Stiles loved the early mornings at Bean & Love. Usually. He rubbed at his face as he slipped inside and started up the oven. He locked the outside door on the back of the building as soon as he was done with his two trips from the freezer into the back. He double-checked the lock, his brain going into overdrive after the few nightmares he had last night.
The nightmares were normal now, some of them from when his mother was sick and how she screamed at him. The couple of times she had tried to kill him were there in his dreams as well. Therapy had only got him so far when it came to getting rid of those nightmares as a whole. He was as well adjusted as he could be.
Stiles turned on the espresso machine when he got to the front and the lights just over the front area. He looked at the time, and it was just before five. He was at least a little ahead of schedule.
There was a rhythm to his morning routine at work, and it wasn't hard at all to do it, even half asleep. He had a goal, and that was to get to where he was just upfront before he made his coffee. He snagged the tray for the scones. The normal shop where he bought his scones was currently closed after an electrical fire, and he didn't like the scones other places in town made, so he had taste-tested many that he could get in on his truck where he got his cups and various other things and found ones that were pretty good. They came in frozen, but no one cared as if they were eaten the same day; they were great.
Then it was getting ready to make the croissants that would be used for the lunch sandwiches. Breakfast wasn't really a draw with various other places around town that did breakfast well, but the shops around Stiles liked to get sandwiches at lunch. The croissants were frozen as well, but they did pretty damned good for a quick grab sandwich.
The phone rang, and when Stiles looked at the number, he saw that it was his father. He groaned and picked up.
"Yes, Daddio?" Stiles asked.
"You were supposed to call me last night about the dinner plans tonight."
"Yes, and then I texted you that I had a headache and I would call you as soon as I had help in here at the shop."
Stiles looked at the base of the phone and found that he was calling from his office phone. The sound of things being moved around told Stiles that he was looking for his cell phone.
"And yes, there is that text. I'm sorry. By the time I noticed you hadn't called me, I knew you were in bed. Headaches haven't happened in a while."
"I think it's just a small stress headache. I've got a good bit of catch-up to do at the shop on paperwork, and I've got a girl out sick who won't be back for at least two weeks."
"Chest infection, it's best to just let her have that time off instead of her getting winded inside of the shop moving up and down the line. My normal part-timer that would jump at more hours can't take on more hours for another two days. I plan on taking a few days once my part-timer is all ready to go."
"Well, then I'll pick you up from home when it's time for me to get off of work. I'll handle everything. Just don't work too hard."
"Once someone else is in, I'll be heading to the back and the office to make sure I have all of that done."
"Good. Have a good day, son."
"You too, Dad. Love you," Stiles said.
"Love you too," Noah said before he hung up.
Stiles finished up everything needed to get the shop ready to open by six, and then he settled in to make his coffee and relax and eat a scone. It wasn't the best breakfast, but he couldn't cook them to make himself a sandwich until the croissants were raised.
At two minutes until six, Stiles walked over to the door and unlocked it. He didn't see his two regulars, so he was happy about that. He was sure that they would be in, but at least they weren't waiting on him to open the door before six. He was tired enough; he didn't need to deal with the asshole detective who thought Stiles wasn't worth anything since he wasn't a cop like his father.
Though Stiles had fixed his little red wagon by solving a case that he and a group of detectives had been talking about, he had stalled on.
The group of detectives had been on lunch and, for some reason, decided that coffee and outside food would be good, so they took over Stiles' meeting room. He normally didn't care about that. He liked doing things that he could to help the cops, be they Beacon Hills PD or Beacon County SD. Letting them take over the meeting room once a week to drink his coffee and then eat someone else's food was fine with him. He had students bringing in snacks all the time. Stiles sold a lot of coffee, but his snacks were sometimes a little bit low by the afternoon, given that they were baked starting about seven.
The bell jingle happened a few minutes later, and Stiles just knew that it was the asshole detective.
Stiles stepped out from the back through the swinging doors and saw Derek Hale and Vernon Boyd.
Hale and Boyd were two people that Stiles never thought would get along. Boyd had been rather quiet in school, but he was loyal to his friends. Hale had been the star of the basketball team. He had been popular and gone to college where he wanted and was recruited to play basketball.
The pair stayed at the back of the shop while Boyd figured out what he wanted. Hale wanted the same thing every day, but he differed only on what sauce to mark his drink with. Hale lived to fuck with Stiles.
After the whole thing where Stiles had solved the case for him while just reading over his shoulder, Hale had been in the shop every morning on the days he worked. When he was off, he came in at lunch to get a coffee after he was at the gym.
Stiles hated those days with a passion if he was upfront as normally; Hale was still sweaty and usually flush, so he looked fucking hot.
Not as hot as he was in his suits or back when he was a beat cop. Stiles could admit he had a uniform kink when it wasn't his father wearing the uniform.
"Ready?" Stiles asked after a few minutes.
"Sure, I want to try a large iced cinnamon mocha raspberry latte, two extra shots," Boyd asked.
Stiles thought about the flavor and thought that it actually sounded good. He would have to try one after Hale and Boyd left. He had raspberry mocha before but not with the cinnamon.
"Two-two-two?" Stiles asked.
"One-two-three?" Boyd asked.
"Sure thing." Stiles grabbed a large cold cup and pumped the needed pumps inside, and then stuck the cup under the spout where the espresso came out. He got all three of the portafilters laid out for him to use one after the other. He pulled the shots one after the other swirling the shots into the sauce and syrup mixture in the cup.
Hale was still standing at the back of the place, so Stiles wasn't sure if he would get something today.
Derek looked at Stiles as he worked on Boyd's drink. Boyd looked back at him with a frown on his face. Derek shared his worry. Usually, a comment was made by then about how neither understood what real coffee tasted like.
"And for you?" Stiles asked when he handed over Boyd's drink and receipt.
"I think I want a raspberry mach chai tea," Derek said.
The normal spark that would be in Stiles' eyes as Derek just obliterated the word macchiato wasn't there. He grabbed a large iced cup and pumped the normal vanilla syrup into the bottom, followed by milk. He got the shot ready and started to pull it before he filled the cup with ice next. He poured the shot on top when it was done and topped what was there with the raspberry sauce.
"Anything else?" Stiles asked.
Derek looked at Boyd, who shrugged.
"No, that's it."
Stiles handed over the drink and moved to ring up Derek. There was none of his normal banter at Derek for ruining the world macchiato. Or forgetting strange toppings on it instead of just the shots of espresso.
Derek took his drink and left with a called-out goodbye. Stiles did not return it.
"He looked exhausted. He hasn't looked that bad since the baby in the apartment next to him was up all night. Maybe tomorrow we can figure out what's wrong with him at lunch. We have the weekly meeting thing," Boyd said.
Derek wasn't fully sure about that as Stiles didn't give up a lot of information. He was tight-lipped on it. Derek knew that he had wanted to be a cop for a long time, and then he had come back from college and taken over his mother's business. It had run for years under the lady who had taken over as manager when Claudia had died. The coffee shop was an institution in Beacon Hills, even before the Sheriff had become the Sheriff. Claudia had never allowed anyone to leave without good coffee in their hands. She worked hard to make a list of coffees that people liked.
The first memories that Derek had of the shop were going there with Peter when he was young. Peter had only ever drunk coffee from here, and when Claudia had died, he had gone out of his way to make sure that the place stayed open. The manager who had been trained up to take over had been coached by Peter to do well in the classes she took on business management at the college, even though she was in her forties at the time. Every single afternoon Peter would come in and sit at his table. It had been his table for so long that even if it wasn't time for Peter to be there, no one sat there. Well, Derek did to be a dick. He had been known to come in right before Peter on his days off if he had one during the week.
"I'll drive," Boyd said as he got into the driver's seat of Derek's car. He started it up before taking them to the station.
Derek snagged his keys from his desk for the unmarked car he would take to talk to the witness. He wanted to check on her to ensure that she was doing okay after seeing a very horrific death. Derek still felt like it was a murder and not someone jumping to their death, but there were no other witnesses, and the deceased's family wasn't talking.
"Need anything?" Derek asked.
"No, no. Good." Boyd wasn't even looking up from his paperwork. He was sure that Boyd had heard him, but that was about it.
Derek would grab him something anyway. He looked at the time. He wouldn't make it there before Stiles left, but he could make it to the shop before Peter left. He could poke fun at Peter for a few minutes, get them both a drink, and then head in to see the witness and then out again. The ice machine at the station worked well, and the staff at Bean & Love were great at not putting ice in when asked.
The drive from the station was short, so Derek took his time as he looked at the people he passed when stopped at lights. Bean & Love was packed, but it looked like there was no line. Derek ordered and wondered how long it would take for him to be noticed by Peter if he just stared at him. Sometimes Peter did well at knowing, but mostly he was absorbed in his work and didn't notice.
"Aww, fuck it," Derek said, and he moved over to sit down in front of his uncle.
"Must you?" Peter said.
"Must I what?"
"Come in here and stink up my table with the smell of your lust? Usually, one doesn't need anything but a normal nose to smell it." Peter said.
"Stiles isn't here right now."
"Really?" Peter looked at his watch even though the corner of his laptop screen held the current time. "Is it really that late?"
"Having too much fun suing someone?"
"Well, yes," Peter said.
"Do I even want to know?" Derek asked.
"It's a lot of fun as I make sure that they can't slip out of anything. It's quite a lot of research, and I love to research. It's something to keep me entertained. It's the only case I've got at the moment. So I am giving it my all. How goes your seduction of Stiles?"
"Not as well as I would like. He was pretty tired this morning. He looked like shit."
"Yes, he's been jumpy as well. More jumpy than normal, and I got no death threats for the very overt flirting that I was doing. I watched him closely as he ate lunch. He did not eat nearly enough, and when he left, he looked dead on his feet."
Derek didn't like that. He knew Stiles was tired, but he had assumed that Stiles would get better as the day went along with coffee as he mainlined it all day long. Yet, it seemed like that wasn't the case.
"How long ago did he leave?" Derek asked.
"Um, five minutes before you got here?" Peter said.
"Thanks. Can you drop these off at the station for me?" Derek asked as he scooted the cups closer to Peter.
"Sure. Going to go play knight in shining chrome?" Peter asked.
"I'm going to take him home, yes," Derek said.
"Good. Go." Peter looked back at his laptop and began to type again.
Derek slipped out of the booth and headed toward the door. He got into his car and headed the way that he knew that Stiles took home. He found Stiles a lot quicker than he thought he would, and just watching him as he walked for a minute told Derek exactly why. He was moving so slow. It was like he was just shuffling. His shoulders were hunched, and he looked miserable.
Slowing down to match the speed, Derek waited until Stiles didn't look at him to honk.
Stiles heard the honk of a car, and he ignored it as he tried to trudge home. He was so damned tired that he was afraid that he would fall asleep where he was standing if he stopped. He wasn't sure what he was going to do when he got home. He didn't even know if he would be able to get inside without falling asleep at his door.
The car honked again, but Stiles just kept on moving. He debated looking, but he didn't want to stumble. There wasn't a lot that would trip him up, but he tripped over nothing daily.
"Stiles, will you just get in?" Hale demanded.
Stiles turned to see that the car keeping pace with him was indeed being driven by Hale.
"You look dead on your feet. Let me take you the last bit."
