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A Blossoming Romance

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At age twenty-seven Stiles Stilinski feels a certain satisfaction with his life that he ten years ago never thought he’d feel in his home town. Back then he wanted to go away, see the world, become someone. He has seen the world now, he’s studied in New York and Los Angeles and he and his best friend Scott went to Germany for two weeks (Stiles barely remembers anything from that trip except the fact that Germens make good beer). His seventeen year old self would be horrified by the fact that he now feels most at home in Beacon Hills.

He has owned the flower shop on Main Street for a year and a half now and the business is blooming. (Get it? Blooming.) He has a two room apartment a few blocks away and he walks to his shop every day unless the weather prevents him from it – if it’s not raining or is too hot or too cold, or snowing, or if he’s overslept. Okay, he walks maybe once a week.

He enjoys his life as it is even if he does miss the warmth of another person in his bed and coming home to someone who loves him. He bought a cat for this purpose, but Narcissa barely even flicks an ear towards the door when he comes home and only ever sleeps in his bed when he wants to jerk off, and he’s not doing that with the cat in his bed. She’s a self-loving, arrogant bitch who only pretends to love him sometimes so she’ll get head scratches and awakes him at un-godly hours in the morning – especially if he’s had a hard time falling asleep – wanting him to refill her bowl, even though it’s half-full.

According to Scott this behavior isn’t that special for a cat, but Scott’s two cats follow him around like dogs and when Stiles picks one of them up and plants them in his lap they stay there, they don’t glare and leave like Cissy does.

Stiles clearly got the worst cat from that litter.

Stiles gets whatever he wants for free from the coffee shop next to his shop, which has at least doubled his daily intake of both caffeine and sugar. He provides the coffee shop with potted plants and waters them twice a week because the owner Erica or any of the college students that work there extra never seem to remember doing it. When Stiles came back from his two week vacation a few months ago all the flowers in Erica’s shop were dead because Stiles hadn’t told his employees that they were supposed to water Erica’s plants and Erica hadn’t remembered to ask them to either.

Next to Stiles’ shop is a door that leads up to apartments above the shops. He knows almost everyone who lives there; Mr. Sherman always comes in on Fridays to buy his wife flowers, Stiles tries to give him a discount but Paul always refuses; the widow McLain always buys flowers on Mondays, also refusing Stiles’ tries to give her a discount; Heather, the thirty-two year old single mother of two pairs of twins never buys anything, but whenever she walks by Stiles hands her a bouquet of flowers, saying that he’s going to throw them away anyway when she tries to refuse and she always accepts in the end and her face light up as she smiles at the flowers.

The only one of the residents that Stiles never gives any flowers is Derek Hale. He remembers Derek from high school. Derek was one of the cool jocks; he was a senior when Stiles was a freshman. Derek went away at college, along with his girlfriend Paige, who died in a car crash just a few months into their college years. Derek has just recently moved back to his hometown and even if Stiles is quite certain that Derek doesn’t remember him, he always greets the surly man whenever they meet. Derek nods at him, but doesn’t stop to chat as so many others do – as the Sheriff’s kid everyone knows who Stiles is even if he doesn’t know them.

Stiles might turn around and watch Derek’s ass when he walks past (it’s a great ass and Derek wears too tight jeans if he doesn’t want people to look at his ass) (victim blaming, so not cool, Stiles), but other than that he doesn’t really think much about Derek; his life continues on after Derek has moved in and Stiles continues to get new batches of flowers delivered to the shop every Monday.

To say that Stiles is surprised when the door to the shop pings and Derek suddenly stands in the middle of his shop, looking lost as he frowns at the flowers in front of him as if he’s afraid they’re going to eat him. Derek needn’t worry, Stiles doesn’t have any flesh eating plants.

“Hello,” Stiles chimes happily and service-minded as ever, “Can I help you?”

Derek turns to him, his eyes look a bit red at the edges – has he been crying? Stiles’ smile turns to a frown. Before he has the time to ask if anything wrong, Derek grabs the closest flowers to him, not even looking at them and slams them down on the counter.

