Stiles had been on shift for barely two minutes when the entrance flew open with a ridiculous amount of force. It made Stiles jump, a lady at one of the tables spill a bit of her coffee, and a pair of teenage boys just leaving stumble backwards a moment. And all of them turn to see a man stalking into the coffee shop. He was a younger guy, maybe a few years older than Stiles, but he was tall and muscular and gorgeous in a way that would have drool-worthy if the man didn’t appear absolutely murderous at the moment.
The dude looked like he could bench press a small car so it was a bit concerning to see the anger radiating off of him as he looked at Stiles and started towards him. There was a stomp in his step, like he was getting ready to yell. He had a cardboard coffee cup from the shop in hand, fingers clutching it so hard that there were dents in it.
Stiles opened his mouth to ask what exactly was wrong, but the guy beat him to it.
“You are the fucking worst kind of person in the world,” the man said, practically spitting where he stood in front of the counter.
Stiles froze, the familiar words hitting him and stealing the air from his lungs. He knew that sentence. That particular combination of words were etched neatly down his right side, dipping slightly around his rib and curling. He’d been waiting for this moment his entire life. Preparing for it.
A lot of times the ‘markings’ were common, simple things you said to strangers all the time. Excuse me; thank you; hello. Some got extremely romantic things like it’s you isn’t it? I’ve been waiting for you or Wow you’re really pretty. And they were always the first words their soulmate would ever say to them.
Of course, having You are the fucking worst kind of person in the world tattooed down your side, didn’t bode well. How fucked up was Stiles Stilinski that even his fucking Soulmate hated him? High School had been a special kind of hell when all the kids learned what his tattoo said—despite his best efforts to keep it a secret.
Taking Stiles silence as confused fear, the man continued. “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you think it’s funny? It’s disgusting and childish.” He slammed the coffee cup in his hand on the counter. The real hatred coming off the guy was a bit much though. Stiles had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
But God, did he ever want to punch the guy.
While other people took comfort in their words, would repeat them to themselves like a mantra, would rub them in anxious moments, would remind themselves their soulmate was out there, Stiles hated his words. From the moment Stiles was old enough to understand, he hated his Soulmate too.
Stiles took a deep breath, staring at his Soulmate. The guy looked absolutely furious, face a bit red and eyebrows furrowed. He might have still been talking, Stiles couldn’t really listen.
Instead, he looked down at the coffee cup his Soulmate had smashed onto the counter. Blue Sharpie, usually used simply to write the name of the customer, was used to write “You might not be the best looking girl here, but beautiful is only a light switch away.” Stiles had to tilt his head slightly to be able to read the whole thing.
Stiles blinked down at it, squinting. Fucking hell. His co-worker, a druggie, jackass named Marcus Sanders had just left when Stiles arrived. It was a horrible thing to write. Seeing as the world girl was written on it, and Marcus was straight, it probably wasn’t his Soulmate that Marcus had written that to. Some poor, unsuspecting girl had probably gone to take a drink of her coffee only to find herself being insulted and objectified with a single swoop.
Hottie with Anger Management Problems was here to defend the honor of someone else.
Sure, why not? Why shouldn’t Stiles have had to grow up with you are the fucking worst kind of person in the world on his body because Marcus was a fucking asshole.
Stiles straightened instead, lifting up his head slightly to look back at the man. He was glaring at Stiles, a look of absolute hatred about him. And the man didn’t know, had absolutely no clue who Stiles was.
Stiles took in a deep breath. In this moment, Stiles got to decide what this man would have grown up with. What words would mar his skin, a reminder that there was someone out there for him? What would his first words be to his Soulmate, leaving permanent tattooing on his body from the moment he was born? Even if this man didn’t want Stiles, his words would be branded on his skin. This drop dead, gorgeous man who had come in to defend someone else who looked like he was seconds away from ripping Stiles apart.
Of course Stiles had thought about it before, what words would pass his lips in exchange for the mark against his skin. But never in Stiles’ imagination would he be the one to speak second. Or have time to truly think about it.
“You are absolutely perfect,” Stiles said slowly, finding a bit of satisfaction in the way the man stepped back like he’d been slapped. If nothing else, Stiles could give him those words.
