"Hale & Daughters Funeral Home," Derek says dully.
"Oh ho! And which daughter are you?"
Derek casts his eyes up to the ceiling. It's going to be one of those calls. "I'm Derek, sir. Can I he—"
The caller tuts. "Doesn't sound like a very good name for a daughter."
"I'm one of the sons, actually. Can—"
"Hah! Bet there's a story there, huh? Favoritism in the family? Bitter sibling rivalry? Torrid affairs and illegitimate children?"
"Just a long line of women in the mortuary sciences. Can I help you, sir?"
"Definitely a story," the caller decides.
Derek holds in a sigh.
Cora comes back in from her lunch break then and catches his expression as she approaches the desk. She smirks.
Derek mimes shooting himself in the head.
"Perfect. You can fill in that Tuesday night opening," Cora replies without missing a beat, and sails past him. Formaldehyde hits Derek's nose a second later, still sharp and repulsive even though the scent was practically embedded in the walls of his childhood home, in the soft fabrics of his mother's sweaters, in the stale finger sandwiches and funeral potatoes Aunt Felicia sometimes brought home. Formaldehyde is a smell you never get used to.
"By the way," Cora calls back a second later, "that creepy van's sitting out front again. Do something about it before the rest of the cartel turns up."
Derek rolls his eyes, just as his caller buzzes up into his ear like a mosquito.
"Daughter Derek? Are you still there, Daughter Derek?"
"Sorry," Derek apologizes, unconvincingly. "You were saying, your Great Aunt Tilda died?"
After he's penned in Great Aunt Tilda for next Tuesday night—his suicide will have to wait for another day—he loses six games of solitaire in rapid succession, changes the design of the cards, and loses three more games before he switches the setting down to Easy and finally wins a game. He gets an email from Audible.com pestering him to reactivate his audiobook subscription, and is yet again too lazy to scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe from further emails, and simply archives it. He takes another phone call, but this time is luckily not subjected to another round of I Recognize the Gender Binary, Aren't I Clever?
The van is still outside when he passes by twenty minutes later to check for the mail.
The mail, unlike the van, is absent. It's been late the last few days, their usual postman on vacation and his substitute preferring to start from the other end of the route.
Derek scowls out the window at the unmarked white van parked across the street.
This is day three of the Van Saga. It seems to arrive mid-morning, and leave some time after Cora's lunch break but before Derek is released from his secretarial prison at five fifteen. It's always parked too far forward for Derek to see the driver, but Cora reports that it's some white guy who's always messing with his phone ("Haggling with the local crack dealers," she insists). It is, Derek has to admit, sketchy as all get out.
He spritzes Audrey II (the venus fly trap) and returns back to his desk, loses four rounds of solitaire, and then calls the Sheriff's department.
When he gets up an hour later to fetch the mail that's finally arrived, the van is gone.
Hale & Daughters Funeral Home has three entrances. The first is the grand entryway with wide, somber stone steps set between two heavy, equally somber stone columns, a golden 51 exactly centered on the arch connecting them, leading to French double doors set with wavy but beautifully detailed glasswork. The second is around the back, hidden, a set of windowless metal doors with two cinder blocks scattered on either side, used to prop the doors open while bodies are being hauled through them. The third entrance is a single white door on the side, deliberately innocuous. Even the mail slot in it is painted white.
Derek's desk—it's not so much in an office as it is in a bit of extra space between the where the wake rooms end and Cora and Laura's domain begins—is just down the hallway from the single white door. It's deliberately sequestered, as the point of a funeral home is to create the illusion that mourners are stepping into a sanctuary for grief and memories, not a business that sees a dozen wakes a week. The majority of Derek's customer interaction is via the phone. It's quiet, and isolated, and nice.
So when someone comes barging in through the white door with a cheery "Knock knock! Anybody home?", Derek is so startled that he drops the stapler on his foot.
He swears, and bends to pick it up.
"Hello?" the voice repeats.
When Derek pops his head back up from behind the desk, flushed, stapler clutched in one hand, he finds a guy holding a large white box in front of his desk. It takes Derek a moment to get past the box and on to the tight black t-shirt, streaked and smudged with what looks like
cocaine flour , and the bright brown eyes, and the positively lickable constellation of freckles.
Derek focuses back on the box.
"Can I... help you?" Derek asks cautiously.
“Wow,” the guy says, staring. He looks oddly pained.
Derek raises his eyebrows.
“Sorry,” the guy says hastily. “Stiles?”
“...of casket?” Derek tries.
“No, no—that’s, uh, my name.” Stiles flushes.
“Okay,” Derek says. Waits.
“Nice to meet you?” Stiles says weakly.
"Are you for the..." Derek squints at his calendar. "Jeffords family?"
"Ah. No. I'm actually from Sweet as Cakes, the bakery on 5th?”
“Sweet Ass Cakes?” Derek repeats, incredulous now.
“Not quite,” Stiles says, and flashes him the silver sticker that’s sealing the white box shut. There’s a cartoon cake, right below the words Sweet as Cakes.
Derek wonders if the name is deliberate.
Stiles, meanwhile, carries on. “Anyway. Uh. We were... wondering if you would be interested in, like, contracting us as a catering service thingy? Look, I brought samples!" Stiles deposits the box on the desk in order to open it. "You should try… well, all of them, obviously, they’re all good, but—oh! Macaroons! We have the best macaroons in Beacon Hills, ask literally anyone. Try one?"
Derek takes the pastry delicately. He's having vivid flashbacks to Girl Scout cookie season, when word inevitably gets around that there's a guy who literally cannot say no to a small child selling cookies, and Derek winds up singlehandedly funding the local troop's summer camp fees.
"Well?" Stiles asks, gnawing on his lip distractingly.
Derek takes a bite.
“It’s… all right," he says, after a moment of thoughtful chewing.
“All right? ” Stiles squawks, his nerves apparently vanishing in the explosion of outrage that carries his arms up into the air, lights up his entire face. “What do you mean ‘all right’?”
"They're good?" Derek tries.
"Good? Good? " Stiles snatches it out of his hand. "I'll have you know that these are award winning macaroons, buster, they have literally been described as 'better than an orgasm', so you can just keep your plebeian Nabisco-tainted taste bud opinions to yourself."
“Good ,” Stiles mutters, and throws the half-eaten macaroon back in the box with vigor. “Jesus. What the hell are you serving your customers now, those nasty ass butter cookies from dollar store tins? Ritz crackers?”
“Girl Scout cookies,” Derek mutters. He happens to have a good hundred boxes of them knocking about, after all.
Stiles blinks at him. “Dude. That is seriously fucked up. Tell me you don’t serve them at little kids’ funerals.”
Derek scowls. "Aren't you supposed to be schmoozing me into giving you money?"
“Wow. First you insult my cookies, and now you’re harshing my schmooze?”
“You don’t have a schmooze to harsh,” Derek says flatly.
Stiles shuts the lid of the box and glares. “Look, is there someone here with a better sense of taste I could talk to? Like, you know, literally anyone but you?"
"No,” Derek says, and folds his arms over his chest.
“There’s two cars in the parking lot,” Stiles replies, eyes narrowed, and—seriously, who does this kid think he is, Sherlock Holmes?