Stiles gives him a bit of discount that Derek probably doesn’t even notice because as far as Stiles saw he never checked the price tag on the bucket the flowers sat in. After paying, Derek grunts a thanks in a thick voice – he must’ve been crying, Stiles realizes, and is equal bits worried and curious (okay, maybe seventy-five percent curious) – before he grabs his flowers and leaves, the flowers clutched tightly in his fist.

Stiles cleans the counter from the flower petals and leaves that fell off from Derek’s forceful handling and wonders if maybe it’s the anniversary of Paige’s death.

 

He quickly puts Derek out of his mind and doesn’t really remember the encounter – however unusual it had been – until it happens the next day again. Derek grabs another bouquet of flowers that he slams down on the counter and then pays in cash before forcefully grabbing the flowers again and leaving in the same scowl-y way he’d entered in.

It’s weird and unusual, but Stiles is rather busy and doesn’t really think much of it. Until it happens a third time. Stiles’ dad – the Sheriff – always says that one time’s an incident, two’s a coincidence and  three’s a pattern. Stiles has no idea what four means. Or five.

When Derek comes in on Monday, the sixth time in equally many days Stiles has had opened – he’s closed on Saturdays and Sundays – Stiles asks if he’s looking for something special.

“These,” Derek says and grabs a bouquet of flowers, barely even looking at them.

“Okay,” Stiles says. “You like flowers, huh?”

Derek grunts in reply, which could be affirmative or negative.

“I like the colors of these,” Stiles says. It’s not a lie but he likes almost all flowers, but Derek’s silence is getting to him.

Derek grunts again before he leaves.

Stiles has no idea what to make of this. The behavior starts to really bug him so the next time he goes over to Erica's coffee shop he leans against the counter and tells her all about it.

“Weird,” she agrees.

“Maybe he's allergic to some flower and tries to figure out which one it is,” Isaac, Erica's only employee who's not also a college student, suggests as he foams the milk for Stiles' latte.

“Is he serious?” Stiles asks Erica who shrugs.

“Half the time he's not, I've yet to figure out his tells.”

“Maybe he used to go some place else and they closed so now he has to go to you?”

“Could be,” Stiles says, but his shop is the only one in town and he doubts Derek drove ten miles just to buy flowers for a year and a half. He tells Erica and Isaac this and they frown in thought.

“He doesn't seem like a flower guy,” Erica says.

Isaac scoffs, “and how would you tell? He doesn’t wear a shirt with flowers on it?”

“His scowl,” Stiles suggests. “No one who likes flowers is that angry with life.”

“I think he just has an angry resting face,” Erica disagrees.

They've discussed different reasons for why Derek Hale buys so many flowers for quite some time – Stiles' favorite is the theory that he has a lab in his apartment and trying to make a potion to turn himself into a superhero (Isaac says he'd be the villain, but Stiles and Erica can totally see him as the tortured anti-hero) – when Erica's boyfriend Boyd snorts loud enough for them to hear. He's been cleaning the counter, even though he doesn't work there.

“Something you wanna share?” Isaac asks sweetly.

“You're all idiots,” Boyd sounds as if just talking to them lowers his own IQ. “Obviously he's trying to ask you out but can't man up the courage to do so.”

“What do you mean obviously?” Stiles interjects, his voice a bit higher than usual.

“I've seen him watching you whenever he passes and he always checks to see if you're there.”

“What?” Stiles says as Isaac says, “Why would he want Stilinski?”

“Shut it, I'm awesome!”

“No, you're like a fungus, you grow on people until they realize they can't get rid of you.”

“Isaac!” Erica reproaches, though Stiles doesn’t like Isaac that much either so he doesn’t take offense.

“Guys, you're missing the point,” he interrupts. “Derek wants this,” he gestures to his body, “If Boyd is to trust and I trust Boyd.”

“I do too,” Erica chimes in.

“Thank you, darling,” Boyd states drily. Erica gives him a sweet smile.

“But why? And how?” Isaac asks, reminding Stiles of a confused puppy – Isaac reminds Stiles of puppies quite a lot. Bad, disobedient puppies.

“Not important!” Stiles decides. “What’s important is what the hell am I gonna do?”

“Ask him out of course,” Erica says at if it's that simple.

Erica's right though, it could be that simple. Stiles is a grown man, he could just ask Derek for a coffee the next time the man comes in.

