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“I’ll have a red eye.” Stiles looked up from fiddling with the display of granola bars. For some reason when they were doing stock they ordered too many of the Clif bars and not enough of the Kind bars and now that they were carrying Luna bars too, the whole thing was off balance. There was no good sort of pattern to put them in, not even Fibonacci numbers were working at this point. There was a man standing in front of him, a sort of pinched expression on his face as he waited for a response from Stiles.

But this was a MAN, like the kind you see in GQ or music videos or somewhere, anywhere really but Beacon Hills.

“Uh… a wha-?” Stiles stumbled, he gulped, pulling at his sharpie and grabbing a cup to write on. The man grumbled something under his breath before speaking up, pulling at his v-neck’s sleeve, which, really, should’ve been a crime because if his shirt could talk it would probably be screaming from the pain of being stretched that much.

“A red eye. A drip with a shot of espresso. Could you hurry up? There’s a line.” He glared at Stiles as all at once Stiles’ body went from zero motion to moving in every direction at once. He knocked a Kind bar off the counter and had to bend over, pick it up, and slam it back into the display while holding a coffee under the percolator. He pressed all the buttons for a shot of espresso while the coffee continued to drip and snuck a not-so-sneaky glance at The Man.

…And he was staring right back, with no shame at all. Well, staring was being generous. The guy was outright glaring at Stiles, urging him to finish up quickly so he could get out of the shop and back to his life. Stiles snapped his gaze back as fast as he could, like a turtle retreating into its shell. The coffee finished up and Stiles dumped the shot in, slipped on the cardboard sleeve and handed it to The Man.

“Um, that’ll be 2.39 plus the shot… 3.12!” In the middle of ringing up The Man, his phone started ringing and he fumbled to extract it from his way too tight jeans while also getting his wallet and holding the coffee. He had to put the coffee down and he hastily drew out a twenty in one hand and answering the phone with another. He pinched the phone between his ear and his shoulder and picked up his coffee again with his free hand.

“What, Erica?! Wait, hold on – Here, keep the change – What the hell was Boyd doing?”

“Thanks!” Stiles called out, putting the change in the tip jar, receiving a nod from The Man as he backed into the door to open it, shoving his wallet into his pocket and taking his phone in his hand again.

The woman next in line cleared her throat as Stiles stared after him.

~*~

Derek got out of his Camaro and headed to the group huddled around the construction site with hard hats on, taking one offered to him by a worker and slipping it on himself. “So what is going on Erica?”

His coffee was getting cold and no one was telling him what was going on with this crisis concerning some damn wall.

“I don’t know, you’re the architect, I’m just the one that keeps your life together. Honestly Derek, do we need to have a chat about professional roles?” Erica rolled her eyes petulantly and shifted her weight to her hip. She always hated the term ‘secretary’ though technically that was her official job title. They’d met in undergrad when Erica was majoring gender studies and English and saved Derek from a failing grade in a feminist poetry class he had been forced to enroll in for a general education credit.

Also they were the first werewolves they’d met at college. That kind of seals the deal. Erica was lonely, an omega, but they quickly became friends and eventually Erica joined Laura’s pack. Later in their careers, they’d come across Boyd and Isaac who had been the victims of a rogue alpha that Laura, Derek and Erica were trying to hunt down. They helped them adjust and pretty soon they were a family.

The kind of family that turns into werewolves and beats the shit out of each other when they were pissed, but still a family all the same.

Laura was Derek’s older sister and resident entrepreneur, and sensed the beginnings of a perfect firm in her pack. She had the business major, Erica had the organizational and management skills, Derek was an architect, Isaac was an art major and did design and marketing with Erica and Laura, and Boyd was an engineer who did their general contracting and construction. Together, they were Alpha Architecture, and damn if they weren’t the best within fifty miles of Beacon Hills.

“It’s this wall here,” Boyd said, pointing to a few blueprints laid out on some sawhorses. “Is it a support wall or what, because it shouldn’t be, but the structure is drawn like it could be. I just need to know how the studs should be put in.”

“Yeah, no, that’s right. They’re both supports. The floor plan they wanted needs these two supports there for the open space above.”

“Ah right, I forgot they got rid of the smaller divisions upstairs. Hey! Hey, Greenberg! Switch the studs!” Boyd called out to some worker. Derek walked away back to his car, climbing in and setting the seat all the way back so that he was lying down.

That coffee shop… Something was seriously off in there. He just kept smelling sandalwood and pine needles and eucalyptus and… well, coffee, but not coffee like the drink, like someone was coffee. It was so hard to try and describe, but something in the shop drove him nuts. He’d been avoiding it since the first time he’d walked by it on the street, but today he seemed to veer off his normal course and ended up parking right in front. Double parking actually, but the common passerby already thought he was a douche on principle for driving a Camaro, why should their opinion change just because he was parked correctly?

No, it had to be someone in the coffee shop. Maybe he’d just go in again and figure out who it was about the same time tomorrow. They had to be a regular if the coffee shop smelled like that consistently.

