Customer Service was kind of like fighting the forces of the supernatural. Or at least, Stiles felt like preparing coffee orders in a busy independent coffee shop near campus that hovered around the stasis of controlled chaos at the best of times was very much like dealing with any sort of “freak of the week” his high school existence had thrown at him. Except with tips in actual money, and very little bodily harm aside from the occasional burn. (Steamed milk was the bane of his existence.)
Anyway, this barista gig dealt with the public and Stiles had reached the conclusion that, for the most part, he’d rather deal with a feral herd of pixies than deal with the under-caffeinated public. People in general were kind of dicks, but people before they’d had their coffee, they were major dicks. Also, there’d been no shortage of weird shit that he’s seen in the two years he’s been working here. The only good part, aside from having a paying job--did he mention tips?-- was that sometimes, people surprised the shit out of him and were nice.
Take, for instance, this really tall blonde dude (Stiles would say Adonis but he felt like that was the wrong pantheon). Like the guy was physical perfection and he looked kind of familiar. Stiles wanted to reach out and touch the guy’s chest because he looked so solid and Stiles knew solid (he hung out with werewolves, after all). But Stiles didn’t randomly touch people, especially people who looked like they wouldn’t even break a sweat kicking his ass, even if the shop wasn’t very busy right now and oh crap the dude was already speaking and yeah, that’s exactly the voice he’d expect the guy to have.
“Good day to you.” The blonde greeted him, smiling broadly. “My dear Jane would like a mocha with an extra shot of espresso and whipped cream. I would like a cup of the house blend dark roast.”
“Hi there,” Stiles chirped with an awkward little wave. Seriously, sometimes his hand just did things on its own accord. “No problem! And could I interest you in any of our pastries today?”
“Yes, actually. I was admiring the goods in the display, but I have a few questions,” the blonde looked very serious all of a sudden. Like pastries were serious business. Stiles could appreciate that. Pastries were serious business.
“Ask away, I’m here all day,” Stiles chirped. Seriously. It was so dead in here. Stiles would gladly talk about the baked goods. He had opinions on all of them. “Anything in particular? Because I can totally talk your ear off about any of them.”
“Do you make them here or do you get them elsewhere? I find that sometimes looks can be deceiving,” the blonde intoned.
“Dude, there is nothing sadder than getting a chocolate croissant that looks light and airy and buttery, but would be better used as masonry,” Stiles nodded seriously. “Not the case here. We get our glorious baked goods from that French bakery just down the block. You know the one with the restaurant? That place does things with food that is unreal. Like to the point, I’ll try things that I don’t even like.”
Stiles grabbed his tongs and took out one of the scones. “Take, for instance, this scone. Looks perfectly delicious, but it contains figs. And normally, I’m against figs as a food and or cooking ingredient. Let’s just say there was a bad fig experience when I was 8 that was mainly my buddy Scott’s fault. But that’s another story entirely. Anyway, this fig scone is unjustly good. Amazingly good. This bakery is so good that I like figs again, which I had previously thought impossible.”
“That is asking a lot of a scone,” the man said seriously.
“Try it, dude,” Stiles said seriously, breaking a piece off and handing it over with the tongs. “Buttery, almost shortbready in its butteriness, but a light texture, a starchy tanginess with hints of citrus - I dunno if they put orange peel in there or what, and then, delicate figgy sweetness.”
The man took the proffered scone-bit and popped it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully and started to smile. “That is most excellent! I have no doubt the almond croissants will be completely delicious. I will require 3, and a chocolate one for Jane.”
“Excellent choice,” Stiles beamed, turning around to start the espresso shots to make the mocha. He reached and poured the cup of coffee and sat it in front of the man.
“I may need a box or for you to point me to that bakery. Jane is in town for science and I find that making ventures for coffee and baked goods is quite soothing,” the man looked over at Dr. Foster. Stiles had seen her around the science department talking with one of the astrophysicists, or at least he was sure that she’d been talking to one of the department’s professors. Stiles only liked to take a shortcut through the science building and not take any more classes than he had to. Anthropology was intense enough, especially with a side of folklore.