 

It's not that simple. Stiles is a coward and every time Derek walks through the door he feels the words get stuck and he just babbles on about how to take care of today's purchase, though he doubts Derek keeps all the flowers in his own apartment, it'd be filled with flowers by now if he did. Stiles wonders what Derek does with the flowers.

At last Erica grows tired of stiles whining by her counter and writes a short message on a card: would you like to have coffee with me? Along with Stiles’ phone number. She orders Stiles to leave the card and a bouquet of flowers at Derek's door.

Stiles does this after he’s just seen Derek leave (he doesn’t want the man in question to see him and reject him face to face).

And then he freaks out for the rest of the night.

 

The next day Stiles wakes up after getting just a couple hours sleep. He feels wrecked and tired and wants to stay in bed for the whole day, but he knows he has to open the shop and that Derek will swing by in the afternoon. Even if he fears rejection he can't help but hope that Boyd is right – he most often is – that Derek will actually want to go out with him.

The day is slow and there are not even that many costumers for him to occupy himself with. His employee Liam – Stiles’ own college student employee – sits by the counter playing Farmville on his phone.

“How about you take care of some real plants?” Stiles asks but Liam doesn't even seem to hear him, too busy brushing his cows or whatever the appeal of that game is.

He's starting to fear his employee might have a bit of a problem, but at least it's not drugs. (If Liam had had a drug problem Stiles can totally see Liam being the kind of addict who tries to get high on whatever's available, which means he'd probably try to snort flowers or something.)

All the flowers in the shop look perfect; no brown leaves in sight. It's close to three – about an hour before Derek usually drops by – when stiles gets the call he's feared since he was eleven and realized that his parents weren’t immortal.

“Stiles, he's fine, but he's been shot in the foot,” his dad's fiancée (and also Scott's mom) tries to calm him down.

Stiles doesn't listen to her, she's a nurse so she's used to see gunshot wounds and it probably has to be fatal for her to even bat an eye. He's not sure Liam even hears him when Stiles tells him to take care of the shop as he leaves for the hospital.

His dad is, true to Melissa’s words, fine.

“You know that new deputy?” his dad tells him and Stiles nods, “Apparently he hasn't learnt about gun safety and - yeah, you see what happened. It barely even touched me.”

“You had to have stitches,” Stiles interjects.

“I said barely.”

It's not until Stiles checks his phone later that night that he remembers Derek and that he'd so anxiously awaited the man's reply.

There are several texts on his phone – all from Liam.

Someone just came in and bought all those new flowers you've been mooning about.

He looked kinda pissed.

I thought he was gonna rob me.

His eyebrows screamed murder but he bought flowers.

There were like 20 bouquets.

He didn't even look at them, just grabbed em and left

After paying ofc

Do I get a raise for dealing with these kinds of customers?

Stiles knows that the person was Derek. But why did Derek buy all the flowers? That’s some weird behavior, right there. But then again, Derek’s been there once every day for Stiles doesn’t even know how long.

No, you don’t get a raise, Stiles sends and then after a moment’s hesitation, Did he ask for me or say anything?

Dude, I told you, he didn’t say anything! Just took the flowers and left.

There’s barely a moment of silence before Stiles’ phone buzzes again.

After paying.

Stiles sighs in defeat and wonders what the hell that means. He wonders if Derek will come by the next day or if this was the last time. Maybe he’s been looking for a special flower and now he’s found it? Maybe he is some mad scientist trying to turn himself into a superhero and this particular flower was the right one?

Stiles doesn’t sleep well that night either.

 

Derek doesn’t come by the next day.

Stiles feels dejected as he locks the front door to the shop, turning to sign to closed. He gathers the day’s garbage and goes out to the back to the dumpster in the backyard. He lifts the lid and throws in the bag when something colorful catches his eye.

There, at the bottom of the dumpster are several bouquets of flowers. A very specific kind of flower. The very same kind of lily Stiles left with the note asking Derek out. The same lily Derek bought all bouquets of.

It’s weird, but Stiles knows a rejection when he sees one.

He swallows hard a couple times, he wasn’t prepared for it to hurt this much.