There was a knocking on his window and Derek jerked up at the sudden rapping. He put his seat up and rolled down the window to meet Erica’s look. It was THE look – the one she had developed in college when she watched Derek play drinking games he knew he was terrible at or when he tried to man-splain her on sports (she knew her baseball damn well thank you very much).

“What.”

“You… You’re off, Derek, and I don’t like it.”

“I just can’t get this smell out of my nose.”

“Like a bad smell?” she asked, leaning on his window frame and taking a casual sniff of his car.

“No,” he said, pushing her nose out of his car, “a good one. I think. I don’t know, I can’t figure it out. I think it’s from that coffee shop on West Caufield?”

“Grinder? I hear they have really great drips. I kinda miss the ones in Brooklyn,” she said pouting, “Well… you could get me a frap if you wanted…?” She said, wiggling her eyebrows semi-suggestively. Derek sighed, rolling his eyes.

“Well… Only because you asked so nicely. And no, you can’t come with me. If it’s something dangerous, I’ll figure it out and the pack can take care of it.” Erica huffed, stepping back so Derek could roll up his window and started his car up all the way, peeling out of the dirt lot. He knew it wasn’t dangerous, but it was just something… off.

And Derek was determined to find out what it was.

~*~

When Derek climbed out of his car, the sun was starting to begin its rise up in the sky. Most people were at their jobs, getting started on morning activities and begging for their lunch break to come sooner. He walked to the front of the shop and took a cautious sniff. That coffee smell was still there and the pine needles, but the intoxicating sandalwood bit was missing. It was starting to smell really good.

He opened the door and walked into the shop. There were only a couple of elderly people sitting in the back, one on a kindle and the other with the day’s paper in hand. They didn’t look up as Derek walked in.

“Oh hey! It’s uh, you!” the barista chirped. He twitched a smile at Derek.

Eucalyptus. This kid seemed like he smelled close to whatever was giving off the scent. It was the sandalwood though that was driving him mad. Derek gave the barista a weird look.

“You remember me?” The kid smiled a little and rocked back on his heels, looking to the side.

“I don’t usually forget hot guys that I embarrass myself in front of,” he answered. The kid chuckled to himself and then looked up with a smile, except it didn’t seem too much like a happy smile to Derek. There was a heaviness to it that shouldn’t be there. “So, a red eye again? Or something a little less caffeinated?”

“Um, just a frap. Forgot my friend’s drink when I had to rush out.” Total lie. He hadn’t gotten the call until after he’d gotten his order. The kid nodded and started working on the frap, but for some reason he didn’t look like he believed Derek’s story.

He whirled around the little space behind the bar and pretty soon was piping out the whipped cream on top and handing it to Derek while he was checking out the pastries in the case next to the register. They had bear claws. Derek loved bear claws.

“Uh, Kay, so that’s 3.59 for the frap then. Unless you want a treat too? You should try a bear claw. They’re my favorite!” The kid hummed a note to himself quietly and tapped his fingers on the side of the register for a couple seconds before deciding something, “Actually, you should just have one on the house. You know, like crack. Have a free sample, I’ll get you addicted and then you can start paying when you come here all the time, because these pastries are really awesome. I make them every morning.”

The kid was moving about, whipping out a paper bag so it expanded in the air and wrapping the pastry in a thin piece of tissue paper before stuffing it in the bag and handing it to Derek along with the frap, who was just holding out his debit card.

“I love bear claws.” Smooth. Super smooth Derek. Lemon, cinnamon, juniper berry floated over the counter toward Derek from the kid. Was that… a pleased scent? The kid was grinning like a cat as he swiped the card and waited for the receipt to print.

“Great! Well then you’ll love them!” The ripped the receipt from the register, wrapped it around the card and handed it to Derek, brushing the kid’s fingers on accident.

Sandalwood. Lots of sandalwood. Tons of it. Like, electric sandalwood and the kid’s fingers shocked him.

“Whoa…” The kid breathed out, “Your eyes just changed blue.” Derek clamped his eyes shut, breathed through his nose and out through his mouth twice, opened his eyes again.

“Uh yeah, they do that sometimes if they catch the light the right way.” Or when you can barely keep your dick in your pants, Derek thought.

“Oh, cool. Um, well let me know what you think of our bear claws?”

“Right.” Derek turned around and quickly walked out of the shop, head spinning. He put the bag and the frap up on the roof of the car and unlocked the door, slipping in and slamming it closed, completely forgetting the frozen drink and pastry on the roof.

He didn’t go anywhere, he just sat there trying to figure out exactly what was happening in his life. That kid… He just smelled so good. He took a couple seconds to breathe and, making up his mind, got out of the car and walked back into the coffee shop.

“Something wr-”

“What are you doing tonight?” Derek realized he probably looked half-crazed, rushing into the shop like that with wild eyes and way-too-determined footsteps.

“Um what? I, uh…” The kid looked flustered. He’d been organizing the granola bars again when he walked in and now they were spread out all over the counter when his hands spazzed out at Derek’s question.

