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He Takes His Coffee Black

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People are funny when it comes to their coffee.

Derek has learned over the past few years that people take pride in having their own coffee order. Some people like to think that the low-fat-to-soy ratio in their coffee reveals something about the kind of person they are; other people just look for any way to set themselves apart from the crowd, to say I’m special. It’s a compulsive need, shared by many, and it’s ultimately a load of horse shit.

Coffee is coffee, and the only time coffee says anything about who you are is when you act like a dick when you order it.

“He’s going to need that at 140 degrees,” Lydia Martin says, her hand up close to her face, her wrist cocked in a way that suggests I always get what I want.

Derek doesn’t even have the will to roll his eyes at her—or the luxury, considering his job relies, in part, on her happiness—but he wishes he did. Pretty girls like her are a dime a dozen and each one is bossier than the last. The boy at her side, Jackson, rolls his eyes and scoffs, and she glares at him.

“There’s no reason to wait fifteen minutes before you can even drink it, Jackson,” she snaps.

“Why don’t you just worry about your frappe, Lydia?” he snaps back at her, and Derek is suddenly tempted to brain himself on the cash register.

Of-fucking-course she wants a frappe today. It’s a time-consuming, predictably frustrating order. Derek keys it in with sharp punches, and he doesn’t bother asking for their names—he just scribbles them down on their cups and collects their payment with a scowl. The boy mutters something about customer service, but he goes quiet when Derek’s eyes flash upwards in a glare.

Fucking coffee, man. How had this become his life?

Well, there’s a simple enough answer for that: his family owns the place.

Though he spends most of his time at grad school, Derek fills his breaks by picking up shifts at his parents’ shop. Wintertime is always especially busy—cold weather and warm coffee are a good mix for business—but this year Derek has found himself especially overworked because Laura caught the flu a week ago. With Laura down for the count, the shop is understaffed, and Derek’s looking at a forty-hour week, no question.

Every so often Laura texts him from her sickbed with things like MMmm chicken noodle soup! Already feeling better little bro xoxo and it makes him want to roll his eyes and smile at the same time (he settles for his usual scowl, because that’s easy and default).

Hale House Coffee is a business built on regulars, located in a sleepy California town edging towards suburbia. Seven years ago—when Derek had finally packed up and gone off to college—Derek’s mother, her children both grown, had decided she wanted something to occupy herself with. Derek’s father had presented the lease to her for Christmas the winter of Derek’s freshman year, and that had been that. 

“Holy shit, it is cold as balls out there,” an unfamiliar voice says around chattering teeth, and Derek looks up from his reverie, still scowling.

Coming towards the counter is Scott McCall, who always orders a white mocha with an uncomfortable-but-polite little smile. He’s usually accompanied by a girl named Allison, who always gets a caramel macchiato (iced in the summer, hot in the winter), but today he’s with someone new.

“Hey,” the new kid says—he’s tall with long arms and legs and big hands that he lays flat on the counter, leaning into them with wide shoulders. Derek is offended by the casualty of the gesture, like the kid knows the place well enough to just lean wherever he wants.

“What can I get you?” Derek asks in a flat voice, and the kid raises his eyebrows, probably surprised by Derek’s less-than-shining disposition.

“Uh, just a coffee. No cream or sugar or anything. Just black,” he says. Derek narrows his eyes, intrigued despite himself.

He's only interested because almost no one in Beacon HIlls likes their coffee plain and black and simple. Derek likes his that way, yeah, but that makes sense. Derek looks like a black coffee drinker. The kid in front of him looks like a hot chocolate drinker, at best. He’s got a goofy expression on his face; with a big mouth and bigger eyes, he's childlike in all of the ways that matter even if his body kind of resembles a grown up’s.

“And a white mocha for me,” Scott adds, sounding awkward, and Derek pulls himself from his thoughts, nods, and writes Scott's name on the cup in his hand.

“Name?” Derek asks the tall kid, who looks confused by the question.

“Uh—what?” he asks. When he catches on, he says, “Oh! Stiles.”

Derek’s eyebrows go up, surprised, because who names their child Stiles? But he writes the name down and passes the cup to the bar before he collects their payment— $7.35— silently.

And that’s that. They get their drinks and claim some large, plush chairs in the back corner where they talk animatedly, laughing and bumping fists every so often. Derek doesn’t watch them—he doesn’t. He just notices that, when they get up, Stiles takes both of their cups and tosses them in the recycling bin, shakes his shoulders like he has a little too much pent up energy, and throws an arm over Scott’s shoulders as they walk out into the cold December air. The kid slips on some ice on the sidewalk and nearly face plants into a red pickup truck. He’s graceless; his limbs probably got too long too quick.

Derek only notices because Stiles is a stupid name, and he kind of wants to know how having a name like that affects a person.

 

 

 

The next time Derek sees Stiles, it’s four days before Christmas, and he comes into the coffee shop alone. It’s midday, so the shop is mostly empty, and Derek’s been occupying himself by re-washing the grinders. At his side is Laura, who’s muttering under her breath about scalding milk.

As Stiles approaches the counter, Laura sighs and says, “Derek, I’m taking my break. Don’t burn the place down while I’m gone.”

“Right,” Derek says flatly, and she pats him on the back on her way to the break room, untying her apron as she goes.

“Hey,” Stiles greets him with a little nod, though his eyes are following Laura. “Your sister?”

“Since birth.”

Stiles is quiet, looks contemplative. “Cool,” he eventually says, his eyes finding Derek’s. “Uh, yeah. Can I get a coffee? Just black.”

Derek rings it up and has Stiles written across the cup before it occurs to him that that might be weird.

“You have a good memory,” Stiles says appreciatively, not uncomfortably as might have been expected. Derek looks at him, a smirk tugging at his lips.

“Stiles isn’t a name you hear every day.”

Stiles snorts. “Point taken. Hey, is there any way I can get one of those muffins, too?”

Derek nods and adds it to the order in front of him, then takes Stiles’s payment. A minute later, he passes Stiles a muffin in a small white bag. Typically, that’s when customers shuffle to the side and wait for their drinks by the end of the bar, but Stiles hovers instead.

“So, your family owns this place?” he asks, shuffling his feet like he can’t stand still.

Derek just nods and reaches under the counter to restock the stack of cups by the cash register, anxious to do something with himself because he’s never been good with talking to customers. He’s not sure how he feels about Stiles’s easy manner and familiarity; Derek, a naturally suspicious person you could say, doesn’t trust it. But he doesn’t hate it, either, which is almost more alarming.

“That’s—cool,” Stiles says, and then he starts to move along, edging down the bar. He touches the bags of coffee on display, runs his fingers over them like he can’t help himself. He fiddles with the odds and ends here and there, unhurried.

Derek only notices because it’s unusual behavior; most people just want to get their complicated coffees as quickly as possible and move along. Stiles, with his easy order and his lazy curiosity, is an anomaly in this place. Derek sees, in small, fleeting doses, a kindred spirit there, someone who doesn’t give two shits about what’s going on around him because it’s just coffee. It’s refreshing and disconcerting all at once.

When Stiles’s coffee is ready, he takes it in his hands and holds it up to his face, sighing when the steam rises over his face. He inhales some of it accidentally and coughs, and it’s ridiculous— goofy and strange like the rest of him. He stops by the cash register on his way out, worrying at his chapped bottom lip before speaking.

“Do you get a break, too, or does your sister get special privileges around here?” he asks. Derek looks at him suspiciously for a long moment before speaking.

“I like to save my breaks for the busy times when people expect me to bust my ass for their stupid frappes.”

Stiles laughs and nods like he understands completely. “Alright then,” is all he says, then he’s gone.

Derek’s left wondering what he’s supposed to make of that.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve isn’t as bad as Black Friday when it comes to opening, but it’s a near thing. Derek has to roll out of bed at four in the morning to unlock the doors on time, and he does so knowing that he’s working with his mom all day. Not that he doesn’t love her, of course, but she’s all about the customer service aspect of the business—where her husband and children all prefer the efficiency side of things—and Derek knows she’ll be up his ass all day about smiling and wishing people Happy Holidays.

When they get to the store at five, she puts fuzzy antlers on his head, complete with little bells, and warns him not to get caught without them. The day sucks before it even really begins. Laura comes in at six and laughs until she cries; his dad walks through the door at seven, laughs, and claps him on the back sympathetically, and the force of it sends Derek’s bells jingling.

They hit their morning rush at about 7:30, and Derek’s first real headache comes around when Erica Reyes, with her curling red lips, orders a drink they don’t have—some sort of protein shake.

“We don’t have that,” Derek tells her, and she narrows her eyes at him.

“What do you mean you don’t have it? What kind of a coffee shop is this?”

“One that doesn’t have protein shakes,” he snaps. Sensing an unhappy customer, his mom urges him out of the way before Derek can really get an argument started.

“I’m sure we can make something comparable, honey,” his mother coos; Derek just rolls his eyes.

Still, he survives most of the shift without blowing up over anything. At noon, Jackson and Lydia return, order their 140 degree coffee and a strawberry frappe, and complain loudly about how crowded the store is—like they expect Derek to do something about it.

“We have outdoor seating,” he offers in a flat voice. It’s thirty degrees outside, so he knows just how rude he’s being to even suggest it. Lydia predictably rounds on him.

“Excuse you?” she snaps. “Is that supposed to be funny?”

Derek just raises his eyebrows in a silent challenge to her. He’s got an insult on his tongue, and he’s ready to lash out, when he hears Stiles’s now-familiar laugh a few feet away. Lydia averts her glare, and Derek smirks.

“Stiles,” she says, sounding surprised.

“Lydia,” Stiles greets with a nod, and there’s an amicable nature there that baffles Derek—how two personalities so different could get along is beyond him. “I see you’re enjoying a morning of terrorizing innocent bystanders.”

Lydia sniffs and Jackson scoffs before wandering off to wait for their drinks. Lydia stays behind and shrugs with one shoulder at Stiles and says, “He gets paid to put up with it.”

Stiles laughs—easy as ever—and says, “No, he gets paid to make coffee.”

Lydia rolls her eyes. “Same thing,” she says, but then she walks off, too, joining Jackson at the end of the bar.

“Don’t mind her, man,” Stiles says to Derek, though his eyes are still on Lydia. “She can be kind of that way, sometimes.”

“A bitch?” Derek supplies, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Probably not the word I’d go with, but sure. Nice antlers.”

Derek scowls and clenches his hands. “Don’t. Just… don’t.” Stiles grins, but doesn't say anything else. Derek asks, “Black coffee?”

