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Stiles loves nighttime at the bakery. When the front of the shop is dark and the customer door is locked; that’s when the backroom is most alive. He bakes the night away; mixing batter, rolling dough, occasionally taste-testing his own handiwork. It’s the life he’s wanted since the first time he baked chocolate chip cookies with his mother, and he knows he should be thanking his lucky stars that he’s getting to live it.

He should also be thanking Lydia Martin for insisting on joining him in his venture to own a bakery. Without her business degree, sharp mind, and startup capital, Sweet Stuff never would have made it. But it’s been over a year now, and the downtown Beacon Hills bakery is still going strong. Thank the lord for feisty strawberry blondes.

“Stiles!” the strawberry blonde in question shouts in lieu of a proper greeting as he walks in through the employee entrance at the back of the bakery. “I have to go; date night with Jackson. But I wrote down all the orders we got today; there’s just a few so you should be fine.”

“Sure, sure. Tell Jackson I hate him for me, okay?” he says as he glances over the order sheet she’s left for him.

Lydia smiles in her you’re-so-dumb-and-pathetic-it’s-almost-cute way. “It’s truly precious how the two of you pretend that after all these years you’re still not friends.”

“We’re not,” he insists darkly. “We hate each other. Passionately. I get so amped up on rage when I think about his face I actually get concerned that I will become a murderer.”

“Whatever, Stilinski. I’m leaving now.”

Before he can continue on explaining how much he and Jackson hate each other (and okay, he can admit in his own head that they really don’t), she’s out the door, leaving behind a trail of her expensive perfume.

It’s only just gone six in the evening, so the bakery is still open. Stiles can hear the muffled sounds of Scott helping customers out front, and it sounds like they might actually be a bit busy, but he hates the front of the shop (dealing with customers is always either mind-numbingly boring or mind-numbingly irritating) so he ignores it in favor of getting started on the order of lemon cupcakes for Mrs. Downing.

Dealing with cupcakes is so much easier than dealing with customers trying to get their sugar fix and acting like rabid animals over who gets the last bear claw.

And okay, that only happened once, but it had been one of the rare times Stiles was out front and the image of two sixty year old men almost coming to blows over a pastry will forever be burned into his mind with the caption ‘Reasons to Avoid Patron Interaction at All Costs: Exhibit A’.

He bakes for a few hours by himself; his only company being the radio that is blasting the Top 40 hits Stiles should be ashamed of knowing every lyric to, but he sings and dances to anyway. He’s singing along to the new Taylor Swift and mixing brownie batter whilst shaking his hips to the beat when he hears a burst of raucous laughter coming from the back entrance. The sound jolts him out of his singing/baking zone and he ends up jumping so abruptly that he knocks over a stack of baking sheets and falls flat on his ass.

“Ow,” he grumbles as he looks up to see Isaac and a man he’s never met standing in the entryway, laughing.

The man is gorgeous. Dark hair, light eyes, five o’clock shadow, and a body Stiles doesn’t even want to begin to contemplate because holy shit. So naturally, his first impression of Stiles is a Taylor Swift song and falling on his ass. Welcome to Stiles’ life, where awkwardness is the name of the game and dignity isn’t a recognized concept.

“I, um, didn’t hear you come in,” Stiles mentions casually as he picks himself and the baking sheets up off the ground and Taylor continues chirping about never, ever, ever getting back together with whichever ex-boyfriend this song was written about. He turns the radio down to a low murmur. It doesn’t make the situation less humiliating, but it does possibly make the current conversation less unbearable.

“Clearly,” Isaac quips, trying to hold in his giggles.

“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, big guy. We’ll see who’s laughing when I withhold cookie privileges from you.”

“You would never,” Isaac mutters darkly. “This is Derek Hale, by the way. He just started at BHH this year and I’ve finally convinced him that the best part about getting drinks with other faculty is me dragging him here post-beer.”

“Welcome to the insane world of Sweet Stuff, Derek,” Stiles greets, trying to shrug off his first impression. “I’m Stiles.”

“Isaac’s told me about you,” Derek says. “According to him, you’re the best baker in the entire world.”

Stiles grins. “He’s a good friend like that. Although while I’m probably not the best baker on planet Earth, I am absolutely the best baker in Beacon Hills. Isaac says you’re new to the high school, but are you new to Beacon Hills?”

Derek nods. “Just moved here in August when I got the job.”

“So you’ve only been here a few months. Perfect! That means you’re probably not too familiar with my competition yet and cannot dispute my claim to be the best baker in town. By the way, if you ever for some godforsaken reason find yourself at Pearson Bakery over on Fifth Ave., do not let Georgia convince you her lemon bars are better than mine. Mine are godly and hers are dry and gross.”

“Duly noted,” Derek agrees sagely.

