It’s a black and white ball being held for some charity dealing with a dog rescue. Or maybe it’s a dog shelter? Whichever, it’s a cause that Stiles supports and has donated a lot of money towards, which is the primary reason he’s even attending the ball tonight. His attendance is a draw to get other guests, and Stiles knows how to play that PR game when it’s something he cares about. His support for the dogs is worth the anxiety of dealing with the crowded social event, which doesn’t make much sense to Chris, but he’s not a world famous actor who has to deal with publicity so he leaves that to Stiles.
However, considering the recent incidents, Chris has advised that Stiles decline the invitation because it’s not being held at a secure location. Of course, Stiles is too fucking stubborn to ever listen. It’s going to end up getting him hurt one of these days, maybe even killed. The latter possibility is one reason Chris has trouble sleeping at night. Stiles has dealt with some overzealous fans in the past, so he thinks Chris is overreacting about the latest one, but Chris knows better. There’s a difference in these letters, not to mention the candid shots of Stiles that definitely didn’t come from the paparazzi that were in the letter received the other day.
Actors are in the public eye, and some of those fans are crazy and deluded enough to believe there’s a real connection from watching a movie or seeing someone famous grocery shopping. Hell, the studio hired Chris’ company for twenty-four hour protection when their star cash cow had his former residence nearly broken into nearly two years ago, so the possibility of a threat is real. Stiles still refuses to take it that seriously, though, even with the creepy photographs and letters talking about rescuing him from all the leeches in Hollywood that are feeding off of him like vampires.
Seriously. The letters talk about emotional vampires sucking his energy, and Stiles just tells Chris that he’s paranoid and reading into some fan’s admiration. During those arguments, he wonders if Stiles really does treat the world so trivially or if he just enjoys provoking Chris. Stiles will give him that insolent smirk while telling him he’s not worried because that’s what Chris is for, after all. To protect him and to keep him safe while guarding his body personally. Usually, the latter comment is accompanied by a leer before Stiles distracts Chris from his lecture about good fans versus stalking crazies.
The thing is, Chris can’t really argue that because it is his job. Stiles went through three bodyguards before Chris took his case over himself, needing to know what it was about him that drove off three of his best bodyguards who can usually tolerate every personality type in the world. While Chris didn’t expect to stay on the case, Stiles turned out to not be anything like he expected. There had been sparks from their first meeting, but Chris is just as stubborn, and he was able to give back whatever Stiles tried dishing out. In the year and a half since, Chris now has Boyd, Parrish, and McCall rotating coverage during the day when he’s running his business, and Chris takes the night shift, having moved into Stiles’ place shortly after starting the assignment.
This obstinate bratty rich kid has managed to work his way past all of Chris’ defenses over the last seventeen months, to the point where Chris has broken several of his own professional rules. Until Stiles, he’s never even been tempted by a client before, and he’s had more than his fair share try to get into his pants, especially after his wife passed away six years ago. Chris has never mixed business and pleasure until this gorgeous young man with beautiful eyes kissed him one night, not two weeks after he’d started working the case himself. They played cat and mouse for another few weeks, until they finally snapped, fucking the first time in the home gym Stiles had been using fanatically to prepare for some superhero role that required him to be more muscular.
The current threat that Chris believes is a serious risk actually began after that movie came out, in fact. The worldwide attention catapulting the kid into the limelight even beyond what he’d already had after doing a trilogy based on some book series that he filmed as a teenager. Allison’s familiar with all of Stiles’ roles, he’s one of her favorite actors, but Chris has never much been one for watching movies. Stiles likes that about him, likes that Chris isn’t in this for the fame or money, likes that Chris looks at him and sees him, not some character he’s played in one of a dozen films. And Chris likes that Stiles wants him, some grizzled old ex-soldier with an attitude problem and a daughter a year older than Stiles himself.
