Chapter 1: Part 1
The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
Stiles has noticed the shop before. It sits directly across the street from his favorite yarn haunt, The Fiber Factory*. Stiles has never been inside the shop before. He's never been much of one for tea. Stiles and soothing things during school are non-mixy things.
But it's October finally, and the door of Hale Of A Tea is propped open and there is this scent wafting out of the shop. It's deep and rich and chocolatey with a sharp tang of peppermint and Stiles must have that. Whatever it is.
Stiles wanders into the shop following his nose. He bumps into a patron, mumbles an apology and props himself against the counter where a teapot is steaming away next to a little pile of sample cups. Stiles pours himself a little, takes a sip, and moans in delight.
When he comes back to himself, he looks up into an amused pair of very blue eyes and Stiles flushes. The man behind the counter quirks a small amused smile at him and Stiles grins back helplessly.
“I’ll have a very large of whatever this amazing, heavenly concoction is. Please and thank you.”
The man has sharp cheekbones, carefully styled brown hair and a nametag that says ‘Peter’. “Anything else I can get you while you wait?” he asks as he moves to take a canister off the wall. It’s a silver, square canister, and when Peter opens the lid, Stiles gets a lungful of that heavenly smell again.
“Are you sure that’s tea?” he wonders, watching Peter measure out several scoops into a tea strainer.
“It’s our White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos*. It’s seasonal, and one of our best sellers," Peter tells him with a smirk. Stiles gets the feeling he gets this reaction rather a lot this time of year.
Stiles is not ashamed.
He watches Peter pour boiling water into a to go cup and dip the strainer in, hitting start on a timer. He takes a moment to look around the shop. It's got dark, hardwood flooring and shelves with rows of large silver canisters lining the wall behind the counter and halfway down the wall to the right of the counter. On the left is a pair of hot drink dispensers with little sample cups for tasting. There are little cards with what type of tea is in the dispenser alongside a sample of the loose leaves.
Stiles tries them both. He likes the grapefruity herbal one that's iced, but not the hot green one. It tastes a bit too much like muddy grass and he ate enough of that playing lacrosse in high school, thanks.
He peruses the small shelves next to the sample table. It houses a display about the benefits of herbal remedies and each canister extols the virtues of the herb inside. Apparently he could dabble in making his own teas if he wanted. There are a pair of armchairs by the front window and two little tables nearby. The rest of the shop is littered with tea sets, mugs, books, strainers. All the things one would need to tea properly.
Stiles flips open one of the books on the history of tea and gets so absorbed that when a hand appears in his peripheral holding a cup he jumps and drops the book. He stoops to pick up the book and when he turns around Peter is standing there smirking, amusement dancing in his eyes.
He's even prettier up close.
"Thanks," he manages, taking the cup from Peter.
"I threw a couple ice cubes in to make it a tolerable temperature."
"Awesome!" Stiles exclaims and takes a sip, moaning. When he looks up, Peter is staring at him. Stiles blushes and holds up the book. "I think I'd like this, too."
Peter rings him up, amusement in his eyes again and tucks the receipt into the book before handing it over. Their hands brush and Stiles thanks him before turning to leave. He's already making plans to come back.
With the way Stiles' brain works, he devours the book in only a few short hours. He mourns the end of his tea by peering into the empty cup for longer than is strictly necessary. He pulls an all nighter because he gets distracted researching tea online and forgets about the paper he has that's due the next day. When he does remember it's two in the morning and he's already dragging.
He stumbles his way through his morning classes blearily, remembers nothing of either lecture, but takes notes that will probably take as much time to decipher as it would to just go back and redo the reading. Scott is always amused by Stiles when he is sleep deprived, and is helpful only to the extent of steering his best friend around objects that if run into, would injure him.
By one he's gonna die, he knows it.
He makes it halfway to his usual coffee haunt before turning tail and heading for Hale Of A Tea. He practically falls into the shop, earning a disgusted look from a pair of little old ladies sitting at one of the tables and an amused look from Peter behind the counter.
When Stiles slumps over to the counter Peter asks mildly “What can I get you?”
“Something to make the world not seem like a horrible place?” Stiles asks.
“Since you’re new to this whole tea thing, I’m going to take pity on you” Peter tells him. “But next time I expect you to be able to answer the question without help.”
“You are a god among men” Stiles tells him fervently. He roots around in his bag and produces a knitted scarf in heather gray. It doesn’t have an elegant pattern to it, but the yarn is soft and warm and he finished it this morning in a bout of crazy during one of his classes. “If you sell me some of that chocolate peppermint goodness from the other day and teach me how to brew it I will love you forever.”
Peter shakes his head in amusement as he scoops several different teas into a strainer and sets it into a cup. He pours boiling water into it from the dispenser by the sink and sets a timer. He turns to the shelf behind him and grabs a tin off the bottom shelf and opens the lid. Stiles can’t help himself, he leans forward and inhales the rich aroma with a look of bliss on his face.
“How much would you like?”
“How much is it?”
“We have a minimum of 100 grams. It’s $12.95 per hundred” Peter explains. That seems steep to Stiles, but Peter explains that it’s just over three ounces and that that amount of tea can make up to twenty cups.
The timer goes off and Peter removes the strainer from the cup and plops a couple of ice cubes into it to make it drinkable and slides it across the tabletop. Stiles inhales and there’s something earthy and orangey and it makes him slump a little.
“Lets start with that much, see if I can do this brewing tea thing right” Stiles says.