“The mortician’s on lunch break,” Derek says stiffly.
Stiles stares at him for a moment, lips pressing together, before he nods and says, “Fine. I’ll wait.”
“Excuse me?” Derek demands.
Stiles gives him a dark look and disappears into one of the wake rooms, ignoring Derek’s bark of “That’s employees only!”, and returns a moment later with a chair.
Derek does not get paid enough to deal with this shit.
Crazy guy at the home, do not come back, Derek texts Cora, while Stiles busies himself on his own phone, doing whatever it is psychotic macaroon fanatics do on their phones. Some kind of Tinder for baked goods, probably.
Lol he’s probs one of the crackheads buying out of that van, Cora replies, a minute later.
Derek glances over at Stiles, who’s now eating something chocolatey with one hand and busily tapping at his phone with the other.
Does cocaine give people the munchies?
Derek watches as Stiles finishes two more pastries in succession before he finally gives in and Googles it. Turns out that the answer is no, cocaine does not.
“Should you be eating your own samples?” Derek asks, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m hungry,” Stiles says defensively.
“You are the worst salesman I have ever seen.”
“Yeah, well, some of us aren’t lucky enough to have cushy nine-to-five jobs, all right? Some of us get up at four in the morning to make sure that the good people of Beacon Hills have scones to go with their morning coffee.”
Why would a salesman get up at four in the—
“You’re a baker,” Derek says, incredulous. Horrified. “Oh, god, you made those yourself.”
“It’s fine,” Stiles says loftily. “I’ve learned to ignore criticism from idiots over the years.”
Derek’s mouth hangs open in outrage. “Wha—I said they were good!”
Stiles snorts. “Good.”
Derek gives up.
“You’re really just going to sit there?” he sighs, ten minutes later, because goddamn if Stiles isn’t sitting in the chair and licking his fingers.
Stiles pulls his thumb out of his mouth with a wet pop. “Mm-hm.”
“Please don’t shake my sister’s hand, when she gets back,” Derek says, pained.
“Your sister is the mortician?” Stiles asks, looking surprised.
Derek gives him a flat look.
Stiles shrugs. “Last I’d heard, it was still your mom. Come to think of it, last I heard, you guys didn’t have a secretary, either.”
“Yes,” Derek agrees.
Stiles waits, and when Derek doesn’t give him anything else, he sighs and rolls his eyes. “God, you’re such a sourpuss. I’ll just get it out of your Aunt Felicia, anyway, you know. She likes my macaroons.”
Derek hates small towns.
Unfortunately, the phone ringing ruins the delivery of his look of supreme disdain and apathy. He throws the phone a baleful look, and ignores it in favor of his email.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Stiles asks, after the fourth or so ring.
“Voicemail,” Derek replies, archiving something about a petition on Change.org. One of his sisters likes to use his email address to sign petitions, but he's never been sure which one it is. Both of them, most likely.
The phone finally goes quiet as the voicemail picks up.
“Wow. You are actually the worst secretary ever,” Stiles says.
“Says the worst salesman ever.”
“Shut up,” Stiles says, and gets another pastry out of the box.
Not ten minutes later, Stiles slides his phone into his pocket, stands up, and announces, “Well, as much as I’d love to sit here all day, I have other things to do.”
“What?” Derek says, baffled at the sudden attitude change.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” Stiles calls over his shoulder.
“You’re coming back?”
Stiles has already disappeared down the hallway, but his laughter carries back, loud and clear.
Cora is crushed to learn that she missed the crackhead.
“He wasn’t a crackhead,” Derek says, rolling his eyes.
"Bet he was," Cora says, and drops a stack of mail on Derek's desk. "What did he want, anyway?"
"He was from a bakery, wanted us to use their stuff at the wakes. That one over on 5th?"
"Oh, Aunt Felicia loves them!" Cora says, her face lighting up. "Sweet as Cakes, right? I think I had one of their macaroons, once. So good."
Derek stares at her incredulously.
Cora continues, oblivious. “It might not be a bad idea, though, contracting them. The Girl Scout cookies are kind of morbid. Did you email Laura?”
“Yes,” Derek says.
“Liar,” Cora replies.
“You suck. Also, Braeden says hi, and she totally agrees with me about the creepy white van. Did you call it in to the police again today? Because I didn't see it during lunch."
"I checked around eleven, wasn't there." Derek uses the front bathrooms, because the staff bathroom is in the morgue, and he hates going back there. "Must have moved on to greener pastures."
"Well, good," Cora huffs. "The last thing we need is someone offering cocaine to grieving families."
Derek sighs. "It's not a crack van."
"Sorry, bro, you've been out voted."
The story of Derek’s life.
Cora smirks at him knowingly, before reaching into her purse and pulling out a styrofoam container that she sets on Derek’s desk. The smell of grilled turkey and cheese fills the air, and Derek’s mouth instantly waters.
“Thank you,” he says emphatically, pulling it closer. “No mustard, right?”
"No mustard,” Cora confirms, and leaves Derek to his lunch. As she goes, she pulls her phone out, probably to text Laura and ask her about creating a catering budget.
Stiles comes back.
“Hello,” Derek says mildly, when Stiles strides in the very next day, another white bakery box clutched in his hands.
Stiles arches an eyebrow at him. “Hello.”
“Have a seat,” Derek offers, gesturing at the chair he’d retrieved from one of the wake rooms.
Stiles narrows suspicious eyes at him. “There’s no one else here, is there?”
Derek smiles pleasantly. “Nope. Cora’s out with her boyfriend for lunch. She might be a while.” He makes a mock-sympathetic face. “Tough luck, kiddo.”
“I’ll wait,” Stiles says, and plunks himself down in the chair with emphasis.
Derek was so hoping he would do that.
He waits until Stiles has gotten his phone out and has clearly preoccupied himself with Macaroon Tinder, then goes for the drawer in his desk. Inside of it is a white package of Great Value Macaroons (With Real Raspberries!) that he’d picked up from Walmart last night for $2.99. It crinkles loudly as he sets it on the desk, and even louder still when Derek opens it.
When he looks up, Stiles is watching him.
“Lunch time,” Derek says casually, and raises the package of cookies up for Stiles to see. “Want some?”
Stiles’ jaw clenches.
“They look pretty good,” Derek continues, sliding the plastic container out and plucking a lurid pink cookie at random. He holds it up for Stiles to see. “Don’t they?”
“You,” Stiles says, “are a jackass.”
Derek takes a bite. It’s positively foul, the cookie hard and salty, and the raspberry filling akin to what he remembers coming out of a Gusher.
“Mmm,” he says, closing his eyes in apparent rapture.
“You lying jackass. There is no way those taste good.”
“Best macaroon I’ve ever had,” Derek says confidently, and forces the other half of the cookie down.
“Fuck you,” Stiles says.
“We might just serve these at the funerals,” Derek adds.
Stiles scowls, and goes back to his phone.
Derek honestly doesn’t know if he can force another cookie down, so instead he picks up the box and loudly asks, of no one in particular, “I wonder what they use to make these cookies so delicious? It says they’re made with real raspberries, but I wonder what else.”
Stiles gives him a dark, dark look over the top of his phone.
