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Give me love or hate
You can bend me 'til I break
Give me fire, give me rain,
I want joy with my pain
I want your fears, your hopes,
The whole kaleidoscope 
Kaleidoscope – The Script



Stiles thinks it's way too early to be awake at this hour. It's definitely too early to be working. The sun has barely even risen, and he's already been lifting chairs from the tables and preparing the machines for almost forty-five minutes. He had thought working would be a good idea to get accustomed to the idea of college and leaving his dad alone, but he's already wondering how he's going to survive a year of serving coffee to rude costumers with a smile. 

It's summer and Stiles envies Scott and Allison who can spend their days at the beach, just because Scott's boss lets him work whenever he wants to. Stiles' boss makes sure that he's working all the time

Coffee Berry and sons could have been a funny name for a café, with the link to coffee berries that coffee beans come in – something Stiles only knows because he has Googled this – if it wasn't for the fact that Mr. Berry himself thinks that it's the most awesome name a coffee shop could ever have. Because of that, Stiles has no other choice than to hate it. Also, Mr. Berry doesn't have any sons, so it makes even less sense. 

The bell over the door tinkles and Stiles looks up from where he stands, wiping tables with a cloth. He's only been working for two weeks, but he already recognizes a lot of the regulars. This guy isn't one of them, and Stiles knows, because he would remember that face. Also, no one except for drivers get their coffee at this hour. This guy doesn't look like he has a truck full of groceries waiting outside, and Stiles doesn't just think that because he peeked through the window on his way to the counter.

The Guy is definitely the brooding type, Stiles decides. He's like Mr. Darcy with the scowl on his face, but more muscular than fictional and, oh my god, those eyes. They're pale and piercing in a way that makes Stiles want to go and hide somewhere in the back room and lock all the doors behind him. It's weird, because the rest of The Guy is all dark colours: black hair, black leather jacket, dark jeans. The light eyes don't really fit, except that they kind of do. Stiles blinks and realises that The Guy has said something and Stiles was too busy with staring to listen. 

“Sorry, what?” He tries his best smile. 

The Guy scowls in response. “I said, one triple espresso.” 

“Please,” Stiles adds before he can stop himself and earns himself another glare. “I mean, you should say please, right? Be polite and stuff.” Just shut up, Stiles. 

There is absolutely no change in The Guy's expression and Stiles' smile falters somewhat. It's not that he's a little afraid, absolutely not. It's just that he's not used to people...not talking. 

“One triple espresso,” Stiles repeats, knowing he both looks and sounds like an idiot, when he tries to pretend that his previous statements never even existed. “Coming up!” 

Usually, Stiles likes making espresso because that machine seems to be the one grinding fastest and espresso comes in really tiny cups, but right now it feels like it's taking forever. The Guy is still standing at the counter, staring at Stiles like he's thinking of the best way to beat the living crap out of him. Thinking about it, he probably does, because Stiles doesn't know how to shut up. When he pushes the cup across the counter more carefully than usual (he's not sure that he'll get to keep both of his testicles if he manages to spill), The Guy simply grabs it and walks out without a word. It takes Stiles a moment before he realises that there's money lying right in front of him. At least The Guy had the decency to leave a tip. A big one. It makes Stiles wonder if maybe he just sold his kidney by mistake. 

It's just past lunch when Isaac has put on his apron and lets Stiles go home for the day. That's the only benefit with working the morning shift – he gets to go home early enough to make sure his dad eats what he's supposed to, not what he wants to. That's easier said than done. 

“I'm not a rabbit, son,” his dad says when Stiles leaves him a salad at the station. 

“Could've fooled me,” Stiles mutters in response, because honestly, his dad says that every time he gets something else than hamburgers for lunch. It wouldn't kill him to be a little more inventive. 

“How was work?” 

For a moment Stiles watches his dad poke through the salad, like he's looking for something more tasty than tomatoes and kidney beans. 

“The usual. For once we had a customer before seven.” 

“Yeah?” his dad asks, but he's already flipping through his files and slowly chewing on a piece of cucumber like he's not sure if it's really edible. His dad may be the Beacon Hills Sheriff, and apparently pretty good at solving crimes, but he's very bad at paying attention to everything else. Stiles usually thinks that this is a good thing. 

“Gotta go meet Scott. See you later!” Stiles doesn't even wait to get an answer as he makes his way out the station. 

He doesn't tell Scott about The Guy, because there really isn't much to say except that he's creepy and good looking and Stiles doesn't know if he's supposed to be afraid or turned on. Honestly, Stiles thinks it's pretty weird that he even thinks about The Guy at all, because they stared at each other for what could be no more than five minutes, even though it felt like a billion years of near death-experiences. Except, not really. 

The best thing is that Stiles works evenings the rest of the week and The Guy doesn't show up. He's not sure if he's been around earlier either, and it's not like he's going to ask Isaac about it. 

“Has the creepy dude been around today?” It just sort of slips out. Really. He's making polite conversation. It's not like he wants to know. 

“The what?” Isaac asks, not looking up from the milk foam-heart he's creating. 

“Tall-ish, dark hair, creepy green-ish eyes, brooding...ish.” Stiles lifts one shoulder in a shrug. 

“Sorry man, all I heard was -ish.” Isaac grins at him, before smiling politely at the middle-aged woman standing at the counter. She swoons over the heart in the milk foam. 

Stiles sighs heavily inside. It's not like they're that hard to make. 

“Oh my god, you're useless,” he mutters under his breath and ties the red apron a little too tightly, so he has to untie it and re-tie it again. 

By Monday, when Stiles works the morning shift again, he's almost forgotten about The Guy. Well, not exactly. But he's still surprised when the bell tinkles softly a quarter to six AM and when he looks up, he's met by a very familiar scowl. 

“Oh hey, man,” he says and instantly wonders why the hell he is smiling, because it's not like they had a nice chat last time The Guy came by. “Can I get you anything?” 

“Triple espresso,” The Guy replies immediately and Stiles has to bite his tongue to not make a remark on the fact that there wasn't a please in there this time either. Rude. 

“Coming up,” he says instead and wishes that the machine could work wonders for him, but it still takes too many nervous glances to grind the beans. The Guy is scowling the whole time. Stiles wonders for a moment if it isn't too warm to be dressed in dark jeans and a leather jacket. It's summer after all. But he has a feeling that The Guy doesn't care as much about getting sweaty as he does about scaring the shit out of people from just looking at them. Stiles figures that a Hawaiian shirt wouldn't accomplish quite the same effect. On the other hand, The Guy probably looks absolutely terrifying in everything. Even a teletubby costume. 

“There you go.” He pushes the cup over the counter and smiles his best smile, but it probably looks like he's constipated. “Have a nice day.” 

No response. He watches The Guy leave, cup in one hand and the other in his pocket. Tries very hard not to check out The Guy's ass. Fails miserably. Now he's never going to stop thinking about him. At least there's cash and a heavy tip on the counter. It's confusing, because Stiles hasn't gotten the impression that The Guy thinks he does a very good job of being a barista. 

The tip still bugs him a few hours later. He's not even sure why. It's not like he's never gotten a tip way out of proportion for his work before. Usually it's from this really creepy man – creepy in a very different way than The Guy, named Ivan. Ivan is creepy in a way that makes Stiles want to hide every child in the neighbourhood somewhere safe. He only knows Ivan's name because he had to make sure he knows where the dude lives. Thankfully, it's on the other side of the town. Ivan does leave a crazy tip every time he buys coffee though and Stiles always feels like he should give it all back, or he'll have to gift his first born child to Ivan in return. 

The Guy, though. Stiles isn't even sure if he's thinking about the tip because it was way too much for a triple espresso, or because the money had been close to a very nice-looking ass. Probably a mix of both. 

“Stiles.” Isaac's voice makes him snap out of his thoughts. 

He looks down at the cup in his hand and then at the customer waiting for her order at the counter. “Well,” he says as he walks over to her, still looking down at her cup. He had been aiming for a milk foam-leaf, and well, this isn't a milk foam-leaf. “It's modern art. I'm thinking the soul of a panda, you know? I don't expect you to understand,” he rambles and he isn't sure if she's amused or annoyed. He really doesn't get why people care so much about the foam-creations and he's not nearly as talented in the area as Isaac, who once made Hogwarts in a Latte Macchiato.  

There’s always a dip in the stream of customers a little while after lunch and Stiles balances on the edge of the counter, telling himself that he's living on the wild side, and watches Isaac fill up coffee beans and new mugs before the next rush. 

“So, Mr Grumpy McBroodypants was in this morning as well,” he explains without knowing exactly why he feels like he has to talk about it. It’s not like The Guy is the first person to resist Stiles’ incredible charm. Actually, most people in the world are immune to it. 

“Yeah?” Isaac answers, probably more out of politeness than actual interest, because he’s suddenly very invested in making all the coffee cup lids face the same direction. 

“Yeah,” Stiles confirms. 

Isaac looks up at him, frowning like he’s missed something. He has. Unless he's seen The Guy's butt. In that case he has seen everything worth seeing in the world. 

“And?” Isaac urges, going back to his lid-obsession. Or fetish. 

That's a mental picture Stiles really didn't want.

“He’s still scowling every time he looks at me.” 

“I can relate to that,” Isaac mutters and Stiles has a feeling that he’s still angry about the fact that Stiles hasn’t wiped off the tables like he'd promised four hours ago. 

“I don’t get it though. I haven’t done anything to him. Actually I’m smiling when I talk to him.” 

“There’s your reason.” Isaac deadpans. 

Stiles sticks his tongue out at him, because that’s the real level of his maturity. “I can be really charming when I want to.”

“I’m sure you can.” Isaac has his diplomatic voice and Stiles knows he only says so because he wants Stiles to shut up, but he’s not too picky, he’ll go with fake compliments. 

“He left a huge tip, too. I don’t get it,” Stiles continues, because shutting up is the one thing he won’t do. That and cleaning tables. Also, he won’t clean the customers’ toilet. But except for that, he’s pretty much up for anything.  

“Honestly, Stiles, he gives you a huge tip and now you’re mad because he’s scowling at you all the time? Maybe he’s just trying to bribe you into shutting up.” Isaac sighs heavily and tosses a packet of napkins at him, hitting him straight in the face. “Please, do something.”