So Peter walks him through the steps of brewing a proper cup of tea. Explains that if he gets confused there are directions on the back of the packaging as he scoops tea into a blue, foil lined bag. He sticks a label to it and Stiles pays for his tea and a strainer and a little scooper. Peter hands him his bag and Stiles loops the scarf around his neck and takes the bag.
“Thanks,” he says and takes his bag of tea and his to go cup and leaves the shop.
Peter watches him go, fingering the heather yarn with a small smile.
Stiles is ashamed of himself when he’s run out of tea three days later. He feels an expensive addiction coming on and he can’t be fussed because it is A) delicious and B) the facilitator of said new addition is very, very pretty.
“Where are you going?” Scott groans because it is seven in the morning and no self-respecting college student is up this early unless they have a class. And no self-respecting college student has an early class on purpose.
“I have a mighty need,” Stiles says, like that explains anything. He stuffs yarn and needles in his bag and crashes out of the apartment with no regard to Scott’s tender feelings.
He’s already gone by the time Scott decides that yelling at him is worth the effort.
Chapter 2: Part 2
The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
Peter likes midmorning in the store. The crush of the early morning rush is over and the regulars that run their errand on their lunch breaks aren’t out yet. Peter can take a while to just breathe in the unique scent of the tea shop and remind himself why it is that he opened the place at all.
He loves tea. He loves everything it does and everything it means. It’s soothing and tea doesn’t nitpick you over the fact that you’re headed into your late thirties without a wife and five kids to show for it. Also, the shop is away from Beacon Hills.
He chose Berkeley to capitalise on all the university students who were both getting into tea because of the trend, or already know tea. They spend a lot of money on iced beverages in summer, fall and spring and hot in fall and winter. Students are also a source of cheap labor seeing as most of them only want something part time for some extra spending money.
It’s just across the bay from San Francisco so he gets all the news from tea sellers in the city without being in the city. A Hale Of A Tea is also the only true tea shop in city that is locally owned and operated. There is a single Teavana at the mall across town, so he has very little competition. He’s got a prime location in the historical shopping district just a few blocks from campus and regular clientele.
Peter looks around the shop with a small smile and that’s when he notices him. Stiles is sitting in one of the armchairs in the nook by the window. He’s got a mug on the little table in front of him and he’s knitting. Peter cocks his head and squints and he thinks it’s a bright purple cat figure, but he can’t be sure because it doesn’t have any ears yet.
Peter wanders over, takes a glance at the mug. It’s empty. There’s a little gray dog sitting on the table with black button eyes and felt tongue. The yarn matches the scarf Stiles gave him. The scarf Peter has loosely looped around his neck every morning since.
“Stiles?” Stiles starts and looks up. He smiles sheepishly and Peter quirks an eyebrow at him. “Don’t you have classes today?”
“No. It’s Thursday.” Stiles says. “I’m finishing up all the loose ends and then next year I get to hit it hard because it’ll be my doctorate year.”
So he’s twenty-five at the least. Peter feels better because while still more than ten years younger, it makes him feel less like a creep knowing that Stiles isn’t a freshman or something.
“What are you studying?” Peter asks curiously. He should be working on restocking before the noon rush. He heads in the direction of the storeroom, but makes sure that Stiles knows he’s still listening.
He needn't have bothered, Stiles follows him. “History, Myths in Literature that sort of thing. I want to teach so that I can get paid to argue about things I like and have a nice office, hence the Phd.”
Peter nods. Makes sense, before opening the shop he was a highly paid corporate lawyer. Boy, did Talia not take him leaving well. On top of not married and no kids he was taking his fancy law degree and opening a tea shop.
“Wait” Stiles says, leaning on the counter. “What is that?”
Peter looks down at the large five pound bag of tea he just cut open to pour into the tin he’s got sitting in front of him. He smiles. “Coconut Ginger Rooibos.”
“It smells awesome. What’s a rooibos?”
“It’s an herbal type tea made from a pea plant from Africa.” Peter explains. “The White Chocolate Peppermint you like so much is a rooibos.”
“Does it have caffeine?”
“Not typically, no.”
For the next hour Stiles quizzes Peter on tea as he restocks the shelves. Peter tells him about the differences in types of tea, what they’re good for. Peter gives him the same treatment he gives all new customers. He pulls down the teas and he lets him smell the leaves and explains about them. By the end of the hour Stiles’ pockets are several hundred dollars lighter and he leaves the store with a thermos with a built in infuser, an infuser mug and nearly a dozen different teas he wants to try.
Peter watches him leave the store with a small smile. He does like to introduce new people to the joy of tea. He runs his fingers over the soft yarn of the beanie hat that Stiles had left him. The color is a perfect match to his scarf.
It takes him a couple of days to notice the small bright purple cat propped on the shelf between two teapots and the little gray wolf tucked into the gap between the register and the counter where customers put their purchases to check out.
He doesn’t move either of them.
Stiles quickly becomes a regular fixture around the shop. He usually pops in for a midday fix. He favors the black and oolong teas and some of the greens during the days. The ones that have high caffeine content and flavor to match. He likes the more delicate white teas and herbals, but those are the ones he buys to take home.
He tells Peter very seriously that those are weekend and days off teas. On the days he has classes he wishes to be tense so he has coffee in the morning and tea with lunch. Peter is a classy tea drinker and drinks whatever he’s in the mood for. Whatever he’s in the mood for become the samples of the day and the two teas (one iced, one hot) are on sale that day.