The anger gave way to utter shock. The man’s mouth dropped open, his eyes widening as he stared. “Y-you,” he managed to stutter out.
Stiles looked away from the man quickly. “I assume you’re angry about the cup? And this is your friends or girlfriends?” Stiles asked, calmly looking up at Derek. When he didn’t reply in any way, Stiles continued. “The guy who was working here just before me, Marcus, is a total jerk. If you’d like to complain—which you absolutely should, I can give you the number for the owner, Maggie Wilks. Marcus and I switched out only a few minutes ago.”
The man stared at him a moment, gaping like a fish. “It wasn’t you.”
“No,” Stiles agreed with an awkward smile, “that isn’t really my style. Promise it wasn’t me. But if you’d like a new cup of coffee, for you or your girlfriend, I can absolutely do that on the house. Maggie will be absolutely mortified when she hears Marcus wrote that on the cup. I’d suggest we call her right now, but she’s at a funeral.”
“My sister,” the man said suddenly, seeming to come back to reality. He blinked rapidly, like he had gotten something in his eye. “It was my sister. She was really upset. More upset than usual because she’s been having a shitty week but—she’s not my—she’s my sister.”
“Okay,” Stiles agreed calmly. “Tell her I’m so sorry, okay? Marcus is a complete dick. Should I make her a new cup or—?”
“What? No, no that’s—it’s fine. I was angrier than she was.”
“Right,” Stiles nodded. He grabbed a notepad and pen to quickly scribble down Maggie’s email address and the number for the coffee shop. He ripped it off and handed it to the guy. “She’ll be back in here tomorrow morning if you want to call, otherwise you can send her an email to complain. I’ll give her a heads up. Or if you’d rather, I can tell her myself and you don’t have to worry about it. Whatever works.”
“Thanks,” he said absently, taking the paper. He didn’t move beyond that, just stayed rooted to the spot. Gone was the anger, replacing it with a soft look. He was staring at Stiles, something different in his eyes. “My name is Derek,” he blurted suddenly. “Derek Hale. You—you’re my Soulmate.”
Stiles winced. “Yeah, hi. My name is Stiles Stilinski.” He felt awkward, like he should apologize for being him. But it wasn’t really Stiles’ fault the universe tied Derek to him.
Derek was smiling though. “I’m so sorry for yelling at you. I can be a bit over-protective, but that wasn’t really fair of me.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’d have been pissed too,” Stiles said with a shrug. “I hope your sister is okay. Tell her I hope her week gets better, okay? Have a good day!” he kept his voice chipper, even giving a tight grin like the world didn’t feel like it was being held together by scotch tape. Stiles turned away, oddly relieved that now at least he knew. The words had been said and the situation was over and he’d never have to worry about it again.
“Wait!” Derek shouted, stopping Stiles from picking up the cleaning cloth.
Stiles blinked up at him, confused. “I’m sorry, was there something else?”
Derek shook his head, smiling. “No, I realize you need to get back to work, and I should probably go find Cora. But uh, I’ll leave my number? You could call me some time, and we could meet up, get to know one another, ya know?” He was scribbling down numbers on a piece of paper quickly, and then holding it out to Stiles.
Stiles just stared at it. “You want me to call you,” Stiles repeated slowly, “and you want to get to know me?”
Derek nodded slowly, like he thought Stiles was a bit slow. To be fair, Stiles felt like he was rebooting.
Carefully he reached out to take the offered number. “Why?”
Derek cocked his head to the side, his eyes running over Stiles like he was trying to decipher him. “What do you mean? You’re my Soulmate. I’d like to get to know you. I’m really excited to.”
Stiles considered him a moment. “Huh. You’re serious.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Derek asked. He looked suddenly younger, a bit vulnerable. “Do you not want…?”
“No I do! Of course I do!” Stiles assured him quickly, the paper in his hand wrinkling in Stiles’ tight grip. “I just didn’t think—I mean I never thought my Soulmate would actually—” Stiles bit his lip, trying to keep the words from continuing to spill out.
Derek looked concerned through, eyes wide and searching. “I don’t understand? You never thought your Soulmate would actually…what?”