Fine,” Stiles mutters and busies himself with refilling the containers of the napkins. If it wasn’t for the fact that he barely said anything to The Guy at all, Isaac could’ve been right. It wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe the dude’s just rich and doesn’t even realise how much money he’s giving Stiles. Maybe he wipes his ass with hundred dollar bills. That ass, though. 

Stiles works the next morning as well, and like clockwork, The Guy enters the door at a quarter to six. Instantly, Stiles starts to wonder if he has OCD or if he just likes routine. His dad is like that. It’s like his whole life has an unwritten schedule of chores and he repeats them day, after day, after day. Once, Stiles was stupid enough to mess with The Schedule. Let’s just say he’s never doing that again. Ever. 

“Triple espresso?” Stiles says, just as The Guy opens his mouth. 

He gets a nod in response. Yeah, well, who expected a “please”, right? 

As the machine prepares, grinds the beans and slowly fills the cup one third at the time, Stiles notices that The Guy’s fingertips are smudgy. Maybe he really is a driver, or tows cars, or works as a mechanic. Enter instant dirty thoughts in Stiles' mind. 

“Are you a mechanic?” Stiles asks before he can stop himself. Damn, he promised himself to keep the conversation as minimal as possible today. 

“No,” The Guy scowls and glares at him for a moment, before he returns to looking out the window. He really has the most awesome eye-colour Stiles has ever seen. It’s like they’re almost luminous in the morning light. Great, now his thoughts are sounding like a Harlequin. 

“All right then,” Stiles sighs to himself. It’s not like he’s getting any information from the guy without torturing him, and no matter how tempting that thought is, Stiles’ pretty sure that it’s not in his work description. Also, he might get fired and that would be stupid. No torturing. 

He says nothing as he pushes the cup across the counter, and The Guy is as talkative as always when he grabs the cup and leaves. At least the tip is as generous as always, Stiles thinks as he gathers the money from the counter. He wonders briefly why The Guy seems to refuse to actually put the money in Stiles hand. Maybe he has a disease of some sort. 

Stiles spends the rest of the day googling on his phone and researching on what disease this could possibly be. It’s a bit difficult, because he has no idea what the symptoms are, except for the unwillingness to touch Stiles, which could be a disease on its own. Should be, at least. 

He meets Scott after work and is surprised to see him without Allison. It’s like they’re attached by the most private parts of their bodies. Stiles mentally vomits. He really needs to learn not to go there. 

“What’s up dude?” Scott asks, pressing buttons on the Xbox controller obsessively. 

It’s funny, because they’ve been playing for almost two hours and the question doesn’t pop out of Scott’s mouth until now. So far, he’s been whining about Allison going on holiday with her dad and Stiles stopped listening after fifteen minutes. Scott only needs him to hum understandingly anyway. 

“Got a grumpy costumer,” Stiles says, because Isaac is fed up with him talking about The Guy and Scott owes him for putting up with the Allison-talk forever. 

“Yeah?” Scott tries to slash Stiles into pieces and fails miserably. Obviously. Stiles doesn’t even know why he bothers.

“Yeah, he comes in every morning. Says nothing except for his order. Not even please or thank you. And then he leaves a shitload of tip and scowls at me and I don’t get it. I’m polite and everything.” 

Scott pauses the game and looks at him like he doesn’t even get why Stiles wants to talk about this. To be fair, Stiles isn’t sure why he wants to talk about this either. It’s just something and it bugs him to no end. 

“Who is he, then?” Scott asks after long moments of staring, definitely questioning Stiles sanity, and returns to the game. 

“I don’t know. I don’t even know his name. He’s gotta be new around here, because I’d remember that face.” Stiles bellows a sound of victory when Scott’s character's head drops to the ground. 

“You crushing on him?” Scott has a funny look on his face, like he was the one cutting off Stiles’ head and not the other way around. 

“I told you, I don’t even know his name.” 

“Maybe you should find that out then,” Scott suggests and starts a new round. 

Stiles only loses the next round because his mind is too occupied by thinking of ways to find The Guy’s name out. Not because he wants to Google him or anything, well, not exclusively because he wants to Google him. It’s also a little bit because it would be cool to have something else to name The Guy in his thoughts than just that. Grumpy McBroodypants got old the first day. 

Stiles works the afternoon shift the rest of the week and has all the time in the world to perfect his master plan. It’s not that hard, really, he just needs The Guy’s ID, and with Stiles’ overpowering charm, it shouldn’t be that hard. On the other hand, The Guy seems to be the kryptonite to Stiles’ Superman and he might be making a fool out of himself. Not that that’s anything new to Stiles. 

The one time he actually got a chance to kiss a girl, at a party six months ago, he managed to puke all over his own shoes just as he was about to lean in. On the positive side: it was probably a good thing that he hadn't puked while actually kissing her. On the negative side: he didn't get to kiss her at all. It's a bit embarrassing to be eighteen and to have only kissed one girl – Lydia Martin, just after graduation, when she took pity on his pathetic crush since third grade. It had been very anticlimactic and Stiles had been forced to realise that his crush must have died somewhere along the way. At least he had stopped pining for her after that and they have been friends since, sort of. They don't talk much, but when they meet, she's doesn't ignore him. She's still the smartest and prettiest girl he has ever known though, but he just isn't in love with her anymore. Which probably is a good thing, since she got back with Jackson only minutes after kissing Stiles and he kind of doubts that they will break up a twenty-sixth time. Not that he keeps count or anything. 

The point is: Stiles isn't a stranger to make a fool out of himself, because it's basically his life. 

On Wednesday, a week later, he is working the morning shift again. Five-forty-five on the dot, the bell tinkles and Stiles doesn’t even have to look up to know who’s standing there, scowling at him. If Stiles didn't find The Guy so attractive, he would probably be a bit worried about his own safety by now. 

“Triple espresso?” he asks instead, without looking up, because if The Guy isn’t going to be polite, Stiles isn’t either. Because he’s mature like that. 

He assumes that The Guy nods and prepares the order. Only then, he dares to look up and sure thing, scowling like he’s trying to win an Olympic medal, there’s The Guy. He looks tired, but still hot, which bugs Stiles to no end, because Stiles can’t even look hot when he’s been sleeping for eleven hours straight. He notices the smudgy fingertips again and he wants to know why they look like The Guy’s been fixing up a car right before he walked in, when he’s not a mechanic. Unless he lied. Stiles wouldn’t put him past lying. 

“You should get our customer card,” Stiles says, and hopes that he sounds just as disinterested as he practiced at home. Admitting that he has actually practiced for this takes a good part of his pride, but what the hell. 

The Guy quirks an eyebrow and Stiles assumes that this is a question of Why the hell would I ever want a customer card? He doesn’t mind telling all the reasons. 

“For one: it’s much cheaper for you. Obviously you don’t seem to have a problem with money, er, because you throw money at me,” he rambles and flails like he always does when he gets a bit nervous, or excited, or angry. Or happy. Well, most of his waking time. “I really want to know what your profession is, because honestly, I could use some throwing money.” He mentally slaps himself. This isn’t playing it cool. “Second: er, well actually, this is more like a complement to my first reason, which is that you get a discount. You might already have guessed that, because I said that it would be cheaper for you. Not that I think you care about money, for reasons I’ve already stated. Oh, well, third: for every time we register your card, Mr. Berry will plant a tree in Africa or Asia, or somewhere really far away, and who doesn’t want to help nature out, you know?” 

The Guy is staring at him like he’s an alien. Stiles is instantly worried that he has something on his face. 

“So,” he says slowly, when The Guy’s stare slowly morphs back into his usual scowl. “If you’d just give me your ID, I’ll hook you up with this super-amazing thing we call a Customer Card, which will help you save the planet.” 

For a moment, he thinks that The Guy will refuse and leave without even paying, which would be fair, because he has probably tipped enough to pay for twenty triple espressos in advance already. Then, The Guy fishes up his wallet from his pocket and pushes his ID across the counter towards Stiles. Still refusing to ever put something in Stiles’ hand it seems. 

Derek Hale. The Guy’s name is Derek Hale. It isn’t as exotic as Stiles had hoped. He’s twenty-five. Seven years older than Stiles. It’s not that much. Stiles' dad would probably get his gun out if they ever were to date, but it’s not that old

Derek Hale – oh my god – makes an impatient sound, and Stiles jerks back to life. He enters all the information he needs for a customer card and gives back the ID along with the very red, very tacky-looking card (the print of coffee beans looks mostly like poop) and the triple espresso. Derek seems reluctant to take something out of Stiles hand, but then he reaches out and does so, without even grazing a finger against Stiles. Disappointment. 

“So yeah, have a nice day,” Stiles says slowly, and it’s weirdly intimate (probably just in his head) because now he knows Derek’s name. And age. Holy shit, he can Google him all he wants now. 

Derek doesn’t say anything before he leaves, which isn't much of a surprise, and like always there's cash lying on the counter waiting when Stiles looks down. He has a feeling that Derek Hale probably doesn’t care about the discount he’ll get, but Stiles’ speech was very convincing, so he must have bought the saving planet-part. Or it could’ve been Stiles’ charm. Yeah, no, definitely saving the planet. 

“Derek Hale!” Stiles exclaims as soon as Isaac steps through the door. Luckily, there are no customers around and Stiles only has to endure one person staring at him like he’s insane. 

“No,” Isaac says slowly, pointing at himself. “Isaac.” 

Stiles rolls his eyes, because that’s the lamest joke in the world. “The grumpy guy has a name. It’s Derek Hale. I’m going to Google him on my break.” 

“Now you’re just creepy,” Isaac says, shaking his head. It’s like he’s already given up on Stiles’ morale. 

“Yeah I know, it keeps me awake at night.” 

Stiles does Google Derek Hale on his phone during his break. He hadn’t expected to find anything because he’s never lucky like that. Much to his surprise, though, there are a number of hits. He clicks on the result links randomly and catches a few words and phrases here and there. He’s found a Derek Hale that’s a famous artist. At first, he’s sure that they're referring to another Derek Hale, because there’s no way, but then he finds an article with a picture and holy shit yes that’s Derek Hale who comes in and buys his triple espressos every morning, standing in a gallery with a disinterested look on his face. It doesn’t make any sense to Stiles whatsoever, because Derek is muscular with broad shoulders and leather jackets, not at all the artsy type with big glasses or funny clothes. 