Stiles starts leaving little knitted animals everywhere. There’s a pair of tiny foxes wedged in the shelves with the single herbs. A green turtle sits elegantly on a tea tray next to an expensive yi-xing tea set. A yellow duck has been stuffed inside one of the iced tea pitchers.
Peter doesn’t have the heart to move any of them. He feels like he’s being invaded but he doesn’t do anything about it, because every time he finds a new one it means Stiles has been back to the shop.
It’s not just small knitted animals that appear as well. Stiles forces wearables on him as well. There’s a cable knit sweater in cobalt that Stiles insists makes his eyes seem even bluer. A heather gray cardigan to match his hat and scarf. By the time December rolls around Peter has been outfitted for the cold in gray, blue, green and a singular (horrifying) orange and red striped sweatervest.
Thankfully Peter doesn’t feel obligated to wear the sweatervest. He shoves it to the back of his closet and prays it stays there until it decays.
One morning just after his last final of the semester, Stiles makes his way to the tea shop wearing a giant cardigan he purposely knitted two sizes too big. It’s dark red and matches the hoodie he’s wearing underneath it. He has a coat, but it’s still warm enough that layering up is still the way to go. He can’t fit this cardigan under his coat.
He skips across the street to The Fiber Factory for yarn because it’s time to finish up the Christmas gifts (he’s a poor college student with a hobby, he makes all the gifts he gives) and spends some time gabbing with the ladies sitting around having class. It’s an advanced class, which really makes it a sit around and knit (or crochet) with your friends and gossip class.
Then he makes his way across the road to A Hale Of A Tea and when he steps inside the shop it looks like an old folks home threw up inside it. He looks around at all the ladies (and a few guys), most over the age of fifty, and sees a lot of Fiber Factory bags.
Right, he forgot. The Yarn Crawl.
Stiles uses his youth and leanness to his advantage to make it to the counter. Peter pins him with a look and Stiles is dumping his bag, his shopping and his cardigan in the storeroom. He pulls on a blue apron and dives into the fray.
“Oh my goodness!” a voice cries over all the voices a while later. “Gail! Gail, look at this! Look at how cute it is!”
Gail is a dark haired woman standing next to the sample table trying to drink her weight in iced Strawberry Grapefruit Xue Long green tea. She turns and crosses the shop to a blue haired woman (her friend has embraced her age, whereas Gail is still fighting it) who is brandishing one of Stiles’ little animals.
Gail cooes over the cute little animal and the ladies chatter about how perfect they are for stocking stuffers for the littler grandkids. When Gail and her blue haired friend make it to the register they have nine of the handicrafts between then.
“How much are these?” the blue haired lady asks. She’s buying chamomile and a tumbler to put it in as well.
Peter stares at her and looks around at Stiles, who shrugs. “Five?” - Stiles shakes his head - no, “six dollars.”
The two ladies happily shell out the six dollars apiece and when the crush of people is gone and it’s just Peter and Stiles in the shop there isn’t a single tiny knitted animal to be seen anywhere. Well, except for the little gray dog by the register. That one Peter had said wasn’t for sale.
“Six dollars?” Peter asks, raising his eyebrows. “Really?”
“What? That pays for your labor and gives you some profit. If we split it seventy-thirty they’ll pay for themselves and keep me in yarn,” Stiles replies with a grin.
Peter doesn’t understand the fascination but it did clear out the shop and he knows Stiles will probably just repopulate it anyway. “Alright, deal. I’ll sell them, but you keep up with supply and demand on your own.”
“You got it!” Stiles replies cheerfully, because score! More money coming in means more money for things like actual food that doesn’t come in a box.
That night Peter meets Henry. Of course, Peter doesn’t know that his name is Henry. He just knows that after figuring out what that strange sound was he spends an hour running around the shop trying to catch a Hedgehog.
Fast little bugger too.
Once Peter’s got him cornered he sacrifices an apron to the cause and sets him in a box that once held a tea set he’s got out on display. Henry stares up at him from his prison like Peter’s just gone and destroyed everything. Peter sighs because anyone could have left their hedgehog behind and now he’s going to have to make found pet flyers.
He spends several hours online researching what hedgehogs eat that night. He feeds it and then spends the whole night restlessly wondering if he’s going to get up in the morning and find that the hedgehog has escaped into the house.
Stiles on the other hand flips his lid. He goes to feed Henry and his best tiny friend is gone. He tears apart his room, screams for Scott and the pair of them tear through the apartment looking for Henry.
Scott gets it, he’s in veterinary school. Small animals are his thing.
When Allison shows up for movie night she gets roped into helping look and she is reminded, again, that if she ends up married to Scott this will probably be a recurring theme in her life.
It’s nearly midnight, Stiles is starting think Henry’s dead in a crack somewhere when he spots it. His cardigan hanging innocently by the door. He narrows his eyes and recounts his footsteps from that morning. He’d grabbed his cardigan off the bed, not the rack by the door.
Henry loves pockets. He will spend whole days with Stiles riding around in his pockets with a handful of dried fruit for company and no one is ever the wiser. If Stiles’ sweater was in range and Henry was out of his terrarium this morning then Henry likely ended up in his pocket.
...Which he took off at the tea shop.
Stiles is hopping from foot to foot outside a Hale Of A Tea when Peter gets there. He looks anxious and he’s blowing into his mittened hands and Peter sighs. That answers the question of who the hedgehog that had done a faceplant in his granola this morning belongs to.
“I left Henry here by accident” Stiles blurts out as soon as Peter approaches.