Stiles felt his face heating up. He reached a hand back to awkwardly scratch the back of his head. “Well I mean, I always sort of assumed that my Soulmate would…you know…hate…me.”
Derek looked completely bewildered. “What? Why would I hate you?” A moment passed and then a sort of understanding seemed to cross his face, his eyes going wide as his face paled. “Oh my God.” The man looked like he might be sick all across the floor. “I said—I called you the worst person in the world! That’s tattooed on you?”
Stiles wanted to melt into the floor. “I guess it seems a bit stupid now. You don’t even know me. But uh, I guess growing up I’d always assumed—” He cut off again, shaking his head. “Sorry. I suppose I’m being all kinds of stupid.”
But the look on Derek’s face rolled to understanding and his hand shot up to rub along the top of his chest. He stared at Stiles a moment before his face turned to horror. “Oh my God.”
Stiles winced, nodding. “Yeah.”
“I am so sorry.”
“No! No, don’t. It’s fine. Really.”
Derek gaped at him. “How the hell is that fine? And you…even after that you said…my words are…”
Stiles looked down at his feet, embarrassed. “I always wished my words were like that. You know, something that was comforting even when things went bad? I thought that even if I couldn’t be a person my soul mate would want I wanted to give them something good.”
Derek’s eyes were watering. Dear God Stiles had fucked this up magical second chance already.
“But you do seem really great!” Stiles tried to reassuring him, wondering how this had gotten so out of hand. “Honest! And if you did want to get to know me I would be absolutely up for that. But, like, no pressure.” Stiles wished the world would swallow him up. “I could give you call?” he said waving the paper Derek had given him. “We could set up dinner or something…”
Derek smiled at Stiles like he was a fragile thing. His eyes darted between the paper and Stiles and back again. “Would it be too forward of me to ask if I could pick you up from here at the end of your shift? I’d really like to get to know you.”
Stiles bit his lip. “Maybe I should go back to my apartment and change first. I must look like a slob.” He was dressed in sweats, his hair probably sticking up in every which way and direction.
“If you’d be more comfortable changing I can wait. But uh—for the record, you definitely don’t have to. You look ridiculously good.” Suddenly it was Derek’s turn to blush. A redness crept up his neck and at the tips of his ears. Where Stiles always managed to look awkward and blotchy with a blush, Derek looked endearing. “Sorry. I sound like an idiot. You’re just kind of distractingly good looking. And apparently you’re a saint. And I fucked this up with the very first thing I said, but if you’re willing to give me a chance I’d like to try to make up for that.”
Stiles didn’t really know what to say to that. His mouth opened and closed for a moment and then he said, “Thank you.”
Derek ducked his head shyly and wow, he was nothing like the guy who came storming in. This was is soulmate? And he actually wanted to get to know Stiles?
Stiles took a deep breath. “Well, if you’re sure you don’t mind the fact that I look homeless, you could swing by here right at three, and we could grab some coffee and go for a walk? I like my work place well enough but I’d prefer not to stay here longer than I need to.”
Derek nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! Yeah that’s perfect actually.”
Stiles offered him a smile, fiddling nervously with his fingers. “Well your sister is probably waiting for you.”
“Hmmm?” Derek questioned, shaking his head. “Oh. Cora. Yeah I should go find her. Right. But umm…I’ll see you at 3, right?”
Stiles nodded. “Yeah. I’ll be here.”
Derek turned to go towards the door, his shoulders more relaxed than when he came in. But then he spun around again to look at Stiles. “Thank you—for letting me try to make it up to you. I don’t deserve this second chance but I swear to God I will not make you regret it. I know everyone says cheesy stuff about meeting their soulmates but—I really do look forward to getting to know you, Stiles because I swear I’ve only just met you but I can already tell you’re something special.” And then he was gone, not waiting for Stiles to reply.
The pair of teenage boys Derek had nearly run into when he had entered the coffee shop had stayed behind to figure out what was happening. After watching, they began clapping with stifled laughs.
“Wow,” said a woman drinking a cup of coffee near the counter, “that was certainly interesting. You two will be cute.”
“Thanks,” Stiles replied, unable to look away from the door, his eyes still glued to the spot where Derek had disappeared.
Maybe it would be okay.