Stiles knows him as the guy who gets a tall black every other morning.
He can't help but smirk to himself, just a little bit, every time he sees the guy skulk in, because he just looks like the kind of guy who would drink nothing but black coffee. Tall, sharp features, piercing blue eyes, the whole shebang -- you know, the kind of brooding love interest that you might find in a cheesy romantic novel. He comes in every other day with a leather jacket draped on his shoulders and a scowl carved into his face, and Stiles chuckles to himself because it just seems so ordinary.
It's not like he owns the coffee shop, but he's been working there for a few years (Mrs. McCall was nice enough to give him a job back when he was technically too young to work, but those are the perks of being best friends with her son.) It's the most well-attended cafe in the entire area, and he's seen plenty of characters in his day -- the ditsy blondes, the blockhead jocks, the nerds, the starving poets, the hipsters -- and this guy just screams "tortured soul with a dark past."
He'd probably leave the guy to his own devices if it weren't for his own damn curiosity, so he can't really be bothered when he hitches an eyebrow at the guy's order.
"You know," Stiles starts slowly, "you order the same thing every time you come in here." He starts ringing up the drink regardless, and he chuckles. "What's life without spontaneity?"
The guy hardly looks amused. "Normal, that's what it is. I asked for a coffee, not an interview." He shoves his hands into his jacket pockets, and Stiles can already tell that he's musing on whether or not he should tip this time around. He's not bothered, and he shrugs nonchalantly.
He grabs a medium-sized cup from behind the counter. "This shop's so successful because we have so many different types of coffee, though. You wouldn't want to try a new one? Ever?"
"Do I look like the kind of person who enjoys new experiences?"
"You look like the kind of person who doesn't enjoy anything." Stiles grins. He starts filling the cup, and even as he speaks, he's inching towards the almond pump. "That's not really any way to live life, is it?"
The guy's scowl deepens, and Stiles tries to keep from laughing, because he's definitely not getting tipped. "Are you a psychiatrist or a barista?"
"Neither." Stiles says flippantly, and the conversation, like he planned, distracts the guy enough so he doesn't see when Stiles starts pumping almond syrup into the coffee. He grabs a top to the cup off the side of the counter and grins. "I'm actually a werewolf, but I collect stamps as a hobby."
Somehow, the guy doesn't seem surprised.
Stiles slides the coffee across the counter as Mr. Broodington starts rifling through the bills in his wallet. "That'll be two dollars and eight cents." he chirps, and he's surprised to see that the guy can look even more upset, shoving his hand into the pocket of his jeans.
He slaps his money on the counter and mumbles a quick, "Thanks." before walking to the furthest corner of the store from Stiles to probably sulk and write poetry.
Stiles watches him with a smirk as he sets up a laptop on the counter of the table and he slides the money into his palm. He tries his best not to laugh, but it's difficult -- two dollar bills, a nickel, and three pennies. Not a single cent in tips.
He doesn't jump when he hears somebody clearing their throat from the counter, because he's been waiting for Sir Skulk-A-Lot to trudge over to the front again. He puts on his sunniest smile and turns to greet him.
"Enjoying the coffee?"
The guy looks perpetually infuriated. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Stiles doesn't bother to keep up an act of feigned innocence, so he just rolls his eyes good-naturedly and shrugs. "Oh, come on, look me in the eye and tell me I don't make the best damn Almond Joy you've ever tasted." The guy still doesn't look amused. "It's got almond and coconut and mocha in it, come on! It could brighten anyone's day, even yours."
"It's not what I ordered." the guy growls low in his throat. "I paid you."
Stiles sighs. "Listen, you're a man of integrity, right? You're blunt and you don't pull punches." He smirks. "So, if you can tell me that that's honestly not the best damn cup of coffee you've ever had, I'll refund your money and give you a new one, black as night. Deal?"
"I'm not here to play games with you!" the guy snaps.
So Stiles just leans on the counter, putting his chin in his palm. His smile is lazy. "I dare you, dude."
Dr. Dreary's clenching his teeth, but he doesn't say anything immediately. He stares at Stiles and Stiles stares back, and they stand there at the counter for what seems like an eternity, just waiting for the other to budge. Stiles can tell some of the other customers are watching, and he's getting a kick out of it.