Peter’s eyebrows crawl upward, but he doesn’t say anything, just lets them into the shop. He flips on the lights and sets the shoebox that was under his arm down on the counter and takes off the lid. Henry appears and Stiles cooes over him in joy because his hedgehog is content and unharmed and traveled in style in a cloth lined box.
“Thanks for looking after him.” Stiles says with a grin Peter’s direction.
“Thank me by helping” Peter tells him. So Stiles does. He helps Peter prepare for the day by setting out new merchandise and quickly wiping off the counter. Peter opens several tins of tea to make the day’s samples. One is a deep, earthy yellow tea that Stiles stands over just to breathe it in. This one Peter brews hot and sweetens with just a little bit of rock sugar to take any bitter edge off.
The other tea is a fruity tea that Peter blends together from Strawberry Creme White tea and Wild Orange Wulong tea. This one will be iced and he doesn’t sweeten it. The strawberry is strong enough to cut through the wulong well enough to not need it. Henry climbs out of the box to investigate the tins because it smells very interesting.
Peter won’t ever admit to doing it, but he fishes bits of dried strawberry out of the tin and scatters them on the counter for Henry to eat. It’s all organic, and Peter does it all the time, so he knows it won’t hurt the hedgehog.
“What else can I do?” Stiles asks after taking the broom to the floor.
Peter gestures to the large cast iron teapot sitting in the drying rack. It’s black with gold brushed elephants on it. “Make up a pot of the White Chocolate Peppermint?”
Stiles nods and gets to business. If there is one thing he’s learned since October it’s how to brew this particular blend of tea. He busies himself with measuring things out and pours the water into the teapot. He sets a timer and digs around under the counter for the little sample cups Peter keeps by the samples.
Peter is in the back room of the shop when Stiles stands up. The timer goes off and he quickly pulls the strainer from the teapot and puts the lid on. He turns to take it over to the tea tray where Peter has set up an area where people can set out cast iron pieces to create their perfect tea set. He stops and clears his throat “Hi! We’re not open yet.”
There’s a tall, elegant looking dark haired woman standing just inside the door of the shop. Next to her is a younger woman, not quite as tall, but equally pretty. They are similar enough in looks for Stiles to decide instantly that they are mother and daughter.
“Oh, I know.” the older woman says. “Is Peter here?”
Stiles walks over to the display and sets the teapot down on a trivet gently. He futzes with the warmer for a minute, trying to get it going “He’s in the back.”
Peter appears and he takes one look at the women darkening his doorway, scowls and says, “No.”
Talia Hale raises a singular eyebrow at her brother and says “You always say that.”
“And I always mean it,” Peter says drily. He walks over to Stiles and gently moves him out of the way to light the warmer for him. Stiles smiles gratefully and sets the teapot overtop of it. Then he goes to put out the sample cups. “Talia, this is my busiest time of year, I am not closing up the shop just to spend a week being judged by our family.”
“We’re not that bad, Uncle Peter,” Laura says, flopping into a chair.
Stiles’ eyebrows go up and he makes inquiring eyebrows at Peter, who rolls his eyes impressively. Talia observes this and says. “It’s Christmas, Peter.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?” Peter asks, because holidays have never been his forte anyway. Besides it’s the busy season and he is no longer a high priced corporate lawyer anymore.
“You can bring your boyfriend with you,” Talia says.
Peter stops giving Henry more bits of dried fruit to stare at his sister “Boyfriend?”
“Of course!” Talia gestures at Stiles who looks around behind him with wide eyes. “I’m sure the whole family would be interested in meeting your young man.”
Stiles mouths ‘young man’ to himself as Peter tries to wiggle out of visiting for the holidays. “I really can’t afford to close the shop, Talia,” he tells her.
Stiles makes up his mind and bounces his way around the counter. “Besides!” he says brightly “I’m headed home for Christmas tomorrow.” He gives Talia serious eyes “And if I can’t convince him to close the shop to come home and meet my dad, you’ve got no chance.”
Peter is staring at him and Stiles reaches over and presses a kiss to his lips. “I’ve got to get to class, babe. I’m leaving Henry here, don’t kill our hedgehog.”
Peter makes an indignant noise, “I would never!”
“Good,” Stiles beams, gives Peter another kiss and leaves the shop.
Peter watches him go and eventually meets Laura’s shocked gaze. Her mouth is open in surprise so Peter just rolls with it. He smirks at his niece until she breaks eye contact and then turns back to his sister.
In the end Stiles leaves Henry with Peter, who agrees to hedgehog sit under an assault of sweet kisses bestowed upon him by Stiles. Who has decided that they’re dating and is also completely shameless. So Stiles gives him Henry’s small house, food and a brightly wrapped present with a tag on it that says Do Not Open Until Christmas.
It takes barely a day for Peter to find the hats. Teeny tiny hats that look suspiciously like they would fit Henry perfectly. There is a navy one that matches the one Stiles wears on a daily basis. One in the heather gray of the hat and scarf Stiles made Peter. There’s one in red and white candy striping and a green one with tiny reindeer antlers and a tiny red puffball for a nose on it.
Peter is amazed and he can’t resist. Henry wears his reindeer hat a lot while he stays with Peter.
The days after Stiles leaves seem longer.
Peter has set extended hours for the store up until Christmas Eve so he doesn’t get home until late and when he does he feeds himself leftover chinese and Henry eats on the table next to him wearing a red hat with a little jingle bell atop it so that he tinkles gently while he eats. He decides halfway through the meal that what Stiles doesn’t know won’t hurt him and reaches for the haphazardly wrapped gift.
