Stiles grabbed the studio's door and pulled it open to allow the woman who was walking up to enter. He nodded her head when she smiled at him. She was kind of familiar, but Stiles couldn't place her at the moment though he wasn't shocked. He probably hadn't seen her since he was ten. Instead of sending his son to Beach Hills' public schools after he started to have issues with his ADHD despite not having issues for years, Stiles' dad had got him into Devenford Prep. It had been just what he needed to keep his mind calm, with the added bonus of no one there really knowing what had happened. The teachers were aware so that they could shy away from things that might make him upset. There had been an excellent psychologist on hand that taught as well as served in a medical capacity.
His last eight years of school had been better than his first five. The teachers worked with him to make sure that he wasn't bored, and even when he had issues with his ADHD while they were working on new medication levels, he hadn't gotten in trouble. Instead, Stiles had been allowed to work at his own pace in a quiet room. It got its name because it was soundproofed so he could play music or talk to himself as long as he got his work done. He always did, usually, more than he needed depending on the class.
Stiles had been pushed to step outside of his comfort zone for his writing since he was stalled and had been stalled for two weeks on the last chapter of his book. It was the first in a new series, and he was working on introducing who the main pairing was going to be. Only the main character had been introduced so far; his love interest had not. Every time Stiles opened the document for the chapter, he either wrote words and deleted them or he didn't write.
Marnie, Stiles' agent, wasn't upset. She understood, and he was well ahead of when he needed to have it sent in for the first round of edits.
"Can I help you?" a man asked as he stepped up to Stiles.
"I was just hoping to look around."
The man glared at him, raising an eyebrow.
"Sorry, that sounds sketchy. I'm a writer, and I'm introducing a character to my book. I've done the technical research into painting and sculpture. I have the character all plotted out, but I just can't get that first scene with him and my main character. I was hoping looking around your gallery would help me figure out what I wanted, and maybe watching you a little. I assumed it was why this was a studio/gallery; you didn't mind people watching?" Stiles kind of lost steam as the man didn't stop glaring at him.
"Two hours," the man said, and he turned around to head over to where the woman was.
Stiles wasn't sure what the two hours meant. Was he supposed to come back in two hours? Was he supposed to leave in two hours? Stiles just assumed if it were coming back, he would get yelled at to leave.
The gallery section was laid out beautiful; the lighting on each painting was perfect. He looked at each one, feeling more emotion from them than he had the ones he had looked at online from the thousands of people that he had looked at. He did a lot of research into his characters, even the secondary ones. He knew what painting style Gordon painted in and what era his few sculptures were supposed to fit into. It was just lucky that his hometown had a good person who did both for him to look at.
Stiles looked at the man a few times, but he was talking with the woman. Stiles found a painting that allowed him to also look at the pair. The woman reminded him of someone the more he watched her. The man started to talk, and the woman tipped her head to the side, and that's when Stiles knew her. Lydia Martin, his first childhood crush. She had died a tragic death the moment that he got to Devenford Prep. It was also where Stiles learned that he was only interested in her intelligence, and the fact that she hid it turned him off. Everyone at Devenford Prep was good for something.
It was funny how she had been someone that he thought he would marry but ended up finding that he could probably never stand to have sex with her. Sapiosexual had been an excellent term for Stiles to learn. Stiles looked at the guy and tried to figure out who he was based on what seemed like a friendship to Lydia. He wasn't Jackson, and he wasn't Danny. Stiles tried to figure it out, but then both looked at him. He ducked back behind the painting and went about what he was doing.
At the end of two hours, Stiles scooted himself out the door and headed back to his apartment. Stiles and his father had kept it low key that he was back in town, though driving Roscoe meant that everyone knew who he was or those who remembered him driving her years before.
Stiles went right to his laptop when he got home. He had gone in there without looking into who owned the shop. His agent had given him the address, and he had just gone. It was better than sitting in his apartment.
Derek Hale. That was Derek Hale? Stiles sat down and looked at the screen. There was just a single image of him on the site, and it was him standing by a painting that had won some kind of award while he was in college.
Stiles clicked on his education to see that he had gone to School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then onto Royal College of Art for his post-graduate stuff. Based on the research that Stiles had done, those were both top-notch schools. He dug deeper into both as neither were where Gordon had gone, so he hadn't done as much research into them.
Three hours later, Stiles came out of his research spiral and looked at the time. Stiles cursed himself and rushed to get ready to go to dinner with his dad. His dad got a small window today, and Stiles didn't want to miss it.
Stiles had a notebook with him today and his laptop in his bag. He looked inside to see that Derek was painting something. It wasn't a painting but looked like a bowl of some kind. Stiles watched him through the glass.
"You look less creepy if you came inside," a voice said. It was crackly, and that was when Stiles noticed the intercom. It had to be for when he was working, and the doors were shut. There were only certain hours that people were allowed in.
Stiles opened the door and slipped inside. He looked at Derek, but he was already looking back at the bowl. He had fine-tipped brushes laid out, one for each color. There were also a few in between that looked like they were going to be used to mix colors if needed.