“What are you doing tonight? Because I’m free and, I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m just asking you this, I don’t know your name and-”

“Stiles. Name’s Stiles.” He perked up quickly with the information.

“-Uh thanks, Derek here. Yeah, I just met you and-”

“This is crazy but here’s my number, so call me maybe?” He smirked at Derek. Derek paused for a couple beats, trying to figure out what that meant. Was it from a movie or something?

“What?” The k- Stiles – looked at him funny and then just smiled.

“Uh, it’s a song. ‘Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe.’ It was on the radio all last summer.” Derek looked completely confused. He was starting to get a little nervous and frustrated. He didn’t know if this kid was even into him and he’d never done this before.

“I don’t listen to the radio?” Stiles sighed heavily. “Anyway, I was just going to ask you if you wanted to… hang out? Do something?” Stiles narrowed his eyes a bit.

“Do what, exactly? I don’t hook up if that’s wh-”

“No. No, I just… When do you get off?”

“Um, Six?”

“Ok, gimme till then and I’ll figure out what we’ll do and you can say yes or no? Uh, here’s my number.” Derek pulled out the receipt Stiles had handed to him earlier and started scrawling his number across. Lemon. Juniper. Cinnamon. Petrichor.

“Oh my god, you totally want me to call you maybe.” Derek sighed. Why was he so desperate to get this guy to hang out with him? Sandalwood? What credibility did a single scent have in his life?

Derek grumbled, “I really wish you wouldn’t equate this to a pop song.”

“Hey! It was THE pop song of summer twenty-twelve, man! Almost a classic!” Stiles laughed at him, taking Derek’s number. “But uh, sure… I guess, text me?” Derek flashed him a smile and took a step back from the counter.

“Great. See you then.” Derek turned stiffly and walked out of the shop, trying incredibly hard not to turn back around to see if Stiles was watching him leave.

When he got back to the Camaro, the frap was half melted. He opened his car door and grabbed the pastry that was thankfully still there and the frap and climbed in. Erica was gonna be pissed that it was melted.

So what? He had a date tonight.

~*~

When Stiles graduated college, he really had no idea what he was going to do. A degree in computer science and comparative literature wasn’t exactly something that generated a lot of income right away. Comp Sci could do something, but you really needed to be brilliant, and all he had were a bunch of half-finished iPhone and Android apps sitting in a folder on his desktop.

But then Danny appeared. One day he just called Stiles up out of the blue and told him he had an idea for a few apps they could sell, and that was it. Stanny Games was built overnight in a cramped apartment in New York surrounded by heaps of coffee.

The games took off faster than any others in the industry, and the productivity, utility and other apps that followed did just as well. Eventually Stiles sold his portion of the company before they got too famous after only a year and invested his money. Danny kept the Stanny name alive and was still incredibly successful, but it just wasn’t the thing Stiles wanted to do with his life.

So after a single week of being completely bored, Stiles flew back to Beacon Hills and opened up a coffee shop with some of the returns from his investments. It was a joke really, he only ran it at odd hours at first and people became desperate and frustrated trying to guess when the shop would be open, but then all of a sudden it became his life. Grinder was the new hot spot in Beacon Hills, and while Beacon Hills was a small town, Grinder made enough money to support Stiles so he didn’t need to dip into his savings and investments. In fact, it allowed him to invest more and grow that retirement fund that Stiles planned on filling with Jello pools and following concert tours.

Probably not the grandest or most traditional of plans, but when was Stiles ever conventional?

So now looking at the counter of his little coffee shop, manned only by himself and a couple BHHS students, he had to wonder what led him to getting a date with the hottest piece of ass this side of the Mississippi.

Stiles was humming to himself and grinning like an idiot. He couldn’t care less.

~*~

Picnic? On the Preserve? There’s a good spot near an outlook. Let me know if it’s too cheesy.” Read the text message from Derek that afternoon. Stiles rolled his eyes, pausing in the middle of cleaning the steamer.

My favorite is Gouda!

Is that a reference to something? Am I supposed to get that?

“You’re lucky you’re hot.” Stiles texted back. How had anyone grown up in his generation without knowing that? Well maybe it was one of his more obscure pop culture references, but it wasn’t something he was going to let Derek get away with not learning. “It’s from a movie,” He added in a separate text.

Oh ok. So is that a yes?”

“Yes.”

Stiles didn’t even mind it that day when the granola bars were still unbalanced. Who cared? They were just granola bars.

~*~

Promptly at six, Stiles passed off his shop keys to Sylvie, one of the BHHS students that ran the shop with him.

“I’ll just open up with the spare keys tomorrow and you can give them to me when you come into shift tomorrow, ok?”

“What, got a hot date Stiles?” She rolled her eyes, snapping her gum and prepping the espresso machine the way she preferred.

“As a matter of fact, yes. I do have a hot date!” Stiles declared indignant, puffing out his chest a little like a ruffled rooster. Sylvie whipped her head around to examine Stiles.

“Stiles Stilinski: DISH! Since when did you date! What’s he look like? What does he do? Is he a he even?” Stiles’ blush was intense. The red crept up into his cheeks and looked like it was going to make residence there.

