If there was anything Peter hated, it was paparazzi. Unfortunately, as the Chief Financial Officer of Hale Enterprise, it wasn’t often he found himself able to avoid them. The little vultures were always circling, trying to snag a prize deal or secret affair before Hale Enterprise deigned to officially release a statement. The Hales ran a tight ship, however, and all employees down to the intern level were aware of the repercussions of leaking information, immediate termination the least of their concerns. He honestly didn’t know why the paparazzi even bothered, though they did occasionally have some low-level employees chance it for fifteen minutes of fame. They always regretted it.
He sighed, trying to keep the scowl off his face. Meetings had been hell today, he had piles of work on his desk, the quarterly review before the Board was scheduled for the following Monday and his incompetent staff had yet to get him all of the reports from their southern branches. Talia had been especially annoying of late, trying to get him to commit to some family outing or something, and now that he’d managed to get five minutes to himself by going on his nightly run, there was some paparazzi idiot walking towards him with a camera.
To his defense, Peter supposed the young man didn’t look like he wanted to be there any more than Peter himself wanted to be there. He held his camera loosely in one hand, not at all prepared for a snapshot, and had a distinctively nervous look about his admittedly attractive face. Peter was prepared to utilize his well-known cruel tongue though if he so much as twitched towards putting the camera in his face.
“Hi, Mr. Hale? I’m really sorry about this. I work for GF Pictures and my boss pretty much told me to get your picture or jump in a lake. I’m not really into taking someone’s picture without their consent though, so I wanted to ask if you’d be willing to let me take a couple shots?” He looked a little hopeful, but mostly defeated as he asked. After all, it was pretty much common knowledge that of all the Hales, you definitely did not want to get on the bad side of Peter.
Peter’s eyes narrowed. “What kind of article is your boss trying to put together?” He could be civil if the other man was willing to extend the same courtesy.
He shuffled his feet. “He said it’s about the Hale family’s rise to power, since you guys just had that big merger where you bought out that productions company. He’s already got a picture of your sister, her husband, and her three eldest, but he said he needed your picture too before it could go to print. And apparently it’s set to go to print tomorrow.”
“Fine, I guess one picture won’t hurt,” Peter grumbled, “but I will be looking into the story when it’s published and that better be the angle you’re going.”
The man’s eyes widened in disbelief before he nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, of course, definitely. Thank you! You’re totally saving me!”
Peter waved it off, posing to look more casual and less staged as the man clicked a few shots. After a moment, he finished, smiling delightedly.
“Really, thank you, Mr. Hale. I know you probably didn’t feel like dealing with paparazzi today—or any day honestly—and you obviously didn’t have to let me take some pictures, so I appreciate it.”
Peter nodded. “Thank you for asking, I guess.”
The man shook his head. “You shouldn’t have to thank me for treating you like a human being with a normal level of respect, but I get it. I hope you have a great day, Mr. Hale!”
Peter smirked at that response. “Yes, you too, Mr. …?”
The man blushed, ruffling his already messy hair with the hand not holding his camera. “Uh, Stiles. Stilinski. I go by Stiles though.”
Peter hummed. What a curious name. “Goodnight then, Stiles.”
Stiles waved cheerfully, jogging back the way he’d came looking much lighter. Peter rolled his eyes, going back onto his run and making a mental note to look into GF Pictures tomorrow.
Turns out, Stiles’ story was really about what he said it was and the next day it dropped at two p.m. sharp, pictures of all the Hale family included. It was a mostly neutral article, though there was a little bit of a lean towards favoring the Hales. They had their facts straight and left the speculation to a minimum, which was preferable. Peter exited out of the article after passing his judgment and decided to put the whole thing behind him, getting back to chewing out his staff until their produced him the appropriate reports.
Honestly, he didn’t think about Stiles again until three weeks later. He and Laura had just gotten lunch to catch up on something besides work and they were trying to get back in their vehicle, their bodyguards blocking the way as best they could, when Laura tripped on her ridiculous heels and ripped her dress. The bodyguards had their hands full with trying to keep the crowds back and Peter could already see the magazines features headlines for this fashion faux pas as he moved to try and block the crowds from getting pictures of her fall.
“God, people are dicks,” a voice grumbled as another body stepped up and blocked the cameras, sliding out of a plaid over-shirt and sheepishly handing it over to Laura to cover herself. He had a camera around his neck but wasn’t touching it, instead looking genuinely apologetic. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, thank you,” Laura bit off tersely, accepting the shirt reluctantly.
“Stiles,” Peter greeted. Both the man and his niece looked at him in surprise.
“You know him?”
“You remember me?”
Peter smirked. “Of course I remember the only photographer who was ever polite enough to ask before taking my picture. Glad to see your manners remain true.”
Stiles blushed, shuffling awkwardly while Laura lost some of her defensiveness.
“Oh. Well thank you, Stiles,” Laura repeated, now smiling more warmly.
Stiles nodded, licking his lips before smiling hesitantly. “No problem. I mean, you guys are people too. Sorry about your dress,” he gestured jerkily before blushing darker.
Peter chuckled. “Here,” he said, handing over a card from his breast pocket. “We have to be leaving, but why don’t you call and set up an interview for one day next week? I’ll let my assistant know to let you through and we can get you something for an article for your agency.”
Stiles eyes widened in absolute disbelief as he took the card, almost like he thought it would burst into flames as his touch.
“Oh my god, yes, thank you, of course, oh holy Jesus on a cracker,” he exclaimed in one quick breath.
Laura giggled. “Well we really have to go, but please make sure to give Uncle Peter a call. I’ll return your shirt when you come for the interview, okay?”
Stiles nodded numbly. “Yeah, sure. Thank you again.”
Peter smiled, slipping into the car beside Laura. “See you soon,” he offered just as the door closed.