Derek grins, delighted. “Would you like to know, Stiles? Maybe you could email them for some tips.”
Stiles flips him off.
“Let’s see. First ingredient is sugar—I’m assuming you’re not that incompetent, you must use sugar—then enriched flour—is that where you’ve gone wrong? You’re not using enriched flour?” Derek asks innocently.
“I don’t,” Stiles grits out. “You’re supposed to use almond flour—and furthermore, enriched flour is an abomination and anyone with half a tastebud wouldn’t let it within a mile of their kitchen—”
“Egg whites,” Derek continues loudly. “Maybe that’s it? You know the egg whites are the part that isn’t the yolk, right?”
The look Stiles gives him is positively poisonous.
“Hm,” Derek says, eyes skimming over the print. “High fructose corn syrup? Gelatin? Raspberry juice from concentrate? Vanillin?”
“If they’re so good, why don’t you eat another one?” Stiles suggests, through his teeth.
“I think I will,” Derek agrees, and braces himself for the second awful cookie. This time, he does it all in one bite, and it’s no less awful save for the fact that it’s over faster.
“You look like you enjoyed that,” Stiles says, a hard glint in his eye. “Why don’t you have one more?”
“I should really save some for Cora,” Derek replies.
“A hard worker like you deserves a treat.”
The sarcasm is dripping.
“Just one more,” Derek allows. It takes every fiber of willpower not to grimace as he picks up another ghastly pink confection. “They’re very… rich.”
"Then why don’t you try small bites?”
“I will,” Derek says, and takes a small bite of the horrible thing.
God, he’s not going to be able to wash it down with water, either. Not until Stiles leaves. And Cora really is out with Isaac, probably for at least another hour.
“Savor it,” Stiles says in a low voice, watching him intently from his chair. “When you’re eating something as decadent as this, the key is to close your eyes and chew slowly. Don’t destroy the pastry. Let it come to you. Hold it on your tongue and let every flakey layer dissolve there until you can really taste that enriched flour, and vanillin, and raspberry juice from concentrate.”
Derek chokes on cookie crumbs.
It helps him to hide the fact that he’s half hard from Stiles’ little speech.
“Oh. Would you like some water?” Stiles asks, eyes wide.
“No,” Derek rasps. He forces himself to swallow, and ignore the burning in the back of his throat.
"If you say so," Stiles says serenely.
Derek swallows again. To distract himself, he pushes the plastic tray back in, and puts the cookies back in the drawer. He makes a mental note to throw them out as soon as Stiles leaves.
Crazy guy is back, come save me, Derek texts Cora, because even if it means Stiles will get his way about his stupid contract, it also means that Derek can go and get a drink of water. Plus, as the secretary, he can just void the contract when Cora’s not looking. He has a VOID stamp in his drawer and everything.
Just as Derek is resigning himself to whiling away the minutes dying of thirst, praying that Cora’s curiosity will lead her to cutting her date short, there’s a squeak and a thump down the hallway that heralds the arrival of the mail. Derek would have missed it if it weren’t for the knock that followed.
“Oh! Look at the time,” Stiles exclaims, practically leaping out of his chair. “Sorry Cora wasn’t in today, I’ll have to talk to come by some other time. Toodleloo!”
“Hey!” Derek yells after him, jumping up to follow, because there is definitely something suspicious about this. “What the hell—Stiles!”
Stiles is already tearing down the hallway, surprisingly graceful for being as gangly as he is, but Derek’s not that far behind and is almost on him when Stiles lobs the bakery box over his shoulder, and Derek nearly veers into a wall avoiding it.
“What the fuck?”
“Shit shit shit shit shit,” Stiles is chanting under his breath, as Derek pushes himself away from the wall, just in time to see Stiles yank the door open.
With a growl, Derek takes off after him.
“Hah!” Stiles yells triumphantly.
Derek misses Stiles by an inch just outside the door, where Stiles had stopped to pick up—a package? He’d started running again just as Derek had hit the doorframe, and Derek’s swipe had come up short.
Stiles has stolen their mail. Their mail.
And he’s headed in the direction of a very familiar white van.
Gritting his teeth, Derek puts on a burst of speed and books it across the parking lot to where Stiles is fumbling with keys at the driver’s side door, stolen package under one arm, and—
“Holy shit!” Stiles squeaks, just before Derek shoves him up against the side of the car and pins him there with a rough thump.
He kicks the package out of Stiles’ hand for good measure.
It’s probably cocaine. It would be just his luck to not only prove Cora right, but simultaneously bust the guy he’d thought was cute for dealing crack out of a sketchy white van.
“...ouch,” Stiles says faintly.
“Ouch? Ouch? I’ll show you ‘ouch’,” Derek snarls.
“Ow—I can explain!”
“Save it for the police.”
Stiles groans. “Oh, god. Please don’t call the police. Listen, this is—I just shipped a package to the wrong address, okay, and by the time I realized it was too late to cancel but I didn’t want someone else opening it, and I tried just waiting for it outside, but someone kept calling in the bakery van to the cops, and—”
“So you never wanted a contract with us?” Derek demands, incredulous. “You went through all this, just for a package? Are you even a baker?”
A coke baker, maybe. Is that a thing? Baking coke?
“Yes!” Stiles sputters. “God, this isn’t a freaking sting operation or something, it was just a prank gone wrong. Look—you can check the package, seriously. It’ll say it’s for Jackson Whittemore!”
Derek keeps one hand on the back of Stiles’ neck, and uses a foot to drag the package closer, and then tip it upright so he can read the label.
51 N Main St
Beacon Hills, CA 96007
“You couldn’t have just said?” Derek demands, still not entirely convinced the package isn’t filled with cocaine even though he recognizes Jackson’s name as the trustee kid Laura often locks horns with at the quarterly Beacon County Small Business Association meetings.
Jackson might be into cocaine. He had that look.
“You couldn’t have just continued to be lazy and terrible at your job?” Stiles complains.
Derek scowls. “Pretty sure running down thieves isn’t even in my job description.”
“Look,” Stiles sighs. “Can I just have the box, and I’ll go?”
“You can go,” Derek says, “but I’m keeping the box.”
“What! No, you can’t—trust me, you don’t want—”
“It came to my address, didn’t it?”
“I meant 15 , not 51 , okay! It was just a typo.”
Derek lets Stiles go in favor of retrieving the box.
Stiles groans and slumps against the van. “Oh my god. Why is this my life?”
Derek uses his keys to slice open the packing tape on either side, and then cuts a long line down the middle to split it open.
Inside is a gift-wrapped package, with a card on top.
A little something for you to enjoy after a hard day’s work. (Or maybe on lunch break?) Be sure to share with your coworkers!
- a grateful client
Oh, god, it is cocaine. Cora is never going to let him live this down.
With a morbid sort of curiosity, Derek starts tearing off the wrapping paper, only to stop halfway through when he’s uncovered large blue bubble letters that read TREMENDOUS TREVOR, and below that, clear packaging that reveals the biggest, sparkliest, bluest dildo that Derek has ever seen.
He stares at it.
He’s holding a dildo. In front of Stiles. He’s holding Stiles’ dildo for Jackson Whittemore.