He manages to find a site with a few pictures of Derek’s work and suddenly Stiles understands why his fingertips are always black – they’re all charcoal drawings. Scarily good charcoal drawings. It doesn’t seem to Stiles like Derek is one of those artists who draw a blue line on paper and tells the world that it’s a portrayal of the human mind. Stiles can actually understand Derek’s work, because they’re so frighteningly good that they look like photographs. Almost. It’s hard to tell on the display on his phone, but he’s definitely more the realistic type of artist. 

Stiles’ mind is effectively blown. Completely. Forever. 

Derek Hale is a damn grumpy artist, who drinks triple espresso once a day and tips a lot. This isn’t that strange, because from what Stiles can see in his Google search, Derek makes a ton of money on his drawings and he’s a bit of a thing. Stiles feels strangely proud. Maybe because there's someone famous for drawings that are actually possible to understand without having to smoke a ton of weed for once. Not that Stiles has ever smoked weed, but he has imagination. Maybe he's even more proud because he actually knows Derek. Well, he doesn't exactly know Derek, but he's crushing so hard on him now that Stiles wonders if he's going to spend half of his life drooling after the guy, like he did with Lydia, so it still counts.

“He’s an artist,” Stiles sighs as he sits down in Scott’s couch. It’s so worn out that he actually sinks down in the seat, rather than sitting on it. 

“Who?” Scott asks immediately. Stiles has to give him points for not having mentioned Allison once during the five minutes it has taken Stiles to walk through the front door and up the stairs. Improvement. 

“The angry guy that buys coffee where I work, Scott,” Stiles explains like he’s talking to a child. 

“Oh right, him. He’s an artist?” 

“Yeah, a really good one, from what I can tell.” Actually, Stiles has read what all the critics have had to say, and none of them can really call themselves a critic anymore.

“Cool.” Scott starts the game, apparently never tired of getting his ass kicked, and gives the other controller to Stiles. “So you know his name?”

“Yeah, and then I Googled him.” 

Scott only rolls his eyes. He’s been friends with Stiles for so long that he’s not even surprised by the clear stalker tendencies. “Are you going to stop obsessing about him now that you know who he is?”

Stiles pauses the game and stares at Scott, who seems to wish that he had gotten to know Jackson instead of Stiles that day in pre-school. And Jackson is a douche, so that hurts a bit. 

“Dude, you can’t make him your new Lydia. It’s not healthy.” 

“He’s not my new Lydia. I might actually, you know, succeed this time.” 

Scott snorts, and Stiles can’t really blame him, because he’s definitely doubting this, too. 

“I could. I mean, what else could he possibly want?” 

“I don’t know,” Scott sighs. “Someone who’s able to shut up for once, or doesn’t Google his name.”

Stiles decides – after thinking about the pictures from the Google image search he has saved to his phone in case he wants to look at Derek when he's in the woods where the reception is bad – that yeah, he's definitely on the creepy side of the scale. 

Stiles doesn’t say anything because he’s a bit hurt. It’s not that he doesn’t know that it’s like aiming to become an astronaut when you’ve got a heart-condition, but Scott is his friend, it’s his job to be supportive. And lie, if it's needed. 

“Maybe you could call him,” Scott says after a while, and Stiles knows that he’s trying to make up for his previous mishap and that he doesn’t really think that Stiles has a shot. Stiles isn’t picky. He’ll take it. 

“I don’t really have anything to say,” he mutters, pushing the buttons frantically. “It’s not like I can tell him that I have free coffee waiting for him, or anything.” 

“Nah, but you could ask him out on a date.” Scott says it like it’s not the scariest thing in the world, next to alligators. Stiles wants to remind him of when he asked Allison out on a date and nearly puked before he finally managed to make the call. He doesn’t, because Stiles is a good friend.

“Yeah, I’ll just call and say: ‘Hey, Derek, this is the guy from the coffee shop who always talks to much and annoys you enough to look homicidal. I was wondering if you’d want to go on a date with me, even though you’re seven years older than me and probably straight.’” 

“It could work,” Scott says with a half-hearted attempt of a shrug. 

Stiles answers by cutting off Scott’s head. 

Stiles works the morning shift the entire upcoming week. There’s a heat wave over Beacon Hills and he’s very tempted to put himself in the freezer and shut the place down. The only positive side is that there aren’t many people who want coffee when breathing feels like fire in your lungs.

Still, every morning Derek walks in, five-forty-five on the dot, and orders his triple espresso. Stiles could have the order already prepared and standing on the counter if he wanted, but the only time Derek talks is when he's placing his order, and Stiles likes hearing his voice. Because Stiles is creepy. 

Derek is more grumpy than usual this morning. Stiles can tell, because the scowl is deeper and there’s a little more of a death threat in his glare now. He wants to ask if it’s because Derek seems to insist on wearing his leather jacket while it’s like a thousand degrees outside. It’s weird, because Stiles can picture Derek’s drawings in his mind, and the care they must have been created with doesn’t match the look of the artist at all. He very much wants to see Derek work, if only to make sure that there’s not another guy making all the drawings for him. 

“Triple espresso,” Derek mutters and slaps down the customer card on the counter. 

“Passionate about saving the planet, I see.” Stiles smiles his best smile, but Derek’s scowl only turns more threatening. “Triple espresso coming up.” 

Stiles has noticed that Derek still pays the regular amount for the espresso, even though he always uses the customer card. Either he’s just that rich, or he’s trying to tell Stiles that he’s not using it for cheaper coffee. Or he actually cares about the planet. Or he just likes to tip Stiles a shitload of money. Stiles desperately hopes it’s the latter. 

“So, what do you work with?” Stiles says, because he can’t actually tell Derek that he already knows. 

At first, he’s sure that Derek won’t answer, because he scowls even deeper and Stiles wonders for a moment if he shouldn’t be scared for real. But then: “I’m working on an exhibition,” Derek mutters under his breath and it’s clear in the tone of his voice that he doesn’t want any further questions about this. 

Stiles doesn’t care. “Yeah? Cool, man. What’s it about?” 

Derek glares at him, and Stiles takes a little extra time to search for the right size of lid to the cup, just to make sure that Derek has to stay and answer the question. 

“Portraying the human body.” 

Derek snaps the words out, but Stiles can’t help but feel a surge in the lower part of his belly at the last couple of words. He guesses that this is clear proof of his virginity.

He pushes the espresso over the counter again, having given up on Derek ever accepting it from his hand or being polite, and he doesn’t ask more questions, because that would be pushing his luck even further. He’s going to work over a long period of time, making sure that Derek trusts him, before he makes his move. Hopefully it won’t take years to accomplish this, because by then, Derek might already be married and have five children. 

Stiles wants to laugh at the thought of Derek ever having children. 

He scoops up the money from the counter just as Derek exits the door, espresso in one hand and the other buried deep in his pocket. If this was a GIF, someone would’ve put a blinking #SWAG on it. 

Stiles wants to touch. Really bad. God dammit. 

The next morning, Stiles’ itch to touch gets even worse, because the new heat record forces even Derek to take his jacket off. Stiles really isn’t prepared for the sight. Honestly. He wonders where all the air has gone when Derek walks through the door, a black t-shirt hugging his everything just perfectly. Stiles already knew that Derek had muscles, but not that it was this bad. Or good. Depending on how you want to interpret the sudden lack of room in his pants and tightening in his belly. 

When Derek’s muscles flexes as he slaps the customer card down on the counter, Stiles decides that it’s good. That it’s definitely good. Holy shit, it’s so good. 

“You sure all this espresso isn’t going to give you ulcers?” Stiles asks as he prepares the usual order. Given by the look on Derek’s face, he might already have ulcers. He scowling even worse than usual and Stiles didn’t think that was possible yesterday. 

It’s no surprise when Derek doesn’t answer. When does he ever answer? 

“So, how’s the exhibition going?” Stiles presses on, ignoring the clear mental sigh and prayer to higher powers on Derek’s face. Oh, well, there are other coffee shops in the neighbourhood, if he hates Stiles that much. 

“All right,” Derek mutters and glances down on his wristwatch, like he’s trying to tell Stiles to hurry up. Thinking about it, that’s probably exactly what he’s doing. 

“Cool, where can I go if I want to see it?” Stiles says it casually, or at least it sounds casual to his own ears, but the way Derek’s eyes snaps to his face tells him a different story. “I mean, I’ve always been interested in art.” 

Not really. 

It’s not a lie now, though. He hasn’t Googled art this much ever in his life before. Now he searches for Derek’s works whenever he gets the chance, because he sort of likes the way they take his breath away, and how quickly his fantasies gets R-rated, when he imagines Derek in the making of them. 

“City Art Museum,” Derek says after a long pause. It’s like he’s trying to determine if Stiles is lying or not. Maybe he’s able to read minds and is so disgusted by Stiles' thoughts that he doesn’t know what to say. Because Stiles can rarely keep his thoughts G-rated whenever Derek walks out of there. Or whenever Derek’s around, actually. Then Derek adds, so quietly that Stiles almost doesn’t catch it: “Hopefully.” 

Stiles doesn’t get the chance to ask what that’s supposed to mean, when Derek grabs the cup from the counter, even though Stiles’ hand is still wrapped around it. He manages not to make body contact again, though, much to Stiles’ disappointment. And then he leaves without a word, and Stiles looks down at the money on the counter for a moment, before he sighs very loudly to himself. He’s not going to miss the opportunity to ask tomorrow. Not a chance. 

The only problem is that Stiles has the evening shift the following day and that means a lot of staring into empty space and waiting for a lonely customer to place an order of a large coffee, usually because they’ve been driving for twenty-six hours. 

Stiles doesn't like that Mr. Berry thinks it's good business to have the shop open twenty-four-seven and there's no way that they're not making red digits in the book during these hours. It's not that Stiles minds doing nothing but playing games on his phone while getting paid for it. It's more the fact that he'd much rather be at home sleeping than working all together.

It’s better than lunch hours, though, because Stiles is pretty sure that running around behind the counter then is even worse than gym class in school. Or lacrosse practice. Because he never really got to play any of the games. 