But eventually the guy grunts and swipes the coffee off the counter, and he turns to go back to his seat.
"It's not dude, either." he mumbles. "It's Derek."
And Stiles grins. "Enjoy your coffee, Derek."
Eventually, Derek stops coming in every other day. Melissa finds it strange, but Stiles finds it amusing, because instead, he's coming in every day. He still only stays and clacks away on his computer occasionally, but he gets into the habit of at least dropping in every morning and grabbing a drink before heading out.
Derek's also gotten into the habit of telling Stiles to "surprise him." He'll never get over that, really.
So it's one morning when Stiles is pumping some mint into the coffee that he looks over his shoulder and tries to make conversation. "So, Derek."
"Stiles." he replies, and at least he doesn't scowl all the time anymore. Melissa sometimes pats Stiles on the back for making one of their regulars semi-happy to come in on a daily basis, but Stiles would just call his expression tolerant.
Stiles caps the coffee and slides it across the counter, and Derek pulls out three bills from his wallet (yeah, that's right, Stiles has jumped up from nothing to a ninety-two cent tip, what.) "Where do you work, anyway?" he asks casually. "You're always on your laptop, but you don't look like you're a businessman or anything."
Derek looks like he's been taken a bit off-guard by the question. He shoves his wallet back into his pocket and says, "I work at the local animal shelter." Stiles grabs a towel to start wiping down the counter, but he keeps his eyes on Derek. "I'm in charge of keeping records -- which animals get adopted and transferred and..."
He trails off, and that's the first time Stiles sees anything that might resemble compassion from Derek, because it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he left out euthanized. He's a tad shocked, to the say the least, so he tries to change the subject to something somewhat more light-hearted. "Which ones do you like best?"
Stiles shrugs. "Which animals, I mean. Which are your favorite?"
Derek pauses, and he seems to think the question over for a minute, but he nods decisively and says, "The dogs." He sounds oddly determined when he says it, and Stiles files it away into the back of his mind to call on later.
Derek glances down at his watch and he grabs the coffee. "Thanks." he mumbles, and he turns on his heel, striding out of the store with a nervous kind of purpose that makes Stiles honestly worry.
"That coffee you gave me yesterday." Derek asks the next afternoon when he walks in, slinging his laptop bag further onto his shoulder. "What was that?"
Stiles grins at him and grabs a coffee cup. "The one with the mint? We call it the Polar Express." Derek hitches an eyebrow at him. "Well, I do, at least. Melissa lets me name the coffee. She thinks it's cute."
Derek seems skeptical, but he nods. "I just thought I'd tell you that it was, uh..." He struggles with the words, and Stiles laughs, brewing some coffee into the Styrofoam cup.
"Yes, I know I make the best cup of coffee in town, thank you very much." he says, and Derek purses his lips, content on giving up. "The ground I walk on is available for kissing on Tuesdays and Thursdays."
Derek averts his eyes, and Stiles can't help but think it's a bit cute. "Alright, Mr. Stilinski." he says, with some manner of finality, and Stiles tries not to snigger. "Surprise me."
"I'll get you a Jungle Fever." Stiles says with a wink, and he can almost swear that he sees Derek crack a smile.
Their relationship continues for a week or two as it is, with Stiles making all sorts of crazy coffee combinations for Derek to try and Derek loving every last one of them. Stiles even ends up making two or three new ones that make their way onto the menu (the customers particularly like the hazelnut coffee with strawberry and mint, so Stiles takes it upon himself to name it Derek's Brew. When it gets added to the menu, he can't help but notice that Derek can't take his eyes off of it.)
It's on a rainy Saturday that Derek comes in, drenched from head to toe and looking considerably worse for wear than normal. Stiles frowns and grabs a cup, and he tries to make his jokes a tad gentler.
"We've got a Stilinski Brand-Name Comfort Coffee, if you'd like to try it." he says, and Derek blinks, eyes oddly duller than normal. "It pretty much just involves me hitting random flavor pumps and hoping for the best."
"That sounds like a great idea." Derek says quickly, and Stiles nods.
He turns his back on Derek and starts brewing the coffee, and he doesn't even have to ask, and Derek starts talking on his own.