“It was a prank,” Stiles moans, and Derek looks up to see that he’s blushing bright red, and has his arms wrapped around his torso miserably. “Jackson just broke up with my friend Lydia over text like a douchebag , so I thought I’d send him a dildo at work, and make him think it was a gift from a client so he’d open it in front of his coworkers to show off, you know, and really embarrass him—but then I sent it to the wrong address, and I showed up to bribe you into giving it back to me, but then you were hot and you hated my cookies and—”
“Here,” Derek says, thrusting the dildo out at Stiles, not even able to look him in the eye any more.
He’s almost certain that he’s blushing as well.
“I’m really sorry,” Stiles mumbles, taking the dildo.
“You can leave,” Derek says gruffly. He’s not sure what else to do, except make Stiles go away. “Sorry for… tackling you.”
“It’s okay,” Stiles says. “I threw cookies at your head.”
“And stole my mail.”
“You want it back?” Stiles asks, raising his eyebrows.
Derek flushes harder. “No.”
“Well. I’ll.” Stiles gestures awkwardly at the van with the dildo, then seems to realize what he’s doing and stops. “I’ll just, uh, leave.”
As the van pulls out, Derek notices for the first time that one side of it—the side that had been facing away from the funeral home all this time, when it had been parked on the street for the last few days—has Sweet as Cakes painted on the side in cheerful orange letters. There’s a familiar cartoon cake beneath it.
He goes back inside, and finds the hallway scattered with brownies, cupcakes, and a rainbow of macaroons.
Cora drags the story out of him within twenty minutes. She even manages to decipher Derek’s mumbled description of “A, uh, pleasure—I mean, a sex… penis. Toy.”
“A dildo?” Cora squeals, looking thrilled.
Derek casts his eyes up to the ceiling, pointedly not noticing how Isaac is blushing. There are things he really does not need to know about his sister’s sex life. Which is to say, anything about her sex life.
“What a weirdo,” Cora says delightedly.
“You need help,” Derek tells her.
Derek is at home that night, messing with the font on his resume while marathoning Leverage and finishing off the last of a chicken casserole, when his Facebook pings with a message from Cora. Derek makes a face and switches tabs.
Cora: OH MY GOD DEREK
Cora: THIS IS THE DILDO ISNT IT
Cora: OMG HE PUT IT UNDER HEALTH AND BEAUTY
Cora: WHAT IS WROOOONG WITH HIM
It is, in fact, the dildo.
✩ Brand New 14” Tremendous Trevor Dildo (Still in Packaging!) - $25 (Beacon Hills)
Bought as a prank new for $50, just trying to recoup some losses. Original seals still in place! Made of PVC. Measures 14” long, 12.5” insertable, and 8.5” in circumference. Probably lots of fun! All interested size queens can contact below via email.
There’s a picture of the dildo sitting on a kitchen table, in the packaging, exactly as Derek had seen it earlier that day.
Derek: That’s it
Cora: oh my god
Cora: who just sells a dildo on craigslist
Cora: i am so sad that i never got to meet this guy
Derek: How did you even find this?
Cora: looking for a new straightener, mine is currently...
Cora: extra crispy
Derek: It caught on fire???
Cora: just a little fire
Cora: its fine
Derek: See if it’s fine when you burn the house down
Cora: so dramatic
Cora: that doesnt happen in rl you goober
Derek despairs of his sister. He has no idea why, out of all his siblings, he’s the one who crash landed a bit while trying to leave the nest, because it definitely should have been Cora.
Cora: think anyone will buy it??
Derek: How would I know?
Cora: buying used sex toys = major sketch
Derek: Can we please stop talking about sex toys?
Cora: does it bother you?
Cora: lol you're such a prude
Derek: Go away
Cora: anal beads!
Cora: strap ons!
Derek shuts the lid of his computer, and texts Boyd to ask if he has plans tonight.
He can fiddle with his resume another night.
The sound of the side door opening late Monday morning has Derek perking up before he even realizes what he’s doing—at which point he quickly affixes a scowl to his face, because the hell if Stiles deserves anything but Derek’s nastiest, ugliest look.
“Good god, Derek, did your face finally get stuck like that?” Laura asks as she comes into view. “I told you it would.”
Derek scowls harder.
Laura tuts. “Is that the face you greet our customers with?”
“Yes,” Derek says. “Since I only answer the phone and all.”
“Oh, you answer the phone now?”
Derek flips her off.
Laura laughs. “Anyway, I heard you did have a walk-in customer the other day—or a salesman, anyway. Something about… cookies?”
“I hate you,” Derek tells her. "I hope your meeting with Uncle Peter was horrible."
"Pfft. Monday meetings with Uncle Peter are always awful. 'Blah, blah, blah, you should buy a hearse instead of contracting', 'what were you thinking letting the Jeffords put a coffin that tacky in our funeral home’, ‘you know I was reading about franchised funeral homes the other day’... blah, blah, blah.”
“Sounds awful,” Derek says with a smirk.
“Yeah, well, we can’t all be antisocial horticulturists.”
Derek’s smirk fades. “Secretary,” he reminds her.
“Horticulturalist,” Laura insists. “You’re just on vacation until an establishment worthy of your greatness opens up.”
Derek rolls his eyes.
“Yes, Laura,” Derek sighs. “On vacation.”
“And even if you were a secretary, you’d officially be an administrative assistant,” Laura adds. “Get with the times, baby brother.”
"What are you even doing here?" Derek grumbles. It's Monday. Laura's Mondays are usually spent running around between meetings, so that she has Tuesday and Wednesday free to work from the home.
"Actually," Laura starts, but she's interrupted before she can finish.
"Laura!" Cora says, appearing out of the back in a cloud of formaldehyde. "I was starting to think Uncle Peter had murdered you and hid your body in the woods.”
"Mom would kill him,” Laura says.
“And Derek would have one less obnoxious sister,” Derek adds.
Cora whacks him on the back of the head.
“Case in point,” Derek mutters, rubbing at the back of his head.
“Anyway,” Laura says, “Derek, I just wanted to drop off a little present that Cora and I got for you the other night.”
She digs into her tote bag. “It’s not wrapped, but… surprise!”
In Laura’s hand is Tremendous Trevor, all of its 14” sparkly glory visible through the plastic casing.
It’s Stiles’ dildo. Stiles’ dildo which had been on Craigslist and oh god his sisters must have bought it from Stiles, that is actually Stiles’ dildo that Laura is holding right now, the dildo that Derek had made an idiot out of himself with—
“I think we broke him,” Cora says.
“You didn’t... actually...” Derek croaks.
“I met up with him last night at Starbucks,” Laura says, confirming all of Derek’s worst nightmares. “Very cute. Definitely your type.”
Derek casts his eyes up to the ceiling. He can feel the flush heating his face, and he wonders if people who have brothers put up with as much abuse as he does from his sisters. He thinks not.
"Aw," Cora says, ruffling his hair. "Look at that blush."
Derek swats her hand away and glares at both of them. "Don't you two have anything better to do?"
"Not really," Laura replies, setting Tremendous Trevor on Derek's desk, where it stands proudly in all its dildo-ish glory. "You should be honored. I pushed back my meeting with Costco for you, and they serve wine at their lunch meetings."