“That can certainly be arranged,” Stiles grinned. “I’ll bring this out to you if you want to take a seat and claim a corner of your table from science?”
Across the room Dr. Foster was already typing away at a laptop and flipping through two different books. The man frowned deeply.
“She was supposed to leave her work back at the lab. Darcy was very clear about taking proper breaks away from work,” the man gestured at the plate of pastries Stiles was holding. “I will take that and hopefully lure her away from her work with treats and be back to collect her drink that is not very much like coffee.”
“Sounds plan-like. Anything else?” Stiles asked and moved to the register as he noticed the dude sliding a crisp $100 bill into the tip jar and looking gleeful about putting it in the glass container. What the hell. Who does that? Like, Stiles fed the dude some fig scone. He had, in no way, been that helpful.
“Actually, do you have any brown sugar? I rather like it in my coffee,” the guy said, almost bashful about it, like he hated to inconvenience Stiles.
“Dude, I will personally go into the kitchen and get you some,” Stiles said sincerely.
“I hate to trouble you,” the man said, “but it is quite delicious.”
“No trouble at all for flavor, my very tall and handsome new friend,” Stiles beamed giving him his change.
“Thor, are you bothering the barista?” Dr. Foster called.
“Jane! They have such wondrous baked goods here!” the guy, Thor apparently, beamed at her. “I got you one to do with chocolate!”
Wait. Thor? The Thor. Holy shitballs! That explained the godly good looks.
Jane smiled at him as he presented her her coffee and the plate of tasty treats. It was a really lovely smile and Stiles might have melted a little bit.
Right, he was getting brown sugar. For the Norse God. Like one does on a Monday afternoon. Scott would not believe this shit.
Thor came by the coffee shop a few more times during the week, giving the same ridiculous tips each time (Stiles suspected that his understanding of Earth money was different than Asgardian money but was afraid to bring that up for fear of somehow insulting him. Anyway, Dr. Foster didn’t seem concerned, so Stiles graciously left him to it.) and at one point led Thor down to the French bakery.
“This is my new favorite place!” Thor decided hands placed on the window and looking excitedly at the inside of the shop. “Midgard is full of wonders!”
The other scones were that good. Stiles didn’t fuck around when it came to scones and baked goods in general. Life was too short.
Unfortunately, the excitement level for the week couldn’t just hover around showing a Norse God the local pastry scene. Tuesday was pointedly interesting, in an annoying sort of way. Only in that it involved overly keen consulting detectives.
“Good morning,” the woman said and Stiles couldn’t help but notice her freckles.
“Yes, morning,” the man said and he was Sherlock Holmes. Stiles had skyped him once when Sherlock was apparently checking out a possible wendigo in Central Park. There had also been some trolling to do with werewolf anatomy. Sherlock was a menace as far as Stiles was concerned. A menace.
“Oh shit, not you again,” Stiles said.
“Ah, clearly a very good old friend,” the woman gave Sherlock this look and Holmes blanched. She was officially Stiles’ new favorite person.
“Mr. Stillinski, it’s good to see you,” Sherlock nodded. “Please meet my apprentice Joan Watson. Joan, please meet Stiles Stilinski, trust me, you don’t want to know his first name as it is nothing he’s lived up to yet, and a bit of an embarrassment as far as names go.”
“Do you want coffee or not?” Stiles frowned, deeply.
“Yes, I would like a cup of house blend with cream and Ms. Watson would like some of that chrysanthemum tea, sugar in the raw and cream as well if you please. We will be at that table,” Holmes indicated a table in the corner. “Please bring our drinks and yourself to that table shortly. We have matters to discuss.”
