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Eat Your Heart Out

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There goes the baker with his tray like always. . .” Stiles sings as he moved the pans of cookies out of the oven and onto the cooling racks, “ The same old bread and rolls to sell. . .”

Once he finishes moving the next sheets of cookies into the oven, he wipes his hands and presses play on his phone connected to the speakers. Screamo filters through the shop and Stiles is whisper screaming along to the songs. After this batch of assorted cookies, he’ll be good to go for the morning. The bread is done rising so Stiles put the loaves into the second oven. The first batches of sourdough go in first. The top two ovens fit twenty loaves and the bottom two hold twenty more.

“Sourdough, check,” Stiles sighs, “Whole wheat, check.”

He slides in the twenty loaves of whole wheat into the bottom two ovens of the double stack then goes to mix focaccia. He loves making bread and ever since he could afford to buy his beautiful new standing mixer can mix about 45 pounds of dough to make around fifty loaves of bread. Stiles loves that he just pours in the ingredients and presses a button. It’s so easy and allows him to start working on other products. Plus, there’s enough dough that he can put half of it in the fridge to be baked later so that he has plenty outgoing. Today, he’s going to make cinnamon rolls and he’s finally perfected his recipe. It’s even Scott approved.

Stiles has been baking for the past hour and he’s worked quickly and efficiently. He’s got another three hours before the shop opens at six. He had an early morning after not being able to sleep. He usually opens the shop fifteen minutes early for the early risers and morning shift and even graveyard shift workers in town who love coming to the shop. Isaac won’t be into work till five thirty and lord knows that Erica won’t be in until six fifteen.

Stiles works the kitchen quickly, his apron becoming messy with flour and stray eggs. It smells absolutely delicious in the bakery as the bread bakes and the scent of fresh baked cookies fills the shop. Stiles loves his bakery. He’s invested so much blood, sweat, and tears into his little shop and it’s paid off. He started the bakery almost three years ago after finishing culinary school in only two years and a half a year in Europe, studying in different bakeries and restaurants. He rebuilt the shop and started with only one oven, the basics of utensils and hope. The bank had barely given him enough money to remodel and build his kitchen. It took a lot of investment from his friends to get where he is. And now, three years later, he’s doing well for himself and the kitchen has never looked better. His financial advisor is even suggesting he buy the space next door to expand.

Yes, things are going well for him and his little bakery, ‘ Eat Your Heart Out’. Stiles couldn’t be happier. He moves about the kitchen, putting the coffee beans in the grinder for brewing later then begins working on all the other sweets in the shop. Muffins, scones, and croissants oh my! Stiles thinks. He laughs to himself.

“Hey boss,” Isaac walks into the kitchen and puts on his apron.

“Wow, is it after five already?” Stiles asks himself and looks around. He’s been moving around on autopilot, happily moving cookies and bread too and from the ovens and onto the racks for the last several hours while singing along. It’s so easy for Stiles to lose track of time in the bakery. His friends have often found him running extremely late, just baking in his shop. Isaac laughs and starts moving products from the cooling racks into the display case.

“Is this the new Annisokay album?” Isaac asks curiously.

“Yeah,  it’s not so bad.” Stiles shrugs.

“Your favorite band is Amity Affliction,” Isaac rolls his eyes, “You’re super biased towards anyone else.” He teases.

“Whatever,” Stiles grins.

“The cinnamon rolls look so good,” Isaac remarks.

“Perfected the recipe,” Stiles grins, “It was the icing that kept messing me up.”

“The bread’s all done for now too?” Isaac asked.

“Yeah, the dough is in the walk in,” Stiles tells him while we set a batch of cookies and a bagel in a box to take to the sheriff's station for his dad and the deputies.

“You're spoiling them,” Isaac points out.

“Oh shut it,” Stiles sticks his tongue out at him, “I'll be back in twenty to open the store. Get everything ready would ya? And if Erica does show up on time for once, she's on register today.”

Isaac nods and heads off into the back to do as asked. Stiles makes his way with the box of fresh cookies to the station. It's a small town and the walk to the station only takes five minutes. Tessa smiles at him when he walks in the door and practically tackles him for the box.

“Ah ah ah, nope, these are going straight to the coffee counter then when I'm safely ten feet away from the box you all can attack it.” He smiles at her.

He walks with a smile to the sheriff's door only to be stopped by a hulking mass of gorgeous hunk in a uniform. Derek Hale, Stiles loves the Hales. They all frequent his shop and he’s gone out to drink with Cora more than once. Laura always brings him a sandwich from his favorite Italian restaurant when she’s in the neighboring county. All the Hale’s are gorgeous and Derek is no different, although Derek has always been too brooding and stern for his taste. Not to mention the deputy is in a solid relationship with the local PI, Braeden. It was a sad day when Stiles had learned when  His eyebrows are hard set and only a little terrifying to Stiles but he just smiles at the man and does his best not to tremble under the man's perfect gaze.

“Hey, Derek! How are ya?” Stiles smiles through nervous tremors.

“I’m good, Stiles. Dropping off?” Tall, dark and handsome asks with a small growl.

“Yeah, I even brought you a cinnamon roll. Fresh from the oven.” Stiles tells him, sliding over a small bakery box with the still warm roll. The deputy seems to ease up and relax, as much as Derek finds the smiling and effervescent young man to be an ever-living ray of sunshiney pain in his ass, he can admit that he made amazing baked goods.

“Stiles!” His dad grins at him from the now open doorway to his office, “My son in trouble, Derek?”

“Not at all, sir. He’s brought more treats.” the deputy admits, stepping out of the way. He took his treat and went to go eat at his desk.

“Oh good, I was getting a little hungry.” his dad rubs his hands together eagerly and tries to snatch away the box in Stiles’s hands.

“No, you don't! You get the whole wheat bagel and nonfat cream cheese.” Stiles pulls out the bag with the bagel, “Enjoy your cinnamon roll, Deputy Hale.”

“So whatcha got for us today?” Deputy Taylor asks, coming up to inspect the bakery box and its contents.

“Assorted cookies,” Stiles says excitedly, “I've got cinnamon rolls fresh at the shop too if you guys want to come by today. They're new and if they go over well with the public today then I'll work them into the rotation.” He then moves to place the cookies on the counter and backs away quickly.

“Alright, have at it.” as soon as he's clear of the cookies, the deputies descend upon the treats eagerly.

“Alright kid, thanks for bringin’ the snacks but we’ve got a high profile case going on and the ADA is coming in today to go over the case with the vic.” His father says, gently nudging him to the door.

“We got a new ADA? A new case, huh? High profile?” Stiles asks curiously but his father makes an objecting noise.

“Don’t even start, young man. You’ve got a bakery to run.” His dad urges. The other deputies chuckle at his curiosity and happily munches on their cookies.

“Alright, alright, ol’ man.” Stiles grins mischievously, “I better get back, it's almost opening time and I've got a lot of work to do. I'll see you around.” Derek watches Stiles practically skip out of the office.

“Good job getting rid of him, Sheriff. Probably best that Peter doesn’t meet him.” Derek murmurs from his desk, “Stiles is just his type.”

“My son would never date a lawyer.” Noah chuckles dryly. Until he gets to know the new ADA, he isn’t going to have his son around, especially after what Derek’s told him. The new bad-boy hotshot lawyer had been making waves these past few years and the sheriff had heard some not too flattering details about the man’s character. Though he’s impressed by Peter Hale’s success in court and all the work he’s done in the past for their county as well as all the victims he’s defended, he’s still not sure he wants to introduce the man to his son when he knows that Stiles’ magnetism and innate innocence will draw the lawyer in right away. No, better safe than sorry.

For Stiles, opening the shop is always fun. When he walks in, he flips the sign and not even two minutes later, the graveyard shift hospital workers walk in, tired and hungry. Isaac rings them up, Erica hasn't shown up yet, and Stiles gets them their coffee. It's a well-known fact in Beacon Hills that Stiles is the nicest, kindest baker to ever live. Everyone, even the questionable people in town, loves the baker. He talks with his customers while they wait and smile at them, brightening their mornings and sends them on their way with treats so good that they keep coming back. His prices are low and that only spurs on more business. People love his shop, and they love him. It's a small town but everyone knows  Eat Your Heart Out and frequents the shop. The little sitting area fills quickly with people and customers filter in for the morning rush. People come and get their bread, the croissants, cookies, whatever their hearts desire in the mornings or to just sit in the cozy atmosphere of the shop that Stiles has been told more than once reminds them of their childhood. Stiles takes immeasurable pride in that.

Stiles loves his job, talking and laughing with his customers before they head off to work. He loves heading into the back to make more cookies throughout the morning as they quickly sell out despite him baking nearly 200 before the store even opened. People just love his cookies.

“Stiles!” Laura comes rushing into the store, hair a mess and eyes tired. She looks like she's just run a marathon. Stiles knows that she's running late for work and begins putting together her usual order.

“I got you, Laura,” Stiles laughs and hands her the food. She begins to reach into her purse but Stiles stops her, “On the house, get to work.”