He’s more than a little surprised when the bell tinkles at one-thirty AM and that Derek’s standing there, wearing his usual scowl, when he looks up. 

“Hey man,” he blurts and Derek looks a little uneasy with Stiles' surprise. Maybe he doesn’t like the thought of being so punctual and predictable that the barista gets surprised when he shows up at another time of the day. “Are you going to abuse your stomach some more with the usual?” 

Derek just nods curtly, like he wants Stiles to shut up and give him his coffee already. 

“So, I’ve been thinking,” Stiles says as he presses the buttons on the espresso machine and then he has to fight the blush off of his face. “Well, not really thinking, because it’s not like I walk around thinking about you or the things you say, but thinking a little bit you know, because I’m interested in people and…conversation.” Oh my god, Derek's going to murder him. “Anyway, what did you mean with hopefully?” 

Derek stares at him, for once not scowling, which might be a progress or a hint that he’s having a seizure. Stiles doesn’t really know. But of course, Derek has no idea what he’s talking about, because Derek has not replayed their conversation of yesterday in his head over and over, like Stiles has, because Stiles is a stalker. 

“You said that there will be an exhibition hopefully,” Stiles elaborates and the look on Derek’s face is at least a little bit less of a seizure-warning. 

“The models keep dropping out,” Derek answers after a very long pause. It’s so long that Stiles wonders for a moment if he thought his previous statement instead of saying it out loud, but apparently not. 

“That sucks.” Stiles puts the lid on the cup and hesitates a moment, before he pushes it across the counter. Like always. It’s a bit scary to think that they have some sort of routine in this. Also, it feels quite nice, because Stiles is pretty sure that this is the only routine he’ll ever have with Derek. 

He gets a nod in response and Derek turns to leave, but for some reason, Stiles panics at this and the words leave his mouth before he gets the chance to clamp his hand down over it. 

“I could do it.” It also sounds like he’s shouting. He probably is, actually, because Derek goes rigid before he turns around, just in time to see Stiles face take the same shade as his apron. “I mean, if it’s a crisis and you need someone, I mean, I could do it. I’ve never done it before, but I’m sure I’m a natural.” 

Derek stares at him, and Stiles literally bites his tongue to keep himself from rambling on and on out of sheer embarrassment and nervousness. It hurts. 

“How old are you?” Derek asks, like they’re having a whole other conversation that makes Stiles belly tighten so hard that he has to take a deep breath before he can speak. 

“Eighteen. I’m all legal.” He really shouldn’t have said that last part, especially not with the scowl that quickly pulls Derek’s eyebrows together. He has crazy eyebrows, by the way, for everyone in Stiles' head who wants to know. Stiles thinks about them more than what probably is appropriate. Or sane. 

“Okay,” Derek says slowly, and Stiles isn’t sure what question he just answered. 

“So do you want me to?” he asks, because honestly, they both speak English and this conversation shouldn’t be this confusing. 

“Okay,” Derek says again, before he leaves. 

"Ow," Stiles mumbles to himself and rubs a finger over his aching tongue. Then he realises what just happened and calls Scott. He doesn’t even care that Scott sounds out of breath and that it’s gross, because Stiles already knows that Allison is staying the night and it shouldn’t be that hard to guess why Scott can’t breathe like a normal person all of a sudden. 

Stiles just presses ignore a hundred times in his head, and rambles to Scott about what just happened. The words come out in a tumble and he isn’t even sure how Scott can make any sense out of this, but he does, and much to Scott’s credit, he actually listens. Even though Allison is there. And even though Stiles is ridiculous. 

“Dude, you can totally call him now,” Scott says and Stiles wants to slap him, because one just doesn’t call Derek Hale. 

“I can’t call him!” Stiles exclaims, his voice too high-pitched. 

“Add him on Facebook, then. Say it’s because you want to know what day you should be there.” 

“Oh my god, Scott. I love you so much.” Stiles makes kissing noises into the phone and hears Scott gag, before hanging up. He really makes up for his stupidity with brilliant ideas sometimes. Next mission on wooing Derek Hale: add on Facebook. Also, that could give Stiles the opportunity to see if he’s into guys or girls. Not that he thinks that Derek Hale of all people would take time to fill in that information on his Facebook account, but hope is the last thing to ever leave a human. Stiles has read this in a book. 

The rest of his shift, Stiles makes Facebook searches for Derek Hale. He had been thinking that it couldn’t be that common of a name. Clearly he’s wrong, because apparently a lot of people in South Africa are named just that. After limiting his search to the US, he scrolls through the results and doesn’t find anyone with a picture that’s Derek. So, he resolves to add every single Derek Hale that doesn’t have a picture. Not that he’s desperate or anything. He just wants to know when he’s supposed to be there, doing his job, modelling for Derek Hale.

Oh my god. It’s like he’s living a Harlequin novel. 

Three days later, and no Derek Hale turning up in the middle of the night for a bit of stomach-killing espresso, Stiles hasn’t had any of the Derek Hales adding him on Facebook and he’s starting to think that he’s being avoided. So, he starts flipping through the pictures of Derek he's downloaded into his phone from the Google search. He ignores the fact that he'll probably get convicted for stalking, or like sexual harassment if Derek finds out what he does to himself while looking at those pictures sometimes. Derek doesn’t look happy in any of them and Stiles has grown to wonder if he even knows how to smile, because honestly, he really must have painful ulcers if he’s been looking this grumpy for the past few years in the limelight. 

He can’t stop staring at Derek’s eyes. He knows that he sounds like a girl reading Twilight, but they really are the most fantastic eyes Stiles has ever seen. And Stiles has seen his own eyes, so that’s saying something. He can’t decide whether they’re light green, or a weird shade of blue, but since weird shade of blue doesn’t sound sexy in his mind, he sticks to light green. Yeah, because Stiles makes up his own porn in his head while working the night shift, starring him and Derek. 

Stiles doesn’t see Derek again until next week, when he’s working the morning shift. He turns up at the usual time, makes his usual order, and says nothing about what they talked about last time. 

“So, I was wondering,” Stiles begins as he’s pushing the buttons on the espresso machine. “This modelling thing, when will I be doing it? What am I supposed to do?”

Derek quirks an eyebrow at him, which in itself is a bit of a surprise because he usually only has his scowl or a more surprised expression that Stiles calls his did you honestly just say that-face. 

“Next week,” he says, and it’s not a question. “You’ll be naked.” 

Stiles is happy that he hasn’t picked up the cup yet, because if he had, it would be lying on the floor now. “Naked?” he echoes and he isn’t sure that he likes the smug look on Derek’s face. 

“I told you that it’s about the human body.” 

That he did. Stiles wants to kill himself. He had imagined something else completely. Perhaps his face on a gigantic piece of paper, and that would’ve been bad enough, but sort of worth it, because he would spend time with Derek. But naked! Stiles hasn’t been naked with anyone but himself and his right hand. Showering after lacrosse practice doesn’t count. 

“Yeah,” he mumbles lamely and tries desperately to remember where the lids to the cups are. He sort of understands why Derek’s models have been quitting now. 

“Still up for it?” It’s the first thing Derek has ever asked him. 

“Yeah, sure. I’m sure I’ll be great at naked-modelling,” Stiles mutters and pushes the cup across the counter. He doesn’t sound as hysterical as he feels, luckily enough. 

“Monday, whenever you’re free.” Derek leaves, cup in hand, and Stiles is just about to shout after him that he doesn’t know where Derek lives, when he notices a business card on the counter along with the money. It’s not like he hasn’t tried finding out where Derek lives, but apparently he doesn’t have an address registered to his name, or at least, none that Stiles can find. At least he hasn’t used his dad’s computer at the station yet, which would have been a last resort. 

Stiles calls Scott, definitely panicking. “He wants me to model naked,” he shouts as soon as someone picks up on the other end.

“What?” Scott sounds like he’s still sleeping, and well, it’s just a little past six AM. 

“He wants me to be naked, when he draws me. It’s…I’ve never been naked with anyone, Scott,” Stiles hisses into the phone. It’s not really necessary, because he’s the only one in the shop. 

“I’ve seen you naked loads of times,” Scott yawns, like this isn’t the scariest and hottest thing that has ever happened to Stiles. 

He can’t help but think that maybe he should ask Derek to be naked while drawing him as well. It’s not going to happen, of course, because Stiles wouldn’t even have the courage to do that. But he can always pretend, in his dirty, R-rated mind. 

“It’s not the same thing, Scott,” Stiles snaps.

“Thank god for that.”

“You’re an asshole.” 

“Yeah, he’ll see yours.” 

For once Stiles realises that he's losing a war with words against Scott. That shouldn’t be legal. Scott barely passed high school English. 

Stiles wants to die when he realises that Scott is right. Derek will actually see everything. It’s definitely a scary thought. So scary that Stiles really thinks about calling Derek and saying that he’s busy and doesn’t have time. It’s so scary that he considers giving up on his total crush because no one has ever seen him naked before. 

“What if I get a hard on?” he breathes into the phone and the panic must have been clear in his voice, because Scott laughs. Stiles wants to give him away to the highest bidder. Or just anyone who wants to take him and move to Alaska. 

“Then he might actually get that you’re into him.” 

“I’m terrified,” Stiles whines. 

“Of him or being naked?”


“Seems like a great guy if you’re afraid of him,” Scott quips and maybe he has a point, but Stiles chooses to ignore it. 

“It’s like…he’s just hot and dangerous you know.”

“Are you sure that he won’t lock you into the basement and keep you there for the rest of your life?” 

Stiles isn’t sure, but if he’s going to be naked in front of Derek for quite some time, he figures he could survive living in a basement for the remainder of his days. 

“I’m hanging up now,” Stiles mutters, ending the call before Scott has the chance to say anything else. He’s just way too nervous. Naked. With Derek Hale. He probably won’t even get an orgasm out of it. This can only lead to embarrassment and nothing good, but he doesn't care.

The days pass way too fast and way too slow. Derek comes in the same time as always, and orders the same thing that he always does. He seems to get grumpier and grumpier every time Stiles sees him, but Isaac says that he’s had Derek dropping by during the night shift as well, like he’s staying up all night. Stiles wonders if he’s trying to finish his pieces for the exhibition. It seems to be the only logical explanation. He seems so stressed that on some days, it seem to Stiles like Derek doesn’t recognize him right away. He even forgets to leave money one morning, but Stiles doesn’t remind him, because he’s already paid enough in tip to earn himself free coffee for the rest of the year. 