“Same as usual,” Stiles confirms, leaning his hip against the counter casually. “You should take your break if you haven’t already.”

Derek looks up from punching the order into the register and eyes Stiles, trying to figure out his angle.

“Why?” he asks bluntly. If Stiles is surprised by the forwardness, he doesn’t show it.

“Because you’re about to get another rush,” he says, nodding towards the front windows. Derek follows the gesture to see several minivans pulling into the parking lot, and he groans.

“Mom,” he calls over his shoulder, and his mother looks up from some pretty impressive cappuccino foam art. “I’m taking my break now.”

“Okay, sweetie. Your dad, sister, and I can hold down the fort. Be back in half an hour,” she tells him, and he nods.

Derek hauls ass to get out from behind the counter before the incoming families catch him and he has to take care of their orders. He sees Stiles pass his check card to Laura with an easy smile, then take his receipt and move down the bar, touching things as he goes.

Derek finds a seat as far away from the bar as possible and waits. Sure enough, once Stiles gets his coffee, his eyes find Derek’s. He looks uncertain at first before determination takes over and he makes his way over to join Derek. He stumbles over his feet a little but corrects himself easily, like he’s used to it.

“So,” Derek starts when Stiles sits down. “You’re new to town?

“Kind of,” Stiles says, running his thumb over the opening of the lid on his coffee. “Scott and I go to college together.”

“Right,” Derek says thoughtfully. “Studying…?”

“English,” Stiles says, pulling at his bottom lip with his teeth. “I have a talent for bullshitting.”

“What are you going to do with that?”

“Hell if I know.” Stiles grins.

Derek’s reminded of his own degree: a bachelor’s in exercise science and, come the spring, a master’s in physical therapy. He has no real interest in either, but it’s something to do—something to keep him occupied as he tries to figure out his life. Hell if I know has been Derek’s approach to all of it, too. He can appreciate a good hell if I know— even if it sometimes makes him panic.

“I’m here now because I’m actually picking up Scott’s lease once he moves in with Allison after the after the wedding,” Stiles says, and Derek frowns.

 “Wedding?” he asks.

“Scott and Allison, man,” Stiles explains. “You didn’t know? I figured the rumor mill in a town like this would have—”

“I don’t pay attention to rumors,” Derek says stiffly. Thinking back, it makes sense that Scott and Allison are getting married. They’re pretty much glued at the hip when they come into the shop. It’s an early marriage—they can’t be much older than twenty-one—but somehow that makes sense, too.

Stiles purses his lips thoughtfully and takes a sip of his coffee, and Derek pays more attention to the dark smudge of his eyelashes against his cheek bones than is probably necessary.

“Well, yeah,” Stiles eventually says. “They’re getting married in a couple of weeks, and I’m the best man.”

“Right.”

They sit in companionable silence for a while, and Derek is surprised at just how not uncomfortable it is.

After a while, Stiles glances at his watch and makes a surprised noise, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think your break may be up, dude.”

Derek finds the clock on the wall and groans. The line at the counter is still six people long, and there are people filing through the door. “Awesome,” he mutters, pushing himself to his feet. Stiles follows him.

“Yeah, I gotta head out, anyway,” he says. “Scott and Allison are at an impasse over their cake, and I get to be the deciding vote.”

“Sounds like a hard job,” Derek quips.

Stiles laughs, turns his coffee cup over in his hands like he can’t stand to be still, and says, “Hey, someone has to do it.”

Derek rolls his eyes, and Stiles leaves, dropping his empty cup in the recycling bin on the way out.

 

 

 

Derek doesn’t see Stiles again until the end of the month when Stiles shows up with an invitation for a New Year’s Eve party being held at Scott’s apartment.

“What is this?” Derek asks, looking at the card in his hands. Behind Stiles in line, Isaac Lahey huffs in annoyance. Stiles and Derek ignore him.

“A puppy,” Stiles says sarcastically, and Derek rolls his eyes. “What the hell does it look like? It’s a party invitation, dude. For tomorrow night. And you have to come.”

“I have to close,” Derek tells him, and he rings in a black coffee.

“Good thing the appeal of a New Year’s party is staying up late,” Stiles persists, leaning into the counter.

“And I open the next morning.”

“Well, damn. That sucks.”

“If you’d given me more notice—” Derek starts, but Stiles cuts him off with a head shake and a dismissive hand gesture.

“Whatever, I get it. You can be a funsuck if you want; I won’t judge,” he says warmly.

Isaac makes another irritated noise, and Derek turns a glare on him. “Is there a problem?”

Stiles coughs, like he might have choked on air, and mutters, “Oh my god, if your parents didn’t own this place…”

Derek ignores him, and he keeps his eyes leveled on Isaac.

“Can you speed this up?” Isaac asks, rotating his hand in a quickly, quickly sort of gesture. “I have somewhere to be.”

“Ah, sorry, man,” Stiles says quickly, though he gives Derek an amused, conspiratorial look. “Totally my fault. I’m going.”

He takes out his wallet, and Derek—still annoyed at Isaac and determined to maintain his unofficial worst employee ever status—spots an opportunity to piss a customer off further and jumps on it.

“It’s on the house,” he says firmly, and Stiles looks up, surprised. Slowly, he puts the pieces together, and a grin rises to his face.

“Wow. Dick move,” Stiles says in a low voice, and Derek shrugs. It’s nothing he hasn’t heard before. “Not that I’m complaining because—hey!—free coffee. Thanks.”

“Sorry I can’t make the party,” Derek says, but it’s only half true. There’s something safe about only seeing Stiles inside the coffee shop—something safe about not knowing what Stiles is like outside those four walls. He doesn’t like suffering through large groups, anyway.

Stiles, from the end of the bar, waves him off and says, “Hold onto that invitation. You may change your mind.”

 

 

 

Derek doesn’t change his mind, which turns out to be a good thing because at 11:45 on New Year’s Eve, he’s still cleaning the shop. Late night coffee is a trend for the last night of the year, a way to stay awake for the ball dropping. Derek scowls at the floor as he mops it, and he does his best not to think about the invitation folded in his back pocket, the address on it already keyed into his car’s GPS just in case.

It’s probably for the best, he thinks.

Derek is a special breed of antisocial, and while he’s starting to accept how easy it is for him to be around Stiles, he can’t say as much for Stiles’s social circle. He knows Lydia and Jackson are at Scott’s house right now because he saw them an hour ago, bickering about whether or not they would be going (Lydia had won that argument— shocker).

The front door is locked; the grinders are cleaned; the dishes are washed; the sugar stations are restocked; the bathrooms are spotless. When Derek finishes mopping, he’ll be allowed to leave, but fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to get across town.

He thinks it’s kind of a shame, because Stiles is probably drunk and he’s probably laughing and he’s probably feeling bold. He might bring in the new year with a sloppy, happy kiss to some stranger and come in for coffee early tomorrow morning for his hangover, his memories all a little fuzzy around the edges.

It surprises Derek how desperately he wants to be there through all of that—not just the morning coffee part. He tightens his grip on his mop, and he pushes the feeling down. It’s not a feeling he’s familiar with, and it’s certainly not something he wants to analyze or come to terms with. Denial and repression are more up his alley, truthfully.

When the store’s phone rings—loudly—Derek nearly jumps out of his skin, and, on the way to the phone, he utters few choice cusses that his mother would smack him for.

“… Hale House Coffee,” he says tightly when he picks up the receiver, unsure of what to expect.

There’s a lot of white noise on the other end of the phone, but he can hear someone going “Shhhh!

“Stiles?” Derek asks, his eyebrows knotting together in confusion.

Hey, Derek,” Stiles says, and, yeah, he’s drunk. “So, I know you said you couldn’t make it and all, but the ball’s gonna drop any second, and I thought it’d be really shitty if you missed it because of work.”

“… And?”

“Shh, it’s about to drop—hold on,” there’s rustling on the other end of the phone, and after a few minutes, Derek can hear the sound of the TV program from Scott’s house.

“Thirty seconds!” the woman on TV says, and Derek nestles the phone between his cheek and shoulder, tugging at the coiled, tangled cord. He rolls his eyes, tells himself that he should think this is stupid. And maybe it sort of is—maybe it’s stupid and he should be mopping and mentally preparing himself for an opening shift tomorrow morning—but he can’t make himself hang up, no matter how stupid it probably (definitely) is.

He can hear Stiles talking in the background, sometimes laughing. There’s a lot of noise—so there must be a lot of people. Definitely a good thing that he couldn’t go, Derek thinks, scowling at the thought of putting up with a crowd like that. He’s really not a people person, customer service day job be damned.

“Ten!”

It sounds like everyone in the room is shouting it at once.

“Eight! Seven!”

“You still there, Derek?” Stiles asks.

“No,” Derek says flatly, and Stiles laughs.

“Two! One! Happy New Year!”

Derek starts the new year with Stiles’s drunken, reckless laughter in his ear.

 

 

 

They see each other every day for a week following New Year’s. Stiles always orders a black coffee, and Derek always appreciates the simplicity of the order and the company of the boy who orders it. The routine ends when Stiles doesn’t come around on Saturday, and he shows up on Sunday with a scowl.

“You look like hell,” Derek tells him honestly, and Stiles sneers at him.

 “Whatever, I need my freaking fix—stat.”

“Cream and sugar?” Derek asks saccharinely, and Stiles looks murderous.

Really?” he snaps, and Derek frowns, concerned by Stiles’s lack of good humor. Stiles sighs and says, “Sorry, dude. It’s only been a day since my dad took away my caffeine, and I’m already going to lose my freaking mind.”

“… Took away your caffeine? Are you ten?” Derek asks, keying the order in with sharp punches to the computer screen.

Stiles presses his right hip to the counter and crosses his arms. “I called him yesterday to let him know that I want him to cut red meat out of his diet, but he would only agree to it if I went cold turkey on the caffeine.”

“That’s—healthy,” Derek says, his lips twitching with amusement.

“Shut up. It sucks,” Stiles groans; he passes his check card over the counter when Derek gestures for it. “I don’t drink that much caffeine, and it’s not going to kill me the way red meat could kill him. He’s at that age, you know.”

Derek makes a noncommittal noise and passes Stiles back his card and receipt. “Does this make me a drug dealer?”

“Something like that,” Stiles says with a wry grin. “You’re a lot less twitchy than most drug dealers, I think.”

“Lots of experience with drug dealers, then?”

“Tons. So many drugs. No, scratch that— all of the drugs. I am a drug fiend.”

Melissa McCall clears her voice behind Stiles loudly. Stiles reacts with a full-body jerk and gapes over his shoulder at her with huge, wide eyes.