She gives him the most grateful smile and rushes out of the store, practically chugging her coffee. Once the morning rush settled down around ten o'clock, he and Isaac move to the back to clean, take inventory and put in the evening batch of products. Not to mention, Stiles needs to get started on a special wedding cake order that came in just a few days ago. Breaking into the wedding business wasn’t too difficult, especially since everyone already loved his sweets, it wasn’t long before all the brides in Beacon Hills wanted their wedding cakes or cupcake towers or just about any type of sweet done by him. Isaac sets off to do inventory and they work in comfortable silence while Erica manages the front.

“What are you making now?” Isaac asked as Stiles begins to fill the cake pans.

“An old friend from school, Heather, she’s getting married and she wants me to do the cake,” Stiles tells him as he carefully pours the mix. His tongue sticks out just a little, and his concentration is centered on filling the pans and not spilling. Stiles wants to make this cake special for his longtime friend.

“You’ve been getting a lot of business for weddings recently.” Isaac points out.

“Which is great, it’s a whole new market and I get to have a lot of fun decorating. It’s a great new skill to have.” Stiles smiles brightly, “When you’re done with inventory, do you mind ordering everything? We’re exceptionally busy recently and I’ve got my eye out on some cake decorating equipment.”

“Sure, no problem, boss man.” Isaac gives him a small smile, Stiles gets back to work and places the pans in the oven. He's eager to see how they turn out and-

“Stilinski!” Stiles rolls his eyes and wipes his hand, walking out to greet Cora.

“Good morning, Cora. What can I get you today? Usual?” He asks her. Her glare could rival Derek’s.

“Don't give me that crap! You know you were supposed to let me pay you for all those cookies for the kids.” She scolds him.

“And I told you that I was happy to make those cookies for free!” Stiles argues. Cora is a special ed teacher at the elementary school down the street. She's only in class with them four days out of the week and today's her day off. She chose to spend that day off, yelling at the baker who made her dozens of cookies for her class party last week.

“You're going to go bankrupt if you keep giving away free treats.” She growls, “You need to let me pay you for this.”

“Cora it was only three dozen cookies.” Stiles tells her, “It's not going to break the bank.”

“Stiles, you know I really appreciate you giving me all that food and the kids love your cookies, but you need to let me pay you.” She tells him ardently putting an envelope of money on the counter.

“I can't accept.” Stiles turns his back, “Now why don't you order something huh?

“You're too stubborn,” Cora growls, “Got any chocolate chip scones left?” Stiles gives her a smile and goes to retrieve the scone.

“Why don't you use that money to buy the kids something for school?” Stiles suggests, putting the envelope back in her hand along with the warm treat.

“You're a jerk,” she tears into her scone, “A nice, pain in the ass, wonderful jerk.”

Stiles chuckles, “Why don't you take a seat. I'll eat breakfast with you.” She begrudgingly takes a seat and munches on her food. Stiles smiles at Erica and snatches a croissant from the display and a cup of coffee then sits with Cora.

“So I went to the station this morning and Derek told me about the new ADA, did you hear anything about that?” Stiles asks curiously.

“My uncle, actually. He’s this big shot in LA and took the job as ADA for Beacon County. He’s hoping to be the District Attorney at some point in the near future.” She told him, her eyes squinting at him as her brain works, “Why?”

“No reason other than your brother and my father practically throwing me out of the station at the mere mention of him. You couldn’t possibly know why they would act like that, would you?” Stiles asks with a suggestive smirk and a raised eyebrow. Cora stops chewing and looks at him skeptically.

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t tend to know why my brother acts the way he does.” Cora reminds him of feigning innocence.

“Because the only time that my father tries to keep information from me is when he thinks that there might be potential for danger. And I just have to think. . .what kind of danger is he trying to protect me from?” Cora chuckles at Stiles’ line of speculation knowing that no one gives Stiles credit for his intelligence and secret deviousness. How own father believes him to be the sweetest, most innocent little muffin this side of California. That’s just the way Stiles wants his father to think, she’s sure.

“My uncle isn’t dangerous in the traditional sense,” She smirks, “And he’s just your type. Which is why I’m sure that your father doesn’t want you two to meet until he gets the full read on him.”

“My father loves to play matchmaker.” Stiles rolls his eyes fondly, “I’ll let him have his fun. For now.”

“Sounds like a plan. Uncle Peter is extremely ambitious, he’s a shark that not many people see coming. If you ever do meet him, I think he’ll finally meet his match.” She says in finality.

“Cora, you are the best, my dear,” Stiles says as he lifts his coffee cup to toast to his friend.

“I know that already. Where would you be without me?” She asks with a smile.

“Sad and alone,” Stiles laughs, “Now get out of here, it’s your day off. Go live a little.”

“Stiles, you deserve the best!” She says earnestly as she gets to her feet. She gives him a tight hug and strolls out of the shop. He shakes his head fondly at the retreating girl knowing that she’s the best informant he’ll ever get. Stiles returns to his little office in the back, he passes Erica along the way and smiles. She’s busy on her computer while the rush has died down, her current chemistry class is kicking her ass but she’s studying hard and he won’t yell at her for that. She works all day long here at the office to keep her and her boyfriend, Boyd, afloat. He doesn’t mind her doing homework.

Stiles spends time in his office managing the business and when he finds that all the tasks are finished for the time being, he goes back to putting the wedding cake together. It’s calming business, Stiles always manages to lose himself in his baking. Though he’s been in business for several years now, baking has never gotten old for him. It’s what he loves doing and when you do what you love, it's never work. By the time Isaac gets back, he laughs at Stiles’ appearance.

“What?” Stiles chuckles.

“You’ve got dried frosting in your scalp.” He chuckles, pointing to where Stiles had probably wiped the sweat with the back of his hand at some point.

“Oh,” Stiles laughs. He pulls off his glove and scratches at the dried frosting over the sink, watching it flake off into the steel basin, “I tend to get icing or frosting everywhere, no matter how clean I try to be, I just can’t seem to keep it together.”

“It’s endearing,” Isaac says consolingly. Stiles shrugs and looks up at the clock, seeing that it’s almost time for the lunch rush, he begins to bustle around the kitchen.

“Isaac, could you refill the display cases with Erica and get the rest of the baking of the dough? It’s time to start prepping for the after-school rush.” Stiles tells his employee.

“Let’s do this,” Isaac tells him, showing the baker out of the shop.

The three of them work quickly to put out the new pastries, ready for when all the kids and tired parents walk into the shop. Stiles restocks the bread bins with delicious smelling bread while Erica and Isaac attend to the cases. They make quick work of it but Stiles feels out of breath.

“Maybe you should consider bringing on another employee?” Isaac suggests, “You’ve got a lot going on and if you want to be more involved in the wedding business, you should spend more time in the back.”

“I know you’re right, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin.” Stiles sighs tiredly, “I guess I could just hire on a part-time employee. I hate that you two have to clean while you work. . .it’s a lot of tasks for both of you to take on.”

“Why not hire weekend part-timer and a weekday part-timer? They could be students. High schoolers would kill to have this job.” Erica points out while munching on a raspberry scone. Stiles nods thoughtfully.

“I’ll think about it.” Stiles tells them. They work the lunch rush and time flies so fast that before anyone knows it, it’s near closing time. Stiles is putting all the day olds in boxes to take them to the homeless shelter in town before he heads home for the night when the little bell above the door chimes. He had sent Erica and Isaac home almost twenty minutes ago. He looks at the clock and sees that the time is 5:24 P.M. Just six minutes until closing. The rest of the patrons had been long gone and the place cleaned long ago.

“Is anyone here? I’m sorry to intrude right before closing but-” A deep voice calls from the front of the shop. Stiles wipes his hands on his apron before hurrying to the front. His feet hurt and he’s exhausted but there’s still one more customer.

“It’s not a problem, I’ll be with you in a moment,” Stiles calls back from the kitchen. He’s cleaning his hands of stubborn icing, “What can I get you, sir?” He looks up at the customer and it feels as if the wind has been knocked out of him. The man standing before him is hands down the most attractive man he’s ever seen. Stiles scrambles to form a thought and the customer seems to straighten just a little more. The expensive suit he’s wearing is so fitting that Stiles has to really stop himself from scanning the man from head to toe. He’s holding a briefcase and jacket in one hand and holy hell, Stiles thinks, the sleeves of his crisp, white button-up shirt are rolled up to the forearms and Stiles thinks he might be salivating.

“I was at the sheriff’s station earlier and one of the deputies there had the most delicious smelling cinnamon rolls and I’ve been craving one all day.” The man explains. A charming smile breaks out on the man’s face as he assesses Stiles’ wide doe eyes and slightly open mouth. “I was hoping you might have some left over.” Stiles nods almost numbly, trying not to stare anywhere but those piercing blue eyes.

“Actually, I have one left, it’s a bit old but I’ll imagine it’ll taste just as good.” Stiles murmurs, a light blush starting to color his cheeks making the man smile even wider. The glint in those baby blues gives Stiles the inclination that he’s inclined to mischief.

“Wonderful,” The customer says, “I was afraid I’d be too late.”

“You just made it, let me go get it for you,” Stiles turns quickly and retreats back into the kitchen. Once behind the wall to the kitchen, his jaw drops and his whole body shakes. He mouths oh my God and tries to reign himself in. He absolutely did not do a short happy dance. He reaches for the box he had just packed with the last cinnamon roll and assortment of sugary goodies to give to the man that he swears was carved from marble.

