's not.

Stiles stares at himself in the mirror. "I'm wearing a toga."

"Not a toga-- it's Greek. And it has two shoulders," Melanie corrects with a smile.

"It's a skirt made of bedsheets."

"You look adorable." Melanie squeezes his shoulder. "And you're top ten. Smile."

Stiles grins.

"Better."

She's in a green and brown bodysuit with a green chiffon skirt-- the dryad to his hunter.

"You ready, Danny?"

"Yeah, sure." He's standing behind the curtain, stares at the stage. There's no more dread from it, or the cameras, not after so many weeks, but he's not eager to get out there.

He checks his phone one last time (From Stef: Greek was a bad idea. We're both puking our guts out. You lucked out. I'm gonna die.) and smiles softly. Looks around and sees Lydia and Jackson being adorable and gross in a corner, Stiles discussing with Melanie and glancing at him with mirth, Ethan looking more composed.

Somehow it all makes him happier than the prospect of doing his number. His enthusiasm didn't last. It's all the genre's fault. Fucking salsa. It has to be it.

 

The group number goes swimmingly, and then it's time for bottom six.

Ethan, Scott, Stiles. Allison, Cora, Jennifer.

 

Stiles forces a smile for his solo.

The lucky four that are safe embrace in relief, even Morrell cracks a smile. Jackson give Danny a friendly slap on the back before dipping Lydia and kissing her soundly. The backstage camera never leaves them. 

Danny sneaks near the stage entrance to watch Stiles' performance. He can't really be relieved when Stiles is out there, his place on the line. The other contestants are grouped there as well. Scott and Allison are wrapped up in themselves, whispering what must be words of mutual support. Ethan looks resigned (damn it), Jennifer is shaken but determined and gives him a confident smile.

Cora's eyes are fixed on the stage. "I knew it," she mutters.

Danny holds her hand and squeezes it tightly. "You're not going anywhere, except on that stage to blow us away."

 

Jennifer goes on after Stiles comes off.

Stiles goes to Cora, pulling her into a hug. "You're gonna be great, okay?"

Cora nods, face hidden by her hair and Stiles' shoulder.

Danny leaves them alone. Stiles knows how to cheer her up better than anyone else.

 

Jennifer comes backstage with a reasonably satisfied smile on. Ethan goes on. He's nailing it. Surprising, knowing how he must be feeling at the moment. 

Cora gets out of Stiles' embrace to prepare for her turn. That's Danny's cue to go back to him. "You were fantastic, as usual."

Stiles half-smiles. "Thanks." He leans into Danny, resting for just a little bit. "I love you."

"I love you too." Danny cups Stiles' cheek forces him to look up. "Hey, believe me, OK? You're going to make it to the end. It's just tougher because we're fewer. It's you and me in the finale, remember?" His voice is steady. He hopes so at least.

You're trying to convince who exactly?

Stiles nods. "The two of us."

"Right. With our girls too."

 

He keeps him in his arms until their respective numbers. Jackson and Lauren make a killing in the audience, their number bursting with playful flirting and sassy energy.

Danny's next. Cheryl is waiting impatiently in the wings, so he drops a small kiss on Stiles' cheek and heads out. Strong hold on her hand, he marches to the center of the stage, plasters the smile on his face and steadies his position. 

Just get it over with. Next week will be better. They can't give you this twice in a row.

He dances. Technically perfect, and all the appearances of appropriate emotions are there, even if he's not feeling them.

 

Stiles and Melanie are next. They are the picture of perfection, their playful number playing well with the audience. Melanie makes a lovely Dryad, and Stiles handles his props well. He feels good about the number.

 

Danny's heart is more into the other numbers, the interludes they do before commercials, the second group number. But just as he's feeling better about the whole thing, the show is almost over. 

He's in the section reserved for the safe contestants way too soon. Eyes fixed on Stiles, but glancing to everyone else too. They all deserve to be here, some he wants to keep here for personal reasons.

One look at the crowd and he catches sight of a girl completely focused on Stiles. Stasia, probably. Pretty, really pretty.

He looks away before he can think too much about her.

 

"Miss Hale-- your technique was truly stunning tonight. You continue to wow us with your versatility. You are safe, congratulations."

Cora lets out a gasp, squeezing Stiles' hand tightly. He kisses her temple and she runs down to the others.

"Mister Stilinski... you have proven yourself yet again. You are safe."

Stiles claps Scott on the shoulder and runs down to the others, straight into Danny's arms.

Danny barely has time to hug Stiles and let go quickly enough to be proper before the judges speak again. He manages to squeezes Stiles' hand discreetly enough.

 

Mary picks up where Nigel leaves it. She smiles at the four contestants.

"This is the point where we say goodbye to amazingly talented dancers. And it won't get any easier, but this week you were all shining in your own way and made it almost impossible to choose."

She pauses. "Ethan, you proved that you have an edge your brother was lacking and in a competition with so many ballet dancers, you could have gotten lost. But you didn't."

He beams at her, she doesn't return it, ever the professional.

"Scott, you are a wonder." she says, turning towards him. "Throughout the years I've never seen a hip-hop dancer with your capacities and adaptability."

There's a tense second of silence. "Scott, you are safe. Ethan I'm sorry this is the end for you."

The two boys, equally shocked, exchange a stunted hug before coming down the stage slowly.

 

Mary turns to the girls, her smile attempting to return. "Jennifer, Allison. You are both exceptional in your own styles. This week saw you try something radically different and you both rose to the challenge. Allison you showed an incredible hip-hop skills. Jennifer your jive was pure joy. And both your solos were flawless. But we had to choose." 

"Allison your time on the show is over. Jennifer you are safe."

Stiles is a little shocked, but at this point in the competition the decisions are all but impossible to predict.

 

They go through the montages and end the show. Everyone is hugging everyone.

Allison is crying. (So is Cora, but Stiles is pretty sure it's out of relief.)

Danny makes the rounds of hugs, Jennifer clinging to him the longest, so relieved she acts like a kid in a candy store and not an almost-thirty years old woman. Ethan is holding on to him something fierce too. He's almost embarrassed by it but doesn't have the heart to push him away first.

They made it.

Chapter Text

As the group discuss the usual post-show party, Danny pulls Stiles aside, in a quiet corner away from the audience and other prying eyes.

"First of all..." He kisses him deeply, almost rams him into the wall. "Told you you'd make it." He caresses his cheek tenderly. "Second of all: plans?" He doesn't want to bring her up, if she's that distressing to Stiles. But she's here and it's not like she's going to go away.

"Fourth meal at Red Bowl with Stasia, Stef, and Sean," Stiles says quietly. "Stef was adamant we go out together, and I figured a larger group would lessen any awkwardness."

"Yeah about that..." Danny says. Talk about awkward. "Stef and Sean went to a Greek place for lunch and I'm pretty sure they got food poisoning. The last text I got from her mentioned vomit, a lot of it. They're not in any shape to go out, least of all to eat."

Stiles curses under his breath. "Looks like it'll be the three of us, then. Unless we can talk someone else into joining us."

"Forget the couples, they'll never agree. Maybe Jennifer, Ethan. Or Cora. If you feel like we need a buffer, go ahead and ask."He bites his lip and lets go of Stiles.

It's going to be weird no matter what.

"You know what? Let's just go. 'Faint heart never won a fair--' a fair Danny." Stiles chuckles. "I can't very well call you a lady."

"Yeah, please don't." Danny links their hands, takes a deep breath, almost a sigh. "Let's do this." One more introduction. He wonders if there's ever going to be one that won't stress either or both of them so much.

 

They change into street clothes and head for Red Bowl, a crowd-pleasing pan-Asian place not far from the house.

Stasia is waiting outside. She's short, with big brown eyes and soft brown curls.

Jesus, he had forgotten how beautiful she is.

"Stas."

Stasia lights up, standing on tiptoes to kiss his cheek. "It's so good to see you, Stiles." She turns to Danny. "You must be the boyfriend."

"Danny," Stiles says quickly. "His name is Danny."

"Nice to meet you," Danny says, barely above a whisper. He extends his hand to her, clumsily. She's the definition of adorable, physically at least. That always makes him retreat to his quieter side.

Stasia smiles and shakes his hand. "Same." She looks to Stiles. "Shall we?"

"We shall."

They head in and get a table, Stasia across from Stiles and Danny.

"So, what did you think of the show?" Stiles asks, determined to fill the silence.

"It was amazing. You were great, of course, and Danny, you were fantastic."

Danny smiles shyly and hangs his head down. "Thanks."

Self-effacing. You can be cocky when you dance but can't bring it anywhere else in your life?

He looks up and forces himself to make eye contact with her. "It's really nice of you to say that, and to have come. It was cool to have supporters from back home in the audience for Stiles."

Maybe I should have said friend? Are they friend?

He's running blind, and Stiles doesn't give any clues as to how he's feeling. Well at least he doesn't seem on the verge of another panic attack. That's a positive side. Danny's hands twist on the tablecloth.

Stiles girds his mental loins and sails in. He isn't gonna do this again. "So, Stas, what are you auditioning for?" he asks, with genuine interest. He forces down the mild urge to run and hide. She's being chill about this, so can he.

"The daughter role in the latest RDJ movie," Stasia says with a happy little bounce.

"Omigod, Stas, that's fantastic!"

"It'll be huge if I make it. I only got the audition because my dad has connections."

"Wow," Danny says with a low whistle. "That's impressive, connections or not."

"They aren't enough, in the end talent seals the deal, even just to get an audition,” Stasia says with a shrug.

He knows about this. After all he got on the show by himself, even if he had a way in he could have used. He looks at her, and grins more genuinely. She's really charming. "I'm sure you'll do well."

Stas grins. "Thank you."

They order, everyone involved grateful for a short break.

"I think both of you have potential to make final four," Stasia says as the waitress leaves. "I really do. You know I wouldn't lie to spare your feelings or any shit like that."

Danny nods. "Stiles definitely has that talent. I think I do too. The only problem here are the votes. It's so impossible to predict. No matter how well you do, if it doesn't click with the audience and you end up in the bottom..."

“There’s no telling,” Stiles agrees.

"Well we saw what happens then, anything,” Danny says. “I never thought Laura, or Isaac for example would leave so soon."

"The public is fickle," Stasia says with a shrug.

Danny has a shiver at that. The idea of people turning against him, abandoning him. Abandoning Stiles. It came close, too often. Another shiver. He needs to change the subject, or at least divert it. "You're an actress then? Stage or screen mostly?" Danny asks.

Stiles takes Danny's hand under the table.