When he gets it open he has to smile because it’s a pair of mittens and they match the ones Stiles wears. Stiles made him matching mittens.
Peter tries them on for size and grins a little when they’re a perfect fit.
Chapter 3: Part 3
The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
Stiles gets back into town just after New Years and the first thing he does is go to the shop. He tells Scott it’s to pick up Henry, but they both know he’s lying. Henry is just a small part of why he’s headed to the shop. Peter is the main reason. Scott lets him lie though because he thinks it’s funny that after years of Stiles mocking him for being all confounded over someone he finally gets the chance to return the favor.
So Stiles rushes off to the tea shop shortly after he gets home to laughter from Scott, Isaac and Allison piled up on the couch.
Peter is helping a woman with a stroller and two small children with sticky fingers with a gift exchange when Stiles gets there. The baby in the stroller is out cold, but the two little girls keep touching things and every time they leave another fingerprint a muscle in Peter’s jaw jumps.
Stiles shouldn’t find it adorable, but he does.
Stiles ducks behind the counter, deposits his bag and digs for the suckers he knows Peter keeps behind the counter. “Hi hon!” he says and pecks Peter on the cheek. Peter growls and the muscle in his jaw jumps even as he gives Stiles a helpless little smile. The tired looking mother giggles at them.
Stiles rounds the counter and crouches by the two little girls “Hey, would you guys like a sucker?”
He has two sets of eyes riveted on him and both little girls nod. He leads them off to the chairs at one of the tables and sits them down. He lets each girl pick a color and then extracts a promise that they will sit still until their suckers are gone.
“You are,” Peter begins once the woman and her children have exited the shop. He rounds the counter as he speaks and walks toward Stiles, “amazing.”
Stiles stands to meet him and grins when Peter cradles his head in his hands and rubs their noses together in an eskimo kiss. He’s delighted and he shows it by bouncing on his toes once and throwing his arms around Peter’s neck to pull him into a real kiss.
Apparently Peter has decided that he’s okay with Stiles’ decision that they’re in a relationship.
He can work with that.
The ladies at The Fiber Factory all adore Stiles. It isn’t that you don’t find many young men who knit or crochet. It isn’t that he buys his yarn there. It’s the fact that Stiles is always willing to stop and talk with them. He can argue over patterns and colors with the best of them. He knits those cute little animals and his hats are wonderful.
So naturally, when they hear that Stiles has been spending a lot of time at a certain tea shop. In fact, that he has been spending a lot of time with a certain sarcastic tea shop owner, they naturally all get together to wander down the street and peer at Peter.
He spends the whole time wishing that they’d at least come into the shop and buy things. That would make feeling like an exotic animal at the zoo a little easier. When he complains Stiles cackles and tells him to be careful what he wishes for.
When the ladies start coming into the shop to window shop his merchandise and talk to him he regrets ever saying anything. Lord almighty these women find him cute. It’s like he’s lost all his dangerous edge because he’s dating Stiles. They take his quiet, sarcastic (caustic) nature as something to find adorable.
He hates it.
So, naturally, eventually he has to venture into The Fiber Factory one day for Stiles. Stiles is having a crap day and asked him to pick up a yarn order. He doesn’t want to, and he stands on the sidewalk outside the shop scowling for long enough to garner the attention of the ladies in the shop.
They’ve started taking bets on how long he’s just going to stand there when he finally comes in.
“Good morning, Peter,” Muriel chirps. She’s grinning from behind the counter and Peter feels like he’s in hell.
“Muriel, Louise,” Peter nods at the two sisters that own the shop and studiously does not look at the gaggle of women seated around the table in the middle of the room. If he doesn’t look at them he can pretend they’re not there.
“Did you need something?” Muriel asks sweetly.
“I’m here to pick up Stiles’ order,” Peter says, finally venturing away from the door. He edges past the table and he’s surrounded.
“I have it in the back” Louise says. “I’ll go get it, back in a jif.”
Peter shifts from foot to foot uncomfortably while the chatting starts back up at the table behind him. They’re talking quieter than they usually would and Peter knows they’re talking about him. Especially if the bouts of cut off giggling is anything to go by.
“Did Stiles lend you his mittens, Peter?” one of the ladies asks. Peter hasn’t bothered to learn the names of any of them aside from Muriel and Louise. “I helped him with the pattern you know. Poor boy just can’t get the hang of knitting fingers.”
A couple of the ladies coo about Stiles and his knitting as Peter extracts the mittens from his pocket. He fingers the soft yarn and says “He gave them to me for Christmas.”
One of the ladies giggles in a high pitched way and hides her face behind the afghan she’s working on. The woman who had asked about the mittens in the first place speaks again. “That’s so nice. Stiles was wearing his yesterday. I made my husband and I matching scarves this year.”
Peter tries not to color as the women start talking about couples sweaters and how to tell couples hats and mittens apart. He knows his ears are red as he looks down at his mittens. Stiles knitted a navy band around the wrists if his and a green one around Peter’s so that they can tell him apart.
He does his best not to smile helplessly because the last thing he needs to give these women is anymore fodder for gossip.
When Louise finally returns with a cardboard box nearly overflowing with skeins of yarn Peter flees as quickly as he can, followed by laughter.
He finds himself investing in a terrarium for Henry in February. He stores it on a shelf in the shop next to the little stereo he keeps there. Because apparently he is co-parenting a hedgehog. Stiles comes by in the mornings on his way to classes for his morning tea and drops Henry off.
Peter doesn’t understand, but he actually likes Henry so he doesn’t say anything.