“Here you go,” Stiles says, returning with the pink box in his hands and hands it over to the man. The blue-eyed beauty opens his mouth to say something but Stiles shakes his head quickly, “I take it you’ve never been into my shop before?”

“First time,” The man admits almost sheepishly.

“Then it’s on the house, a sample box if you will.” Stiles shrugs nonchalantly.

“That’s not-”

“They’re day olds anyways, I was going to take them to the homeless shelter in town so it’s no big deal. If you like the treats then I know I’ll be seeing you again.” Stiles gives him his most charming smile, but after a long day in the kitchen, he’s sure he doesn’t look like a ray of sunshine or smell like a bouquet of roses.

“Thank you,” The man gives up quickly and exchanges the goodies for a smile, “I’m sure I’ll be in again soon. Have a good evening Mr. . .”

“Stiles, you can call me Stiles. Mr. is my father.” Stiles almost cringes at his own job but the small chuckle he gets from the mystery man is all he needs.

“Thank you, Stiles. I hope to be seeing you soon.” The man’s voice drawls ever so slightly and Stiles feels like he’s hanging on to his every syllable. He gives a meek wave as the man retreats and when the door finally clicks closed, he stares at it for another few minutes thinking about the man’s blue eyes and chiseled features. He feels hot all over and then cold when he realizes he never caught the man’s name.

“Nice one, Stilinski. Nice.” He sighs, shakes his head and goes to flip the sign on the door to closed. It’s the end of the day and Stiles is 100% sure he’s going to be thinking about the mystery man all night long, and if he sees those piercing blue eyes in his dreams. . .well, that’s just a bonus.

Chapter Text

Stiles jumps in his jeep with a happy smile and a skip in his step. It’s a relatively cold morning and Stiles had just finished making a large pot of hot soup to deliver to the homeless shelter for breakfast on a chilly morning. He secures the pot and gets going. It’s an easy drive and it’s still pitch black out as winter has made the nights longer. It’s only a few minutes before he’s pulling up outside of the shelter and Dan, his friend who runs the shelter is outside to greet him.

“Good morning!” Dan greets with a smile, “You’re an angel, I swear.”

“It’s nothing, I had plenty left over after dinner last night,” Stiles says, handing over the large pot.

“Are you staying for breakfast?” Dan asks hopefully.

“I’m sorry but I have to get to the bakery to open, otherwise I would.” Stiles chuckles, “Can I pick up the pot when I drop off the day olds?” 

“Of course,” Dan smiles gratefully, “Your sweets get everyone smiling around here. You know the people that stay here are so grateful to you.”

“Well it’s a small act, I wish I could do more.” Stiles says with a small frown.

“It’s a lot to everyone here, not small at all.” Dan pats him on the shoulder, “I won’t hold you up, thank you so much. I’ll see you at the usual time.”

Stiles nods and hops back into the jeep, thumping at the steering wheel as he taps out the beat to the song coming from the speakers. He whistles along and feels a jolt of excitement when he sees the bakery come into view. No matter how many years he’s been pulling up to the same building in the town’s square, it always feels like the first day. He practically skips into the shop, smiling at the glowing light coming from the kitchen and begins throwing himself into work. He puts his playlist on and fortuitously enough, Working Man by Rush is the first song to fill the shop. Stiles lets out a happy laugh and dances about the kitchen, pulling ingredients out of the walk in and pre-heating the ovens. With the flick of a switch, the mixer whirls to life and begins mixing the first massive batch of scones. 

He sings along with the song and moves about peacefully. Baking pans greased. . .blueberries washed. . .flour thrown on the table. . .the music rolls while he works. The scent of fresh bread fills the air and Stiles goes to watch it rise in the oven. He watches the bread for a moment as the heat swirls around it and the molecules in the bread begin to cook. It’s always a wonderful thing to watch. Stiles remembers being eight years old standing on his tippy toes stirring a pot of raspberry filling his mother taught him how to make. He remembers the sound of his mother's hands kneading the dough on the counter beside him with a happy smile on her face and the scent of sweet berries filling the air. He loved helping her cut out the circles of dough and laying out the flour to dust the pastries. 

Baking with his mother had been the best hours of his life. He loved sitting on the floor of the kitchen and watching the sweet treats rise in the heat of the oven. He loved seeing his father smile when he walked into the house and smelled fresh baked goods, still hot from the oven. They’re some of the fondest memories that Stiles has. Now that he lives alone, he still goes and sees his father often, but it isn’t the same anymore. The sheriff had moved out of his childhood home when Stiles went away to culinary school. It had been a tough move on the both of them but the house just needed too much upkeep for just the sheriff. Logically, Stiles knew it was smart to sell the house, especially since it would turn his father a decent profit, but it was his childhood home. It was the house that built him, and now there’s a new family living there. 

Take the memories with you , Stiles thinks to himself. Suddenly, he hears the jingling of keys in the back door and he looks up to see Isaac with a sleepy look on his face and his curls looking more messy than usual. 

“Good morning, sunshine,” Stiles smiles at his friend, “The scones need to be out here soon, can you pull them out of the ovens?”

“Sure,” Isaac yawns loudly, scratching at his ears.

“And go ahead and get one for yourself while you’re at it. And coffee. You’re no good to me asleep.” Stiles suggests playfully. The blonde headed boy nods and sets out to his task. Stiles smiles to himself as he goes, pulling the loaves of bread from the ovens and throwing the ingredients for sugar cookies into the big mixer. He watches the big metal beater go round and round in a rhythmic, almost mesmerizing motion. 

“Alright boss, I’m gonna go do the rounds,” Isaac says through a mouthful of scone. 

“Sounds good, I’m thinking about making some pumpkin muffins today.” Stiles thinks out loud.

“Delicious, no cinnamon rolls today?” Isaac sounds almost bummed out.

“Hmmm, no I think I want pumpkin muffins today.” He shrugs, “How are the scones?” 

“Perfect, as always.” Isaac rolls his eyes, “So I was thinking about you possibly hiring someone for weekends and part-time after school, I think I have the best way-”

“You know what, you’re the one with the business degree. I think you should be the new head of HR.” Isaac’s eyes go owlish.

“Really? Y-you trust me that much?” 

“Isaac, I’ve known you since high school and you’ve been here since the beginning handling the majority of the business side of things, I can’t think of anyone more qualified than you.” Stiles pats his friend on the shoulder.

“Thanks, man,” Isaac says gratefully, “I’ll get right on it!”

“You’re the best!” Stiles shouts at his friend’s retreating back. He knows that Isaac will do a great job putting it out into the world that they’re looking for extra hands and he’s happy that Isaac is happy. 

The day goes on as it typically does. Stiles slaving about the kitchens, putting trays and trays of cookies into the ovens then into the cooling racks. Erica stumbles in five minutes till opening and she practically growls over a cranberry nut muffin and some coffee. Stiles just dances around her, leaving her to wake up. He’s actually impressed that Erica is here on time considering that Boyd isn’t due at the fire house for another twenty minutes, she must have taken him in early, Stiles concludes. He turns his attention to putting in baking paper for more muffins. Time passes faster than Stiles would like it and he’s turning off the alarm he sets for ten minutes till opening and goes to turn the sign on the door and attend to the front.

“Erica, wanna work from the back today?” Stiles offers her. She eagerly accepts and begins to hand him pans of baked goods from the window and he takes them with practiced ease, sliding them into the display cases easily. The cookies look absolutely appetizing and he sneaks a chocolate chip cookie with a smile. When he bites into his work, he smiles and feels the cookie break down easily in his mouth. Good cookie , he thinks to himself. 

“There’s a special place in heaven for someone so amazing as you,” Erica’s voice is still rough. 

“The muffins are pretty good this morning,” Stiles chuckles and goes to fill the coffee pots with fresh grounds to brew new coffee. Stiles hears the bell on the door signal that someone has walked into the shop, “Good morning! What can I get you today?” He turns and sees the gorgeous blue-eyed man from the previous night and his face breaks out into a bright smile. 

“I was really hoping to get another cinnamon roll,” The man’s smile makes Stiles’ knees weak. He all but stumbles up to the counter.

“Did you like it?” Stiles asks hopefully, his wide brown eyes make the man feel strangely endeared to the young man. 

“I will tell you right now that it was the best sweet treat I’ve ever tried in my life,” The man says honestly, “I was hoping to get another.”

“I’m so sorry to disappoint then, I made something else this morning though. Would you like to try it?” Stiles offers with a risen eyebrow and a suggestive smirk.

“I will gladly sample anything you are willing to give me.” He replies with an equally as suggestive smirk.

“Okay,” Stiles laughs brightly, he pulls a pumpkin muffin out of the display case and puts it on a plate for the man, “I realized I never got your name. . .”

“It’s Peter,” He says, taking the plate happily. He pulls out his wallet to pay and Stiles takes his card with two of the longest fingers that Peter has ever seen in his life. As Stiles swipes his card, he sees Peter’s elegant leather briefcase with the initials P.H. Peter Hale? Stiles asks himself.

“Your last name wouldn’t happen to be Hale, would it?” Stiles asks curiously, handing his black card back.

“Yes. . .How did you know?” Peter asks.

“I know Cora, Laura, and Derek.” Stiles tells him with a chuckle, “Cora told me you recently came to town.”

“Yes, I’m here for work.” Peter says mysteriously.