“Good. So are you guys just stopping by or are you sticking around for a while?”

“Sticking around. I’ve already explained to Derek that hanging around Sweet Stuff at night is the activity of choice for the twenty-somethings of Beacon Hills,” Isaac explains. “At least, when we’re not out drinking. Or after we’ve been out drinking.”

“Yes, you know how much I appreciate it when you all stumble in here at three a.m. drunk off your asses and whining for cupcakes.”

“You’re only upset because you hardly ever get to go out now that you have to spend every night baking,” Isaac dismisses calmly.

“Careful, Lahey, your psychology degree is showing,” Stiles warns teasingly. “Anyway, Derek, there are just a few rules about hanging around the bakery at night. First is that if you want to help yourself to goodies at the end of the night, you’ve got to work for them. Second, and possibly more important, is that Scott is not allowed anywhere near the ovens and generally should be confined to doing dishes for all eternity.”

Derek opens his mouth, presumably to ask ‘who the hell is Scott?’ when the door connecting the baking room to the front of the shop swings open and the boy in questions bursts through.

“I heard that, Stiles. And I am not that bad with baking.”

Isaac gives him a look. “You set a pan of pumpkin bars on fire because you thought increasing the oven temperature would decrease the baking time. Then you forgot to check on them for almost an hour.”

“Valid point,” Scott concedes. “But I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles grunts. “If you want brownies, then go do the dishes.”

Scott pouts, but heads to the sink anyway. “You know, as an actual employee of the bakery, you would think I could just get brownies for all the hard work I put in during the day. Slaving away at night seems like overkill, don’t you think?”

“No,” Stiles counters. “What I think is that you sneak pastries all day during your shift anyway, but think Lydia and I don’t notice. So do the dishes. Isaac, you’re on chocolate chip cookie duty. And Derek, if you’re not yet convinced that we are all clinically insane, you can help me with these banana nut muffins.”

“Sounds good,” Derek agrees easily, coming over to the counter Stiles is at. “I do think you might be clinically insane, if your knowledge of Taylor Swift lyrics is any indication, but banana nut muffins are my favorite, so I’ll stick around.”

“That’s not fair; everyone knows the lyrics to that song. I bet even you know them. You’re just not man enough to sing and dance to them.”

Derek laughs. “That must be it.”

“It is. So let’s never mention it again.”

“Okay. I’ll never, ever, ever mention it again.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “First of all, rude. Second of all, you do know the lyrics. Now measure out two cups of brown sugar, you little hypocrite.”

They bake in easy companionship for a little while, the only sounds coming from the still on radio and Scott’s quiet singing of the lyrics. Scott doesn’t have things like shame or humility, so there’s no need for him to deny knowing every word to Nicki Minaj songs.

“So where were you living before you moved to Beacon Hills?” Stiles asks Derek eventually, as they’re pouring the batter into muffin pans.

“San Diego. All my family lives there still.”

“So you’re the rebel, huh? Moving to the bustling town of Beacon Hills.”

He snorts in a way Stiles can’t help but find ridiculously adorable. “I guess. I’ve just always preferred smaller towns.”

“Well, you came to the right place. How do you like working at the high school? Do you teach psychology like Isaac?”

“No, I’m the new librarian, actually.”

And fuck if that isn’t the single hottest thing Stiles has ever heard. Sexy people like Derek shouldn’t even be allowed to be librarians. It perpetuates too many fantasies. And what if he wears glasses? Are people supposed to resist having strokes when they see people like Derek wearing glasses and being librarians? Because that shit just isn’t fair and it is a health risk to the population at large.

He coughs awkwardly, trying to shake off the increasingly intense and interesting thoughts about Derek Hale the Hottest Librarian of Ever. Yep, definitely needing to banish those thoughts.

“Right, well, these are ready to bake,” he stammers awkwardly and rushes off to put the pans of muffins into the preheated oven.

Derek and Isaac leave an hour or so later, arms laden with boxes of various bakery goods. Scott sticks around awhile longer, possibly just to tease Stiles about his obvious attraction to Derek. Scott’s much smarter than people give him credit for, but his powers of observation are not the strongest and he does tend to be a little oblivious. So if he’s noticed his burgeoning crush on Derek, then Stiles may as well resign himself to a life of misery and woe because he must have been painfully obvious.

Such is life and que sera, sera or whatever.

*

He doesn’t see Derek again for a couple weeks after that first night. And he absolutely did not spend that time obsessing over him at all. No, he definitely did not spend weird amounts of time complaining to Lydia that he had blown it with a guy after only having spent a few hours in his presence.

Well… maybe he did. But it didn’t count because Lydia had been entirely unsympathetic (why did he expect otherwise?) and had told him to man up and either go for it or get over it. She obviously does not fully understand the extent of his social insecurities because neither of those options are at all viable.