Stiles looked to see that the last bit Hale was talking about was the biggest bit. He hadn't gotten nearly as far as he thought he would. Going with Derek would save him time, and he might be able to actually make it to bed before he fell asleep. He just needed to do that. He needed to get to his house.
Turning to the side, Stiles took a step toward where the car was, and his legs nearly gave out because he was so tired. The slamming of a door had Stiles looking up to see Hale running around the car. He looked worried about Stiles, which was a new look on his face. Before this, Stiles would have thought that Hale hated him. Hell, Stiles was sure the man detested him. Stiles was caught by him when Stiles nearly tumbled over again.
"I got you, Stiles." Hale's voice was warm and soft. It was something that made Stiles feel a little bit better. That and the feel of Derek pressed into him. Hale was warm and felt really good. He smelled good too. It was a little bit of heaven and a lot of hell. Stiles had been attracted to Hale since the first moment he had come into the shop in his beat cop uniform years ago. The man had only gotten better with age. Hell, he was someone who Stiles was pretty sure was gonna be hot when he was in his eighties. Though, Stiles was sure that when Hale was in his eighties, he would be happily married.
"Did you sleep at all last night?" Derek asked.
"No, not really. I've slept for shit for a few days now."
Stiles wasn't sure who did most of the moving of Stiles into the vehicle, but a moment later, Stiles was sitting inside of it, and he was on his ass.
"So, are you always this way?" Hale asked.
"No, it's just because I am having a lot of trouble sleep. I have issues with that sometimes. Have since I was a kid." Stiles didn't really care about lying to Hale. It wasn't like he was his father. That was the only person that Stiles didn't like lying to. Anyone else was fair game. He would lie to them until the cows came home. Hell, he didn't mind lying to them for the rest of his life. As long as they didn't matter.
Right now, Hale didn't matter at all. Not really. He was less than anything else, really. He was just someone who kind of pissed off Stiles by being unable to say macchiato without messing it up.
"What happened when you were a kid?" Hale asked.
Stiles turned his head to look at Hale, even though it kind of hurt to do so. He was so sore from not being able to sleep well. He had never known how much the body recovered while sleeping. He knew that the mind did, but his muscles were so achy that he felt like he had been tossed into the drum of a dryer and spun around for a while.
"Did you really just ask that?" Stiles asked Hale.
"Yes, I mean. What would give you nightmares that would have you being awake like this?"
"Well, back then, it was my mother's death. I was afraid that I was going to lose my father as well. Right now, it's just stress. Stress triggers it horribly."
"I see. Well, that's understandable. What's got you stressed?" Hale asked.
"Can we just go? I want to stretch out on my bed."
"Oh, sorry," Hale said. He buckled up and waved for Stiles to do the same.
Stiles buckled in and looked to make sure that Hale got them going as soon as possible.
Hale put the vehicle into drive and then slowly moved away from the curb where he parked.
Stiles got comfortable since the seat was damned nice. He let his eyes close because it would take just a few minutes to get there, and then Stiles could sleep. He could take a few seconds to just enjoy himself.
Derek looked over at Stiles as he turned the car to head around the corner to head in the best direction to get to where Stiles lived. Stiles moved a little more than he should. Derek found that he was dead asleep, a soft little snoring coming from Stiles.
He debated what to do and decided when he turned another corner and Stiles didn't wake up that he would just leave Stiles in the vehicle and go about what he needed to do. If Stiles was tired enough to sleep in the car as soon as he got there, he was tired enough to need to just sleep.
It was ingrained in Stiles to trust cops, and it seemed that even went to Derek.
There weren't a lot of things that Derek figured Stiles trusted. The man questioned anyone who asked him too much, and he had been known to just not trust anyone. He practically didn't trust the people who supplied him with anything. The man was a walking contradiction. He would stare at people he thought were thinking of robbing him. Yet, he trusted cops. Well, he trusted the cops that he knew weren't assholes. Derek wasn't sure where he fell on that. He assumed pretty high, given that Stiles was dead asleep in his car.
Derek pulled up into the driveway of the witness. He got out and looked at Stiles. He carefully shut the door. He really hoped that Stiles slept the entire time that Derek was in the house talking.
Stiles jerked awake as the bed he was in tried to throw him out. He looked around and realized that he wasn't in bed. He was in a car. He had no memory of getting into a car. He remembered walking home, and then there was nothing.
"You okay?" Hale asked.
Stiles looked at the man. The memory of getting into the car was a little hazy. Hell, it was stupid as hell for him to get into a car with Hale. With the kind of trust he had in the asshole, Stiles was pretty sure that Hale would be spreading this all around. The man wasn't exactly a gossip, but the Sheriff's son falling asleep for a short while in his car was the kind of stuff that even Hale would probably spread far and wide.
Stiles was just happy that it hadn't been for that long. It seemed like they had just pulled into his driveway. Stiles stretched, and his body felt a hell of a lot better. It wasn't until his head shifted to make room for his expanded body that Stiles looked at the sun. It was in a vastly different position than it should be. It wasn't where it had been the last time Stiles had seen it. He looked at his phone and found that over two hours had passed. He had slept in Hale's car for over two hours!
Stiles tried to move, but his body was still kind of waking up. He reached down for his bag and pulled it up and into his lap.
"Thanks for the ride. Sorry for falling asleep in your car."
"What did you do? Drive around the town?"
"No, I had a meeting with a witness, and so I left you napping in the car. It was a nice day, so with the windows down, it was fine. I checked on you often. Here, I got you water." Hale handed over a bottle of water to Stiles. He looked maybe a little smug; Stiles wasn't sure.
Stiles cracked open the water and took a few sips. He found that he was thirsty, and so he drank until it was gone.
"Do you always do that cute little snore when you sleep?"
"Yes, though no one has ever called it cute before." Stiles had been called annoying. Hell, Stiles had been called annoying a lot, but the snore was not something he could control.
"Well, it wasn't bad at all. Do you need anything?"
"Don't you need to get home?" Stiles asked.
"No, not really. I don't mind this. I'm still technically working, but all I have to do is take care of the file for the witness statement. There wasn't a lot more to add, but I can go over the audio I took tomorrow morning."
"Sounds like a lot of fun," Stiles said. He wasn't sure what the hell he was doing still in the car. He needed to just get out and go inside. He had already made a big joke of himself as he slept.
The inside of the car was the safest that Stiles had felt in a long time. Even just thinking about it made Stiles shiver. He wasn't sure if he could actually get out.
"Stiles, why aren't you sleeping?" Hale asked.
Stiles knew that the ghost was up. He had given away too much telling Derek about being stressed. Obviously, Hale and realized that he was lying.
"Thanks for the ride and the nap," Stiles said. He jerked on the handle, and the door opened up. He shoved the strap of his bag over his shoulder, and he got out and slammed the door shut before rushing into his house.
Derek looked at where Stiles disappeared into and wondered what he had done to upset him. He had known that Stiles was lying from the moment he had started to speak about just stress, but Derek hadn't let himself think about it until he was done with the witness interview.
Stiles was usually better at lying, but Derek didn't know him to lie well when lying to customers about things. He had lied to a few other people about serious stuff. Derek had to wonder if he was just that good at lying or that shitty, but no one called him on it.
The drive back to the station was short; at least, it felt short. He snagged his notes from the backseat and headed inside. Boyd was at the massive desk they shared, and he was looking at something online.
"How did it go?" Boyd asked.
"Good. I'll see tomorrow if there was anything really new in there. Did Peter drop off the drinks?"
"Yes, I wondered why you hadn't just brought them back before heading on. I'll get them and get ice in them. I need one badly."
"That works for me." Derek dropped his notes down and then grabbed his recorder from his pocket. He hooked it up to his computer to transfer the audio to be listened to in the morning. He had brain-fried from working on the case. He was half tempted to ask for Stiles' help on it.
Stiles' brain was like no other that he had ever seen. After he had solved a case by looking at just two pages of a file, Derek had asked his father about him. The Sheriff had been more than happy to extol his son's virtues and vices in his quest to know everything when he was a child.
Which included him breaking into his father's files and reading them to help him when he was young. After his mother had died, he had gotten worse, even listening in on nearly every single call his father got when he wasn't supposed to be working. Derek could understand the boy he was trying to protect his father in the only way he knew.
The only thing that Derek couldn't understand was how Stiles was happy doing what he was doing with a brain like he had. How was he content to just own and run a coffee shop? In the beginning, Derek hadn't been good at getting Stiles to understand that he just wanted to understand. Derek feared that Stiles thought that he was looking down on him when he was asking about it.
"Hey, what's with that face?" Boyd asked.
"Just thinking about the case," Derek said.
"Tell me another one." Boyd set down Derek's cup that was now filled with ice.
Derek picked up his cup and took a sip of it. He sighed. He loved it. He wasn't sure what roast of beans Stiles used, but the espresso was the best Derek had ever drunk. He loved the macchiatos because he loved watching Stiles as he drizzled the sauce on top. His fingers gripped the bottle, and then how he was so careful when he drew whatever pattern he wanted to do on it.
Once there had been a wolf on the top, and Derek had almost not wanted to drink it, but he had. During late spring, summer, and early fall, Derek always ordered an iced macchiato. But during early spring, late fall, and winter, he ordered a hot one, and he took a picture of every single image drawn in the foam that was on top. The iced didn't always have a good picture, but then Stiles drew funky designs in those.
"You've got your Stiles face on," Boyd said.
"I'm just worried about him. I don't know what's keeping him up. He slept in my car for over two hours. I picked him up on his way home. He was just shuffling along, and I couldn't just leave him. I don't think he would have made it home. So as soon as he fell asleep, I just went to talk to the witness. He woke up and freaked out a little before he just ran inside of his house."
"Derek," Boyd said.
"No. Look, he's not shown a single bit of interest in me. I'm not gonna be like that with him. I don't want to have to go somewhere else for coffee. I don't like other coffee."
"Stiles would never be like that. He's an asshole, but he's not that kind of an asshole."
"No, Boyd," Derek said. He hoped his tone of voice was enough that it stopped his partner from asking him more questions about it.
Boyd raised up his hands and went back to work.
Derek was happy because maybe he could get off on time tonight and not be yelled at by his mother for being late for the family dinner. Laura was going to be there with her boyfriend. It was a big night as it was the first time that most of the family would be meeting him. Derek was looking forward to it as the man was wonderful. A deputy with the Beacon County Sheriff's Department. Jordan Parrish was someone that Derek had met for the first time outside of the job at Stiles' café. It had been a nice afternoon of talking, and then it had developed into a good but distant friendship.
That was how Laura met him; she came up to them talking. The rest was history as they hit it off right away.
It was something that Derek was looking forward to, and he didn't want to miss a single moment of it.
Derek put the car in park and pulled his phone from his shirt pocket. He started to scroll through the feed for his baseball and basketball teams. He didn't follow many social media pages besides being forced to be on Facebook because of his family, but he did follow his teams on Twitter and Instagram. He also followed Stiles' shop on both of those and the main feeds for the two police forces in the town. He liked to stay up on things, so it was the best way, really.
When the door to Boyd's house opened up, Derek looked up at him. Boyd's house was on Derek's way into work, and it just made sense to pick him up.
Boyd looked like he had already gone three rounds with an asshole witness who was being obtuse on purpose to be released. Derek figured that a lot of to-go coffee was in their future as the shit at the station was actually giving shit a bad name.
