At 32 years old, Derek Hale is happy...well he’s satisfied with his life at least. Which makes the weekly phone call with his family more than a little frustrating.
“Mom, listen, I swear I don’t need Laura to set me up on a blind date.” Derek sighs wearily and runs a hand through his hair. He meant to be home for this call and instead he worked later than intended at his favorite local coffee shop.
“Di Caife”, a name that never failed when it came to confusing people who wanted to read more into the name--it literally meant Drink Coffee--had become Derek’s office away from the office a couple years ago, right around the time he was searching for fresh inspiration for his next book series. Di Caife was an interesting blend of chain coffee shops and quirky local joint. The front of the store had a few couches and chairs, with plenty of tables and outlet connections for laptops. But around the back of the counter, where the regulars or adventurous headed were cozy nooks and the kind of chairs you could fall asleep in. The owner had lined one wall with shelves and the books that rotated in ranged in interest. The store policy was that if you wanted to take a book home, you had to put one on the shelf, and Derek wasn’t above slipping copies of his own works in there.
Derek tunes back into his mother, who was still explaining why his older sister Laura set him up out of good intentions. He already knows this part. “Mom. Mom!”
“Yes dear?” Talia’s voice is measured, like she’s waiting to hear which argument he’s going to try this time.
“Please tell Laura to stop. I really don’t need a set up.”
“Your sister loves you. She just wants to see you happy.”
“I know that. But even if I was looking, Laura has terrible taste. The last three blind dates she set me up with were, in order from least to most horrific, a girl who lectured me about eating red meat, a guy who ordered a cup of whipped cream for dinner then spent the entire time licking it off his finger and talking about riding my disco stick, and a girl who was deeply upset about the couple in my latest book despite the fact that I write fictionalized novellas about historical couples so there was no way I could ‘ship’ the heroine with someone else even if I cared about that shit.”
There’s a loud snort next to him. Derek looks up from his rant to see one of the baristas muffling his laughter into his sleeve. The guy--who Derek’s been guessing is about 23--started working at Di Caife almost six months ago. His nametag says Stiles, though Derek’s known that piece of information for a while. and he’s got a devilish grin on his face.
Stiles points at his coffee cup. “It’s been an hour,” he whispers. “You want another refill?”
His mother’s voice comes in on the phone. “Derek, are you listening to me?”
Derek nods at Stiles and offers a smile, then refocuses. “Sorry mom, the barista needed me. Look, I have to go. I love you. Tell the family hello.” He hangs up before she can say anything else, no longer interested in another discussion of his love life. It’s not that he wants to be alone forever. In fact, the idea of falling in love and having someone to come home to is a deep desire, but he’d rather find someone on his own, and the right person just hasn’t come along. He gave his sister a chance to meddle, and she royally screwed up. His family can just butt right out.
Stiles sets the fresh drink--coffee, chocolate, and steamed milk topped with the cafe’s in-house whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon--in front of Derek. “Family?” he asks.
“My mother,” answers Derek. “I love her but...”
“Sometimes you hate her?” finishes Stiles. He continues after Derek nods. “My dad’s the one who likes to set me up.”
Stiles grins. “Yeah well, my mom is really big on fate and how things are meant to be. My dad’s a cop though, and way more pragmatic. He spent a few years trying to set me up with every male cop on the force after I told him I was gay. The blind dates have toned down, the obsessive concern continues.”
“And here I thought you were going to tell me it gets better.”
“Nope. I’ve been known to go back to my fictional on again/off again boyfriend when my cousin teams up with my dad.”
Derek had taken a sip of his drink, but his interest is piqued at that. “Fake boyfriend?”
Stiles shrugs. “I don’t use it much, mostly when they get out of hand or someone I don’t know well--and therefore don’t care about their opinion--won’t let it go. Wade Wilson is a flawed catch, insofar as I’ve created him.”
“Your fake boyfriend is Deadpool?”
Stiles outright laughs, big peals of laughter that fill the room and startle the few other patrons. “You’re the only person outside of my best friend to catch that.”
Derek starts to comment, he’s not a comic book geek by any means, as his younger sister is constantly informing him while she lectures about the backstory of lesser known Avengers, but he has his favorites. And talking to Stiles is nice. The guy’s always been friendly, but this is probably the longest conversation they’ve had. He’s clearly a lot younger than Derek’s usual taste, though he is definitely to his taste.
Long and lean, deceptively muscular underneath the casual coffee shop uniform of jeans and a loose t-shirt and apron, and hands that Derek’s been known to ogle while waiting for his drink.
Stiles’ eyes spark a lot, bright and innocent, but his mouth begs to be despoiled.
“Yo! Stiles! We need you up front, dude!” A voice from one of the other baristas comes from the doorway, and Stiles smiles apologetically. “I should probably go. Sorry to take up your time.”
“It’s fine,” says Derek, though Stiles’ already gone and can’t hear him. “Totally fine,” he mutters again.