"Stage mostly so far, though I've had a few smaller roles in some movies,” Stasia says, with a self-effacing head tilt.”

"She was the best friend in the Tribeca winner this year," Stiles adds.

"There's a reason I homeschooled,” Stasia quips.

"Career in the arts and school is not easy to manage,'" Danny comments. "You managed a good resumé for someone so young."He rubs his thumb over Stiles' hand, slowly.

It's going well.

Stiles kisses Danny's temple, on instinct. Stasia's smile is slightly bitter, but the fondness overrides it.

"You seem happy,” she says lightly.

"I am, Stas."

Their plates arrive and Danny digs in his stir fry at once, reluctantly letting go of Stiles' hand. Exercise and hunger are not hindered by emotions anymore.

He glances at Stiles and Stasia in between hurried bites. There is something there. Something that can't be resolved in the proper, public setting of a restaurant. He shakes his head and reaches for his glass. Maybe he's just being paranoid. But with their past, he's allowed to be.

The conversation is easy, considering, then Stiles bumps it up. "Okay, Stas, I recognize that look," Stiles says at last. "Who is he?"

Stasia blushes. "His name is Andrew, and he's the son of one of Daddy's friends."

"Does he make you happy?"

"So happy, you have no idea."

Stiles looks at Danny. "I think I might."

It takes a lot for Danny to not blush and hide like a schoolgirl. He kind of does despite himself. He's happy. He's making Stiles happy. Stasia says she is. And he gets careless, and stupid, and opens his mouth."Looks like you got over Stiles."

Now Danny really wants to hide. Under the floor preferably.

Stiles' heart drops.

Stasia laughs musically. "Yeah. Yeah, I did."

Danny can start breathing again. "I don't know how anyone could, but I'm glad that you did."

Dear God kill me now. How awkward can you get?

Stasia's smile is fond. "I can see how happy you too are. I'm glad you found each other." She gives him an over-the-top frown. "Though, if you hurt him, I'm gonna kick your ass."

Danny chuckles, voice gravelly, and plays with his fork. "Noted. But it's the last thing I'd ever do so I don't think you need to worry about it."

"Good." Stasia checks her watch and pulls out her credit card. "I've gotta head back to my hotel. This has been great."

Danny puts one hand over hers. "No, it's on me. It's really has been great Stasia. I hope we can see you again before you leave." He's surprised but yeah, he means every word.

Stasia's smile is surprised, but content. "Thank you, Danny. I'll see what we can manage."

"I'll walk you to your car."

 

Danny stays behind to pay and joins Stiles outside, in time to wave goodbye at Stasia as she's driving away. He wraps his arms around Stiles and hooks his chin on his shoulder. 

"It went very well, considering. Sorry I was so weird."

Stiles settles his arms on top of Danny's. "It's cool, baby. You were fine."

He grins. "I thought you were adorable."

Danny groans. "Ugh adorable is not good. Is not sexy."

"Want to head back? I bet some people want to see you, or say goodbye."

"Yeah, it's time to head home."

 

The usual party, less rowdy with each week, is in full (relative) swing when they arrive. Morrell is even there, for once, curled up in a chair, a beer in one hand, the other tangled in Ethan's hair. He's sitting on the floor, head resting against the side of the chair. Jennifer is curled up on the carpet, head in his lap, talking to him with her eyes closed and fluttering hands.

Cora, Allison and Scott are in one big pile on the sofa, an emotional one.

Jackson and Lydia are sucking face, which is nothing new but still they should go to their room.

Stiles joins the pile on the sofa without a thought, picking Cora up and sitting down with her in his lap.

Danny smiles, bittersweet, at the Stiles' group and their closeness. Such a puppy pile.

Jennifer is getting up and heading for the kitchen, she gives him a quick hug on her way. He takes her place next to Ethan.

"Not gonna lie down on your lap, last time didn't end well."

"I saved my pants. We could try again," Ethan replies with a wry smile.

Danny chuckles, bumps him. "Nope." His smile fades and his hand hesitates at his side. He's never sure how to act around Ethan, never knows what is joke and what isn't. "I'm really sorry man. You deserved to stay."

"Scott too."

 

"Kiss Isaac for me," Scott mumbles into Allison's hair.

"You know I will."

Cora buries her face in Stiles' neck. "This sucks. I hate that people have to leave."

Stiles presses a kiss to her head. "I know, baby. We'll make it though. And we'll be on tour together soon."

Cora nods miserably. "I miss my people. You're lucky Danny is still here."

"I really am." 

 

"You're gonna miss me?" Ethan asks, out of the blue.

"Sure man."

"Liar."

Danny shrugs. "You didn't make it easy to be just your friend, Ethan. Still, yeah, you'll be missed."

Ethan drops one hand on Danny's, holds it for a second. "I'm not sorry I tried," he says. "And maybe I have a hard time knowing when to let go. But you were the only person I really wanted to get to know here. You and Jen I mean. For different reasons."

Danny stays silent, pensive. Marin sighs and gets up. "You boys and your sentimentality. I'm going to bed."

 

Allison scoots to lean on Stiles' shoulder.

"You okay? I know you were stressed about seeing Stasia."

"I'm great. Thanks for talking me down."

"No problem."

 

"Thanks, I guess," Danny finally says. He pushes himself back up. "You need anything?"

Ethan shakes his head. "I'm good. No drinking for me anyway tonight."

Danny smiles. "In case I don't catch you tomorrow, take care Ethan. We'll see each other on tour anyway."

Ethan nods.

Danny walks to the stairs, smacking Jackson's head on the way, for reasons. He makes eye contact with Stiles. "Stay if you need," he mouths at him before slowly getting upstairs.

 

The schedule for next week is already taped to every room's door. Danny pulls out the sheet from the envelope, glances at the program.

It's the week they have to create their own number. A choreography for their biggest inspiration, or support. He slumps down on the bed, ideas spinning around in his head.

He's been waiting for this.

 

Stiles falls asleep in the puppy pile, and he wakes tucked between Cora and Allison. It takes him some time to get out of their arms, but he manages not to wake anyone. He goes straight up to their room to see Danny.

Laptop open, Danny browses with one hand through his music library, the other jotting down notes as fast as his brain lets him. With his headphones on he doesn't notice Stiles coming in until he sees him out of the corner of his eye. He smiles, clicks on pause and remove his headset. "Hey gorgeous. The gang's OK?"

"Yeah, everyone's OK." Stiles rubs sleepily at his eyes. "Whatcha doing?"

“Creating a number. It's our turn this week." He hands him the sheet and swiftly reclaims his pen. More details to write down.

Stiles reads it quickly, and ideas start forming in his head. "This-- this I can handle." He pulls out his laptop and his ipod and starts working.

Danny goes through the song a few more times, writing down the sequence of steps as it comes to him. One draft, two, three outlines later, he's got something solid. Not definite but strong enough. He just needs to see it in action, to feel it, to make sure it works. He looks up, disoriented. Stiles is just as engrossed in his work as he was.

"Fuck, what time is it?"

Stiles shrugs. "Fourish?" He's no stranger to all-nighters, and they aren't due at the studio until one.

"Ugh, just the time when you question whether you should just bypass sleep completely." He gathers his papers and closes his computer. A quick trip to the bathroom to brush his teeth and he comes out, shedding his pants and shirt. "I'm ahead enough, I'll try to get a few hours of rest." He get in bed and leaves half the covers open. "I don’t mind if you keep working," He adds with a soft smile. His eyes close easily. "I've slept with worse distractions."

Stiles gets the basic idea down, scrawls his plans in something resembling order, and crawls into bed beside Danny. His mind reels with ideas, but he tunes into Danny's breathing and lets it ease him to sleep.

Chapter Text

Danny's buzzing mind doesn't let him sleep for very long. It's barely past 8 when his eyes pop open. His muscles are crying out for more rest but he knows that won't happen. Stiles, sprawled over him, that does keep him in bed a little longer. Even if he's itching to jump in a restorative shower and get into the studio to perfect his routine, Stiles' relaxed face and mussed hair are better arguments. He runs the tip of his fingers through his hair, carefully outlines his face. Fuck, he's so beautiful.

Stiles snuffles in his sleep, arms and leg tightening around Danny. He doesn't want to get up.

The hint of a smile appears on Danny's face when Stiles starts fidgeting. "Either I wake you up or we'll have loud friends barging in and doing it instead soon," he muses, barely audibly. His hand doesn't stop.

Stiles wakes slowly, content in Danny's arms. He tucks his face into Danny's neck, blocking out the sun.

"Good morning gorgeous," Danny breathes out, holding on Stiles more tightly. Everything is warm, soft, comfortable. His brain is still going a mile a minute with steps and music and lifts, but outside it's all slow motion. Kind of perfect.

"Good morning, beautiful,” Stiles says without opening his eyes.

 

Stiles is happy to just lay there for a while, until the urge to piss and the dead animal in his mouth win over.e presses a closed-mouth kiss to Danny's lips and heads straight for the bathroom.

Danny sighs happily and does a full-body stretch on the bed, kicking the covers away at the same time. Steps in the hallway, conversations in the stairs. The house is awake and it's time to get a move on. He drops a kiss on Stiles' shoulder as he's brushing his teeth and jumps in the shower. It's going to be a good day. Week even. He can't help humming a few bars and going over some moves in his head as he's cleaning himself up.

Stiles takes his turn in the shower once Danny is done and dresses quickly.

 

They run downstairs for breakfast and are greeted by the smell of coffee and the sight of cups being poured for them by the best girl ever, Jen. 

"So you saw the assignment," Danny asks, taking a small sip. This coffee is scalding.

Jennifer nods. "Yeah. I was kind of dreading it and looking forward to it, you know? It's a new kind of test."

"Yeah, but I can't wait to get started. You have your inspirational person in mind already?"

"Mm-hm. You?"

"Yep."

"It's good to see you so into it," Jennifer comments with a smile.

Danny chuckles. "Feels even better, let me tell you."

"You seem happier this week." Stiles grabs a muffin and sits at the island beside Danny.

Danny smiles, steals a piece of the top of Stiles' muffin. "I am. I love this assignment. No imposed style, just my own. Plus the theme is great." He eats his stolen bite, grabs a whole muffin (this cranberry/blueberry combo is delicious). "You were bursting with ideas last night."

"Oh, definitely. I have the entire thing mapped out. I've just gotta get my partner and put theory to practice."

"Same here. Man it's great to be excited about my number again!" Danny, uncharacteristically, almost bounces on his seat. Jennifer has an indulgent smile at that and leaves, ruffling both guys' hair on her way out. Danny is too happy to call her out on it.