“Ms. McCall!” he says (squeaks, really), and Derek has to grind his teeth together to keep from laughing.

“Stiles,” she says carefully, slowly, her eyebrows raised.

“I’m—I’m just—gonna wait for my coffee, then,” Stiles says quickly, and Melissa closes her eyes and shakes her head in a long-suffering manner.

“Smart choice,” she says, a smile playing on the corners of her lips.

Derek smirks at Stiles; Stiles glares back, his cheeks colored with embarrassment, and makes his way to the end of the bar to pick up his coffee. He leaves quickly, casting one last look over his shoulder at Derek. When their eyes meet, Derek’s throat feels inexplicably tight, so he looks away.

 

 

 

“Oh, thank god you’re here,” Stiles says through the glass when Derek comes to the front door of the shop, drawn by the emphatic knocking he’d heard from the back room. The rain outside is so heavy that it nearly drowns out the sound of Stiles’s voice.

“Stiles?” Derek asks, confused. His brows furrow as he tries to make sense of the situation, but he unlocks and opens the door quickly.

Stiles stumbles inside, drenched. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry, dude, but my Jeep just broke down literally two hundred yards up the road from here, and my reception is shit—so, yeah.”

Derek frowns. Stiles is making a puddle in the middle of the shop’s floor; Derek will have to clean that up before closing. It’s almost midnight—the night is dark, the full moon completely shrouded by the heavy storm clouds raging overhead.

“Jesus,” Stiles says, and Derek can see the puffs of his breath in the air, see him shaking where he’s standing.

Of course he’s freezing, Derek realizes. It’s early January, and this is an unseasonal storm, made sharp with little bits of ice and a bitter wind.

“We have towels,” Derek says quickly, and he turns on his heel to get them out of the back room. When he returns, Stiles is trying to mop at the water on his brow with his soaking wet sleeve—a sad, pointless attempt. Derek snorts at the sight, and Stiles makes a frustrated noise.

Jesus,” he repeats, taking the towel when Derek offers to him. It’s small—a donated towel that was going to be cut up to make several sanitizing rags for the shop—but Stiles doesn’t seem to mind as he peels himself out of his sweater and undershirt and begins to rub himself dry and warm. Derek makes himself look away.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to see Stiles’s bare skin—in fact, it’s so the opposite of that that it takes Derek by surprise.

“Do you have a death wish? Is that why you’re out driving right now?” Derek asks because speaking is a good distraction from whatever it is he’s thinking. Stiles stills for a moment before he speaks.

“Scott’s just—getting second thoughts about the wedding. I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that but, hey, whatever.”

“They’re young. It’s normal to freak out.”

“Yeah, well, tell that to Allison,” Stiles says miserably, scrubbing the towel over the back of his head. “She’s supposed to be a bride in a week, and now Scott is all I just don’t know if we’re ‘forever,’ and she’s—you know—a little crazy with all of this wedding stuff going on. I’m pretty sure she was ready to kill him by the time I got to Scott’s and intervened.”

“Damn,” Derek says in a low voice. “That’s shitty.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees. “But, between you and me, they’re definitely getting married. They’ll do this song and dance for a few days, get bored, have lots of makeup sex— and then they’ll get hitched and ride off into the sunset or whatever.”

“You sound pretty sure about that,” Derek says.

Stiles shrugs; his bare shoulders are broad and pale and freckled. Derek doesn’t mean to look. He tries to focus on the storm outside the front windows instead.

“Some people just—are. You know? They can be so full of bullshit sometimes that they forget they love each other, but, in the end, they still do. I think they’re just wigging out because people keep telling them that high school sweethearts don’t last.”

Which is true. Statistically speaking, Allison and Scott probably aren’t looking at a bright future. But towns like Beacon Hills do something to people, make them fall in love the way small-town people fall in love.

That’s what Derek’s mom has always said, anyway. Derek couldn’t think of a single person in his high school that he’d want to share a coffee date with, let alone his life. But his mom had grown up in Beacon Hills, had fallen in love in Beacon Hills, and had gotten married in Beacon Hills. She has her romantic notions about the fast-paced romances of the small town mentality, and she’ll swear by them to anyone who cares to listen. Derek privately thinks small town loving is just small-minded people settling for other small-minded people— his mom and dad being the sole exception.

“You seem to know a lot about their relationship,” Derek says carefully, and Stiles sighs.

“Unfortunately,” he says, draping the towel over his shoulders. The inside of the shop is dark, and every so often Stiles is silhouetted by flashes of lightening outside; Derek can’t see his eyes. “I’ve basically been living vicariously through Scott’s relationship the past three and a half years. And, yes, it’s exactly as sad as it sounds.”

Derek doesn't comment on that; instead, he says, “... You’ve had a lot of time to pick apart their relationship.”

You have no idea."

They’re quiet for a long time, Derek doing his best not to look at Stiles. The rain is like a curtain of sound, closing the two of them off from the rest of the world even better than the brick walls and the thick glass doors of the shop.

“I was—” Stiles starts, then stops. He twitches and rubs his hands together for a few seconds. Derek can’t tell if it’s to chase out the cold or if it’s just to do something; Stiles seems to suffer from too much energy all of the time. “You should go to the wedding with me.”

Derek’s jaw goes a little slack, and he says, “What?”

Stiles makes a noise of discomfort before saying, “Okay, it’s not what it sounds like. Well, it kind of is, but, like... Okay. I RSVPed like three months ago with a plus one who ordered the chicken? But he’s out of the picture now, so I’m down a date, but Allison still that plate of chicken. You should come with me and have the chicken. Carpe chicken, even.”

Derek doesn’t know what to say to that, so he goes with his default: “No.”

Stiles laughs, but it sounds desperate, “Come on. It’ll be fun.”

“No, it won’t,” Derek says—and that’s true. It’ll be lots of people he doesn’t care about, making a point of being as obnoxious as possible, and he’ll have to wear a suit, too. Nothing about that sounds fun.

“Alright,” Stiles concedes, “it won’t be fun at all, but we can be miserable assholes together at the reception?”

Now that has some appeal to it, and the promise of making fun of people under their breath and spending several hours together brings that foreign tightness back to Derek’s throat.

He sighs and says, “Fine. But I’m not wearing a tie.”

Stiles laughs—and this time it’s in good humor, and the sound makes a little smirk curl at the corners of Derek’s mouth. “Awesome.”

Lightning flashes and fills the room, and Derek wonders what things Stiles might be able to see in his expression in the cold blue light.

 

 

 

“Are you kidding me?” Stiles groans when he sees Derek. Derek, confused, knits his brows together and waits. “You just got off work; you shouldn’t be able to change into a suit in a coffeehouse bathroom and pull it off. There is something deeply wrong about that.”

Derek shakes his head, folds his work clothes over his arm, and leads the way out of the shop. It occurs to him that this is the first time he’s been outside of the shop with Stiles. It’s a fleeting thought, disappearing as soon as Derek sees Stiles’s ride.

“No,” he says firmly, stopping in his steps.

Stiles looks at Derek, confused, and follows his gaze to the blue, piece of crap Jeep. “What?” he asks, offended.

“I am not riding in that,” Derek tells him.

“Oh my god,” Stiles groans. “It runs! It’s road safe!”

“No,” Derek says firmly, eyebrows furrowed. “We can take my car.”

Stiles almost looks irritated, but, then—“You mean the Camaro?”

Derek raises his eyebrows, surprised, but Stiles is already throwing open the door to his Jeep and pulling out his things.

“Alright then,” he says with a grin when he’s ready and set to go. “Let’s go.”

Derek snorts and follows Stiles, who makes an excited beeline for Derek’s car, his suit jacket thrown over his forearm and a little red box—presumably the wedding rings, Derek realizes—in his hand.

“They trust you with that?” he asks, gesturing to the box, and Stiles glares at him.

“Oh, ha-freaking-ha,” he says flatly. “Hilarious. I’m definitely not going to regret making you my date.”

“I’m only doing this for the chicken,” Derek deadpans, unlocking the doors. Stiles scoffs as he slides into his seat.

“You’d subject yourself to a whole wedding for a chicken breast?”

“I’ve done worse for less.”

“I’m not even gonna ask.”

Derek gives him an hour—tops—before he’s asking about it. Half that if he gets alcohol in his system. (He has these strange moments where he forgets that he doesn’t really know Stiles, where he answers all of his own questions about Stiles with truths that Derek created in passing. He knows Stiles three ways: through his coffee order, through the words that Stiles says, and from the assumptions Derek’s made based on those two things. One-third of Stiles, to Derek, is a glorified daydream, romantic notions about a person Derek spends more time thinking about than he lets himself admit.)

He thinks Stiles might get loose-lipped when he gets drunk. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t hoping for it.

Stiles directs Derek to the church—a tiny place that Derek’s never heard of even though he’s lived in Beacon Hills all his life.

“It’s a really small wedding,” Stiles explains quickly. “And it’s the only place that didn’t offend one or both of the families involved, according to Scott.”

Derek nods and takes a sharp right to turn onto the street. Stiles nearly brains himself on the door.

“Jesus,” he mutters. “I’m so driving next time.”

It’s hard to say what he means by that—“next time.” Derek’s reminded of Laura, in high school, who had thrown herself on Derek’s bed and whined, asking What does ‘see you later’ even mean, Derek? He hadn’t been able to give an answer to her, then, and he doesn’t have an answer for himself now. He’s not even sure what he wants it to mean.

“Here—it’s right here,” Stiles says, pointing. “Oh, but... I guess we should probably park across the street? There’s a lot over there.”

“Would have been good to know that a few minutes ago,” Derek says dryly, and Stiles shrugs.

“It’s not my fault if you can’t keep up,” he says, and Derek scoffs as he maneuvers the car into the lot. 

Five minutes later—because Stiles triple checked that he had the rings, fussed over his tux jacket for a while, and teased Derek about how well-pressed his suit looked—they’re making their way inside. The church really is tiny, apparently boasting just two rooms: a foyer and the sanctuary.

“Alright,” Stiles says, checking his watch. “Aaand I’m late. Great. I should go make sure Scott isn’t dying or dead. You can go on in and sit anywhere.”

Derek nods, grits his teeth, and edges into the sanctuary. It’s small and simple with wooden pews that have been decorated with off-white and spring green ribbons for the wedding. Near the chancel, Derek can see Melissa McCall and Victoria Argent; he thinks of them as their coffee orders: a breve latte with three packs of sugar and a decaf coffee with cream, no sugar.