“Ah yes, the high profile case I’ve heard about. . .You’re the new ADA, huh, pretty cool. My dad’s the sheriff.” Stiles plays coy.

“Yes, the sheriff has been very kind to me and he’s a great man. It’s no wonder that he has a son as interesting and talented as you.” Peter flirts, beginning to be more interested in the baker than he had initially thought. 

“That’s my dad,” Stiles chuckles, “I was actually going to put together a little goodie box for everyone at the station. Would you like to walk with me to the office?” Stiles fibbs. He mentally praises himself for thinking on his feet. Peter nods eagerly, “Alright, let me get the box real quick and we’ll go.”

Stiles unties his apron and heads back into the kitchen only to walk right into two smirking employees. Their arms are crossed over their chests and they look positively menacing. Stiles rolls his eyes and grabs a pink take-out box. 

“He’s hot,” Erica smirks, “Nice catch.”

“Oh shut it,” Stiles groans, “He’s new to town and I’m just making sure he gets to the station safely.” He shrugs, feigning nonchalance. Erica rolls her eyes.

“Uh huh, sure.” Erica laughs, “He’s like sex on legs, I can’t blame you.”

“His name is Peter and I can’t just bed him and forget him. He’s the new ADA, so if I manage to piss him off, my dad will be pissed.” Stiles whisper shrieks.

“Calculated risks?” Erica offers with a grin and a shrug. Stiles rolls his eyes and returns to the front of the store to fill the box. Peter gives Stiles a blinding grin when he returns and Stiles tries to not let the blush rise past his ears. 

“Alright.” Stiles sighs as he fills the box. Peter watches the baker carefully, taking in the light blush on the tops of his ears and the furrowed, calculating crinkle in his eyebrows as he chooses each pastry with care. 

“Do you take treats to the station often?” Peter asks curiously.

“As often as I can. It’s good to check in on my pops every once and a while. I try to keep his diet pretty strict so he’ll appreciate a break.” Stiles chuckles, “It’ll help grease the wheels for you if I give him a chocolate croissant for breakfast.” He decides to be bold and wink at Peter causing the older man to feel a swirl of heat in his belly.

“I appreciate your generosity,” Peter chuckles. He walks out with the young baker and listens to Stiles chat about the town. Truth be told, he isn’t listening to a single word Stiles is saying. Peter is far too busy watching his lips move. 

“You might want to be alert when we get into the station, the moment someone sees this pink box, we’re going to be swarmed by hungry-hungry officers.” Stiles’s lips purse and he rolls his shoulders as they approach the office. 

“Good to know,” Peter laughs doubtfully. Not two moments into walking into the office, Officer Marks sees the pink box from his desk.

“Pecan cookie is mine!” He shouts and practically jumps over his desk to get to the box. Not two seconds later, Stiles and Peter are being suffocated by officers with a dark glint in all of their eyes. Just when Stiles is beginning to panic, he hears a loud whistle from across the station.

“What the hell do you lot think you’re doing?” Stiles could hear his father shout from across the room and he exhales loudly in relief. In an instant, everyone if off of Stiles and Peter. “There is absolutely no excuse to descend on my son, who by the way doesn’t have to bring you vultures anything from his shop but does so out of the kindness of his own heart?”

“Sorry, sheriff.” Deputy Parrish says sheepishly, looking much like a scolded child.

“Not to mention the new ADA must be extremely disgruntled by your lack of professionalism in the office.” The sheriff scolds. Stiles almost feels bad for the deputies. “All of you return to your desks and jobs immediately before I turn away the cookies.” That made Stiles’ heart hurt. He looked beside him and saw that Peter is in fact very rumpled and his hair has been messed up beyond repair. He looks positively livid at the scolded officers and a little miffed. 

“I’m sorry, son. Are you alright?” Noah looks his son over with a careful eye and ignores all the pouting deputies. Stiles nods, the panic is long gone and he feels much better than he’s sure Peter feels.

“I’m good, dad.” Stiles gives his father the best doe eyes he could muster and offers his father the sweet treat, “Don’t be too hard on everyone, I know my baking is absolutely irresistible.” His father sees the treat he brought and he’s helpless but to adhere to his son’s plea and accepts the treat with an easy nod. Stiles’ baking always greases the wheels where his father is concerned.

“I’m so sorry about that, Hale, it won’t happen again,” Noah assures the lawyer, hoping to be able to smooth things over quickly. Peter looks as if he’s about to argue when Stiles gets his attention and those large brown eyes are still working their magic, Stiles offers the man a charming smile and hands him the box of treats. 

“You take the box and don’t let anyone take any cookies from you, I’ll warn you though, they’ll make you very popular in the office. I know everyone here means well, they just turn into a bunch of kindergarteners when I walk in with those pink boxes so I do hope you can forgive everyone,” Stiles says sweetly, “Share or don’t, they’re yours. I hope to see you again soon, Mr. Hale.” 

Stiles puts the box in Peter’s unexpecting hands and winks at him, surprising the older man into silence. He doesn’t have a moment to think around the quick talking young man so he simply nods and accepts the gift. The sheriff watches Stiles and for a moment thinks that his son might be too troublemaking for his own good but sees that the hard-eyed lawyer almost melts at his boy’s offering, thinks that Stiles might just be as sweet as one of his sugar cookies. 

“I’ll see you later, pops. I gotta get back to the shop.” He gives his dad a brief hug then hastily walks out of the office before anyone can utter a single word. Peter watches the boy go and admires the baker’s backside just as much as his personality. The sheriff sees Peter’s admiration and he knows that look on his face, he can’t help but feel a little bit of dread curl up in his belly at the confirmation of what he knew all along: Stiles is a catch and he’s caught the eye of one Peter Hale.

Chapter Text

The day is long. Stiles’ feet ache after standing all day long. His lower backaches fiercely and he knows for a fact that his ankles are swollen like balloons. Erica had thrown up around noon and Stiles had sent her home for the day. That left only Stiles and Isaac to tend to the shop. By closing, Stiles was exhausted. He sits in the office, tired and stinky. He groans loudly and hears Isaac chuckle, he’s sitting on the floor, laughing at his boss.

“You’re fired,” Stiles moans. 

“Yeah, right.” Isaac’s phone pings and he checks it, smiling happily, “I have good news.”

“Sweet. Hit me.”

“I have three high school students who are in need of a part-time job and they’re really hoping to start soon.” Isaac says jovially. 

“Three? So soon? Why?” 

“You remember Mrs. Dunbar? Comes in every Wednesday when she takes cookies into the office? She mentioned to me about her son, Liam, needing a job and I told her that we were looking for some part-time help.” Isaac explains as she types out a text on her phone. “I gave her my number and the next thing I knew, I had Liam and his two friends Mason and Corey texting me about working here.”

“When should we let them start?” Stiles asks his friend.

“I say we have them start ASAP.” Isaac shrugs, “Prom is coming up next semester so I’m sure they’ll be wanting to start making money.”

“I don’t know how to hire people. . .what do I even do for payroll?” 

“You have never and will never handle payroll. That’s my job and I prefer to not have you in it,” Isaac laughs knowing just how lousy Stiles’ books were before he came along.

“Probably for the best.” Stiles nods, “Alright, bring them in whenever and I’ll train them. When Erica feels better, we’ll have them trained up on the register.”

“Sounds good, you should go home, you look like hell.” Isaac jabs.

“Yeah,” He groans, “Sounds really good.”

Stiles likes the idea of going back to his apartment, but he doesn’t really like the sound of going home alone. He doesn’t like walking in to silence, to the stale scent of his little home. It’s not much, just one bedroom. It’s comfortable, but it isn’t warm. It isn’t. . .like his home with his mother. He has to go home, though. He has to go somewhere, and there’s only one place he can go. He yearns for his bed. He yearns for the cup of chocolate java ice cream and a hot, steamy shower. He wants a heating pad under his back.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, let me know if I suddenly have a teenager in my kitchen tomorrow.” Stiles sighs loudly and groans when he stands.

“Will do, goodnight boss.” Isaac climbs into the chair to finish his work in preparation for the next few days. He can only imagine what it’ll be like to teach three teenagers how to maintain the shop. For twelve bucks an hour, he’ll have to figure it out. 

 

. . .

 

“I see that you worked food service at the Applebees in town,” Isaac asks the nearly shaking teenage boy sitting in front of him, “Can you tell me an instance when you were put in a position of authority and how you handled the situation?”

Liam, a sixteen-year-old child who has spent a total of seven months and three days in the working world, doesn’t really know how to answer that question. Isaac is laughing maniacally inside his own head at seeing the young boy’s eyes widen like a deer in the headlights. He can hardly keep a straight face, he can practically see the cogs in Liam’s brain working. 

“Well. . .” Liam clears his throat awkwardly, “I was in charge of cleaning out the garbage cans. . .I had to do that every night at closing or else the ketchup stains on the inside of the can would be impossible to remove and they’d get extra stinky.”

Isaac wants to laugh so badly but he manages to keep a straight face. He writes a list of what he needs to pick up for dinner on his notepad while nodding pensively, making Liam sweat. He looks back up and moves on to the next question.

“Why do you want to work here?” This is Isaac’s personal favorite. Uh, because I need money? Why the fuck else? Isaac always thought in the numerous interviews he had undergone in his life. He knows that is exactly what Liam is thinking too. 