Stiles leans over and kisses him. "God, you're cute when you're this happy."

Danny blushes but still brings a hand up to keep Stiles near and kiss him again. "You're making me this happy. Sometimes dance too," he adds with a wink.

 

The rest of the breakfast is spent in comfortable silence, occasionally disrupted by another contestant barging in the kitchen for coffee or food. They head for the vans early, everyone eager to work on their own choreography. 

Danny plays with Stiles' hand on the way there, half of his thoughts on his number, half on Stiles'. "Who are you going to dance for?" he asks, glancing at him. "If you don't mind sharing."

"My mom," Stiles says softly. "She always has been and always will be my biggest inspiration."

“She would be so proud of you,” Danny says, squeezing Stiles’ hand.

Stiles rests his head on Danny's shoulder. "I like to think so."

"I know so."

They arrive at the studio, where Kat is waiting for them to shoot their "reaction shots" to the news that they will come up with their own choreography.

Then it's off to work on said choreography, and present them to their partners.

 

Stiles gets Amy, last season's winner. His luck just doesn't stop.

--

"I couldn't be happier with my assignment," Stiles says, smiling at Amy. "I know it's gonna be great."

"I'm just honored to represent Claudia Stanislawa," Amy says, grinning. "I hope I do her justice."

 

Eliana Girard is waiting for Danny in the studio. 

Danny needs a minute. An actual ballet dancer, one of the best he ever saw, and she's his partner. Once he gets over his star struck-ness, they get to work, and immediately hit it off. She's receptive, open to his ideas and her enthusiasm matches his.

Danny goes over the routine he's planned, voicing the steps as he goes, and she gets it at once. They rehearse all morning and with her input and ideas, the number gets more impressive, daring and emotional.

They sit side by side near the barre, sharing an energy bar. "It's a beautiful number Danny. You have a great imagination for routines, this one will make them all cry."

Danny chuckles. "I hope so but at the same time no. I just hope it pays her homage enough."

She nods energetically. "It does. Trust me, it does."

 

Stiles and Amy work for hours, nailing down the routine and working out the kinks. She helps him flesh out the weak spots, and the finished routine is good. Stiles feels like his mother would be proud of it.

They talk to the costumer around five, and return to their studio to work for a while longer.

--

"You feel good about it?" Amy asks from her spot sprawled across the floor.

"Definitely. And we still have tomorrow and Friday."

"It's gonna be great."

 

It's almost nine by the time they call it a night. Stiles heads for his bench, song still running through his head.

Danny is already waiting there by the time Stiles is done. The rehearsal went so well, Eliana and he didn't want to jinx it by pushing it too far on the first day. He pockets his phone (Stef is bored and keeps texting him) and gets up when Stiles pushes the door open. "Hey Wonder Boy. How was it?" he asks, hand already searching for Stiles.

Stiles takes Danny's hand and drops a kiss on his temple. "It went really well. I feel good about this number."

Danny pulls him to the van, rather quickly. Every moment spent with his boyfriend is precious and worth the hurry. "Good, I'm happy for you." They get in the car and buckle up. "I have the best partner this week. Eliana is fantastic and it's like the number is already familiar to us." He reclaims Stiles' hand. He can't let go for long. "This week is going to be our week, I can feel it."

 

Stiles drags Danny into the shower as soon as they get home.

Danny giggles, an honest-to-God giggle. "You've been missing this?" he asks. The water stream hits him in all the right, aching places. Half a night and two days of rigorous dancing are being felt. He still runs his hands down his boyfriend's sides. For some things he can muster up the energy. "I was in the shower this morning, right next to you. You could have done this then." Danny rolls his shoulders, feels the joints pop.

Stiles kisses Danny's neck. "We didn't have time this morning. Now we have all the time in the world."

"That's relative," Danny replies, tilting his head back with a groan. "We have until I crash from exhaustion tonight." Stiles' lips are a great energizer though.

Stiles lathers up a washcloth and takes his time washing Danny thoroughly, getting everything clean. Danny leans back against the cool tile and lets Stiles' magic hands and the warm water do their work. "You're awesome," he mumbles.

"Love you so much." Stiles kisses across Danny's torso. “So fucking much.”

Danny brings limp hands into Stiles' hair, his fingers gently carding through his wet hair. "I love you too."

Stiles licks and sucks at Danny's abs as he kneels.

"You just keep on making me love you more," Danny sighs, a smile tugging at his lips.

Stiles licks a line up Danny's cock before pressing a sloppy kiss to his tip.

Danny bucks his hips slightly, lazily. His hands are more urgent while holding Stiles' head in place. "More and more," Danny whispers.

Stiles takes him into his mouth and hums.

His hands weaken at the same rate as his legs. It takes all his presence of mind to stay up while Stiles blows him. He can barely speak too. "Fucking talented..."

Stiles wraps his hands around Danny's thighs to hold him up, pulling out all the stops to blow his mind.

Danny's hands abandon Stiles, turning into mush. His whole body is close to doing the same. "Now you're just showing off," he mutters. But the way his balls are tightening tells him Stiles' technique is working. Very well.

Stiles runs a finger over Danny's hole and swallows him down.

Danny lets out a series of curses as he spills into Stiles' mouth. His body is definitely jelly at this point. Not even Stiles' hold can keep him up and as his orgasm subsides, he slides down the shower wall. "You know what works for me too well," he says with a breathy laugh.

Stiles wipes his mouth on the back of his arm, grinning. "I've had some practice."

"I'm gonna assume you're talking about us and not past practice. I'd rather not think about that." Danny chuckles. He gets back up slowly, on shaky legs, and grabs the discarded washcloth. "My turn.” Despite the afterglow and trembling muscles, he's going to pay it back.

"Of course I'm talking about you." Stiles stands and kisses him.

Danny runs a soapy hand up and down his back, across the shoulders, everywhere. "We do seem to have trouble keeping our hands off of each other." Danny kisses Stiles deeply, his hands curling around his hips. "Not that I'm complaining." He cleans Stiles up thoroughly, pulls him under the water stream and they dry each other off. Danny drags Stiles to their bed, not bothering with getting dressed. "Payback. I'm not gonna be the only one getting off tonight." He lays down, makes Stiles do the same. "Whatever you want," he whispers, cupping his cheek and kissing him.

Stiles shifts them so that they're spooning, Danny in Stiles' arms, Stiles' dick pressed against his ass. Stiles kisses Danny's neck and ruts gently.  "You are so fucking beautiful, baby."

Danny smiles ruefully. Still doesn't do well with compliments. Actions speak just as clearly as words sometimes, so he simply hooks one leg back over Stiles, wraps his arms over the ones holding him tight and rocks in synch with Stiles.

Stiles speeds up, too horny to try for finesse. "Mm, fuck. Love you."

Danny bows his head, trails open mouthed kisses on the arm draped across his chest. "Love you more." He presses back harder.

Stiles bites at Danny's neck unthinking, groaning as he grinds against Danny's (admittedly fantastic) ass.

A hiss escapes Danny's mouth at the stinging pain, but it quickly dissolves into a faint, not displeasing throb. He breathes in deeply, keeps on urging Stiles on.

Stiles laves the bite with his tongue as he comes, shuddering. "F-fuck, Danny.”

"Tomorrow maybe." Danny rocks his hips a few more times, letting Stiles ride it out.

Stiles kisses his neck lazily. "Maybe tomorrow." His stomach rumbles, and he laughs. "For now, we need to clean up and grab some food."

Danny reaches for tissues, handing a couple to Stiles and keeping a few for himself. "Can I put you on food duty?" he says, cleaning himself up as best as he can. "Honestly I don't think I can get out of this bed." He smiles. "You and this whole day have worn me out, in the best way."

Stiles cleans up quickly and turns Danny to kiss him. "I can handle food." He pulls on a pair of basketball shorts and heads downstairs. He throws together some sandwiches, grabs some water bottles, and returns to their room.

 

Danny props himself up against the pillows when Stiles comes back, a soft smile and grabby hands as a thank you for bringing up food. He realizes exactly how ravenous he was the second he bites in his sandwich. "This is delicious," he mumbles through his food. "Or maybe I was just that hungry." He washes his bite down with some water and stays silent for a while. All desires quenched, his mind returns to his task. The details of his number float around and he keeps re-arranging them, trying different combinations, visualizing the sequences and specific movements.

He takes another bite, thoughtful. One other thing he hadn't realized. How much he enjoys creating, not just dancing.

Stiles eats quietly, happy to just exist in proximity to Danny for the moment. He runs the number in his head, picking out spots to tweak the next day and ideas to work into other numbers. Choreography is his best asset, and this number is going to be fan-fucking-tastic.

Danny falls asleep with crumbs down his chest, dancing in his head and the comforting, silent (although he sometimes hums) presence of Stiles right next to him.

 

Stiles wakes early and runs through his usual warm-ups, heading for the shower before Danny starts to stir. He's excited to get to work, to run through the number with Amy and get started on the group numbers. Stiles hasn't been this amped up about the competition in a while. It feels nice.

Chapter Text

The sound of water hitting the tiles wakes Danny up, slowly. He stretches like a cat, glancing at the clock and swinging his legs out of bed with a smile on. Still early.

He cracks his neck and rolls his shoulders a few times before looking through the dresser for his pointe shoes. The pair he had on yesterday isn't doing it anymore and he wants to make sure the one he uses at the show are fitted correctly. No sign of them. He sighs and puts on a pair of sweats. A few steps take him to Jackson (and formerly his) room. The door is ajar so he doesn't bother knocking, besides there's music playing inside so he (or they) must be awake.

Jackson's awake alright. Danny stares, dumbfounded, because Jackson is dancing with an invisible partner, counting steps aloud. And not his usual style.

"Man, are you doing... a cha-cha?"

"Yeah so?" Jackson retorts, not missing a step. Something about the moves feels familiar...

"Are you doing a number inspired by Dirty Dancing?" The astonishment never ends.

"Yes and no. Stop messing up my beat, I have to get this down ASAP."

"OK, sure..." Danny shakes his head and throws him another disbelieving look before quickly locating his shoes in the closet. He heads back to his room, still not fully sure he actually saw that.

 

Stiles is rummaging through his drawers for a clean pair of compression shorts when Danny walks in. "Good morning, beautiful."

"Hey gorgeous," Danny replies automatically. His free hand grazes Stiles' shoulder as he walks back to the bed, drops his shoes on the floor and sits heavily. "I think Jackson has a death wish or something. Either that or he's gone mad. He's doing a cha-cha. Voluntarily."

