If anyone asked Derek Hale what his favorite coffee shop was, he would vehemently deny that he had one.
That was a lie, of course. There was one.
He had first stumbled upon it after one especially violent argument with his uncle that had ended in, “ Control your goddamn associates before I kick them to the curb and you with them!” Like it was his fault Erica and Boyd were suddenly looking into another law firm—all right, maybe that was his fault. But he couldn't control their every move and thought, and the more he yelled at them, the more he would only push them away.
What he needed after that was some air.
Isaac, one of the more efficient paralegals, stuck his head out of his glass office door as Derek stalked past. “Everything all right in paradise?” he called after Derek’s receding back.
“Shut up, Lahey,” was Derek's growled reply. He didn't even bother to look around; he knew Isaac would be wearing a smirk that would only enrage him further. He just continued down the hall, past associates and partners—who were familiar with his and Peter’s arguments by now—and clients, who looked at him in awe and a vague sense of fear as he brushed past them angrily, heading as fast as he could without running toward the elevators.
The sun was just beginning to set as he made his way out onto the sidewalk, taking deep breaths of (subjectively) fresh city air to try to calm himself down from the rush that arguing with his uncle always gave him. He decided then to take out his frustrations on his legs and the pavement beneath his feet, so he picked a direction and started walking.
That was when he stumbled upon The Silver Bullet.
It was probably too late in the day to justify having coffee, but he didn't care. Coffee was routine and familiar to him, like an old friend, and he was desperately in need of something comforting before he strangled someone (most likely—and preferably—his uncle Peter).
When he stepped in, he was greeted by a rush of cool air and the strong smell of fresh coffee beans. The outside of The Silver Bullet hadn't looked like much, just the standard New York coffee shop, but the inside was actually pretty nice—the walls were painted a warm burnt orange color and the ceiling was high and lofty, making the small room seem spacious. Admittedly, the only silver objects in the entire place were the espresso machines behind the counter; everything else was decked out in rich colors of brown and red, which had the effect of making him feel like he had stepped into an oven. Shelves lined the walls, filled with different mugs of every color imaginable. As Derek approached the counter, he saw that they were mugs from countries all over the world. He wondered who had collected them all.
There was only one person behind the counter, but there must have been someone in the back, too, because as he turned to greet his customer there was a shout of, “I refuse to have a best friend who has never watched Star Wars!”
The employee just shook his head in a fond sort of way and turned to Derek at last. “How can I help you?”
Derek scanned the board above his head for a few seconds—covered in drinks with strange names and ingredients he wasn't entirely sure would go well together—and decided it was best to just keep it simple. “Coffee, black. Tall.”
To his surprise, the employee raised one dark eyebrow. He seemed to fit in perfectly with the shop around him, with his dark hair and brown eyes that contained more warmth than Derek was used to seeing. “Sure you don't need something stronger than coffee?”
Derek flushed then, just slightly; he hadn't realized his bad mood had been so evident. He really did need something stronger, but he didn't drink on the job and, besides, he was already there. “Coffee's fine.”
Across the counter, the employee still looked skeptical, but he entered it into the register anyway. “One tall black coffee, coming up.” He took Derek's money and gave him the change before he turned around and poured coffee into a styrofoam cup with the shop's logo on it. He snapped a lid on and handed it to him over the register. With a boyish smile that—honest to God—looked and felt like a ray of sunshine lighting up Derek’s increasingly shitty day, he said, “Have a good evening, sir.”
“You, too,” Derek replied, a little starstruck. He was pretty sure his voice still came out in a growl, but whatever. The employee was still smiling brightly when Derek took his coffee and, as he pushed out of the shop and into the cool evening air, he instantly missed the warmth.
But he took note of what street the shop was on—you know, just in case he wanted to come back one day. He had an awful lot of arguments with Peter, after all.
If anyone asked Scott McCall who his favorite customer was, he would vehemently deny that he had one.
That was a lie, of course. There was one.