He’s just about to implode from internal frustration when Isaac and Derek show up again one night.

“Oh, hey there!” he croaks out when he sees Derek following Isaac into the bakery. Derek smiles back at him and Stiles counts it as a victory to his sanity.

“Who’s your friend, Isaac?” Erica questions in her default sultry voice from where she’s perched on a counter, supervising the mixing of various muffin batters.

“This is Derek. He was here a couple weeks ago but I think you were out with Boyd that night. Derek, this is Erica. She works at the bakery,” Isaac introduces the two of them.

Erica gives Stiles a significant look, eyebrows raised and smirk firmly in place. Clearly either Lydia or Scott is a gossip and Stiles will be having words with the both of them later. Or possibly just with Scott because no one confronts Lydia Martin and lives to tell the tale.

“Nice to meet you,” Derek says to her.

“Likewise,” she returns. “You know, Derek, Stiles could use a hand with those scones. Isaac, do dishes.”

“How come I get McCall’s job?” Isaac complains.

“Shut up and do it, Lahey,” Erica commands.

Sometimes Erica likes to think she is the boss of everyone’s lives. But she gets catty, so no one really disputes her on it. It’s a true shame to the lives of them all that Lydia and Erica get along so fabulously, because together they could probably take over the world without breaking a sweat. Luckily for the world, they settle for controlling the lives of their friends, instead.

“Stupid Scott and his stupid date night,” Isaac whines as he reluctantly starts doing dishes.

They get sort of spoiled, having Scott around to do dishes. No one likes dishes. It’s decidedly the worst thing to do when helping out at the bakery because it involves the least amount of batter eating and the most amount of pruned fingers.

“He and Allison will probably come by later begging for cheesecake or something,” Stiles mentions. “You can try to force him to do the dishes then.”

His prediction ends up correct when Scott and Allison show up a little while past midnight.

“Ooh, it smells good in here,” Allison coos as they walk in.

“Can we have cheesecake?” Scott asks, hopping up on a counter near Erica and taking a swipe of chocolate cupcake batter.

Derek glances next to him at Stiles and murmurs, “It’s kind of scary how you predicted that.”

Stiles laughs but turns his attention toward Scott. “There’s some leftover still from today. It’s in the fridge. Have at it, buddy. But only because I like Allison.”

“Thanks, Stiles!” Allison chirps and pecks him on the cheek as she dashes off to the fridge with Scott to grab some slices of cheesecake.

They end up eating the cheesecake at the bakery, sat on top of the counters. Isaac tries in vain to convince Scott to stick around and help with dishes but it’s quite clear that he and Allison are wanting to spend the night alone.

“Go home,” Erica gripes at them eventually, “before you end up boning each other on the counter.”

“You have such an eloquent way with words, Erica,” Stiles comments sarcastically.

“Alright, fine. We’ll go,” Scott concedes, holding his hands up in mock surrender. “Wouldn’t want to show off, anyway.”

“Really, sweetie? Let’s go. Bye, guys!” Allison waves at them before pulling Scott out the door.

“Their affection makes me want to barf into this cupcake batter,” Erica utters.

“Please don’t,” Stiles pleads at the same time Isaac says, “As if you and Boyd are any better.”

“Boyd and I are the epitome of class in public,” Erica insists, flicking her hair over her shoulder primly. “Speaking of Boyd, he’s at home, possibly naked, waiting for me. So I’ll see you losers later.”

And with that, she hopped off the counter and strutted out of the building, although not before snatching up a few snickerdoodles.

“Why don’t I believe her about the classy thing?” Derek questions jokingly.

“Because you have good judgment,” Isaac responds.

They work in relative silence for a while; Isaac still washing dishes and Stiles and Derek working on a few batches of macaroons. Even when there’s not tons of conversation going on, Stiles loves having people in the bakery with him. It does get lonely sometimes, being practically nocturnal. Sometimes all the staying up until the crack of dawn and sleeping into the afternoon makes him feel a bit like a college student but he wouldn’t give up the bakery for anything, so it’s nice to have people who want to spend time with him even when he’s working.

“When do you usually get to go home in the mornings?” Derek asks him eventually and Stiles briefly wonders if he can read minds.

Stiles shrugs. “I usually leave when Lydia gets here; about six. We open at seven, but she likes to get here early and do paperwork.”

“I stayed here with him until six a few times,” Isaac adds. “It’s brutal. But he doesn’t make donuts until right before opening and they are one of the few things in this world worth murdering for.”

“That’s… high praise,” Derek says eventually.

“It’s true,” Isaac vows. “But for us mere mortals, staying up until six in the morning generally just fucks up the rest of your day. Especially when you’re supposed to be teaching high school students psychology at eight a.m. But those donuts, man.”