"Some people actually like cha-cha, Danny." Stiles says, tugging on a t-shirt.

"Yeah, yeah... But I mean this week it's a free pass to do what we're best at and he does this? Plus we all know how this kind of style isn't the one that gets you the most votes..." He shrugs and goes back to the dresser. "Anyway, it's his funeral. Looked pretty good though, from what I saw," Danny adds after a second, feeling guilty for his lack of faith in his friend. He catches up to Stiles by getting dressed twice as fast.

Stiles slides on his shoes. "Who knows, they may love him for it."

Danny scoffs. "They always love him. I shouldn't even be worried."

"Let's get breakfast. We don't want to keep the All-Stars waiting."

The group routine is outstanding, that's not new, but Danny enjoys it more than usual. The high he gets from developing his number with Eliana stretches to his energy with the group.

There's also the opportunity to dance with Stiles, kinda, plus they organize the number as to pair the former partners back, so it's another chance to dance with Lydia. One more thing he won't admit to her face but he missed it.

 ...

Cora is clingy as hell, but Stiles doesn't mind. He knows she's missing her boyfriend and girlfriend, and getting to dance with her is a way to ground her. She wraps around him even after they are dismissed, hindering his attempts to pack his dance bag.

Danny laughs inappropriately and loudly when he walks in on Stiles being invaded by Cora. "My sister is a grasshopper, you're a regular chimpanzee. Any chance I get my boyfriend back, sans the brunette glued to him?"

Cora frowns, burying her face in Stiles' neck. Jennifer heads over and helps him pry Cora off gently. "C'mon, sweetie. I'm taking you out to dinner."

Stiles mouths a 'thank you' to Jen as they head out. "God bless that woman."

"I'd rather not think what we would be without mother hen," Danny says. He yanks Stiles close. "Especially when she helps me get you alone" he murmurs. He cups Stiles' cheek, kisses him lightly. "Is she going to be OK though?" he asks.

Stiles wraps his arms around Danny's neck. "She's gonna be fine. We have two more weeks, and then they'll be back for the finale. She's planning on moving out here as soon as the show wraps."

"It's crazy, when you think about it. So many lives changed, and not just by the competition." He hugs him more tightly and chuckles against his neck. "I mean, I'm moving my Hawaiian ass to New York because of it."

Stiles laughs, pressing a kiss to Danny's head. "I love you so much, I hope you know that."

"I do. I love you too." He pulls away, just enough to look into Stiles' eyes. "Up for another night out? Sean and Stef are feeling better, we could give this dinner with Stasia another go. Or maybe I could cook at my apartment."

"I'm game for anything." Stiles shrugs. "I know you want to see your sister, and I'm pretty sure Stasia will be happy to get out of the holding pattern she gets into between auditions."

"I’ll let you call Stasia, just tell her to meet us at the house and I'll check with Stef." He lets go and pulls out his phone, quickly firing a text to Stef.

The answer is immediate. Someone is still bored, apparently. From Stef: Sean wants to christen his kitchen. It's huge and way better than yours.

Danny looks up, chews on his bottom lip. "Would it be OK if we're eating at Sean's? He's a pretty good cook, believe it or not."

"I'm cool with it. It'll be nice to eat a good home-cooked meal again.” Stiles doesn’t look up from his phone. “We were spoiled while Erica was here."

 

To Stasia: Dinner with the BF, his little sister, and his friend>|?

From Stasia: I'm in. Send me the details.

 

To Stef: It's a go, be there soon. Tell Sean to keep it basic, he's doesn't need to go all experimental again.

From Stef: Tell him yourself bro.

To Stef: Make it for five. Stiles' ex is in town, she's coming too.

From Stef: Oh this is gonna be GOLD. I'm gonna have a talk with Sean. If there was ever a time to dig up the really good stories on you, it's now.

To Stef: I hate you.

From Stef: Not yet.

 

To Sean: We're going to be five tonight. I don't know what Stiles' friend eats or doesn't eat, can you keep it simple? 

From Sean: Sure man. Your BF's ex will be well taken care of. And entertained.

To Sean: Seriously? You're worse than Stef.

From Sean: I'm housing her man, she was bound to rub off on me.

 

Stiles shoots Stasia the details on the ride back to the house. "We should shower separately," he says as they walk upstairs. "Otherwise, we'll never make it to dinner."

"Agreed," Danny says, linking his fingers with Stiles' anyway. He pulls him in as soon as they reach the second floor, however he lets him go after a quick kiss. "See you in a few," he whispers, proud of his self-control. Considering his boyfriend's appeal, it's no small feat.

His shower is fast and efficient, his dressing up a little less. He ends up putting on his nicer black pants and a semi-casual charcoal dress shirt. Trying to counteract whatever damage his family and "friend" will do tonight with a killer outfit.

He waits for Stiles by his car, playing with his set of keys absentmindedly. Stiles walks out in his stud muffin t-shirt, which pulls snug across his chest and arms, under his grey vest. He's wearing his best jeans and chucks.

"Damn, babe, you look hot as hell." Stiles ogles him dramatically for a moment.

"So do you'" Danny replies. "I'm more than half-tempted to cancel this whole thing and stay inside with you."

He loops one arm around Stiles' waist, enjoys the feeling of the tight t-shirt and muscles underneath his hand. "But friends await, and some aren't here for long so..." Danny drops a kiss on his lips and releases him.

Stiles is practically vibrating on the ride over, knees bouncing, hands drumming on the dash. He isn't sure if it's nervous energy or excitement.

Danny concentrates on the ride, glancing at the GPS to familiarize himself with the route to Sean's place (definitely a more upscale neighborhood than his). After a few minutes the jittery movements on his right distract him enough. "What's the matter?" he asks, one hand creeping to Stiles' knee to immobilize it.

"I don't know. I think the whole 'when world's collide' aspect of tonight is getting to me." Stiles runs a hand through his hair, then hurries to fix it in the visor mirror. "I mean, it's always been me, you, and my friends, or me, you, and your friends. Never me, you, your friends and my friends." He shrugs. "I think this just feels like a major milestone."

"Kinda like having our parents meet each other," Danny says slowly. "Maybe worse, because it's not like I'm close to my mom or anything... I know what you mean," he adds, splaying his hand on Stiles' thigh. He can feel his own heartbeat accelerate. "It's important, you're right. But I'm sure it'll be fine." He pouts. "Embarrassing maybe but fine."

Stiles chuckles, leaning over the console to kiss Danny's cheek at a red light. "As long as you still love me in the morning, we'll be fine."

"As long as you're not ashamed of me in the morning..." Danny mumbles.

"I'll always love you, that I know." Stiles entwines their fingers, hands resting on the console.

"Good. Because you're stuck with me, babe." The rest of the ride is quiet, somewhat calmer.

They can do this.

...

Sean's building is breathtaking, not especially tall or massive but brand-new and with remarkable architecture. Not that Danny expected any less, knowing Sean's family, but it's still a surprise to see it. He parks the car in a visitor spot near the entrance and gets out slowly, looking around the parking lot. "I don't see Stasia's car, we must be early," he comments. He goes straight for Stiles' hand and hold it tightly as they pass the doorman (of course) and wait for the elevator.

Stasia comes swanning in right as the elevator arrives, elegant as ever in a black sheath dress and Louboutins. "I forgot how abysmal traffic is in LA," she says, breathless. She kisses Stiles' cheek, and then Danny's. "Thanks for the invite."

"No problem, Stas."

"You look gorgeous Stasia. Very elegant," Danny says, letting her and Stiles get into the elevator and pressing the 8th floor number. He looks up, mentally counting off the floors as they pass them. "I hope you're both hungry. Sean is somewhat of a wizard at cooking and also overzealous, there will be lots and it'll be delicious."

"Sounds amazing. I haven't had a home-cooked meal in ages,” Stasia says.

Stiles squeezes Danny's hand, drops a kiss to his temple. Danny smiles in return and squeezes back. "Same for us," he tells Stasia.

The smell coming from Sean's apartment leads them more than his indications. Danny knocks and a very put together Stef answers them. "Sean is almost done," she explains, in lieu of a greeting.

 

"Lemon risotto and chicken parmigiana! Gimme like 5 minutes!" they hear from the kitchen.

Danny raises an eyebrow and she sighs. "Hello, I'm Stef, nice to meet you, please come in," she recites, motioning for them to enter. She takes their coats as they walk inside, remembering all her manners.

"It's nice to meet you, Stef. I'm Stasia Antonov." She walks in ahead of the boys, looking around. "You have a lovely home."

"Thanks, but it's not mine, just Sean's den, as he likes to call it," Stef says, hanging the coats promptly. "I'm just crashing here until the bro wins it all. I'm a good luck charm to keep around."

Danny smirks and pulls her in for a hug. "As if you came here just for that." He ruffles her hair before letting her go and following her to the dining area. Sean pulled out all the stops and the table is gorgeous.

Stiles lets out a low whistle. "Wow, this looks amazing."

"Thank you," Sean says, finally joining them with a plate of olives, cherry tomatoes and assorted, thinly-sliced cold cuts. "I seem to have an inner Martha Stewart that was screaming to get out." He sets the plate in the center of the table and wipes his hands on his pants, discreetly. “Sean Prescott, pleasure," he says, extending a hand and his boyish smile to Stasia. "You must be Stiles' ex-girlfriend."

Danny groans and looks away. Being the son of a diplomat didn't teach Sean as much manners as one would hope.

Stasia shakes his hand, face schooled into her 'I found this on the bottom of my shoe but I must be polite to it' Ice Queen face. "Stasia Antonov. Actress. I don't define myself by my partners."

Sean blanches and his hand drops. "Oh. Yeah, sure," he whispers.

Stef walks behind him and no-so-subtly whacks him behind the head. Danny feels the urge to bury his face in his hands. This is off to a great start.

The Ice Queen look drops and a sunny smile reappears. "Now that that's taken care of... I love your apartment! And your table settings are to die for."

For just a moment, Stiles remembers why he fell for Stasia in the first place.

Sean stutters a thank you while Stef snickers. "Guys are easy to fluster," she states, pulling a chair and sitting without ceremony. She picks an olive and pops it in his mouth.

Danny follows her lead and sits down as well, maybe a little more warily, eyeing Stasia from the corner of his eye.

She's unpredictable.

And he tells himself again not to worry.

 

"Should I talk about Isaac?" he asks Stef with a small grin. 

Stiles pulls out Stasia's chair and they sit. "He has a point there, Mermaid." Stiles sips his water. Quietly, he adds to Stasia, "Ease it on the winds of change shit. They aren't used to you."