Stiles called him ’the Suit,’ which was accurate enough—he did indeed wear expensive-looking tailored suits. He usually came in a bad mood and left not exactly happy, but with his anger abated somewhat. Scott felt a little proud of that, that he was able to make someone a little happier with just a cup of coffee. A cup of his coffee, no less.
Well—not his coffee exactly. The Argents still owned the shop, but they scheduled him most days, anyway. Probably because they also had to schedule Stiles, and they didn't trust Stiles unless Scott was working with him as well. There were others, too—the Argent’s daughter Allison worked there occasionally, when she wasn't at the archery range or in class. There was Lydia, a bioengineering student with a sharp tongue and bright lipstick and who was probably smarter than all of them combined. And there was Danny, too, their resident tech expert who was dating this guy, some high-up corporate lawyer, who always took him out on expensive dates that Danny told them all about the next day. Others had come and gone, but the five of them had remained over the years.
“Suit's here,” Stiles announced to Scott in a whisper one day as he passed him, full cups in hand. Scott, at one of the machines, looked over in surprise—it was lunch hour, and the Suit never usually came in around lunch.
“I enjoy a man in a nice suit,” said Lydia, who was working with them that day. She nodded appreciatively, turning around to watch him come in as she expertly handled the machine next to Scott's. “His friend's cute, too.”
“A friend? Wow, color me surprised,” Stiles mutters under his breath, snapping a lid on an iced coffee and turning around to look. Indeed, the Suit was there, joining the long line with a curly-haired man wearing an equally expensive looking suit.
“Stiles, you were the one who suggested he was a cyborg that ran entirely on caffeine,” Scott replied. “And you’re surprised he has something as simple as a friend?”
“Okay, maybe ‘severely underwhelmed’ is a better choice of words. But you have to admit, he doesn’t exactly seem like the outgoing type.”
Scott just rolled his eyes and let the comment slide. He turned to the register and began to take the next order, only half paying attention; the other half of his brain was more focused on watching the Suit and his friend as they advanced in line. Neither of them was talking—the Suit was typing absently on his phone and his friend was staring at the billboard above Scott’s head, obviously trying to decide what to order.
It seemed like both seconds and hours before they were standing in front of the register at last. Both Stiles and Lydia were busy with other orders, so Scott waited on them instead. “Let me guess,” he said to the Suit, “tall coffee, black. And you?”
His friend’s eyebrows rose so far they nearly disappeared into the shadow of the curly hair that fell across his forehead, but he finally said, “I’ll have the same. But iced.” As the Suit fished out money to pay for them both, Scott heard his friend lean over and say, as though Scott couldn’t hear, “How often do you come here again?”
“Sometimes I need a walk after arguing with Peter,” the Suit replied. “Wouldn’t you?”
His friend’s eyebrows rose again, this time in amusement. “Must be pretty often then.”
Scott had to step away to make their drinks just then, so he lost the thread of the conversation, but he filed away the small tidbit for later—taking wild stabs at guessing who the Suit actually was had become one of the most entertaining new pastimes between The Silver Bullet employees.
As he handed them their drinks, he heard the Suit’s friend say, putting away his phone as though he had just been using it, “Derek, we have to take these to go. Erica just texted me and she really needs those files before lunch is over.”
The Suit just shook his head irritably and said, “Thanks,” as he accepted the cups from Scott’s hand. Scott just nodded, a little dazed. Derek. Well, the Suit had a name, now.
He desperately wanted to tell Stiles—who would immediately use it to think of some new wild theory that Scott would probably roll his eyes at—or Lydia, who would immediately give him that look which meant he was probably way too invested in this random customer and should get a life or maybe a significant other. But both of them were busy taking and filling orders at the moment, which was what Scott should have been doing just then, too.
So he sighed, pushed the new information to the back of his head, and got back to work.
He actually didn’t see the Suit for a week after that, but that was mostly Victoria Argent’s fault. Danny had taken a week off to visit his family in Hawaii and the morning rush was even busier than the afternoon rush, so she had to reschedule him with Danny’s morning hours instead of his usual late afternoon hours. He didn’t mind, exactly—he knew that when Danny got back and his schedule resumed normalcy again, Lydia and Stiles would inform him of any new developments. That is, if there were any.