“Hey! That’s my personal life, you can’t just ask those questions! I’m– I’m your boss! Also I don’t like that you or Clara ordered all those granola bars I can’t organize them well.” Stiles shifted his weight to one hip and pouted, fist on his waist. He decided it was creepy how closely it reminded him of his dad leaning against his doorframe in high school interrogating him on his grades and his late-night whereabouts with his police scanner.

“Oh come on! I tell you all about the boys in my life! That’s not fair to pull out the boss card on me. You hate it when I call you my boss anyway.” Stiles sighed, rolling his eyes.

“Fine, I give up! I just met him. Like, just met him this morning. And he’s super hot, and taller than me so that’s a plus. I don’t really know him. I just decided to go out on a limb? He’s sort of got that scruffy tall, dark and mysterious look going on. Mega hot though. I have no clue why he’s interested in me. I practically fell over when he was here and could barely make a coffee.”

By now Sylvie was clutching her hands together like a lovesick pre-teen. “Ohmigawd Stiles, you sound pathetic! That’s so cute!” A bell jingled above the doorway and Stiles turned to see Derek walking in with a smirk on his face.

“He is cute.” Derek said, laughing at Stiles’ completely uncomfortable blush. Yeast dough, dill, marjoram. Sylvie’s eyes were wide and lusty, blushing herself and turning back to her coffee machine.

“Well have fun Stiles! Use protection!” Sylvie cackled as Stiles spluttered, outraged at the suggestion. Derek just grinned.

“Shall we go then?” Derek asked, stifling his laughter.

“YES. Let’s get away from this plebian cretin!” Stiles proclaimed haughtily, shoving his nose in the air as they exited the coffee shop.

~*~

Derek had Stiles follow him in his Jeep through the back roads that circled the preserve until the got to the western edge and then followed a dirt path through the woods, parking in free camping lot. Derek pulled a large picnic basket out of his Camaro and handed some blankets to Stiles to carry.

Their trek through the woods was short and quiet. Derek didn’t try to make any conversation, preferring to enjoy the quiet of the woods a bit. It was going to be clear tonight and the stars would be shining brightly, like opalescent buttons on a velvet cushion. Right now the sun was setting, the last bronze-orange rays slicing through the oaks.

They broke through a line of trees and were met with a rocky outcrop and a large flat rock like a table that was balanced across a few boulders. Derek climbed up onto the flat rock and set the basket down, reaching down for Stiles’ hand. He helped him up and took the blankets from him, shaping a foundation and then a nest out of the blankets. He pulled a cutting board out of the basket and placed it in the middle between them, pulling out the fare Derek had packed.

“You know, I did think that a picnic was a little cheesy, but I kinda like it too. Ooh! What’s that?” Stiles pointed to a pie tin Derek was pulling out.

“Yeah I know, but I had to come up with something fast, and this is one of my favorite places to be and I thought you might like it. It’s quiche.”

Yes,” hissed Stiles, “I love quiche. I keep trying to get my Dad to eat it because of his heart, but he refuses to even attempt. He’s always like,” Stiles straightened up, puffing out his chest and pulling back his head so that his neck look squatter and thicker. He squared his shoulders and planted his hands on his belt like he were holding a holster, “Stiles,” he paused and looked pointedly at Derek, “If I wanted to eat pie, I would have pie. And if I wanted to eat eggs, I would eat eggs. And if I wanted things in my eggs, I’d have meat and call it a skillet. I will not, however, eat some darn egg pie.” Stiles started laughing to himself as he relaxed his posture and became himself again.

Derek was laughing too and it felt really good to laugh like he was now. They ate the feast Derek brought – asparagus and manchego quiche, iced tea, microgreen salad, French potato salad and blackberry rhubarb pie, which was described as an ‘orgiastic orgasm the likes of which Jay Gatsby has never experienced in the peak of his fame.’

“Well I’ll send the compliments to the chef,” said Derek, almost choking on his own bite of pie. He slipped a little bit and got blackberry on his cheek.

“Oh, you missed some. Here, lemme…” Stiles reached over with a napkin and wiped the smudge out of Derek’s scruff. “There. So, who made this awesome food then? I was gonna ask because seriously, I would not be ashamed to offer my body for this pie.”

Derek grinned at Stiles. “Yours truly.” He smirked and added, “And that can be arranged.”

“Seriously? You made all this? This was awesome dude. I like to think I’m not impossible in the kitchen, but this is just fucking amazing.”

“Thanks.” Derek hummed a note of satisfaction to himself. Sandalwood. Lemon. Juniper. Derek cleared the food out of the way and laid out to look up at the stars. They were spectacularly bright up here away from the light pollution of the city. “C’mere.” He said, patting the space he’d made next him. Stiles stifled a smile as he sat hip to hip with Derek and they both laid down. They were just close enough so that their sides brushed each other when they moved.

They just sat together, contemplating the night and sounds in the forest behind them. A small cloud passed over the moon and drifted away and a coyote howled in the distance. Smirking to himself, Derek turned his head to look at Stiles who met his eyes.