Stasia nods slightly. "Sorry, force of habit."

Stef pouts, grabs more olives and dumps them in her plate. "Pfff, I have one episode of fan-fever and they never let it go..."

Danny shrugs and offers the appetizers plate to Stasia. "You were a show by yourself lil sis, gotta deal with that." He looks up at Sean, who seems to get over his embarrassment and is even able to sit and smile like he hasn't been burned. He winks at him and Sean's smile turns more genuine. So taking the focus off of him helped. Good.

"I don't blame you for fangirling over Isaac," Stasia admits. "He is a beautiful man.”

Stef sighs happily. "He's a beautiful curly angel that dances like a god."

Danny rolls his eyes. "Here we go again." He gets a tongue sticking out at him for that one.

Stiles laughs. "They're right, Danny. Isaac is beautiful."

Danny sighs. "I'm dating the hottest guy on the show, and he's defending Isaac. I don't get it."

Sean pushes his chair and heads for the kitchen. "I'm getting the main, before Danny gets all moody."

Stiles leans over to kiss Danny's cheek. "You're the hottest, babe. Knock Isaac out of the water any day."

Danny smiles and kisses him back. "We are not doing this again. You are the hottest." He leans until his lips are right next to Stiles' ear. "I have the best ass according to you, I can own up to that one." He can feel both girls staring and pulls away quickly, a slight blush on his cheeks.

Stasia smirks, and punches Stiles in the arm. "Lucky bastard, getting such a sweetheart for a boyfriend."

Stiles laughs. "Yeah. Yeah, I am."

Stef sneers. "Ew."

Sean comes in, a plate in each hand and a smirk on his face. "They were being mushy again, weren't they," he says, depositing a plate in front of Stasia and another in front of Stef. He does an exaggerated waggle of the eyebrows and Danny ducks his head down.

"We are adorable," Stiles protests. "Super fricken' cute."

Stasia laughs. "You are that."

Stef digs in her plate, pushing the risotto around in little mountains. "Are we having a contest about who gets to be the most annoying, one after the other? Then Stasia it's your turn. What do you got?

Stasia thinks it over. "I don't know about annoying... I have some stories, though."

Stiles shakes his head violently.

 

Danny perks up, attacking his chicken. "Do share Stasia." As if the last time friends of Stiles told about him it all ended well... But curiosity did kill the cat.

"Okay, let's see... the best Stiles story..." She steeples her hands in front of her face. "Okay, this one time, he took me to an amusement park, thought it would be cute."

Stiles groans, dropping his head to Danny's shoulder.

"Who can guess how many shades of green he can turn after a turkey leg and three funnel cake?"

Danny wraps an arm around his boyfriend, shaking slightly with contained glee.

"Tell me he puked on you," Stef says quickly, leaning over plate.

Stasia laughs. "All over me. I loved those shoes."

Stiles groans, melting into his chair.

"Gross," Stef and Sean say simultaneously, one with a grin, the other with genuine disgust.

"There, there, don't be too upset.” Danny pats Stiles’ back. “It'll mess with your stomach," he adds with a smile matching Stef's.

Stiles elbows Danny sharply.

"Rude," Danny hisses, letting Stiles go. But leaving a kiss in his hair on his way anyway.

"Stas..."

Stasia smiles fondly. "I'm sorry, Stiles. I had to."

"No. No, you didn't."

"Yeah. I kinda did."

"I'm seeing Stiles in his natural state here, I need to know what I'm getting into," Danny says with a happy shrug. He eats a few more bites, and his own words float in his head. He doesn't really listen to the conversation anymore.

How is he, outside of here?

The same motor-boat, slightly doofus guy you love.

Really?

 

"Of course, this was after insisting we ride the Mauler seven times. Seven times, Stiles. My hair still hasn't recovered."

The laughter around the table brings Danny back to reality.

"We should go to Disneyland," Stef says, bouncing on her seat. "See how long Stiles can hold on. And make Danny be worse than him."

Sean smirks. "Danny doesn't do well with heights."

That one definitely gets Danny's attention. "Don't."

Stiles perks up. "I sense a story."

Sean leans back. "Well, it's a short one. Danny's mother was in charge of this theme park opening in Honolulu and brought all of us along."

More for publicity than out of the kindness of her heart. Danny mentally adds.

Sean waves his hand. "Anyway, we get to this tower and we have to do this photo-op. It's that kind of ride that blasts up and stays high for a while, you know. So we get on it, it fires up, Danny screeches and then passes out. They had to scrap the pictures because he didn't wake up until the medic got him out of the ride."

Stiles squeezes Danny's knee in support.

"Stiles fainted because he walked into the wrong dressing room once," Stasia says with a smirk.

Danny tangles his fingers with Stiles' in gratitude but still stares, perplexed. "What did you see that was that bad?"He lights up. "Or was it that good?"

"I was thirteen," Stiles mumbles.

"It was the prima ballerina's dressing room," Stasia explains.

"Star-struck, literally, or too much skin too soon?"

"The second one," Stiles admits reluctantly.

Danny chuckles, remembering their unashamed dressing habits on the show. "You definitely got over it."

"Well, duh." Stiles laughs. "It was just my first time seeing a naked woman in real life."

"That has yet to happen to me, come to think of it. But I'm fine if it never does." He glances at his sister, who's very focused on her meal. "OK maybe that's a little TMI for Stef," he says with a frown. "Stasia, how did that audition go?"

"It felt really good," Stas says. "I hope it went well... I should hear about call backs next week or the week after."

"You're staying in town for a while then? Are you coming to the show? It's going to be a great one..." Danny says, with a quick, fond look to Stef. His number is always at the back of his mind, and he can't wait for his inspiration to see it.

"I hope so. Getting tickets is gonna be difficult, though, this close to the end."

"I hope you can make it, Stas. It's gonna be one hell of a show."

Danny thinks for a second. "Let me know if you can't get in. I might have a way," he says softly. Asking or favors is not something he likes to do but Stiles needs his friends around him, and for that reason he's willing to do it.

"Definitely."

 

Conversation shifts to the food, everyone marveling over Sean's cooking. Sean is boasting at the success of his meal, bringing seconds for Danny and Stiles and a surprisingly ravenous Stef.

"Dessert is store bought, I suck at baking. Traditional cheesecake with raspberry coulis in the living room. I also have this coffee machine that makes pretty much everything, tell me what you guys want."

Everyone submits their order and conversation resumes.

"So, what are you planning to do after the show," Stasia asks Danny.

Danny's palms start to sweat. Future, plans, they seem clear and easy, alone with Stiles. Putting it out there, in front of everyone, is another step. Milestone, Stiles said. It really is, and an official one too. "I still have another year at UCLA to get my degree," he says softly. "I really want to finish it, even if I win.”

Stef chuckles. "Yeah you do. Mom will throw such a hissy fit if you abandon it, and I'll have a front row seat. Do not want."

Danny nods but doesn't add anything. His hand itches to reach for Stiles, so close on the couch.

Stiles reaches for Danny's hand.

"And you, Stiles? Juilliard?"

"Or Carnegie Mellon or UCBerkley or UCLA," Stiles adds. "It depends on where the money comes in."

"Juilliard," Danny says firmly, squeezing Stiles' hand with relief. "They will never pass you up, not after your performances on the show."

Stiles smiles fondly at Danny.

"You're a shoo-in, Stiles," Stas says quietly.

"See?" Danny says, smiling back. "I'm not the only one who thinks so." He looks at Stasia. "I don't know what it'll take for him to fully believe it."

"I'll believe it if I get a letter of acceptance."

“God, when, Stiles, not if."

Sean comes back, carrying a tray of steaming cups, and distributes them. "Juilliard? Isn't that in New York?" he wonders, handing Danny his cappucino.

"Yeah."

"Kinda far," Sean comments, face unreadable.

"It'll be worth it, for him to study at Juilliard," Stasia says without pause. “A dream come true, really.”

"Oh, I'm not questioning that," Sean says, sitting down and sipping his cup. He eyes Danny over the rim, eyebrows raised. Danny ignores him.

"We'll be fine," Stiles says, squeezing Danny's hand. Okay, so he has his worries. Three thousand miles and a three hour time difference will suck, as will working around two packed schedules. But it'll be worth it. They'll be fine.

"The last year doesn't look so bad. There are internships and such, but it'll be more manageable, kind of like a regular 9 to 5 schedule." Danny can imagine, studying on the plane, just so he can sneak in a weekend with Stiles. For once he's glad he's got money to spare. "We'll make it," he says with a small smile.

"I'm hoping to get an absentee roommate," Stiles says with a grin. He leans into Danny's side. "That way we'll have weekends for the two of us."

Danny loops his arm around Stiles and his smile widens. Like-minded, he thinks.

"Aaaand they're back at it." Sean says with an eyeroll, earning a chuckle from everyone but the couple.

Stiles sinks into the couch, yawns. "Don't judge."

"We aren't judging, baby," Stasia says softly, her smile fond. "I'm glad you're so happy."

"So happy."

Sean smirks and gets up. "Maybe I'm the tiniest bit jealous," he says, gathering the empty plates and cups.

 

Stiles locks up in Danny's arms, mind racing.

Does Sean still love Danny? They'll be in LA together.

Danny trails his fingers softly on Stiles' arm. The silence in the room is slightly awkward, only bothered by the clattering of the dishes being piled up.

"You're not even 19 yet, Sean, give it time. You'll find someone too. Besides you and I both know Hawaii isn't that great to meet someone. But LA will be much different."

"Maybe," Sean says, with a somewhat sad smile. He disappears in the kitchen in a flash.

"So, Stasia, tell us about your new man," Stiles says quickly. Anything to change the subject.

"Andrew is a lawyer," Stasia says, her smile relaxed. "He works on custody cases and adoptions, mostly. Does a lot of pro bono work. He lives in New York, but he has an apartment under reno in Malibu near his parents."

"Jackpot." Stef interjects. "Is he Daredevil? He sounds like him, only like, richer."

Stasia laughs. "No, he isn't Daredevil. But he is really great. Makes me happy."

"He sounds a little old for you, Stas," Stiles can't help but say.

"You forget that I'm two years older than you, babe." Stasia laughs. "It isn't that big of a gap between me and my lawyer prodigy."

"You and prodigies," Stiles says with a laugh.

"If she dated you she has to have a thing for them," Danny comments. "You seem to pick them well, Stasia. He sounds fantastic."

Stef makes a face. "If he's not a superhero, then I hope he isn't one of those stuck-up, boring lawyer guys." She slides further down the couch, lazily, but Danny's glare makes her push herself back into a proper position. "So...'" she says, "how does he like dating an actress? Does he get like jealous of your partners?"