“I love Stiles’ baked goods, always have. Not to mention I want to gain as much work experience as possible.” Liam says in a well-practiced and thoughtful tone of voice. Isaac nods and finishes writing his list. Isaac was always going to give him the job, he only wanted to give Liam the experience of an awkward job interview. 

He continues down the arbitrary list of questions, internally laughing at the sweating young boy in front of him. Then Stiles walks into the bakery and sees what’s going on.

“Isaac, stop torturing him. When can you start, Liam?” Stiles smiles kindly at the young boy. Liam jumps in his seat and his bright smile makes Isaac want to smile too. 

“R-right away, Mr. Stilinski!” Liam goes to shake Stiles’ hand professionally but he can’t stop the nervous stutter.

“Please call me Stiles or boss man, Mr. Stilinski makes me look around for my father.” Stiles chuckles,” Alright well, Can you come in early tomorrow morning? I’ll start teaching you my recipes and you can start early morning baking. Is four AM alright?”

“Of course!” Stiles could see the boy cringe but he overlooks it.

“Get some rest, adjust your sleep schedule and believe me, you’ll get in hours before school and on the weekends. No afternoons for you.” Stiles tells him, “What time does school start for you?”

“8:50,” Liam says, “But on Wednesdays and Fridays 9:50.” Liam says, “I can definitely work those hours.”

“Alright, well then I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Thank you for coming in, tell your mom I said hi,” Stiles smiles and sends the bouncing boy out of his shop. He turns to Isaac and gives him a chastising look and his friend only shrugs with a smirk on his face.

“I’ve got two more of those today,” Isaac gloats, “Starting Liam tomorrow, really? You think he’s ready for that?” 

“He’ll be perfect,” Stiles answers confidently. “Besides, it’ll be good to have him come in so early to open and get everything started if I can sleep a little longer or even go visit the hospital more often. Lydia told me that the cafeteria cook is struggling with the recipes and the kids keep complaining.”

“I thought you were at the homeless shelter in the mornings?” 

“I am, sometimes. I’m also at the hospital, at Scott’s vet clinic, and at the children’s home.” Stiles sighs, “There’s never really enough time and everyone seems to want help.” 

“Or cookies.” Isaac points out making Stiles laugh, “You give a lot of yourself for this town. You single-handedly organize the annual policeman’s picnic, you babysit literally all the deputies’ kids when they ask, on top of all the work you do here and at your side charities.”

“So it will be nice when I can have Liam take care of a bunch of stuff so I can get some rest,” Stiles says almost wistfully.

“Or so you can go on a date.” Isaac points out with a smirk.

Stiles glares at Isaac but turns to go do something else in the kitchen. He chooses to occupy himself with baking while Isaac turns to business. With Erica gone, Stiles has to bounce back and forth from the kitchen to the front. It’s not terribly busy towards mid-day and Stiles is able to sit down for a minute and snooze in his office. He’s exhausted. He’s been running around all morning multitasking and it’s the second day that he’s done this. 

“We should just close down early. No one will blame you for being exhausted and it’s not safe for you to be this busy. It’s not okay for you to carry on like this without help. There’s only so much you and I can do.” Isaac says gently, carefully prodding his friend.

“I can’t do that to all of our customers,” Stiles argues.

“Stiles, they don’t want you to burn out.” Isaac urges. 

He thinks about it and shakes his head fervently.

“No, no I can do it.” Stiles responds. His tone heavy with denial.

“Stiles, you’re going to pass out from exhaustion,” Isaac practically yells, feeling his temper rise higher and higher. 

“Can we just focus on work? It won’t be like this much longer, once we have the kids working, I can take a step back.” Stiles gets up from his chair and bites back the groan that all of his aching bones caused. He walks away from his friend as quickly as he can.

And that was that.

 

. . .

 

“Okay. So here are the recipe cards. I printed and laminated them for you. Follow them exactly. ” Stiles instructs. He takes a moment to yawn and blinks away the tired tears. Liam has never seen circles under eyes as dark as Stiles’. 

“Okay,”

“Always set the ovens when you walk in. That’s the first thing you gotta do.” Stiles wants to cry his feet hurt so bad. He didn’t get any sleep last night as he had to close, and he had to make all these instructions and recipe cards for Liam. “Here’s a list of everything that needs to get done when you come in. It’ll get easier the more you do it so just stick to it and you won’t need the list.”

“O-okay.”

“So just watch me today and I’ll show you some of the tricks I use to make the goodies. The recipes are simple but it’s all in the technique that makes everything taste the way they do.” Stiles sighs and rubs his temples roughly, “Now, I’m going to teach you some trade secrets. Everything you are about to see is top secret . I am trusting you with these recipes and techniques and would really appreciate it if you didn’t go around telling people about these or else they’ll stop coming to the shop because they can make their own treats and they won’t need me anymore so that means that I will lose business because everyone will start sharing the secrets then I’ll have no business at all then I will lose my business. Do you understand? This is my life, my love, and my entire future so I want you to understand that you absolutely cannot trade these secrets and if you do, I don’t know, I’ll figure it out-”

“Okay!” Liam grabs Stiles by the shoulder to stop his rant and Stiles takes a deep breath.

Stiles nods and works through his daily routine, following the list before instructing him carefully on the day’s baking “set-list”. Liam is tired, he’s woken up at three AM to get here to bake. When he had woken up, he’d thought it’s not worth it . Then he thought about the motorcycle he wants to buy and he thought about the tuition he’s going to have to pay for in the next few years for college so he sucked it up and got ready for work. His backpack hangs in the office with his jacket and his converse are covered in flour.

“Okay, so I’ll email you the baking schedule and you can follow that, to the T, Liam. To the T.” Stiles sighs, his head is throbbing but he’s doing his best to ignore it. It’s still early in the day but he thinks that if he has Liam baking right now and he trains Corey tonight, he can go home early. 

Twenty minutes before school starts, Liam is on his way out the door. There’s no one else in the shop as Isaac had to take his girlfriend, Allison to the airport in Sacramento and it’s a long drive. So Isaac spent the night with her to take her around the time that Stiles was opening the shop. Erica is still out with some unknown bug and he’s all alone. Things are running slowly for a change, Stiles thanks the weather for that. It’s cold outside and it’s starting to get really cold out. Stiles is happy to be able to sit in his chair by the register, helping the random customer that straggles in for a cup of coffee and a muffin. 

The day passes in a blur and Stiles struggles to stay awake. He texts Scott to let him know that he won’t be able to make it to the clinic tonight to help him clean out the cages. He’s tasked with teaching the younglings how to manage his shop. By the time Corey and Mason come in, he’s practically dead on his feet. He’s so tired but he drinks more coffee and pops an Adderal. He powers through and gives them their own lists to follow when he’s not around. They are good kids. Stiles likes them. They’re both strong, intelligent, and eager to work. They soak up his instructions and they’re absolutely loving the complementary cookies that Stiles offers them. They are even more excited about this job when Stiles tells them that they get sixty percent off their purchases. An employee discount if you will.

The day passes and come closing time, Stiles can tell that the kids are tired and slightly overwhelmed so he sends them home early with a box of day-olds each. They leave the shop, eager for the next day leaving Stiles to close up. He works tiredly, running on close to five hours of sleep in the last thirty-six hours. A span of time that he hasn’t gone without sleep since high school. Now in his mid-twenties, he’s not really game for it anymore. He sweeps slowly and leisurely, sleepy as hell. He hears the door chime ring and he groans. He walks to the register to turn someone away.

“I’m sorry, but we’re closed,” Stiles blinks away the tiredness in his eyes and stops, completely and terrifyingly awake when he’s met with the muzzle of a pitch-black .45 caliber handgun. The air gets sucked out of his lungs as he scrambles to remember everything that his father taught him. 

“Put the money in the bag.” The man’s gruff voice startles Stiles and he flinches. His heart races terribly and he strains to remember every single detail of the man holding him at gunpoint but he can barely think. 

Blonde hair. Sandy blonde.

Six-foot-two.

Medium build.

Brown eyes.

Crooked nose.

Tattoo on his-

“Are you deaf? Get the fucking money out of the God-damn register and put it in the fucking bag!” The man gets impatient and Stiles can tell by the red flushed cheeks that he’s losing time. He nods and scrambles to take out the money in the register. He puts it in the black duffle bag and if Stiles wasn’t scared shitless, he would have made fun of the terrible cliche. He would laugh at all of it. He would laugh at the absurdity of being held up in his shop when he knows just how safe his home town is. He would laugh at the absurdity of being the sheriff’s son and being held at gunpoint. He would just laugh. 

“Good.” The man grunts and takes his bag out of Stiles’ arms and the baker just lets it go, hearing his father’s voice in his head. Do whatever you have to do to survive. He hears it loud and clear despite the pain in his heart when he knows that the money he worked so hard to earn is being stolen. He can hardly believe this is happening. The robber looks pensively at the display cases that have yet to be emptied and after a moment of tense silence, he smashes the glass. Stiles flails back and yelps in surprise at the squealing glass. The man takes a cookie from the case and eats it, groans in appreciation and chuckles dryly.

“These are the best I’ve ever tasted,” He nods, lowering the gun for a moment to savor the cookie before raising his arm again to aim straight at Stiles, “It’s too bad you know my face, I hate to have to kill such a talented baker.”