He sips his drink, enjoying the freshness and warmth. Di Caife has a deal with regulars who stay for a while and tip well. He orders the largest size of his drink, and they make it in small size increments, so he’s never stuck with a cup half full of cold coffee. Derek thinks he might try talking a little more to Stiles next week. He has no interest in dating a college kid, but it’s been way too long since he’s gotten laid.
Stiles looks like a satisfying distraction.
Monday finds Derek on the receiving end of a passionate Stiles lecture on inflated tuition prices and why the lack of reasonable education costs are why there are more uneducated workers, not because the millennial generation is lazy or unmotivated.
He’d made a questioning noise at some of his research when Stiles had dropped off his coffee, and when asked about it, mentioned that it was interesting to see the way education costs rose as did societal expectations that everyone should be educated. He hadn’t intended to spark a rant, though he supposed most college students weren’t happy to have to work full time in jobs like this while going to school. Derek imagined the stress must be rough.
Stiles’ hands move a lot as he talks, expressive fingers twisting in the air, and Derek watches them almost as much as he watches Stiles’ lips move.
“...and furthermore, studies show that only twenty-seven percent of college graduates work in the field they actually studied, so we’re inflating education costs, insisting that a degree is necessary for employment, and yet companies still consistently employ people with no experience in that particular job.” Stiles’ hands slap onto the table, emphasizing his point. “They system sets up absurd expectations, limits creativity, and is possibly one of the best scams out there.”
“So tell me how you really feel,” says Derek, once he can finally get a word in.
Stiles blushes, his neck coloring up with his cheeks. Derek wants to follow that blush under his shirt. “I can get a little carried away,” admits Stiles. He looks a little too apologetic, so Derek quickly adds, “No, it’s good to be passionate. And it’s not like you don’t have good points.”
They only get a few more minutes together, this time a friend of Stiles’ is at the counter, but Derek smiles a little more that day. He figures a few more weeks and he could broach the subject of drinks. Derek’s still not interested in a relationship with someone so young, but he suspects that Stiles’ not opposed to sex for its own sake. He just doesn’t want to have to give up working at the coffee shop, thus making the groundwork necessary.
When Derek gets home that night, he possibly spends a little longer than necessary in the shower, imagining Stiles’ fingers instead of his own, stroking and teasing him to completion. He comes when his mind pictures Stiles sinking to his knees in front of him, that fucking mouth begging to be filled.
Derek breathes heavily, head resting against the shower wall for a few minutes, before he cleans himself up and finishes his shower.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He works at home for the next several days, putting his research together so he can start writing. Which means he’s once again at Di Caife for his mother’s phone call, forced to talk in low tones so he doesn’t interrupt anyone else.
“You haven’t been home for the holidays in three years, Derek.”
“My work keeps me busy, Mom. I’ve told you this. Look, I promise I’ll come visit sometime in the spring,” says Derek, pushing his notebook aside. He’s unlikely to get anymore work done today.
“You keep saying that, but you never do,” says Talia, sounding severely displeased. “If you don’t come here, Laura and I are going to visit you for two weeks in January.” Derek makes a face. His mother is a little too good at manipulating him and even better at knowing it. He heaves an overly exaggerated sigh. “Fine. I suppose I can spare a few days.”
He can practically hear his mother smile over the line. “Wonderful. Laura’s bringing a few friends with her as well, so we’ll have a full house.”
“That sounds ni...” Derek balks. “What you mean, Laura’s bringing friends?”
“Oh you know, Laura and her husband will be here and they had a few single friends who didn’t have anywhere to go, so we invited them to join us.”
Derek smells a rat. “We just talked about you not setting me up.”
“Nonsense,” laughs Talia. “Just friends. If you happen to hit it off with someone, that’s just a bonus.”
Derek resists the urge to throw his phone across the room. “Mom, how many times do I need to tell you I don’t need this?”
“You’re the one who’s all alone in the city.”
He lives in New Haven. And while certainly bigger than small town near his parents’ rural farm in Vermont, it’s not exactly an overwhelming metropolis. Just as he’s thinking he’s screwed and due for a very long Christmas of dodging advances and pretending his family is subtle, he catches sight of Stiles across the room. “Actually Mom, the reason I don’t want a date is that I’ve been seeing someone for a few months.”
“Yeah, his name’s Stiles, younger than me, but a great guy,” So Stiles used a fictional person and Derek’s referencing a living, breathing human. It’s not like Derek’s family will ever know Stiles is real. This is perfect. Derek keeps an eye out, making sure the subject of his conversation can’t hear him. Stiles is leaning over a table, clearing empty mugs away, and Derek’s mildly distracted by the shape of his ass. “Uh huh,” he says into the phone when Talia pauses, figuring that’s vague enough to be an answer.