Derek sighs. "Okay. Great. The sex toy has been delivered, your brother has been embarrassed. Happy?"
"So happy," Laura confirms. "I actually do have to run, though. Derek, enjoy your new toy. Cora, make sure he doesn't throw it away."
Cora looks at Derek.
Derek sighs, opens the desk drawer where the box of gross Walmart macaroons still resides, and drops the dildo in there to join it. He'll throw them both out when he goes home tonight.
Cora cackles all the way back to the morgue.
The thing is, Derek is fundamentally not a secretary. Administrative assistant. Whatever. He is not an office person, he doesn't do computers, and even working at a funeral home—possibly the only business line where cheerfulness is discouraged—customer service still makes Derek's soul wither away and die, bit by bit and day by day. And Hale & Daughters Funeral Home has no real desperate need of a secretary, either. They’ve gotten along without one as long as the home has been open. It wasn’t until Derek came back to Beacon Hills last year with no job prospects and no one eager to hire him, that Laura had basically created the position out of thin air and then threatened and guilted him into taking it.
Derek gets plants.
Officially, Derek is a horticulturalist. Technically he’s also a landscaper, and a botanist, and a gardener, and a tree hugger, but what Derek is best at is global plant management. He’d been the junior horticulturalist up in Redding, loosely supervised, free to manage plant care and greenhouse design and consult on landscaping projects. Derek had had a house, Audrey II, a coffee shop where the barista had known his order, a gym he’d gotten a discounted membership for, and a job he loved.
Then Kate Argent had swiped his greenhouse access pass and used it to burn down the entire greenhouse complex, leaving the business devastated, and Derek tied up in an arson trial for nearly six months. With the demand for horticulturalists being pretty low, and even lower for someone who was suspected (but eventually cleared) of burning down Redding’s premiere greenhouse—suffice to say that Derek had had a very short, unpleasant stint at Home Depot’s Garden Center, before he’d officially given up and headed back to Beacon Hills.
Now, his friend Boyd was working on getting a greenhouse up and running in Beacon Hills, and Derek had been promised a job as soon as things got off the ground. It’s just a matter of time before things go back to normal.
And it’s not a bad life, passing the time as a secretary. He’s very lucky, he knows, to have such a supportive and well-off family.
But god, if he isn’t a bit… depressed.
(This is why, he thinks, when the door bangs open at 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon and seconds later, Stiles comes exploding out of the hallway with a frantic plea of “Hide me!”—god dammit all, but Derek is happy.)
“Hide you?” Derek asks, jumping to his feet sheerly in response to Stiles’ look of panic.
From the police? he doesn’t add, since they have proven that Stiles is not, in fact, a crack dealer.
“I might have—sent a second dildo—to the right address this time,” Stiles pants, red-faced, bare shoulders heaving, and wow that black tank top that is doing things to Derek. “And, uh, Jackson might be trying to kill me. So. Hide me?”
Derek stares at him incredulously.
“Please?” Stiles asks, clasping his hands together.
What the hell.
“Come on,” Derek says, and turns around to lead the way to the back. “He’s seriously chasing you down?”
“He, uh, might have opened it in front of his boss,” Stiles says, and though he’s still out of breath the smugness comes through loud and clear. “Holy shit. Thank you. You are literally saving my life right now, yo—ohhhhh my god dead bodies.”
Derek turns around to see Stiles stopped in the doorway to the morgue, wide-eyed.
“This is a funeral home,” Derek reminds him.
“Yeah,” Stiles says weakly, staring at the admittedly gruesome display on the table.
“STILINSKI,” someone—Jackson, presumably—bellows from outside.
“Hide. Don’t touch anything dead,” Derek orders.
Stiles makes a strangled sort of noise as Derek passes him.
“And don’t throw up!” Derek calls over his shoulder.
He makes it back to his desk just in time to see a disheveled blond man stride out from the hallway. His silk tie is loose around his neck, the sleeves of his shirt are pushed up, and though his face is fixed with a calm expression, there’s a vein visibly bulging in his neck.
“Hi,” Must Be Jackson says, with forced composure. “A guy just ran in here, looks kind of like a gremlin who bathed in hair gel. Lots of disfiguring moles. Stupid nose. Where’d he go?”
Derek clenches his jaw. “Haven’t seen him.”
Jackson stares at him. A muscle starts to twitch in his jaw. “Really,” he grits out.
“Really,” Derek says, and folds his arms over his chest.
He is, admittedly, pretty built. Going to the gym has turned out to be a great way to cope with the depression of losing his dream job and having to move back to his hometown.
There’s a long moment, where Jackson is clearly weighing his chances of taking Derek down, until his neck thickens and his lips purse, and he gives Derek a stiff nod. Good choice, Derek thinks, as he watches Jackson’s retreating back, fists clenching and unclenching.
Derek waits until he hears the door close, before he follows down the hallway to lock the door and watch Jackson’s retreating figure. He pictures Jackson ten, twenty minutes ago, hair perfectly coiffed, tie pin probably coordinated to his cufflinks, as he tore the wrapping paper off of the sparkly blue likeness of his own Tremendous Trevor—and snorts.
“It’s safe,” Derek calls back to Stiles, as he makes his way to his desk.
Stiles emerges seconds later, looking woozy.
Derek rolls his eyes. “Sit,” he instructs, and uses a hand on either of Stiles’ shoulders to guide him into the office chair.
“Dude,” Stiles says faintly. “That was not okay. That was so many levels of not okay.”
Derek shrugs. “It’s a dead body.”
Stiles presses his hands into his face. “Look, my dad’s the sheriff, okay, do you know how often I have had this conversation? ‘It’s just a photograph of a beheaded body, Stiles.’ ‘What do you mean, we can’t have a spread of arson victims on the kitchen table?’ Ugh, and there was that guy I dated in college, loved gore, took me to see one of the Saw movies, I fricking threw up in the theater, and man have you seen half-digested Sour Patch Kids—”
“Stiles,” Derek interrupts. “Breathe.”
Stiles sucks in a deep breath.
“You want some water?”
Stiles shakes his head. “No. Uh. No, I’m okay. Just give me a sec.”
Derek sits down on the desk.
“Sorry,” Stiles says, after a few moments. “He was running after me, and I thought I could outrun him, but he started gaining on me, and the funeral home was right there.”
“It’s fine,” Derek says, and thinks about how to compose this text message to Cora.
Our resident nutjob is back.
Had to hide the crazy guy in the morgue today, check for vomit
Maybe you should stop taking lunch breaks, this shit always seems to happen when I’m alone in the home
He gets as far as Your favorite whackjob i with the actual text, when Stiles seems to read his mind and interrupts with, “Is your sister out to lunch again?”
“Yeah,” Derek confirms. “She’ll be sad to hear she missed you.”
Stiles’ face falls. “Oh, man. I’m a Crazy Customer Story, aren’t I?”
“No,” Derek says, and guiltily slides his phone into his pocket.
“I am ,” Stiles groans. “Oh my god. I am that guy. This is gonna wind up in the reader submissions portion of The Undertaker’s Digest, isn’t it?”
Derek offers him a grin. “The Undertaker’s Administrative Assistant’s Digest, actually.”
