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The Customer Ain't Always Right

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Sometimes he really hates his sister. His phone vibrates for the third time and he sighs, tearing his eyes away from the guy behind the counter to read the latest messages.

Cora: RU gonna do it?
Cora: U HAVE TO SOMETIME
Cora: DOOOO ITTTTTTTT
Cora: TODAY. OR U WILL DIEEEE

Derek: False

Cora: TRUE. YOU CANNOT SURVIVE PINING MUCH LONGER
Cora: U CANNOT KISS CUTE COFFE BOY UNTIL YOU PROFESS YOUR DESPERATE NEED TO KISS CCB

She does, however obnoxiously, have a point there.

Cora: on the other hand if he shoots u down I won't have my coffee bitch anymore.
Cora: nvm
Cora: be chickenshit and keep pining and bringing me free coffee
Cora: tho u could actually ask him his name at least

Also a fair point. The guy's nametag starts with an S, but the rest of the name has been painted over with whiteout and an unintelligible scribble of letters laid overtop it.

Derek puts his phone back in his pocket as the young woman ahead of him in line finishes giving her order. He waits for a moment as the girl drifts sideways as she fiddles with getting her credit card back into her wallet. It also gives him a chance to try and gather his courage a bit before he'll have to step up and speak actual words of some sort. The girl moves before he's decided which awkward sentence to go with, and he feels the sinking sensation of it being too late to salvage as the space opens in front of him.

Before he can step forward to face the stupidly-attractive barista, however, the door to the coffee shop bangs shut loudly and a man in an expensive suit and pretentiously rectangular designer glasses pushes past him to step up to the counter.

"Uh," Derek says faintly. He glances back over his shoulder to confirm that yes, there are in fact no less than three people standing behind him still in the line. And that it's pretty clearly a line.

"I need a soy-latte, triple-shot with one pump of sugar-free van-"

"Next in line, please!" Cute Coffee Boy calls out, ignoring the man in front of him and turning a markedly innocent expression in Derek's direction. But his eyes are sparkling with mischief.

"Hello!" Douchebag says, snapping his fingers in the air between them. "Right here, kid."

"Yes sir, I see you there. And I'll take your order in…" He leans over to glance at the remaining line. "Four more people. Whoops! Five now. Better get in line before it's six."

The asshole glares over his shoulder impatiently and sneers, actually sneers at the people waiting.

"Look, these people can wait for a couple minutes before they go to their yoga class or salon appointment or collecting unemployment or whatever. I don't have time to wait. I've got a very important meeting in five minutes."

"That's nice," S says slowly, in a voice that says he thinks it's anything but.

"So. Take my order."

"I'd be happy to. In about five more people," S says again, over-pronouncing the words.

Douchenozzle stands there, astonished, glaring at the young man in his crisp blue apron.

In a move that has his thin grey tee clinging to his biceps and highlighting the breadth of his shoulders, Cute Barista crosses his arms across his chest, staring back with his long, dark eyebrows lifted.

"Dude, the longer you stand there, the later you’re going to be. Go on. Back of the line," he says, making a shooing gesture with one hand.

“Do you have any idea who I am?”

"Nope," he says, popping the P. "And I don't care. Now shut up and go to the back of the line," S says bluntly, sending a wink in Derek's direction.

Derek feels his face heat while the others behind him titter in shocked amusement. The jerk's back stiffens further at the laughter, which Derek wasn't even sure was possible given the apparent stick up his ass. But he puffs up nonetheless and attempts to loom over the edge of the counter.

"How dare you talk to me like that," the man says, indignation coloring his voice. "Get me your manager. Now."

Cute Barista sighs heavily, rolling his eyes skyward. But he lifts his hands in mock-surrender and turns away from the counter. He walks into the back area of the shop for a minute, and soon returns with an older woman in tow. With a mocking flourish like a satirical magician's assistant, he gestures her towards the businessman.

"I'm gonna go rack up some more of those muffins real quick, we're running low," 'S' says quietly to the manager as he turns, then disappears back into the back.

The woman is sweet-looking, with wrinkles that speak to many years of smiles and soft curls of greying hair and a floral shirt under her own blue apron. She sighs, shaking her head after the barista and then pastes a polite smile on her face and folds her hands in front of her as she steps up to the counter. "What seems to be the problem, sir?"

"That boy was incredibly rude to me, and now I'm going to be late for my meeting," the man says, putting on an air of being shocked and offended as he whips out his cell phone and starts typing something. "I don't want to hear any argument. These people all saw it. I want you to fire him immediately."

The woman flicks a glance at the people behind him, and when her eyes land on Derek, she arches an eyebrow at him as though in question. Derek snorts and shakes his head, glancing at the asshole with what he hopes comes off as distaste.

The woman smirks fractionally, then says, "I have no interest in arguing with you sir. I’m afraid I don’t have the authority to fire him, but if you want I can get the owner for you. He's just in the back."

"Fine, but I expect to be compensated for having to go through all of this trouble," the man says.

"You're not the only one," the woman mutters under her breath.

"What?" the man says, looking up from his phone.

"I said, I’m sure you can discuss that with him, sir," she says as she turns and disappears into the back again.

There's the muffled sound of voices, then a laugh and a clatter. A moment later, 'S' pops out, dusting his hands off on his apron, leaving behind little trails of powdered sugar.

"Yo," he says, grinning broadly and looking every inch the impish rogue.