"He's fine with it. We both know it's just work, and we make sure to make time for one another," Stasia explains.

"Still, weird," Stef mumbles, one hand playing with her hair. "I can't imagine how you can kiss someone without feeling something, and then seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend do that to with someone else..." She frowns and doesn't say any more.

 

Sean finally emerges back from the kitchen and returns to his seat. "Sadly, little grasshopper, you'll learn that many people can kiss and even do more without any emotion."

"And platonic kissing is a big thing in the circles I travel," Stasia says with a laugh. "Pecks and whatever, between friends. Very Broadway."

"There's that, and also when you're in character, it's not really you. Like when I'm dancing a romantic number with a girl," Danny adds.

Stef nods thoughtfully.

"All true," Sean says, looking away from everyone. "You can act it but it doesn't mean the same thing then, even if it looks real. Depends on how good of an actor you are."

Danny stares at him, brow furrowed. Sean's tone is not the carefree one he usually has, and the seriousness of it... Let's just say it's not a worry he wants to have right now. Who's an actor now? You? He wants to ask him.

 

...

 

From Cora: Can you come home?

To Cora: What's wrong?

From Cora: I fell getting out of the shower, everyone else is out, I need Danny to drive me to the hospital. I don't think I'm broken, but I want to make sure.

To Cora: I'm on my way.

"We need to go home," Stiles says, springing out of his seat and grabbing his coat.

"Everything OK?" Stef asks, scrambling to get up.

Without thinking, Danny grabs Stiles' phone and reads the texts. The way he ran out is reason enough to do it. His eyes widen as he takes in what happened. "Yeah, no, we have to go. Cora might be hurt, we have to check on her," he says rapidly, getting up as well.

"Oh shit," Stef runs out of the room to get the guys' coats.

Danny looks around for his own phone, finding it on the dinner table. "Thank you for the dinner Sean, it was great," he says over his shoulder. "Sorry to drop you all like this."

Sean clears his throat. "It's fine, don't worry. We'll see you after the show anyway, just make sure Cora's OK."

"We will."

Chapter Text

They barrel home as quickly as possible. Stiles gets Cora on the phone, talking to her to keep her calm. "We're almost home, you're gonna be okay."

Cora lets out a pitiful little moan of pain. "Stiles, what if I'm broken? What if I can't dance?"

"They aren't gonna make you drop. It's all gonna be fine. Just trust me, you're gonna be great."

 

Stiles takes the stairs two at a time as soon as they get inside, bursting into her bathroom without pause. Cora has pulled herself to sit against the vanity, her robe clutched shut around her.

"Oh thank fuck." Her eyes flutter. "Thank god."

Danny runs to Cora's dresser, and in 30 seconds flat gathers sweatpants, a loose t-shirt, socks and the first pair of shoes he can find. He's right behind Stiles. "Here," he says, handing Stiles the clothes but his eyes staying on Cora, "got you something easy to put on. We'll grab your purse and phone on the way out. What happened? Where does it hurt?" He's flustered and more panicked that he'd like.

Stay in control. They need at least one to be calm.

"I was trying to shave my legs," Cora explains, shaky. "I knocked a bottle of body wash over, and I slipped on it when I tried to get out of the shower."

Stiles helps Cora into her clothes as gently as possible.

"I hit my forehead on the counter, twisted my ankle, and landed on my hip." Cora winces and Stiles mumbles his apologies. "Pretty much the entire right side of my body hurts."

Danny runs a hand through his hair. It doesn't sound that bad but between what happened from an outside perspective and how it feels for Cora, there's a whole world of bad news and possibilities. "OK, we should just get you as quickly and gently as possible to the hospital, it's the safest thing to do. Come here."

Delicately, he puts his arm around her waist and gets her on her feet, Stiles looming near and keeping her steady. Her mouth is pressed into a thin line and she valiantly takes a few limping steps forward, leaning heavily on Danny. Despite barely putting any weight on her right foot, her face shows clear signs of pain and she lets out a frustrated cry of pain before they're even out of the room.

Danny stops her and sighs. "Stiles, grabs her stuff, please," he says before leaning, sliding his left arm under Cora's knees and lifting her bridal-style. "This will be quicker and less painful," he says softly. He tries to give her a smile and heads for the stairs.

Stiles grabs her bag, checking to make sure he has her phone and wallet for legal purposes. He throws in her night shirt and her retainer case, should she have to spend the night. He follows them downstairs, opening doors and helping Danny settle her in the backseat, her head in Stiles' lap. "Let's go."

 

St-Lawrence is the nearest hospital, small but thankfully not that busy at the time they arrive. Danny lets Stiles head in first, with Cora's identification, while he helps her out of the car.

Stiles comes out a mere minute later, with a nurse and, most importantly, a wheelchair.

They settle Cora in, and Danny tries not to comment on her stressed out face and teary eyes. Instead, he simply caresses her hair very gently as they wait for the doctor to get to her.

"Text Erica and Boyd," Cora says after a few minutes. "Tell them I slipped in the shower and am at the hospital, not to call, and that you'll update them later." She pauses. "And that I love them."

"Will do, Cor." Stiles taps out the text as quickly as possible.

From Erica: Tell my baby I love her too and you had better keep me fucking updated, Stilinski.

From Boyd: Barely kept Erica from calling. You owe me one. Kiss her for me.

Stiles drops a kiss to the top of Cora's head (the only safe spot, it seems). "That was from Boyd. And Erica said she loves you too."

Danny paces in front of the row of chairs, the wait and feeling of being useless stuttering inside.

"Should I call Laura? Or your family? I mean, is it necessary? Do you want me to?" Stiles asks.

Wow, thank God Stiles has a better grip on himself than you.

He twitches and, looking up, catches sight of a doctor heading their way. "Finally," he grumbles.

"Wait until we find out what's wrong," Cora says quickly. "Boyd and Erica are in the area, Laura's in Chicago. No need for her to fly in before we know anything."

 

The doctor gives a general first look and sends Cora off to be triaged, a nurse named Melissa taking her back. "Can either of you fill out the paperwork?"

Stiles raises a hand. "I can."

He hands him the clipboard and a pen, and Stiles settles in with the "Emergency Info" file on Cora's phone. (Laura's doing, Stiles is sure. He'll thank her later.)

 

From Jen: Still out, dinner must be going well... :D You coming back to the house tonight?

To Jen: Yeah, we are. Don't freak out but we're at the hospital now. Cora hurt herself, we don't know how bad yet. We'll be back as soon as we can, just in case someone asks about us.

From Jen: Shit OK, sure. Hug Cora for me and take care of her.

To Jen: Will do.

Danny puts his phone away and sinks down in the uncomfortable plastic chair. "This is bad Stiles. So close to the end? Fucking worst luck."

"She'll be fine," Stiles says fiercely, checking boxes like his life depends on it. "She's a fighter, she'll make it through." 

"I know, she's tough as nails, in the best way. But what if they don't clear her for dancing?" Danny says. His hands are compulsively clenched, he needs to actively think about them to make them relax again. He leans back, eyes closed but features still tight with worry. "There are no free passes at this point."

Stiles' hands are shaking, and he takes a moment to still them. He has to finish this paperwork. "She has to clear. She just has to." He finishes filling out as much of the paperwork as he can and gives the clipboard back to the lady at the desk. She pats his hand sympathetically when she takes it.

"I'm sure your girlfriend is going to be just fine, dear."

He doesn't have the heart to correct her.

 

As soon as Stiles comes back to the waiting area, Danny grabs his hand and doesn't let go, almost painfully so at times, until Cora is wheeled out. He doesn't have the guts to try to decipher her expression.

"No concussion. Major bruising on my hip. Banged-up side and leg." Cora inhales sharply. "I sprained my ankle. Grade II. I can't even put weight on it for two or three weeks."

Stiles' heart drops.

"Guys, I'm off the show."

Danny's stomach lurches and he has to swallow the feeling down a couple of times before he can speak. "Cora, fuck..." It's stupid, doesn't offer any comfort but what else is there to say, really? So he hugs her awkwardly, encumbered by the chair, and kisses her lightly on the temple.

Stiles hugs her gently, and kisses the top of her head.

"I need to call them, but I will probably move in with Boyd and Erica sooner than later," Cora says softly. Her voice is rough, and Stiles can tell she's holding back tears.

"I'm so sorry, Cora,” Stiles whispers. Cora buries her face in his neck, the tears flowing freely. "So sorry, sweetheart."

Danny walks away, fighting off his own emotions. "So fucking unfair, damn it," he mumbles. Pacing back and forth again for a few minutes, enough time to organize his thoughts somewhat and plan a little.

He takes a deep breath and walks back to Stiles and Cora. "OK, we're taking you home Cora. We'll make sure you're taken care of tonight, that you can rest. Tomorrow we'll worry about telling the producers and shit."

"Thank you," she mumbles. 

"Anytime."

 

They swing by the pharmacy to pick up her pain meds and head back to the house. Practically everyone has returned from date night or whatever, and they swarm the car.

 It's close to midnight but everyone is hyped, in a different way. Danny and Stiles explain the gist of the situation to them and makes them back off a little as they help Cora out of the car.

Jackson is actually the quietest, hovering around Lydia and trying to calm her down.

"I'm going to sue their asses off! Those bathrooms are a danger and this would have never happen if they were set up properly!"

"Let her get back inside before going all public outrage, OK?" And he pulls her gently aside.

Scott and Morrell are more helpful, helping them carry Cora's things and opening doors for the trio, walking precariously. They make their way to Cora's room, finding Jennifer putting the finishing touches to her clean-up mission. The bathroom is tidied up, the bed open and whatever Cora might need during the night is all set up on her nightstand, within easy reach.

"Th-thank you, Jen." Cora looks like she's about to cry, a combination of pain, exhaustion, and amazement that she's so loved.

They get her into bed and elevate her ankle, icing it per the doctor's instructions. "Someone needs to stay with her tonight, to make sure she doesn't hurt herself further in her sleep," Jen says. “To help with her ice cycle as well.”

"I will," Morell says from the doorway. "I'm first aid trained, so it makes the most sense."

Cora is starting to drift already, her meds kicking in.

"Thank you, Marin," Stiles says.

She nods and sits on the empty side of Cora's bed.

 

The others stay for a few minutes, in a protective circle around Cora's bed, until she fully passes out from the medication's effect (among other things). They regroup instinctively in the hallway once she's asleep. The adrenaline is wearing off but they're still jittery. 

