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I Know the Owner

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It was funny how easily things could go unnoticed for so long. How he could see the same people over and over again every day, and never really give much thought to what kind of impression he made. His mother had raised him right, so he was never rude, and he always made sure to greet them politely, especially since he saw them day after day. But he supposed he’d never actually considered what his presence did or how he could affect other people and their moods. 

Growing up, people had always said he had resting bitch face, and despite the fact that he never felt like a mean person, he was quiet. Some people attributed that to shyness—which was incorrect, he was not at all shy—and others insisted it was because he was an asshole—true, but to a point, everyone could be an asshole. 

He had good friends, and a job he enjoyed, and he just went about his day in the same manner he did every other day. A mundane routine to some, but he kind of liked the stability of it. Knowing that every day would be relatively similar gave him a sense of comfort, because he didn’t do well with surprises. The last few surprises he’d had were the bad sort, so having a normal day every day was more his speed. 

But he never considered how his normal days could make anyone else feel happy. He didn’t do anything that warranted others to feel happy being in his presence, that he was aware of anyway, which probably explained why his normal routine was suddenly thrown off-kilter by one particularly excitable—and very cute—barista at his favourite coffee shop. 

Not that he was complaining, because while he might not like surprises, life liked to throw good ones his way when he wasn’t looking, and this was definitely a good one. 

Even though his day had started off horribly. 

For starters, he woke up to the sound of rain. Normally that wouldn’t affect him in any way, because he liked the rain. The sound it made as it fell was relaxing, and he enjoyed sipping his morning coffee on the weekends while listening to it fall. 

The reason he hated the sound this morning was because he had to take the bus to work today. Which led to the second part of his day that sucked, that being the fact that he had to take the bus to work today.

Because his car wouldn’t start. 

It had been acting up of late, so it was only a matter of time before it conked out, but it had to be today of all days? When it was pouring rain out?

Regardless, he had no choice. It was take the bus, or call in sick, and he wasn’t going to call in sick just because of a little water. Much as he didn’t want to get soaked through, he trudged his way to the bus stop down the street anyway, his umbrella doing absolutely nothing to help him stay dry.

Which led to the third shitty part of his morning, which was the wind. 

The wind that broke his umbrella. 

Which assisted in the whole soaking wet aspect of his entire day. 

By the time he was under the bus stop’s awning, his white dress shirt was soaked and see-through, making him thankful he had a white tank top underneath. His suit jacket hung heavy from water weight, and his only saving grace was that his briefcase was waterproof. He’d specifically purchased it for that feature since his laptop was in it, and he’d already ruined one of the work laptops a few years back after a rather unfortunate accident involving a car and a very large puddle. 

Standing under the awning, he scowled angrily while brushing his hand through his hair, forcing it out of his eyes even as water continued to drip off his—everything. Literally everything, he was soaked. 

He could see the girl waiting beside him side-eying him, but tried not to react to it. He didn’t know for sure if she was checking him out, seeing as his clothes were sticking to him, and he didn’t want to assume. He wasn’t that kind of asshole. 

The fourth awesome part of his morning came fifteen minutes later. 

Which was ten minutes after the bus was scheduled to arrive. Because of course the bus would be late the day it was pouring rain out, the wind was howling and his car wouldn’t start. Why not? And just to make it extra fun today, maybe the bus could be jam-packed so that he ended up pressed between a poor five-foot-nothing woman who was struggling to find something to hold onto so she didn’t fall into the people around her, and some asshole hotshot who spent most of the ride downtown yelling into his phone.

The phone that happened to be basically right by his own ear. 

If he got hearing loss early in life because of the guy’s shouting, he was going to find him and sue for damages. Nobody had any right or reason to be that angry at seven-thirty in the morning. Even he wasn’t that angry, and his morning was shit

Leading into the final shitty part of his morning before everything turned upside down. 

