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The Stiles Watch

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Jackie loves Yarnsome.

It has an excellent choice of yarns, anything from fairtrade to the cheapest acrylics there are. Lace to super chunky, white to black and the entire rainbow in-between. Hyper-allergenic stuff and baby stuff and raw silk and some really awesome ‘special yarns’ the owner, Stiles No Last Name, picks up at various craft fairs.

It’s a yarn hoarder’s heaven on earth, but if Jackie doesn’t want to leave broke, she doesn’t, because the prices are reasonable and like she said, acrylic yarns. Sometimes a girl just needs to make a chunky sweater on a long weekend and those yarns are more than good enough for that. And soft to boot.

So that’s all awesome but it’s not really why Jackie makes the trip at least once every couple of weeks, whether she needs something or not. That would be the atmosphere. It’s always too warm in the store, even in summer, but instead of sweltering it’s cozy. There’s couches and saggy armchairs and you’re explicitly invited to sit down and stay a while.

On a rickety end table, there’s usually half a dozen chipped mugs and a choice of coffee, tea and cold drinks set out. Sometimes, some of the old women who practically live there leave tins of cookies.

Instead of displaying his own crafts in any sane way, Stiles hides them all over. There’s amigurumi rabbits in the quilting section, turtles between the books, balls stuffed into every second skein of yarn, it feels like, hats perched precariously on just about everything, shawls draped over bookcases. Most toys are below waist height, too, because it’s more fun for kids if they can reach, apparently. The fact that they then demand to have the toys they found probably doesn’t hurt, but Jackie doesn’t think that’s why Stiles does it.

He seems to just like putting smiles on people’s faces.

Which is Stiles in a nutshell, really, and no, she does not have a crush on the man, why would she. He’s awesome, he knows the names of every second person to enter the store, he’s good with kids, occasionally gives her a discount just because, he’s insanely into crafts and the fact that he’s pretty damn fine doesn’t hurt.

Lip ring. Jackie has a thing for lip rings, okay? They’re hot. Fight her.

So yeah. Usually once every other week, sometimes more often, she grabs one of her projects on her way out the door and drops by Yarnsome when she has a moment. She browses, usually buys a thing or two. Sometimes yarn, sometimes a cutesy stitch marker, sometimes just a novelty postcard for her roommate to bitch over when she sticks it on the fridge.

She makes small talk with Stiles as she pays, he compliments her nerd shirt of the day, and then she grabs a cup of coffee and settles into stay a while. Sometimes, her visits coincide with one of the many classes Stiles teaches and he always manages to make her help, or the stich and bitch he hosts, where the old ladies will draw her in. Sometimes, it’ll be just her, project on her lap as an alibi as she watches Stiles prance around, all puppy grins and pert ass and boundless enthusiasm.

He reminds her of a puppy sometimes.

Sadly, he has a girlfriend.

She’s a gorgeous creature, too, all dimples and legs and hair and Jackie hates that she’s pretty nice. She mans the counter sometimes and you can tell she’s only vaguely aware of how to do yarn crafts, but her wildly creative answers to craft-related questions are hilarious.

Once, while paying, Jackie asks idly what to do with the single ball of super chunky yarn she has left and girlfriend answers with a shrug and a dead serious, “You could try planting it and seeing if it will sprout? It’s cotton, right? That comes from trees, so you’ll probably be good.”

She pulls off such a perfectly deadpan stare with it that it takes Jackie a full ten seconds of stupid gaping to figure out that was a joke. Then Stiles appears out of nowhere, pokes girlfriend in the ribs and complains, “Alli! I’ve told you to stop being mean to my customers. They’re fragile, creative people with money and we want them to come back!”

He shoves her aside and takes over ringing Jackie up.

Alli sticks her tongue out, kicks Stiles in the shin, beams at Jackie and announces, “And this is how you get out of working the register.”

Jackie likes Stiles’ girlfriend. It sucks.

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Except, it turns out, Jackie might be wrong about the girlfriend.

Because it’s November, her classes have been shit, her boss is an ass and she just wants to touch expensive yarn for a while when Alli of the dimples and deadpan jokes almost runs her over on her way out of the store.

She’s in heels and a skirt, hair curled, make-up a little bit overdone for five pm and absolutely gorgeous.

“Sorry,” she gasps as she brakes hard and Jackie barely manages to twist out of the way in time to avoid her Starbucks coffee indulgence getting all over that skirt.

“No problem,” Jackie answers, maybe a bit grumpy. It’s been a shit day, okay? Beautiful people are bound to make her even crankier. She can’t help it.

Then Stiles is suddenly there, at the end of the aisle, hollering, “Be home by ten!”

“You’re not my dad, Stiles!” Alli answers without breaking her stride.

“But I have his number!”

“Dad likes Isaac!”

“Not when I tell him that you’ve turned you ex-boyfriend into a sordid booty call for dry spells!”

Alli’s only answer is a middle finger over one shoulder and then the door cheerfully jingles along to her dramatic exit.