When the week was over and he was finally back at his normal shift, he tried to pose the question innocently to Lydia, but she was having none of it—she raised an eyebrow, letting him know silently that she thought he was way too invested in someone else’s life, before she said, “No, he’s only been in once. Didn’t bring his friend again, either.”
“I have a new theory!” Stiles interjected loudly. Fortunately, the lunch hour rush had just passed and the shop was empty. “I think he’s a secret agent from a vague, yet menacing government agency, and his name… is Francisco.”
Lydia rolled her eyes and walked away, grabbing a damp rag and beginning to wipe down the counter in an effort to avoid the conversation. Scott just laughed. “Seriously, dude? First off, his name’s Derek. And second off, I’m pretty sure he’s not a shady secret agent. Like, at least ninety percent sure.”
“You’re going to be sorry when you find out that I’m right,” Stiles replied, waving a finger at him. Then, he paused. “Wait, how do you know his name is Derek?”
Scott grimaced, just then remembering that he had forgotten to tell them. Even Lydia looked over curiously. “His friend said it when they were in that day two weeks ago. Well, I don’t know if they’re friends, actually. Their conversation made them seem more like coworkers.”
Stiles threw his arms up in the air and said, “Well, then. Thanks for keeping us informed!”
Scott just shook his head and was about to respond before the door opened and in stepped a customer.
And who else would it be but Derek.
“Oh, uh—” Scott stammered, while Stiles cleared his throat and looked away in an incredibly poor attempt to cover up the fact that they were just talking about him. “How can I help you? The usual?”
Derek nodded and pulled out his wallet. In the same movement, he held up the laptop case in his other hand. “Do you mind? You have wifi, right?”
“No, no—I don’t mind. We don’t mind.” Scott cleared his throat and cursed his sudden awkwardness. The sudden appearance of the person they had been gossiping about had just thrown him off, was all. “And yes, there’s wifi.”
It didn’t take him long to make Derek’s coffee and give him back his change. This time, however, unlike all the other times, Derek didn’t immediately head for the door—he sat down at one of the tables and took the laptop from his bag, taking a sip of his coffee before opening the lid of his laptop and beginning to type.
“What do you think he’s doing over there?” Stiles whispered to Scott. “Do you think there are government secrets hidden in that computer?”
Lydia smacked him with a towel as she passed.
Stiles hissed in pain, shrinking away from her. “What the hell was that for?”
“For being an idiot,” she replied matter-of-factly.
Scott just shook his head and, with nothing better to do, looked over at Derek again. He was typing furiously but frowning, and a crease had formed between his eyebrows that looked like it had a permanent spot in the center of his forehead. Scott felt a small pang of pity as he realized that the poor guy probably hated his job, but his thoughts were interrupted as a large group of people—clearly tourists, as at least fifty percent of them were wearing ‘I ♥ New York’ t-shirts—entered the shop, and the three of them scrambled to take their numerous and complicated orders.
When the tourists had finally left and the coffee shop blessedly quiet again, Scott looked over to find that Derek was still there, but instead of working at his computer he was talking into his phone.
“Of course they would send over every personnel file ever—” he was saying, running a hand through his hair in irritation. “Tell Erica and Boyd to go through them, and see if you can wrangle Isaac into helping them, too. And if Paige calls again, tell her I’m out.” There was a pause, and then an equally irritable, “Jackson, please—Peter’s been breathing down my neck all week and I needed to get out of there for a while. Can you really blame me?”
“I think he needs another coffee,” Lydia whispered, sagging against the counter—Stiles was currently doing the same against the wall, looking like he was about to fall asleep. She looked pointedly at Scott. “Or maybe several shots of alcohol.”
“I’ll make him another,” Scott replied, ignoring Lydia’s answering smirk.
It was quick work, and before he knew it Scott was sliding over the counter and crossing over to Derek’s table. He had already hung up his phone and was back to typing at his computer.