Sherlock put a $50 down on the counter, gave the briefest of smiles and scurried off to the table. He pulled out Joan’s chair and took her coat and draped it over the chair back before taking his own seat.
Stiles could tell his week had just gotten all that more interesting. He sighed deeply and got a teapot.
“All right there, Mr. Stilinski?” Professor Longbottom asked.
“Yeah, just me being my amazing uncoordinated self. It was embarrassing. Allow me to spare you,” Stiles tried to wink and winced at the pull of his cheek.
“I bet,” Professor Longbottom didn’t look impressed. Stiles always got the feeling around the guy that he’d seen some shit but it was a feeling that was hard to reconcile with the fact that he taught botany courses. It was something in the eyes, almost like the professor had fought a war—a look Stiles recognized from his own eyes after the Nementon and the clusterfuck that was senior year. But he knew some fascinating shit about wolfsbane and other flora relevant to Stiles’ interests. Maybe it was just because the guy was English. Stiles had no idea.
“Your aura looks considerably better, Stiles,” Luna, Professor Longbottom’s wife or lifemate or partner or some sort of label that neither of them had ever provided Stiles, not that it was any of his business.
“Thanks?” Stiles hadn’t figured out how to address that one. Part of him was reassured because it’d taken him awhile to feel like he could breathe, but most of him remained weirded out that she commented on his aura. Maybe she’d walk in one day and tell him that it had gotten as good as it was going to get, or that the darkness that kept his brain a nightmare central senior year was going to take over again. He was afraid to get clarification.
Luna smiled at him like she could read his mind. He threw on his best charming smile and asked, “the usuals?”
“Please,” Professor Longbottom asked giving a kind smile.
Stiles busied himself with making tea and tried not to think about anything. Maybe he’d call Scott later. Scott would at least let him talk about everything but what Stiles needed to talk about if he wasn’t too busy studying.
When he sat the teapot down at their table, Luna placed her hand on her wrist and said, “Thank you. You did brilliant work with the gremlins this week for someone currently not practicing magic.”
“Right,” Stiles eyebrows were trying to creep up and be one with his hairline. “You’re welcome? If I did that sort of thing and I’m sorry if there was any property damage?”
“Feel free to call if you need a hand next time,” Professor Longbottom said.
“We do enjoy trying to contain pest problems,” Luna said, sharing a grin with the professor.
“It reminds us of school,” Professor Longbottom agreed.
“Sure,” Stiles nodded and scampered back to the counter. Just when he thought his week couldn’t have gotten weirder his professor knew about magic and gremlins. Berkley keeps being full of surprises.
“So, a large coffee. The house blend is totally fine,” the guy in front of him said. The guy who was totally Patrick Stump.
“You are so tiny and I love you,” Stiles said and slapped a horrified hand across his mouth.
Patrick Stump blushed and frowned a little.
Stiles flailed his hands and started speaking and couldn’t stop.
“Oh god! That’s not what I meant to say at all. Seriously. I’m sorry. My mouth just does this without permission. I didn’t mean any offense and like. Coffee. I should just get your coffee. Which you probably want to go now because I’m clearly too ridiculous to be allowed in public and just. I’m really sorry.” Stiles covered his mouth again.
“No worries,” Patrick said, glimmer of a smile. “You aren’t the first.”
“But dude. Like, I was really going through some terrible shit a couple years ago and your album Soul Punk really helped me and was exactly what I needed, not that Fall Out Boy isn’t awesome because it is. But thank you.” Stiles gave an awkward hand flap.
Patrick looked completely touched and beamed at Stiles. “Thanks for listening. That means a lot.” Patrick reached out for Stiles’s hand and squeezed.
“Can we have an awkward hug? Because I feel like we should have an awkward hug, for posterity’s sake.” Stiles asked.
“I specialize in awkward hugs,” Patrick said with a small smile. “You wanna get a picture?”
“Nah, that’s okay--- yes, actually, that would be great, would that be okay?” Any minute now Stiles’s mouth was going to stop saying things without the permission of his brain. Aaaaaanny minute.