“Watch this.”

“Watch wh-?” But before he could get his question out, Derek was howling loud and animalistic at the moon above them. In answer, several coyotes called back, echoing one after the other as Derek’s howl rang through the valley and the mountains. He turned to look at Stiles, entirely too pleased at himself.

“You are way too fucking good at that. But that was pretty cool, gotta admit.” Lemon. Cinnamon.

“I work with wolves sometimes at the sanctuary on my free weekends. You pick things up. That one was how they locate each other. There’s no wolves in California, but there’s plenty of coyotes that’ll answer that kind of call.”

“You’re the weirdest guy I’ve ever been on a date with.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

~*~

Time passed pretty quickly between Stiles and Derek. There wasn’t really a pattern except that Derek would show up every morning to get coffee, and eventually a coffee and a kiss from Stiles as he headed out to whatever site they were working on.

The Pack were getting a little suspicious of Derek, why he wasn’t going on as many runs with them and why he always smelled like coffee and motor oil happiness.

They went on dates and to different places, and sometimes just walks, even if it was just around the block where Grinder was located. They talked about their lives – high school, college, best friends, family. By now, Derek knew Scott’s favorite flavor of slushie (blueberry mixed with coke, gross) and Stiles knew that if you mixed up Erica’s lip gloss (candy apple kiss) with Laura’s (candy apple blush) you’d get in way more trouble than you deserved.

They talked about the difficult things too. One night after a few strong Irish coffees cuddled together on the couch in the corner of Grinder after hours, Stiles told him about his mom and Derek told him about Kate. Derek let Stiles fall asleep on him for a while before he had to go, holding onto him as tightly as he could.

But nowadays there were more happy things. They wanted to take everything kind of slow, but Stiles couldn’t help thinking that Derek meant more to him than he thought he would at the beginning. He went from this hot, angry stranger to being his secret boyfriend in a matter of ten hours. Derek never thought he could trust his nose so surely.

And lord, if you saw their texts.

~*~

“Stiles! What’s up!” Stiles could already here the jitters in Scott’s voice as he greeted him. Whatever it was, Scott was either really worried or really upset. Or rolling.

“Hey Scott, nothing much. Gonna close the shop in a half hour.”

“Yeah, so, I was thinking, ya know, I haven’t seen you in a while. So we should get a ton of pizza and play some games right?” Stiles groaned internally. Derek was going to come by later and they were going to walk around the preserve. And hold hands. And make out. Definitely not Scott-type fun.

“Um, I already have a thing planned. Rain check?” Scott sighed.

“Dude… That’s what you sad last time! Why are you so busy?”

“Dude, Scott, I own a shop. That takes a lot of time.”

“Yeah, but you used to call me up all the time to hang out.” Stiles was starting to get annoyed with Scott.

“Yeah and you turned me down every time because you had so many dates with Allison. What, is she out of town or something? Now it’s Stiles time?” It was true and Scott knew it. Every time Stiles would have a break from the shop he’d call Scott to see if he wanted to hang out for a bit, even if it was just to hit up the vintage arcade downtown, but Stiles got tired when each night it was the same ‘Oh I have a thing with Allison.’

Stiles was jealous at first, but then he was just resigned about being replaced, and then he was mad at himself for being selfish, and then he was mad about being mad because he shouldn’t have just been ignored once Scott had a girlfriend, and then he was just tired of it all. Maybe he was still angry a little.

“You’re right,” Scott sounded defeated and Stiles huffed a breath of indignation, “Not about the Stiles Time and Allison bit. She’s in town. I mean I didn’t pay any attention to you. I’m sorry.”

Stiles could feel the puppy eyes.

“It’s fine. But I really can’t do something tonight. I don’t know what happened, but I seem to have acquired a life.”

“Or a giiiiiiiirlfriennnnnd.” Stiles rolled his eyes. Scott was definitely wiggling his eyebrows at him over the phone. He seemed happier. It was good to have his best friend back.

“Boyfriend.” The words just came out so automatically. Scott knew about his sexuality, but they’d also never talked about it.

“But like, is he hot?” Well, Scott was Scott.

“HUGELY. Like, massive arms, and he has these bunny teeth and tiny ears, and that makes him sound like a troll or something, but seriously, I have no clue why he even looks at me.”

“Because you’re cute.” Stiles whipped his head around to meet Derek’s smile. Lately he’d been perfecting the art of opening the door so that the bell didn’t ring in order to sneak up on Stiles at probably the most inconvenient times possible.

It was unfortunately working.

“Hey asshole, I’m on the phone!” Stiles pushed at Derek’s shoulder to stop him from pecking Stiles on the cheek as punishment for embarrassing him.

“Sounds like my cue to hang up then. I’m really glad for you Stiles. Hang out sometime soon though?” Scott interrupted.

“Sure man.”

“Oh, one more thing Stiles: if he so much as makes you frown, I don’t think there will be anything that would stop me from murdering him. Jussayin’.” Stiles laughed at Derek’s quirked eyebrow. As if a human kid could even harm him.

