It's early morning when Derek drives over the Beacon County line, fifteen miles to go before he’s back in Beacon Hills. He never thought he’d come back to his hometown, thrilled as he was to leave after high school, saying goodbye to small-town life for good.
But it’s been fifteen years since he left, and a lot has changed. Derek has changed. Enough that when Laura called, in tears, six-months pregnant and dumped by her fiance, he offered to move back to help her raise the baby. The relief and hope in her voice when she responded – oh, Der, I can’t ask you to uproot your life for me – had convinced him that he made the right choice. You’re not asking, I’m offering, he said, the decision feeling more right as he thought about it. You’re the best big brother ever, Der-Bear, she said. He knew she meant it because she usually never lets him get away with the big-brother title, always pointing out that he’s only six minutes older.
It’s not like he has much of a life to uproot. He’s a novelist, successful enough that he can identify as a writer on his tax returns, which means he can live anywhere he wants. He likes Portland, has a couple good friends there, loves being close to the ocean for surfing in the spring and summer and the mountains for snowboarding in the winter. But he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t been feeling…not restless, exactly, but unsettled. Incomplete. He doesn’t like to think of himself as lonely, even though he’s been single since the divorce, over three years now. His work, his books, the outdoors, that’s all he really needs.
All to say that leaving Portland isn’t a big deal for him, and that he’s even looking forward to being back in Beacon Hills, surprising as it is. He’s just enough of an optimist – hidden under layer upon layer of fine-tuned defensive cynicism and surliness – to be cautiously hopeful about the next chapter of his life.
The next chapter he’ll never get to if he doesn’t get some coffee, like, now. He’s been on the road for twelve hours, leaving Portland just as night fell, preferring the long drive at night with less traffic. His last stop was in Sacramento, where he got an undrinkable soy latte from Starbucks. Living in the Pacific Northwest has made him incredibly spoiled – snobby, Laura likes say – about both beer and coffee, and he’d be lying if he said Beacon Hills’ lack of decent coffee options definitely gave him pause when deciding to come back. We have two Starbucks now, Derek. Two! He had glared, even though they weren’t even facetiming. Starbucks is terrible, Laura. And isn’t one of them in Safeway? It doesn’t even count.
Derek's just over the city line when he sees a sign for an independent drive-thru place, Full Spectrum Brew. There are three cars in line when he turns in, which annoys him but gives him hope. Not that he really trusts the people of Beacon Hills to have much taste when it comes to coffee (god, he is a snob), but the shop’s popularity does seem to bode well. The line of cars moves way more slowly than he’d like, each customer in front of him seeming to take way too long to order, and then lingering when they get their coffee. He’s irritable from lack of sleep and an even more detrimental lack of caffeine, anxious to get out of the car. Finally it’s his turn and he slowly rolls up to the window, turning the radio down.
For a second, he thinks he must have fallen asleep while he was waiting, because what he sees when he looks in the window surely must be a dream.
Stunning brown eyes like glowing honey and a sweet little nose, slightly upturned; a shapely pink mouth, bottom-lip pierced by a thin black hoop that he's worrying with the tip of his tongue as he smiles a gorgeous hello.
He's the most beautiful man Derek's ever seen.
And he’s shirtless.
The guy’s arms, neck, and most of his torso are covered in a wild collage of tattoos Derek can’t even begin to decipher, distracted as he is by the thick line of dark hair that starts at the guy’s belly button and disappears underneath the waistband of black his underwear, which is just peeking out above a pair of snug-fitting jeans that hang pornographically low on his narrow hips. He’s younger than Derek, mid-twenties probably, and smaller than him too, which he likes, but still well-muscled and strong-looking, wiry, which he really likes. Derek hasn’t been with a guy since college – not counting that messy, anonymous blowjob he received in a bathroom the one and only time his best friend Erica convinced him to go out to the gay bars right after he left Jen – but even back in college, in what Erica likes to lovingly refer to as his cockslut years, he never felt so immediately and viscerally attracted to a man at a first sight – or anyone ever, for that matter.
Derek’s so busy staring and grappling with the shock of his unexpected attraction that it takes him a moment to remember that’s he supposed to say something. Coffee. He supposed to be ordering coffee.
“You okay there, big guy?” The guy's smile turns into a smirk as he says it, stepping closer and leaning forward, resting his elbows on the shelf just outside the window, eye-to-eye with Derek in his pickup. It’s fucking criminal, how liquid and sensual his movements are, how rich and strong his voice is, even when he seems to be teasing.
“Yeah, uh, sorry,” Derek says, finally finding his voice. He shifts in the driver’s seat, scratching his beard just to have something to do with his hands.
“No worries,” the guy says. “You’re new in town, I bet. Let me guess – you didn’t take a close look at the sign? Just saw the word COFFEE and turned in, huh?”
Derek twists in his seat to look back at the shop’s main sign by the road. Under the name there are two silhouettes, one the traditional mudflap woman, large-breasted and narrow-waisted with flowing hair. Mirroring it is a figure in the identical half-reclining pose, but male, broad-muscled shoulders and thick biceps. Between the two figures is the shape of a to-go coffee cup in the colors of the rainbow. Underneath, in energetic script: queer your coffee.