Derek looked at the time; Boyd was only a few minutes later than he normally was.
"The twins are teething; slept for shit last night." Boyd rubbed at his eyes.
"Well, then why don't you take a nap on the way over. I can goof off on my phone, and you can sleep until Bean & Love opens up."
"That would be awesome," Boyd said. He leaned his seat back and closed his eyes, slipping into sleep almost immediately.
Learning to sleep when one could was something that not every cop picked up, but more than half of the people Derek had met over the years could do it. He was pretty good at himself if it wasn't something personal keeping him up.
The drive to the shop was silent, and Derek put the car into park in their spot. The only reason they came as early as they did was that Boyd liked the few minutes of quiet since his house was chaotic on a good day with the kids in there. Erica worked a full-time job with good benefits that allowed her to work when she wanted, and it was all from home. Her office was set up to allow her to work as she needed. She would log in some days while the kids were not nearly as needy of her time, and if she didn't, when Boyd had days off, she worked from sunup to sundown. It worked for them.
Derek looked up and frowned when he saw that the lights inside of Bean & Love were not on. Normally Stiles had the lights on long before they got there. He would turn on the front-of-house lights as soon as he moved up to start brewing the coffee and checking to ensure that everything was stocked.
Figuring that Stiles was just running late or doing it all in the dark, Derek looked at his phone again. He messed around on a few players' Twitters, checking their posts and pictures before looking up again. He frowned when he saw the lights still weren't on.
Tapping Boyd, Derek got out.
Boyd didn't even ask anything; he just got out and followed Derek up to the door.
The lights in the back were on, and the smell of baking was wafting out even to the outside.
Derek tried the door, but it was locked, and then he saw it. He saw the two swinging doors were not hanging right.
"Check the back doors. I don't want to break the glass if I don't have to."
"Remember, break a window."
Derek laughed even though he didn't feel it. Stiles had griped for weeks after someone had thrown a brick through his door in protest of his serving cops. Derek had listened to Stiles berating the asshole for twenty minutes while Derek got witness statements and everything he needed to book the guy.
Derek began to beat on the glass, hoping the sounds would draw Stiles' attention. He looked at Boyd, who was calling someone.
"Right to the recorded message with the hours, it won't let me ring through."
"No, Stiles was pissy about people calling to pre-order coffee before he opened, so he stopped that. It goes to voicemail, but the message tells them not to order drinks as the voice mail isn't checked regularly."
"Well, break the glass."
Derek nodded his head. He pulled his baton and used the handle to hit the glass as hard as he could. It cracked but didn't bust. He hit it again and found that it was the kind that was supposed to crack like that. He went through and cracked more of it and released the pressure before using his foot to just shove the whole pane down. He drew his gun and waited for Boyd to give him the signal.
Clearing the front took little time. Thankfully there was only one way in and out of the back, so it was easy to keep their eye on it.
Derek saw the foot about two seconds before Boyd if the noise Boyd made was anything to go by. As much as it pained Derek, they had to check out the full length of the counter, which had an area that someone could hide in at the other end. Boyd moved past Derek, and he kept his eye on the doors to the back.
"Clear," Boyd said, and then he started back.
Derek dropped to give Stiles his full attention. There was not much light coming in right where Stiles was, but Derek didn't want to turn on the lights just yet.
"I'll call it all in and then call his father directly," Boyd said.
Derek nodded his head, his fingers on Stiles' neck to check his pulse. It was fast, but Derek knew it was faster because of the ADHD medication he was on. It felt normal, though, for someone with a high heart rate.
There was a bit of blood on the floor, but it didn't look like a lot. Derek felt around on what he could reach on Stiles' head and found a goose egg, even just a light touch on it had Stiles moaning in pain even if he didn't wake up.
Boyd hung up the phone with the Sheriff and had his mouth open to talk when the sounds of sirens filled the air.
"There was an ambulance on their way here already for coffee," Boyd said.
"Well, that's the one thing whoever did this has not gone for them. Let's clear the back."
Derek stood up, not wanting to leave Stiles but unwilling to not check the back. The back was harder to clear, so they had to take their time. There were a lot of places for someone to hide. Derek pulled the food out of the oven when the timer went off and scared the shit out of him.
"Captain's already got a CSI unit on its way here to take care of prints. They will handle printing staff here on sight since most of the staff will be coming in over the next little while. The off-duty staff will be contacted by the Sheriff. He's got a full list of all the staff here."
"Good. That will help us. To unlock the door," Derek said. He waved Boyd to go through the door first before he did so as well and crouched at Stiles' side. He touched his face and then Stiles' neck. He wanted to make sure that he was fine. He just really needed Stiles to be fine.
"Behind the counter." Derek couldn't even remember the name of the paramedic who came around with his bag. Behind him was his partner, and she crouched at Stiles' feet and began to pull out the brace for Stiles' neck.
After that, it was a flurry of activity, and Derek was able to help a little by getting Stiles onto the board to get him out of there and to the hospital in the very tight space between the wall and the counter.
"Sheriff," Boyd said just as Derek was standing up.
Derek looked at the man.
"I stopped the paramedics to talk to them. I just want to give over keys to you, Hale. These will unlock the doors in the back. Only the key will make it to where after going out, someone can get back in. The lock will just let people out if it's turned on this side. Stiles is in too early, and he hates to have to try and remember to lock the outer door while he's upfront alone. I've got Stiles' assistant manager rounding up people. I've been given verbal agreement before that papers on the desk and such can be gone through. Inside of a drawer, he'll throw a fit since he has a very orderly system. His assistant manager can go over those with you."
The Sheriff looked back, and Parrish was standing in the doorway. "He's giving me a ride. So I need to go. I was outvoted. If you need manpower, don't be afraid to ask."
"Sure," Derek said.
"You want his office?" Boyd asked.
"Yeah, I'll check over the things in there. Gloves?"
"Yeah, I'll get some from the car," Boyd said.
Derek waited for Boyd to come back with a few pairs, and he began to look at the stuff upfront without touching. The items in the office would need to be looked at less by the CSI unit before it was documented. Unless there was something that Derek found there.
The office was a slightly chaotic mess, but Derek could see that he was doing something with taxes, which would probably mean a lot of mess. Derek found nothing that screamed at him about why someone would break-in. The safe was open with rolls of change and a few bundles of ones, and a bundle of fives just sitting there.
"Derek," Boyd said from the doorway.
Derek looked at his watch to see an hour had gone by.
"Nothing was stolen from upfront. The bag with the cash from the safe was still up there, open, and nothing missing. I can see the safe is open, and it looks like nothing is missing. This wasn't a robbery."
"I found the slip from the deposit at the night drop last night. So they didn't get the till from yesterday either. I have no clue what they would have taken." Derek looked at everything on the desk and started to stand up, but a manila envelope stuffed between some books stopped him. He reached out for it and opened it up. He carefully looked inside. There were a few sheets of paper as well as what looked like envelopes in there. Derek pulled out one sheet of paper. If it was personal, he would put it back. The words made no sense.
"Boyd," Derek said. He flipped the sheet of paper over. It was a threat that had been cut out of newspapers and magazines. It was old and cliched, but with being able to track some printers and inks used these days, it was sometimes better. "I want these taken in right away and scanned and then checked over for prints. I want to be able to see them on my phone in under an hour, and then I want you to personally talk to the Sheriff about them."
Derek slipped the paper inside the manila envelope and handed it over. He wasn't sure what the hell those were about. The threat on the only page he saw was confusing. He might be able to put it all together if he saw it all. He didn't want to smudge any prints any more than he might have already done to it. He was pretty sure that he knew exactly why Stiles was so tired over the last while.
There was a lot to unpack in everything that had gone on. Derek wanted to go and check on Stiles, but he also wanted to stay here.
"Cameras?" Derek asked the officer that was in the kitchen.
"We are trying to get the footage. It's all linked, and we were given the codes to get in by the assistant manager, but it seems that the feed was cut. It only covers the front, though. The back of the place is not covered. The back door is but all we see of it is a person using a key to get in. Then there is nothing. The camera footage shows Stiles falling upfront. The person was never on camera."
"Thanks," Derek said. This was a mess. He wanted to know why Stiles hadn't come to him. Or even his father. He was surrounded by law enforcement.
Stiles was in pain, and he didn't like it. He felt like he was on a bed, but he knew he wasn't on his bed. The sound of people close but not that close told him he was not in his home at all. He didn't have a lot of people moving around his place. He didn't open his eyes and just listened for a few more moments before he tried to figure out where he was. He really needed to.
The sound of a code going off told him he was in the hospital. He blinked his eyes to clear them and tried to make it so he could see. He heard a lot of rushing around, but the area around him hadn't kicked up too much. So wherever the code was, it wasn't near him. He took his time to figure out what had happened that had put him there.
Stiles remembered getting things ready for the day. He had looked outside several times because he had something new he had baked in his house that he wanted to try at the shop. He hoped to get Hale and Boyd in the shop early and entice them with coffee and a free try on the new pastry.
There had been noise, and before Stiles had been able to turn around, he was in pain. That was the last thing he remembered. He knew that something had happened and someone had found him. Probably Hale and Boyd. He was so dead. Hale was going to find it, and he was going to be pissed. Everyone was going to be pissed at him. He just needed to get there before Hale found them. His office was a mess since his taxes had been messed up since the idiot had lost what he had sent them. Thankfully he only ever sent copies, but they had all been put back into their normal sections of his files.
"Mister Stilinski, how are you doing today?" a nurse asked as he came into Stiles' sight.
"I have a headache."
"Well, your scans came back fine. You were scanned, and then we realized that you were just sleeping. You went out from being hit over the head to sleep. That tells us that you need to sleep more."
"Are the cops here?" Stiles asked.
"Your father is outside in the waiting area along with Beacon Hills PD officer. The officer would like to speak to you about what you remember."
"Um, sure that works," Stiles said. He tried to sit up and found that his bed wouldn't allow it. He found the control that would raise the bed up, and he found that he was just in the curtained-off area in the ER.
Stiles tried to get through the visit with the officer quickly. He wanted to go back to the shop because he needed to get those letters. He needed to make sure that he was the one that came clean on it all on his own. His dad wasn't pissed at him; he was worried.
"Sheriff, do you want to come down and meet with who you were going to meet?"
"I rode in with Parrish. He's gonna stay and take Stiles home."
Stiles was happy about that. He could talk Parrish into doing anything that wasn't illegal. The man was so happy to have met Laura through Hale. Hale had met Parrish through Stiles since they met in Stiles' shop. It was nothing too big, but Parrish was easy to manipulate. Stiles had learned how a long time ago. He knew how to do it for each of the deputies in the station. Some were easier to manipulate the way he wanted, but he had been around all of them long enough to learn how.
The mild concussion was a setback, but it wasn't enough to keep him there. The sleeping had been a worry but then when Stiles had literally just slept, and his body had been lax, and there were no other issues, he had been left to his nap. It was annoying as hell to Stiles, but it was what it was. He wasn't sure what he was going to do. He walked to work most days anyway, but he wasn't going to be allowed there alone. His staff was going to make sure of that. Which wasn't a big thing. He only worked the mornings alone because he liked it. He loved the ritual of getting the place open for business.
