Cover Art by dapatty.
It wasn’t going well. The date had barely begun, but it was painfully obvious. Stiles wasn’t going to let Lydia set him up on any more blind dates – this was the third dud in a row. They obviously had wildly different taste in men, which shouldn’t be such a surprise; she had dated Jackson after all. His date, Blaine – Stiles suppressed a snort – was looking around the restaurant, not even pretending he had any interest in Stiles. The decor was not that great.
“So,” Stiles tried again halfheartedly, “seen any good movies lately?” That one was usually good for a few minutes of conversation, but Blaine just shrugged.
“Modern cinema is a joke. I prefer the classics.” Blaine didn’t look at him as he spoke. Stiles made a face at him before replying.
“I like classics.” That earned him actual eye contact. “Nosferatu. King Kong. Star Wars.” Blaine’s sneer grew with each title; Stiles quit while he was ahead. Blaine looked away again, smiling at someone to Stiles’s left; Stiles didn’t bother to turn and see who had caught his attention. He was going to call it – time of date death, 6:24 pm. Not even half an hour – a new record. As soon as their server brought the food, he was going to ask for a doggie bag and his check.
A little boy in a high chair at the table directly behind Blaine caught his eye. He was maybe a year old, with dark, solemn eyes. Stiles smiled at him, and the kid smiled back and ducked his head. Stiles glanced at the boy’s dad, who was seated with his back to Stiles and hadn’t noticed the little interaction. When Stiles looked back at the little boy, he was staring at him again.
Blaine was still flirting with whomever, so Stiles made a face at the baby. The boy’s eyes widened and he smacked the tray of his high chair. “Ahm!” he cried happily, and his dad tried to shush him. The man turned to look in his direction, and Stiles fought the instinct to look away – a sure sign of guilt. Stiles smiled when their eyes met, then looked away, which was difficult, because whoa, hot dad. Definitely the most interesting thing to look at in the whole room. The beard was really doing it for him.
So began a game of cat and mouse. Stiles would make faces at the little boy, who would alternately grin or babble at him, and then he would fake nonchalance when Blaine or Hot Dad looked at him. He wasn’t fooling anyone, but Blaine didn’t want to interact with him long enough to call him out, and Hot Dad seemed happy to play along, if the amused look on his (extremely good-looking) face whenever their eyes met was any indication. Blaine wasn’t amused at all, and his expression got tighter and tighter with every happy baby noise.
“Excuse me,” he said at last, rising from his chair. “Restroom.”
While Stiles was not surprised that Blaine was using the classic restroom dodge, this was the first time his date had made a run for it before the food had been served. He hoped like hell he had enough to cover both meals – Lydia was so paying him back for this one. He gusted out a sigh, and looked up to find both Hot Dad and Cute Baby looking at him.
Hot Dad was shaking his head, totally laughing at him, but he was also smiling sympathetically. Stiles was used to people laughing at him - not many people understood his awesome. The sympathy was nice, though, and Cute Baby was grinning his drooly, tiny-toothed grin at him, so it was all good.
Hot Dad leaned closer. “I don’t think he’s really going to the restroom,” he said in a low voice.
Stiles sighed. “They usually don’t.”
Hot Dad blinked. “This happens to you a lot?”
“Only on dates that Lydia arranges. I think it’s revenge.”
“Revenge?” Cute Baby began rocking in his chair with enough force that it actually started to scoot across the floor; Hot Dad reached out without looking and grabbed the tray.
“He must do that a lot,” Stiles said. Cute Baby yelled and slapped the tray with both hands.
“It’s his new thing. We had to brace his highchair at home.” Hot Dad shook his head, smiling. “So… revenge?”
It took Stiles a second to remember. “Oh. Yeah. I had an epic crush on Lydia until sophomore year and I made an epic pest of myself. We became friends once I got over myself and now that I’ve moved back home, she sets me up on blind dates.”
“With guys who ditch you before you even get your appetizer?” Hot Dad frowned.
“With people who ditch me at some point, although not usually this quickly.”
“Maybe he’ll come back?” It didn’t sound like Hot Dad believed what he was saying even a little.
Stiles shrugged. “I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t,” he whispered conspiratorially. “Then I can hold this disaster over Lydia’s head forever.”
Hot Dad smiled, but before he could say anything, the hostess appeared next to Stiles’s table.
“Sir,” she began hesitantly. Her face was very pink. “Your, ah, friend, he-”
“He left?” Stiles asked gently.