He picks an empty pew towards the back of the room (which, considering there’s only fifteen pews on either side of the aisle, isn’t very isolated at all) because there’s already a hundred-odd people or so in the room— so much for a small wedding.

It occurs to him, then, that Stiles is in the wedding party, which means Derek has to suffer through the ceremony alone. He rolls his eyes because irritation is easy and normal, and the wave of anxiety that’s just hit him hard is something he’s not sure how to process. It feels like panic, though. He picks up the hymnal in the box attached to the pew in front of him and turns it over in his hands, cards through the pages, and looks down at it blankly, trying to occupy himself any way he can.

The room continues to fill, and Derek slides as far down the pew as he can, knowing that people will probably be forced to sit with him sooner or later. It really shouldn’t be a surprise when Lydia—wearing a spring green dress that complements her hair so well that Derek suspects she had a hand in the wedding planning—drags Jackson into the sanctuary and stops him beside Derek’s pew.

“Lydia, this is stupid,” Jackson huffs, but Lydia just raises her eyebrows in a silent demand, some unspoken communication passing between them that effectively shuts Jackson up.

“Jackson,” she says saccharinely. Derek pretends to read Lord of the Dance in the hymnal as he eavesdrops. “Just sit down, okay? We’ll talk about this later.”

“Right,” Jackson snaps sarcastically. “Fine. I’ll sit down—and you can go act like Allison isn’t throwing her whole life away for a total loser like McCall.”

Jackson,” Lydia hisses, grabbing his arm when he tries to sit down. “You can’t talk like that here! In case you haven’t noticed, this is their wedding.”

“You think?” Jackson throws back, glaring at her and pulling his arm away roughly. “This is bullshit, Lydia!”

Lydia crosses her arm and says, “I don’t see why you should care, Jackson.”

Jackson is quiet for a beat before he sits down with a sigh. “I don’t,” he says in a meeker tone, sounding like he’s given up on the argument entirely. “This is just stupid.”

“Whatever,” Lydia says flatly. “It’s a short ceremony. We can talk about this later. At home.”

Derek’s surprised to hear that they live together—how haven’t the killed each other yet?—but at the same time, he’s actually not surprised at all. Derek’s never gone out of his way to give a shit about anyone in Beacon Hills, choosing to know them in terms of espresso and sugars and milk fats. But Jackson and Lydia have come in together at the same time every couple of days for his entire winter break, so it makes sense when he thinks of it that way.

It’s funny, he thinks, that these kids are mimicking adults so well; Allison and Scott getting married while Jackson and Lydia are already living together makes Derek terribly aware of the fact that he’s in his second year of grad school (after five years of undergrad and a gap year between high school and college), and he still doesn’t know what he’s doing with himself.

Stiles’s fuck if I know attitude is attractive compared to what his friends are doing. Fuck if I know is a familiar, comfortable sentiment amongst all of the let’s-be-grown-up games. Derek might know that he’s getting a MA in the spring, but fuck if he knows what he wants to do with it. He’s been using college to procrastinate since he was nineteen. Seven years later, to put off having to make something of himself. Come springtime, and his graduation, he’s not sure what he’ll do.

Lydia leaves in a flurry of red curls and rhinestones; Derek breathes a little easier with her gone and pushes his quarter-life crisis under the rug. Jackson, who’s on the opposite end of the pew from Derek, wastes no time in pulling a flask out of his suit jacket. Derek snorts a little louder than he wanted to, and Jackson looks at him sharply.

Derek meets his eyes warily, not sure what to expect, but Jackson looks him over once, twice, three times before extending the flask to Derek.

A smirk tugs at Derek’s lips, and he slides across the pew about a foot to take the liquor in hand and throw some back.

“Thanks,” he says, passing the flask back.

Jackson grunts. “You look like you want to be here even less than I do.”

Derek nods once, slowly, because that’s probably true. He really does not want to be here.

But Stiles had asked him, and Stiles is—Stiles is this strange, singular thing that makes the suit and the socializing and the formality of everything maybe, just maybe, a little worth it. He’d been grinning all afternoon, looking clean and grown up in his tux, every long inch of him—

Some signal must get passed through the sanctuary that Derek misses entirely, because everyone starts to make for their pews, sitting down quickly and quietly. Before Derek can draw his own conclusions, the organ towards the front of the sanctuary begins to sing, and the ceremony begins.

Stiles hasn’t lost the rings, and when he catches Derek’s eye after passing Allison’s ring to Scott and grins, Derek feels like the only person in the nearly-full little chapel.

 

 

 

At the reception, Derek is pleased to discover that Stiles is loose-lipped when he drinks. Stiles confesses in a little voice, more than once, that he thinks Victoria Argent is the scariest person in the world (even worse than Darth Maul, who had given Stiles nightmares all through middle school). Derek’s chicken is dry, and Kate Argent laughs loudly a few tables away, but he doesn’t mind. It's actually— surprisingly— fun.

 

 

 

“Jesus,” Stiles sighs, sliding out of the passenger seat of the Camaro and stepping into the parking lot of Hale House Coffee. His cheeks are still flushed from the dance Lydia had pulled him into at the very end of the reception and what remains of the champagne in his system. “That was— something.”

“Yeah,” Derek says, closing his door and locking the Camaro. “Good job not losing the rings.”

“I thought I was going to pass out,” Stiles confesses with a grin. “Hey, are you walking me to my Jeep? That’s a little cliché.”

“No, smartass,” Derek says with an eye roll, “I was going to get some coffee. Do you want some?”

“Can we do that?” Stiles asks, looking surprised. Derek just stares back at him while Stiles considers it for a few seconds. “Yeah, sure. My dad will kill me if he ever finds out I’m still drinking coffee, but sure. It’ll have to be decaf.”

“… It’s two in the morning,” Derek says flatly. “What the hell else would I make?”

“I dunno! I was just—making sure, I guess.”

Derek shakes his head, and they make their way to the front door of the shop. Derek unlocks it and holds the door open for Stiles, who slips inside quietly.

“We’ll have to keep the lights off,” Derek says, his voice low. “So no one thinks we’re open.”

“Right,” Stiles says.

“You want yours black?” Derek asks, though he doesn’t really expect anything else, and Stiles makes a noise of affirmation. Derek makes his way behind the counter and gets to work: two black, decaf coffees.

“I can’t believe Lydia got Jackson to show,” Stiles says conversationally, taking a seat at the coffee bar, perching himself on one of the tall stools there.

“Why?” Derek asks. Lydia strikes him as the type to get Jackson to do a lot of things he doesn’t want to do. Derek can see, in the low light coming from the break room (which always stays lit, even after hours), Stiles lower his eyes and shrug.

“Scott told me that they’re pretty close?” Stiles says with a shrug, a questioning inflection sliding in right at the end, like he’s doubting the authenticity of that information. “And, apparently, he’s never liked her other boyfriends, but he hates Scott.”

Derek has no idea; Allison’s order is $4.35 in the winter and $4.75 in the summer, and Jackson’s coffee is always $2.95. That’s about the extent of his interest in their lives.

“You know a lot about this stuff for someone who’s just in town for the first time,” he says.

Stiles grins. “I’m naturally curious with a talent for subtle snooping. It’s a dangerous combination.” He takes his coffee when Derek passes it to him over the bar and says, “And Scott’s my best friend. It’s kind of my business to know this stuff.”

“Fair enough,” Derek tells him, pouring himself a cup.

“So,” Stiles says, letting the steam off of the coffee waft over his face, “what’s the deal with you and Allison’s aunt? You were avoiding her like the plague at the reception.”

Derek bites down, grinding his teeth together for a split second. “What?” he asks, his head reeling. “What about me and Kate?”

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “Hey, I won’t push if you don’t wanna talk about it. Naturally curious, remember?”

“Yeah,” Derek sighs, “with a talent for subtle snooping.”

“You do listen to me!” Stiles mocks, grinning, and Derek snorts.

“There’s not much there to say,” Derek says slowly. “We were seeing each other—”

“You dated? How much older is she than you?”

“We were seeing each other,” Derek corrects sharply, “and it didn’t work out. So, we broke up. Somewhere towards the end she started seeing someone else.”

“Oh,” Stiles breathes.

“Yeah,” Derek says, his chest tight and his knuckles white as he grips his coffee cup. It’s not a good memory for him; he doesn’t mention that Kate was the reason he didn’t go to college straight out of high school.

Stiles doesn’t say anything, probably because he doesn’t know what to say. Derek definitely wouldn’t know what to say if he’d had that information dumped into his lap. The silence isn’t uncomfortable, but it seems to stretch on infinitely. Derek’s halfway done with his coffee when, finally, Stiles speaks.

“I came to Beacon Hills over winter break freshman year and fell in love with Lydia, if that makes you feel any better,” he eventually says, and Derek’s eyebrows lift, conveying his disbelief. “I know— crazy. But I was totally in love with her until last year. She finally told me to shove it because she and Jackson moved in together. I rebounded with a guy back home—who was supposed to be my plus one tonight. We were on and off all year until he got engaged to some girl. He said I was fun but he was ready to be straight again.”

Derek winces. “You don’t have to—”

“He was a dick,” Stiles says with a humorless laugh. “It’s good that I’ll remember Scott and Allison’s wedding without him.”

That’s either a roundabout way of saying I’m glad you came tonight or Derek’s just reading too much into it. Both are equally likely.

They’re quiet for a long time before Stiles says, “I—with you—this,” he makes a vague gesture between the two of them, “I want to do stuff like this. With you. More.”

Derek’s confused for a minute, not sure what he’s hearing, “Stuff like this?” he asks, looking down at their coffees. They have coffee several days a week—Derek’s taken to having his breaks with Stiles even when the shop isn’t busy— so he’s not following Stiles at all on this one.

Stiles makes a frustrated, choked noise, “Nevermind. Just forget I said anything.” He ducks his head.

He stands up and shakes himself out; Stiles is tall and lean, his suit jacket long-lost, the sleeves of his white oxford uncuffed and rolled up to his elbows. In his black pants, his legs look impossibly long. It takes Derek more time than he’d like to meet Stiles’s eyes. When he does, there’s an enigmatic smirk on Stiles’s face.

“So… I go back to school in a couple of days,” Stiles says.

Right. School. Derek wants to groan; his classes start up in a handful of days, too. He’ll head north and leave his family and the coffee shop behind for a few months until he graduates come May—at which point he’ll… do something.

“Yeah,” he says flatly, looking down at his cup. “Me too.”

“I—uh,” Stiles coughs and shuffles, brimming with anxious energy. “I’ll be back in town and—stuff—because Scott’s passed his lease over to me. We should, I dunno, do something when I’m around.”