Bang.

Chapter Text

Life is messy. So says Meredith Grey. Stiles binged Grey’s Anatomy in high school and he loved every minute. Scott and Isaac both judged him every episode but it was worth it. He followed the show and records it now. Stiles loved the drama. He loved heavy emotions and pageantry. He felt as if he was right there, living the stories, running through the hospital with them. He loved the stories they told and the lives they followed. He loved everything about the show despite all the criticism. 

There’s no cheesy music. There’s no impossibly rare medical situation. There’s no fighting or sex going on behind the scenes of Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital. Stiles knows that a hospital is a place where people die, his own mother died in a hospital. It didn’t change the fact that he loved the hospital drama. He should know that reality is far more different than television.

It’s cold outside when the sheriff steps out of the office for the night, finally finished with his double shift. He’s tired, hungry, and he has a headache. He looks across the square and sees Stiles’ shop in the distance, the lights are still on and he takes a moment to think how odd it is. It’s too late for the shop to still be open and he knows for a fact that his son is far too burnt out to be working this much overtime. He walks across the square leisurely when he hears a loud pop and a man in black run out of the shop. The sheriff has a sinking feeling in his belly and knows that something is terribly wrong. His heart pounds in his chest as he reaches for the radio on his shoulder and forces back a scream.

“I need a unit at Eat Your Heart Out right this minute!” He shouts into the radio. He gets to the shop and bursts through the door so strongly that the glass on the door shatters when it hits the wall behind it, “Stiles!”

The sheriff runs behind the counter and feels his heartbreak, it shatters like the glass door at the sight of red blood pooling under his son. His breath catches and he chokes. He coughs and struggles to gain back his breathing. His son is pale, it’s a terrible contrast between the white floor and his red blood. It’s some sick joke, Noah is convinced, that this is some terrible joke. His hands shake as he reaches to his shoulder for his radio.

“I need a bus,” His voice shakes and he doesn’t hear the voices returning through the radio as he reaches down to press against the bleeding hole on Stiles’ chest to stop the blood flow. He feels the tears stinging his eyes as his memories flash in his mind. 

Stiles is seventeen years old and he’s applying to culinary school.

Stiles is twelve and he’s struggling to explain that he’s gay.

Stiles is ten and he’s lost his mother.

Stiles is seven and he’s in the kitchen baking cookies with Claudia.

Stiles is five and smiling as he introduces his new best friend, Scott.

Stiles is two and he’s giggling joyously with two brand new teeth in his gummy mouth.

Stiles is an hour old and Claudia is crying with joy as she names her son.

The memories flash painfully and Noah thinks, it can’t end like this. He’s too young, he’s too good. He pressed down harshly, ignoring the groan of pain that comes from his son who is hanging on to consciousness. 

“Just hang on, Stiles, just hang on kiddo.” He begs to his son. 

“Sheriff?” He hears a call from the door and looks up to see Parish and Derek run into the shop with paramedics hot on their tails. 

“He’s been shot, chest wound,” the sheriff gasps out. Derek and Parish feel their hearts squeeze painfully at the sight of a father standing over his injured son. Their friend is on the floor, bleeding out. They move quickly and pull the sheriff off of his son so the medics can get in there. Noah moves like a robot, out of the shop and into the ambulance with his son who is now being rolled up in a stretcher. The paramedics are bustling around Stiles, one is hanging an IV bag and the other is putting pressure on the wound. The sheriff puts a shaky hand on his son’s brown hair, stroking gently, unable to really see. He’s stuck in his memories.

 

. . .

 

It’s dark and cold. This swirling sea of darkness carries Stiles’ conscious mind, cradling him in a gentle but unescapable floating feeling. There is nothing, there is no light or sound. The vast emptiness doesn’t scare him, however, it feels calm. Despite the chill, he doesn’t feel threatened or afraid. He feels stuck, but not unpleasantly so. 

Gun shot wound to the chest. . . below left clavicle. . .

Decreased breath sounds in the right hemothorax. . .

X-ray. . .

Pericardial effusion. . . insert chest tube. . .

 

There’s no pain. There’s no stress. It’s quiet and peaceful. 

 

.              .               .

 

“The bullet entered below his left clavicle and punctured one of his lungs and his heart. We repaired the damage, we had to place a pacemaker in his right ventricle. Unfortunately, he’ll have it for the rest of his life. He was low on blood when he arrived but after 1500 cc. Of blood and we stabilized him.” Doctor Warner, chief of cardio at Beacon Memorial explains to the exhausted and traumatized sheriff, “Surgery went well and was relatively uneventful once he was stabilized. He’ll heal well, we’ll keep in under observation for a week and go from there. He’ll most likely require regular checkups to his heart and a new diet, potentially some physio but other than that, he’s doing well.”

“When is he going to wake up?” Noah asks, struggling to comprehend all that had happened to his son.

“He’ll wake up soon, sheriff. Don’t worry.” The doctor gives a painful smile. There’s never an easy way to handle seeing your son injured and near death. The doctors fight death on a daily basis but they don’t always win, being able to fix Stiles’ injuries, was a win. Lydia Martin stands in the room, holding Stiles's hand. Scott sits on the other side. Deputy Hale and his two sisters stand in a corner of the room, struggling to keep their tears from falling while Peter Hale stands outside the room with Melissa and Isaac, Boyd, and Erica. Every nurse stops to look inside the room, every doctor and occasionally the patients. They all knew Stiles. They all had some amount of friendship with him and they couldn’t believe that this could possibly have happened in their small town. The sheriff wants to rage. He wants to scream or cry or bash someone’s head in. He’s not sure which one to do first. One thing is for damn sure, however, the bakery is getting a security makeover. 

“He’ll be alright, Noah,” Melissa comes over and lays a gentle and supporting hand on his shoulder to let him know that she’s there for him. 

“This shouldn’t have even happened.” Noah’s voice is absolutely volatile and Melissa’s eyes widen at his sharp tone. She understands the sharp paternal glint in his eyes. She knows this is how she would be if Scott had been injured. 

“He’ll wake up soon, I just know it.” Melissa tries to console her friend. 

As time passes, it seems to crawl. There’s no way to pass the time when a son, a friend, a good man, is laying there injured. Somehow, more and more people show up to the quiet hallway in the recovery wing of Beacon Memorial. So they sit and wait, hoping for Stiles to wake up. That moment comes soon enough, a few hours later when the anesthesia wears off and Stiles is groaning into consciousness. He hurts, it burns and he’s so tired. His head is pounding and the pain in his chest is excruciating. When he wakes up, he can’t stop the pained whimper and the frantic jolt when his father takes his hand and tries to comfort him.

“Stiles, you’re okay, son. You’re gonna be okay.” His father says with a strained voice. Stiles looks up at him with tears in his eyes and pain in his voice.

“What-” Stiles is out of it, unsure of how he got to the hospital or what even happened. All he knows is pain.

“He’s probably in a lot of pain,” Melissa supplies. She squeezes into the corner where the machines are and administers another dose of morphine. Stiles squirms just a little and tries to wrap his head around what happened, “Take it easy, love, you’re in the hospital, you’ve just had major surgery to repair the bullet wound to the chest that you took during a robbery.”

“A rob-”

“You just need to focus on getting better, we’re going to take care of everything for you.” Isaac lays a gentle hand on his friend’s arm, stilling him.

“You’re going to be okay,” Lydia murmurs gently, “And if you ever get shot again . . .I’ll kill you.” Stiles laughs for a moment before cringing at the pain. He struggles to get his breath back and looks at his dad with unshed tears.

“I’m so tired,” Stiles cries, the emotions hitting him hard make his head hurt.

“It’s okay, son. Just sleep. We’ll be here for you, you won’t be alone.” Sheriff Stilinski rubs his son’s hair gently.

“I’m on call tonight so I’m going to stay with you.” Lydia smiles at her friend, “Melissa is staying too.”

“We’ll come to see you tomorrow, Stiles. We love you.” Erica struggles to hold back her tears and Boyd holds her tight, nodding in agreement.

“We’ll all stop by and see you, you’ll be tired of us.” Scott smiles gently.

Stiles nods and settles back down, letting the exhaustion take him and he’s soon slipping into the darkness. The audience in the room sags in relief and there’s an audible sigh. 

“You should go home, sheriff, get some sleep.” Scott lays a gentle hand on his long-time pseudo-father’s shoulder. His heart bleeds for the sheriff and his brother in everything but blood. 

“One of us will always be with him.” Erica urges the kind sheriff to go home. He looks about ready to drop. “You should go home and rest, Boyd and I can take you home if you like.”

The sheriff doesn’t want to leave his son’s side but he’s exhausted and he is about ready to pass out beside his son. He knows that Stiles will be in good hands and that as soon as he gets some rest, he can come back and be with Stiles. He’ll also need to figure out what to do about work while Stiles is recovering. 

“What are we going to do about the bakery?” He asks almost helplessly.

“The kids are all ready to take over for Stiles, Isaac and I can run the place in Stiles’ absence.” Erica assures him, “ Eat Your Heart Out won’t have any problems.”