Stiles pauses briefly, then shrugs and says, to no-one in particular, “Well, at least they’re not screwing on my couch anymore.”

So. More of a Luke and Leia than a Han and Leia situation.

Huh.

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After that it turns into a bit of an obsession. Who is Stiles dating? There is an endless parade of beautiful people marching around the store, pecking him on the cheek and ignoring his personal space and he flirts with all of them shamelessly, but unless he’s in a poly relationship with, like, ten people, he’s not dating any of them.

Occasionally, Jackie tries to work up the nerve to ask him, or just ask him out, but she never quite dares to. Stiles isn’t the kind of person you date. He’s the kind of person you sigh over from afar because he’s just too pretty, too amazing and too funny to be real.

Hell, he’s probably a mouth-breathing, towel-dropping slob in real life.

No, thanks. Jackie enjoys watching him through her rose tinted glasses just fine. No need to ruin it with reality.

Doesn’t mean she doesn’t occasionally feel a little, you know. Ugly and unwanted and yearning. Everyone has days like that. It’s just that she medicates hers with trips to the craft store and that’s where Stiles lives and. Yeah. Whatever.

She makes a mental note to buy more batteries.

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She’s been watching Stiles win at life for almost a year when a redhead with a humongous, Lord of the Rings worthy beard drops onto the couch next to her, a stack of craft paper in hand and several rolls of washi tape on his ring finger.

“So, you think he’s dating the cute chick?” he asks Jackie, conversationally. His t-shirt declares him to be emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt and the olive color clashes horribly with the Beard of Beards. She mentally allots him all the points for the t-shirt because she adores the show, and then follows his gaze across the room.

He’s staring at Stiles and one of his friends, a tiny Asian woman who wears graphic tees and has a boyfriend with a crooked jaw and the worst case of puppy dog eyes ever.

“Nah,” Jackie offers after a long sideways look at Beard Guy. “She’s taken.”

Beard Guy shrugs and gives her a shy smile. “Damn. I thought I’d finally figured it out.”

Jackie laughs, “You too, huh?”

He squints, then grins broadly, jiggling his spoils in his lap. “Yeah, guess so. I’m Larry.”

She drops her hook long enough to offer him a hand, “Jackie.”

He shakes it. It’s the start of a beautiful conspiracy.

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The next six months of the Stiles Watch yield nothing except random chats with Larry and a new pixel blanket.

And then: The Baby.

The Baby is the most adorable thing Jackie has seen in all her twenty-one years on this earth. She has the biggest, darkest eyes to ever gaze upon a pile of yarn, absolutely diabetes inducing bouncy curls, an adorable fucking button nose and absolutely no sense of her own limitations if the way she crashes intoany and anyone is anything to go by.

Her name is Cora.

And somehow, she seems to belong to Stiles.

The image of Stiles with a babbling Cora on his arm makes Jackie honest to god coo. It’s goddamn embarrassing. Larry, who, coincidentally, has been hanging around the needle aisle, pats her arm in sympathy.

“I know,” he whines. “It’s unfair. Next to that, every other man on this planet looks like tofu sausage.”

Jackie shoots him a confused look, then goes back to being spellbound, because Baby.

She needs to bottle this and keep it for rainy days. Many rainy days. All of the rainy days.

Except bottling turns out to be unnecessary because Cora becomes a fixture and it appears that her exaggeration of her ‘belonging to Stiles’ is actually truer than she expected because, well. Stiles keeps baby stuff behind the counter and Cora knows him.

Babies don’t really know anyone except their immediate family because their attention span is tiny and two weeks might as well be a lifetime for them. But Cora knows Stiles and he has a routine with her and is Stiles dating a single mother?

“Parent,” Larry corrects. “Don’t be heteronormative. And if you want to know, just ask her siblings.”

The siblings. Right. Okay. Yes, those exist, Jackie might be having tunnel vision. Derek is almost as cute as his sister, especially with his death ray vision and caterpillar eyebrows. Laura is everything Jackie wants to be when she grows up, really. Strong and smart and loud and sure of herself, kind and caring and an adorable little dictator.

They spend a lot of time chasing their baby sister around the store in the afternoons or, in Derek’s case, sitting very primly on the best armchair and laboring over a lurid scarf.

Jackie spends two months trying to figure out a way to politely ask a little kid if the Yarn Guy is banging their parental unit, and if so, how hot are they?

(She might be becoming a little obsessed.)

In the end, she doesn’t have to, because she runs into Parental Unit – literally – on her way out of the store after buying no less than seven balls of aquamarine merino yarn that is so sinfully soft and light, it was surely spun by the devil to tempt her. Well, it’s not like she really needed the money for food, or anything. Ramen is fine for the next three weeks, as long as she can eat it wearing her new merino shrug.

Ahem.

Parental Unit.

She cunningly recognizes him (and it is a ‘him’, damn you Larry) by Cora perched on his arm and Derek and Laura trailing him like ducklings.

He smiles at Jackie. “My apologies. I didn’t see you there.”