“Haha, ok man. I’ll let him know.”

~*~

The next day, Derek came in for his usual coffee and left, promising to text him about the adorably shy things Isaac did that day. Of all the people in Derek’s company that he hadn’t met so far, Isaac was his favorite. There was something about Derek’s obsession with coddling him that Stiles was very into.

Just a minute after Derek left, a blonde woman sidled up to the register. Her lips were a shiny, fierce red, and her nails looked like they’d carved out the hearts of men a few times in their past. She had the kind of frightening beauty that lightning did when you were standing in an empty field holding a metal pole.

“Hello there! What can I get you today?” Stiles asked, sharpie out and tapping against a cup.

“You can get me a coffee frap and your free time after shift tonight,” she purred, leaning over the counter a bit, very subtly smelling the air around Stiles, who quirked his eyes at the invasion of his personal space.

“Oh, well, I’m flattered, and you know I was just saying that my natural beauty was highly underrated, but I’m sad to say I’m already involved.” She smiled wider, if it weren’t impossible.

“Oh I know-” She glanced at his nametag, “Stiles. I’m Erica, and you are coming to dinner tonight at our house.”

Stiles breathed out, giggled nervously and squeezed the cold cup accidentally until the plastic popped as it bent under his grip. “Oh, did Derek say to tell me? I mean, he could’ve just texted me, or I mean, he was just in here-”

“Shhh-“ Erica whispered, pressing a finger to Stiles’ lips, “He doesn’t know I’m here. I’m totally fucking with him and all of us are desperate to know why sunshine and rainbows are exploding out of his ass lately.”

“Do they not regularly?” Stiles quipped, smiling. Erica laughed, leaning back.

“Nope, and that’s why we’re practically hungry to meet you.” Erica was being awarded all the points in the apex predator category as far as Stiles was concerned.

“Ok, so this is a surprise then?”

“Definitely. He shouldn’t have a kept man. It’s unfair to the rest of us, ya know?”

“Um, no? Isn’t privacy a good thing?”

“Not for us, babe. Did he say he’d meet up with you tonight?”

“Nah, no dates planned.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up at 6. Don’t worry about wearing something fancy, we’re all pretty casual.” Stiles gave a once-over to Erica, dressed in a pencil skirt and white blouse, thick and chunky gold and stone jewelry, stilettos. “Except me. I have to be the sexy secretary, right?” She winked, sashaying out of the coffee shop.

~*~

At 6, Erica showed up at Grinder again. They had to wait a few minutes for Clara to show up and take the keys from him to close out tonight and picked up the two raspberry pies he had gotten from the bakery on his lunch break. Erica had him follow her in his Jeep to the Hale house out near the preserve.

As Derek walked into the kitchen, he noticed everyone was prepping the food with a little more flamboyance than usual. It wasn’t really like them to go all out for a Friday night dinner. Laura was smiling weirdly too, and wouldn’t look at Derek. Isaac was incredibly focused on shredding lettuce. Boyd was calmly grilling steaks on the porch. Erica was missing. Derek was not about to just chalk this one up to weird behaviors. True, they were all weird, but this was a weird all its own. They were definitely hiding something.

The sound of a car coming up the drive grabbed his attention.

The sound of two cars coming up the drive grabbed everyone’s attention. Derek whipped his head to Laura, “What did you do?” he demanded.

Laura being who she was just laughed at him, “You couldn’t hide the cutie forever, Der-bear. Why did you think we’re trying to be impressive dinner hosts?”

“I knew you guys were being weird! You could’ve just asked me to bring him or something. You didn’t have to do this all behind my back like–“

“Yeah, because that totally would’ve worked.” Laura rolled her eyes. Isaac looked like he wanted to laugh but cared too much about Derek to do it, “You would’ve denied he existed forever and then refused to bring him over and then promise to bring him and then make up lame excuses and it just would’ve been a nightmare because you would’ve tried to make everything so goddamn perfect for his arrival. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t animals.”

Derek crossed his arms and huffed. It was totally true. Stiles was the first person he had so much as looked at in years and he was everything Derek had wanted. He was challenging and comforting and smart and creative and he did make the best coffee in Beacon Hills.

“Hey! We’re hoooooooommmeeeee!” Erica crooned from the front door, knowing full well that they knew they were here.

“Stiles!” Laura chirped, wiping her hands on a dishtowel and running to greet Stiles, “Welcome to the Hale house. Erica forgot to ask if you ate meat. I hope steak’s ok.”

Stiles looked a little shocked at the sudden assault. Everyone had followed Laura to the front door, even Boyd who hated to step away from his meat when he was cooking. “Um, hey, yeah steak’s fine. I uh, brought pie from that bakery on West Caulfield.”

“Oh that’s too cute!” Laura exclaimed, patting his arm, and not-so-secretively rubbing some of her scent on Stiles. “Derek, he’s such a gentleman, well done! These are great Stiles, I’ll put them in the kitchen.”

“Ok, can we stop crowding him for a second?” Derek pleaded, pulling him away from his family and over to a hallway opposite the kitchen entrance.