"You can come over and watch," Derek said.
"I don't want to bother you. I was just going to-" Stiles pointed over his shoulder toward where the paintings were. He held up a notebook and then slapped himself in the face with it. Derek couldn't see him. "Sit over and look at the art and see if I can write about what it makes me feel, and maybe that will help."
"Still stuck?" Derek asked.
"On what?" Derek asked. He pointed at the seat that was behind the desk that was on that side of the room. It had a computer on it and what looked like business papers.
"Everything? I mean, it's the last chapter of the book, it's the last of the falling action after the threat has been mostly neutralized. It's a fun moment before I end the book. Pike is meeting Gordon, and yet I can't get what I want on the page. I don't want it to be anything big, just Pike slipping into the gallery where Gordon's art is on display. Pike thinks that Gordon is the guy trying to sell the art, and he just slipped in there to get away from his ex-fiancé, who was walking down the street on his side. They talk, and Pike doesn't feel a lot about him, but something draws him back a few chapters into the next book. Only the art is gone, and it's a new person who is selling and Pike's crushed. He had no clue how to get a hold of him. Until a Wendigo tries to break into Gordon's studio and Pike's assigned the case."
"I see. So you want something low key but also meaningful so that your readers know it's something important but not sure if it's a hidden clue in the art that he looks at or the guy who is talking to him about the art. What kind of guy is Pike?" Derek asked. He never looked up from the bowl as he worked on it. He swapped out brushes as needed, and then when it was done, he flipped it over and looked at Stiles.
"Oh, sorry. I got lost watching you paint that. I don't see bowls around here for sale."
"No, I do these for a friend. She's got a pottery shop across town, and her normal guy who does the painting broke his arm, and so I offered to do them. It lets me relax a little. I got a shipment in today, and I'll work on a few a day, and when they are dry, ship them back to her for the final steps. Then she can sell them. She asks for more from these and then gives me a little, and her normal guy gets his cut as well. He does it as stress relief and also a little more money for him. At least he can do his other job with a broken arm."
"Which is?" Stiles asked.
"You'll just keep me talking, so you don't have to write, won't you?"
"Well, no, but that's a good side effect," Stiles said.
"I'll answer a question for every one hundred words you write. I'm going to read them, so you had better not just write something stupid." Derek pointed at the desk, and Stiles grumbled, but he started to get his stuff out.
Stiles looked at the papers and with a careful eye and moved them enough to make sure his laptop had enough room. It was his smaller one that he used for on the go writing when his phone wasn't going to cut it. He glared at Derek, who was smiling as he started another bowl.
"You aren't going to get answered questions with just watching me paint," Derek said.
"But it's fun to watch you paint."
"And when you write, you'll have fun too."
Stiles harrumphed and then started up his laptop. He got his writing program loaded, opened up the previous chapter, and read it over the end of it. He sighed and forced himself to write. He got through about fifty words when he stopped and thought about how he had come in the first day. He started typing with the idea of only getting fifty more words.
The smell of pizza drew Stiles out of his writing, and he leaned back in the chair and stretched. He looked down at the word count for the document and nearly fell out of the chair.
"I know. Five thousand words. I thought some pizza and beer was a good reward, and I do owe you fifty questions now." Derek laid a plate of pizza down in front of him, and there was a bottle of his favorite local beer.
"Um," Stiles said when he saw that the pizza was his favorite as well.
"The lady who runs the lunch crowd told me what your favorite beer is that is in a bottle and sold at the pizza shop, and it wasn't hard to remember what your favorite pizza used to be."
"What my..." Stiles tried to figure out who to text his father that he had gone into the shop of a crazy stalker.
"You and Cora were pretty damned close until she and you went off to college. She talks about you on occasion, so I knew you still text."
"Oh, well, that's..." Stiles felt like an idiot. There was only a single Hale family in Beacon Hills. He kind of forgot that Cora's last name was Hale. "Right, and you remember me from that?"
"Stiles, you came over and talked to Spencer a lot when he was going through his ADHD diagnosis. You made friends with Cora, who hadn't made a friend longer than a week before that. Yes, I remember you. It seems like you didn't remember me, though."
"Well, no last I saw you, you didn't have the beard or the muscles, but I looked up who owned here but hadn't quite connected it with those Hales."
"Lydia hates you, by the way. She said that she knew you from somewhere but couldn't place it."
"I'm sure if I got scared and flailed in front of her, she would remember."
"I'm sure that she would."
"What was she doing here?"
"I'm painting a wedding present for her to give to her ex and his new husband."
"Jackson came out of the closet?" Stiles asked.
"Yes, he did. Forty-seven more to go."
It took Stiles a few seconds, but he got it. Laughing, Stiles pushed at Derek's shoulder before picking up his first slice of pizza. He ate through hale before opening the beer. It tasted fantastic with pizza.
Stiles went back to writing as soon as he was done eating. His beer was replaced when it was empty, and an hour later, he was done. The last chapter was done. He had looked it over, and then he sent it to his agent before he could second guess himself.