If Derek were less impulsive, less driven by the here and now, he might consider the implications of the offer or the way it makes his throat tighten. But he’s an immediate sort of person, who operates on want and do not want levels more often than not (do not want being his default setting), and he’s reactive to a fault, so he just says—

“Yeah,” because it’s what he wants; he wants it so badly he grinds his teeth until they hurt.

Stiles’s responding grin is easy and happy, and it’s then that Derek has the sudden—wholly new—urge to kiss it right off of his face.

Derek locks up tight, his entire body going rigid for an impossibly long moment. His breath catches in his chest, and, distantly, he’s aware that he’s just crossed some unnamable line. Something between him and Stiles has officially been blurred, crossed out, removed from the equation. He wonders—

He wonders if Stiles would like to be kissed, mostly, but Stiles is rummaging in his pockets for something, and when he comes up with his phone he says, “Okay—what’s your number?”

Derek gives it automatically because he doesn’t have the wits to resist or be suspicious. Presently, he tells himself calm down, he probably won’t call anyway and it’s just your phone number; you’ve given it to dozens of shitty lab partners over the past six years, because, apparently, realizing that he has a crush has somehow turned Derek into a high school girl.

Stiles pockets his phone again and says, “Cool. This was—really cool. Thanks for going with me tonight.”

“No problem,” Derek says. It sounds awkward—does Stiles realize that it sounds awkward, or is that just how Derek always sounds?

He really hopes that’s not how he always sounds because fuck.

“Cool,” Stiles repeats, and he shuffles again like he’s expecting something. Whatever it is, Derek’s too busy trying not to lose his mind to decipher Stiles’s body language. With a sigh, Stiles finally says. “Okay. I’m out. I’m wiped. See you around?”

“Yeah.”

Stiles nods, the smile on his lips gone, and he looks somber in the low lighting of the closed coffee shop, his brows knitting together just slightly. Derek’s fingers twitch on his cup at the sight of him like this—something he’s only caught glimpses of here or there in the past few weeks they’ve known each other.

“Night,” Stiles says, heading for the door, one of his hands still in his pockets, the other fiddling with his keys.

“… You too,” Derek says. That time he knows he sounds awkward.

Stiles pushes the door open with a sigh and one last look over his shoulder at Derek.

It isn’t until Derek hears the low rumble of that deathtrap of a Jeep that he gives in, buries his face in his hands, and swears.

 

 

 

It’s not until he’s tucked away in his favorite nook of the campus library, almost two weeks later, with a black coffee and a fifteen-page paper due in forty-eight hours that Derek realizes Stiles had been trying to ask him out.

It feels a little like panic in his throat, honestly.

He decides to take it slow, because he’s never been good with people; plus, he’s got very limited experience with people he actually likes. He’s not sure what Stiles had in mind for ‘them’, but Derek… okay, maybe he’s not exactly versatile, but he… could be persuaded.

Stiles, he thinks, could probably persuade him.

Which is, yeah, unnerving, but it’s also kind of nice.

… But Stiles doesn’t call or text.

At first, Derek goes through school with his cellphone heavy in his pocket. It’s a constant pressure against his thigh, reminding him that Stiles has his number, has the opportunity to contact him if he wants. But Stiles doesn’t take it; he makes no attempts to get in touch with Derek at all.

It’s probably for the best, Derek thinks. After all, he’s bad with people.

Sometimes he fucks Stiles in his dreams, though.

It’s a new development—one that came almost as soon as he realized what Stiles’s intentions had been that night in the coffee shop—but it’s not a wholly unwelcome one. In his dreams, Stiles is all limbs and laughter, with shaking breaths and confident strokes and his eyes bright and wicked. Derek knows, without really knowing, that Stiles’s hands are big and hot enough to scald, but the sensation is more like steam when dream-Stiles ghosts his hands down Derek’s chest, exploring lower and lower until Derek is jerks awake, his heart hammering in his chest and his sheets sticky.

Other times, he sees someone laughing over a cup of coffee on campus, and Derek remembers the way Stiles’s fingers were never still—how he would always tap arrhythmically on the lid of the cup, wipe his thumb over the opening there, let the steam waft over his face, roll his eyes and grin in a way that would not quite split his face, like he was always holding something back.

Little things, Derek thinks bitterly. Little things that he never paid much mind to on a conscious level are now the ones that haunt him.

The coffee in the library tastes like dirt, but Derek spends most of his time there, so he drinks the crap like water, and he finds himself imagining the things Stiles would say about it, the grimace Stiles would make while tasting it.

The most embarrassing part is that Derek wouldn’t even be mad—not really. If Stiles called him today, he’d pick up the phone nonchalantly and carry on a conversation as easily as if he’d done it every day since parting ways with Stiles back in January. If Stiles would call at all. But he doesn’t, though he has the opportunity, and Derek just wants to know why.

Letting Stiles sink under his skin and burn means Derek doesn’t spend all of his time panicking about his bleak future. Derek Hale, Master in Physical Therapy is both an impressive title and something he wants nothing to do with. It’s been his escape for seven years; now he fears it’s about to become his prison.

After a month and a half, though, he stops waiting. Somewhere, amidst all of his want forStiles, Derek grows cold and bitter towards the idea of Stiles— like the pot of coffee he makes in the morning before class that’s still a quarter full when he gets home each night.

At least when he panics about the future, he still burns hot.

 

 

 

He doesn’t let himself feel anger or anything towards Stiles again until they cross paths over spring break.

“Five dollars and sixty-five cents is your change,” Derek says, passing the dollars and coins back over to Allison McCall, who smiles prettily, her dimples flashing.

“Thanks,” she says, sliding the money into her change purse. She looks like she wants to say something, but Lydia—from the end of the bar—clears her throat in an authoritative manner, so Allison gives Derek one last smile, then walks away.

Suddenly, Derek appreciates Lydia Martin. He’s been particularly on edge since coming home for the break (his last break, he’s aware), and the last thing he needs is a reminder that the last time he saw Allison McCall, she was riding away in a limousine with the words Just Married! painted on the back window, and Stiles had been hanging off of Derek’s arm, buzzed and a little sloppy and laughing as he flung confetti after the car.

Laura shoulders past him, and Derek turns a glare on her.

“Jesus, chill out,” she mutters under her breath. “Stop being so damn surly.”

“Surly,” Derek says flatly.

“Yeah, surly.” Laura sasses back, a hand on her hip.

Derek rolls his eyes, but when he turns back to the counter, Stiles is staring back at him.

Seeing his face is like a punch in the gut, and Derek scowls and starts to key in a black coffee before he can stop himself—it’s something to keep his eyes off of Stiles, which is… good.

“Hey,” Stiles says. “Long time no see.”

Derek writes Stiles’s name on the cup and passes it off to Laura, who raises her eyebrows and looks back and forward between Derek and Stiles, the gears in her head obviously turning.

“Why don’t you take your break, Derek?” she suggests when Derek takes Stiles’s check card. He pauses before running the card, closes his eyes, and takes a slow breath.

He says, “We’re busy.”

He doesn’t look at Stiles when he hands back the card.

It’s just after noon on a Monday; the store is not just slow, it’s nearly empty. Allison and Lydia are curled up on the large, fat chairs in the corner, tossing their hair and giggling quietly, two rings on Allison’s hand and one fat diamond on Lydia’s. Other than them, there’s no one to serve.

Stiles doesn’t look hurt, when Derek glances up at him, but he doesn’t look happy, either. He’s got his hands in his pocket and is nodding a little, like it’s nothing he didn’t expect.

“Uh, maybe next time, then,” he says charitably. He makes his way down the bar and takes his coffee to go when Laura passes it to him.

“You should have taken your break,” Laura sighs piteously, and Derek ignores her.

As far as reunions go, it’s a pretty shitty one.

 

 

 

That night, Derek sits between his mom and sister on the couch and tries to put his finger on why he’s so angry all of the sudden. For the last few weeks at school, he’d suffered from a low-grade melancholy and a desire for company that he’d spent most of his life uninterested in having. Now that he’s come back home and seen Stiles, he just feels mad.

“Buck up, buttercup,” Laura says, throwing her arm around his shoulders. “Your sweetheart will be back in tomorrow, I bet.”

Derek shoves her arm off of him and glares at her, but she just laughs.

His mom pats his thigh in a knowing way, and Derek kind of hates everything all at once.

That night, he dreams about Stiles laughing into his coffee, spilling it down his chin and neck and wiping at it hastily with the back of his hand, cursing under his breath. Derek wakes with a gasp and a hard on, something fluttering wildly in his chest.

 

 

 

The next day, Derek sucks it up and takes his break when Stiles walks in, and Laura glances up at the clock and says, “If you’re back fifteen minutes late, I won’t kill you. But just this once.”

Derek rubs his palms on his slacks, trying to make them feel less clammy and hoping to compose himself a little better. He’s still angry, but he’s come to the conclusion that his anger is his own fault: the twisted result of holding Stiles to a promise he didn’t exactly make, of getting his hopes up too high and living in fantasies about a boy he didn’t even know existed six months ago.

Stiles tries to buy his coffee, but Derek shakes his head.

“It’s on me,” he says gruffly, feeling awkward. “Just—sit down.”

Stiles opens his mouth to protest, but decides against it and does as he’s told. Derek’s apron is folded and tucked beneath the counter already, so he’s technically off the clock, but he pours two black coffees anyway and makes his way over to Stiles.

Derek’s a creature of habit; he picks the same table every time he gets the choice. Stiles, in contrast, is always sitting somewhere new. Today, he’s sat himself down at the bar along the front windows, which is mercifully empty otherwise. He’s sitting half-on, half-off of a stool, glancing towards Derek over his shoulder in an effort that’s supposed to be smooth, maybe, but comes off a little teenaged. Derek smirks to see it. Stiles seems to make his way through life on this strange wave of self-deprecating confidence and false bravado, and it’s rare that the veneer cracks.

“Cream and sugar?” Derek jokes when he holds the cup out for him. It’s not a particularly good joke, but it seems to do the trick because Stiles snorts and rolls his eyes.

“You know me so well,” he says dryly, accepting the cup. He brushes his fingers over the steam and a contented sigh leaves him.

They’re quiet for a while.

“… I’m sorry for yesterday,” Derek says finally. He hasn’t sat down, but he stands between a stool and Stiles, his forearms on the bartop, his hands wrapped around his cup of coffee. He leans into the bar and tries to feel confident, but Stiles is right next to his shoulder, which makes him anxious.

“No, it’s totally cool,” Stiles says quickly, waving his hands. He laughs, then, but it’s forced. “You were busy.”