His usual coffee shop was open, like it always was—and thank God for that, because if it had been closed for whatever reason, he’d have lost his shit. But, thankfully, it was open as normal. They opened at six in the morning, and he honestly didn’t know how any of the employees could get there early enough for such an unreasonable start time or how they were always so polite and awake

He loved coming to this coffee shop and had been going there ever since he’d started working his current job four years ago. He always got the same order, and while he knew other people worked at the place, he only ever saw the same two workers in the morning. 

One of them being his favourite barista, who also happened to be a rather excitable and downright adorable brunet. Even after his super shitty morning, walking into the shop and hearing the guy’s excited chatter as he took someone’s order made some of the shittiness of his morning disappear. It was still a shitty morning, no doubts about that, but at least he had his cute barista to check out and get his breakfast from. 

Moving to stand in line, only two people in front of him, he raked one hand through his hair again, the water keeping it swept back, but feeling like he’d quite literally jumped into a pool with how wet he was. He was glad he’d put his phone into his briefcase before leaving the house or it likely would’ve gotten waterlogged. As it was, he wondered if his wallet had survived the trip, and knew he’d have to check on the bills he had when he got to work. 

For now, he’d use his card. Plastic could hold up against water, and he wasn’t going to be a dick and use wet money, even though he usually always used cash since it meant the baristas got their tips right away instead of after the company likely took a cut. 

Setting his briefcase down on the ground, he pulled his wallet from his suit jacket as one of the patrons in front of him moved aside to the other end of the counter, having finished ordering, and the other stepped forward. Excellent, he’d have his coffee and muffin in a second, and hopefully his day would improve from there. 

Just as he’d reached down to grab his briefcase to move forward in line, the door opened and a woman wearing way too much make-up and the most Karen haircut he’d ever seen shook her umbrella practically right in his face and stepped in front of him in the gap between the person currently ordering at the till, and himself. 

And that was number five. Which was five things too many. 

Not even cute barista man could save this day, but he was more than happy to be proved wrong. 

“Excuse me,” Derek Hale said, trying to find his patience so he didn’t say something he’d regret later. “I believe I was next.” 

The woman turned to him, gave a startled little jump, and then laughed obnoxiously loud while slapping one hand to her chest. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Didn’t see you there. Thought you were just waiting for your drink.” 

He forced a tight smile and nodded once. “That’s all right. Mistakes happen.” 

He waited for her to move aside, or walk around the display to her left so she could move behind him, but given how his day had started, he should’ve known better. 

“You didn’t make it clear you were in line.” She gave him a pitying look. “I’m in a bit of a hurry today, so I’m sure you can wait.” 

Derek took a deep breath in through his nose, and then slowly exhaled between his parted lips. “Ma’am, with all due respect, we’re all in a hurry, and you might have noticed I happen to be soaked through. I’d like to get to the office in time to change into something more appropriate.” 

“Then maybe you should’ve made it clearer that you were waiting in line,” the Karen said, giving him the fakest smile he’d ever seen in his life. “I’m already in front of you, what’s one more person? It won’t make a difference.” 

Derek found her to be very brave, because if his friends were to be believed, he looked like a serial killer before he’d had his coffee, and this lady was trying to keep him away from said coffee. 

He saw his cute barista watching them from behind the till, having finished with the person who’d originally been ahead of Derek. He was frowning in disapproval, looking between them, and Derek could tell he knew full well the lady had cut in line, but he didn’t say anything. 

Derek didn’t blame him. He’d worked customer service in high school and people were assholes. He’d never butt into something like this either. Even now, while it happened to him, his brain kept telling him to let it go, to just let the Karen have her stupid moment, and cut in line like a fucking bitch to ruin his day more than it already had been. 

His free hand clenched into a fist and it took a conscious effort for him to unclench it. The woman just smiled at him like a bitch, turned to the counter, and moved forward to place her order. Her voice was loud and condescending, and she was treating Derek’s favourite barista like garbage. It pissed him off, and he wanted to say something, but he was honestly worried about what might escape his mouth with the mood he was in so he chose to stay silent, fuming behind the bitch.