The next morning, Derek pays even more, like he remembers not leaving anything the day before. Stiles doesn’t know why he gets this uneasy feeling in his stomach whenever Derek scowls at him like he’s a stranger, before there’s a light of recognition in his eyes and he scowls his Stiles-scowl, instead. 

The guy really should get his ulcers looked up. 

“So, I’m off work at noon on Monday. So should I just drop by? Am I supposed to prepare myself…er, in some way?” 

Derek stares at him again. Stiles tells himself that he at least looks a little humoured. That’s got to count for something. 

Stiles has actually been thinking about this. Is he supposed to shave…like everything? Or does Derek prefer his models in their, er, natural glory

“It doesn’t matter,” Derek says shortly, before grabbing his coffee and leaving. 

Well, that was helpful. 

Before going to bed on Sunday, Stiles showers for an hour straight and scrubs every part of his body that he can think of. He hesitates for a moment before he grabs a razor and shaves – everything. Then he changes his mind, panics, and almost calls Derek to say that he won’t be able to make it, before he tries to tell himself that Derek won’t care. He’s done this a thousand times before. He contemplates giving himself a buzz-cut, because that’s what he’s used to, but his hair has grown a bit longer during the summer and he sort of likes it. He decides to keep it that way. 

He can’t sleep. 

Every possible scenario of tomorrow replays itself in his mind, over and over, until Stiles is sure that Derek is an alien and that he’s going to get probed. He finally falls asleep for a couple of hours, before his phone calls out to him, forcing him out of bed to get to work. 

He swallows down more coffee than is probably healthy during the first hour and then he's hyper-active and needs to pee constantly. He comes back from his third round in the bathroom, only to find Derek standing there, waiting at the counter. 

Stiles doesn’t even ask, but starts to prepare the triple espresso right away. Derek doesn’t say anything. No surprise there. 

“I’ll see you later,” he says, pushing the cup across the counter and wishes that he hadn’t told Derek when he gets off, because then he could have gone home for a couple of hours of sleep, before he has to stand naked in front of this guy. 

Derek only nods, before walking out of there. The tip is crazy today. Stiles feels like he’s being paid for sex. But he’s not that cheap. 

The hours until he gets off passes too quickly. Stiles feels himself panic, when it’s a quarter past eleven, and he knows that he’s going to be out of there in forty-five. And then he’s going to be naked. In front of Derek Hale. Oh my god

Isaac gives him a funny look when he shows up. It’s like Stiles' life crisis is visible or like he can smell it in the air. Or maybe it’s because Stiles is leaning against the counter, almost hyperventilating, rambling nonsense like ohmygodI’mgoingtobenakedandhe’lldrawmypeniswithcharcoal. That might be a bit of a tell. Stiles isn’t entirely sure. 

“Ready to leave?” Isaac asks as he ties his own apron. 

“No,” Stiles admits, feeling like he wants to hold on to the coffee machine and stay there until someone tears him off it. 


“I’m not ready for this,” Stiles whispers. He’s being a bit over dramatic, but it’s easier to pretend like he’s feeling worse than he really is, because if he was playing it down, he’d know that he was panicking more inside than on the outside. And that probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but Stiles. 

“What are you talking about, Stiles?” Isaac looks at him intently and he actually looks a bit worried. “Are you not feeling well?”

“Definitely not feeling well.” Stiles nods frantically, and then he straightens up, shaking his head. “But it doesn’t matter. If I’m not here tomorrow I’m probably abducted by aliens or locked in a basement somewhere.” 

What?” Isaac stares at him now, like he’s a crazy person. Yeah, well. 

“Nothing. See you tomorrow.” 

Stiles feels like he wants to take a shower in the sink in the back room, but he decides that cleaning up just a little bit will be enough. At least he finds that he doesn’t look quite as tired as he feels, when he stares at himself in the mirror. He wonders what his dad’s going to say about this when he finds out. 

Hey dad, just so you know, I've been picking up naked-modelling for an older guy who looks like a hot serial killer.  It’s a bit of a scary thought. 

On his way out, he grabs a coffee for himself and a triple espresso for Derek. If he really is an alien, this might work as a peace offering. Stiles is desperate. 

He’s already looked up the address on Google maps, and it’s not that far away. When he parks, Stiles realises that the address definitely doesn’t lead to Derek’s home. Unless Derek lives in an art institute, that is. He’s afraid that it’ll be impossible to find the right room, and that he’ll get lost and wander for eighty years, but Derek is actually standing in the reception, talking to a girl Stiles recognizes from school, when he enters. He thinks that her name is Erica Reyes, but he’s not sure. She was always one of the awkward kids. 

Yeah, like Stiles wasn’t. He doesn’t know if the fact that Derek doesn’t scowl, or that Derek is talking, is more shocking. 

He wonders if Derek has been waiting for him, because as soon as his eyes find Stiles, his face turns into its usual scowl and he motions for Stiles to follow him. 

“So I’m guessing this isn’t your place,” Stiles says as he hurries along behind Derek through the winding corridors. He’s never going to find his way back out. 

“It’s an art institute.” Derek makes it sound like Stiles is an idiot. 

“Yeah, hence my conclusion.” Stiles shrugs when Derek turns to glare at him and just gives him the espresso. Derek doesn't say thanks. It's like that word doesn't even exist in his vocabulary. 

They enter a room that smells heavily of paint and dust. There’s a small podium in the middle of the room, surrounded by spotlights that probably won't make him look his best, and a large easel on one side. It looks like Derek’s going to make a huge painting of Stiles. Naked. Everyone’s going to see everything. He’s never setting foot anywhere near the exhibition. 

Derek’s hands are much dirtier than usual, and there are black streaks up to his elbows. The fact that he’s wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt makes Stiles a little happier, though. 

“So…” Stiles says slowly. “I’ve never really done this before. What do you want me to do?” 

“Clothes off. Stand on the podium.” 

Stiles hasn’t expected the panic to just hit him full on like this. His heart is suddenly pounding so hard in his chest that it’s a little difficult to breathe. He tries to cover it up with a strangled cough and hopes that Derek doesn’t notice how his hands are shaking when he pulls his shirt off and kicks his shoes across the floor simultaneously. It’s a miracle that he doesn’t trip. 

The hardest part is taking his underwear off. Is he supposed to do it slowly and try to be sexy, or just shuck them quick as hell to get it over with? In the end, Stiles goes with the latter, because he tried doing the sexy thing in his bedroom, and it didn’t come off very sexually alluring even then. 

And then he’s naked. So, so, so naked. Derek doesn’t even look at him. He’s busy sorting his charcoals by size. 

“Turn so I get your profile, and tilt your head back a little.” Derek still doesn’t look up, which is a bit of a comfort, but Stiles also feels a bit offended, because hello, naked

He positions himself on the podium. Taking a step up there is the most awkward part, because it’s higher than he expected. His muscles are quivering just a little as he tries his best to stand still. At least he’s facing the windows and he’s staring out over a lot of nature and no human beings whatsoever. Relief. 

“Ready?” Derek asks, and Stiles looks over at him quickly. He seems completely unfazed by the fact that Stiles is very naked. It's a bit disheartening.  

He wants to say no. A little bit because he wants Derek to be at least a little affected by this, but mostly because Stiles doesn’t like his profile. His nose is funny. 

“Yeah. I want you to draw me like one of your French girls, Jack.” 

Derek stares at him and Stiles wants to bang his head into a wall. 

“Titanic?” he tries, but the blank expression on Derek’s face makes it clear that nope, Derek hasn’t seen that movie. “Oh my god, you don't know Titanic?!” 

He gets a pained expression in return. 

Oh well, at least Derek’s showing more than just his usual scowl. 

Being a naked model really isn’t as wild and crazy as Stiles would have thought. He has to stand completely still, for once, and re-arrange his body when Derek tells him to. Stiles has a hard time doing so, causing Derek to look like he wants to kill him after thirty minutes. Plus, it’s incredibly boring. Stiles wishes that he had brought his DS, so he could catch some Pokémon while waiting. He could turn the sound off, so that Derek wouldn’t be too bothered.

Stiles sneaks a glance at Derek every now and then. It's a bit surprising to see him look so relaxed. There is nothing that's even remotely close to a scowl on his face, just a small crease between his eyebrows, like he's concentrating hard. Stiles finds it hard to swallow whenever Derek glances up for a moment and seems to zoom in on a part of Stiles' body. His hand is working quickly, one moment he's drawing what sounds like harsh lines, and the next he seems to be smoothing them out with the side of his thumb or the pad of his forefinger. It's weirdly intimate to realise that Derek is sort of touching his body in a way.

Stiles shivers and he sort of wishes that there was a clock somewhere on the wall, so he can keep track of the time. Nothing outside changes, except for the light that seems to grow dimmer and dimmer with every stroke of Derek's charcoal. Stiles likes the sound of it. 

Derek's lips move like he's talking to himself while drawing. For someone who doesn't say a syllable without cause, this is quite a fascinating change. 

Stiles hadn't thought it would be possible for him to get any more obsessed than he already is, but watching Derek now, he already knows that he was wrong. He looks longingly at the dark shade of stubble on Derek's face, remembering so clearly that he had been clean-shaven the first time he had entered the shop. Stiles suspects that he's too busy finishing his pieces for the exhibition to shave. He doesn't mind though. It's hot, actually. At the same time, it's a bit disheartening, because it's such a reminder of the age difference between them. Seven years is a lot. Especially when Stiles just graduated high school and Derek's famous among art-people. 

Stiles sighs, a bit louder than he attempted, and Derek looks up. It's a little surprising that he doesn't scowl, but he looks snapped out of his drawing-trance at least. Stiles' heart cracks open a fraction at the unguarded expression in Derek's eyes. For a moment, he feels like he's seeing someone else behind that usual scowl. It's gone in a second, but the crack doesn't close back up. 

“Tired?” Derek asks. 

Maybe it's Stiles ears that are fooling him, but his voice sounds softer, too. He wants to say no, because even though it's pretty fucking boring, seeing Derek for more than five minutes at a time is something that Stiles is reluctant to let go. 