"This is surreal," Scott says. "I can't believe she'll have to go."

Danny shakes his head but can't find a reply. He doesn't really have to, Stiles is already hugging him and he has to deal with a finally breaking down Jennifer, who pulls him to her fiercely. Their little family stands there for a moment, hugging it out. Eventually, they drift apart to their separate rooms.

Stiles doesn't say anything as he gets ready for bed, mind whirling over Cora.

Danny fiddles with his phone while lying in bed, going over old texts, contacts. He linger over Laura's number. It's almost 3 am for her. Tomorrow, too early for any call or text.  Still no point in letting her know right now, she'll have to wait to learn that her sister's dream is over. Fuck, this sucks. He sighs and puts it on the nightstand, looking up as Stiles, miserable, walks out of the bathroom.

"Come here," he says softly, feeling the way Stiles looks.

Stiles curls up in Danny's arms, face pressed to his neck. "This sucks."

Danny hooks his chin on Stiles' head and wraps his arms as tightly as he can around him. "Read my mind." He starts doing his usual random pattern over Stiles' back, the movement calming them both (hopefully). "At least she's not badly injured. It's nothing that will make her stop dancing forever," he says after a while.

"That's true." Stiles yawns. "I'm so bummed."

"I know you wanted us four in the finale. She could have won too." The warm and heavy weight of Stiles, coupled with the weight of the evening as a whole, takes its toll on Danny. He sighs, shakily. "We never know what's next here."

"The joys of competition," Stiles drawls sleepily. He snuggles impossibly closer. "At least we have each other."

"Until the end," Danny mumbles, face smushed in Stiles' hair. "And after it too."

"God, I love you so much," Stiles whispers into Danny's skin.

"I love you too," Danny says.

And that's all that matters, in the end. Cora might be out but she still has Erica and Boyd. Isn't that more important than a spot on a TV show, that might amount to nothing?

Maybe.

Eventually Danny' thoughts die down and sleep takes him.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning dawns, and Stiles is reluctant to leave the safe warmth of Danny's arms. Nature calls, however, so Stiles rolls out of bed and into the bathroom. He hops into the shower, hoping to wash away some of the tension last night built up in his shoulders. He's just like his dad, carrying his stress in his shoulders, like the world is on his back.

There are a few blissful seconds, after the sound of the shower has woken him up, during which Danny's mind makes the leap from shower to naked Stiles to him joining him to sex in the morning to perfect wake-up routine. They are few, because he soon opens his eyes and remembers last night. Now shower means senseless injury, and someone leaving way too soon.

He kicks the cover away, frustrated and worried, and head for the bathroom, kicking his boxers down on the way. He sneaks into the shower stall, plasters himself against Stiles' back with a grateful sigh, arms wound tight around his waist.

Stiles leans back against Danny with a sigh. "Good morning, beautiful. Sleep well?"

"Good morning gorgeous," Danny replies, his mouth an inch from his neck. "I slept OK, considering." His fingers thread through the water cascading on them, running softly over Stiles' abs. "I think I forgot about what happened long enough to rest. It still sucks, now that I'm awake."

"I know what you mean." Stiles lets himself relax for a few minutes, luxuriating in Danny's touch. He moves eventually, lathering up a washcloth and washing Danny quickly.

Danny smiles and lets him wash him before returning the favor. He lingers on Stiles' shoulders once he's done dropping the washcloth and massaging him through the lather. "You'll be careful, right? With your knee?" he says, his voice low. "I can't... I don't want the same thing to happen to you." They came too close once already.

Stiles groans quietly as Danny works out some of the tension in his shoulders. "Of course I am. And Adam has made a point of checking in on me, since it's been such an issue."

"Good." He runs one hand down, to Stiles' waist, and unhooks the shower head with the other, rinsing them both. A little domestic thing, among the many he loves sharing with Stiles.

They get out and dry off quickly, in comfortable silence. Danny breaks it first. "I... I don't like talking about this but if you get eliminated, will you go home right then?"

"I don't think so. I mean, it would only be to come back in a week or two." Stiles shrugs. "I could get a hotel room, or crash with Boyd, Erica, or Cora."

Danny clears his throat and puts his t-shirt on, pulling it down swiftly. "Or... I could give you a key to my apartment." he says, glancing at Stiles. He smiles a little. "You know, so you don't bother the lovebirds." And because my place is mine without you in it. Not anymore.

Something flutters in Stiles' chest, and his smile is soft, vulnerable. "I would like that."

Danny's own smile grows and he walks up to his boyfriend, stealing a kiss before reaching for his hand. "Good. Not that it will come to that. You and me to the end, right?"

Stiles squeezes Danny's hand. "You and me."

 

They separate to get dressed, Stiles hurrying into a pair of shorts and a tank top. When they get downstairs, everyone else is up, Cora settled on the couch with an ottoman keeping her ankle up, Marin by her side. Jackson, Lydia and Scott are sitting on the floor with cups of coffee and plates of toast around them, while Jennifer is pacing, in an animated conversation on the phone. "Sure, send the medic but the assessment will be the same. Look, I know it's late notice but this is surely not the first time this has happened, you must have some sort of way to handle this quickly." There is a silence and she nods, her face easing up a little. "OK, this is manageable. Thank you Talia." She hangs up with a sigh and sits next to Cora.

"They want you to come in, record a little parting segment with you. They'll do a montage of your journey on the show to present Tuesday. But if you want, you can go and rest at Erica and Boyd's place starting tomorrow."

"I'll do the goodbye monologue," Cora says dryly. "As long as I get to say what I want and get the fuck out of there. I don't need more reminders."

Stiles perches on the arm of her chair, and she takes his hand as soon as he's settled. She leans her head against him.

"I just want to go home," Cora whispers. "I want my people."

Stiles kisses the top of her head. "I know."

Danny gives Jen a quick hug. "Thank you for taking care of this," he whispers.

She returns the hug, a sad smile on her face as she looks at Cora. "She shouldn't have to deal with the administrative stuff, she has enough on her mind as it is."

He nods, letting her go slowly. "We will have to call Laura soon."

Jen frowns. "That's another sucky phone call to make. God Danny, this is much worse than an elimination. She wanted it so bad, she really could have made it to the end and now it's just disappointment and... She doesn't deserve any of this." She shrugs helplessly. "At least she has Erica and Boyd."

"And all of us until she can be with them," Danny adds. He gives her one last squeeze before going into the kitchen to fix some breakfast for Stiles and him, quickly coming back to the living room with it. He drops it on the coffee table and sits on the floor, at Cora's feet. "What do you want to do, until we have to go in? Grumpy Cat gets first choice today," he says, in as much a lighthearted tone he can make it.

"I still can't believe they're making us work Saturdays," Jackson grumbles.

Lydia elbows him sharply. "With so many numbers it only makes sense to work more hours. And we still have tomorrow off. Stop complaining."

"What do you say, Cor?"

She bites her lip. "Kim Possible and ice cream for breakfast?"

"Actual twelve years old Cora Hale, ladies and gentleman," Scott announces, bouncing to his feet and darting for the kitchen to avoid getting smacked.

Danny chuckles and grabs the remote. "Maybe but the whole point of being adult is to actually get to do the stuff your parents wouldn't let you when you were twelve." He goes through the Netflix list quickly, finds the Disney show and starts the first one.

He leans back until his head rests against Stiles' dangling legs and tunes out Jackson's bitching ("It's such a girlie show and I never got it. Ow. Lydia!") Jackson only shut up once Scott comes back with an array of spoons in one hand and four different cartons of ice cream in his arms. Shoving a spoonful of caramel pecan ice cream down his throat is very efficient.

It's nice, everyone just... existing. Stiles is struck by the realization of how young they all are-- Jennifer included. They're all under thirty, Stiles and Cora and Scott and Danny under twenty-one. 

Ice cream and Kim Possible indeed. It's pretty freaking awesome.

 

11 rolls around way too soon. They're on their 9th episode, empty containers and lounging dancers littering the floor when the doorbell rings. The vans are here. They grow serious at once. Danny switching the TV off and picking up their stuff while Scott and Stiles help Cora to her feet and get her outside. Once she's safely settled, they all spread around to gather their things. They can't help dragging their feet because as much as they love dancing, the program of the day is not enticing.

Group number all day, to rearrange the choreography without Cora.

The ride to the studio is quiet. Everyone fits in one van now, but no one wants to speak. Talia and Adam are waiting for them once they arrive, with somber faces, Talia holding her perpetual clipboard. She hushes the group inside and Adam heads for the van with crutches for Cora.

"We'll be filming you in the studio, on the stage and then do a confession cam segment. We'll try not to make you walk too much, tell us if you're in pain," Talia announces, going over her papers instead of looking at Cora.

Which might be a good thing for her, considering Cora has daggers as sharp as her wit in her eyes at the moment. "Sure," she replies through gritted teeth.

"After they're done with rehearsal we'll do a little part with the group, and another with Stiles, since you guys were partners for so long."

"Sure," Cora repeats, her voice trembling slightly. Sucks sucks sucks, she thinks over and over again.

Stiles hangs back as the others head for the studio. He drops a kiss on Cora's temple and slides her phone into her pocket. "Call your sister when you have a break," he says quietly. "She needs to know."

She nods, mouth into a thin line, and grabs the crutches with determination."Let's get this shit done, shall we?" she says, and with quick hobbling steps makes her way inside.

Talia and Adam follows her without a word.

 

They get to work as soon as everyone is warmed up, rearranging the group number with seven instead of eight. Almost half of the number has to be reworked completely, since they can't partner evenly anymore. It's hard work and it sucks.

Stiles forces himself to concentrate, slipping into his dance headspace. He can't let this psyche him out. He can't.

He's gonna win this for Cora.

 

Danny pushes through the group number, shielding himself from his thoughts. Occasionally Cora pops around, stops in the entrance of the studio where they rehearse, a cameraman on her tail and a valiant look on her face. She holds it in a little, despite her frankness.

Later, when they test the number on the stage, she's there again, looking longingly at them. She ends up pushing the cameraman away with a glare when he spends too long getting a close-up of her face.

When they head to the lounge room for lunch, they find here curled up on a chair in the corner, clutching her phone and talking softly to Laura. Tears are threatening to fall down her face at any second.

She looks up when they walk in and makes grabby hands at Stiles. He walks over and sits on the floor beside her, against the wall and Cora slides into his lap, still talking to Laura.

Danny follows the rest of the group to the buffet table, giving the former partners some time alone. They all fix their plates in heavy silence. Danny makes a second, bigger one and brings it to Cora and Stiles to share.