“Looks like you need another,” he said. Derek looked up, his face registering shock and confusion just long enough for Scott to catch it. He smiled reassuringly and added, “Don’t worry. It’s on the house.”
“Thanks,” Derek replied, finally relaxing as the tiniest of smiles appeared on his face.
“So what exactly do you do?” Scott asked after a pause, taking a seat on the other side of the table. He figured he might as well ask and get it over with, before Stiles came up with any new theories and Lydia injured herself from rolling her eyes too hard at them.
Derek, already back to typing, looked up from his screen and raised an eyebrow at the question, as though the answer should have been obvious. “Uh… I’m a lawyer.”
Scott nodded appreciatively. “That’s… cool. What’s it like?”
“Kind of awful, actually,” Derek said with a bitter little laugh. When Scott frowned, he added, “It’s a family business. I didn’t exactly have a choice. My uncle took me and my sisters in when we were teenagers and practically forced us into the job—not that I’d know what to do otherwise, anyway.”
“That sucks, though,” Scott said, frown deepening. “Is this the uncle you always argue with? And that’s why you come here?”
To his surprise, Derek flushed a little and looked down at his keyboard. “Yeah—you heard that the other day?”
Scott couldn’t help but smile again. “I have good ears. Who was that, anyway? Your coworker?”
Derek nodded. “Isaac. He’s one of the less annoying paralegals.”
Scott was just about to ask him another question when the door to the shop opened and another large group of people walked in. They didn’t look like tourists—more like the kind of people who identified as hipsters and listened to indie music and always put pictures of their coffee cups on Instagram. Scott sighed and stood up. “I have to take this.”
Derek didn’t reply, but Scott didn’t expect him to. He stood and made his way across the shop, sliding over the counter again, hearing the sound of Derek’s fingers behind them as they returned to the keys, typing furiously.
Unfortunately, the new group had a long list of extremely complicated orders just like the last one, so Scott, Lydia, and Stiles were occupied for what seemed like hours trying to fill them all out. Unlike the last group, however, they all decided to stay and occupy the remaining booths and tables. Derek, alone in his corner, was already packing up his laptop and looking vaguely annoyed.
Picking up his coffees, he discarded the empty one in the trash by the door and, as if knowing Scott would be watching, turned around and offered him a little wave before pushing out the door and into the summer air.
Scott raised his hand to wave back, but he was already gone.
“Is this the mysteriously good coffee Isaac said you go out for all the time?”
Erica was in his office again, unannounced as usual—but, then, she only ever came into his office to annoy him. Just outside the door, Jackson the secretary answered Derek’s glare with an apologetic shrug. Meanwhile, Erica was leaning over his desk and stealing the still half-full styrofoam cup from beside his computer.
She took a sip, then grimaced. “It’s cold.”
“That's because I've been busy,” Derek replied irritably. “Why are you in here again?”
“I'm on hold at the employment office,” she replied, “trying to find leverage for Paige’s case.”
Paige Madison had applied for a high-up position at the musical instrument manufacturing company where she worked and had been denied eight times; that was when she had been recommended to Hale and Hale, suing her boss for discrimination. It was a fairly easy case, one that Cora had handed down to Derek and his associates because one of her clients was giving her difficulties and she didn’t want the Madison case to fall by the wayside.
Still, he didn’t like any of his cases to be treated with such flippancy. “And what if they take you off hold?” he scolded. “Who's going to be there to pick up the phone?”
“Please,” Erica said, scoffing. “The last time I called for a case, they had me on hold for two hours. Besides, Boyd’s down there watching the phone for me.”
Derek sighed. “Then what is it that you need to talk to me about?”
Erica pursed her lips, seeming to weigh her options, before she looked up at him with deceptively wide, innocent eyes and asked, “Is the coffee really that good?”
Derek blinked. Then, “What?”
“I mean,” she continued, waving a hand vaguely at the coffee cup still on his desk, “you go there all the time. Are you sure it's for the coffee?”
“So, what, I'm not allowed to have a new favorite coffee shop?” Derek shot back, eyes narrowing. “I have to have some ulterior motive?”