“A bit,” he says after a moment of silence. It's not really a lie, but his muscles are screaming for a change in position and he's getting a bit cold. And he's naked. Butt naked. Stiles will never grow accustomed to being naked in front of another person. 

“When can you come back?” It's not: could you come back, or would you come back. But Stiles already knows that Derek isn't the politest of people. 

He gives a one-shoulder shrug. “I'm working the night shift tomorrow, but I'm free Wednesday.” 


“I'll need to sleep for a while, but I could come by around ten-ish.” Stiles glances over at his clothes. Derek has already put his charcoal down and he wonders if he's supposed to put his clothes back on, or if he's supposed to wait for an order. 

Derek just nods, like it's all the same to him. 

“I–” Stiles begins, but trails off because he has no idea what he was going to say. Probably just aiming to kill the awkward silence, per usual. “Can I put my clothes back on?” 

Derek gives him that look again, the did you honestly just say that-look. Stiles likes the scowl better; it doesn't make him feel unintelligent. He interprets the look like a yes and hastily scrambles to pull his underwear and jeans back on. When he glances up, he's both relieved and a little disappointed to find that Derek isn't looking, but is busy putting his charcoals back in their box. 

“So,” Stiles says ,and clears his throat awkwardly to get Derek's attention. He gets a glare. Small victories and all that. “Am I your worst model ever?” 

“No.” It's just a word and it's said with the usual scowl, but it makes all the knots in Stiles' stomach loosen up a bit. He likes to think that Derek would be honest with him. 

“Really?” he asks anyway, because he needs to hear it again. 


He might learn that Derek won't give him a speech about all his assets, eventually. “Do I have to be naked next time, too?” 


“My dad's going to kill me when he finds out.” 

Derek gives him a look and he's quiet for a moment before he says: “Why?” 

“He's the sheriff. I'm sure he wouldn't be too happy with his only kid posing naked for older guys in his spare time, you know?” 

Derek stares at him and Stiles isn't sure if he's angry or horrified, or both. 


“Your dad is Sheriff Stilinski?” 

“Yeah, I thought you knew.” 

“I don't even know your first name.” 

Oh. There goes all of Stiles' dreams of them having a passionate relationship. Because yeah, Derek doesn't even know his name. Way to kill his confidence. 

“Right. I forgot.” He's just about to actually tell Derek his name, well not his real name, because that would be ridiculous, but present himself as Stiles, when Derek gestures to the front doors to the institute. 

“See you Wednesday.” 

Stiles doesn't want to be an over-emotional teenager. He really doesn't. But he can't help to feel a bit angry and disappointed while driving home. He has just been standing naked on a podium for several hours, and Derek doesn't even ask his name. What the hell? 

He's a bit hurt, too. 

When he stops by the station to check on his dad, mostly to make sure he's eating what he's supposed to, he bumps into Danny who's walking out of the building just as Stiles is about to enter. 

Danny is probably the polar opposite to Derek. He's a person everyone likes and he has a way to make the whole room feel warm and cosy from just smiling. He's the nicest guy Stiles knows and he's a lot smarter than Scott. He's also the guy who Stiles asked if he was attractive to gay guys, which might have been a bit tactless, but Danny didn't mind much. 

“Checking up on your dad?” Danny smiles knowingly, because it's not a secret that Stiles tries to make his dad eat more healthy. He has a high cholesterol, so something has to be done.  

“Yeah, need to make sure he's not eating steak seven days a week. You're finished for today?” 

Danny helps out with the station's computer archive over the summer because he's a magician when it comes to computers. 

“Yup, and your dad had a veggie burger and salad for lunch, so you won't have to lecture him.” 

Stiles wants to kiss Danny, because he's the best spy he could have ever asked for, mostly because Stiles doesn't have to ask him at all. “I love you,” he says instead and Danny just laughs before he walks over to his car. “You know, we should do something sometime!” 

He doesn't realise how that might have sounded, until Danny raises his eyebrows at him. It wouldn't be impossible, since Danny is gay and Stiles is bi, but he's pretty sure that Danny likes his boyfriend a lot and Stiles...yeah, Stiles wants to have Derek. Or wanted, until Derek proved to be an ass that doesn't even know his name. 

“Not like that,” Stiles sighs and Danny grins before opening his car door. 

“We should!” 

It's a good thing that Danny really is the nicest person on the planet, because Stiles really isn't up for misunderstandings right now. He's still mad with Derek for not totally crushing on him as well. 

The station has a strange mixed smell of guns, uniforms and paperwork, and Stiles has loved it ever since he walked in here for the first time. 

“Hey dad,” he greets as he finds his father sitting at his desk, signing important papers, probably. 

His dad looks up and smiles briefly, before returning to his papers. “Have you come to make sure I'm sticking to your menu, son?” 

“Nope, I already have spies to tell me when you cheat.” Stiles grins widely when his dad frowns. 

“How was work?” 

Changing the subject. Clever. 

“It was fine.” And when I was finished, I stood butt naked in front of another guy for hours. My penis is probably going to be shown on an exhibition, how cool is that? Stiles wonders if his dad would kill him or Derek first. 

“You sure you don't want to go to college yet?” 

“Next year, dad, next year. Then you can eat all the crap you want to.” 

“I'm counting down the days.” 

It would've been funny if Stiles didn't suspect that it was, in fact, true. 

Stiles knows that he's behaving like a baby when he doesn't want to get out of bed the next day. He's been there all morning, trying to avoid the fact that he has to go to work eventually. It's afternoon when he finally manages to tell himself to shower and get ready. It's a bit of a comfort that Derek rarely comes into the shop during the night shift, but Stiles doesn't feel like even risking meeting him. He's also planning on not showing up at the art institute tomorrow, because that's how mature he is. 

What's even more embarrassing is that he doesn't even have a reason to be hurt because he's a barista where Derek buys his coffee and he just happened to volunteer to model, but it's not more than that to anyone. Except for Stiles. Because Stiles is an idiot. 

It's not even normal to be this upset about something like this. He tries to tell himself to get a grip, but his brain must have turned deaf over night. 

Isaac seems to know that there's something wrong the very moment Stiles steps inside the door, but he doesn't ask, he doesn't even hint. Stiles wants to kiss him. 

“I talked to Scott and Danny yesterday,” Isaac says when evening rush is over. “We're thinking Video Game Night, Friday. You in?” 

Just what Stiles needs. Something to take his mind off of things. He wants to kiss all of his friends now. “Yeah, definitely.” 

“Awesome.” Isaac's smile hints relief, like he's been afraid that Stiles is too depressed to do anything. 

A few hours later, Stiles is on his own in the shop, which is insane if one thinks about the risk of getting robbed. But there's like one crime a year in Beacon Hills, and that's usually someone speeding, so he probably doesn't have to worry anyway. 

He wants to hide and die when he catches the sight of Derek through the windows. It's like he has a radar that makes everything else unimportant whenever Derek is around. Now he's about to walk through the doors like he didn't hurt Stiles' lame emotions just yesterday, scowling like nothing serious has happened. That sentence really wouldn't have made any sense at all if Stiles wasn't referring to Derek. But he is, so it works. 

Quickly, Stiles prepares the triple espresso and just when Derek reaches the counter, he pushes the cup across it. There really is a positive side of Derek always ordering the same thing, in situations like these. 

“Don't bother,” he sighs when Derek looks a little surprised and reaches for money. “It's not like you haven't tipped me enough to get free coffee the rest of the year anyway.” 

A few weeks ago, Stiles would never have thought that he would be able to turn away from Derek, because hello, gotta take the opportunity to look, but he does now. He pretends to be busy with filling up new cups, even though there's already more than enough, and then he wipes off the espresso machine, even though he's already done that twice. 

Derek stands there for a few moments. Stiles knows because he hasn't heard the bell tinkle and his heart is stuck in his throat. He's ridiculous for even behaving this way. He doesn't have a reason to. He's behaving like a three year old. 

He hears the sound of Derek placing coins on the counter, probably along with a bill or two, and has to resist the urge to turn around and shout at him to take his money back. 

In secret, he kind of wants Derek to ask him what's wrong, so that Stiles can forget all about his idiotic behaviour and keep lying to himself that Derek does care and is also secretly crushing on him, too. But Derek is probably more emotionally constipated than anyone Stiles has ever met before, and it's only another moment before he can hear the sound of the bell. 

When he turns around, he finds enough money on the counter to pay for at least four triple espressos and he feels like he should put all of it in an envelope and send it back to Derek, because Derek is an ass for not loving Stiles. 

The following day, Stiles wakes up at seven AM, even though he worked late and his heart is gnawing with bad conscience. He doesn't give in and watches the minutes on the clock of his bedside table tick away. He gets another round of maybe I should go because he's counting on me-thoughts around half past ten, but then he shakes his head “no”. 

It's not his job to make sure that Derek has enough pieces to his exhibition. If his reputation in the art world is anything to go by, from what Stiles has been able to tell through articles at least, it's not like he's going to be in a crisis if Stiles doesn't stand naked on a podium for another few hours. 

Maybe it's weird that Stiles kind of wants Derek to need him. Maybe that's just normal for someone who crushes on strangers after seeing them for five minutes a few days a week. Maybe he just doesn't want Derek to be another Lydia in his life. 

He gets out of bed a quarter past twelve and makes breakfast – cereal and milk in a bowl, it's like he could be on Top Chef. There is still a feeling of him doing something incredibly stupid that he's going to regret in his stomach, but he does his best to ignore it and decides to kill a few hours with online games. 

His bad conscience is going to kill him. He feels sick around two PM for leaving Derek like this. Maybe he's waiting for Stiles. Maybe he's worried that something has happened on his way over there. Or maybe, Stiles tells himself sternly, he's talking to Erica Reyes, because Derek obviously doesn't have a problem talking to her. 

Stiles hates his brain for thinking thoughts that he hasn't approved of and he tries calling Scott six times without result, before he remembers that Scott is away with Allison's family the entire day. 

It's incredibly stupid, he knows, but he still decides to go to the coffee shop. He wants to talk to Isaac for a while when the stream of customer is low anyway and maybe have a cup of coffee for himself. 