"There's this dog at the shelter." he starts quietly, and his voice is fond, like he's imagining the dog. "It's this Saint Bernard named Rocket. He was smaller than his brothers and sisters when he was born."
Stiles jabs the toffee pump with his finger. "Yeah? What's up, is he sick?" Derek shakes his head, and Stiles wonders what makes him comfortable enough to be sharing all this with him. He's a bit taken aback to think that, somewhere along the way, Derek started to like him.
Stiles almost can't hear him when he speaks again. "Nobody's taking him in." he tells Stiles. "Nobody's even looking at him, you know?" He frowns at the counter in front of him, and the water from his hair is dripping onto the surface of it. "He was sick when he was younger, and I took care of him, and nobody's even giving him a chance."
He pulls the coffee cup out of the machine and caps it absent-mindedly. "Why don't you take him in, then?" he asks. "You seem like you know him well."
Derek just shakes his head, though, keeping his eyes firmly trained on the counter in front of him. "I've already taken in three dogs that were set to be euthanized." He says it like it's the most ordinary thing a person could have done, but Stiles is struck by how... warm it is. "I couldn't handle a fourth."
He sounds so dejected that it makes Stiles' heart clench, even just the tiniest bit, and he's suddenly wondering if he's feeling more for the dog or for Derek. But his mouth almost starts moving on his own, without him thinking.
"You know," he says, trying to inject an air of mischief into his voice, to lighten the mood, "other than school and work, my apartment gets pretty damn boring. I've actually been wondering if I should get a dog." He really hasn't, but hey, dogs are totally awesome, aren't they?
And besides, Derek's already looking up, and his expression is so open and hopeful that Stiles can't not adopt the dog now. "I shouldn't make you do that." Derek says, but his voice is distant, as if he doesn't mean it. Stiles just shrugs, and he slides the coffee across the counter top.
"Rocket would be good for me." he says, and he surprised to find that he really means it, surprised to find that he really wouldn't like to do anything more than make Derek happy, let him know that his dog is safe.
And it's the first time that Stiles ever catches a full-blown, honest-to-goodness Derek Hale grin, and he looks so relieved that Stiles can't even be bothered to think about collars and food and vet visits, because he just did something that made Derek happy.
He's surprised by how much that means to him.
After a moment, Derek's finally able to speak. "When's the earliest you can take him?" he asks quietly, as if he still doesn't believe it, and Stiles shrugs.
"When's the earliest I can get him?"
"Tonight, I guess."
Stiles winks. "Tonight sounds good."
Derek nods at that, and he clears his throat, his smile disappearing. Stiles can't help but be somewhat amused, like Derek needs to keep up some dark, unapproachable persona at all times. He pulls out his wallet and slides a bill towards Stiles.
Stiles' eyes widen as he looks at the ten on the counter. "Dude, it's still only two dollars and eight cents."
Derek picks up his coffee and shrugs, and his face is passive when he says, "It's the smallest bill I have. Keep the change." With that, he walks out, and it takes Stiles a minute to realize he's been tipped just shy of five hundred percent.
Rocket's smaller than most Saint Bernards that Stiles has seen, but he's definitely not a small dog. Derek has him sign all the paperwork and they get all the business out of the way, and soon enough, Stiles is loading the dog, a bag of chow, and a slightly-worn chew toy into the back of his Jeep.
Derek holds his hand out for a shake, and Stiles takes it, grinning. "I'll take pictures for you and everything." he tells Derek, and the other man nods.
"Thank you, Stiles." he says quietly. "Really."
Stiles shrugs, and he pats the back of his Jeep. "He'll love my place, I promise. All we'll ever do is eat pizza and watch movies." Derek's smile is small, but it's definitely there, and Stiles feels like it's worth it, then.
And also when Rocket licks his ear on the drive home. That's pretty great too.
Stiles has Scott and Melissa over the next day for lunch and to meet the new dog, and Scott's playing tug-of-war with Rocket in the living room as Stiles and Melissa chat in the kitchen.
"The local shelter?" Melissa asks when Stiles tells her where he got Rocket. Her smile is small, but Stiles doesn't miss it. "You mean where that guy works? The guy with all the leather that you always tease?"