He meets Scott one morning when Stiles has an early class and had to skip coming to the shop. He sends Scott to drop off Henry and Scott (who is used to Stiles) bemusedly does it. Mostly he does it to sate his own curiosity, but he will also be telling everyone he knows what Stiles’ tea shop owner is actually like.
Scott gets to the shop with forty-five minutes to spare before he needs to get to his own class. He steps inside the fragrant shop and peers around curiously at all the tea accessories around the shop. He grins at the sight of Stiles’ knitted animals all over the place before he heads for the counter.
Peter finishes ringing up a woman with a gigantic philosophy book under one arm and turns his attention to Scott. His eyes land on the little carrier in Scott’s hand with Henry inside it, and smirks.
“You must be Scott.”
“That would be me,” Scott says, and slides Henry’s carrier across the counter.
Peter unlatches the door with practiced ease and reaches in. Henry has no problem being handled by Peter. Peter means he gets to explore the counter and sometimes he gets to ride in Peter’s apron pocket when he’s stocking the store. He also gets yummy bits of fruit for snacks, so he likes his new co-owner.
Scott watches Peter deposit Henry on the counter and slide the tin of tea he has yet to put away after showing it to the lady now sitting in an overstuffed armchair in the corner. He pops the lid open and a strong fruity scent colors the air as Peter scoops some out to pick out a few bits of fruit for Henry.
“What is that?” Scott wonders, because he can’t pinpoint the smell.
“Dragonfruit Devotion,” Peter says, fishing around under the counter. He retrieves a little box and pulls out Henry’s navy hat and carefully fits it on his head. “It’s one of today’s sample teas if you’d like to try it” he gestures to the sample stand.
Scott wanders over and fills one of the little sample cups to try it and then turns back to Peter who is watching him with knowing eyes. “Sooo… You’re dating my best friend.”
“So it would seem,” Peter says mildly. He never actually agreed to date anyone, but by now it’s a moot point.
“I have instructions to invite you to Wing Thursday,” Scott says. “And to not accept no for an answer.”
“Wing Thursday?” Peter asks.
“Buffalo Wild Wings has half priced wings on Thursdays. We all go late at night to eat more than we should,” Scott explains.
“So you’ll come.”
“Well, since I have no choice.”
“Good,” Scott says. “It’s the one by campus. Be there at ten.”
Peter watches him go and when he’s vanished around the corner he looks down at Henry and says: “When did hanging out with a bunch of college kids become my life?”
Henry wiggles his nose and nudges a piece of fruit Peter’s way in comfort.
Eating food with Stiles’ circle of friends is pure chaos. Scott and Allison get into a fight so Isaac sits between them affably eating the celery off their plates with a put upon expression on his face. They do this on a fairly regular basis, so it isn’t unusual. They bicker and since Isaac is too classy to bicker, he ends up in the middle.
Stiles pulls Peter down to sit next to him at the end of the table. Peter is grateful for the escape route when Lydia and Jackson arrive with Danny and Ethan. Aiden slides into the space between Ethan and Lydia and spends the whole night aggressively murdering his wings and glaring at Jackson.
Erica and Boyd appear with their usual aplomb. Meaning that Erica very loudly announces their arrival and her opinions and Boyd stoically plows his way through a mountain of wings, eating five for every one of Erica’s.
Stiles insists on splitting several flavors with Peter, and Peter doesn’t mind. He doesn’t actually notice because he’s busy fending off the interrogation that Lydia launched as soon as she’d sat primly down and turned her whole body to face Peter with grim determination in her eyes.
She’s terrifying. He likes her.
At the end of the night their server gets a gigantic tip because everyone pitches in with whatever loose change they’ve got on them to go with the tips included in their bills. They pile a bunch of crumpled ones and fives in the middle of the table along with a fistfull of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. Peter isn’t sure how much it is, but he knows it’s got to be more than forty dollars.
They were rowdy, loud and ate a lot of food. She earned it.
Peter decides that Stiles has decent friends and he won’t mind doing this again next week. He tells Stiles this and Stiles grins and kisses him in reward when Peter drops him off at his door. Peter goes home full of chicken wings and a pleased feeling in his chest over this thing with Stiles.
Overall it’s a good night, but that might just be the heartburn talking.
Chapter 4: Part 4
The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
They stay in for Valentine’s. It’s their first and Stiles just wants to spend it alone. Peter takes this into consideration and decides to invite Stiles over. He’ll cook his famous carbonara and from scratch rolls and they’ll watch movies and snuggle.
He didn’t even know he liked snuggling until Stiles started showing up for movie night twice a week. It is now something he doesn’t ever want to give up.
“We need to have a discussion,” Peter says conversationally while he whisks the sauce.
“We do?” Stiles wonders, because as far as he knows things are going great.
Peter gives him a completely deadpan look and states, “My apartment is not your personal storage facility, Stiles.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Stiles replies. He’s trying for innocent, but innocent on him always looks mischevious.
“There is yarn everywhere, Stiles. Everywhere.”
“That’s an exaggeration.”
Peter looks pointedly at the bookcase behind Stiles and he swivels around to face it. The bottom two shelves that had at one point held actual books now hold baskets of yarn. The yarn is organized by color.
“There’s one by the couch, Stiles.”
Stiles shrugs and grins winningly at Peter. Peter raises a single eyebrow at him. “Okay, so I might have a yarn problem.”
“I have yet to see you use any of these, Stiles,” Peter says as transfers the noodles to the strainer in the sink.
“I will!” Stiles says defensively.