He pulls a chair close and briefly strokes Cora's hair before biting into his sandwich. 

"Thanks, babe," Stiles says and Cora murmurs a thank you of her own, digging into the fruit salad.

Danny mouths a you're welcome to them both and eats silently, waiting for Cora to finish her call. Lydia comes around with bottles of water for everyone, he takes one gratefully, gulping half of its contents down at once.

Cora finally closes her phone, very slowly, after a whispered goodbye to Laura. Danny exchanges a look with Stiles before speaking. "How is she?" he asks. The corresponding "How are you?" is implied enough.

"She's worried, of course. Wanted to get on the next plane into town to take care of me, but I talked her out of it. Erica and Boyd have me covered, and she's flying in with everyone else the Wednesday before the finale."

"It's probably for the best," Danny comments. "I understand her worry though." He's lucky enough to have Stef close these days. He couldn't imagine making this call to his sister. She might see him getting eliminated live, but it's less troubling than having to drop off and telling while she's miles away. "Erica and Boyd will treat you like a princess, I have no doubt. She must know that you'll be OK, more than that, with them."

"She knows that, mentally, but she's a worrier. With it being just the two of us, we're both over protective."

Danny thinks of his sister, of his more than absent mother. Of his dad that was never there to begin with, of Stef's dad that left before she was even born. That shaped his family tie to her as well. "I can relate," he simply says. He can't help himself, and brushes his hand over her hair a few times. "We all worry but we get to do something about it, for you, and I bet she wishes she could do the same."

"We love you, little Grumpy Cat."

Cora half-smiles, more than they've gotten out of her since the fall. "Love you too, bitch."

 

They sit together until lunch is over and they have to get back to work. 

"I'll be fine, Stiles. You don't have to worry about me."

Stiles kisses her temple. "I know. I worry anyway."

They work at the number for another hour or so, until it feels like they have a reasonable grip on the updated choreography. By then the producers are done with Cora, except for the group segments. They bring her at the edge of the stage and she slowly walks up to them, unsteady on her crutches. She looks pissed off and tired but compliant to their charade. Her face trembles and falls by the time she reaches the group that assembled wordlessly while she was walking.

Stiles reaches out to steady her without thinking, just wanting to keep her up. She smiles tiredly despite everything, and Stiles knows she's gonna be okay in the long run. Supported by Stiles, Cora is engulfed in a fierce hug, words of comfort whispered by all of them.

Danny makes a point of shielding Cora completely from the cameras, so they can't have a good shot. He smiles a little, and brushes his lips on her hair.

"Thank you," she whispers, tears finally falling. "I love you guys."

"We love you too," Jen says.

"So much," Scott adds, squeezing her hand.

Stiles just holds her tighter, unwilling to let go.

Jackson pulls away first and Talia takes the opportunity to come closer. "We'd like a few minutes with Stiles and Cora alone," she says quickly. The cameraman is on her heels, adjusting his lens.

"No," Jackson says firmly, before anyone else. "We're tired, this day was hard on everyone, so just no. You have enough, it's time for us to go back to the house, and for Cora to get home."

Stiles looks to Cora, who looks like she's about to punch Talia in the throat. "Listen," Cora says bluntly. "I am fucking injured. It fucking sucks. I fucking hate that I have to fucking leave. And I am fucking done pandering to your fucking ratings. Now leave me the fucking fuck alone, I fulfilled my fucking end of the motherfucking bargain."

Stiles can't help his sharp, pained laugh. That's one way to make sure a take never makes the air.

Jackson smirks. "The girl has spoken. Quite clearly I think. We're done here."

Talia's eyes narrow and she nods, the frustration evident on her face. The cameraman doesn't need to be told so, he walks away quietly, his camera dangling by his side.

Danny sends Jackson a grateful look. He has never been more proud of his friend.

"Let's just go home, OK?" he says, wrapping one arm around Cora's waist and grabbing Stiles' hand.

Cora leans against Danny, letting him take some of her weight. "Home sounds pretty fucking fantastic right about now."

 

There is a cherry red convertible in the driveway when they pull up to the house, and the porch lights are on. Jackson insists on going in first, for "security's sake." He is quickly shoved aside by a blur with blonde hair who rushes for Cora. Erica wraps her arms around Cora the second Stiles steps back, holding her close. Cora drops her clutches and clings to her girlfriend, sobbing into her neck. "I'm so sorry, baby girl. So sorry."

Boyd hangs back in the entryway to the living room, face unreadable.

Scott walks up to Boyd, pulling him into a friendly and heartfelt hug, which Boyd returns absently. "It's good to see you man," he says with a lopsided smile. He runs his hand through his hair and takes a step back. "Wish it would have been under better circumstances," he adds, gesturing awkwardly in Cora's direction.

The rest of the group waddles inside quietly, murmuring a hello to Erica on their way but otherwise not disturbing the embraced girls.

Once everyone is inside and the front door is closed and dead bolted, Boyd wraps both girls in a tight embrace, holding them both as close as possible.

"I missed you so much," Cora sniffles, "but I didn't want our reunion to be like this."

Erica kisses her. "I love you, sprained or not, winner or not."

Stiles carries Cora's bags upstairs to her room, taking a few moments to remake the bed and straighten things up for her and her people.

Danny brings his stuff and Stiles' to their room, dropping the bags unceremoniously on the floor before heading back downstairs. He pauses on his way, as he passes Cora's room, to look fondly at Stiles, hard at work for his friend.

 

Back in the living room, they all leave the trio to reunite properly, Scott, Marin, Jackson and Lydia discussing dinner options in a low tone. Danny crashes on the couch and toes his shoes off. He chimes in the conversation to suggest Chinese takeout, because obviously no one is in a cooking mood. The suggestion is well-received.

Stiles finishes in Cora's room and heads downstairs. He finds Danny on the loveseat and sits beside him, head on his shoulder. "I'm glad they came. She needs them."

Danny leans his head on Stiles and sighs. "Yeah. At least she doesn't leave this competition empty-handed. She got them out of this whole thing."

"And as soon as she heals, she'll have her pick of crews around here, not to mention music video contracts." Stiles yawns, snuggling even closer to Danny's side. "The show is great publicity."

"That's true," Danny says. He leans back, letting Stiles crowd him as much as he can. Around them the others are settling in as well, Cora, Erica and Boyd commandeering the couch, still clutching to each other in any way they can find.

Lydia and Jackson huddle on the other loveseat, looking at Cora and her people with more fondness than Danny has ever witnessed. Scott is lounging in a chair and texting rapidly. Isaac or Allison, given the smile he sports.

Jennifer and Marin set a makeshift table in the living room before sitting down, Marin by Cora's side, ever the nurse, Jennifer on the ground at Danny's feet.

The whole group finding solace and care with each other. Any thought about the competition is miles away. Stiles looks around the room and it hits him that's he's gonna miss this. He's gonna miss crazy breakfasts and arguing over movies and... Jackson. He's gonna miss Jackson, and isn't that a revelation.They'll have to stay in touch, everyone from this little island of misfit toys. Then again, with Lydia and Jennifer at the helm, they probably won't have any other choice.

Danny feels... content. Somewhat. This moment, right now, is pretty nice. "I love you, you know?" Danny whispers, running a hand in Stiles' hair. "I don't think I've told you today."

"I know," Stiles practically purrs. He loves having his hair played with. "I love you too."

Danny grins. "Good to know, I wasn't sure," he jokes. 

The food finally arrives and he acts greedy, for once, letting Scott brings him and Stiles a plate. He doesn't want to let go of his boyfriend, not even for lo mein.

"Thanks." Stiles practically inhales his sesame chicken, too hungry to consider things like manners and pacing.

Danny struggles with a bunch of noodles stuck together for a minute before dropping the chopsticks and pulling away from Stiles to grab a fork. He's definitely had better quality Chinese than this one. He turns to tell Stiles so, but he laughs at the sight of him instead. "Here," he says, wiping a smudge of sauce from his cheek with his thumb. "You're starting to look like a toddler who got fed against his will."

Stiles blushes. "I was hungry," he protests weakly.

Danny turns and kisses him, long and sweet. He licks the ginger taste from his lips as he pulls back, still smiling. "It's fine," he says with a laugh, before picking up his fork again. "Kinda adorable."

Stiles licks his lips absently, blinking a few times to get his brain back online. "Good?" He returns to his food, ready to just finish and crash.

"All good," Danny replies, voice very low. He copies Stiles and scarfs down the remaining noodles, albeit making less of a mess than his boyfriend.

 

Stiles takes his plate to the sink as soon as it is empty and heads for their room and the shower.

Danny makes a round to collect empty plates after he's done, feeling a little guilty for his laziness of the evening. Cora is buried between her boyfriend and girlfriend, wearing a soft and tired smile. She looks better, happier. He gives her a warm smile before heading upstairs, to join the person that makes him have a look like hers on his face.

Stiles stands under the spray, letting the water pound away at the muscles in his back and shoulders. Somehow, a shower always makes him feel better. Like he's starting fresh.

The sound of the shower greets Danny when he enters the room. He chuckles and starts shedding his clothes on the way to the bathroom. It's making the day come full circle, he thinks, entering the stall.

Stiles smiles when Danny joins him. "Hey, beautiful. Glad you could make it."

"I'm not that late," Danny says, dropping little kisses on Stiles' shoulder. He steps forward, his hands going for Stiles' hips. "I wanted to help them clean up a bit.."

He pauses, kisses Stiles' neck and goes up to his favorite spot behind his ear. "What a day," he sighs. "But it got better at the end, thankfully."

"It was pretty great there at the end," Stiles says around a yawn. "Our little family together."

"It's funny, when you think about it. There's so little competition between all of us." Danny reaches around for a washcloth and lathers up some bodywash. "Even as we get near the end. We're only closer as a group. Kind of like we were all meant to be friends, and more." He cleans them both, with long, relaxing strokes.

"Fate, or some shit like that." Stiles stifles another yawn. "We'll have to get together even after the show is done. Reunion weekends and whatever."

Danny unhooks the shower head, spreads the water on them, lets the strong stream linger on Stiles' back. "I'm sure Lydia will send us all newsletters and RSVP invitations. It will happen." He turns off the water and reaches outside for towels. "Come, you can barely stand. We need to rest." After the past couple of days, most definitely.

Stiles dries quickly and pulls on a pair of pajama pants before crawling into bed. He holds his arms out for Danny.

Danny fumbles through the room, trying to walk while slipping on boxers at the same time. Not as easy as it looks, even for a dancer. He makes it to the bed in one piece though, and melts in Stiles' embrace, his head comfortably set on