“Couldn’t you just come to the bakery when it opens?” Derek asks Isaac confusedly.

“It’s more magical if you wait for them,” Isaac claims wisely.

“If you want a break from dishes,” Stiles cuts in, changing the subject, “I need another batch of blueberry muffins.”

Isaac happily drops the pan he had been scrubbing and starts work on the muffins. Stiles turns the music up (Erica left it on the Top 40 station so it’s totally not his doing this time) and they continue working for a while until Isaac and Derek finally head out at quarter till two. Stiles cranks the music and sings along with the likes of Ke$ha and Rihanna until he can finally go home and pass out until three in the afternoon.

*

Derek comes by more often after that. He never comes by himself; he’s always with Isaac, but Stiles still counts it as a victory. He’s obviously not scared Derek off so much that he can’t stand being around Stiles. He stops in with Isaac about once or twice a week, usually on weekend nights since the both of them have to be up early to get to the high school, but they occasionally come in for a couple hours during the week as well.

Eventually, the holiday season is finally upon them. This brings about a lot of different things in Stiles’ life. Most importantly, it is the busiest goddamn time to own a bakery. Ever. He and Lydia get requests for special orders coming at them from all angles. Basically, the only time Stiles is not in the bakery is from about ten in the morning until four in the afternoon, when he sleeps and eats and tries not to burst into rage-filled tears about how much it sucks being a baker in December. That’s pretty much the biggest downside of holiday times. The biggest upside is that schools are closed and Isaac and Derek begin spending more time at the bakery.

It all comes to a head a few days before Christmas. Because, let’s be honest, Beacon Hills is a predominantly Christian town and people want their fucking Santa cookies. The night of December 22nd is, in particular, busy as all hell. It’s the day when people finally figure out that shit, their family is coming to town tomorrow. Or shit, we have to drive fifteen hours to get to grandma’s house tomorrow. In bakery terms, this means that all hell is breaking loose.

“Gingerbread coming through!” Isaac shouts as he scrambles through the mass of people in the bakery to get to the ovens, where he shoves in a few pans of gingerbread men and wrathfully sets the timer.

Everyone is on duty in the bakery with the promise of making extra of every batch so they can also be provided with their necessary holiday treats. Isaac is on gingerbread man duty, since Stiles had long since helped him perfect his gingerbread skills. Erica and Boyd are making the chocolate mint cookies that they have to make approximately forty million of because they’ve become so popular. Scott’s on dishes duty as per usual and Allison is helping him (she doesn’t have much of a knack for baking, either). Derek’s doing the peanut butter cookies with chocolate candies on top. Stiles is bouncing between making sugar cookie dough and frosting them when they’re done. He’s letting Jackson handle the middle part, because pressing cutouts into sugar cookie dough and putting pans in the oven is about as much as he’s willing to help. Even Lydia (who never helps) is keeping an eye on the ovens so nothing burns.

It’s insanity, but they have to do it or they will feel the wrath of the Beacon Hills townspeople. Specifically, Stiles will feel the wrath of the Beacon Hills townspeople, seeing as how he’s the actual baker and all, and that is not a burden he wants to shoulder alone.

Lydia and Jackson duck out first, just after one a.m. Followed by Erica and Boyd, and eventually Scott and Allison. Isaac heads out around half past two and Stiles abruptly realizes that this is the first time he’s ever been alone with Derek Hale. He manages to not collapse into a heap of sexual frustration on the floor. He probably would have if not for the immense amount of work he still had to do.

“I can’t believe how many people buy their Christmas cookies,” Derek mentions a few minutes after Isaac’s left. “My mom always makes them.”

Stiles shrugs. “I blame the laziness of the 21st century. Plus, some people just can’t bake.”

“Are we almost done with all the orders?” Derek asks, eyeing up the cooling racks that are fully loaded with various kinds of cookies and treats.

“The orders are done except what’s in the oven, but I still have to make some of the standard everyday things. I won’t need as much as usual since most people are just focused on the cookies, but I’ll probably be flayed alive if I don’t whip up some cinnamon buns at some point.”

“I never knew the life of a baker was so insane.”

“The trick is to be insane from the start,” Stiles jokes. “So, what are your Christmas plans? Your family’s in San Diego, right?”

Derek nods. “I’m driving there tomorrow, actually.”

“Oh, I shouldn’t keeping you so late. You should head home and rest. I don’t want you falling asleep in your car.”

Derek just smiles. “You’re not forcing me. And I’ll be okay. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll leave soon.”

He stays for another hour.

*

The next time Derek comes by, he’s by himself. As it happens, Stiles is also by himself in the bakery. It’s about a week and a half into January, and it’s about ten p.m. on a Friday night. Stiles’ first reaction to seeing Derek walking through the door is surprise because, well, someone like Derek Hale could have his pick of various social plans on a Friday night. But Stiles decides to not question his mysterious stroke of luck and instead calls out a casual greeting instead.