The sheriff nods and allows himself to be led out of the room by Erica’s gentle but insistent arms. He looks back at his son and sighs tiredly, and finally wrenches himself away with a hopeful glance. Stiles woke up, he was assured that his son would make a full recovery. He repeats that in his head until he lays his head down on his pillow. 

He’ll be fine. 

 

                He’s alive. 



                                  He’ll be fine. 



                                                    He’s alive. 

.                      .                         .

 

When Stiles wakes up again, it's nearly four A.M. The beeping from his machines is tiresome and he's still in pain. He's annoyed and his temper makes his head hurt. Lydia is sitting on the edge of his bed, his table out and covered in her patient files. She's doing paperwork, her red hair tied up in a loose bun and a pair of glasses sitting low on the bridge of her nose. After med school and nearly six years of practicing medicine, her eyesight had gotten strained and the readers that sit on her nose never cease to annoy her, but she can't deny the necessity of them. She looks up at him and Stiles wants to laugh at the low hanging spectacles. 

"You're awake, good." Lydia's voice is soft but he can tell that she's been worried about him. 

"I got shot." Stiles grouses. He shifts to try and become more comfortable but there's only pain.

"I can't imagine that feels too good." Lydia huffs, "You're going to be okay, though. this is only temporary. You'll be up and walking here before you know it." She rubs a gentle hand on his shin, offering comfort.

"I saw his face, Lydia." Stiles' voice is strained as the events of the previous night begin to dawn on him. Emotion slams into his chest like a ton of bricks and it feels like his heart is too big for his chest. He feels so sick and there isn't a way to make it stop. Tears well up in his eyes and they burn, his cheeks turn pink and splotchy with heat, and he struggles not to let the sobs wrack from his injured chest. Lydia sees this and pushes the table out of her way. She maneuvers herself carefully to lay beside Stiles and takes him against her chest, stroking his cheek. She shushes his cries and wishes more than anything to take away his pain. 

"You're safe, honey, you're safe. We're gonna catch that son of a bitch and he'll never hurt anyone ever again." Lydia assures him, her voice is stone cold when addressing the man who hurt her friend and Stiles just nods and tries not to cry.

"Getting shot sucks." Stiles whines. Lydia laughs almost hysterically and nods.

"I'm sure it does," She laughs. 

"Do I get jello now?" 

"Yes, you can have jello." She chuckles. 

They spend the rest of the next few hours talking about everything and nothing. Lydia gets him a light snack to fill his stomach and lets the nurses know that he's awake. They run their tests and then they let him rest and watch crappy hospital TV. Lydia doesn't move from his room, any of her patient's page for her so she makes herself comfortable in the chair in her friend's room. When Melissa finds out that Stiles was awake, she runs to his side. She gives him a tight hug and smiles at him.

"Oh sweetheart, I'm so happy you're okay," She swallows thickly, keeping the tears at bay.

"Me too," Stiles chuckles. "How's dad?"

"He's shaken up. He was the one to find you, he saw the robber running out of the shop." She tells him, "He's resting at home now but I'm sure he'll be back by your side soon enough. Scott is staying with him."

"That's good, thank you." He smiles up at her with sheer gratitude and it takes her breath away. She nods and lets him know that she'll keep checking on him, but she has to do her rounds. Stiles understands. He looks at the clock and sees that it's almost five in the morning and feels a jolt of fear, "The shop-"

"The only thing you need to worry about right now is getting better. Isaac and Erica are going to be running the shop while you're recovering and the kids are all pitching in too." Lydia stops him.

"But-"

"You taught Liam how to do everything so how about you don't worry." Lydia interrupts in a stern tone. 

"Fine." Stiles grumbles. He relaxes into the bed and feels tired once again. "I think I'm just gonna sleep some more."

"Good," Lydia smiles at him, "I'll be right here, okay?"

"'Kay"

Chapter Text

There’s always a moment that changes a person. One minute, they’re happy-go-lucky, innocent, bright and shiny. Then something happens to them that turns them into someone that they don’t recognize. They’re not so innocent anymore. They’re not the same. For Stiles, that was when his mother died. He had been so young, he never thought that anything bad could possibly happen to him or to his mother, the light of his life. She woke him up every morning with a smile and a cup of fresh hot coffee in her hand. She pulled the splinters out of his fingers and kissed all of his injuries. She could get the video games off the top shelf . She was his mother. She could do anything. . .She was a superhero in his eyes.

Her dying. . .was almost sacrilegious. It was impossible. Yet it happened. All of Stiles’ childlike wonder and hope. . .all of his innocence and optimism, well it all but disappeared. He was never the same after this event. These life-altering events that happen so often, Stiles was able to see them from a mile away. After losing his mother, it was like he developed a sixth sense. He was practically able to sniff out tragedy. Stiles wasn’t sure that anything worse than his mother dying could possibly happen to him. Nothing could be worse than losing his superhero. However, getting shot in his own shop is pretty high on the list. Not worse than losing his mother, but it’s a close second. 

Retraining his lungs to accept air easily, the constant ache in his muscles and the exhaustion puts him out of the game quickly. The day he was discharged was complicated and tiring. He still ached and was constantly short of breath. There was a perpetual dusting of sweat across his forehead and neck with the effort it took to function. His father stands by his side, helping him sign the discharge papers while Laura and Peter stand outside the room looking in. Melissa walks in with her arms behind her back and a smile on her face.

“We have a little surprise for you. . .” She quickly reveals what she’s hiding behind her back, a large red heart-shaped pillow. It says Eat Your Heart Out with an anatomically correct heart with a bite taken outdrawn on it. The pillow is covered in signatures and well wishes, there isn’t a spot without a signature.

“Aw, I love it!” Stiles makes grabby hands and Melissa hands it over.

“It’s a heart pillow, after surgery you’ll need the extra support. Cough, sneeze, exercise, do it with the heart pillow.” She tells him with her stern nurse voice.

“I will, thank you so much, I’m so grateful.” Stiles smiles at the pillow, excited to read every message. His eyes burned with emotion but he choked it back and accepted a gentle kiss to his forehead and waved goodbye as she went back to work. His father ruffles his hair playfully and when he’s all ready to go, his nurse and his friends help him into a wheelchair. 

After being discharged from the hospital with more flowers, candies, cards, and stuffed animals than he could possibly shake a stick at, he moves into Laura’s house without a complaint. She has a spare bedroom with plenty of room and is less than five minutes from his father. While he’s getting better, he needs someone to keep an eye on him. He’s agreed to let Isaac run the shop while he takes a brief leave of absence in order to heal. So he’s spent an entire week in bed, being visited constantly by his friends and almost half the town with ‘ I’m sorry you got shot at work, he’s a casserole for your pain’. 

“I’ve been loving not having to cook dinner lately,” Laura chuckles, “But I am running out of fridge space for all these casseroles.” She’s trying to shove another green bean casserole into her freezer that was just gifted to Stiles along with a plate of homemade brownies from Ms. Henderson, an elderly woman in town who Stiles has known all his life. He gave her a hug and a warm thanks, accepting her get-well gifts with a bright smile, knowing just how difficult it is for an eighty-three-year-old woman to get around let alone make a casserole and brownies. He made a mental note to drop off a plate of her favorite scones at her home when he’s feeling better. 

“Yeah. . .why does everything think that casseroles are the best get-well gift?” Stiles wonders out loud, “I’m grateful but it’s like. . .can't you just bring me some curly fries or something?” Laura laughs and nods in agreement.

“Well, why don’t we have everyone over tonight? I’ll put a bunch of these casseroles in the oven and we can have a casserole buffet night?” Laura proposes.

“That’s a good idea, I can call Isaac and have him bring all the leftovers from the bakery,” Stiles suggests from the sitting area where Laura tucked him into the fluffiest throw blanket she owns. He’d like to deny it, but he’s enjoyed being babied by everyone. 

“Sounds good, let me go light the beacon.” She sighs dramatically.

“Can we heat up the beef stew that Liam’s mom made me?” Stiles calls.

“I’m on it!” Stiles listens to her banging around the kitchen while he takes a puff or two from his inhaler, feeling short of breath despite not having done anything. 

Laura sees Stiles take a breath from his inhaler and feels her chest tighten. She knows that Stiles has been struggling. He’s trying to put on a brave face and for all his visitors, he seems like his usual self, but Laura can see through it. She sees when Stiles can’t breathe when he grips his heart pillow tight and exerts all the energy he has. She sees when he struggles to get out of bed in the morning to just walk downstairs or the way that he looks through the peephole in the door with fear in his eyes instead of just opening the door when it rang like he used to. He’s guarded now, untrusting now, scared now. She doesn’t like seeing her friend living like this. She doesn’t like seeing Stiles hurt so much. She hates coming home from work and seeing that her friend hadn’t moved all day because he didn’t feel safe. She knows that Stiles won’t ever be the same again.

The investigation into who hurt Stiles is slow going. Everyone has really banned together to try and find this guy but he seems to have disappeared altogether. Isaac has been dealing with the insurance company and the banks to file for the loss as well as working with police to clean up the bakery to be able to open up once again, but with Stiles’ blood staining the dark wood behind the register. . .well, no one really wants to continue looking at it. So he gets to work on getting the floors redone, but he can’t do that until the bakery is no longer a crime scene. It’s distressing for everyone involved. For now, the bakery is operating as delivery only. By the end of the first week, they’re getting the floors redone and Isaac can’t wait. He’s also called a security team out to the store to install security cameras and a police panic button underneath the counter. Isaac wishes he could add more security measures but short of a metal detector, there’s not much else he can do. 