Obviously, their relationship is incredibly private, only a small handful of people knowing there’s something more than bodyguard and client between them. Not only is the age difference a bit extreme for the general public, but, while Stiles is openly bisexual, he doesn’t want to force Chris into the public eye that way. Really, Chris prefers it that way, even if Stiles makes it a habit of going around singing ridiculous songs from some old Whitney Houston movie he keeps threatening to make Chris watch. Of course, Stiles never actually has forced it on him, muttering something about the ending not being good and how their ending is going to be much better. Chris is just glad he’s not forced to sit through some musical. Those ridiculously long movies about the elves and dwarves were bad enough.
“You’re scowling, old man,” Stiles says, stepping into the bedroom and arching a brow as he smiles at Chris. “Why aren’t you dressed yet? I left something out for you when I went to shower.”
“I am dressed,” Chris points out, glancing down at his simple black suit. He’s planning to keep to himself tonight, and he’s got four other people covering various exits because the ball is being held in some garden with too many points of entry for one person. He looks at Stiles, taking in the white tuxedo and black vest. “You look damn good, kid.”
“While you totally look hot as fuck in that suit, this ball is tuxes only,” Stiles reminds him, grinning slightly. “And thanks. I figure most guys will go for black, so I chose white.”
“Tuxes only for invited guests. I’m going to be working.” Chris slides off the bed and walks over to him. “For the record, I still think you’re taking an unnecessary risk by attending this ball. That crazy fan is starting to get worse, especially since the press tour for ‘Moonlight Escape’.”
“I know,” Stiles admits quietly, watching Chris’ hands as he reaches over to fix his bow-tie. “This woman is starting to worry me. No ‘I told you so’, okay? I’ve been in this business since I was fifteen, and I’ve been involved in two franchises with huge fandoms full of people who can sometimes seem a little obsessive but are great in a not crazy way. I just thought this was one of those. I don’t like that she sent me a photograph from our trip to the beach, though, because no one was there. No paps or anything.”
“This is someone who thinks the studio and press are ruining your life, and who’s also convinced you need to be saved from the world.” Chris unfastens the bow-tie and starts over. He drags his fingers along Stiles’ throat, his knuckles rubbing against his skin. Stiles gulps and blinks at him, staring in a way that makes Chris lose his train of thought. “This isn’t some happy fan who maybe mixes you up with your character.”
“I know. They’re getting worse.” Stiles licks his lips, tilting his head slightly so Chris can fasten the bow-tie. He stares at him until Chris finishes.
“I’m glad you’re listening to me now,” Chris admits, stroking his thumb along the hollow of Stiles’ throat. “I’ve been concerned about this one since I realized you’re getting a letter every couple of days. I’m having to resist the impulse to lock you away to keep you safe until we catch the stalker, but I know I can’t do that. Still, tonight seems risky.”
“It’s a charity ball that’s invite only, and the tickets are a small fortune because they’re trying to raise money,” Stiles tells him. “Plus, you’ll be there keeping me safe. If I honestly thought this was dangerous, you know I wouldn’t insist, even if you’re hot when you’re provoked.” He strokes his fingers along Chris’ jaw, rubbing the stubble gently. “But I think it’s time that I look through your case file again so we can try to figure out how to fix this before something potentially bad happens. I really don’t like that you were in one of those photographs, Chris. I’m not going to put you in jeopardy because I didn’t take this seriously.”
“I will keep you safe, Stiles,” Chris promises, looking into those beautiful eyes as he drags his knuckles across Stiles’ cheek. “No one is going to get you without having to go through me first.”
“I know. That’s the part that worries me. No dying on me, got it?” Stiles leans up to kiss him lightly. “Since you refuse to wear a tux, I guess we’re ready. You’d better save me a dance tonight, Chris. I don’t care if you’re working or not, I want a dance.”
“We’ll see,” Chris tells him, smiling slightly as he straightens up Stiles’ bow-tie and nods. “Perfect. Promise me you’ll be alert tonight, just in case.”
“Always,” Stiles says as he takes Chris’ hand and squeezes. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, either, you know? I’m not going to lose you.”
Chris straightens his gun holster before fastening his suit jacket. Taking Stiles’ hand again, he leads him out of their bedroom and downstairs. “I know.”