Derek can't help but laugh under his breath. If he weren't already attracted to the guy, this could clinch it.

The man looks up from his phone again and then makes an impatient sound as the manager returns alone, carrying a tray of muffins. "What’s the meaning of this? I said I wanted to talk to the owner."

"And I got him for you," the manager says as she slides the fresh tray into the front display case.

"Like I said," the barista grins. "Yo."

The businessman silently gapes for a few seconds, but before he can speak, the other patrons start laughing as they figure it out.

"He also said back of the line, asshole," one of the girls in line behind Derek calls out.

Doucherman stumbles back a pace glancing between the barista and the other aggrieved patrons, looking for all the world like he's stumbled into some sort of twilight zone. He spins on his heel and walks away towards the door, stammering some unintelligible mixture of insults and what sound like absurd threats about costing him his business. Lighthearted jeers and cheering follows the man out.

"Stiles, honey, lovelybunches" the manager says with a mix of exasperation and fondness as she gives his shoulder a shake. "Why do you always have to involve me?"

"Aw, come on, I love the look on their stupid little faces when they find out I own this joint and so do you and you know it. Grab the other register? Let's get these fine, beautiful, patient people some coffee," he finishes with enough volume to carry to the other customers, to which he receives laughter and a little light applause.

The manager just rolls her eyes but she takes over the second register, looking at the woman behind Derek and saying. "Miss, I can help you now."

"I love this job," he murmurs. Stiles, if that's really what follows the S on the scribbled nametag, cracks his knuckles with a grin and turns to face Derek, finally ready to take his order.

"Hey Derek. What can I get you?”

"Uh," Derek says, words stumbling together in a giant jumbled mess in his head at the sound of his name. Before he can actually think it through, he's asking "You know my name?"

Stiles grins at him, eyes crinkling at the corners. "Of course I do. I've written it enough times. You come in like twice a week at least. I can probably guess what you'd like to order too. Caramel latte with whip and a Long Black with just a dash of cream?"

"Right," Derek says softly.

"So," Stiles says as he sets out the two cups and punches the numbers up on the register. "Who's the other drink for? Boss? Friend?" He pauses as Derek shakes his head, then waggles his eyebrows for effect as he adds, "Lover?"

"No," Derek says with a snort, arching an eyebrow in return. "That's for my pain-in-the-ass Sister."

"Right, good. Nice of you," Stiles hums almost to himself as he takes the ten-dollar bill Derek extends even before the total comes up.

Derek opens his mouth, trying to think of something to say, but as usual the right words do not come to him. All he manages to say is, "Keep the change."

"Aw thanks," Stiles says, dropping said change into the tips jar. He hesitates, like he wants to say something else personal, but instead murmurs, "Be right up for you," and goes to work making the coffee drinks. It's always a pleasure to watch him work, his long-fingered strong hands flying around the equipment, getting the grounds packed just right, minding the temperatures by sound and practice rather than having to look at the thermometers. Derek tries not to stare too obviously.

It's all done quickly enough, but when Stiles returns to hand over the coffees, he pauses, holding onto one of them as he leans a little over the counter, looking right at Derek with that mischievous little smirk spreading over his face. He licks his lips though, almost nervously as he says, "Hey, hey, can I ask you something?"

Derek swallows back the twelve-year-old's response of 'you just did' and instead nods in the affirmative. Stiles glances around them furtively in a sort of theatrical gesture, then leans even further over the counter, crooking a finger at Derek. His heart is already pounding with nerves and anticipation as he obliges him and leans in against the countertop, putting their faces closer than is at all casual for strangers.

"Okay," Stiles says, voice lowering to just above a whisper as he leans closer. "So. Here's the thing. I was wondering, do you think the owner will fire me if I ask you for your phone number?"

Derek goes still and just stares at him, at the teasingly-fluttered eyelashes and the impish turn of his mouth. Self-doubt and embarrassment try to wrangle their way up to decry any possible mockery and urge him to run away -coffee be damned. But there's a tightness around Stiles's eyes, a sort of hopeful look that remains as the teasing fades and he holds his breath. Like he really means it.

Besides. Cora would never let him live it down if he missed his chance.

"I don't think so," Derek says, looking down at the fingers tapping nervously at the edge of the paper cup with his name - or what is presumably his name - written on it in messy black scribbles. "He seems like a pretty cool guy."

"Yeah? Maybe. He tries pretty hard," Stiles says, grinning down at the coffee he's still holding onto.

Derek swallows against the threat of potential social disasters and instead makes himself take the flirtatious option. He reaches out and plucks one of the sharpies off the little pocket on Stiles's uniform apron, then uncaps it and reaches down to take hold of Stiles's hand. It's warm, almost hot with the transferred heat from the coffee, and it feels almost eerily good in Derek's as he turns it over to give himself a canvas. He writes his number - far more carefully than Stiles would have had it been the other way around, then places the marker back where it belongs.

"Well," he says, allowing himself a small, pleased smile at the result. "Too late to ask now. And I think you're in the clear. He can't blame you if a customer hits on you, can he?"

"You're right. That would be pretty ridiculous. If he did, I'd definitely have to quit," Stiles agrees, grinning broadly at him. He bites his lip as he looks down at his hand. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

"I guess we will," Derek says, picking up the coffees as Stiles admires the new ink on his skin.

"You know what though? I have a feeling it'll work out," Stiles says, looking up through his lashes.

"Funny," Derek says, smirking right back. "So do I."