“You’re all by yourself,” Derek comments. “And you’re not dancing to Taylor Swift. This is unprecedented.”

“Oh, haha, very funny. I’ll have you know I danced to her new song earlier and I have no shame about it.”

He doesn’t add that he finds the lyrics “I knew you were trouble when you walked in,” to be kind of ironic to the situation of Derek walking in and absolutely being trouble; namely to Stiles’ health because he might have a heart attack or something. Also, are people even trying to pretend Taylor Swift is at all a country artist anymore? Because that song is a bit too electronic for her to be getting country music awards anymore.

And yikes, he is rambling in his own mind now.

Derek chuckles. “So, what are you working on?” he asks, gesturing toward where Stiles is mixing some batter.

“Apple cinnamon muffins,” he answers.

“Can I help?”

Stiles smiles. “That’d be great. Could you put the muffin papers in the tins?”

Derek walks over to him, crowding behind him and reaches up to grab the muffin papers from the shelf above. His front brushes across Stiles’ back and Stiles can’t help but shiver slightly at the intimate feeling contact. He briefly feels Derek’s breath on his neck before the presence is gone and Derek sets about placing the papers carefully in the muffin tins. Stiles sneaks a glance and sees a small smile playing on Derek’s face.

“You seem more relaxed tonight,” Derek mentions after they put the muffins in the oven. “Less… frenetic.”

“January’s a slow month for the bakery business,” Stiles explains, “everyone’s trying to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions of dieting and whatnot. So I don’t have very many orders and I don’t have to make as much of everything as I normally do. I hardly have to make cupcakes at all. No one gets cupcakes in January.”

“No cupcakes?” Derek dramatically pouts (which does not cause Stiles’ heart to flutter). “But how am I supposed to get my red velvet fix?”

“Ah, so that’s why you stick around. You just hang around me to get some cupcakes. Mystery solved,” Stiles teases.

Derek frowns; a real frown. “Don’t be stupid,” he demands. “The cupcakes are just a bonus.”

Stiles blushes furiously and ducks his head down to focus on wiping the counter down so he doesn’t have to look into Derek’s intense green eyes anymore. Those eyes could do things to people. Horrible, horrible, amazing things and since Stiles is able to occasionally find a shred of self-preservation in himself, he makes sure he doesn’t glance back at Derek and get sucked into that strong gaze. It’s much too harlequin romance novel to be good for his health.

After he is mostly recovered from his minor swooning, he says, “Lucky for you, red velvet cupcakes make a spectacular comeback around Valentine’s Day. They’re the romantic cupcake of choice at Sweet Stuff. I even frost hearts on them. There’ll be so many of them, you’ll get sick of them and never want another one again.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“We will?” Stiles blurts out because the self-preservation is gone and he is a fucking masochist.

“Yes,” Derek says simply.

Stiles coughs awkwardly. “So, anyway, I need to make some pecan rolls if you want to stick around and help.”

Derek stays, and together they work on the various bakery items that Stiles is actually bothering to whip up in the wake of people guilting themselves into diets after the holidays. He likes working with Derek. It’s easy, even if he occasionally gets caught up in how much he likes him. And yeah, it’s definitely not just attraction anymore. He had tried claiming to Lydia that he just thought Derek was super good-looking; she ruthlessly called him out on his bullshit and told him to man-up and make a move.

And, you know, he’s totally working on that ‘making a move’ business. It’s just… slow going. And it has nothing at all to do with the fact that Derek is way out of his league and probably has those pesky just-a-friend feelings for Stiles.

Those are such bitches.

“Is it hard having to work every Friday and Saturday night?” Derek asks him after they decide to take a break; hopping up onto the counter and munching on cookies.

“I’ve gotten used to it, I guess. Or maybe I just don’t really notice because someone is always stopping by.”

There’s a few beats of silence before Derek asks, “What about dating? Doesn’t having to work every night kind of… make that difficult?”

Stiles looks up at him and sees that Derek isn’t looking back, but instead staring at his half-eaten cookie.

“I could date. I could always come here afterwards. Or have Erica do some baking. Maybe Isaac. I’d probably have to pay them with real money instead of brownies, but yeah, I could… go on a date. Not that I’ve been on any dates lately,” he tells Derek and he is really not sure why he added the last part.

“Really?” Derek’s voice sounds surprised.

Stiles shakes his head. “No. The bakery does keep me really busy. But it wouldn’t be too difficult to pull off having a date. Or even a relationship. I just haven’t… had the opportunity to try.”

Derek shoots him a skeptical look. “I find that hard to believe.”