Mornings were for Stiles. He loved waking up and walking to work when the world was dark and no one was really around. He loved just being a part of a world that was still sleeping. It made him feel like he was bigger than he was. The early mornings also made it hard to find someone to date as they didn't like that he had to do early dates to get to bed on time. He had also tried to date the people he knew kept a schedule like him, but that had failed horribly. It was a lot of the reason why Stiles was more than happy to just settle in with his crush on Hale. It wasn't ever going to go anywhere, and as long as he was hung up on him, he didn't want to date as that would be leading on someone. At least that was what he told his father, but his father didn't know it was Hale that he was attracted to.
Once when Stiles was just out of high school, he had been attracted to a new deputy, and his father hadn't liked it. So Stiles had just never brought up when he liked someone in law enforcement. His college years had been a lot of fun as Stiles figured out what kinds of traits he actually liked. High school had been full of just trying to survive. There was a lot of finding people he knew he wasn't compatible with in high school.
"Stiles?" Parrish asked as he sat down in the chair beside Stiles' bed.
"Yeah, I'm here. Just thinking about a few things."
"The nurse told me they are processing your discharge, and it shouldn't be long. Which, I think, is funny as the last time I was brought in here for something minor, it took hours."
"Well, I get annoying. I learned how to annoy them into making sure I'm out of here as soon as possible when I was sixteen. I was in for a broken arm, and I wanted to get payback against the asshole who had tackled me in lacrosse and done it in a way that I was injured."
Parrish nodded his head before he leaned closer. "What did you do to him?"
"Well, he didn't like that I had flirted with his girlfriend when they were on one of their many outs. Well, then she actually flirted back, and he really hated that. It made them get back together, which was her goal, I think. Anyway, I made sure that he never went after someone else for her, leading them on. He learned that it wasn't nice to mess with the geeks and nerds of the world. We know science, and we can mess shit up. He couldn't blame it on me because he was an asshole to many people, and there were too many suspects. Still, how he went off the handle and went after a few of us after he kind of made it hard to let his father press charges since if he did that, we could all press charges back for assault. A prank went wrong that did no permanent or monetary damage versus assault; he would get in more trouble than whoever was found to have pranked him."
"I came in just after that, didn't I?" Parrish asked.
"Yeah, you did. So, you are the chariot that is going to take me to the shop?" Stiles asked.
"No, I have orders to take you home."
"Parrish, I'm going to my shop to check in with everyone there and show them that I am fine. My staff will worry me, but they will let me rest and not check on me too much during the day if they see me. So you are taking me, or I am calling a cab."
"And how are you going to pay for the cab? Your father only grabbed your ID and insurance card," Parrish said with a smug look on his face.
"They know I will pay them when we get to the shop, and I can get cash out of my wallet. So don't even with that, Parrish."
"Your father is going to yell at me," Parrish said.
"He will not. He will yell at me because he will know that I gave you shitty options, and you went with the one that kept me safer." Stiles knew that his father worried about him, just like he worried about his father. There was a big reason why Stiles knew his father had been happier when Stiles had chosen to take over his mother's coffee shop instead of going to the FBI like he had been planning.
Stiles was shocked by how quickly he was discharged, and Parrish got him out into the SUV. Stiles was pretty sure that Parrish was afraid of what Stiles would do if he was left alone. Stiles wasn't stupid, and he wasn't going to hurt himself to get out of there. He wasn't someone who would go against the doctor's orders. If he needed to stay, he could stay. He had a few concussions in high school from playing lacrosse but not too many, thankfully. They were not worried about that thing that happened when people got too many concussions. It had been over a decade from his last.
"Shit," Stiles said, and he rubbed at his eyes as they passed his pharmacy. "Turn around. I need to go in there."
"My Adderall script is ready to be picked up. I need it in the morning. They want me to stay on a steady dose of it, nothing more than normal, but sometimes I second dose with caffeine, and I can't do that right now so, I need my Adderall."
"Sure. Do you need cash?" Parrish put on his blinker and took the next turn.
"Yeah. I was gonna use my card. I'll get dad to use my card and withdraw funds later to give to you. My other scripts were called in while I was asleep."
"Your father was going to pick them up later," Parrish said.
"Oh, then he can get my Adderall too. Is he still at the shop?"
"My last text from him said he was." Parrish took a turn that would take them the back way to the shop.
Stiles nodded his head and closed his eyes. He was still tired. He knew he would be. He knew that he wasn't going to get being away from his father. His dad would crash at his place, and he was more than okay with that. He didn't want to be alone.
Parrish parked in the back parking lot, and Stiles could see most of his staff that were supposed to be working that day standing around and talking. They glanced at the SUV but then looked away again.
Boyd came out the back door and looked right at the SUV before turning to yell something inside. It was muffled enough that Stiles had no clue what he said.
The door opened just about the same time that it shut, and there was Hale. Hale looked at him, and Stiles felt ashamed about everything. He really needed to get inside and see if the letters were still there. The way that Hale's gaze was piercing him, Stiles was pretty sure that Hale had found them. Today was going to be even shittier than being attacked inside of his own place.
Derek looked at where Stiles was sitting in the SUV with Jordan. Jordan nodded at him and began to unbuckle. The door behind Derek opened, and he figured that it was the Sheriff. The man stormed past Derek and went over to hug his son before he could even get out of the SUV.
"You got the copies?" Boyd asked.
"Yes, I'll take him to his office after his staff checks in on him. His phone and wallet are in the office, right?" Derek asked. He tried to look away from where the Sheriff was hugging Stiles tight, but he couldn't. Those two were close—a few years, based on gossip, where they weren't as close as they are now.
"Good. After the staff check on Stiles, they can start to clean up. I know they are chomping at the bit on that," Derek said.
Derek stayed outside while Boyd went inside to make sure that everything was taken care of. The CSI team was done with what they needed. It was all down to Boyd and Derek. Derek read over the notes that the officer had taken. Given what Derek had seen on the security footage, he had been pretty sure that Stiles hadn't seen who had knocked him out.
The attack was meant to scare Stiles; Derek was pretty sure of that. There was no other motive on that. Whatever the letters were, Stiles wasn't doing what they wanted. The letters gave no reason for the threats other than just making the threats. So there was a big piece that was missing from it all. It wasn't something that Derek wanted to leave to chance, but he also had wanted to talk to Stiles where he was comfortable. Which was here, or it was at his house. That Stiles had come here was kind of the best option in Derek's mind. Derek was pretty sure that Stiles would live here if he could. He knew that he used to in the apartment above the place until he had made enough money to mortgage a house. The whole town knew what Stiles did with his life.
Derek wondered again if he should pull himself off the case, but he didn't trust anyone else to work it. He just wanted to find out who was trying to hurt Stiles and had scared him enough that he wasn't sleeping. The past week since Derek had taken him home and let him sleep in the car, Derek had been watching him closely as hell. He didn't want to have to worry about Stiles too much, and he had been making sure that Stiles was okay to walk home. Peter was a good spy since he was pretty much in there on random days. He called it escaping his office and people who didn't like to leave him alone, but Derek knew that it was also that he hated being cooped up in his office all day long. Peter didn't like to leave his office door open as the meant people bothered him all day long, but he hated the silence of it shut. The coffee shop was the best place for Peter. He was only bugged when someone came to refill his drink, and that was it.
Finally, the Sheriff led Stiles out of the SUV and took him toward where Derek was. The Sheriff knew that Derek wanted to talk to him and waited for him to not be at the hospital. Derek had not let the man know about the threats that he had found.
"I need to get my wallet from the office," Stiles said.
"Your phone is in there as well," Derek said.
"The CSI team is done with the scene, and they are packing up their stuff. Your father has already gotten your staff to work on cleaning up. Boyd knows someone who does glass replacement."
"Oh, Gods, what did you break to get in? It had better not be my door. That shit is expensive to replace."
"No, I actually remembered that and broke the glass pane next to it. The one with the crack that you felt wasn't enough to get it replaced yet. We have it boarded up. Two of your staff went out and bought what was needed for that with money from the change jar in the safe."
"I made sure they just took that," the Sheriff said.
"Yeah, I keep a kind of close eye on that money. It's for when I'm not there, and something is needed. I keep up to three hundred dollars in there after the one time the oven broke, and we needed emergency repairs and cost over two hundred for the guy to fix it, and I was too far away to get there on time. I trust my staff."
"That's good." Derek followed the father and son into the shop and waited for Stiles to settle on the office couch. As soon as he was, his eyes darted to where the manila envelope was, and he looked gutted to see it was gone. Derek knew that Stiles had come to take that out of there. He was going to hide what he was going on.
"Dad said you had a few questions for me." Stiles looked at Derek like he didn't like what was going to come.
"Do you want to be alone for this?" Derek asked. He would give Stiles the chance to tell his father on his own terms. He had enough respect for the man for that. He was banking on it coming off as respectful instead of something fueled by the fact that Derek didn't want to hurt him.
"No, we might as well get this over with," Stiles said. He leaned back on the couch and settled into the crook made by the arm and the back. He looked like he was too tired for this, but Derek needed to get it all figured out if he would catch the person who had done this.
"Get what over with?" the Sheriff asked.
"This," Derek said. He handed over the papers that had been printed out after they had been scanned in and then sent for processing.
The Sheriff took the copies of the four letters and read over them before looking at Stiles, who was looking up at the ceiling. " I see. Stiles?"
"I was trying to track them down myself!" Stiles said. He rubbed at his forehead like his head was hurting, and it probably was.
Derek had gotten word that Stiles had a concussion, and there were expected to be no lasting effects on that.
"Stiles," the Sheriff said.
"I know. It's stupid."
"That's why you haven't been sleeping."
"I got that last one. The one with the threat of dire consequences." Stiles sat up but then made a face and laid back down again. He shifted a little, and then his father grabbed his legs and moved him to where they were over his lap. Stiles sighed and settled down with his head on the arm of the couch. He looked very comfortable like that.
Derek wanted to be in the place of the Sheriff, and he tried to push that feeling down. He grabbed his recorder and turned it on, giving the date, time, who he was talking to, and the case number.
"Do you know who it is?"
"If I did, you would know. I would be handing everything over and shit."
"We are running prints on the papers. Who else has handled them?" Derek asked.
"No one on the letters. After the first one, I made sure to be careful when opening them; even if I wasn't turning them over right away, I wanted to preserve as much as possible."
"What is this about?" Derek asked.
"See, that's the biggest issue that I have. I have no clue. I was trying to figure it out. I got the first letter, and no one had spoken to me about anything in the week before that, so I went all the way through to the month before. No other business owner has been bitching at me. I haven't pissed anyone off that I know about. I mean, it's been what? Two years since I solved a case for the Beacon Hills PD or the Beacon County SD. I have no clue."
"Well, we will see what we have going on with everything. Walk me through it all, Stiles," Derek said. He let Stiles talk.
When Stiles talked, sometimes he said things he didn't mean to say. Interrupting him would stop that from happening, and right now, Derek wanted it all. He would ask a few other things as he went along, but he just made notes on it.
"So the back door has always been locked all the time, but one can still get out?" Derek asked.
"Yes. Since long before I took over. I would have no clue if mom was the one with that or not." Stiles looked at his father.
"Yes. I made her do it. She was like Stiles and liked to be the one to open the store. So I had the locks installed."
"I've had to fire one employee, but that was not long after I took over. I changed the locks then, but they were just rekeyed. No one but my assistant manager and me has the key that can make the back door fully unlock."