Derek looks back to the guy, eyebrows raised. “Welcome to Full Spectrum Brew,” he says with a flourishing wiggle of his long fingers. “Full spectrum of coffee and tea options, full spectrum of sexualities welcome. Best coffee in town, and equal-opportunity eye candy, no matter where you fall on the Kinsey scale.”
Derek feels one eyebrow go up higher. “Eye candy.” It’s definitely a statement of agreement, but the guy responds like it’s a question.
“Well, for those of us who appreciate menfolk. My business partner and best friend Lydia provides the eye candy for those who like ladies. She’ll be here this afternoon, if you wanna come back.” He says it with a wink, but his smile falters just a bit.
“Oh, yeah. Um. That’s nice.” Good god, he thinks. You have literally won awards for your ability to use words. Get it together. “I’m glad I’m here now,” he says, smiling in a way that he hopes looks natural and not at all like he’s gritting his teeth in anticipation, like his heart isn’t pounding.
The guy’s smile returns, even stronger this time. Derek’s knees feel soft. He glances in his rearview mirror and says a silent prayer of thanks that there’s no one in line behind him.
“Are you in town for long,” the guy asks, resting his chin in his hands. It draws attention to the dash of moles across his left cheek, a fingernail, dark with chipped polish, tapping lightly against one of them as he looks Derek up and down, a once-over that is quickly becoming a thrice-over. The power of his stare is somehow making Derek simultaneously relaxed – he seems interested – and anxious – oh god, he’s interested.
“How do you know I’m new in town,” is his answer, and hey, he sounds flirty. Maybe he does remember how to do this. He can’t wait to tell Erica.
The guy – he’s dying to know his name – clucks his tongue, and oh fuck, his tongue is pierced, and that’s it, Derek’s a complete and total goner. He’ll be back here everyday even if the coffee’s shit. “Lived in the Beacon my whole life, dude. And my dad’s the sheriff, so I pretty much know everyone in town. And trust me, I’d remember you for sure.”
Derek blushes at the compliment while trying to wrap his head around the fact that this guy is a cop’s son. He looks more like the son of a rock star or a really successful biker gang leader. He doesn’t say that, though. Instead he jumps on the chance to introduce himself, to get this beautiful creature’s name. “Do you know Laura Hale? She’s a veterinarian at Beacon Hills Animal Clinic.”
“Dr. Laura Medicine Woman? Hell yeah, she’s rad. She’s a friend of my dad's, and the official veterinarian for the department’s K-9 unit, so she counts as an employee when we play the fire department in softball. She’s our best player. Well, almost as good as me, I mean.” He winks, tonguing at his lip ring again.
“You work for the sheriff’s department too?” There goes Derek's eyebrow again.
“During the week of the annual police-firefighter softball game I do. You should see these skinny guys file incident reports,” he wiggles his fingers in front of his face, the devious little shit. “How do you know Dr. Laura?”
“She’s my sister. My twin sister, actually. I’m moving back into town to help with the baby.”
The guy’s face lights up. “You’re Derek!” He’s positively beaming. “I knew you looked familiar! Wow, shit. Yeah. Hey man, I’m Stiles. Stiles Stilinski.” He reaches his hand out and finally, Derek gets to touch him. Stiles' handshake is firm and warm and he squeezes Derek’s hand just a bit before letting go. “Welcome home, Derek. My dad mentioned that you were coming back. I’ve read all of your books, dude. I love them. I hope that’s not weird to say.”
“No, not weird. Thank you.” He can feel his cheeks reddening, practically on fire. He’s grown accustomed to people complimenting his looks – has been dealing with that all his life – but he’s still not quite sure how to react when his writing is complimented, despite his success. “So,” he says, clearing his throat again, feeling new shades of awkward. “Not that it’s not a brilliant business idea, but what’s with the…” he drifts off, gesturing towards Stiles’ tattooed chest, the absolutely stunning horned skull flanked by two magenta lotuses practically glowing against his pale skin.
“The queer semi-nude coffee shop? Yeah, funny story. You’ve heard of those drive-thru places where the baristas are all large-breasted young women in bikinis, right?”
“Yeah. Even Portland of all places has a few.”
“Right, they’re pretty popular, even if they are kinda skeevy. Well, one opened up over in Hill Valley and Lydia was complaining, said it was sexist that there were no coffee places with scantily-clad men for the ladies, and I was all ‘hey, that’s cool, but pretty heteronormative,’ and thus, an idea was born.” He says it with a shrug, like starting a queer-oriented semi-nude coffee shop in small-town America on a whim was no big deal.
“So you’re not skeevy because you’re progressive?”
“Oh we’re totally skeevy, but still progressive. Like I said, equal opportunity objectification.” His smile is infectious, intoxicating. Derek feels more awake than he has in a long time and he hasn’t even ordered his coffee yet.
As if reading his mind, Stiles jerks up, throwing his shoulders back and tapping his fingers in a rapid beat against the windowsill. “Coffee,” he announces. “This also a coffee shop. What can I do for you, Derek?”