 

It’s been four days and Derek hasn't come by the store since he bought all the flowers. Stiles considered ordering the same lilies again but the flowers he'd once liked would now only remind him of Derek and yet another rejection in his life. He saw Derek leave his apartment earlier that day. He thought Derek had hesitated just a moment outside the shop’s door, but then he'd continued on.

When he drops by Erica’s store in the afternoon she convinces him to go out with her, Boyd and Isaac. Not that Stiles need that much convincing. He wants to get drunk and forget his life.

The bar is loud and crowded and Erica buys the first round for them all.

“I’m writing you out of my will,” Stiles tells Boyd serenely after his third drink.

“I wasn’t even aware I was in your will at all?”

“You’re right,” Stiles realizes after a few moments of thought. “I’m not writing you in it ever. You’ll get nothing when I’m gone.”

Boyd doesn’t really comment on that and Stiles turns to see if someone interesting might catch his eye. He’s horny and he wants someone to warm his bed, if only for a few hours. Hell, he’ll settle for a quick handjob in the bathrooms. He wants someone dark and with light-colored eyes. Preferably muscular, but not like they’re on steroids. If their eyebrows can communicate on their own, then that’s fine too.

Stiles groans and bangs his head against the table.

“What’s the matter, sweetie?” Erica asks and rubs his back.

“I’m looking for a hook-up but I want them to look like Derek. I hate your boyfriend.”

Erica (or Boyd) don’t seem to care about his words at all, they probably know that he doesn’t really hate Boyd.

“Your evening might be getting worse, but Derek’s here,” Isaac says.

Despite the fact that Stiles earlier had stated that he never wanted to see Derek ever again, his head whip up so quickly that he might crack something in his neck. His eyes search out Derek almost immediately, he’s at the other side of the bar at a corner table along with two women.

“The one to the left is his sister, Cora,” Erica says. “She’s my age.”

Erica’s two years younger than Stiles and Isaac and Stiles didn’t know her until he opened up the flower shop right next to her coffee shop, so it’s not surprising that he doesn’t recognize Derek’s younger sister. Her hair is brown and she laughs at something the other woman says. Derek rolls his eyes, but a small smile is playing on his lips. The other woman – also dark haired, but her hair is more black than brown – touches Derek’s arm and he smiles at her. Looks like he wasn’t hung up on Paige after all. How silly of Stiles to think he’d be hung up on some high school crush.

“He probably bought all the flowers for her,” Stiles says and glares half-heartedly at Boyd. “I’m never listening to you again.”

Boyd looks like it’s a fair deal and like he doesn’t care much.

“I’ve seen them together a few times,” Isaac says and Stiles turns his glare to him.

“You couldn’t mention this earlier?”

“I didn’t know they were a thing,” he says and honestly, how stupid can a guy get? Of course, they’re a thing. One gorgeous person deserves another; ergo Derek deserves a hot dark-haired babe.

“I hate my life,” Stiles grumbles. “I’m going to go order something. What d’you want?”

“Is that such a good idea?” Erica asks and Stiles glares at her, she doesn’t yield so he turns and head for the bar. He’s upset, he’s allowed one night of intoxication. He’ll regret it tomorrow and Erica can say I told you so then.

Stiles tries to get the bartender’s attention when he feel another body press up to his side. Out of habit more than anything he turns to see who it is, only to come face to face with Derek freaking Hale. His eyes are green and brown and blue and Stiles wants to drown in them. He also wants to rub his face over Derek’s stubble and see if it leaves marks on his face – and his body, if he’s to be honest.

“Derek, hey, hi,” Stiles says and Derek gives him a small smile and Stiles’ mouth – the traitor! – smiles back at him.

“How are you?” Derek asks and Stiles lies, says it’s good.

He asks how Derek is. Derek’s also good.

Stiles considers pretending to stumble and fall into Derek’s arms (in this scenario Derek would be a gentleman and catch him, not just watch him fall like timber) but he’s standing still and it would be weird to fall while standing still. Not that Stiles hasn’t done that before. Sober.

“Why haven’t you dropped by?” Stiles asks and god, Stilinski, how needy can you get? Does he really feel he needs Derek’s rejection face to face as well?