"Name?" Derek asked.
Stiles gave the name and then explained why he had fired the man and then went off on the people who had left because they found a better job or a place with better ours compared to what Stiles had. Derek knew that Stiles was a fair employer in the area. He tried his best to work around family schedules for his staff.
"Stiles?" the Sheriff asked, and he shook Stiles' leg a little.
"Sorry, I'm tired as hell. I have the protocol in my bag to let me sleep versus not and the exhaustion I'm working under. I have to get my scripts from the pharmacy. I have the ones they called in for this as well as my Adderall. I can't supplement my Adderall with coffee or tea, so I will need to make sure to stick to my times to take it."
"I planned on picking up your scripts from the pharmacy, so I'll just get that as well. You have your debit card on you?"
"Yes, Daddio." Stiles tried to sit up, but it looked like it hurt him, so Derek jumped up to help him.
Stiles smiled at him with the kind of look that made Derek melt a little bit. He wanted to reach out and touch Stiles' face. It would make him feel better, and a part of him hoped it would make Stiles feel better. Derek didn't, though. He didn't touch him even though he wanted to. He had to keep that back.
Derek helped Stiles to stand while his father grabbed his wallet and phone.
"Where are my keys?" Stiles asked.
"Ada has them," the Sheriff said.
"Oh, good, and they are all there?"
"Yes. They were all there. However, I've already called the locksmith to change the store and your house locks if a mold was made on them. You didn't bring the car key with you today, so that's a good thing."
"Yeah, I've been too tired to drive."
Derek raised his eyebrows at that. He knew that Stiles had been walking to work more but with the nice weather, but he hadn't thought it was because he was too tired.
Stiles looked at Derek as he left. He looked like he didn't want to leave Derek, but that was probably because Derek knew that Stiles felt safe around him. He would be fine with his father.
"I'll bring him by tomorrow to take care of his official statement," the Sheriff said.
It felt like his heart was walking out the door when Derek stepped out to watch Stiles disappear around the corner as he walked out the back door.
With the case, it took Derek two days to come into the shop first thing in the morning. Boyd had been stopping in and picking up things since Derek was working too many hours trying to find all traces of what could have been going on. There was a lot of camera footage to go through. The shops around Stiles' place were all more than willing to share footage if they even though there was little chance that it picked up anything. Derek was watching them himself while all of the forensics were being run.
Derek looked around. There were a few new seats as they had been damaged. Despite the damage done to the front of the shop, there had been no prints. Derek paused at the new painting on the wall. It was ugly compared to the other one there, but Derek remembered the image showing how it had been damaged. He had loved that painting, and he had no clue if a second one could be purchased. He would have to look into that as he would willingly donate that to the shop to get this fucking eyesore out of there.
"Detective Hale," Stiles said.
Derek turned to look at Stiles to see that he was standing at the end of the counter. He had one of the reusable cups that the staff used for their own drinks in his hand. Derek raised an eyebrow.
"It's a rooibos tea, thank you. I gotta get my flavors in some way. This one is Earl Grey," Stiles said.
"Don't worry," Ada said as she looked at Stiles with a raised eyebrow. "He can't even sneak a shot of espresso when making a drink. He's not in here alone at any point in time."
"The Sheriff told me that no one was working alone at all right now." Derek had been glad about that, even if patrols by both the police and the deputies had been upped in the area. An attack wasn't going to happen when Stiles was alone again. Not on Derek's watch.
Stiles was also not walking to work. He wasn't cleared to drive yet, so Derek had made sure the Sheriff had someone taking his son to and from work each day. It was kind of nice to rely on the Sheriff to protect his son. Derek figured that the deputies knew Stiles better than anyone else and would be the best bet at keeping Stiles from doing something stupid.
"No, I have made sure of that. We turn enough profit that we don't have to work alone at open and close; it's just usually dead enough that people were staring at each other and would rather just work alone. Did you come in for coffee? Boyd was just through."
"No, I'm here to talk to you."
"I've got a staffer in my office doing a review test on procedures and various things. Is the stock room good?" Stiles asked. He pointed at the back of the shop.
"Sure, lead the way," Derek said.
The back was chaos, and Derek realized that there was more stuff there than before. The oven was full. It looked like Stiles had finally decided to just take over making a lot of the stuff from scratch for the pastries that the shop sold. It smelled like heaven. Derek liked it. Stiles led him into a stock room that he could see was stuffed full of stuff, but it was clean, and even Derek could have found something with just being told what he was looking for. There were no random boxes that one couldn't see inside of. It was really nice. Derek kind of liked it. He had wished that all places had things like this. He had worked a few shops while in college to get work experience, and fucking hell, it was hard sometimes to find things. This was really nice.
"Sorry, there isn't anywhere to sit," Stiles said.
"It's fine." Derek pulled the door shut so that hopefully, no one came in to bother them. "You are an idiot."
"Dad's already read me the riot act, Hale. You don't have to as well."
"Oh, no, I do. You were stupid in not getting help. Someone could have been with you."
"She never would have made a move if someone was around me. She watched me. She knew right when I was going up front."
"She?" Derek asked.
"I don't know. I think I smelled perfume. It's just something that is in my nightmares."
"You are having nightmares?"
"Dude, it's been like two days. Yes, I'm having nightmares. I was knocked out in my shop and woke up in the hospital. I have vague memories of the trip to the hospital; most of them are coming back in my dreams. I've been writing the stuff down. I have a journal at my bedside. When I came to the hospital room, I was shocked, but I wasn't sure where I was, so it took a moment."
"Walk me through all of this. Tell me exactly why you thought you were better to find out who this was."
"Because I'm smart!" Stiles nearly yelled. He took a deep breath and looked away from Derek. "I love my job, but I hear people talk. I see the way you treated me when you thought I was doing something worthless with my life. It gets to me okay. It just fucking gets to me. I hear my friends talking about me wasting my life doing something that my mother loved instead of using my brain for something else. I hear it, and it's just been getting to me. So I wanted to prove that I'm not stupid."
"You are not stupid," Derek said. He stepped closer to Stiles, trying to force the man to look at him.
Stiles wasn't thought. He just kept looking other ways. "You don't understand."
"I do understand. I don't think you are worthless for not going down a path you obviously didn't want to go down. You have no one you need to explain yourself to. Your reasons are their own, and you can tell them to go fuck themselves."
Stiles laughed, but it wasn't a good laugh. "I can't tell the world to fuck off, then I wouldn't have any customers. I just get so sick of them trying to push into my life when they have no clue what went on in my life. She's here, and she's alive when I'm here. I can remember her sitting at a table and talking to people. The sound of her laughter over the grinding of the espresso beans. Dad's chuckle when she stayed too long, and he had to come and find her.
"So I wasn't gonna just sit back and be a victim. I wasn't gonna let this person ruin my fucking life."
"You said that one letter was the first. How can it be? What did you take?"
"I have no clue. I've never stolen anything in my life. Well, anything that mattered. Not in a long time. I have no clue what it could be. I've spent hours when I should be sleeping trying to figure it out. There is nothing. I can't remember a damn thing."
Stiles started to freak out a little bit, ranting and raving about just not understanding what he had stolen from someone and why Stiles would be the one to pay.
Derek wasn't sure what to do. Stiles was getting more and more pissed off. Derek grabbed him by his shirt and pushed him back into the shelving unit. There was only a single thought in his head about what he could do to shut Stiles up. He covered his mouth and kissed him.
Stiles was pissed off and angry, and it was telling in the way he was kissing Derek back. It was like a fight for dominance when someone had already proved they were dominant. Derek tried to slow it down, and after a few, Stiles did start to slow down.
The kiss it turned into was something that Derek was loving. Fuck, he was pleased as hell with it and wanted it to keep going, but then Derek's hand slipped, and something fell off the shelf.
"Stiles, everything okay?" someone called out.
"Yeah, you know me," Stiles answered.
The person outside laughed, and then there was no sound.
Derek looked away from the door, glad it didn't open. He smiled at Stiles, who looked like he was going to throw up. "Hey, what's wrong?"
"I...you...we..." Stiles waved his hand like it was going to help him talk. He hated it when he was like that. He hated when his words failed him. He was his words, and Hale was standing there looking at him like he had grown two heads. It had only been a passing thought, kissing Hale so he could shut himself up. He hadn't meant to do it, but the nightmares were not helping, even if he lived with his father right now.
How Hale was standing there looking at Stiles like he was pissed off. Stiles assumed that was an angry flush on his face. He was probably just trying to figure out how to let Stiles down so that Stiles didn't report him for something and get shit tangled up in red tape. He was now sure what the hell to do. Stiles was at a loss for words, and that rarely happened.
"I'm sorry," Stiles said.
"Sorry?" Hale asked. He looked confused as hell, but it was an adorable look on him.
Stiles was pretty sure that Hale had never looked so adorable. Still, he had to apologize so that Hale didn't make issues with the case. Hale was a good man, and he wouldn't let Stiles get hurt because Stiles had kissed him, but he could make Stiles' life hell while he was doing it. "Yeah, for the whole kissing you thing. I didn't mean to do it. It was a passing thought on getting myself to shut up."
"Stiles, I kissed you first to shut you up."
Stiles just stared. Hale had kissed him? To shut him up?
"You were ranting and working yourself up in anger, and to be honest, you weren't making a lot of sense anymore. You were angry, and it was making me angry, and I didn't want to be, so I...shut you up."
"Well, it's the nicest way that anyone has shut me up before." Stiles knew that he flinched when he said it. Hale's way of shutting him up was a hell of a lot nicer than any other. The way that Hale had calmed the kiss down into something fun just made it even better, in Stiles' opinion.
"I am not sure you should tell me the other ways that people have shut you up," Hale said.
Stiles nodded, but he looked at Hale. Taking in the flush on this face that he now knew wasn't anger but blushing. He looked at the way that Hale wasn't looking him in the eyes. Stiles thought about how Hale had been acting since Stiles had solved the case for him. He had assumed it was some kind of fun and not mean-spirited hazing, but now he saw it through different eyes. The way that Hale bastardized the word macchiato every since day. He sometimes hung around to chat with Stiles if he was there during the day, and Stiles was sitting and working on paperwork or something like it outside of the office. The way that Hale was always willing to try things that Stiles made and only ever had good things to say about them, even if Boyd thought that something was missing.
"You've been flirting with me!" Stiles yelled. The sound even echoed to his own ears in the room.
"Yes, Stiles, I have been. You didn't know it?"
"Dude, before I solved that case for you, you acted like I wasn't even worth serving you coffee, and then you started to come in nearly every single day, and then when you and Boyd moved to the early morning shift for detectives, you came in every single damned morning. I have no clue what you were thinking. You didn't really do anything that showed you were into me."
"I was here every damned day."
"You love the coffee! I have a lot of people that come in every single day!" Stiles shoved at Hale's shoulder when the man started to laugh. "Not everyone who comes in every single day is wanting to get into my pants."
"I hope not. I don't like having competition," Hale said. He caged Stiles in again and slowly leaned his head in, allowing Stiles to make a choice if they were going to kiss or not. Stiles closed the last little bit of distance between them and snagged Hale's lips. He laughed when Hale knocked something else off the shelf.
"I think we need to leave here before you knock an entire shelf off."
"I'm working supposedly. I just came to talk to you and follow up on things."