"His name's Derek." Stiles replies with a shrug. "And I guess you could say it was kind of a favor, but I'm glad I have Rocket. I didn't do it just to make Derek happy." He purses his lips and thinks that sentence over, and can already tell where Melissa's going to make a jump.
She sidles up next to him, leaning against the counter as he starts brewing coffee in the little Keurig he bought at Walmart, and her grin is knowing. "You know, Stiles," she says, hushed, "a dog isn't going to get you a date."
He looks up at her, his eyebrows shooting up, and she winks at him. Pushing herself off the counter, she vanishes into the living room, and he can hear her laugh as Rocket starts barking.
He's not sure why, but he can't stop thinking about for the rest of the day. It sits in the back of his mind, gnawing at him, never leaving him alone -- that, and the image of Derek's face when he agreed to adopt the dog. How happy he'd looked.
The next morning, Stiles wakes up and doesn't know why he's anxious.
Derek strides into the coffee shop that morning with purpose, and Stiles can already tell that he probably has a busy morning ahead of him. He grins, though he knows the anxiety in his stomach is bubbling up violently, and asks, "What'll it be?"
"Surprise me." It's a dialog that the two of them have gotten used to, and Stiles, out of habit, pulls a Styrofoam cup out and starts brewing a Jack o' Lantern, hitting the pumpkin and toffee pumps.
Derek stuffs his hand into his pocket, retrieving his wallet. "How's Rocket?" he asks, and it's almost as if he's trying to sound casual, but failing. Stiles crosses his arms and shrugs.
"I dunno. He's only the coolest dog ever." he says, and Derek's face doesn't change, but his shoulders slump, just the smallest bit, in relief. He pulls the cup off and caps it, sliding it across the counter. "That one's on the house."
Derek shakes his head. "I really should --" He pauses, though, his hand frozen inside his wallet, and he looks at the coffee first, then at Stiles. He furrows his brow. "What do you mean, that one?"
Well, it's now or never, I guess.
He's not entirely sure what's driving him when he reaches forward and grabs a fistful of Derek's shirt, but he leans up and shuts his eyes and hopes for the best. The kiss probably isn't the most amazing first kiss, and it's probably not the best way to introduce himself as a potential romantic interest, but it's the best he can do on short notice.
If he had waited any longer, he probably would have freaked the hell out.
He pulls away after a minute, and from the side of the store, a customer wolf-whistles, but his eyes are on Derek, who's wide-eyed and frozen. He lets go of Derek's front and finds himself unable to say anything, so he smiles weakly.
"That one's called 'Stiles Is Really Great And You Should Consider Going On A Date With Him Because He's Great.' It's off the menu." He shrugs, and Derek finally seems to relax a little bit, though dubiously. "And it, uh. Yeah."
Derek nods absently, staring vacantly at the counter before him, and Stiles starts panicking, wondering if he made the wrong choice after all. Derek seems to muse over something for a moment, but he grabs a pen out of the coffee mug on the corner of the counter and turns over a stray receipt he had shoved in his wallet.
He scribbles something down and slides it over the counter, picking up his coffee. "I hope that'll cover it." Stiles blinks and picks the receipt up, but he stares at Derek as he slips his wallet back into his pocket.
Then, Derek leans over the counter and kisses Stiles' cheek, and that's when he finally breaks out his stupor and realizes what just happened. Derek smirks at him and turns around, and he's off before Stiles is able to say anything.
He can hear some of the customers giggling, and one of them shouts, "Yeah, Stiles!" before he actually looks down at the receipt. When he does, he's staring down at a dark script that reads Derek Hale and a phone number.
It takes him a moment to realize that the number is Derek's number, and he grins. He stuffs the number into the front of his apron, and announces loudly to the coffee shop.
"Coffee's on the house for the rest of the day!"
And he can almost swear that he can hear Melissa laughing from the back.
Two weeks later, it's raining, and Derek comes in, drenched from head to toe and considerably content-looking for a Monday morning.
"What'll it be?" Stiles asks him with a grin, and Derek leans over, pecking him on the lips.
"Surprise me." he replies, and Stiles chuckles, grabbing a cup.