Derek glared at the essay he'd just finished grading, and made another mark on his notepad. Ten down, fifteen to go, and he was going to get another twenty-three papers at midnight.
He thudded his head against the table a few times. "I hate grading, I hate grading, I hate grading."
Someone shook his shoulder. "Hey, man, you okay?"
Derek jerked his head up to see Sexy Barista--better known as Stiles--standing next to him and looking adorably concerned.
His cheeks heated, and Derek quickly looked back to his computer screen, hoping Stiles hadn't noticed his blush. "I'm fine. Just, you know, class stuff. I've been grading papers for the past three hours."
"Ah." Stiles nodded sagely. "Gotcha. My friend Allison's in the same boat. Loves her classes, swears grading papers belongs in the fifth circle of hell."
Derek snorted and opened the next essay. "Seventh, at least."
Stiles threw back his head and laughed, and Derek snuck a glance at the long pale line of his neck and the colorful tattoos just peeking out from under his collar. He bit his lip to suppress a whine of want.
"Well, I won't keep you, then." Stiles clapped him on the shoulder again. "Just please don't give yourself a concussion on my table. You want me to bring you anything?"
Derek rubbed his eyes and held himself back from leaning into Stiles's warm hand. "Um. Coffee. Coffee would be great. And a...food thing."
Stiles's amber eyes danced along with his broad smile. "Coffee and a food thing, coming right up."
Derek waited until Stiles was well behind the counter before sinking down into his seat and groaning. A food thing? All this grading must have scrambled his brain.
He sighed and plugged in his headphones once more, determined to make it through at least five more papers before he had to leave the coffee shop and head home for the evening.
Halfway through his second paper, a steaming latte and a croissant the size of Derek's head slid into his peripheral vision. He blinked at the food, and then at Stiles, who stood beside the table with his lips pressed together, as though he were fighting a grin.
Derek shook himself out of his grading-induced stupor. "Um, thank you. What do I owe you?"
"Nothing, man. It's on the house. Good luck with your grading, okay?"
"But, I really should--let me buy you something," Derek blurted out.
Stiles's eyebrows shot up his forehead, and Derek's essay-addled brain actually processed what he'd said. He'd just asked Stiles out in the least romantic and most confusing way possible, while he was running on three hours of sleep and five cups of coffee and still a little hungover from going out with Erica and Boyd and Cora the night before.
"Buy me something?" Stiles repeated. "Like, say, dinner?"
Derek pressed his lips together, prayed he wouldn't have a heart attack, and nodded. "I'm free on Thursday night?"
Stiles beamed. "What do you know. That's my night off."
"Oh?" Derek swallowed a few times. "Does that mean yes?"
"Yeah. That means yes." Stiles winked and sauntered back to the counter. "Enjoy your food thing!"
Derek groaned, but it was difficult to feel too embarrassed with Stiles's bright laughter ringing in his ears.
(He finished grading all five essays in record time, and left the coffee shop with a lighter heart and Stiles's number in his phone.)