"I have that journal at home. I'll get someone to take me home and get it, and then I'll take it to the station."
"I can do all of that. You aren't allowed to drive yet, are you?"
"No. So that would be great. I can hitch a ride home with you. I'm pretty much just standing around looking pretty. They allow me to work in the morning, and then the afternoons are just me talking to people if they want to talk. Ada has taken over the computer work for now as I am not allowed long hours staring at the laptop screen until at least my next check-up."
"Get what you need because I'm not bringing you back here when it's all done. I'm gonna take you home."
"Well, home right now is with dad. He doesn't want me alone."
Hale nodded. He probably knew that already. Stiles knew that he and Boyd were kept up on all things that had to do with Stiles.
Stiles took his time gathering everything of his. He had Hale in the office with him as he did it. He tossed his book into his bag and stopped as he thought about how he should really start to think about Hale as Derek since it seemed they were heading for something when the case was done. It was going to take a little time. He had been thinking about him as Hale for years. He wasn't against the thought of him and Hale as a couple. Outside of cases, they kept mostly the same schedule, and it wasn't like Stiles didn't understand the pressures of the job. He was pretty happy being on his own and didn't think that he would need someone around him all the time to feel like they were in a relationship. It wasn't like Stiles couldn't go and eat lunch with Derek when he wanted either. Stiles didn't need to work at the shop as much as he did. His staff would probably like it if he didn't when there was more than a few of them there.
Grabbing his bag, Stiles slung it over his shoulder, and he looked at the wall of images on the back of the door. It was random funny images snapped in the shop of staff doing stupid stuff or posing with people in costume on holidays or before movie premieres. He touched one of the images and felt Derek coming up behind him.
"That's me," Derek said.
"Yeah. It was something that one of the guys snapped. I didn't even notice it was on here until a few months ago." Stiles let his gaze move over the image, and then he saw it. "Derek." Stiles grabbed the image and pulled the pushpin out, and pushed it back in. "Who is that?"
Derek took the picture and pulled it close to look at it. He looked at Stiles after a few seconds. "When was this taken?"
"Um, four months ago? It was Ada who took it. Let's go ask her."
Derek nodded, and he waited for Stiles to step back from the door before he opened it. Stiles looked around the back but didn't see Ada. He walked out to the front to find her handing back change to someone.
"Ada, I need you, please," Stiles said.
"Sure." Ada stepped back, and another staffer took over for her at the register. She came into the back, looking worried when she saw Derek standing beside Stiles. "What's up?"
"When was this taken?"
"Three months ago, why?"
"That was right before the first letter, right?" Derek asked.
"Yes. Why?" Stiles asked.
"Let's get to the Sheriff's station. I'll have Boyd meet us there."
Derek stared at the image. It was a slightly blurry face, but the way she looked at where Derek was looking at Stiles could not be missed. Derek hadn't seen that face in a long time, but he knew it. He would never forget it. He was supposed to have been told when she was released from prison. Especially as he was a cop. He wasn't going to jump to conclusions, though. She could still be in prison.
"Son," the Sheriff said as he came back into his office and sat behind his desk. He looked right at Derek. "I have bad news. She was released, but the notification about her release was delayed. Then it was just gone. There is no pending anything in the system with regards to the case. There is a big stink about it on a federal level, and the FBI will be coming into town. Now, this is where I am going to be taking over this case from you and Boyd. Your captain has already approved it. This is being linked to your case from a long time ago. So it might even get taken away from me."
"I understand. I won't fight it." Derek looked at Stiles, who was still just sitting on the couch in his father's office, looking over his notes from his nightmares.
"Help me understand why she is going after my son like that? I wasn't even the Sheriff when you reported her for trying to kiss you, and then before we could move forward with the case, she tried to touch you."
"That picture says it all, Sir," Derek said. He handed over the image again and looked at the Sheriff's face as he looked at it.
"I see. Well, that helps explain what Stiles has that he needs to give up to the person threatening him."
"My team back at the station is working on removing the letters from the pages to see if there are prints under there. That could be moved to your place."
"No, your captain agreed that the processing of the letters since it started there should end there. Once that's done, then it will all be brought over here. So how recent is this relationship." The Sheriff looked off to the side, and Derek was pretty sure he was looking at Stiles.
"I've been attracted to him for a long time," Derek said.
"Dude, don't," Stiles begged.
"I am not lying to the Sheriff about a case or your father about us," Derek said.
"He's a handful."
"Yes, he is. The relationship changed today. We were going to your place to pick up his journal he's been keeping about the nightmares the last few nights, and I saw the image, and I knew Kate right away. I didn't like how she was looking at Stiles in the image, and I'm sure that no one has noticed her before, given that the focus of the image is Stiles and me. A lot is going on in that image. However, the timeline roughly matches up with the first image. When Kate was sentenced, she was so at a woman's facility that dealt with mental diseases. She would serve her sentence given the nature of her crime but also was supposed to go through rehabilitation about her inclination for my age."
"Well, I can say that things have changed for her. She seems to be going after you now, removing someone that she sees as an obstacle. I don't want Stiles alone at any point in time," the Sheriff said.
"Dad, Derek will be glad to protect me. I can have him pick me up and drop me off at the shop every day when he goes into work, and I'll stay there until he gets off or you get off. Until someone comes and gets me. I remember that case, and I want no part of how that woman was. I'm not gonna do something stupid with that going on. Her family sells guns, and she was rated as a marksman. Hell no."
"I'll have to tell the captain about our relationship," Derek said.
"Well, I will have two deputies assigned to you and Boyd on watching him. They can handle the night shift. Are you going to want to have him go to your place?"
"It's secure, and Boyd is not far away, really. He'll probably enjoy being assigned to something like that. The twins are teething. I'll talk to him and the captain. Stiles, are you staying here?"
"Yeah," Stiles said.
"I'll let you two talk while I update the FBI agents who are assigned to keep an eye on this case. They will be fucking pissed about Argent being released without her victims being told."
Derek nodded his head. He was still a lot numb about all of this. He really needed to buckle down and control that, but then he heard Stiles moving around. Kate had been obsessed with him. It was just like out of the cautionary tales he had heard that reminded him of Fatal Attraction. It was obvious that her time inside of prison hadn't made her better. Derek had no clue how she had gotten out then. Her release wasn't just dependent on her time served. It was also dependent on her being able to prove that she wasn't obsessed with Derek.
"She had other victims? Dad kept me from reading too much on the case, and the local news was only focused on you," Stiles said.
"Two others before me, but it was while she was in college, and she moved on from them with ease, but they were underage. She got further with them. It was Peter who made me see that how she was with me wasn't normal. I asked him about it. It was when I grew closer to him. We were already pretty damned close. It wasn't the best thing in the world to grow closer to someone, but he protected me from a lot of the shit of being famous. Kids in the school were pissy. Other guys didn't like that I got rid of the hot teacher. She wore her shirts down low enough that most guys just stared at her breasts."
"Well, I know that I got a teacher fired for that kind of thing as well. He dated students who were just graduated, ones he had taught. Yes, they were legal, but there was so much going on there, and between it and how he treated not just me but other students, the board fired him. Parents didn't trust him with their kids. It was a big thing, especially in the wake of what happened with you. I never put it together. You and her, and you know you."
"Not a lot of people do. I was protected because of my age, but it didn't stop the rumors. I'm glad you hadn't put it all together."
"I know that sexuality is fluid but did you know you liked guys back then?" Stiles asked.
"Yes, but I kept it buried. I didn't really admit it until college to anyone. Peter was first. Then the rest of the family. It was scary. You?"
"I knew from a very young age I liked guys as well we girls, but most of my attraction to females is intelligence-based. Guys are too, but I also just like guys. I'm a mess, and I haven't found a label that I like yet, but I generally go with gay or bisexual depending on the crowd I'm with."
Derek nodded his head as he looked around the office. He could see many pictures of Stiles as he was growing up. They looked happy, which was good considering the death of Stiles' mother when he was young.
"Is there enough stuff at your father's?" Derek asked.
Stiles looked around the coffee shop as soon as he came out of the back. It was normal now to check every time he entered a room. The hotel room that Kate Argent had been renting under a false name had been empty after tracking her down using an image found on the main camera for the front of Bean & Love. He wasn't sure that she hadn't been inside of the shop again, but then Stiles had been kept out for another few days while they got things figured out on Kate, on Derek's orders. Stiles had gone to the station with him, staying in a small lounge and reading for hours on books.
"How are you doing, dear?" Miss Marble asked as she stepped up to the register to order.
"Good. A little jumpy."
"No doubt. I've seen you with that nice young man Derek Hale. Is he one of your guards?"
"Yes, he and Boyd take the daytime shifts, and then there are two deputies who take the evening and night."
"I saw the picture in the paper."
Stiles nodded his head. He had been staying mostly in the back baking mainly because everyone wanted to talk about it.
After Stiles hadn't come into the shop for a few days, Kate had defaced the windows out front the night before Stiles had come back. HE IS MINE had been written in spray paint across every single window. Stiles hadn't even noticed it until he had opened up. Derek and Boyd had dropped him off and stayed long enough for another staff member to get there and then grabbed drinks and ran.
"No word on the person who did it?" Miss Marble asked.
"No, no idea. I should get into the back." Stiles waved toward the back and then smiled when a timer went off. "Bye!"
Stiles made for his office because the timer wasn't his. He was glad he had expanded into making his own baked good. It had taken a while for him to get up the nerve for it. His mother had used to do it, but no one had wanted to touch her recipes after she passed. He had dug them out during his first day at his father's with his concussion, and now he was trying all of them. He had been updating all of the equipment in the place over the years with the idea to bake in there again. It smelled like Bean & Love again. It was just like in his memories.
Nightmares were still making it hard to sleep. He had a face to put in there now and many bad acts done by her. No one was getting good sleep, not the deputies in Derek's living room and kitchen with cameras everywhere. Derek's bedroom was stopped from having cameras inside, with the windows fully blocked with boards. No one was getting inside of there without someone hearing it. It was why Stiles was the one sleeping in there while Derek took the spare bedroom. He didn't mind sleeping with a camera on him. Stiles had, and they had moved rooms because Derek's room was easier to board up.
A pair of hands settled on Stiles' shoulders, and normally he would have jumped, but he was used to Derek's hands on him now. He was used to the touch and the feel of him. They hadn't done much more than cuddling at night while watching TV, but at night, when Stiles woke with nightmares, he was calmed by the touch of Derek's hands.
"I can't do it, Derek."
"What?" Derek asked.
"Sleeping. I just want you to fucking get in bed with me and hold me so that I can sleep the whole damned night through."
"Okay," Derek said. He touched his head to the back of Stiles' head. "I can do that. If you want."
"I do. Fuck, I do. I don't want more. I want the slow burn of dating and everything like that, but I just need to know that someone is there."
Derek wrapped his arm around Stiles and pulled him to his chest. "I can do that. Let's go up to the apartment up there and take a nap. I have a two-hour lunch today. We can get a good nap in before we get food. Boyd's gonna order it for us because we've already talked. I have a meeting late today, so your father is gonna pick you up and take you to the station when you want."
"You and Boyd can drop me off there when we are done with our naps," Stiles said.
"We can do that. You sure you gonna be good to leave the shop. It smells so good."
"Yeah, I need to do some more work on a few recipes, getting a few variants into it based on what mom had that didn't sell well and just having some fun things using ingredients that are more popular now."