“Your family is super welcoming,” Stiles gurgled.

“Uh yeah, I was hoping to delay that meeting. I guess Erica took care of that.” Derek stroked Stiles’ sides, smoothing out the fabric of his shirt, inhaling the juniper-lemon-sandalwood smell.

“Why? You talk about them enough, I feel like I know them. I mean, Erica was intimidating at first, but it’s just a thing she does and Isaac is as adorable as I pictured, and Boyd looks like that older-brother type and Laura is just as awesome as you always say, I only met them for real two seconds ago.”

“Ohmigawd Derek, you really DO care! This is too much, no more sugar in this house, Derek is sweet enough for us all!” drawled Laura in a mock voice just quiet enough so that Stiles couldn’t hear it.

Derek’s eye twitched.

“I know, I just feel like they’re going to eat you up, you know? And I like having you all to myself.”

“So possessive! You’re lucky I have a monogamy fetish. You never know with us liberals, I couldn’t been into polyamorous vegan tree sex!”

All Derek could do was ask “What the hell is tree sex?” over everyone’s quiet cackles.

“Hell if I know! Now be a good host and show me around!” Stiles pushed at Derek’s chest and grunted at the hasty kiss he got on the cheek in retaliation.

~*~

The dinner was amazing, replete with embarrassing stories about baby Derek and dumb, drunk college Derek and broody, whiny, grad school Derek. Derek was either blushing or growling the whole time. Often it was at the same time.

There were a lot of joke and laughter and everyone was happy, but then sad because Stiles had to go. Right before getting out the front door, Stiles ended up getting wrapped up in a huge group hug, which seemed odd at first, but then just felt… good.

Derek walked him to his Jeep, and if he totally ravished Stiles’ mouth against the Jeep because he just felt so genuinely happy in too long of a time, then it was really only the eavesdroppers’ faults they would have Stiles’ breathy moans in their ears for the rest of the night.

When Derek walked back inside, the group all made gagging noises at him.

“Hey Laura, there’s still that thing I found earlier. That you told me to wait on?” Isaac prompted, passing a print-out of an article from the Beacon Hills online newspaper.

Multiple Dead Deer Confuse Rangers

Laura sighed, “Shit. I guess we’ll be patrolling the next few nights.”

~*~

Sunday was Stiles’ free day. He always kept it free because it was his mom’s favorite day of the week. She wasn’t religious at all, even if she unequivocally believed in angels – it was just that the world seemed quieter on Sundays and people seemed happier. Maybe it was because other people were religious. All the same, it was peaceful and she loved it. So Stiles loved it too.

Tonight was one of those nights that Stiles really wanted to walk around the preserve. He’d texted Derek earlier to see if he felt about taking a walk around, but hadn’t gotten the response that he and Boyd had to work on a particularly tricky plan from a difficult client.

Well it wasn’t as if Stiles couldn’t trek through the dark forest alone at night by himself without any sort of real protection, right?

Right.

Stiles parked his Jeep in one of the camping lots and started on one of the deeper (but easier) trails that cut through the preserve.

After a while, Stiles heard a howl that sounded similar to Derek’s, but different somehow – earthier, grittier, angrier.

It sounded like it might be a ways away though. A half mile further into the forest, at the point where the trail was supposed to start looping back, Stiles heard twigs snap nearby.

Stiles whirled around at the noise, shining his flashlight on the trees, but seeing nothing.

His flashlight flickered and dimmed to nothing more than an orange glow in his hand. He beat it against the palm of his hand, cursing about stupid D size batteries and their complete inefficiency. When he brought the light back up though, it was in the face of a disheveled man in ragged clothes, with quivering, terrified eyes.

“Whoa!” yelped Stiles, jumping back, but meeting the chest of another dirty man. “Whoa, dudes, what the fuck? You can’t just do that to a guy.” Stiles edged away from the men, keeping the flashlight trained on their chests so that he could see their faces without blinding them.

“We’re hungry.”

“For little red riding hood.” Their faces shivered, rippling into pinched animal masks. Their teeth grew and fur sprouted across their arms and face and their nails grew into sharp claws.

Before they lunged at Stiles, all he could think was “That joke doesn’t even work. I’m wearing blue tonight!”

~*~

It didn’t seem like they were going to find anything tonight either, but then Boyd caught on a scent that seemed a little too forest to be the forest.

It made sense in werewolf heads.

They followed the scent as it got nearer to the camping lots. Derek was hoping at that point that no one was using that section of the campgrounds this weekend.

“… riding hood.” A growl. Sandalwood. The not-forest forest smell. Stiles’ heartbeat.

~*~

Just as the two men (monsters?) jumped at Stiles, five other people came crashing out of the treeline and bull dozed the guys.

One of them rushed after Stiles, who took one look at the shadowy figure and bolted.

“Stiles! It’s me!” Derek called after him. Stiles paused, the running behind him stopped. He could hear growls and cries not far away at all. Stiles hadn’t run that much. He turned around to see Derek, holding his hands out. “Please, it’s just me, come here.” Derek stepped forward and pulled Stiles into an embrace. “Shh, I’ve got you. I got so scared for a second.”