“Well, Isaac told us you got a bit dewy-eyed when a certain employee served you the other day.” There was a full-blown smirk on her face, now; she wasn't even bothering to feign innocence anymore.
Instead of denying it, Derek just asked, “Why do you care about who I get dewy-eyed at, anyway?”
She put a hand to her heart dramatically and replied in a voice full of fake concern, “We just want you to be happy, Derek.”
Derek just shook his head and turned back to his computer. “Get out of my office.”
His voice came out in a growl, but that didn't seem to intimidate her. She just stood, a short laugh escaping her lips, before she blessedly fled his office at last.
“’Dewy-eyed,’” Derek said to himself, face twisting into a disgusted grimace.
“I know,” Jackson said over the intercom. “Personally, I can't see you getting dewy-eyed over anybody.”
That earned him a glare and a, “Shut up, Whittemore.” And then Derek reached over and pointedly turned the intercom off.
“I did some snooping last night,” Stiles was saying. Scott was only half paying attention as he handed off two cups to Allison, who was working with them that day. The lunch rush was just getting started and already the shop was bustling with people.
It was a minute or so before Scott could answer. “Cool. What did you find out?”
“Well, now that we know he's a lawyer,” Stiles continued, “I googled him and—Scott, he works at Hale and Hale.”
“Stiles—” Scott was trying to make someone's hazelnut frappe and couldn't be bothered to play 20 Questions just then. “I don't know what that means.”
“Hale and Hale? Scott—that's, like, one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. Derek and his sister are senior partners and their uncle is a founding partner. It’s, like, a big deal.”
“That still doesn't mean much to me, Stiles.”
“Are you kidding? Have you never watched Suits? We are definitely having a marathon the next time you come over.” Stiles shook his head and continued, over his shoulder as he handed off an order to a group who was waiting, “That means he's probably filthy rich! He's got all those tailored suits, probably lives in a penthouse apartment—hell, I bet he drives to work in a limousine.”
Scott was going to answer, but both Stiles and Allison were busy and the next customers were waiting in front of the empty register. “How can I help you two?”
“I don't know,” the blonde woman said. She was smirking a little as she turned to her friend, a dark-skinned man wearing an expensive suit that reminded Scott of Derek’s. “What does Derek usually get?”
“Derek Hale? The lawyer?” Scott asked. He received a triumphant smile in return and took that as a cue to continue, “Uh, tall coffee, black.”
“Great,” she replied, smile growing even wider. “I'll have one of those and a vanilla bean frappe. Boyd?”
Her friend looked over the menu for a few seconds before he answered, “Black tea, tall.”
A minute later and Scott was handing their orders to them over the counter. “You know Derek, then?”
“He's me and Erica's boss,” Boyd replied.
“We know he comes down here a lot,” Erica explained further. “We wanted to see what all the hype was about and, well, I guess we found out.” She was smirking again, and Scott had the distinct impression she was talking about him. But before he could think too much about what that meant, Erica gave him a small little wave before she turned around and left, Boyd trailing after.
“Here,” someone said, setting something on his desk. Derek looked up to find Boyd, smiling apologetically. “Erica told me to take this up for you. She said she thought she had probably barged into your office too much for one week.”
“Well... thanks.” Derek picked up the coffee and took a sip. It was still hot. “Where did you get this?”
Boyd sighed. “Where do you think I got it? Erica and I went to your favorite coffee shop for coffee before getting lunch today.”
Derek swore to himself under his breath. “Tell Erica to stop being so interested in my nonexistent love life,” he said irritably. Then, his face softened a little. “Thanks for the coffee, though.”
“Any time, boss.”
Boyd was just beyond the reach of Derek’s glass office door when he turned back, watching as Derek, already back to work, took another sip of coffee and smiled.
Boyd just shook his head and let out a sigh, sharing a look with Jackson the secretary before turning around and heading back to the bullpen. He just hoped this crush of Derek's would end well for both parties. If not—well, they would all have to suffer for it.