Derek rolls his eyes, “I’m an asshole.”

“… Sometimes,” Stiles agrees. “But not, like… It’s okay. I get it. It’s not like you were mad at me, right?”

Derek opens his mouth to agree, because that’s the easy thing to do, but quickly purses his lips shut instead and says nothing. At first, Stiles fidgets; when the silence goes on too long, he stills.

“Oh my God, what did I do?”

“I’m not mad at you,” Derek hurries to say then. “I wasn’t mad at you. I’m just an asshole, and I’m sorry.”

And that’s true enough. He wasn’t really mad at Stiles; he was mad at a Stiles he had created—a Stiles who had promised to call, had wanted to see and be with Derek. Derek had gotten upset over a stupid fantasy, and taking it out on the real Stiles was just… an asshole way of handling things.

“Okay,” Stiles says slowly. “Uh, I guess.”

Derek settles into the stool next to Stiles, feeling marginally more relaxed. He’s sad, in an abstract and subconscious way, to let go of the fantasy, but letting go of it means making more room and time for the real Stiles, so maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s not so sad, after all.

“How’s school?” Derek prompts, and Stiles scowls.

“Don’t even—” he starts, and then he gets lost in a ten-minute rant about classical criticism versus new criticism. (Stiles identifies, apparently, as a new critic; the fact that people could even identify themselves as a type of literary critic is all news to Derek.) Derek listens and comprehends what he can and ignores the rest. He doesn’t have much interest in the societal relevance of Moby Dick—something he and Stiles have in common, judging by the way Stiles rolls his eyes incessantly while talking about it.

“Oh my god,” Stiles says suddenly, looking at his watch. “I’m going to run your whole break down at this rate.”

“It’s okay,” Derek says immediately. “I don’t mind.”

Stiles looks surprised, but he grins in that I’m-holding-something-back way. Something in Derek’s chest tightens.

 

 

 

“Oh my god, you didn’t!” Stiles laughs, and Derek allows himself a little grin.

“Yeah,” he says; if he’s a little proud about his tongue-in-cheek essay, then so what? It had been a pretty terrific paper, and he’d gotten a solid A minus on it.

“That is so ballsy,” Stiles says appreciatively. “I could never.”

“Well, I already have a degree,” Derek points out, leaning back in the large, plush chair and taking a drag of his coffee. “They can’t take that away from me.”

“Yeah, but they can fail you and keep you from getting this one. Then where would you be?”

Derek just shrugs, and Stiles laughs again.

It’s Friday—and thus Derek’s day off— but he’d come down to the coffee shop to pick up his paycheck and had run into Stiles by accident. Stiles had been ready to take his coffee and leave before seeing Derek in the doorway, but when they’d crossed paths, Stiles had decided to stick around for conversation.

He’d playfully called it their ‘coffee date,’ and Derek had only gotten a little hung up on the word date.

“So, what do you do on your days off?” Stiles asks now, looking a little confused. “Other than the wedding, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you outside of the shop.”

“It’s a curse. I can only leave the shop on the full moon,” Derek deadpans, and Stiles snorts.

“The full moon is for werewolves, dude. Everyone knows that.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Just take the damn joke, Stiles.”

“You’re right—it’ll be a blue moon by the time you make another one.”

Derek rolls his eyes and tilts his head back with a lazy smirk; he tries to remember the last time he felt so relaxed. Probably not since winter break, truth be told.

“Are you finished with that?” Stiles asks with a gesture, and Derek looks down at his coffee cup and nods.

“Yeah—why?”

“Here, let me,” Stiles says, and he plucks the empty cup from Derek’s grasp and gets up, going to drop both of their cups in the recycling bin.

For a sad second, Derek expects Stiles to walk right out the door after that. There’s only a weekend left of their spring break, and if Stiles walks out now, there’s no telling how much time they’ll get to spend together before going back to school. Derek doesn’t work all weekend, but he probably won’t be lucky enough to catch Stiles in the shop like he has today.

It’s an unnerving feeling; he might have let go of his fantasy Stiles, but that hasn’t made him want the real Stiles any less.

He’s soothed, though, when Stiles comes back and looks down at Derek expectantly, fidgeting a little bit. “Are you heading out, now?” he asks, and Derek nods slowly when the words process.

“Yeah,” he agrees, getting to his feet.

“Cool,” Stiles says, and they head out the door together, an easy silence hanging over them.

It’s early April, and most of the chill has been chased from the air by the promise of a sweet spring. The air is clean and fresh, light in contrast to the thick, heavy atmosphere of the coffee shop. Derek takes a deep breath as soon as he’s out in the open, and Stiles shoves his hands deep in the pockets of his sweatshirt.

Derek might have parked his Camaro next to Stiles’s Jeep when he saw it was in the parking lot earlier. If Stiles finds it odd, he doesn’t say anything. Instead, they make their way towards their cars in companionable silence. Derek wishes he could think of something to say—something that would mean this didn’t have to be the last time he saw Stiles before going back to school.

“You should call me, this time,” is what he says, and Stiles stops in front of his Jeep and looks at Derek, surprised.

What?” he asks, eyebrows raised and jaw a little slack.

Derek shrugs, looking down at the Jeep with a little frown. It really is a deathtrap, and it concerns him to think of Stiles driving around town—or, worse, out of town— in it.

“You,” he repeats, “should call me.”

“I thought you didn’t want me to!” Stiles cries, around a dry, disbelieving little laugh. “You looked like it killed you to give me your number that night!”

Derek isn’t much for big displays of emotion, but he comes pretty close now. He scoffs, rolls his eyes, then pins Stiles with a pointed look.

“I wanted you to,” he says.

Stiles’s expression changes from disbelief to relief to frustration to determination—his cheeks reddening a bit with each step and his eyes getting a little brighter. Derek doesn’t have much time to pick the evolution apart before Stiles is reaching up and fisting his hands in Derek’s leather jacket, stepping close and looking Derek in the eye.

He says, “Okay,” and then he kisses Derek—hard and fast.

It doesn’t matter that they’re in front of the coffee shop; it wouldn’t matter if the stupid shop were on fire, because Stiles is kissing Derek, and it’s absolutely everything Derek hoped it would be. Stiles is warm in the cool, pre-spring air, and under Derek’s fingers, which come up to touch Stiles’s cheeks tentatively, Stiles vibrates with that constant energy of his. Derek wonders if it’s contagious, if that’s what’s making his heart hammer so loudly in his chest. He pulls Stiles to him harshly, falling against the hood of the Jeep as he does so.

Stiles laughs into the kiss.

Derek smiles, too, then licks into Stiles’s mouth with enthusiasm, a little sloppy in his eagerness. Stiles hums, his hands on Derek’s chest flattening and sliding up to hold Derek by the neck. His hands are as hot as Derek has been hoping they’d be.

When Stiles does move away— Derek chasing after him to pepper his lips with little, chaste kisses for a few seconds after— his shoulders shake with subsiding laughter, and he runs a hand down his face, a little bashful. Derek hovers just over the hook of Stiles’s jaw, occasionally brushing his nose against the tender skin behind it.

“We should have been doing that before we left,” he admits. “But I totally thought you wanted out, man. I was giving you space.”

“We should have been doing that since New Year’s,” Derek corrects in a low voice. It’s all he says, and Stiles chokes out a laugh like he’s surprised.

They breathe for a second, and Derek’s heart continues to hammer in his chest, his hands still on Stiles’s face when Stiles says, “Christ, come back here,” and tugs Derek’s face up to kiss him again.

 

 

 

In between kisses and tentative touches, they agree to go on a date the next day. The idea makes Derek a little nauseous because he hasn’t been on a date in years, and he gets the feeling that he’s behind the times for good dating spots around town, but Stiles assures him that he’d sort everything out and text Derek directions to his place (to pick him up since Derek had outright refused to go anywhere in that damn Jeep) soon enough.

Derek gets a little nervous, after that. But, mostly? Mostly he’s happy. He spends the rest of the day doing nothing in particular, wandering from room to room in his family home, weaving in and out of little daydreams and memories of the day, of talking to Stiles, kissing Stiles, and feeling Stiles. By the time the daylight starts to wane, Derek’s not thinking about much other than feeling Stiles.

He’s been nursing a caffeine addiction for over half his life, but even that’s nothing compared to the force of his newfound addiction to Stiles. He’d been dancing around it all winter, and now, on the cusp of spring and an actual, adult relationship, Derek feels like a man possessed by want. It makes him feel a little guilty, but that doesn’t stop or even slow his wanting.

Laura makes brownies that night, and his dad pulls out the ice cream, and they talk about how Laura’s going to take over official ownership of the shop—

(She wants to make it a chain, but Derek’s mother thinks that would take out the family appeal; Derek’s dad jokes that maybe they can only let nice families throughout California run the shops because his dad is nothing if not a peacekeeper.)

— Derek brews the coffee and he puts the sugar and various creamers on the counter. They help themselves from youngest to oldest because that’s also the order of how complicated their coffee orders are (Derek’s dad’s coffee almost always ends up off-white, more milk and sugar than coffee because he has an unstoppable sweet tooth).

Derek’s halfway through his bowl of ice cream and a third brownie, rolling his eyes at the television while Laura argues with a news pundit, when his cellphone goes off in his pocket.

“Look who’s Mister Popularity,” Laura teases.

Derek flips open his phone and stares at the unknown number, his chest tightening. When he opens the text, it’s just an address and a small message: Consider this your official invitation to come over WHENEVER YOU’D LIKE.

It doesn’t short circuit Derek’s brain, but it’s a near thing.

He passes his bowl of ice cream into Laura’s hands and says, “I have to go,” with the last bite of brownie still in his mouth, his coffee mug left empty on the coffee table. His mother calls out in protest after him, but he’s got his jacket over his shoulder and the door closed before she can really tear into him.

 

 

 

Derek sits in his car outside of Stiles’s apartment complex for about ten minutes, torn between talking himself into doing what he wants to do and talking himself down. He scowls at the steering wheel, occasionally looking up at the building in front of him and wondering if any of the windows he’s looking at belong to Stiles. He’s outside of units one through twelve, and Stiles is somewhere inside apartment three. Hopefully.

The Jeep’s in the parking lot, so Stiles is most likely home, but it’s no guarantee.

Part of Derek thinks this is crazy, but another part of him can’t shake the memory of Stiles’s lips against his and the curiosity of what Stiles might taste like when he hasn’t been drinking coffee recently. The appeal of the mystery is what gets Derek almost out of his car.

Instead he sends a text: Anytime? And then he holds his breath.