“We’re about to close,” his voice trailed off when he saw who walked in. He beamed and ran around the counter. “Scott!”
“Stiles!” Scott wrapped his arms around Stiles. “Dude, I missed you. Hey, who punched you in the face? Do we need to have a turf war? How’s classes?”
“Oh this is from gremlins which are gone and apparently I could’ve had wizard backup instead of consulting detectives,” Stiles waved a hand at the nearly faded bruising around his eye. “Are you in for the weekend? Do you want the last of this coffee? How about a muffin? There’s chocolate. You can’t say no to free chocolate muffins and coffee. It’s like a rule.”
“Sure, I’m here ‘til Sunday. You want me to give you a hand?” Scott asked rolling up his sleeves.
“Let me guess, aside from wanting to see my fantastic ass, trouble brews in Beacon Hills?” Stiles asked, pouring Scott the last of the coffee and handed him a rag.
“Yep,” Scott gave an apologetic smile. “I’m glad to see you though. It’s hard not having you a couple streets over. Skype isn’t the same.”
“You missed my musk,” Stiles smirked.
“Clearly,” Scott chuckled.
“My odor is part of my immense charm,” Stiles confirmed.
“Wait, did you say wizards?” Scott asked, wiping down a table and setting the chairs up.
“I suspect they’re wizards and my suspicions have neither been confirmed or denied,” Stiles clarified.
“Dude! Did I also tell you that I met a Norse God and Patrick Stump?” Stiles asked.
“Seriously?” Scott looked delighted on his behalf. “That’s so cool! Tell me everything!”
“I know, right?” Stiles said and talked about his whole week. Scott laughed at all the right parts because no matter what weird shit happened, he could always count on Scott to be awesome like that.
After everything was sorted, Scott gave him another hug.
“Are you just trying to fortify me for whatever shit we’re getting to drive into back home?” Stiles asked, only a little suspicious and basking in the bonus hug. Scott was a pro at hugging.
“A little?” Scott confessed. “It’s feral pixies and I know how much you like that.”
“I have somehow brought this on myself,” Stiles sighed.
“What do you mean?” Scott asked.
“Well, I’d been thinking earlier in the week that I’d rather deal with a herd of feral pixies than the under-caffeinated public and I would like to admit to the universe that I’m wrong,” Stiles gestured to the room at large.
“Yeah, I don’t think that will take care of the pixie problem,” Scott gave a sympathetic smile.
“Good try?” Stiles lifted an eyebrow.
“You specialize in good tries,” Scott clapped him on the shoulder.
“Indeed I do, Scotty,” Stiles swung an arm over his friend’s shoulder. “Indeed I do.”
They made their way out of the shop, Stiles locking up behind them.
“Ah Stiles! How are you on this lovely evening!” Thor called, walking up to them from bakery. “Did you know they started baking the night before and that you can watch? It is completely fantastic.”
“Yeah, it’s really cool,” Stiles agreed. “Scott meet Thor. Thor, this is my best friend Scott McCall.”
“Hi,” Scott blinked. It was totally the appropriate response to meeting an actualfax Norse God. Stiles totally got it.
“And where are you off on this fine evening? There is bread to rise. Are you off to partake in mead?” Thor asked.
“Going to go deal with some feral pixies actually,” Stiles answered. This was the benefit of being on a first-name basis with someone whose existence was less plausible than his: he could tell the truth fearlessly.
“You go to do battle?” Thor asked, looking delighted.
“And then probably have pizza,” Scott confirmed.
“Wonderful! I enjoy both battle and pizza!” Thor beamed. “If you would allow me to fight at your side, I’d be honored to help take care of your pixie problem.”
“The more the merrier, dude,” Stiles said.
And that was how Stiles ended up driving back to Beacon Hills with Scott and a Norse god. The car ride and the pixies, now, that was another story entirely.