His biceps are the size of Cora’s head. His neck should be illegal. He looks eminently climbable. Jackie gives a low whine, before she manages, “No problem.” Casts wildly around for something to say, adds, “Hi, kids!”

Laura waves. Derek scowls. Cora blows a spit bubble, wipes it off with her fist and smears it into her father’s hair.

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“It’s so unfair!” she whines, flopping back on the lumpy sofa, tub of ice-cream freezing a square hole into her belly.

“There, there,” Larry consoles without looking up from his paper scale model of the Death Star. Apparently, the indent-thing is really tricky. His nephew is turning two in a few weeks and he’s getting a handmade Star Wars mobile from his favorite uncle.

Jackie already crocheted a pair of light sabers to go with it. The better to whack you with, my dear. She might add Yoda earmuffs, if she gets around to it. She’s seen pics. The kid is as ginger as Larry and it’d look perfectly, horribly adorable.

“Why is everyone associated with Stiles so goddamn pretty? Can’t there be one ugly person in that freaking store? Just one?!” She vengefully bites into her spoon and chews her ice-cream.

Larry shudders at the sight of it, because he’s a wimp. “You could just switch stores?” he offers, half-heartedly, because he knows she loves the place. He does, too. It’s like a home away from their respective shitty one-room apartments.

“You’re no help,” she complains.

A grunt. “Hold this, will you?”

Jackie sighs and obediently rolls to the floor and knee-walks over to the coffee table to hold a random bit and maybe two bobs while Larry glues them into place with his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in concentration and his beard in mad science disarray.

It’s sort of cute, really.

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It all comes to a head about three months later, when Jackie sees Parental Unit plus the kids with Stiles for the first time.

It’s late, she’s had another shitty day and she needs yarn to make her happy. Instead she finds Stiles and his boyfriend standing by the embroidery floss, arms wrapped loosely around each other as they have a conversation in low voices. Cora is sleeping in a sling against Stiles’ chest, her hair just brushing his chin, and the boyfriend keeps absently alternating between stroking her little back and Stiles’ arm and Jackie has never seen two people as in love as this.

She hasn’t.

Oh, she’s seen deep soul-gazes and tragic sighs, kisses filthy enough to be sex standing up, but this is…

God fucking damn.

It’s fucking depressing, is what it is.

Those two are completely and utterly content in each other’s space, slotting together like puzzle pieces, and they’re not doing anything but talking.

Jackie is so jealous, she feels like stomping her feet and crying.

She wants someone like that, someone who is obviously different from her but still adores her for what she is, for all her quirks and insanities, the way that man adores Stiles. He’s older, no piercings, no tattoos, three kids, and probably a high profile job, if his suits are anything to go by, but he’s still here, in this weird little store, with the hipster craft guy and he adores him.

Jackie wants someone to adore her like that. To indulge her and laugh with her, to get her nerdy jokes and geek out with her, to give her space and be there for her and feed her ice-cream when she needs it, distract her and encourage her crafting and–

“Oh, hi Jacks, didn’t see you there. Off, Peter! Can I help you?” Stiles beams, practically oozing contentment.

Jackie, caught in the throes of an epiphany, holds up one finger. Wait.

And then.

Oh.

Well.

Fuck.

Oh fuck!

Goddamn, buggering fucking fuckity fuck!

After a full ten seconds of life-changing realization, she shakes her head. Reboots her brain to accept her shifted worldview. Maybe calls herself a goddamn idiot a few hundred times really fast.

Stiles is watching her, brows furrowed. She’s probably looking like a crazy person.

But - “No, not today. Have a fantastic evening!” She shouts the last on her way out the door, already digging out her phone to dial Larry. Who just happens to be the last fifteen calls in her history.

Stupid, Jackie, stupid. So, so, so stupid!

He picks up after the second ring. “Yeah?”

“Hey, Larry. You busy right now?”

“Nah. Why?”

“You wanna have dinner with me?”

He chuckles. “You out of food again? Sure, come over.”

“No, actually. I meant...,” she makes a frustrated sound. “Actual dinner. At a restaurant. With me paying. As a… date.” And because that was pitiful, she tries again, “Would you like to go on a date with me, Larry?”

There’s a pause. Jackie stops breathing.

“Craft and movie afterwards?”

“Yes?”

Larry laughs, loud and delighted and a bit incredulous and Jackie beams into the phone because she was so, so, stupid, but she got it right now, finally got it right.

“Yes,” Larry tells her once he’s caught his breath, “Hell yes, woman! Just tell me where you want me and I’ll be there, with bells on!”

He means that literally. She bought him tiny ones for his beard months ago and he actually wears them.

She’s such a lucky idiot.

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(“Aww, look,” Alli coos, pointing at the backs of a burly re-headed guy and a tiny brunette, walking arm in arm down the sidewalk. “Jackie the yarn chick and Larry the paper guy finally hooked up.”

Stiles spins around fast enough to almost drop his hotdog, then makes a little happy sound as he spots them. “Finally! I’ve been rooting for them for months!”

“They are pretty damn cute,” Erica agrees between bites, cocking her head to one side, squinting. “Could use some ink, though.”)

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