“If you want, you have my full permission to complain about my tastebuds to Macaroon Fanatics Monthly,” Derek offers.
“Trust me, you’ve already been blacklisted from any restaurant nicer than a Denny’s,” Stiles says, with a dark look at Derek.
Derek shrugs. “I like Denny’s.”
Stiles is visibly unimpressed by this.
“Snob,” Derek says.
“Heathen,” Stiles shoots back.
“Is that really how you’re going to treat the guy who just saved your life?”
Stiles scrunches up his nose (and no that is not adorable, okay). “You can’t just hold that over my head, dude. I came to you in a moment of trust.”
“Desperation,” Derek corrects.
“Whatever.” Stiles rolls his eyes. “You’re such a dick.”
"Speaking of which,” Stiles says, spinning the chair so that he’s facing the desk. “I have a bone to pick with you and those disgusting caloric lumps of waste you were pretending to like last Friday—”
“No!” Derek barks, remembering a second too late what’s in that drawer.
It’s sitting proudly, damningly on top of the Great Value Macaroons, where Derek had put it just this morning, one corner of the packaging now slightly bent. And Stiles is staring at it.
“I,” Derek starts, but doesn’t really know where to go from there.
Except perhaps to kill his sisters.
Stiles turns to look at him, then at Tremendous Trevor, and then back again to Derek.
“I, uh. My sisters—” Derek casts his eyes up to the ceiling. “They sort of thought it would be… funny.”
“Oh my god,” Stiles says. “Oh my god, Laura Hale —that’s your sister.”
Derek nods, still blushing hotly.
Stiles looks like he has no idea what to do with that piece of information. Derek sympathizes. He’s known Laura for nearly thirty-one years, and he still has no idea what to do with her, most of the time.
“Right,” Stiles says, and closes the drawer. There’s a high flush on his cheeks, probably matching Derek’s. “Okay. So, your sister bought my sex toy for you. This is a little weird.”
“No weirder than accidentally mailing me a sex toy in the first place,” Derek snaps.
“It’s a little bit weirder.”
Stiles grins. “Hey, I guess now we both have a Crazy Customer Story, huh?”
Inexplicably, Derek’s heart sinks at that.
What the hell? What does he care what Stiles thinks about him?
“I mean, I thought it was a little strange that my secondhand dildo sold in less than twenty-four hours,” Stiles continues. “Especially one that big, you know? Like, niche market much? And then I saw your sister, and I kiiiinda figured she was a dominatrix or something. She looked way too gleeful about the whole thing. Plus, she—”
“Can we please stop talking about my sister and—” Derek can’t bring himself to say it in the same sentence. “—that?”
"Aw, you're blushing," Stiles coos, which doesn't really help matters.
Stiles giggles. “You totally are! It’s okay, Derek, you don’t have to be embarrassed about sex toys. ”
“I’m not—” Derek huffs.
Derek grits his teeth. “Dildo.”
“Say ‘Dildos are buttfucking fun’,” Stiles presses.
Derek grabs Audrey II’s spray bottle and squirts Stiles in the face.
“What the hell, man?” Stiles squawks.
Derek squirts him again, but Stiles dodges it this time and lunges for the bottle, nearly tackling Derek off the desk before Derek can get his feet under him. Laughing, Derek squirts the bottle without aiming, but judging by Stiles’ shrieks, he’s hitting something.
“I’m not—a puppy!” Stiles gasps, struggling to free his wrists from Derek’s grasp.
“You definitely need obedience train—unf,” Derek grunts, as Stiles gets an elbow to his ribs, which sends him off balance enough that they go toppling to the floor.
“Ow,” Stiles complains.
“At least you were on top,” Derek shoots back, trying to wriggle out from underneath Stiles.
Stiles smirks. “Lucky me.”
“Oh my—” Derek shoves a snickering Stiles off of him.
"Man, are you sure you and Laura are related?" Stiles asks, wiping water off of his face. “She made, like, eight innuendos in the space of ten minutes last night.”
"We think I was adopted," Derek mutters. When he was fourteen and in the premier of his teenage angst, Laura had made fake adoption papers for him to find. She'd been grounded for ages.
Stiles laughs. "I'd ask why Laura couldn't be the adopted one, I but I went to school with Cora, so I kn—"
He cuts himself off, and out of nowhere he pushes his hips up obscenely and Derek chokes on air.
"Aha! Sorry," says Stiles, producing his phone from a back pocket.
"That's okay," Derek replies, strangled.
There’s a droplet of water on one of Stiles’ eyelashes that he can’t seem to stop staring at.
"Shit. My boss wants to know where I am,” Stiles says, forcing Derek to focus on the rest of his face, which is adorably scrunched up. “Today's a wedding cake day, so we have all hands on deck right now. I... should probably get back, actually, make sure no one’s destroyed my cake yet."
"Oh," Derek says.
"Yeah," Stiles agrees with a sigh.
Derek gets to his feet, and then helps Stiles up. The droplet of water has slipped from Stiles’ eyelash to his cheekbone.
“I’ll—I guess I’ll see you around?” Stiles asks.
“Yeah,” Derek agrees.
Stiles waits for a moment, looking at Derek, and Derek has no idea what Stiles wants from him. This is… it. Probably. Stiles will leave, and Derek will throw away the macaroons and the dildo, and everything about his dull secretarial life will return to normal.
But Stiles is standing there, waiting. The droplet of water is trailing down the hollow of his cheek.
Derek swallows. “You said, uh, you had to go?”
Stiles is quiet for a beat, then nods, brushing the droplet of water away. “Yeah. Uh. Yeah, I do. I’ll… see you around.”
You already said that, Derek thinks.
Outwardly, he nods.
“Okay,” Stiles says, with a nod. “Bye.”
“Bye,” Derek replies.
He feels weirdly hollow, watching Stiles go. Like the home is suddenly too quiet—which is weird, because it’s a funeral home. It’s supposed to be quiet.
When he pulls out his phone, the half-written text to Cora stares back at him.
Your favorite whackjob i
Derek stares at it for a moment, then backspaces until it’s gone.
Baker guy came back and you missed him again, sorry charlie.
A few minutes later Cora replies:
also “sorry charlie”?? have you been watching ABC Family again???
Derek likes Tuesdays.
Tuesdays means that Laura is in the office for the day, and Derek can (with no small amount of pleasure) forward all annoying callers back to her. It also means he gets a real lunch break, where he can leave the building for an hour in favor of the gym. And, most importantly, it means that when the side door swings open at 10 a.m., Derek has some semblance of an excuse for his completely irrational hope that the person coming in is Stiles. (His sisters will finally be here to meet him, and hopefully will stop pestering him for updates on Situation: Stiles. And maybe even ban him for being annoying, so Derek won’t have to think about Stiles every time the door opens.)
But for once, it’s not Stiles.
It’s a woman Derek has never seen before, so immaculately put together that his first words to her are, “She’s back in her office.”
The woman stares at him in confusion.
“Laura,” Derek elaborates. When she still looks blank, he asks, “Are you here to see Laura Hale?”
“No,” the woman says, after a brief pause. “My name is Lydia Martin. I own Sweet as Cakes, the bakery on 5th Avenue.”