He gets a reply not three minutes later: Anytime.

And that’s that—he’s done. He can’t stop himself anymore, and he doesn’t want to try. If he gets turned out at the door, well fuck. He’ll handle that at a time when he feels more like himself. Units one and two and eleven and twelve are on the bottom floor, and, after taking the steps two at a time, he finds units three and four and nine and ten on the next flight up.

It takes him a solid three minutes to work up enough courage to knock on Stiles’s door.

A muffled, “Coming!” sounds through the door, and something that sounds like a dishwasher gets started. The last of Derek’s get the fuck out of here instincts go out the window when Stiles throws open the door with a wry grin.

“Well,” he says cheekily, “I did say anytime.”

Derek makes a noise of acknowledgement, but can’t pull his eyes away from Stiles. He’s always in layers at the coffee shop: flannel shirts over graphic tees under at least one jacket if not two; now, Stiles is wearing black sweatpants and an oversized blue crewneck. He looks stripped down, though he’s completely clothed.

Stiles raises his eyebrows and says, “You wanna come in?”

Derek swallows and nods. Stiles moves out of the way, a smile on his face, and Derek steps past him into the low, yellow light of the apartment.

“I’d apologize for the mess, but this is actually the best it’s looked since I got home,” Stiles says, closing the door behind Derek.

“I live with Laura,” Derek says dismissively. “Nothing surprises me anymore.”

Stiles’s apartment is exactly what Derek would have expected it to be: IKEA furniture and various posters hung on the walls without frames, little knickknacks like PEZ dispensers and Star Wars LEGO figurines on the coffee table and bookshelf and entertainment center. In the corner is a pineapple-shaped piñata, which probably has a story attached to it, and there’s books and magazines strewn across the coffee table and the bar separating the kitchen from the living room. None of the furniture really matches; the blue wingback armchair closest to Derek is of high quality, probably something Stiles received from a relative or picked up at a yard sale. Definitely not IKEA.

“I don’t have a coat rack or anything, but,” Stiles starts to say, but Derek shakes his head. He shrugs off his jacket and drapes it over the back of the armchair, and Stiles grins, “Yeah. Do you want some coffee?”

“No.”

Stiles is close—barely a foot away and standing just a few inches off of the wall beside the front door. Unable to stop himself, Derek moves towards him, cups Stiles’s face in his hands, and leans down to press a kiss to his lips. Stiles makes a happy noise, his arms wrapping easily around Derek’s shoulders, hanging there loosely and without purpose beyond touching; his fingers play idly with the baby hairs at Derek’s neck as they kiss, Stiles’s mouth opening, warm and wet, under Derek’s.

“Oh my god,” Stiles says, pulling away just an inch, “Are you booty calling me?”

Derek’s fingers flex against Stiles’s jaw; he’s still and silent for a second. “Technically, I didn’t call.”

Stiles rolls his eyes, but the grin on his lips betrays his affection. “You’re lucky you’re really, really, ridiculously good-looking,” he says with a dramatic sigh.

“It’s a gift,” Derek agrees, and Stiles groans.

“You’re such an ass,” he says; He slots his mouth over Derek’s before Derek can argue. Derek doesn’t even think to complain.

Derek’s hands find Stiles’s shoulders, and then slide further down, his thumbs pressing slightly so he can appreciate the feel of Stiles, the parts he doesn’t know yet— parts he wants to know at length, soon. Under his hands, Stiles shakes, jumpy with that electric energy of his, that never-stand-still nature he has. He knots his fingers in Derek’s hair and pulls; Stiles’s lips are insistent, hot and wet and pushing against Derek’s mouth. Derek does his best to keep up, but Stiles rocks his hips against Derek’s and makes a pleased sound, and it hits Derek right in the gut.

He pulls his head back, raises a hand to cup the back of Stiles’s neck, and says, “Bed?”

“I have one,” Stiles says dryly, and Derek raises his eyebrows, impatient. Stiles steps away with a quiet sigh, takes Derek’s hand in his, and tugs him towards the hallway. 

The room beyond the second door on the left is surprisingly bare; the blinds are raised, and other than the dresser and the double bed, the room is empty. Orange light from a streetlamp fills the room, casting dark shadows in the corners. It’s enough light to see by, which is good, because there’s no light on the ceiling and no lamp plugged into the wall.

“I’m still figuring this one out,” Stiles says like an apology, but Derek doesn’t care.

He kisses Stiles to let him know as much, and, suddenly, things are slower, sweeter. Stiles kicks the door shut, and Derek wastes no time before pushing Stiles up against it, insinuating one of his legs between Stiles’s. Stiles’s breath catches audibly, and Derek smirks.

“You alright?” he teases, ducking his head to nip at the front of Stiles’s throat. Stiles fists his hands in the sleeves of Derek’s shirt and groans. Derek can feel the pressure of his nails just beyond the thin cotton, and the promise of scratches to come sends a dark shock of arousal through him.

“Been a while,” he chokes out, and Derek hums in agreement—it hasn’t been since Kate for him, but maybe since he started grad school almost two years ago.

He doesn’t do well with people, after all.

But he seems to do well with Stiles, who shakes and starts to fall apart under Derek’s hands when Derek slides them under his shirt. Stiles’s skin is cool and smooth, and Derek pulls himself out of Stiles’s grip only to get Stiles out of his shirt. Stiles raises his arms immediately, eagerly. He’s flushed from his cheeks, down his neck, and all down his chest. Derek groans at the sight of him, under the orange light of the streetlamp.

There’s a clear moment through the heavy haze of arousal, made for Derek to appreciate this: the sight of Stiles stretched out, head tilted back and hips jutting outward, seeking the hard heat of Derek’s thigh instinctually, his whole body flushed. Derek’s fingers start at Stiles’s collarbone and move down, tracing the contours of his chest, and Stiles groans.

“Oh my god, romance later, sex now,” he says.

“Shut up,” Derek says weakly, tweaking one of Stiles’s nipples; Stiles keens.

“Shit—don’t do that!” he grits out, the words a hiss between his teeth.

Derek grins back at him wickedly. He lowers his head and, feeling whimsical, plants an open-mouthed kiss to a freckle in the dead center of Stiles’s chest; Stiles sucks in a sharp breath. Derek’s fingers lead the way, tracing lower and lower, and every time they cross a mole, Derek follows them with his mouth; he bends his knees to make the journey until he’s kneeling in front of Stiles, his nose brushing against Stiles’s happy trail as he mouths teasingly at the elastic of Stiles’s sweatpants.

“God—oh my—holy god,” Stiles says, almost nonsensical already, his breaths coming heavily, his chest rising and falling in great heaves. “You’re going to kill me.”

“Don’t die yet,” Derek says with a smirk, “It’s not even the good part yet.”

“Goddammit,” Stiles curses. “Godshitfuckdamn.”

Stiles helps Derek push down his pants and boxers by wriggling alongside Derek’s slow, steady slide. Here, the shadows are cast a little too low for Derek to get a good look at Stiles’s cock, but he doesn’t need to look much for what he wants to do. Later, though…

When Derek gets Stiles’s cock in his mouth, Stiles throws his head back and it meets the door with a loud thunk and cries, “Fuck!”

Derek can’t tell if that’s directed towards his mouth or the door, and he’d probably laugh if he didn’t have Stiles’s dick against his tongue. It’s been a while since he’s had sex, but it’s really the only time he knows how to read people outside of how they like their coffee. When he runs his tongue along the vein on the underside of Stiles’s cock, and Stiles doesn’t react much, Derek takes that as a sign that Stiles’s isn’t sensitive there like Derek is; when he catches his tongue on the edge of Stiles’s cockhead, and Stiles hisses and fists his hands in Derek’s hair and cants his hips so slightly, Derek knows he’s struck the best sort of nerve.

He leans forward more, relaxing his throat as best he can to take Stiles as deep as possible, and Stiles grits his teeth to try, unsuccessfully, to catch the whine that escapes him. Derek hums with approval, and Stiles curses.

“Oh my fuck,” he says. “Oh my fucking fuck. You’re—fuck.”

Derek gets a hand around the base of Stiles’s cock and pumps him slowly, the skin smooth and hot beneath his fingers, and Stiles’s hands move frantically. They go between Derek’s scalp, his jaw, and his shoulders, clawing and curling, tensing and untensing. Derek has to follow Stiles’s movement when Stiles collapses more against the door, moaning loudly.

Derek’s mouth is heavy with spit and cock, and his lips start to chap more quickly than he’d like, but he still groans unhappily when Stiles pushes at his shoulders, encouraging him to back off.

“Bed?” Stiles asks, tilting his head and giving a pointed look in the direction of the bed. Derek had forgotten about the bed as soon as he’d seen it, too caught up in getting Stiles against a hard, flat surface as quickly as possible. Now, it’s a promise of warm sheets and soft sighs and long, slow caresses, and Derek can’t pass that up.

Stiles steps around Derek, shakes off his pants and boxers entirely, and drops himself on the bed; Derek gets to his feet and follows him to the bedside, where he tries to decide what to do next. Stiles, now completely naked, looks up at Derek, his face darkened by shadow, and grins easy and confident, like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. It’s… Derek hadn’t known how badly he needed that until just now, actually.

“Oh, god, we could have been doing this since New Year’s, too,” he laments, and Derek snorts and curls his hand around the back of Stiles’s neck again, warming the skin there. They share a quiet moment, but, soon enough, Stiles reaches out and gets his hands in Derek’s shirt and tugs. “Okay, off, off.”

Derek rolls his eyes but does as he’s told, pulling the shirt up and over his head in one swift movement.

“Goddamn,” Stiles says appreciatively, and his hands are cool against Derek’s skin; Derek shudders involuntarily. “Bachelor’s in exercise science—right.”

Derek laughs dryly, puts a hand to the center of Stiles’s chest, and pushes him onto his back. Stiles goes with a laugh on his lips, his eyes flashing upwards to the ceiling as Derek follows him down, sliding a knee between both of Stiles’s easily. Stiles’s hands warm against Derek’s skin, and when they kiss, it’s slow and wet, their tongues sliding against each other’s with sweet friction.

It’s impossible to tell which one, of the two of them, is shaking—

(Maybe they both are.)

— but Derek feels it in the arches of his feet and the dips behind his ears and the pit of his stomach. It’s the familiar sensation of lust, heightened by how long it’s been since he was with another person like this, but it’s also something else. It’s warm and light, impossible to contain.

He’s got Stiles’s head bracketed between his forearms, and he drops his head and gasps when Stiles rolls his body up against Derek’s chest, then down against Derek’s thigh in one jerking movement. Rearing back, Derek catches Stiles by the hips and meets his eyes.