He’d just be sure to leave an extra large tip to try and make his barista feel better, because Derek knew he wouldn’t be able to scrounge up the ability to be nicer than normal to balance the bitch out. Not with the mood he was in. 

So he waited while she ordered, and just reminded himself things could only get better from here. 

“Oh no, I’m short a few dollars.”

Lord help him, he was going to commit a murder this day. 

“I’m sure it’s fine, right? You can let a few dollars slide.” 

“I’m afraid I can’t,” his favourite barista said, and Derek felt like he deserved a fucking Oscar for how sympathetic he looked. “It looks like you’re five dollars off, but we can resolve this by removing the two chocolate croissants you ordered.” 

“But I want the croissants,” the woman said sharply, tone changing from simpering sweet to curt in an instant. “I want everything I ordered, that’s why I ordered it.” 

“I’m very sorry ma’am, but unfortunately I can’t overlook a five dollar discrepancy. If you’d like to review your items, I’m sure you can find something to remove from your order.” 

“It’s five dollars,” she snapped, voice getting ruder by the second. “Just write it off. I’m in a hurry, I don’t have time for this.” 

She’d probably spent those five dollars ensuring she got the right style of Karen haircut, as far as Derek was concerned. 

“As I said, I do apologize, but if you can’t pay the full balance, I’m afraid we can’t serve you your full order.” 

“Well that’s ridiculous,” she snapped angrily. “What kind of establishment doesn’t accommodate its customers?!” 

“The kind that has employees who need to get paid, ma’am. Something the owner can only achieve when people pay the price outlined on the till upon ordering.” 

Derek noticed the girl behind the counter with his favourite barista was beginning to clean out the machines after having finished with the last patron’s order. Derek could see the woman’s order on the screen behind her, but she was making no move to actually start it, evidently hearing what was going on beside her and not wanting to waste anything by starting a drink that might not find a home. 

“Excuse me?!” The woman’s shrill voice was the last thing Derek needed right now. “I’ll have you know, I know the owner personally and I can assure you he would be most upset to hear about how I am being treated!” 

The barista’s face fell and Derek groaned internally. He knew if the guy let this go just for that, he’d have to pay those five dollars out of his own tips. Furthermore, her words probably weren’t even fucking true, but even if that were the case, the woman could still complain to the owner and get him in trouble. 

Sighing and starting to take a step forward so he could fucking pay the difference—not only to help out the barista, but also to get his own fucking coffee and muffin—he paused when the girl behind the counter looked up sharply and shook her head at him. 

Frowning, he stopped two steps short of the woman and the till, unsure of what was going on, but the girl just smiled when it became clear he was obeying her silent instructions, then mouthed, ‘Your usual?’ 

Startled, he nodded, and she nodded back before beginning to work on his usual morning coffee. He hadn’t actually given any thought to the fact that she might know his order by heart, but then again, he came in every weekday and the morning shift was always these two together. 

How hadn’t he ever noticed that she knew his order before? He felt like he should’ve, especially since these two were the only ones he saw working the morning shift. It was always them when he came in to get his coffees right upon arrival downtown at quarter-after-seven, and then his first brain break at eleven o’clock. 

“You know the owner?” 

Derek’s attention snapped back to his favourite barista at the words. They were spoken so quietly that he almost missed them. The rain outside, and the growing line of annoyed patrons behind him had made it difficult to hear him. 

“I do,” Karen said smugly. “If you don’t give me my order right now, I’m going to call him and have you fired.” 

“But it’s just five dollars,” the barista insisted, sounding almost desperate. “Please, I really need this job!” 

“Then give me my order.”

“I can’t until you pay for it in full. Ma’am, please, I can remove something from your order and—”

“For fuck’s sake lady, some of us have places to be!” someone behind Derek said angrily. “Pay the amount owing or fucking leave.” 