Just as he opens the door, he finds Derek standing at the counter and Isaac talking to him. Traitor is the first word that pops into Stiles' mind, and he's not even sure whom he's referring to. Then he panics because Isaac looks up as the bell tinkles (Stiles is going to run it over with his jeep a thousand times until it dies) and says: “There he is.” 

The normal, sensible thing to do here would be to enter and make up a lame excuse for not showing up, like his dad having a seizure or that his cat died. But no, Stiles, because he's neither normal nor sensible, turns and walks right back out. Because that's not at all making his mission to avoid Derek until next year very obvious. 

“Stiles!” Isaac calls after him, but really, it's not like he's going to go back in there and say oh hey,  I wasn't backing out of the door when I saw you because I'm avoiding you or anything. Nope, Stiles just keeps on walking, a bit quicker than a normal, non-paranoid, person would. 


It's not a shout this time. Derek doesn't have to be loud for Stiles' brain to register every damn syllable that leaves his mouth. He tries really hard to stop himself, but it's like his body wants to betray him and turns around on its own, when his mouths snaps: “So now you care about my name?” 

Before he can say anything else, equally embarrassing and probably ripped straight out of a chick flick, he scurries down the street and prays that Derek won't try to follow him. He's such an idiot. Holy shit he's such an idiot. Not to mention a drama queen. He could have had his own Days of Our Lives, starring only him, and it would be drama enough for twenty-seven seasons. 

Not showing up at the art institute – biggest mistake ever, he decides as he finally flops down on his bed. It's not like he can go back to work, because Isaac knows that he's running away from Derek and now he's going to ask why. It's not like his retreat today was subtle. Also, saying what he said to Derek definitely erased the little score he might have had on the coolness-factor. It probably ruined the (probably very small) chance of him charming the pants off Derek as well. 

It's impossible to explain what he did with something that doesn't make him look like even more of an idiot after all. 

He spends the rest of the day searching for colleges accepting late applications in Alaska. 

On Thursday, Stiles works the morning shift again and he feels like he can’t breathe when the hands on the clock slowly moves closer to a quarter to six. He hasn’t been able to sleep all night, because he’s been thinking about this particular conversation. There won’t be anyone around to save him if Derek’s decides to kill him, or even worse: make him cry. 

Stiles hasn’t cried since his mother died and that was years ago. He isn’t up for doing it again anytime soon. 

Twenty minutes to six, Stiles places a cup with a triple espresso on the counter and decides to disappear into the back room. Derek can put two and two together. He’ll get it. A few minutes later, the bell tinkles and Stiles holds his breath. If it’s anyone but Derek (which it won’t be but one can never be a hundred percent sure, right?) they will call out for him in a couple of moments, and if it’s Derek... Well, he won’t. 

He stays in there for longer than what’s probably necessary, even though the bell has already sounded again because he’s afraid that Derek will be there waiting for him when he gets back. 

The shop is empty when he walks back out and there is money on the counter – no surprise there. He is half-expecting Derek to have left a note for him, along with the money, but there’s just a crazy amount of tip. 

The next day, Stiles wants to call his friends and tell them that he’s seriously ill and can’t make it to Video Game Night, but he won’t, because Isaac might tell the others about the little incident the other day, when Stiles practically fled the coffee shop. He'd like to be around to defend himself when that happens. 

Scott is the only one there when he arrives, which isn’t weird because it’s Scott’s house after all. It’s also a bit of a relief, because Stiles wants to be the one to tell him about his freak out. 

“I wasn’t sure you would be wearing clothes,” Scott grins as soon as he steps inside the door, and Stiles is really happy that Mrs. McCall isn’t home because she would so misinterpret that statement. 

“Turns out, I’m not going to make it in the naked modelling business.” Stiles gives himself credit for actually attempting to joke about this. 

Scott’s face falls instantly. Stiles has to give him a little credit for being enough of a supportive friend to actually have the tact to be surprised by Stiles’ failures. Anyone else would have expected this. It could also mean that Scott’s a bit thick for not already being able to foresee these kinds of things after being Stiles friend for so long. 

“No! Why? I thought you were going to be married by now.” 

“Turns out he doesn’t even know my name.” Yes, Stiles is perfectly aware of that he’s sounding like one of those girls in teenage movies, when they talk about their loser boyfriends. 

“Really? Would’ve thought he’d stalked you enough to know your name by now.” Maybe it’s an indication that today’s world is sick, when Scott just assumes that people would stalk each other online enough to find these things out without asking a question. Or maybe that he's been friends with Stiles for too long.

“I think it’s because he’s old.” 

Stiles doesn’t get the chance to answer, because Isaac and Danny barges through the door. Knocking is apparently not a part of their upbringing. 

He notices the look Isaac gives him, but tries to avoid that conversation. At least for now. He might be able to handle it in a while, when everyone isn't listening. 

They even make it through half of the evening without having a discussion about it, until Scott asks Stiles to refill the snack bowl. It’s no surprise when Isaac volunteers to help him and he knows that it’s unavoidable. It’s definitely better to have this conversation in Scott’s house than at work. 

“What happened?” Isaac asks as soon as they are in the kitchen. 

Stiles does his best to pretend searching through the cabinets, even though he’s well aware of where Scott keeps the snacks. 

“What?” he answers airily, trying to sound like he doesn’t know what Isaac is talking about, which is definitely stupid, because Isaac was there when Stiles fled out the door. 

“I might be talking about the time when you ran out of the shop because the dude you helped out was in there.” 

“Oh, right.” Stiles gives up on bullshitting when he turns and finds Isaac standing there with both bags of crisps in his hands, glaring at him. Isaac 1, Stiles 0. 

“It wasn’t the best experience of my life having one of our regulars asking me where you are, because you had promised to come by and then you don’t show up. I thought you’d been in an accident!” 

“It wasn’t even nearly that cool,” Stiles mumbles and traces the edge of the snack bowl with his fingertip. 

“Care to tell me how uncool it was, then?” 

“Not really,” he tries, but Isaac glares at him again and Stiles gives in. “I was supposed to model for him, you know, because he’s an artist and I’m…”, he trails off, wondering if the best choice of words would be stalking him, or want to lose my virginity to him

“Crushing on him?” Isaac offers. 

“Pretty badly, yes.” Stiles smiles meekly, feeling like an idiot when Isaac rolls his eyes. 

“I should’ve known.” 

“Well, it really isn’t that hard to guess. I mean I guess I had to have another obsession, now that I’m over Lydia.” He shrugs, reaching for a bag of crisps, but Isaac pulls it out of his reach. “What do you want me to say?”

“You haven’t told me what happened.” 

“You’re such a high-maintenance friend,” Stiles mutters, but sighs in defeat. “Well I was there, naked, very naked. Terrifyingly so. God, I was so naked.” 

Stiles,” Isaac snaps. “Focus.”

“Okay, okay! Well I was there, naked,” he says again, and Isaac groans like he’s in pain. “And he was drawing me, and I felt like Rose in Titanic, but I didn’t have the pendant you know? I guess it wouldn’t have looked as good on me, since I don’t have boobs, anyway. So, we decide that I’ll come by Wednesday, that’s two days ago. Well you’d know, since you were there when I escaped the crime scene, so to speak. But then we’re about to leave the art institute and I kind of tell him that my dad’s the sheriff and he’s all like Oh my god! Why didn’t you tell me this sooner kind of, but not in so many words, because he doesn’t do multiple sentences in a row. And I asked him how he couldn’t guess that I’m the sheriff’s kid, because you know, it’s not like Stilinski is the new Jones, right? And he’s all like: I don’t even know your first name, and I was probably overreacting.” 

“And then what?” 

“No, that’s pretty much it.” 

“You decided not to show to your next meeting because he didn’t know your name?” 

It sounds even more stupid now, than it has sounded in Stiles' head the past few days, and it's not like he has been thinking back on it in positive terms. 

“Uh, when you say it like that,” he mumbles, but decides to not elaborate further. 

“You should probably talk to him.” 

“It’s probably not that necessary,” Stiles disagrees. Yeah because, no, he’s not talking to Derek. Talking to Derek on a good day is like talking to a dead stone, and he doesn’t really want to find out what it’s like on a bad day. 

“He’s a regular, Stiles.”

“Yeah, I know. I also know his order and this morning it worked pretty perfectly to just put it on the counter and hide in the back room until he left. He still paid and everything.” Stiles talks quickly, because he thinks that maybe it will make his idiocy less obvious. 

Stiles,” Isaac snaps again and Stiles feels like he’s being scolded just a little bit. 

“Yes, Isaac?” 

“He already knew your name.” 

“No, he didn’t. I mean, he did yesterday, because you know, the way you shouted it, the whole town probably knows it by now.”

“He asked me your name weeks ago, because I have a name tag and you don’t, and he was asking why, and I told him that you don’t wear yours because you don’t like your real name, but that we just call you Stiles.” 

“I actually have a very hard time imaging Derek using that many words,” Stiles says drily, positive that Isaac is just making shit up to make him feel better. 

“Okay, fine, he said 'you have a tag, the other kid doesn’t.'” 

Stiles thinks that that actually does sound a bit more like Derek. Not the voice though, because Isaac is useless when it comes to making impressions. 

“SNACKS!” Scott bellows from upstairs, making them both jump, and Stiles grabs a bag from Isaac’s arms quickly. 

“Why would he say that he doesn’t know my name if he does? It doesn’t make sense.” 

“Would you admit that you did some stalking and know stuff about him that doesn’t make sense, just like that?”

Actually yes, because Stiles isn’t all that aware of how uncomfortable it makes people feel when he tells them that he already knows pretty much all about them there is. But apparently, Derek’s not of the same opinion. He guesses that it makes sense, sort of. 

“Didn’t think of that.” 

“It’s like you have something in your DNA that makes it impossible for you to make it easy for yourself.” 

“Yeah, it’s like a recessive gene, on my mother’s side. I can’t really help it.” 

Isaac looks like he’s trying not to laugh and Stiles feels a little better about himself. Not just because Derek apparently is madly and irrevocably in love with him, like Bella Swan, but also because Isaac is a pretty good friend at the end of the day. 

“You’re an idiot,” Isaac sighs, as they make their way upstairs with bowls of snacks. 

The next day Stiles works hard to get himself enough courage to go to the art institute and, well not apologise, because Derek is the mean one here, but at least pose naked on a podium for another few hours so the piece can be finished for the exhibition. 