Oh, dear god, Derek thinks.
“I’ve gotten several phone calls from the police this past week, about my company’s van being parked outside your funeral home for several hours a day, and the GPS confirms that it’s either been across the street or in your parking lot. Usually between eleven a.m. and one p.m.. You wouldn’t know anything about what he’s been up to, would you?”
Derek hesitates, wondering if this is going to get Stiles in trouble, but it’s his downfall because Lydia immediately zeroes in on it.
“You do,” she says decisively.
“I—saw the van,” Derek admits.
“Well, I would hope somebody noticed it, after a week of being unsubtly stalked.”
The name suddenly synapses in his brain, and Stiles’ words from last Friday come back to him in a rush. Lydia is Jackson’s ex, the one who had been unceremoniously dumped via text. Lydia is the entire reason Tremendous Trevor ever showed up on Derek’s doorstep.
Does she know?
She certainly doesn’t seem like the type to approve of such half-baked juvenile revenge schemes. No. Lydia Martin is the type to plan, and wait.
And Lydia Martin would certainly never do something as trivially stupid as typing in an incorrect mailing address.
“He was... here,” Derek says finally. “He came to talk about a contract, between Sweet as Cakes and us. I guess he heard that our wake refreshments were... lacking.”
Lydia frowns. “A contract?”
“Odd,” she murmurs.
He doesn't think she completely believes him. She also doesn't look too upset that he's not being direct with her, and only loses focus for a few seconds before her eyes sharpen on Derek again.
"Did you agree to a contract?" she asks.
Derek blinks. "No?"
"Well why not?"
Her eyes are actually like lasers. Derek hasn't felt this pinned down since that year in middle school Grandma Hale had moved in with them, and took over the laundry. His sheets had always been returned to him with horrible, knowing looks.
"Uh," says Derek.
"I, for one, think that both our businesses would benefit immensely from a partnership. You do know that Sweet as Cakes Bakery is Beacon Hills' premiere bakery? We supply over sixty percent of all establishments in the downtown area with our baked goods, and we employ two nationally recognized patissiers. We can also accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions—"
"You should probably talk to my sister," Derek interrupts. He doesn't even wait for her to reply before he calls back. "Laura!"
It’s only a minute before he hears Laura’s heels clicking on the tile floors. Thank god.
“Derek, wha—oh, hello!” Laura says brightly.
Lydia smiles, and strides right up to her. “Hello. Lydia Martin, CEO of Sweet as Cakes Bakery.”
“Laura Hale, Director of Hale & Daughters Funeral Home,” Laura replies, shaking Lydia’s hand.
“Can I just say, I love that name,” Lydia tells her.
“Thank you. You have no idea how rare it is to hear that.”
They both pause, hands clasped, and give each other a look. Derek has a bad, bad feeling about these two.
Lydia sashays out of the funeral home an hour later, looking smug as hell.
“I like her,” Laura says dreamily.
“Oh god,” Derek says.
“We’re getting drinks Saturday night.”
After that, all Derek can think about is if this contract means he’s going to see Stiles again. He’s not sure whether he even wants to see Stiles again, let alone what he’d say to him. And then there’s the matter of Tremendous Trevor, which Derek had almost thrown in the trash along with the Great Value macaroons, but at the last minute, hadn’t had the heart.
It’s stowed in the back of his closet now, where it haunts him with thoughts of exactly how creepy and dysfunctional he is.
Cora is beside herself with glee. With Laura on a date and Derek… thinking a lot about macaroons these days, she genuinely seems to have no idea which sibling to press for gossip.
(“Laura,” Derek says emphatically. “Please, go bother Laura.”)
Derek creates a side project for himself that involves overhauling the permanent flora inside the home. Then he goes on a field trip to stock up on office supplies. Then he decides to reinforce all the folders in the filing cabinet with packing tape.
It is slightly possible that Derek is trying to keep himself busy.
And so on Thursday, when he’s going to get the mail (only a minute after he’d heard the sound of the mail flap open, instead of hours), it’s a very rude surprise to glance out the window and see a familiar white van parked about a feet down the street from Hale & Daughters Funeral Home.
It’s not even Derek’s imagination. The van is parked on their side of the street, so the vibrant orange letters that spell out Sweet as Cakes are visible. It’s unquestionably Stiles’ van, even if he can’t see if there’s anyone sitting in the driver’s seat.
He walks away from the window and gets the mail. Stares at the pile of envelopes in his hand until he realizes that he’s not actually reading anything. Then heads back to his desk.
Postcard from Verizon.
Custom products catalogue.
The latest issue of Cora’s People Magaz—
Oh, who is he kidding?
Derek drops the pile of mail and heads back to the window. He has no idea what Stiles would even be doing over here, but he can’t possibly have accidentally mailed them another dildo—or something worse, god knows—and the contract with Sweet as Cakes isn’t officially going through until Monday.
When he gets to the window, there’s a familiar head of brown hair getting out of the driver’s side of the van.
It is Stiles.
Derek ducks back from the window, looks down at himself before he even realizes that he’s checking to see what he’s wearing (for fuck’s sake, what does it matter what he’s wearing), and heads back to his desk.
It’s playing over and over in his head. Why is Stiles here? What does he want? Is he here for Derek?
Thank god Tremendous Trevor is in the back of his closet.
Oh, god, Tremendous Trevor is in the back of his closet , what is wrong with him?
Just as Derek is vowing to go home and throw the damn thing away, like he should have done days ago, there’s a knock on the door.
Why is Stiles knocking?
Derek pushes himself out of his chair,
smoothes down his shirt, and heads for the door. When he passes the window, he tries to see what Stiles is up to at the door, but he can’t get a clear view. Just the head of brown hair, a black shirt, and jeans.
The answer is readily apparent, when Derek opens the door.
It’s not Stiles.
“Hello,” Derek says blankly, staring at a boy several years younger than Stiles, who may in fact be Stiles’ younger brother because he looks like a bad copy of him.
“Hi!” the boy says brightly. “My name’s Liam—I’ve got a cake for Derek Hale, from Sweet as Cakes Bakery?”
Liam pushes a white box at him. The shiny silver sticker with Sweet as Cakes’ logo on it seals the lid shut.
“I didn’t order a cake,” Derek says.
“Nope. It’s already paid for—I’m just delivering it,” Liam says happily.
Derek takes the cake, reluctantly. He wonders if he should tip the kid for the delivery.
“Enjoy!” Liam chirrups.
Back inside, Derek sets the cake on his desk and peels back the sticker enough that he can open the lid of the box.
It’s a circular cake frosted in pink, the sides of it covered in a layer of pink macaroons. In the center, in dusky pink frosting, it reads: You’re cute when you blush.
Then blushes more.
“God dammit,” he says, glaring at the cake.
Derek manages to keep the cake hidden from his sisters. He drives it home shortly after opening it, and keeps it stowed away in the fridge as he steadily devours it. He has Boyd over Friday night (Boyd, who only raises an eyebrow at the message on the cake; Boyd, who is Derek’s favorite) and between the two of them, the cake is half gone by Saturday morning.
He throws away Tremendous Trevor.