“Well, I find it hard to believe that you’d rather spend your Friday night here rather than out with any number of people I’m sure would jump at the chance to score a date with you. I mean, you’ve been here several months now. There’s no way there’s not a long line of people dying to get a chance with you.”

“I’m where I want to be,” is all Derek says in response and Stiles would almost say that he is flirting with him.

Except that that’s ridiculous. Because Derek is all sorts of Greek god (plus, intelligent librarian!) and Stiles’ main selling point is his baking skills.

“How was your Christmas?” Stiles asks, because subject changes are a wonderful gift to the socially awkward.

“It was good,” Derek says. “The whole family was there. There were lots of cookies.”

“Were they as good as mine? Wait, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.”

Derek leans in conspiratorially. “Between you and me, my mom’s not the world’s best baker. She’s okay. But the cookies are always just a little bit burnt. Possibly I’ve been spoiled from hanging out in a bakery the past couple months.”

Stiles grins. “Next time you have a family function, I’ll send you off with some of mine.”

“Deal. So, how was your Christmas?”

“It was fine. My dad and I sat in front of the TV eating ham. Sounds pretty boring, I grant you, but after baking cookies for half the town, I didn’t feel like putting much effort into Christmas. And my dad’s the sheriff, and he had just come off a double shift on Christmas Eve, so he didn’t feel like making much of an effort either. I’m surprised we even baked ham instead of just ordering Chinese takeout. Which is, admittedly, what we did last year because we had been craving chow mein.”

“Might be a bit boring,” Derek agrees, “but it sounds nice.”

They make some peanut butter cookies next, mainly because the dough for it is Stiles’ favorite and he steals a few swipes of it as they dollop it onto baking sheets. He really doesn’t have much else to do after that. He’s already made several kinds of muffins, cookies, and other pastries. So he turns up the radio instead and instructs Derek to take a seat on the counter while he makes them milkshakes.

“Why do you need graham crackers for milkshakes?” Derek asks him dubiously.

“Because I’m making the best milkshake you will ever have in your entire life, and plain old chocolate or strawberry just isn’t going to cut it. Trust me on this one.”

“If you say so,” Derek replies and a few minutes later, Stiles hands him a glass and a spoon. “This isn’t a milkshake; it has chunks of graham crackers in it.”

“Someone’s being a conformist,” Stiles gasps in mock horror. “It’s a s’mores shake. There’s marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker. Just enjoy it.”

“Hmm,” Derek grunts before trying it. “Okay, I concede. It’s pretty delicious.”

“Told you,” Stiles brags, smug smirk playing on his face.

“Show off,” Derek grumbles and Stiles shoves him playfully.

“Believe it,” Stiles chirps, slurping down a good portion of his s’mores milkshake. He glances at the clock on the wall and his eyes widen slightly. “Oh, wow. It’s already past three. Do you… need to leave soon?” he asks, because normal people are generally asleep by this time of night.

Derek shakes his head. “I thought I’d stick around until you make donuts. Isaac assures me that I need to at some point in my life.”

Stiles tries to not let his stupidly happy smile get too out of control. It’s somewhat of a losing battle, especially when he realizes he’s kind of blushing (which, why?) but he’s nothing if not determined to not make a completely fool out of himself.

Which probably explains why not five minutes later, he does exactly that by loudly singing the lyrics to Wannabe by the Spice Girls. He blames this entirely on it being almost four in the morning, and no, the fact that he’s up all night every night does not count as a counter argument.

“If you want my future, forget my past,” he croons dramatically swaying side to side on the counter so his shoulder knocks into Derek’s. “If you wanna get with me, better make it fast!”

“You’re ridiculous,” Derek mutters, but he’s laughing.

“Sing Derek!” Stiles demands. “Get your act together, we could be just fine!”

Derek doesn’t sing, but Stiles likes to think it’s because he was laughing too hard to join in. Stiles does the whole song – he knows all the lyrics thanks to Lydia, Erica, and Allison – and Derek possibly looks impressed when he manages to get out every verse with startling accuracy.

“Should I start calling you Posh Spice now?” Derek asks. “Or maybe you’re more of a Baby Spice?”

Stiles scoffs loudly. “Definitely Posh. She’s married to David Beckham, Derek. I may not be a big fan of soccer, but I am a big fan of abs, and he’s got ‘em.”

“My abs are just as good as his,” Derek argues, pouting theatrically.

“Prove it,” Stiles dares and holy lord he should not have said that because Derek only hesitates for a second before tugging his t-shirt up. Stiles manages to not pass out or die from some sort of coughing fit. “A librarian with a six pack,” he wheezes out eventually, “now I’ve seen everything.”

Derek laughs and pulls his shirt back down (which is simultaneously relieving and heartbreaking). Stiles is, naturally, blushing furiously and trying not to fantasize too intensely because they are sitting right next to each other and that is inappropriate.