The woman whipped around, looking furious. 

Christ alive, Derek was definitely going to commit a murder this day. 

“How dare you! I could have you banned from this place! I could have everyone here kicked out right now! I know the owner!”

“So do I, and I still pay full price!” the guy snapped angrily. “Pay up, or get out of the way.” 

It seemed the woman was recognizing she had a shop full of angry people waiting for their morning caffeine, because her expression slowly shifted into something a little less haughty. Evidently she’d been expecting to bully the barista into giving her free items, but she hadn’t counted on the other patrons being on his side. 

Derek’s eyes shifted to his favourite barista and was startled to see him smirking. As soon as the woman turned back to face him though, the mask of terror at being fired was back in place and Derek had to applaud his acting skills.

Seriously. Oscar-worthy. 

The woman muttered something under her breath and fished something out of her purse. Derek was annoyed when she pulled out a credit card and paid with that instead of the cash she’d been holding because it proved she was clearly trying to pull a fast one. 

After the payment went through, the barista’s smile returned and he cheerfully informed her that her drink would be at the other end of the counter. She was walking away from him, the girl working with his barista setting Derek’s finished drink on the counter by the other man’s elbow while Derek stepped forward to the till. 

“Good morning,” he managed to say, despite how fucking grumpy he was. 

His favourite barista smiled at him, grin so huge it shouldn’t be possible to fit on his face, and then very loudly said, “Congratulations! You are our fiftieth customer of the morning and have won the prize of fifty dollars worth of free food and drink!” 

For a second, Derek had no idea what to do or say. The words took a minute to actually register, and it wasn’t until he heard the woman’s stomping steps heading back his way that he remembered shitty thing number five this morning. 

She’d cut in front of him. 

If Derek had gone first as intended, she would’ve been the fiftieth customer. 

“Excuse me, what do you mean he’s the fiftieth customer?” the woman demanded angrily. 

“I mean he’s the fiftieth customer,” the barista said cheerfully. 

“But I arrived after him.” 

“You certainly did, but you ordered before him, didn’t you?” The look he shot her at those words could’ve flayed the skin from her bones. “As such, you are customer number forty-nine. He is customer number fifty. Your drink will be ready over on the far counter, ma’am.” 

“But that’s not fair, I was here after him,” she argued. Derek was surprised she didn’t stomp her foot like a child.  

“And if you hadn’t cut in front of him, you would’ve been our fiftieth customer. Your drink will be over there, ma’am.” 

Derek couldn’t help the smile trying to take over his face, because he was pretty sure the guy was bullshitting her. Derek wasn’t the fiftieth customer, the barista was just trying to teach the Karen a lesson in manners. 

“What would you like today, sir? Your usual, of course, but do you need a larger order for any business meetings you have later?” 

Derek had never once bought extras for any sort of business meeting, which implied the barista wanted him to order something big to irk the woman who was clearly upset about this whole thing. 

What the hell, he was willing to pay extra today to get a larger order just to rub it in the lady’s face. 

“I do, actually. This happened on the perfect day, I’m going to need at least a dozen muffins, another identical coffee, and two chocolate croissants, please.” 

He’d give the second coffee and one of the croissants to his coworker Erica Reyes. The muffins he would bring home and try not to eat them all at once. 

The Karen was still huffing angrily at the other end of the counter while his barista rang him up, and the till opened and shut with the total staying at zero. 

Now Derek felt even worse for not being able to tip, because he hadn’t expected this outcome. He’d thought they were just going to play this out to piss her off, and Derek would pay subtly or maybe once she left the store. 

But nope. His barista literally just gave him a big order for free. 

Derek opened his wallet to try and peel some bills apart. Thankfully a five came free and he stuffed it into the tip jar as the barista pulled a box out from behind the display case, putting it together in literally five seconds flat. 

“What muffins would you like?” 