"That will be fun."
"Yeah, there are seven main recipes of items that I can manipulate. I'm thinking that making one type a day will be good. Each day is a specific type. It'll be the same each week, but we might throw in a few different variations based on the add-ins that will be available during that time of year or something like a monthly special."
"Sounds like your time off from opening alone and such has helped."
"Hmm, not being able to look at a screen has helped as well. Stuck with mom's recipe book. I don't mind it, though."
"Let's go. Boyd's waiting in the car."
Stiles grumbled halfheartedly but followed his boyfriend to the outside car. Boyd was in the front of the SUV that was his personal vehicle. It was better equipped to carry what was needed to protect Stiles if attacked while in transit. It was better than Derek's Camaro or Stiles' Jeep.
Derek looked at Stiles as he got into the SUV. Derek was pretty sure that Stiles was going to be asleep before they got back to the house. Derek looked at Boyd as he slid in behind the younger man into the middle row of seats. He was pretty happy with how Stiles leaned into him as they started down the street and then was fully asleep before they were even two blocks away.
"He that tired?"
"He's not sleeping well, you know that. He told me that tonight I should just sleep in his bed. He's not wrong. We both might actually get some good sleep that way."
"I'll sleep in the room you took over instead of the other. Erica wants me home for dinner tonight. She's been using Isaac as help on everything, so I don't feel so bad. They both understand what is really going on. I've already called the Sheriff. He's going to send another deputy to have watched during dinner since the other two on shift won't be there."
"That's good." Derek looked down at Stiles and pulled him just a little bit closer.
No one from Derek's captain to the FBI agents who were working with the Sheriff on the case liked that Derek and Stiles were involved, but given how long they had been on this path, they all agreed that them knowing that they liked each other wasn't going to change how Derek acted. It was also why there was always someone else around with Stiles and Derek.
The trip took little time, they were not that far really from the shop.
Derek's house looked exactly the same as it had when they had left it that morning, but still, Boyd got out first and made a loop around the house and then checked the ground floor before he came back out to wave that it was safe for Derek to carry Stiles in. Normally Derek cleared the ground floor, but this wasn't the first time they had brought home a sleeping Stiles.
Carrying Stiles right up to the master bedroom, Derek laid him on the bed and slipped Stiles' shoes off before undoing his jeans. Stiles had already given permission to get him down to boxers to sleep. Derek wasn't going to take him that far down for a nap, but at least getting the jeans off would help.
Derek set the alarm before he stripped out of his good clothes. He curled around Stiles and let himself fall asleep. He wasn't looking forward to them being apart when this was all said and done.
Stiles heard the yelling outside, but he didn't look up from the recipe he was typing over on his laptop. There was a recipe book in the kitchen, but issues happened and there needed to be a hard copy of every single recipe to print it off easily. They had been playing and leaving so many handwritten notes on the recipes because Stiles was the one who normally typed that up.
Looking up, Stiles didn't see anything, so he looked back down again and worked on typing. The sound of sirens told him something was going on, but sirens weren't an anomaly in the area between the fire department and the police. He had gotten used to ignoring them a long time ago. Hell, his father's going off as he pulled out of the house in the night stopped waking him up when he was seven.
The door made its chime, which they had turned off during the hours when things were busy so that it didn't annoy them, but during slow times when the front staff was in the back, they turned it on. Stiles looked up, and he saw Derek standing there, looking haunted.
"You are fine?" Derek asked.
"Yes?" Stiles answered. He wasn't sure what was going on.
Derek stalked forward and jerked Stiles up and out of his seat. Stiles didn't even get a word out before Derek was kissing him like he was dying. Stiles jerked in his hold but didn't try and escape him. Derek was shivering slightly, and Stiles had no clue why.
"I've got his phone!" Stiles' father yelled from somewhere in the back.
Stiles did pull out of the kiss. He looked at where the doors to the back were, and his father was coming through the door. He stopped when he saw Derek and Stiles.
"You left your phone in the back?"
"Yes. I didn't really need it. I was here online. Why?"
"We called you and texted you," Derek said.
"Oh, sorry. I have been up here just about half an hour. I was in the groove when I realized it and didn't want to stop. What's going on?"
"Outside," Derek said. He dropped his hands from Stiles' face and then led him outside.
Stiles saw the collection of cars that were surrounding a parking lot about a block away. "What's going on?"
"Kate tried to buy a gun, and she was recognized even though she was using a third name. The man knew Chris Argent from when the whole Argent family lived here. He texted Parrish, the man he went to the bar with, to warn that Kate Argent was trying to buy a gun under a false name. She tried to hint that she had already killed you. Derek and I had to take a step back from confronting her, so we were allowed to head out and find you."
"So knowing that if I was baking, I wouldn't have my phone on me, you didn't even think of calling the shop?" Stiles asked. He laughed at the glare that not only his father sent him but Derek as well.
"We were under a little stress, okay," Noah said.
"Well, I'm fine, and she'll get in trouble for more things than just her stalking of me with trying to buy a gun under an assumed name. So it's over?"
"Feels kind of like a letdown," Stiles said.
"FBI is checking over the houses as soon as they are clear of this as well as all cars in the area for bombs and the like. You are safe."
"Where is she?"
"Already in lock up," Noah said.
Stiles nodded his head, and his legs gave out. Derek fell with him, taking his weight and pulling him into his lap. Stiles clutched at him. It was over, and Stiles wasn't sure what he was feeling. He knew there was a chance she could get out on bail, but given what she had already done since being released from prison, there was a very slim chance on it. She was a flight risk of the highest order.
"This is gonna bring the Argents in like crazy," Stiles said.
"But they won't have a leg to stand on. The FBI knows that we have enough to put her behind bars again. Footage outside of Derek's house has her stalking him. She was not supposed to be within half a mile of him and know that he was there. She isn't going to be allowed to be on bail."
Stiles nodded his head into Derek's neck. He just wanted to go home right now. He wanted to sleep in his bed and sit on his couch. He also just wanted to go on a fucking date that didn't involve him and Derek eating in the kitchen of Derek's house.
"Tomorrow, you can skip work, and I'm taking you on a dinner date. Go home tonight and sleep."
"I'm gonna sleep like the dead in my own bed," Stiles said. He looked at Derek with a smile on his face. "I want to just breathe in the smell of my own house."
"Hey, look at me," Derek said.
Stiles locked his eyes with Derek, not even realizing that he hadn't been looking at him. Derek wiped away the tears under Stiles' eyes.
"How are you feeling?"
"Um, too much?" Stiles answered.
"I understand that. Let's get you back inside, and we can close up your laptop and deal with everything going on. I have a report to file, but your father can take you home."
"No, no. I don't wanna...Not alone."
"Okay. The FBI is there right now. You won't be alone," Derek said.
"No, I don't want to be alone. I'll go with you or stay here and then you can come home with me. Just for tonight so that every creak isn't scaring me."
"I can do that."
Stiles nodded his head. He had been pretty good since he had been attacked. Being around Derek and Boyd, well, that had made him feel safe. The thought of driving a car alone right now was scaring him. The thought of sleeping alone in a bed scared him. He wanted to just wrap Derek's arms around him and make the man never let him go. He knew that he would have to transition back to being normal, going to work on his own, shopping on his own. He might just keep paying someone else to do that. He hated shopping.
There was nothing else to do to delay their leaving, so Stiles followed behind Derek as they made their way to his vehicle. The station was a madhouse with everything going on, but Stiles found the little corner he liked and settled into it.
Time passed, and Stiles found that he was happy to be hidden away in the little alcove at the station. Especially when the Argent family arrived. There was a lot of shouting and then the sound of flesh hitting flesh. Stiles really hoped that whoever got punched or hit or whatever was okay, as long as that person a cop. If it was one of the Argents that got punched, well, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
"Oh, sorry," a woman said as she came up the stairs to Stiles little alcove.
"It's fine. I'm just up here hiding."
"Same. My grandfather is making a scene. I only came along because I'm supposed to keep my father from killing my grandfather. I decided that since my grandfather is in a cell right now for striking a police officer."
Stiles' blood began to turn cold in his veins. He looked at the girl. She looked so normal. "I think maybe we shouldn't talk."
"Oh, God! Are you the person she was stalking and attacked? I'm so sorry, well, as much as one can be sorry for what your crazy family does."
Stiles nodded his head. He still wasn't sure that he should be talking to her, but the only way out of where he was made him walk past her.
"Stiles," Derek said as he came up the stairs. He stopped when he saw the woman standing up there. "Allison."
"Hello, Derek. Sorry. I was coming up here to get away from Dad and Gerard, and I found him. I was about to leave as he looked like he was about to rabbit."
"He's still a lot skittish."
"I heard Gerard saying that he's going to get the case thrown out because one of the cops was in a relationship with the victim. He was giddy about it."
"Well, I didn't have anything to do with evidence once the relationship started. I just basically was a bodyguard."
"Hmm, that's good. I don't want her out again. She freaked me out after she was put in the first time. I had to go along with my father, and I wasn't allowed not to. She used to just talk about how much she loved you. I knew even at that young age that she was crazy."
"Do you know how she got out like she did?" Derek asked.
"Yes, and I've already talked to the FBI about it and about giving testimony and evidence. I just want to get this over and done with."
"STILES!" a voice called out.
Stiles gasped and rushed over to look down into the bullpen. He saw Scott standing down there. "Hey, Scotty!"
"There you are. I went by the station, and your father told me you were here."
"When did you get back into town?"
"An hour ago. Who is that?" Scott asked as he looked at Allison.
"This is Allison. Allison, Scott, Stiles, why don't you all go down to the diner. I'll join once I get into my civvies." Derek rubbed at Stiles' shoulder as he came up behind him. "Do you think you can do that?"
"I have no clue." Stiles looked at Allison.
"She's safe. She's about the only good egg in the family. I knew her when she was younger before Kate really went off the rails. I'll join. If you freak out, Scott will bring you back, I bet."
Stiles nodded his head. He looked down at his friend and was happy to see him. He looked at Allison again to see that she was looking at Scott just like Scott was looking at her.
It looked like love at first sight.
Stiles stretched before he looked at Derek in bed with him. Derek had already gone out on a run and come back to cuddle with Stiles. Derek had been happy to have Stiles stay the night, and it not be something where they knew that they would end up with them just sleeping.
It had been a month and a half since the end of the trial for Kate. She wasn't going to be getting out for a long time, and her whole family was being looked into by the FBI. Stiles was pretty sure things were not going to go well for most of them. Allison was still in town, and she and Scott were already exclusively dating.
Derek turned his head to the side to look at Stiles before putting up the book he was reading. He rolled over to look Stiles in the eyes. The sheets were tangled around Derek's waist. Stiles pulled the ones over him up just a little more. He wasn't cold, but he saw the way that Derek's eyes drifted down his chest. Stiles wasn't usually one to shy away from being naked with someone, but Derek looked at him like no one else had ever looked at him. It made Stiles feel wanted in a way that he had never felt before.
Stiles knew that he had a definition. He worked out some, especially when he was stressed. He mainly hadn't been doing that before as he had the concussion. He had started up when it was safe for him to do so, but he still felt weird with how Derek looked at him.
"You were sleeping pretty hard when I got back," Derek said.