“He’s better at soccer than me, though. I can admit that,” Derek comments. “I was more of a baseball guy.”

And now Stiles is thinking about Derek in baseball pants. Which is simultaneously the best and worst thing of all time. His mind needs to cease operations on Derek Hale fantasies before he dies of sexual frustration.

“I… played lacrosse,” he chokes out because he needs to say something. “It was dumb. Anyway, we can start making donuts now. Yeah, we should do that.”

Derek’s never made donuts before so Stiles sort of teaches as he goes, because he’s learned that Derek’s actually interested in learning things about baking and likes to know what’s going on instead of just watching Stiles run around the bakery mixing shit together. They don’t engage in a lot of small talk while they work on the donuts; Stiles is being thorough with his instructions and Derek’s a good listener. When the donuts are finished; some glazed, some iced, he hands one to Derek.

“Tell me if they live up to the hype Isaac’s built up for them,” he insists.

Obligingly, Derek takes a bite and chews thoughtfully.

“I think this is the first donut I’ve ever had that was worth staying up until five in the morning,” he compliments and takes another bite. “Between this and that milkshake earlier, I am definitely going into some sort of sugar-induced coma.”

“I’m taking that as a compliment,” Stiles says and when he looks up at Derek’s face, he sees that he finished the donut but a bit of glaze from it is caught on the corner of his lips. “You have a little…” he trails off and because he evidently has no self-control, he reaches up and brushes it away with his thumb.

Derek’s eyes are boring into his and when Stiles tries to retract his hand, Derek grabs his wrist and holds him in place. Stiles cups his cheek and Derek leans slightly into it, the stubble scratching his palm. They’re pretty much the same height and they’re standing so close to each other; all they’d have to do is learn forward a few inches and their lips would be touching. Derek seems to be taking the initiative, because he’s inching slowly forward, his eyes fluttering closed and he is a single breath away from kissing Stiles when the back door bangs open and they jump apart.

“Uh, Dad. Hi,” Stiles greets awkwardly when he sees his dad approaching them.

“Hey, son,” the sheriff says and claps his son on the shoulder. “Who’s your friend?”

“Derek Hale, sir,” Derek introduces himself and shakes the sheriff’s hand.

“John Stilinski,” he returns.

“What brings you here, Dad?” Stiles asks, trying not to sound as bitter as he feels.

He had been about to kiss Derek Hale. And then his dad walked in. His dad hadn’t been able to cockblock him like this since Stiles was eighteen years old and still living with his dad before college. It’s not fair to be an adult and still get interrupted by a parent when you’re about to achieve certain life goals like touching Derek Hale’s lips with your own.

“I told the guys at the station I’d bring ‘em some of my son’s famous donuts today,” his dad explains. “Least I can do for the deputies who are at the station at this hour.”

“Yeah, I’ll box some up. But just know that stereotypes everywhere are weeping. Also, if you have more than two, I will find out. And eat a banana or something for god’s sake.”

He boxes up two dozen donuts for his dad and then refuses the money his dad tries to shove in his hand. He doesn’t make his dad pay for donuts. It’s sad enough that the law enforcement agents of the town are reinforcing cop clichés like this.

“You boys have fun!” he calls as he ducks out the door, arms laden with two boxes of sugary dough.

Suddenly, Stiles feels like he can feel the tension between him and Derek. They’re standing a few feet apart now, and definitely not looking into each other’s eyes. It feels like the air’s been sucked out of the room.

“I should… go,” Derek mumbles half-heartedly, eyes trained on his shoes.

Stiles clears his throat awkwardly but doesn’t say anything because he can’t really think of anything and also he might be temporarily mute. Or at least it feels like he’s never going to be able to form words again.

“Bye,” Derek says simply.

“Bye!” Stiles coughs out as Derek disappears through the door.

He bangs his head against the counter and resigns himself to a life of unfulfilled dreams.

*

Derek doesn’t completely disappear from his life like Stiles kind of expected him to. He still comes by about once a week or so. But never alone. He always comes with Isaac and even if he didn’t, there’s always been someone else there with Stiles, as well.

He whines about the failed almost kiss to Lydia, who once again tells him to man up. He doesn’t even really consider her advice, because he’s a bit of a coward when it comes to feelings and he just feels so damn awkward about the whole thing. But then, the Valentine’s Day orders start coming in and everyone in the freaking town wants red velvet cakes and cupcakes and someone even asks if he can make red velvet muffins (he says yes, they’re called cupcakes, but he refrains from calling them a dipshit).

Point being, every single time he mixes up more red velvet batter or another order comes in asking for it, he’s reminded of Derek. He knows they’re Derek’s favorite, even if he hadn’t made the comment about getting his ‘red velvet fix’, because Derek always snags them at the end of the night if he can.