The good sheriff has spread out his contacts far and wide looking for information on the robber that shot his son. He found out that based on Stiles’ statement and description of the man, he’s been hopping from county to county, across the country, robbing small shops at gunpoint. There are five other cases that were confirmed, he had robbed five other stores with definitive proof. Those five shops had cameras that identified the perp. Showing Stiles, the photos of the robber had been hard. The sheriff sat at his son’s side, a menacing-looking manilla folder in his hands and Derek at the door in their uniforms was foreboding. They showed Stiles five photos. Five different men, one of them the man identified in the other five shop robberies. 

“There’s no pressure, son. Just answer to the best of your ability. Do you see the man who robbed the bakery and shot you in these photos?” His father asks carefully. Stiles takes a deep breath to steady his racing heart, it doesn’t feel good when it races like this. He looks over the photos and almost instantly, his eyes land on the third photo. His face pales and he turns green. Derek is quick with the garbage can by his bedside and puts it under his head to catch the vomit that flies into it, Noah is just as fast with placing his heart pillow against his chest the moment his son turned green around the gills. Noah feels sick too, seeing his son go through this. Stiles groans and coughs, taking deep rattling breaths to try and get himself under control, his arms tight around his pillow. His eyes burn with unshed tears and his throat aches. 

“That’s him,” Stiles reaches a shaking finger out to point at the third photo. It’s a mugshot for a prior robbery that the man had done but served his time and had been paroled a year ago.

“I’m so sorry, Stiles.” His father rubs his back in a gentle motion. 

“Is. . .did you catch him?” 

“He’s skipped town, it fits his M.O. He bounces from town to town and robs a local store, shooting whoever sees him.” His father tells him, “ Eat Your Heart Out was his sixth robbery.”

Stiles thinks this over, struggling to wrap his head around this.

“Am I-am I the only one to have lived to tell the tale?” It’s a weak joke but it makes his father’s mood tighten. Noah doesn’t want to answer that question honestly, but Derek takes the choice from him.

“There were two other people to survive attacks,” Derek answers, “One in Tucson, Arizona and another in Woodland, California.” Stiles absorbs the information silently. 

“What happens next?” 

“Well, now we put out an APB for his arrest. We track him down and bring him in, hopefully in California so we don’t have to extradite.” His father says. A terrible silence fills the room and Stiles feels exhausted all of a sudden.

“Is it okay if I just. . .take a nap? I’m kinda tired.” Stiles asks weakly.

“Of course, we’ll give you some time.” Derek nods, “Can we bring you anything?”

“No. . .no I just want to rest.”

“Okay kiddo,” His father stands and takes all of the papers off the bed. “Just yell if you need anything, okay?” Stiles nods and adjusts himself to lean back in bed. He covered himself with a soft throw blanket decorated in colorful cupcakes, it had been gifted to him by a seven-year-old from the hospital that he had sat with through her chemo. She practically begged her parents to get it for her to give to Stiles. He pulled it over her shoulders and leans on his heart pillow, feeling relief in the pressure against his chest. He tries to not remember the eyes, the nose, the face, the anger. He tries to block out his attacker’s face but it’s near impossible and it only makes him want to cry harder. He feels the panic at the back of his throat but he chokes it back and squeezes his eyes shut, focuses on the cool drops of water running down the bridge of his nose and falling on his pillow as if to give his hot forehead relief. He sucks back a painful breath and bites back the scream, the frustration. 

Tomorrow will be better, he knows.

 

. . .

Stiles’ eyes are slow to open, he managed not to have any nightmares so he woke up feeling well-rested for once. The dark rings around his eyes seemed to ease just a little and he doesn’t feel so tired. He counts his lucky stars that he was able to get some sleep. It’s his stomach that wakes him up this time and he sees the bright sunlight shining through the curtains. It’s morning and he’s tired of sitting around Laura’s house with nothing to do. With a loud sigh, he makes his way slowly to the kitchen. The long legs of his batman pajama pants keep the tops of his feet warm and the long sleeve, oversized Beacon Hills PD shirt help hide his thinned frame. He hadn’t been eating as much as of late. 

Stiles can hear pots and pans clanging around in the kitchen and wonders if Laura took another day off to keep an eye on him. When he finally shuffles into the kitchen, he’s stunned to see Peter Hale, in comfortable-looking blue jeans and a soft-looking sweater. The man just looks comfortable. It makes his heart swell. 

“Goodmorning, Stiles.” Peter smiles, “I have made you breakfast now hurry up and eat. I have plans for us today.” Stiles isn’t sure where to begin so he blinks his eyes and clears his throat.

“What are we doing?”

“Well, I’ve taken the day off, I’m taking you to your check-up and then we’re going to stop by the bakery so you can see how the shop is, then we’re going to spend the afternoon at the park. I have a basket of all your favorite foods sitting in a picnic basket waiting in the fridge at the bakery.” Peter says, handing Stiles a hot cup of coffee. He takes it happily and sits in an island chair. Peter watches the younger man’s movements. He sees the ginger movements, the quiet pain in his face and the slightly less aggressive bags under his eyes.

“I don’t know about going to the-”

“At some point, you have to go back there,” Peter says gently, serving Stiles a plate of eggs, bacon and french toast. “I know you’re scared and I know how hard it must be. The bakery was your safe place and now it’s been broken into. It’s been damaged and compromised. It’s where you were hurt and it won’t be easy to overcome that feeling, but it’s safe now. It’s been refortified and now no one can hurt you.”

Stiles is silent as he thinks. He misses the shop, but it’s also the place where all of his nightmares begin. He hates that this has made his safe place a house of horrors and he especially hates that he’s letting it get to him. Stiles wishes he were stronger. He wishes-

“Look at me,” Peter is somehow in front of Stiles at that moment and places a gentle but firm hand under the man’s chin, lifting his eyes to his piercing blue ones, “You are not weak for having these feelings. You survived a horrible event, you survived something that could have killed you and nearly did. So do not beat yourself up over not being able to go back to the location of what I’m sure is now the center of all your nightmares.”

“I don’t want to be afraid,” Stiles whispers. Peter gives him a sad smile.

“You might not remember but twenty years ago, a woman by the name of Katherine Argent seduced my then fifteen-year-old nephew and not only emotionally and physically abused him, but also trespassed onto the family property and set fire to our home.” Stiles’ eyes widen and his mouth goes completely dry, “The Hale family had been living in that home since the founding of the town in the late eighteenth century. We’d built that home, tore it down and rebuilt it over again. That was our home, our identity, our safe place. It took one mentally disturbed woman who thought we were werewolves of all things to destroy centuries of history.”

“I remember the fire. . .I was so young.”

“For a long time, none of us could return to the old house, or rather its ashes. My parents died in that fire. Talia, my sister, died in that fire. It took a long time for us to be able to even set foot in the preserve.” Peter shakes his head, taking a moment to press down hard on the painful emotions. “Now, I’m rebuilding the home again in memory of my family. My parents, my sister. . .they wouldn’t have wanted us to leave the land we grew up. They wouldn’t have wanted us to give up the place our ancestors built for us.”

“Is it still painful going to that place?”

“Yes,” Peter admits, “It’s so hard sometimes I can hardly step foot on the property it makes me sick. Though the pain of being there stings, it gets better with time. Time heals wounds, Stiles. Not to say that you’ll get over this event and the pain it has brought you, but you’ll get stronger. You’ll become stronger than the pain.”

“I’m afraid to go outside, Peter.” Stiles’ voice cracks and finally admitting it to himself and out loud somehow breaks the dam. Tears start falling and his chest hurts at the rapid rise and fall of his breathing. Peter doesn’t hesitate to take Stiles into his arms and hold him tight against his firm chest. Peter’s arms squeeze to hold in Stiles’ sobs. The younger man cries on his shoulder freely, finally letting the build-up of anxiety and emotion release. All of his friends, including Peter, knew that at some point, the emotions would get the better of him and would be released with so much power after being contained for too long.

“It’s okay,” Peter murmurs into his hair, “It’s okay to be scared, but you need to be brave too. You’re one of the most giving, loving, and outgoing people I’ve ever known. This town knows your heart. You are brave, you’ve just had a fright. You’ve gone through something that terrifies you. Let us help you move forward. Let your friends help you be brave again.”

Stiles cries and leans on Peter, drinking in solid comfort. Peter holds him through the tears, as silent support. Peter isn’t sure how long he stood there with Stiles in his arms but it doesn’t care. He would hold Stiles forever if he needed to. There’s no question that Peter understands Stiles, unlike most others. He feels a kindred spirit within the younger man and he wants nothing more than to fan the flames. Spending the last week with Stiles, helping him in the house and spending nights curled on the couch with case files in his lap and Stiles at his side quietly reading into the night has helped him see another side to Stiles. He sees the public persona. The baker, the giver, the saintlike side of Stiles. Then he saw the private persona, the dedicated, loyal, strong, and beautiful soul that he possesses. The qualities that Peter values in the people he associates with and could possibly dedicate the rest of his life to are all embodied in Stiles. So standing with him as his friend, as his support system, is no chore for Peter.