Saturday night, Derek winds up at the home, because Laura is taking the night off to go for drinks with Lydia, and he’d lost his game of rock paper scissors to Cora (after seventeen rounds of them both stubbornly picking scissors). So he shows up at three and rearranges the chairs for the four o’clock funerals, moves the caskets into their appropriate rooms, helps the families set up their flowers and photo boards and sign-in books, sets out platters of Rah-Rah Raisins and Toffee-tastics—and then he fades into the background for the funerals themselves, only coming forward when his help is needed.
It’s not a bad night. The families are small, low-maintenance, and only two of the three rooms are in use anyway, since it’s August and anyone involved at all with the death business knows that August is the slowest month of the year. January and February are the real money makers.
So Derek is hanging back at his desk, ignoring the usual barrage of texts that Uncle Peter sends prior to any burial, bitching about the gravediggers and the headstone engraver, and anything else that even mildly displeases him. Derek would turn off his phone entirely, but he likes to keep it on when either of his sisters are out on a date. Just in case.
Just after text number eleven—the groundskeeper’s opinions on pond maintenance are apparently too liberal—he hears it.
Derek freezes at his desk, certain that his mind is just fucking with him, but a moment later he hears it again. It’s Stiles’ voice—or at least someone who’s doing a very good impression of him.
Derek stands up, pocketing his phone.
Stiles’ voice had come from the front room, so that’s where Derek heads. In the front room tonight is the Graeme family, and Derek had personally helped to pin all the family photos of Agatha Graeme and her loved ones onto their memory boards. Stiles had not featured in any of those pictures. Stiles has no reason to be here tonight.
He stops in the entrance to the room, and finds Stiles almost immediately—mostly because Stiles is one of maybe five white people in the entire room.
He’s wearing a black button-down and slacks, which lends credence to the idea that Stiles is actually here for the wake, but he looks so uncomfortable talking to the middle-aged man in front of him that he can’t be doing anything but crashing.
It takes Stiles all of fifteen seconds to spot Derek, at which point his face lights up.
Derek gives him a stony look in return.
Stiles winces, excuses himself from the conversation, and makes his way over to Derek.
"Hey,” Stiles says, cringing a little as they duck out into the hallway. “Listen, uh, I’m really sorry, okay? Clearly, I got some signals mixed up and that is totally on me, so just feel free to… ignore me. And the cake. God, you probably threw it out, didn’t you? Oh—”
“Cake?” Derek echoes, confused. “Stiles, are you apologizing for the cake?”
Stiles stares at him in despair. “What, did I do something else that I need to apologize for?”
“I—” Derek starts, and then glances back in at the ongoing wake. “How do you know that family?”
Stiles frowns. “Agatha’s daughter Tara has worked with my dad for the last fifteen years. She’s a family friend. Why?”
Ah. So Stiles isn’t crashing the funeral, then.
“Uh,” Derek says. “I was just—”
“Oh my god, did you think I was crashing the funeral?” Stiles hisses.
Derek blanches. “No?”
“Jesus Christ, that’s—well, first of all, racist much? White people can’t come to a black woman’s funeral?”
Derek sputters. “No, I—”
“Dude,” Stiles says judgingly. “Also, what the hell, you think I’m desperate enough to see you that I’d crash some poor grieving family’s funeral?”
“I didn’t—seriously—it was just…” Derek gives up. “I’m sorry?”
Stiles huffs. “Good. You should be.”
Derek gives a sigh of relief.
It’s silent for a beat, as all the tension drains away.
And Stiles is giving him that look again. The one he’d given Derek earlier this week, when the droplet of water had been trailing down the hollow of his cheek, and the home had been quiet, and there had been a stillness like they were both holding their breath for something. But now— now Derek thinks he might know what Stiles was waiting for.
He takes in a deep breath.
“I liked your cake,” Derek says, not looking at Stiles when he says it.
There’s a sharp intake of breath from Stiles. “Really?”
“Once I picked off the macaroons stuck to the side,” Derek concedes.
Stiles kicks him. “Liar. Why don’t you just admit that my macaroons are amazing?”
“I’ve had better,” Derek says, shrugging.
“No you haven’t.”
“Starbucks,” Derek says evenly. “Best macaroons.”
“Starb—” Stiles flails. “Starbucks?”
“Want to go have a taste test?” Derek asks. “I’m free tomorrow night.”
“Challenge accepted,” Stiles growls. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”
“It’s a date,” Derek says.
“Good,” Stiles snaps. “Wait—what?”
Derek’s face splits into a wide grin.
“Oh my god.”
“You’re cute when you blush,” Derek tells him, smug as hell.
“Shut up,” Stiles retorts, blushing harder.
Victory, Derek thinks, has never tasted so sweet.
Ten minutes later, he’s meeting Stiles’ father, who is also attending the wake tonight.
“So you’re the concerned citizen who kept calling my son in for suspicious behavior,” John Stilinski says, looking highly entertained.
“Daaaaad,” Stiles groans.
“Cora thought you were a crack dealer,” Derek says, shrugging.
John bursts out laughing.
Stiles gives Derek a sour look.
“Laura had money on child molester,” Derek adds.
John laughs harder.
Derek stays contentedly smug up until John leaves to go back to the wake, when Stiles brushes past him and murmurs in his ear, “Just wait until I meet your family, bucko.”
Derek isn’t worried about that.
What could Stiles possibly do that his sisters haven’t already done to him?
Three years later, they’re planning their wedding, and Derek has wisened up to Stiles’ crafty ways.
“No macaroons on the cake,” he says. “No macaroons in the cake. No macaroons around the cake. No macaroons anywhere, at all, for our entire wedding day. Are we clear?”
Stiles heaves a massive sigh. “Fiiiine.”
Derek blinks. “Really?”
“Relationships are about compromise,” Stiles says, so serenely that Derek knows Stiles is plotting something.
“You’re plotting something,” he says.
“Moi? ” He hasn’t looked this offended since the Sheriff had accused Stiles of serving him tofurkey at Thanksgiving (which Stiles had absolutely done; frankly, they were lucky the Sheriff hadn’t also cottoned on to the mashed
cauliflower potatoes, the vegan mushroom gravy, and flaxseed stuffing).
In short, Stiles is definitely up to something.
Derek doesn’t find out what it is until six months later, when the reception is well underway and he finally catches sight of their giant, macaroon-shaped wedding cake.
He doesn’t know what his face does, but whatever it is, it makes Stiles bursts out laughing next to Derek.
“This is our compromise?” Derek sighs.
“Well, it’s not technically a macaroon. It’s just fondant, white cake, and white frosting, designed to look like a giant macaroon,” Stiles says brightly.
Derek rolls his eyes. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“And my macaroons.”
“I don’t love your macaroons.”
“Do so. Just wait until we get to our hon—”
“Stiles,” Derek interrupts. “I swear to god, if we walk into our honeymoon suite and there are macaroons strewn on the bed instead of rose petals, I will not have sex with you until you personally have eaten every—single—last—one.”
Stiles’ mouth hangs open. “But—”
“You wouldn’t really—”
“Try me,” Derek says.
Stiles glowers, but pulls out his cell phone to text whoever his partner in crime is. Probably Cora.
Derek returns to eating his chicken scallopine, highly satisfied.