She nodded vigorously. “I’m sorry, he, uh… He asked me to tell you to, um, to lose his number?”
Stiles snorted. “Did he pay for his meal? Or cancel it, at least?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “He didn’t mention it.”
“What a prince,” Stiles muttered, then he sighed and reached for his phone to check his bank balance. Maybe he could wash dishes to cover what he couldn’t pay for. Was that a thing restaurants still did? “Okay, could I get-”
“Why don’t you join me?” Hot Dad spoke up suddenly. Stiles turned to look at him so fast he almost pulled a muscle in his neck. “There’s no reason for you to miss out on supper because you got set up with a jerk, right?”
Stiles stared at him for a moment until his brain caught up. “Right. Yeah, that’s- that would be great, thanks.”
“Dahlia,” Hot Dad said to the hostess, “have his food brought to my table, and see if you can cancel the rest of the order, okay? If you can’t, just put it on my account.”
“Wait, no, you don’t have to-”
“Sure thing, Derek,” Dahlia said, cheerful now that the situation had been resolved. “Which meal did you order, sir?”
“The Hungry Like a Wolf burger combo, but you seriously don’t have to do that,” Stiles added, turning back to Hot Dad.
“It’s not a problem, I know the owners.” Dahlia snorted and left, heading for the kitchen. Hot Dad leaned closer and held out his hand. “I’m Derek Hale, by the way.”
“Dek!” Cute Baby yelled insistently. “Dek!”
“And this is Cam.”
Stiles shook Derek’s hand. “Stiles Stilinski. Nickname,” he added at Derek’s raised eyebrows.
“It would have to be. Wait, aren’t you-”
“Sheriff’s kid, yup. That’s me.”
“I was going to ask if you’re the owner of A Spark of Mischief, that new gaming café downtown? The permits were approved at a city council meeting a few months ago. They said a name, or tried to, but it didn’t sound anything like Stiles.”
“Yup, also me.” Stiles got up and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair, transferring it to one at Derek’s table before seating himself. “How badly did they butcher it?”
“Since I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be, it was probably pretty bad.” Derek grinned and Stiles felt his heart literally skip a beat. “How’s business?”
“Not bad for just getting things off the ground,” Stiles said. Don’t do it, he warned himself. Don’t fall for him. He’s taken. Probably. He wasn’t wearing a ring, but that didn’t mean anything.
They discussed Stiles’s new business until their food arrived, then Stiles ate while Derek tried to feed Cam in between bites of his own meal. Cam was not a fan of strained carrots.
They had finished their food and Derek was trying to get Cam to open his mouth for another spoonful of orange goop - they weren’t playing airplane, but something that involved a bunny hopping into Cam’s tummy, kinda weird - when a dark-haired woman entered the restaurant, heading right for their table. If the world worked the way Stiles thought it did, this was the Hot Mom to Derek’s Hot Dad.
“My little cub,” the woman cooed as soon as she got close enough. She kissed Cam’s forehead and buried her nose in his hair. Cam wriggled in his chair, babbling ‘mamamama’ happily at her.
“Laura, please,” Derek said, spoon in midair.
“You’re actually trying to feed him that crap? Carrots are for bunnies, not my little wolfie, isn’t that right, Cam? Wolfies eat bunnies, they don’t eat like bunnies.” She tickled Cam, who giggled and shrieked.
“What’s this I hear about you ‘knowing the owners’, Derek?” she asked, using air quotes.
“Dahlia,” Derek groaned. “She called you.”
“She told Cora. Cora called me,” Laura said cheerfully. “Now, who’s this?” She grabbed an empty chair from another table, ignoring the unused one on Derek’s other side, and sat next to Cam’s high chair.
Stiles stood up and offered his hand. “Hi, I’m Stiles Stilinski.”
“Ooh, a gentleman.” She shook his hand and waved him back into his seat. “I’m Laura Hale, this cutie’s mom.” She ruffled Cam’s hair. “So your date ditched you, huh?”
Stiles stared at her, then flicked at glance at Derek, who was rubbing his forehead with a pained look on his face. “Uh, yeah, I guess Blaine and I didn’t hit it off.”
“Blaine? Seriously?” Laura snorted. “I thought only douchey characters in teen movies were named Blaine.”
“I know, right?” If he wasn’t careful, Stiles was going to fall for both of them, and that was a can of worms he did not have time to open right now. Polyamory wasn’t even his thing, although maybe he could be persuaded- No. Stop that right now, he told himself firmly. Bad Stiles. “Derek invited me to eat with you guys. I hope that’s okay?”