“What were they Derek?”

“Let me take care of them first, ok? And then we’ll talk.” Derek turned around to join the fight, but as he stepped forward, one of the monster-men burst out of the brush nearby, grabbing Derek from the side and throwing him into a tree. The trunk snapped as Derek’s head took the full brunt of the blow and he was knocked unconscious.

Stiles, screamed, tripped over himself when he was backing away from the man, scrambled away as best as he could while still on his ass.

“I’m so hungry, babe. I haven’t eaten a good meal in days. And you look so delicious.” A howl rent the air around them and Stiles jerked his head to see Laura with a face just like the men crumple to the ground. Her back bent and her head snapped up as her eyes shone a furious red. In a moment she was large, night-back wolf running toward Stiles.

Stiles bent up his knees and protected his face as the wolf-Laura attack the monster-man and ripped off an arm before going for the throat. It took no time at all for her to end his life with blood dripping down her coat. Erica, Isaac and Boyd all appeared at her side as she trotted toward Stiles, nosing at the ball he’d become. She licked at his exposed neck before examining Derek.

“It’s ok, Stiles. They’re gone. You’re safe now,” whispered Isaac, bending down to hold him.

Don’t cry Stiles. Don’t cry. You’re fine. Even if there were crazy monsters trying to kill you or something. You’re fine.

Derek came to when Laura jumped on his stomach. She transformed back into her human self and crouched in front of Stiles, who shivered with the tears that were falling from his cheeks.

“Stiles, you’re ok. Come home with us, ok? We’ll explain it. We thought we’d have a little time. Derek, come take him.”

The walk to Stiles Jeep with Boyd, Isaac and Erica was long. Boyd drove with Erica passenger and Stiles was squished between Isaac and Derek, Stiles’ face pressed into Derek’s chest.

They climbed out of the Jeep and Stiles shakily made his way up the Hale house steps holding Derek’s hand.

Laura handed Stiles some of Derek’s pajamas and sent him to the bathroom to change. When Stiles came back downstairs, he found them in the kitchen seated around the big oak island with mugs of chamomile-mint tea. There was an extra one for stiles with a little pot of honey.

“Thanks,” he whispered.

“We’re werewolves. But the good ones. It’s pretty much just like the movies. But not that twilight shit.”

“Fuck, way to lay it on him Laura,” Derek snapped.

“No, that’s- that’s better. I wouldn’t want some bullshit beating around the bush. I’m ok, really, I am. I had a little time to think in the bathroom. I just, don’t really know what to think,” Stiles answered.

“We keep everyone safe. And the Hunters keep you safe from us if we mess up. We’ll always keep you safe Stiles. You’re family.” Laura said, hesitating before placing a hand on Stiles’.

“You’re more than family.” Derek breathed.

Stiles head shot up from the curling vapors of his tea. Derek was staring at him so seriously. He looked vulnerable and tired. Stiles searched for anything in there for him, in the dark evergreen eyes that caught him the moment he stepped into his shop to buy a dangerously caffeinated drink.

“I-”

“I love you. I will keep you safe. We will protect you, Stiles.” Derek said, eyes changing to a determined focus.

“Derek,” Stiles slumped a little on his stool, releasing a pent-up breath that had stoppered itself in his throat, “I love you too.” Derek smiled so big, his teeth showed.

Erica pushed herself away from the island, rolling her eyes despite her smile, “Well, sounds like it’s good night then. Try not to keep us up with your fucking.”

Isaac looked like he might never stop smiling. Boyd looked bored but happy. Laura winked at them and left too.

“Don’t pay attention to them, they’re just being assholes. But uh, you can sleep over if you want to.”

Stiles smiled, “Sure.”

~*~

“Can you show me?” asked Stiles, following with a moan as Derek stumbled in his thrust and accidentally snapped his hips deeper into Stiles.

“Fuck Stiles, show you- you what?” Stiles grabbed at Derek’s neck, pulling him down to jam their lips together, licking into his mouth and tasting every wild bit of him that he could.

“Your werewolf face. I want to see it.”

“It’s ugly. My eyebrows disappear.” Stiles laughed and the vibrations and shudders traveled from his body through his ass straight to Derek’s dick and he growled as the pleasure and sandalwood smell overcame him.

“Just show me a little bit. I deserve it. I took it all well, didn’t I? I mean, took it all.” Stiles thrust down to meet Derek fucking into him and Derek bit at Stiles’ neck softly.

“Fine.” Derek pulled up a little from Stiles and stroked his face. He shook his own, feeling his face shift under the surface, contorting into his werewolf form. Stiles stared at him for a long time, just stroking his features, feeling his point teeth and the points of his ears.

And then, “Spock.” Stiles blinked, tried desperately to keep in his laugh, failed miserably and started guffawing at a stricken Derek.

“What?”

“Y-your ears are p-pointy! Like Spock’s! Illogical!”

If Stiles never stopped laughing, Derek would never stop smiling.