“No more yarn until you use some of this,” Peter tells him. “You can’t tell me you don’t have just as much at home.”
Stiles makes a face. “But it’s yarn.”
Peter smiles at him. “I know, baby.”
Stiles sighs, put upon, but agrees to curb his yarn habit until he actually uses some of the yarn he already has. Later, when they’re snuggled up on the couch under a quilt Peter’s mother made and they’re sharing cheesecake out of the pan, Stiles says: “Does this mean you don’t want me to make you anymore things?”
Peter smiles and presses a kiss to Stiles’ head. “You can make me all the things you want to.”
March arrives and with it come spring and that week long break from school all students worship: Spring Break. Stiles packs away all the knitwear because it gets too warm for scarves and mittens very quickly. Peter gets in all the new spring goodies at the shop and spends approximately two days tearing his hair out because of inventory and taxes.
Stiles lets him go out of his mind over it all for about a week before he drags him out of the shop.
They drive into San Francisco and wander around in Chinatown for the afternoon. When they sit down to eat Stiles decides to broach the subject. He waits until he’s halfway through his Sweet and Sour before he gets the guts up to say anything.
Peter looks up from his meal and raises his eyebrows at Stiles. He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to because Stiles just blurts it out.
“My Dad is coming to visit over Spring Break.”
“Okay,” Peter says.
“And I want you to meet him. Him to meet you?” Stiles sighs and drops his head into a hand. He pouts to himself and looks over at Peter who is watching him.
“Okay,” Peter says again.
“That’s it?” Stiles wonders.
Peter smiles at him and something inside Stiles settles. This is going to be fine. Dad’s cool with it, Peter is cool with it. Dad knows about Peter so it’s not like there’s going to be any big surprises. Well, barring strange incidents and Stiles making a fool of himself. That’s inevitable though, so Stiles decides it doesn’t count.
On the drive back to Berkeley Peter holds his hand over the gearshift and Stiles can’t help but smile because his boyfriend is okay with meeting his Dad. The boyfriend that never really agreed to being his boyfriend. At least not out loud.
The end of March comes and with it what Stiles has started calling The Visit. Scott mocks him a lot because it’s just the Sheriff. Stiles just gives him angry eyes and continues cleaning the apartment.
John arrives on Tuesday. It’s mid-morning and Stiles is manic. He’s bouncing with nerves and when they go to lunch he just can’t sit still. John sits through it because this is his kid and he’s got practice, but eventually he’s had enough.
Stiles stares at John, “I can’t help it.”
“Kid, I like this Peter guy already solely based on how damn happy he makes you,” John tells him.
Stiles nods. He knows this.
“Just remember that you’ve gotta let me have my fun.”
“What?” John asks. His innocent face is much more believable than Stiles’.
Peter will never admit, upon pain of death, that he’s nervous… But, well, he’s nervous. Peter is the alone kind of person. He’s never been in a relationship long enough to have meeting the parents actually be a thing. Now he’s trying to muddle through the day trying not to over analyze how badly this could all go.
He wants John to like him.
He goes through an entire pot of the Apple Lemon Pomegranate rooibos he carries all on his own. It’s soothing and he likes it a little better than chamomile. He loses patience with a trio of giggly teenage girls who wander into the shop and have to pick up everything in sight. He rearranges the books on tea, first in descending order of size, then by subject, and then he returns it to the way it was before. Alphabetically by author.
By the time four o’clock rolls around Peter has twisted himself around, straightened himself out and then decided it’s all for naught. John will like him or he won’t and Peter just has to remember that Stiles adores him and that’s what matters.
He decides this just in time because Stiles and his father enter the shop right as the clock rolls over on four-fifteen. John is of a similar height to Stiles, and he has a similar facial structure. His facial expressions are certainly similar enough that Peter can see the resemblance. This is all that Peter gets to see before Stiles bounds across the shop and throws himself into Peter’s arms.
Peter catches him because by now it’s reflex and he can’t help smiling and rubbing their noses together in an eskimo kiss like he always does before Stiles kisses him in return.
“Hi!” Stiles breathes at him.
“Hey,” Peter returns.
They pull apart and turn to John who is smiling softly at them. Stiles tugs Peter forward and introduces them. “Dad, this is Peter. Babe, this is my father, John.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Peter says, and offers up a hand to shake.
John takes it. His grip is firm, his hand warm and dry. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
The rest of the visit goes well. They spend a lot of time wandering around seeing the sights in the city. Stiles drags John to all his favorite restaurants. John eats a lot, but he keeps it healthy because otherwise Stiles will get all his deputies to gang up on him to make sure he’s eating right when he gets home.
Peter spends quite a bit of time with them. He isn’t always around, but this visit feels more like John came to visit them than just to visit Stiles. It’s really nice. Peter likes the feeling of having someone visit just because they actually might like him and not because they want something.
His family always seems to want something. To nag about not being married, to con him into visiting home… legal advice.
Once John has left, Stiles flops onto the couch next to Peter with a sigh. Peter has his feet propped up on the second hand coffee table Scott and Isaac found at a garage sale back in junior year. He’s got his eyes closed and his head leaned back. Stiles snuggles into his side and Peter wraps an arm around him.
They’re silent for a few minutes until Stiles says: “That went well, I think.”
Peter tips his head to rest on Stiles’, “It did.”
“He likes you.”
“I like him.”
they bask in being together for a few minutes and then Stiles says, softly enough that Peter almost doesn’t hear it: “I love you, you know.”
Peter smiles in wonder and gazes down at the man in his arms. He pulls him closer and presses a kiss into his hair and says: “I love you too.”