It’s almost eight PM when he finally starts his jeep and drives the short way there, his heart is beating like it’s going to jump out of his chest all the way from his house to the moment he stands in the foyer of the institute. There’s no Erica Reyes in the reception now and no one else seems to be around to ask for directions. He suspects that Derek is in the same room as last time, because he left all his things there when they ended their previous Stiles is naked with an older guy-session. The problem is that Stiles was way too preoccupied with looking and thinking and smelling Derek to ever pay attention to where he was walking. 

Sometimes he’s not too impressed with himself. 

Actually, make that most of the time.  

Stiles shakes his head, attempting to clear it from thoughts and looks around. He recognises the corridor to the left and decides to give it a try. What’s the worst thing that can happen, really? Except that he could get lost and starve to death, and it’s Saturday, so no one might find him until Monday and then it’ll be too late. But that’s not very probable, he tries to tell himself, even though he’s a bit terrified by the thought of walking around in an empty institute on his own. 

If there is an axe murderer in the building, he’s going to be pleased because Stiles will die from just hearing footsteps that aren't his own. He’s a murderer’s dream, really. Unless they get off on the actual chopping-people-apart-while-still-alive bit, because then he’s their worst nightmare. 

Oh god, he’s so thinking too much again. 

It takes a good fifteen minutes before he finds the same room, and during that time Stiles has considered making emergency calls twice and sent five panicked texts to Scott, who just tells him to keep walking. He’s the worst friend. 

Stiles forgets all about being scared when he finds the right room. He just knows. Maybe it’s the smell. Or maybe it’s just the way his chest tightens as he glances through the crack in the door. He’s both surprised, and yet not, to find Derek there. He’s drawing, hand moving furiously, only to smooth the lines out again just seconds later. Stiles wants to stand there and watch the look on his face and the way he speaks to himself too low for Stiles to hear. He just wants to watch, because this Derek isn’t the one Stiles knows. He likes this Derek. He wants this Derek. 

Clearing his throat awkwardly, he knocks quietly on the door and pushes it open. Derek’s eyes snap away from the easel to him at the sound and his face closes up instantly. Stiles hates himself for having this effect on Derek. 

He tries to find his voice, but it’s a long, intense silence before he manages to croak out: “Hey.” 

Derek doesn’t answer. He just looks at Stiles and there’s something in his eyes that makes it a little uncomfortable. Stiles can't even pin down what it is.  

“I–” he begins and trails off immediately. It’s strange, it’s only around Derek that Stiles doesn’t know what to say. Or Stiles rarely knows what to say, but around other people he doesn’t care and talks anyway. With Derek, his mind just goes blank. Blank. Blank. “Well, I’m here,” Stiles blurts, when the silence has been suffocating him for too long. 

Derek raises his eyebrows, as to say: obviously

“If you want to finish the painting.” 

Inside, Stiles wants to shout: and you know my name, you bastard! Why didn’t you tell me that you’re totally into me?! He’s happy that he at least has enough of a filter to stop him from saying it out loud. 

“Okay,” Derek says after a moment. He takes down the canvas that’s now on his easel and puts it against the wall, the back to them, preventing Stiles from seeing what it’s portraying. Then he disappears into another room and comes back with the one Stiles assumes is of him. He can't see that one either.

He’s confused for a second when Derek looks at him like he’s waiting for something, and then his brain clicks. “Oh right, naked. I keep forgetting that part.” 

It’s even more awkward to get undressed than last time, because Stiles tries to make it a little sexier and not as rushed. He suspects that he doesn’t succeed very well, but at least he doesn’t trip over himself, or face plants into the wall. 

“Like last time,” Derek says before Stiles can ask him, and it’s a bit of a relief because Stiles isn’t really comfortable with having conversations while his penis is visible for other people than himself and his fantasies. 

He hates stepping up on the podium. It’s like the evening light is solemnly on him now, singling him out and somehow that's even worse than the spotlights. His body isn’t a super-model's. Definitely not. He’s lanky and awkward and pale. His hipbones are a little too prominent to be the least bit sexy, and the slight hint of abs and pecs isn't enough to make it better. He’s like the scholar example of a nerd. Without the glasses. And braces. Stiles has actually never worn braces, which is always something. He doesn’t even want to start analysing his dick. Honestly. It’s like, just don’t go there, brain. 

Standing still is a bit easier this time, because he keeps sneaking glances of Derek and hopes that he doesn’t notice. At first he only looks like once every ten minutes. Then it’s down to five. After an hour or so, Stiles barely turns his gaze away at all. 

“Can I talk?” he requests, after feeling like his ears are sore from listening to charcoal strokes on thick, brown paper. 


“I’m going to anyway.” He ignores the death glare Derek gives him. “I’m thinking that you should change your order. You know, I’m pretty sure triple espresso will give you ulcers soon if you don’t stop. It’s strong stuff. I’m working with it you know? I know what I’m talking about. Also you should start saying thanks because it’s rude to be rude.” 

“Stiles,” Derek says and Stiles stares because Derek obviously doesn’t suffer for amnesia this time around. “Shut up.” 

Because he asks so nicely, Stiles does shut up. For fifteen good minutes, and then he’s back to pestering Derek again. He’s sure Derek loves it somewhere deep inside. 

He talks about absolutely nothing. Okay, well, quite a bit about Pokémon, because he really likes the way his current game is going and he has a whole bunch of unusual, badass Pokémon. He thinks that Derek should know about this because it should make Stiles attractive in his eyes. He’s capable of bringing home food, right? It’s like basic instincts and stuff. 

Even though Derek glares at him like he wants to kill Stiles, he’s not telling him to shut up again. Stiles thinks this is improvement. Then he just stops talking, because his eyes have found the muscles on Derek’s arms and the awesome way they flex and relax with the movements. He just wants to touch. Just once in his life. 

And then his gaze is glued to Derek’s lips and the slight curve of his cupid’s bow. They’re not as full as Stiles’, but Stiles has always been of the impression that he has a girly mouth and Derek definitely doesn’t. It looks soft and harsh at the same time. 

Stiles wants to run his fingertips along the stubble on Derek’s jaw, just to feel the rough scratch against them. He wants to rub his cheek against Derek’s, thinking it will probably sting and burn just a bit, but he wants to try how it feels. Just once. 

And Stiles wants to see Derek naked. What his stomach looks like without anything to cover it up. He doesn’t think that Derek’s hipbones are too prominent and he does think that Derek has abs. He knows for sure that Derek has pecs, because they’re visible through his tight shirts and, oh my god, Stiles' fingers are itching again.

If this was porn, Derek would have thrown the easel aside hours ago and fucked Stiles on the podium in all the possible positions and probably all the impossible, lumbago-generating ones as well. Stiles doesn’t think he would mind, though. In reality, he might, but in his head, he’s all fine with whatever Derek has in store for him. 

It’s more than embarrassing to return to reality and realise that he’s on the verge of getting a little too interested in his fantasies than what’s appropriate when one’s naked. He concentrates hard on old people kissing and snakes. He’s terrified of snakes, and is so relieved when he’s able to stave off the approaching situation. 

It’s almost midnight when Derek puts his charcoal down and Stiles’ muscles are shaking like crazy. He gets dressed quickly, when Derek turns away, because somehow it’s still a bit embarrassing to put clothes back on, even though he’s been standing there naked for hours. 

“Do you want me to come back?” It’s not like he hoped for much, but he’s disappointed when Derek shakes his head all the same. 

“No, I have the structure. It’s all I need to finish it on my own.” 

“Oh.” Stiles’ stomach drops. He doesn’t like the way he’s such a teenager with hormones and drama around Derek. He wants to be grown up and cool. He wants to impress. Stiles has never been good with any of those. He pulls his shirt over his head quite roughly, trying to distract his brain with a little nerve ending action. It only works about fifty per cent. “So, when’s the exhibition?” 

“There will be an ad in the paper,” Derek says curtly, like he wants Stiles to disappear already. 

Stiles doesn’t even know how it happens, but it’s like his feet have walked across the room to stand in front of Derek, way too close, on their own. And now he’s staring into Derek’s eyes, and Derek is staring back at him, and his brain is screaming at him to lean in for a kiss. Just when he’s about to, Derek takes a couple of quick steps backwards. 

Stiles jerks out of his trance-like state and blushes hard when he realises that he’s almost standing on tip-toes. He can’t really make up an excuse for this. 

“I’ll see you at the shop,” he mumbles and flees the scene. He’s wandering around the endless corridors for longer than what’s logical, but it feels better than sitting in his jeep. He’s stupid, he knows this, because he always falls heedlessly in love with people who are, one: way out of his league. Two: probably not even attracted to him. Three: seven years older than him. Four: grumpy and don’t even like him. The last two might be exclusively Derek. 

It’s like Stiles’ heart needs a lecture on how to do its job properly. He can’t deal with this. It’s like he’s doomed to be the heartbroken one forever. No, who’s being melodramatic? 

Stiles is. Stiles is always being too much of everything that one isn’t supposed to be too much of. 

He rests his forehead against the steering wheel for a while, just breathing a little, before starting the car and driving home. His dad is working the night shift, so he doesn’t have to explain why he’s coming home late and looks like he’s a depressed fourteen year old. 

It’s just not fair that Scott found Allison in high school and that they’re probably going to stick together for life, and Stiles is crushing on a grumpy artist who’s probably very straight and hates Stiles’ guts. 

He wants to be wanted by someone so bad, that it hurts just a little bit between his ribs when he goes to bed. Just a little bit. Like a pinch of guilt. Or shame. He even wants to be Jackson sometimes. The biggest asshole in the city, but he’s good looking and rich, and he’s with Lydia Martin. Stiles isn’t really any of that. It’s not that he looks bad. It’s just that he’s average in every possible way. Average height. Probably a bit less than average weight. Average looks. A bit higher than average grades. It’s like plus and minus, it all evens out, and in the end, he’s just left there on zero. In the middle of everyone else. 

Stiles wonders if he should paint his eyes with eyeliner and pierce all his body parts, because he’s being so emo. Then he tells himself that it’s all right if he doesn’t tell anyone else about it. On the positive side, he’ll probably get to see Derek every morning for a while, and with time, Derek might melt to his charm. Stiles can be persistent when he needs to be.