“Derek’s always been a knight in shining armor. Anyway, I already ate,” Laura said, waving her hand dismissively.
“I’m not a knight in shining armor,” Derek muttered. “I was just being nice.”
“Nice doesn’t mean paying for my ex-date’s meal,” Stiles said.
“Don’t even worry about that,” Laura said with a laugh. “Hale and Hearty is a family business - our family’s business. I think we can absorb the cost of a meal. Two actually, because there’s no way you’re paying for yours either.”
Stiles thought about protesting, but the look in Laura’s eyes stopped him. She reminded him of Lydia, and he knew better than to argue with someone like that. “My bank account thanks you. And so do I.”
Cam rubbed his eyes and whimpered a little. “That’s my cue,” Laura said. “Time to get this pup home and to bed.” She gave Derek a significant look. Shit, was it about him?
“I’d better get going too,” Stiles said immediately. “I have to get up at ass-” He looked at Cam and fumbled for a better choice of words. “-stupidly early hour.”
It was probably his imagination, but Derek looked a little disappointed. “You guys should stop by the café,” Stiles told them, because he liked to torture himself with things he couldn’t have.
“Hmm. Yes, I think we will,” Laura said thoughtfully. Did she suspect Stiles was unsuccessfully fighting off the hots for her husband? Was she going to warn him off, mafia-style? Stiles could easily imagine her doing it.
He left a cash tip on the table and said his goodbyes before he made a total fool of himself.
The next day was busy, but not busy enough to keep Stiles from thinking about Derek constantly. He obviously needed to find a date-mate; maybe he would let Lydia set him up one more time. Fourth time’s the charm, right?
Stiles saw Laura come in with Cam and a young woman during the after-school rush. He waved at them, then went back to troubleshooting a computer issue (he suspected it was actually a user issue, but he wasn’t going to tell the user that). He caught sight of them a few times after that - checking out the tabletop area, looking at his menu of games, ordering something from the food nook.
Finally, he ran out of excuses to avoid them, and went over to say hi.
“Hey, Stiles, it looks like business is booming,” Laura said. Cam beamed up at him from his stroller. Stiles gave him a little wave.
“Hey, Laura. Yeah, it’s not bad. Now I just have to keep this up.”
“You’ll do great, I’m sure. This is my little sister Cora.”
Cora gave him a nod and crossed her arms, scrutinizing the café as if cataloging every flaw.
Stiles looked at Laura, who rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“So, Stiles. I wanted to talk to you about Derek.”
And there it was.
“Um, what about Derek?” Conceal, don’t feel, he thought hysterically.
“You didn’t ask for his number before you left. Are you just not interested, or…”
“It seemed like you two were getting along really well, and I know he’s interested.”
Cora snorted. “That’s an understatement,” she muttered.
“I’m sorry, are you trying to set me up with your husband?”
“Husband?” Laura looked baffled. “I’m not married.”
“Sorry. Boyfriend? Partner? It’s cool you two have an open relationship, but I don’t think I’m ready to get involved in-”
“Oh my god,” Cora said, starting to laugh. “He thinks you and Derek are together.”
“He what?” And there was Derek, because this wasn’t awkward enough.
“Derek is my brother.” And Laura started laughing too, nice and loud, drawing curious looks from the café patrons.
Derek was glaring at his sisters. “Don’t you two have somewhere to be?” he asked pointedly when the laughter didn’t stop. He took the handle of Cam’s stroller out of Laura’s hands and wheeled it away, nudging Stiles to accompany him.
“No wonder he looked so scared when I said Derek’s name,” Laura wheezed. “Did you think I was here to fight for my man?” She collapsed into a fit of giggles.
Derek ignored them, his head held high and his cheeks flaming red. Stiles did the same, even the blush. He was an idiot.
“I thought you were Cam’s dad,” he admitted as they walked away. “And then when Laura showed up and said she was Cam’s mom, I-”
“Stiles, would you like to go out with me?” Derek interrupted in a rush. They came to a stop in the middle of a group of computers. Luckily, the gamers were too intent on their games to pay them any attention. “When I’m not babysitting my meddling sister’s offspring, I mean.” He fiddled with the strap of the diaper bag that was sitting on top of the strollers canopy.
“I would love to go out with you,” Stiles told him. “Name the time and place and I’m there.”
“Bring him to Hale and Hearty, Derek,” Laura called. “You know the owners, right?”
“Well, I know where we’re not going,” Derek said as Laura and Cora burst into laughter again.