"Yes, I was. I always sleep really well after sex. It's been a little bit, and I think I needed the sleep."
"Hmm, Peter said you were tossing and turning when he checked on you the night before last night. Sorry I wasn't here."
"It comes, and it goes. Usually, I am doing better. Dad's still got me guilt-tripped into still going to therapy. I have been downgraded to once a month.'
"You said you had news on that," Derek said. He reached out and touched the side of Stiles' face, smiling as he did.
Stiles turned his face into Derek's hand and closed his eyes. He had never felt safer than he did when he was in Derek's bed, even before they started to have sex. He was falling, and he was falling hard. He knew it. The only good part of it was that Derek was in the same boat. Derek's love was shown in the way he cared for Stiles. The smaller things that Derek did for him every single morning.
Derek's house was a sanctuary for Stiles, and he was loving staying there. He figured that it wouldn't be too long of a time until he was invited to live with Derek.
Stiles' house was nice, and the kitchen was wonderful, but he wasn't attached to it. He loved his little apartment above the shop and had only moved out of it to make everyone else happy. He had been tired of listening to complaints. At least with Derek, he only wanted Stiles to be happy as long as he could be happy with him. Stiles liked to take care of Derek as well.
Boyd was the only one unhappy as Derek went in with Stiles every single morning. Usually, he just sat and read until Stiles was able to make him a coffee. Boyd had two choices now, drive himself to Stiles' shop or go in with Derek. It was only about half an hour difference on most days, but sometimes it was enough.
"You know I love you, right?" Derek asked.
"I know," Stiles said.
Derek lunged across and grabbed both of Stiles' hands and pressed them into the bed above his head. "Tell me," Derek said as he transferred his grip on Stiles' hands to just one of his, and he ghosted the tips of his fingers down Stiles' side. "Tell me."
Stiles laughed and tried to roll to his side, but he couldn't move with how Derek was holding him down by straddling him. He tried to buck Derek up next but wasn't able to. He wiggled a little, and Derek just pressed him down into the bed more.
"Tell me," Derek said. He dropped his head down to press his forehead into Stiles'. "Please."
"I love you," Stiles said.
Derek's face changed like he was looking at the light for the first time ever. It always did when Stiles told him that he loved him. It was a new thing, only a few days old at this point. Stiles had wanted to tell him for longer, but he had been afraid. It was too sudden, and Stiles had no clue what would happen, but he was in love, and he loved it.
"There it is," Derek said. He leaned down and properly kissed Stiles.
When Derek finally let go of Stiles' hands, Stiles grabbed the sheet around Derek's butt and pulled it up over them. He loved making a little nest of their bed, and it was their bed. It had been that since Stiles had stayed over when Derek had been protecting Stiles. This place had felt more like home, and even when Stiles was stubborn and stayed in the guest room, he felt at home.
"You are horrible," Stiles said.
"No, I'm not. You would never love someone horrible. You love me too much for me to be horrible. So, what are your plans today?"
"Well, my boyfriend is off work today, so I guess I should see him. Don't tell him I told you that; he'll get a big head."
"You don't have to work?" Derek asked.
"Nah, I don't. I have to stop in to get a cup of coffee there, though. The coffee here in this place sucks."
Derek started to blush just like every other time Stiles brought up that Derek didn't even have a French Press in his house. Derek proclaimed he sucked at making coffee, but Stiles was pretty sure that he just didn't like the hassle and would rather just buy some from Stiles' place.
"I had a coffee pot, used it every single day. Then I started to like this one person. I decided that the best way to flirt was to go into his shop every day and see him. Do you know how much time it takes each day to try and find a way to mangle the word macchiato in new ways?"
"I knew it! Well, I didn't at the time, but then when you were kissing me, well after you were kissing me, I figured it out."
"Hmm, I don't mind it. Most days, you took part."
"That's how you knew something was wrong before I was attacked."
"Yes, you were not acting like yourself. So do we want to shower and then head out? Coffee from your place and then breakfast wherever we end up?" Derek asked.
"Sure. That sounds great. Just...not yet," Stiles said. He moved to cup the sides of Derek's face and draw him in close. He loved this.
"There are times I think you only want me for the kissing," Derek said.
"Well, I do really like kissing, and you do it so very well. You also don't push for more than kissing if I push your hands away."
"I was raised to respect people," Derek said.
It took over an hour to get Stiles out of bed. They shared kisses, and then Stiles just wanted to cuddle as they laid in their blanket hideaway. Stiles knew that once they were out, they would probably be out all day long. He was okay with that, but he also knew that he needed to get as much rest as possible. Derek was just indulging him in staying in bed.
Derek kissed him to pull him out of his head before they headed out the door. The Camaro was the car of choice for them today, with Stiles' Jeep parked right beside it. The top and sides were all off, and the Jeep was perfect for the weather they were having, but there was something about the Camaro that Stiles loved, and Derek knew it.
"So, what are you thinking for breakfast?" Derek asked.
"Anywhere that I can get bacon."
"Sure. I have just the place. We'll have to take the Camaro to it after coffee."
Stiles nodded his head. He had slept well, so he didn't feel the dire need for coffee, but he did want it. He was pretty sure that he was addicted to his own stuff. Hell, it wasn't that big of a deal, but he knew that he didn't like most of the other coffees in town.
"So your father said that you and he had a day coming up that I shouldn't be shocked that you just disappear for the whole day with him."
"Yeah, the anniversary of mom's death," Stiles said.
"Well, whatever you need from me, just ask. Even if it's just to stay the fuck away," Derek said. He reached over and snagged Stiles' hand and threaded his fingers through Stiles'.
"I will. I've never had a significant other this time of year, so I have no clue what I will want. I might even just stay in your bed alone. Dad usually does his own thing, but he doesn't mind if I am there." Stiles looked out to see that they were nearing the shop. Derek took his hand away so he could shift gears as needed.
They were parked in a matter of seconds, and Stiles stayed where he was as Derek came around the car to open the door. It was kind of stupid, but Stiles loved it, how much Derek liked opening the door for him when getting out of the car.
"What are you feeling today?" Stiles asked.
"Well, macchiatos are the drinks I get from you, so I have no clue what I want."
"Why just me?" Stiles asked.
"I like watching your arms and hands as you draw the designs with the topping. There are times that I feel like your hands are pornographic as hell," Derek said.
"I've noticed you like watching them sometimes, but I didn't realize it was that. Though the way you watch my hands when I'm jacking you off, I should have known."
Derek laughed and pulled Stiles close as he moved to open the door into the shop. It wasn't quite dead in there, but there was only one person in front of them in the line. Derek took in who was in the room. He wasn't sure what he was looking for as he looked around. Well, other than the normal seeing who was in there to look for threats. He stopped when he saw the painting there. It was the old one, the one that had been destroyed. Derek couldn't help it as he turned his body and walked over to it. Thankfully, no one was sitting in the spots directly under the painting.
"How?" Derek asked.
"Well, I have an in with the person who painted the original," Peter said.
Derek turned his head to look at his uncle, who was standing there. "I didn't realize that it was able to be replaced. I looked but was never able to find it."
"That's because it was painted for the shop. Just about the time that Claudia was opening this place, your mother went through an art therapy phase. She hoped that it would make her feel better. Well, she came into the shop the first day it was open and got a coffee and went home and painted this over the next three days, always getting a cup of coffee beforehand. When Talia presented it to Claudia, Claudia refused it because she didn't want something so fine and irreplaceable in the shop. So Talia had a very detailed print made of it and framed it and returned with that. As soon as I saw the damage done to the print, I had Talia dig out the original, and we worked on finding a place we trusted to hand a print of it to hang up."
"She had to know that I liked it," Derek said.
"That's what your mother and I thought as well." Peter laid his hand across Derek's shoulders and pulled him into a side hug.
"How did you know I was going to be here?"
"Well, I was here when they opened along with your father to get the picture hung. I just decided to work from here today. I wanted to be here when you saw it, and you are addicted to the drinks here, or at least the man who makes them. Speaking of said man, he's making your drink right now."
Derek looked over to the side to see Stiles putting the drizzle on the top of his drink. He hadn't even told Stiles what kind of drink he wanted. It was a macchiato; Derek knew that much, given how espresso shots were floated on top. Stiles was so focused on his task that his tongue started to peek out from between his lips. He looked kind of ridiculous but also adorable at the same time. Derek looked at Peter, who gave a squeeze before letting him go.
"What kind did you make me?"
"It's a surprise," Stiles answered. He looked up at Derek after he put the last touch to the drizzle. Then he was handing off Derek's drink to him. The milk at the bottom wasn't nearly as white as it normally was. "We got in a few sauce flavors, and I wanna try it out on you."
"Great, I'm a Guinea Pig," Derek said.
"Well, you've been that for a long time, being my first customer of the day."
Derek looked at his boyfriend, but Stiles was just smiling at him. Derek shook his head and took a sip. The first thing he tasted was the drizzle which wasn't the raspberry that was his favorite but some other fruit. Strawberry, he was sure. Then there was the bite of the espresso and finally the creamy milk with the taste of peanut butter. Derek hummed. It was like an adult non-alcoholic version of a PB&J.
"I wasn't sure if you like raspberry jam on your PB&J, but I remember Peter telling me a story once of you with a broken arm and wanting nothing but peanut butter with strawberry jam for days. Once he went to make one, and there was no strawberry left, so he had to go to the store in the pouring rain."
"He bought like five jars of it, and the next week, I wanted nothing but peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches. We went through the strawberry, but he says that it's why he is never going to have kids. All because I traumatized him."
"Well, it's a good story. I wasn't sure if you still like a strawberry on your PB&J."
"I like it only. I don't mind raspberry if it's on offer, but it's a hell, not grape."
"God flirt somewhere else," Ada said, and she shoved at Stiles a little, making him laugh.
"Fine. But that means you get to make my drink."
"You actually made Derek one first? It must be love," Ada joked.
Stiles blushed and looked away from Ada. He looked adorable as hell with the blush on his cheeks. Derek took pity on him and pulled him around the counter.
"We will go sit over here. What do you want today, Stiles?" Derek asked.
"Iced Chai latte with a shot of espresso."
Derek tucked Stiles under his arm and kissed his forehead. All of Stiles' staff thought they were cute. They didn't get to see most of the early morning flirting that they had done before, but they had seen the sexual tension in the afternoon, as Ada called it. Derek was just glad that Stiles had been willing to date him, even after he had kissed Stiles in the worst way for the first time.
"So breakfast and then what?" Stiles asked as he slipped into the seat beside Derek, and he cuddled into his side.
"I don't know. What do you want to do?" Derek loved that Stiles was tactile. Derek had never known where he would fall with that. He had dated before and hadn't like the touches that much, but with Stiles, it was just like breathing.
"I have no clue. It's a nice day outside so far, so I don't want to be cooped up inside, but I have no clue what I want to do."
"There are more than a few shops in the area around the diner. We can wander the streets if you want. I'm sure that most will be open by the time we get there."
"Sure. The Camaro will be with us, right? You said it was too far to walk."
"Good because I did want a couple of new decorations for the shop."
"That sounds good. I have nothing in the trunk right now, so we can pile that up first before the secondary seats in the back."
Stiles nodded his head. He closed his eyes and just seemed to shut down to enjoy being close to Derek. Derek settled in to sip his coffee while they waited for Stiles'. There was nowhere else he would rather be.