The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
Stiles has noticed the shop before. It sits directly across the street from his favorite yarn haunt, The Fiber Factory*. Stiles has never been inside the shop before. He's never been much of one for tea. Stiles and soothing things during school are non-mixy things.
But it's October finally, and the door of Hale Of A Tea is propped open and there is this scent wafting out of the shop. It's deep and rich and chocolatey with a sharp tang of peppermint and Stiles must have that. Whatever it is.
Stiles wanders into the shop following his nose. He bumps into a patron, mumbles an apology and props himself against the counter where a teapot is steaming away next to a little pile of sample cups. Stiles pours himself a little, takes a sip, and moans in delight.
When he comes back to himself, he looks up into an amused pair of very blue eyes and Stiles flushes. The man behind the counter quirks a small amused smile at him and Stiles grins back helplessly.
“I’ll have a very large of whatever this amazing, heavenly concoction is. Please and thank you.”
The man has sharp cheekbones, carefully styled brown hair and a nametag that says ‘Peter’. “Anything else I can get you while you wait?” he asks as he moves to take a canister off the wall. It’s a silver, square canister, and when Peter opens the lid, Stiles gets a lungful of that heavenly smell again.
“Are you sure that’s tea?” he wonders, watching Peter measure out several scoops into a tea strainer.
“It’s our White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos*. It’s seasonal, and one of our best sellers," Peter tells him with a smirk. Stiles gets the feeling he gets this reaction rather a lot this time of year.
Stiles is not ashamed.
He watches Peter pour boiling water into a to go cup and dip the strainer in, hitting start on a timer. He takes a moment to look around the shop. It's got dark, hardwood flooring and shelves with rows of large silver canisters lining the wall behind the counter and halfway down the wall to the right of the counter. On the left is a pair of hot drink dispensers with little sample cups for tasting. There are little cards with what type of tea is in the dispenser alongside a sample of the loose leaves.
Stiles tries them both. He likes the grapefruity herbal one that's iced, but not the hot green one. It tastes a bit too much like muddy grass and he ate enough of that playing lacrosse in high school, thanks.
He peruses the small shelves next to the sample table. It houses a display about the benefits of herbal remedies and each canister extols the virtues of the herb inside. Apparently he could dabble in making his own teas if he wanted. There are a pair of armchairs by the front window and two little tables nearby. The rest of the shop is littered with tea sets, mugs, books, strainers. All the things one would need to tea properly.
Stiles flips open one of the books on the history of tea and gets so absorbed that when a hand appears in his peripheral holding a cup he jumps and drops the book. He stoops to pick up the book and when he turns around Peter is standing there smirking, amusement dancing in his eyes.
He's even prettier up close.
"Thanks," he manages, taking the cup from Peter.
"I threw a couple ice cubes in to make it a tolerable temperature."
"Awesome!" Stiles exclaims and takes a sip, moaning. When he looks up, Peter is staring at him. Stiles blushes and holds up the book. "I think I'd like this, too."
Peter rings him up, amusement in his eyes again and tucks the receipt into the book before handing it over. Their hands brush and Stiles thanks him before turning to leave. He's already making plans to come back.
With the way Stiles' brain works, he devours the book in only a few short hours. He mourns the end of his tea by peering into the empty cup for longer than is strictly necessary. He pulls an all nighter because he gets distracted researching tea online and forgets about the paper he has that's due the next day. When he does remember it's two in the morning and he's already dragging.
He stumbles his way through his morning classes blearily, remembers nothing of either lecture, but takes notes that will probably take as much time to decipher as it would to just go back and redo the reading. Scott is always amused by Stiles when he is sleep deprived, and is helpful only to the extent of steering his best friend around objects that if run into, would injure him.
By one he's gonna die, he knows it.
He makes it halfway to his usual coffee haunt before turning tail and heading for Hale Of A Tea. He practically falls into the shop, earning a disgusted look from a pair of little old ladies sitting at one of the tables and an amused look from Peter behind the counter.
When Stiles slumps over to the counter Peter asks mildly “What can I get you?”
“Something to make the world not seem like a horrible place?” Stiles asks.
“Since you’re new to this whole tea thing, I’m going to take pity on you” Peter tells him. “But next time I expect you to be able to answer the question without help.”
“You are a god among men” Stiles tells him fervently. He roots around in his bag and produces a knitted scarf in heather gray. It doesn’t have an elegant pattern to it, but the yarn is soft and warm and he finished it this morning in a bout of crazy during one of his classes. “If you sell me some of that chocolate peppermint goodness from the other day and teach me how to brew it I will love you forever.”
Peter shakes his head in amusement as he scoops several different teas into a strainer and sets it into a cup. He pours boiling water into it from the dispenser by the sink and sets a timer. He turns to the shelf behind him and grabs a tin off the bottom shelf and opens the lid. Stiles can’t help himself, he leans forward and inhales the rich aroma with a look of bliss on his face.
“How much would you like?”
“How much is it?”
“We have a minimum of 100 grams. It’s $12.95 per hundred” Peter explains. That seems steep to Stiles, but Peter explains that it’s just over three ounces and that that amount of tea can make up to twenty cups.
The timer goes off and Peter removes the strainer from the cup and plops a couple of ice cubes into it to make it drinkable and slides it across the tabletop. Stiles inhales and there’s something earthy and orangey and it makes him slump a little.
“Lets start with that much, see if I can do this brewing tea thing right” Stiles says.
So Peter walks him through the steps of brewing a proper cup of tea. Explains that if he gets confused there are directions on the back of the packaging as he scoops tea into a blue, foil lined bag. He sticks a label to it and Stiles pays for his tea and a strainer and a little scooper. Peter hands him his bag and Stiles loops the scarf around his neck and takes the bag.
“Thanks,” he says and takes his bag of tea and his to go cup and leaves the shop.
Peter watches him go, fingering the heather yarn with a small smile.
Stiles is ashamed of himself when he’s run out of tea three days later. He feels an expensive addiction coming on and he can’t be fussed because it is A) delicious and B) the facilitator of said new addition is very, very pretty.
“Where are you going?” Scott groans because it is seven in the morning and no self-respecting college student is up this early unless they have a class. And no self-respecting college student has an early class on purpose.
“I have a mighty need,” Stiles says, like that explains anything. He stuffs yarn and needles in his bag and crashes out of the apartment with no regard to Scott’s tender feelings.
He’s already gone by the time Scott decides that yelling at him is worth the effort.