Basically, having to frost little red icing hearts onto a zillion cupcakes makes him want to die. Or maybe just curl up into a little ball and cry and listen to Adele and let his tears drop into a mixing bowl cake batter. It’s honestly just sad how pathetic he’s gotten since the almost kiss. He isn’t even really sure how he manages to be in the same room as Derek during the few times he does stop by the bakery.

And then suddenly, Valentine’s Day (which he bitterly thinks is the worst day of the year) is actually there. He wakes up around noon with the stunning realization that he no longer has to make mass amounts of red velvet cupcakes. Only, the thought makes him sad because he just fucking wants Derek. So instead of shunning red velvet for the foreseeable future, he wanders to the kitchen in his apartment and makes a small batch of them. Just enough for six cupcakes. And he frosts them with cheesy little hearts that he hates when they’re for anyone else and he writes “BE MINE” on them, one letter per cupcake, because why the fuck not. He arranges the cupcakes into a random box from the bakery he’s got lying around and he sighs because this is absolutely a sign of how hopelessly gone he is on this man.

He goes to the high school and parks outside the door closest to the library, taking a few deep breaths before getting out of his Jeep because he’s just written “BE MINE” onto cheesy Valentine’s Day cupcakes and he is actually kind of taking Lydia’s advice (for the first time ever). Eventually he works up the nerve to go into the library, only to see it wasn’t entirely necessary when a “Be Back in 10 Minutes” sign is hanging in front of the desk. Stiles leaves the cupcakes on the desk and leaves before Derek gets back.

So, okay. He could have waited for Derek to get back. He was probably just shelving books or something. But he’s good at deluding himself so he convinces himself the cupcake-gram is a romantic gesture and that he doesn’t need to stick around to see Derek’s reaction. He heads home, instead, and messes around for a few hours before heading back to the bakery and trying not to think about the fact that it’s Friday, it’s Valentine’s Day, and the bravest thing he’s ever done for someone he has romantic feelings for is to leave them cupcakes on their desk.

It’s not like the cupcakes were anonymous or anything, though. Derek would have to be a special kind of stupid to not realize they were from Stiles. And Derek’s not stupid, so it’s a moot point.

Anyway, Lydia closes up the shop early so she can go have her date night with Jackson. So by the time eight has rolled around, he’s already been alone and messing around with a strawberry icing recipe for an hour. He’s definitely not expecting company tonight. Isaac is his only single friend but he asked out the new history teacher at the high school, so Stiles is all by his lonesome.

Or at least he is until the door swings open and Derek walks in, carrying the box of cupcakes.

“The cupcakes?” he asks and it definitely sounds like a question but Stiles has no idea what he’s asking.

“I…” he trails off and it occurs to him that both he and Derek are kind of painfully awkward.

“You should have stayed when you dropped them off,” Derek says and Stiles is about to respond to that except Derek crosses the distance between them and plants his lips on Stiles’.

Stiles knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, so he throws caution to the wind and wraps his arms around Derek’s neck, tangling his hand in his hair and pulling him closer. He moans when Derek’s tongue slides against his and suddenly he is being lifted into the air and set on the counter (Derek is fucking strong). He lets Derek stand between his parted knees, their chests flush against each other.

It’s about the hottest kiss Stiles has ever had and he’s all for it never ending, but Derek pulls slightly away, resting his forehead against Stiles’.

“I’ve wanted to do that forever,” he complains, but he’s smiling.

“We’re idiots,” Stiles says and steals another quick kiss. “You brought the cupcakes?”

“Why do you sound so surprised?”

Stiles shrugs. “Thought you would have devoured them all by now.”

“I have some restraint, even when it comes to red velvet cupcakes.”

Stiles gives him a dubious look and snatches the box from where Derek placed it on the counter. He opens it up and sees there’s just two left.

“Some restraint? You ate four.”

“Yes, but I saved two so we could share them,” Derek explains, a wide grin on his face.

“Romantic,” Stiles comments. “How’s this for sharing?” And then he shoves one of the cupcakes in the general vicinity of Derek’s mouth, getting frosting all over his mouth and chin.

Derek pouts, which looks hilarious with all the pink frosting on his lips, so Stiles leans forward and licks some of it off his chin. Derek laughs and pulls Stiles in for another kiss, smearing the frosting all over the both of them.

“This is really dorky,” Stiles whispers teasingly after they pull away.

“Says the guy who gave me cupcakes that said ‘BE MINE.”

“…fair point,” Stiles concedes. “Now kiss me again before I shove the other cupcake down your pants.”

Derek mock glares at him. “You’re so weird,” he says but kisses Stiles anyway.

As it turns out, Stiles doesn’t really hate Valentine’s Day, after all.