The Unexpected Marriage of Peter Hale
Classes end, Stiles defends his thesis and gets his doctorate and gets hired on by the historical society in San Francisco. Stiles is excited because he gets to work in the museum and talk about mythology all day.
The lease on the apartment ends at the beginning of June and after a talk about how all his yarn needs to live in the same place, Stiles moves in with Peter. It’s an adjustment because together they have a lot of books and Stiles brings more yarn into the house than common sense, or so Peter says.
Stiles rearranges their tea paraphernalia. Between the two of them they have duplicate tins of approximately half their teas. He goes out one day and buys a glass, corner display case to show off the nicest of their tea sets. They have thirty between them and Stiles thinks it’s a travesty to just box them up and store them.
Peter rolls with the changes. He clears a corner table of the dead plant Talia gave him at Thanksgiving for Henry’s habitat. He goes through all the books for duplicates, tracks down another bookcase and reorganizes.
Stiles continues to knit. Now that it’s summer he’s taken to making blankets (in addition to all the hats) to donate to a couple of local charities. At the beginning of July he participates in the semi-annual yarn crawl. Peter is inundated with a thousand ladies driving around the county from shop to shop again.
Peter is trying to avoid strangling anyone when Laura and Derek appear in the shop. Laura looks absolutely gleeful and waves as she and her brother take up seats at a little table. Derek is scowling and grumpy because they’ve been driving all morning and Laura hasn’t let him stop to eat.
Halfway through the afternoon Stiles comes into the shop. Peter is ringing out the last set of ladies from the most recent wave when Stiles comes in. He’s carrying two huge, overflowing bags of yarn and a grin.
Peter sighs, “Really?”
“Really, really!” Stiles chirps as he deposits his stuff in the back room and then comes over to press a quick kiss to Peter’s cheek. He’s extracting Henry from his terrarium when a loud female voice comes from the other side of the shop.
“See! I told you he had a boyfriend!”
Both Peter and Stiles turn to stare at Laura and the ladies give the table she’s sitting at with Derek a wide berth as they leave the shop. Derek has a long suffering look on his face as if he’s finally accepted his fate to be embarrassed by his older sister on a regular basis.
Stiles can’t help himself, he smiles at Laura sunnily and says: “I’m not his boyfriend, I’m his fiance.”
Everyone turns to stare at Stiles. Laura and Derek in shock and Peter with a sort of wondering look in his eyes that tells Stiles they’ll be revisiting that statement at a later date.
Stiles is okay with that.
Peter doesn’t bring up their apparent engagement at first. He fields phone calls from Talia, his mother and the rest of the family demanding to know why he hadn’t told anyone he was seeing anyone. Why didn’t he call to tell them that he was getting engaged? When was the wedding? Would they be invited or should they just expect to see an announcement in the paper?
It takes several weeks for Peter to bring it up. Mostly because his family is his family and he can’t get a word in edgewise and doesn’t want to deal with it at home too. Eventually though he’s dealt with the family and he’s ready to talk about it.
Right when Stiles’ false sense of security was settling in, too.
Peter makes an after dinner pot of tea and joins Stiles in the living room and settles in to stare at him disconcertingly until Stiles acknowledges him.
“Okay, what?” Stiles demands.
“We’re engaged?” Peter asks. His voice is mild.
Stiles stops and looks at him, but he can’t read anything in his expression. He picks up his tea cup and fiddles with it a bit, sipping nervously. “You don’t want to get married?”
“Stiles,” Peter says calmly. “We’ve been dating for nearly a year and we never actually said we were doing it.”
“You don’t want to date me?” Stiles asks.
“That isn’t what I’m saying,” Peter says. “Marriage is big, we need to talk about this.”
“What is there to talk about?” Stiles asks. “I love you, you love me, we already live together. We’re co-parenting a hedgehog.”
Peter sighs and he knows that Stiles will continue to talk this in circles unless Peter stops him. “Drink your tea.”
Stiles lifts the tea cup to his mouth and sips. Peter watches him with a zen expression on his face until Stiles gets to the bottom of his cup. Then his gaze sharpens when Stiles hears the clinking and peers into the china trying to figure out what that sound it.
“Are you serious?”
“Are you kidding me right now?!” Stiles demands, fishing a white gold ring out of his cup and drying it with the edge of his shirt. It has a trio of square diamonds embedded in it and it’s classic and masculine. Stiles looks up at Peter with wide eyes, “Are you? Really?”
Peter slinks off his feet so that he’s kneeling in front of Stiles, whose eyes go as wide as saucers as he lets Peter take his limp hands.
“Stiles Stilinski, every since the first time you walked into my shop I have wanted to know you. As I have gotten to know you you have crept into every crevice of my life until I no longer recognized it. You are the air I breathe and the light at the end of my tunnel and I love you. Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” Stiles breathes, eyes still wide, but with his eyes glittering.
Peter smiles and takes the ring from Stiles’ limp hand and slips the ring on his finger. He kisses both of Stiles’ hands and then leans up to rub their noses together. Stiles grins, remembers himself and cradles Peter’s head in his hands to kiss him properly.
“I am the luckiest bastard alive,” Stiles says. “You let me steamroller you into a relationship and I feel like I won the lottery everyday.”
Peter smiles and says: “I love you too, Stiles.”
They get married in October, exactly a year to the day of Stiles first walking into the shop.
The Sheriff officiates, Talia provides cake.
And they live Happily Ever After.
Happy Steter Week Everybody!