“Double tall soy latte, please,” he manages to answer before his mind runs away with all of the possible answers to that question.
Stiles turns away to the espresso machine, humming softly along with the music he has playing in there. Derek tries to be subtle as he ogles his back, but then he remembers that he's allowed – encouraged, in fact, to do so, so he lets his eyes roam freely. Stiles' back is tattooed too, a large black and gray eagle swooping towards a chained figure on a rock, clearly Prometheus. His gorgeous back gives way to an adorably round little ass, hugged perfectly by dark jeans, making Derek’s mouth water. He swallows hard and forces himself to look away.
Stiles’ fingers brush his when he hands him his coffee and he refuses to take his money, insists that it’s on the house as a welcome home gift, smiling and batting his eyelashes all the while. It all flusters Derek even more, so much that he can barely get out a thank you. Stiles shrugs and winks and Derek doesn’t know what to say next, wants to ask him out but fuck, how does he do that? He hasn’t asked anyone out in years, isn’t even sure if people still ask each other out at all. Stiles is young and cool and he'll probably think he's a complete tool. An old tool. There's no way he would ever say yes, right? Stiles has been flirting pretty obviously, yeah, but that’s like, his job, isn’t it?
A car pulls in behind Derek, rescuing him from his paralyzing indecision and terrible awkwardness. Stiles glances at the car, then back at him expectantly. “Well, Der –“
“It was nice to meet you, Stiles,” he says, cutting him off before he has a chance to tell him to leave so he can continue to do his job with the next skeevy-but-progressive caffeine addict. “Thanks again for the coffee.”
He drives off, stomach twisting. He’s back on the highway before he tastes his coffee, which, of course, is wonderful. One of the best lattes he’s ever had. Dammit. He keeps driving, sipping the stupidly delicious coffee, kicking himself for chickening out.
He’s supposed to be starting a new chapter of his life, right? Stiles is unlike anyone Derek’s been with, that’s for sure. He's always played it safe, followed all the rules. Went to college on a partial baseball scholarship, earned a graduate degree in business while he wrote his first novel so he would have a stable career to fall back on if writing, his first love, didn’t work out. By some miracle it did, and as soon as he sold his first manuscript he bought Jennifer an engagement ring and put a down payment on a house. He’d done everything right, everything he thought he was supposed to do, but he never felt truly happy, always felt like something was missing. Jennifer had thought it was kids, but he had no desire to start a family with her.
And now here he is, thirty-four years old, divorced, moving back to his hometown to live in his childhood home with his sister and soon-to-be-born niece, heart racing because he just flirted with a utterly bewitching and exquisite man who makes coffee half-naked for a living, on a whim, and cheats firefighters at softball.
Forget a new chapter in his life. Stiles could be a whole new book.
“Shit,” he mutters, looking quickly in his rearview mirrors before braking and making an illegal U-turn, heart pounding and palms sweating like a character in one of his novels.
There’s a car at the window when he turns into the Full Spectrum driveway, and Derek taps his fingers on the steering wheel, impatient and losing courage with every passing second. Finally the stupid little Honda drives off and he forces himself to take a deep breath before pulling forward.
“You’re back!” Stiles exclaims with a glowing smile that wilts quickly. “Did I fuck up your coffee?”
“No, not at all. The coffee is great. Really, really great, actually. I just, uh, forgot something.” Fuck, he’s already messing up. He's thrown again by Stiles' eyes, so bright and expressive, and his lovely illustrated body, alive with hot color and energy that he wants to touch, wants to see if it can burn him.
“Oh yeah?” Stiles tilts his head like a curious puppy, and Derek wants to whine a little bit.
“Yeah,” he says swallowing hard. “I should bring Laura something. She likes mochas, I think.” Fuck his whole life.
Stiles looks disappointed, even pouts a little bit. “Sure, okay.” He turns toward the espresso machine, then turns back quickly. “I don’t think pregnant women are supposed to have caffeine.”
Derek sighs heavily, feeling even more stupid. “Right. God, I am so bad at this.” The look he gives Stiles must be pretty pathetic, possibly even imploring, because he seems to take pity on him, maybe even understands what he really means.
Stiles leans on the windowsill again, smile soft and sweet. “How about I make her a hot chocolate, and while I do that, you write your phone number down for me? I'd like to welcome you back to town properly." He steps back towards the machine, then jumps back to the window again, all loose-limbed energy. "On a date," he adds, emphatically. "If that's not abundantly clear by how I can't stop staring at you and by how I did a little victory dance when I saw you come back. A victory dance that you now know about." He's blushing prettily, cheeks going pink.
Derek doesn't recognize the warm feeling that radiates through him, makes him smile like he's about to burst. "If I say yes, do I get to see it?"
Stiles laughs with his whole body, head thrown back, hand tracing lightly over his stomach. "If you play your cards right, big guy," he says with a wink.
He does show him his victory dance - his Holy Shit Derek Hale Might Be Into Me Victory Dance, as Stiles dubs it - two nights later on their first date. As much as Derek wants to see it, and god help him, he does, he misses most of it, busy as he is kissing the ever-loving hell of him.