He found Derek sitting across the area with what Stiles thought was a sketch pad in his hand. He watched him for a few minutes before going back to his plot notes for book two. He had the broad strokes of the five-book series plot and a little down for each of the minor details of the second through fourth books. Still, he had an idea that would change a bit of book two but not really make too many ripples into what he had plotted but would build a strong relationship between Pike and Gordon.
Stiles watched Derek as he worked through whatever he was doing. His concentration was absolute on what he was doing. Stiles could get like that while writing. So, he stood up and started to clean. There was a beer left. Stiles looked at the three that were empty where Derek had been eating. Stiles snagged the beer and popped it. He drank a few sips before finishing cleaning up. They had demolished two pizzas; one had been a large and the second a small. He saw another box and found brownies in it. He snagged one and stuffed it into his mouth before he walked over and all but stuffed it into Derek's mouth.
Derek laughed and chomped on it. He closed the lid on the sketchbook and looked at Stiles. "So done? That didn't take long at all."
"Yeah. I sent it off already. I think I can get a good chunk of the detailed plot for the four books that will make up the rest of the series. I've got notebooks I need to grab. It's got my detailed profiles for my characters."
"Do you have profiles for Gordon and Pike with you?"
"Not really, why?"
"Do you...face cast?"
"No, not really. I've got facial features written down, hair, and everything. I kind of try and see it in my head. My agent will have me sit with someone later and do a kind of sketch, like the police would do. For the cover art, you know."
"Would you want to do that with me?"
"I've done cover art and headshots for a few other books series before when I was in college. It was something one of my professors had us do to understand how to work what we could. I don't have any showings for a while, and the one I do have, I already have everything ready for it."
"You don't have other jobs you need to do?"
"I'm a trust fund baby. This place earns me enough money to pay for my paints and my building, with some added extras. I can do what I want. So come by tomorrow."
"You don't have open hours tomorrow," Stiles pointed out.
"I know that's why we can have some fun. You can buy pizza and beer tomorrow. Come over early, whenever you want. I'm up with the sun, so any time after that."
Stiles nodded his head. He could do that. He could bring by everything he needed to plot, and Derek could draw and do all of that. It sounded like a lot of fun.
Stiles grabbed a notebook and stopped when he saw something else between his two notebooks. He unfolded the paper and found that it was a sketch of him. He knew the outfit that he was wearing, and it was from that first day that Stiles had written at Derek's studio. He grabbed the paper and looked at it wholly. There was a post-it note at the bottom. Derek was asking Stiles on a date.
Printing out the last page of his notes that Derek had helped him with, Stiles wrote on the top that he wanted his opinion on the last note. Stiles made a little dot on the page and wrote Yes after it. He folded it up and put it into an envelope and called the local courier company. He made sure it would get dropped off as soon as possible. He was looking forward to their first official date.
The page was beautiful, each line drawn a few times. Stiles could make out the eraser marks that he had never been able to see before he had been with Derek.
Derek was long gone, at the studio for hours before Stile woke up after his late-night getting in from LA where his publisher was.
Stiles touched the line of his face. He could tell that Derek had taken his time drawing Stiles in his bed. The sheets were not the ones that were on there now, but the ones that Derek preferred. Stiles liked them too because even when they were washed, they smelled like Derek a little.
The pictures that Derek left randomly around the house when he knew that Stiles was going to be staying with him had made him feel like he was home.
Words at the bottom of the page drew Stiles' eyes, and he saw the word stay. Stiles grinned and moved to his backpack on the far side of the room. He pulled out his change of address that he had filed with his publisher. He had been planning on asking Derek if he could move in any way. They had both been making comments since Stiles' lease was up, and Derek lived above his studio.
Grabbing the button-up shirt that Derek had worn at some point while Stiles was gone, he buttoned it up most of the way and then started down toward where Derek was working. It was bright out already, but there was a back way toward where the sculpture area was. He stopped at the desk and grabbed a pen and wrote Yes at the top before leaving it where Derek would find it.
Stiles stretched as he woke up, feeling Derek behind him. He grinned and buried his face in the pillow. They had both got a little too tipsy the night before, and the sex had been fumbling but still full of laughter.
Shoving his hand over, Stiles moved to stretch his whole body, and he felt something. He picked up the paper, wondering what kind of love note Derek had left him this time. It was Stiles' hand. He could see the mole that was on his pinky finger, the one that Derek loved to kiss. He loved to kiss all of them, but other than his face, the pinky one was the only one he could do in public without it being a scandal.
Stiles traced his fingers but stopped when he saw the dark band on his drawn hand, right on his ring finger. Stiles looked down to see a matching one there. He smiled and moved the picture to the nightstand before rolling over in Derek's arms. He drew Derek's leg over his and slotted them together. He could feel Derek waking up, his still body not so still anymore.
Derek rubbed his face on the pillow, and his eyes fluttered. Stiles leaned up enough to get his lips close to Derek's ear.
"Yes," Stiles whispered to Derek.
Stiles laid his head back down and saw the smile on Derek's face.