Derek scratches at his beard a bit awkwardly, and here it comes, the rejection.

“I thought about it and, well, I don’t really have a reason anymore, do I?”

Stiles guesses he means that the lady has been perfectly wooed. Stiles considers her to be rather dumb if she needed that many flowers to be wooed.

“You can always buy your girlfriend flowers anyway. Girls appreciate them. Trust me, I know all about it. About flowers, I mean, not girls. I know barely nothing about girls.”

Derek looks confused, which is a cute look on him. Stiles must be drunker than he thought if he thinks a guy is cute, but Derek is and Stiles kind of wants to take him home and dress him in soft sweaters and keep him forever. Cissy would probably love him, too.

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“What do you call her then? Partner? Lover?”

Derek looks even more confused, his eyebrows drawn together.

“The one by your table?” Stiles suggests and wonders if Derek’s drunk too, if he’s forgotten his own girlfriend.

Stiles motions for the table, where the two women are watching them with interest. The girlfriend waves at him and the sister looks like she wants to keep her brother away from Stiles.

“I don’t know which one of them you’re talking about, if it’s my older or younger sister you’re referring to,” Derek says and Stiles’ mouth drop open in an unattractive way – he’s been told by Lydia countless of times that it is unattractive, but he still does it, he can’t help it.

“Sister?” Stiles repeats dumbly. “But what about-? Who did you-? Why did you buy all the flowers if not for a girl?”

Derek looks quite embarrassed at this question and Stiles understands.

“Dude, it’s okay to like flowers even if you’re a guy. I mean, I’m a guy and I like flowers. Well, duh, I own a flower shop, of course I like flowers. But I mean, you don’t have to be gay just because you like flowers. I like flowers and I’m… Okay, bad example ‘cause I’m like fifty percent gay. But it’s not because I like flowers, okay? It’s okay for a manly man like yourself to like flowers.”

Stiles prays for the ground to open up and swallow him – sinkholes are a real thing – but nothing happens. Derek looks as if he has no idea what to do or says.

“So you-?” Derek begins and clears his throat. “I thought you knew why I came by, that you helped me out by sending me those flowers?”

“Helping you out? I was asking you out!”

Had Stiles been sober he had never yelled that last part out loud. A few patrons of the bar turn to look at them, but then quickly return to their own conversations when Derek glares at them.

“You were?” Derek asks. “But- when?”

“With the flowers?”

“I don’t know flower language,” Derek says and Stiles frowns.

“No, I wrote on a card. Asking you out. Giving you my number. You never called. And then you bought all the lilies and threw them away, so I got my answer.”

Derek’s ears turn an adorable shade of pink.

“You weren’t supposed to know about that.”

“The rejection? How were you going to reject me without me knowing?”

“I didn’t- I never saw the note. I didn’t reject you. I wouldn’t reject you.”

Stiles’ mouth drops open again and Derek gives him a small, slightly embarrassed smile.

“I- uh- I’m allergic to the flowers – to the ones you sent. I was trying to find out which one I reacted to and I thought you were helping me and-”

“Oh, my god! That’s so dumb!” Stiles laughs. Derek winces and looks embarrassed, but there’s also a small smile playing on his lips.

Derek steps closer and suddenly Stiles has a bit of a hard time pulling air into his lungs. He gets a whiff of Derek’s cologne, something dark and musky.

“Ask me out again,” Derek says and Stiles shakes his head, a smile playing on his lips.

“Nu-uh, it’s your time. I brought you flowers.”

“I’ll bring you home,” Derek whispers, he’s so close that Stiles can feel his warm breath on his lips. He kind of forgets what they’re talking about and leans in to kiss Derek. Derek meets him half-way there, mouth warm and wet under Stiles’, and his hands warm and firm on Stiles’ waist.

 

“I’ll let you sniff all new flowers to make sure you’re not allergic,” Stiles decides later, when his brain is back online again.

He’s lying on back on his bed, Derek right next to him. And Narcissa right next to Derek, purring and enjoying Derek’s hand that pats her head. Of course Stiles’ cat likes Derek better than him. He can’t really say he blames her though. He likes Derek better than he likes her as well. Yeah, he likes Derek quite a lot.