“Your pants should be off,” Stiles tells him, and Derek rolls his eyes.

“You’re a control freak,” he accuses, and Stiles laughs.

“If you don’t hurry up, I’m gonna steal the reins from you. Consider this a formal warning.”

“Instead of what? A semi-formal warning? Business casual?”

Stiles glares and playfully smacks at Derek’s shoulder. “Are you gonna get your pants off or is this gonna turn into Amateur Comedy Hour: Asshole Edition?”

Derek can’t stop the grin that rises to his face. It’s bizarre—he’s had a handful of one night stands and a few extended attempts at something like relationships (all built on sex, truthfully), but there’s never been laughter and bantering in his bed. Grunts and moans and sighs, yes, but laughter? He’s inelegant when he’s kicking off his jeans, but he leans down and kisses Stiles once, twice, again, and again, until they’re both smiling and Stiles has a hand fisted in the hair at the base of Derek’s neck.

“Finally!” Stiles says triumphantly when he pushes Derek back and looks down between their naked bodies. Derek laughs softly and rolls his hips, brushing his hard cock against Stiles’s hip. Stiles’s eyes flutter shut and he hums, approving. “God bless,” he whispers.

Derek scrapes his front teeth against the hook of Stiles’s jaw and whispers in his ear, “Still with me?”

“Nope,” Stiles says, wrapping a hand around the base of his cock and squeezing tightly, “dead and gone. When you bury me, be sure to put 'died because Derek Hale is a cock tease’ in the obituary.”

“They don’t put cause of death in obituaries,” Derek says; his arms are bracketing Stiles’s head against and his mouth finds Stiles’s collar bone as he rolls his hips upward, getting himself off against the groove of Stiles’s hip.

“Oh my god, will you just touch me already?”

Derek rolls his eyes and mutters, “Control freak,” under his breath, but he doesn’t need to be told twice. He gets a hand down between them, which requires shifting his body leftward to adjust his weight, and he and Stiles both groan when their cocks brush against each other. 

Fuck,” Derek grits out, and Stiles nods frantically and maybe says something, but it comes out like gibberish. Derek's distracted, too caught up in the sensation of their cocks brushing to remember what he was going to do before

His head spins, and he’s painfully aware of how badly he wants to come. He thinks, maybe, he should be taking his time, saving little memories about the flush of Stiles’s chest and neck and cheeks, about the noises he makes when something feels nice, about the way his hands feel twisted in Derek’s hair and the way his body shakes under Derek’s hands.

But he can’t. He can’t make himself stop, slow down, and smell the metaphorical flowers. He’s a slave to the sensation of Stiles’s body beneath his, arching upward and sliding against Derek, pre-cum slickening his belly.

“Okay, no, this isn’t working,” Stiles says with a sigh, and Derek freezes. He has enough time to pull back and start to panic, apologize, try and figure out what he did wrong before Stiles is shoving him over onto the bed and coming down to straddle Derek’s knees. Derek stares up at him, surprised, and Stiles grins down wickedy. “You were taking too long,” he says simply.

And then he adjusts himself, lines up their cocks, and takes them both in one of his hands. Derek tenses, his head thrown back and his eyes squeezed shut, and he thrusts upwards into the tight ring of Stiles’s long fingers. They’re slick with spit, he realizes, and wonders when Stiles did that—but only fleetingly.

“Motherfucker,” Stiles groans, his head falling to Derek’s shoulder, where he pants as he thrusts. The noise that leaves Derek is less a hum of agreement and more a whine, but it doesn’t matter—nothing matters except the friction of Stiles’s cock and hand. Literally nothing.

“Oh my god,” Stiles carries on, “this is—I’ve thought about—but this is—holy shit.”

“You,” Derek grunts out, barely capable of forming the words, “are talking too much.”

“If I don’t talk, I swear to God I’ll come,” Stiles confesses, and Derek feels the heat of his mouth against his collar bone and groans.

He gets his hands around Stiles’s hips and digs his fingers in; Stiles gasps and arches, and Derek takes control of their rhythm, setting a desperate pace for their rutting.

Oh, fuck,” Stiles hisses, and his thighs tighten around Derek’s legs just before he comes in hot spurts across his hand and Derek’s chest. He shudders, hard, but doesn’t still in the aftermath. He trembles like his muscles are not his own and broken little noises escape him.

He lets go of their dicks— Derek protests with a violent jerk of his hips— and wriggles down Derek’s legs, a blissed out little smile rising to his lips, and Derek barely has time to register what Stiles has in mind before Stiles is mouthing at his cock.

Stiles,” Derek breathes, and Stiles’s eyes flash upwards, catch the orange light and look almost gold, and then he lowers his mouth on Derek’s cockhead. Derek’s instinct is to arch upward, but Stiles apparently anticipated that, because he gets an arm across Derek’s hips and pushes down, containing Derek.

Derek shakes when he scratches at Stiles’s shoulders, and Stiles is merciless as he lowers his mouth on Derek’s dick, his throat warm and fluttering, his tongue wet and everywhere.

Derek comes embarrassingly fast, his orgasm ripped out of him on a breath and his toes curling so tight he wonders if it’s possible to break them. Stiles stays on him a second too long, long enough for the pleasure of his mouth to become too much, too much, and Derek twitches and shoves at Stiles’s head.

Stiles pulls off with an obscene, wet sound, and grins up at Derek, clearly proud of himself. He crawls up Derek’s body again and drapes himself over Derek’s chest, forcing some of the air out of Derek’s lungs. But he’s a warm, soft pressure—comforting. Without thinking, Derek winds an arm around Stiles and exhales into the curve of his neck.

Stiles pulls back a little and seeks out Derek’s lips blindly; their teeth knock when they kiss, but that’s okay, because everything is okay.

Everything’s good.

Stiles grins and says, “Well, this takes the edge off our date tomorrow, doesn’t it?”

Derek snorts, and he closes his eyes, appreciates the way the world opens up around him in his afterglow. He can hear a car door closing from the parking lot, people talking from the unit below, and the dishwasher running in Stiles’s kitchen.

Eventually, Stiles slides off of Derek and curls onto his side, his forehead pressed to Derek’s shoulder. The sweat is cooled on their skin, and sleep seems like the next stop on this ride; Derek’s not sure what he’s supposed to do. What’s the social norm for having sex with someone before you’ve officially become boyfriends? Is sleeping over okay, or is that a line?

Before he can ask anything, Stiles throws a leg over Derek’s and says, “Sleep now. More sex later.”

Derek wraps a hand under Stiles’s knee and brushes the tender skin there affectionately; Stiles’s leg twitches, and Stiles turns a bleary-eyed glare up at Derek.

“Dude,” he accuses weakly, and Derek grins sleepily at him.

He’s not sure when he falls asleep, but he does.

 

 

 

Derek wakes up with a headache, and he opens his eyes to brutal, brilliant sunlight and winces. He groans and reaches for his pillow—only to realize that he’s not in his room. Which explains the sun, since his bedroom is on the west side of the house, so he never wakes to sunlight.

He rolls onto his stomach and slides an arm under one of Stiles’s pillows and huffs. He’s already awake—no going back to sleep for him now—but he doesn’t have to get up. It takes him a few minutes to turn his head to look at Stiles, who is sitting with his back against the headboard, reading Blood Meridian with a look of extreme concentration.

Derek takes a minute to appreciate Stiles’s face in profile, turned down, his cheeks sporting their usual low-grade flush. His freckles continue down his shoulder and over his arm, and, later, Derek thinks he’d like to trace them with his fingers, with his tongue. When his eyes go back to Stiles’s face, Stiles is looking at him with a thoughtful little smile.

“Morning,” he says.

“Is it?” Derek asks, and Stiles’s shakes his head.

“Nah, it’s almost one,” he says, and he reaches a hand out to ruffle the front of Derek’s hair. Derek scowls at him as best he can. “I get it—you need your beauty rest.”

“I need coffee,” Derek grunts, and Stiles nods.

“It’s brewing right now,” he says, his fingers stilling on Derek’s head. Derek shifts into the pressure of Stiles’s hand in an appreciative gesture, and Stiles grins. “Actually, it’s probably ready right now. Let me go—yeah. Check on that.”

When he moves to get out of bed, Derek notices the fresh pair of boxers on Stiles’s hips and the distinct smell of soap, and he thinks a shower would be nice. On the floor a few feet away, his cell phone buzzes, and he knows it’s Laura, teasing him about being out all night, or maybe his mom, telling him to get home soon so she’ll know he’s safe.

For a minute, everything’s alright.

It’s startling, really, just how alright it is. And, in typical Derek fashion, he can’t help but temper the good with the bad. The bad right now being the same thing that’s been chasing him for months: he’s twenty-six years old and on the cusp of the great unknown. Soon, he’ll be done with school, thrown out in the world to exist on his own. He’ll have to find his own place to live, a job, and just hope he doesn’t end up feeling empty for the next however-many years of his life.

It’s the same old battle, a feeling of having no direction, no ambition. Even when things are okay—like now—thinking about it sends a wave of panic through him. It claws up from his stomach and sucks the energy out of him, straight from his fingertips and toes.

He likes his life as it is now; he doesn’t like people, and he doesn’t like their stupid coffee orders, but coffee is simple. When he’s making coffee, he’s got the semblance of control in his life.

But he can’t work in his parents’ coffee shop forever.

Just as he’s really starting to build up his anxiety, Stiles returns to the room with two mugs of coffee in his hands. He squints through the sunlight that falls across his face, and he is slow and careful with his steps to the bed. Stiles doesn’t have a nightstand, Derek realizes, so he pushes himself up to accept the mug that Stiles holds out to him.

“Cream and sugar?” Stiles teases, and Derek snorts at the role reversal.

“You know me so well,” he replies dryly.

Stiles makes it better. Stiles isn’t trying to play grown up like his friends, and he doesn’t shy away from the hell if I know like Derek does; he accepts it like a simple truth. He settles back into bed beside Derek and raises the cup of coffee to his lips and lets the steam waft over his face.

“So,” Derek asks after he’s half-finished with his coffee. At some point he and Stiles displaced the pillows and pushed their backs against the headboard, flush against each other from shoulder to hip with one of Stiles’s legs thrown over one of Derek’s. “What are we doing today?”

Stiles shrugs and looks at Derek with a bashful sort of grin, “Not really sure, actually. I figure we’ll just wing it.”

It’s so Stiles that Derek can’t help but grin in return and lean forward to kiss him; Stiles’s smile never falters, and he’s warm and soft and tastes like coffee.