He keeps his gaze on Stiles. Derek can just imagine the cafe after hours, stripping Stiles of his clothes, and spreading him out on one of the tables. He’d fuck into him slowly, teasing Stiles to the edge over and over again before letting him come, working him into a state of frenzied need.
“If that sounds good, we’ll see you the 22nd,” says Talia, finishing up whatever she was saying.
“Yeah great. Can’t wait,” says Derek distractedly. He wonders how Stiles’ stamina is, if he could bend him over one of the oversized chairs and bring him off again.
“Wonderful. Tell Stiles we’re all so excited to meet him and be sure and let me know if there are any special holiday dishes he wants.” Talia hangs up and Derek puts his phone down, grinning at Stiles, who moves to another table and waves at Derek.
That’s when his mother’s last words finally register. Shit. Oh this is not good. Did he seriously just promise to bring his fake boyfriend, who happens to be a barista and college student and the feature in most of Derek’s recent fantasies, home to his family’s for Christmas? Derek moans outright and buries his face in his hands. He is so fucking screwed.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Stiles stands over him, bus tub in hand.
“I’ve made a horrible mistake. And I’m really really sorry.” Derek turns his head and opens one eye to look up at Stiles.
“That sounded weirdly like an apology to me.”
Derek would prefer to disappear into the wall right now, but since that’s not an option, he chooses sitting up like an adult instead. “Remember when you said you have a fake boyfriend to keep family off your back?”
Stiles nods, then looks contemplative. “Oh. You picked a real person. Dude, rookie mistake.”
“I wasn’t thinking,” protests Derek. “I agreed to go home for Christmas and she kept talking about single friends I could meet and before I knew it I was telling her about my boyfriend of four months.” He doesn’t appreciate Stiles’ subsequent laughter, understandable though it may be. “It gets worse.”
“Worse?! This I have to hear.” Stiles sets his dishes on an empty table and slides into the chair across from Derek. “Okay, how is the fake boyfriend that’s actually a real person, not that you have to tell him you used his name or anything, not the bad part?”
Derek mumbles it out as quickly as possible. “I wasn’t really listening to my mother and it seems I agreed to bring this boyfriend home for Christmas and at this point she’s probably told the entire family about it.”
Stiles snorts. “Yeah, that’s bad.”
“I have no idea what I’m going to do.”
“Oh you poor soul. Look, why not just call your mom back later, say that you made that promise without asking and that he already has plans with his family.”
“She’ll visit just so she can meet him.”
“Then talk to the guy. Unless he’s a total asshole, I’m sure he can handle a couple hours pretending to date you.” Stiles’ gaze lingers along Derek’s body. “You’re not hard on the eyes or anything.”
Derek just knows he’s turning red. Thank goodness his beard hides some of it.
“So who’s the guy?”
Derek freezes. “Um...” He needs to look away from Stiles now. Like right now. Before Stiles figures it out.
Shit. “Sorry?” He offers.
Stiles waves a hand in dismissal. “I’m not offended or anything. It’s kind of flattering actually. Though confusing.”
“I really didn’t mean to,” insists Derek. “You were just there and cleaning and the words came out before I could stop myself.”
Stiles makes an odd face at his words, like he actually is upset about something. Derek continues, figuring he might as well go for broke. He’s certainly lost any chance at sex at this point, but maybe he can still salvage his holiday plans. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance you’re free for Christmas?”
Derek sighs. “No, of course you aren’t. Look don’t worry about it. I’ll do what you said and then just break up with fake you before my mother can visit. I’m really sorry I brought you into any of this.”
“I wasn’t saying no, Derek. I’m just surprised you want to go through with the charade.”
“If I thought I could have any peace, I wouldn’t. But you have to understand, I love my family. I wish I could go home more often. Every single time results in meddling with my love life. Or lack thereof. Sure it’s great I have a career and they’re fine with me and the city but no one ever lets go of the idea of finding me someone.” Derek knows they mean well. That doesn’t change his frustration. “Telling them about a boyfriend buys me a few weeks of peace, but bringing someone home could get me a couple years since I could beg off the next year’s holidays and pretend to be with his family.” He tries to think of a way to convince Stiles that this isn’t the worst idea ever. The conversation they had about high tuition costs pops in his head. “I could pay you,” he offers.
Stiles doesn’t look thrilled at Derek’s request but he doesn’t leave either. “If I agree, what would this entail?”
Derek thinks. “You’d have to share a room with me, spend some time rehearsing our how we met story and learning about each other, and I guess basic affection in public. Enough to sell the story.” Derek leans forward, hoping his eyes can convince Stiles if his words can’t. “I know this is an imposition and that you barely know me, but I’d be eternally grateful.”
“Okay,” says Stiles, and Derek thinks he could cry. “Really?”
“Yeah. I’ve got the time off anyway and my parents won’t mind. There’s a million cousins running around anyway, I’ll barely be missed.”
“You are my hero right now,” says Derek, meaning every word. Now if they can just pull off conning his mother.