“I’m fine with a mix,” he admitted. He’d tried all of them at one point or another, and they were all good. His favourite was the banana chocolate chip ones though, which was what he ordered with his coffee every morning. 

His barista evidently knew this, because even though he’d just made a box, he grabbed another individual pastry bag and put one lone muffin into it, setting it beside Derek’s coffee on the counter by the till, and then began to pull an assortment of muffins out, placing them in the little box. 

“I’d give you more of your favourite if I could, but I know at least three people in line behind you will be grouchy if I don’t leave one for them.” His barista winked at him, and closed up the box, setting it down beside the other items. 

Derek noticed the lady was still waiting for her coffee, and it looked like the girl working with his barista was actually making Derek’s second one. There was a coffee sitting out of sight of the counter that Derek could see, and he smiled privately to himself when he realized it was likely the woman’s. 

The girl brought the second coffee over, ignoring the angry huffs from the Karen. Well, it was actually a double-hot latte with extra foam, a pump of vanilla and two shots of espresso, but Derek just called it a coffee. Erica always stole his, so he was glad to bring her her own today. 

When the girl headed back towards the other end of the counter, Karen still huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf trying to blow a house down, she seemed to decide she’d rather have her gone than continue the charade and have her stick around. She returned to where she was, slapped a lid on the drink, and then handed it over the counter as his own barista was getting the chocolate croissants out for Derek. 

Karen already seemed to have her pastries—likely the girl having grabbed them while he was distracted by the announcement of being the fiftieth customer—because as soon as her coffee was held out, she snatched it from the girl’s hand with a rude remark and then stormed out of the shop. 

His barista was heading back for him with his pastry bag of croissants, eyes on the retreating woman, and as soon as the door closed behind her, he burst out laughing and leaned over to high-five the girl behind the counter, who was grinning broadly before starting another drink, evidently for another one of the regulars. 

“Little aggressive there, Jacks,” his barista said with a grin, but he was looking over Derek’s shoulder as he did so.  

“I want my coffee, I’m tired.” Derek turned slightly and noticed it was the guy who’d been mouthing off at the woman earlier

“And a liar, apparently. Pay full price, my ass. When have you ever paid for anything here?” 

“Shut up and give me my coffee.” 

“Relax or I’ll spit in it,” the girl called over the sound of the machine working. 

“You better not, or I’ll poison dinner.” 

“Like your cooking’s not poison enough,” his barista said with a grin. 

Definitely poisoning you first chance I get.”

“Yeah, yeah.” His words were waved away easily while his barista rolled his eyes, then he focussed back on Derek. “Do you want a bag and a tray? It’s raining pretty bad out there, but I’m uh, sure you noticed.” He winced and motioned Derek’s state. Thankfully his office was in the building next door and the awning would keep him safe. 

“Thank you, a bag would be great. How much do I owe you?” He still had his wallet out, because now that Karen was gone, he could pay for all the goodies he’d bought, but the barista just waved one hand at him this time, bag in the other one, and began to put his pastries into it. 

“No need, it’s on the house.”

Derek frowned, confused. “Am I actually the fiftieth customer?” he asked, wondering if maybe it was legit, but figuring out pretty quickly it wasn’t when his barista snorted. 

“At seven-forty-five on a dreary Monday? Not a chance.” 

“You’re probably closer to our one-hundred and twelfth customer,” the girl said, standing at one of the machines while she steamed milk. She sighed dejectedly, shaking her head. “It’s been a busy morning.” 

“It’s the rain,” his barista said in explanation. “For some reason, it makes people not want to make their own coffee.” He was putting the two coffees in a drink tray now, making sure they were secure. “I saw her cut in front of you and I didn’t say anything, so consider this my apology.” 

“Won’t you get in trouble?” he asked, concerned. “This is a lot to give away for free.” 

“What?” The barista blinked at him, then seemed to give himself a little shake before laughing again. “Oh, no. Don’t worry, it’s fine.” 

“Are you sure? I really don’t want you to get in trouble with the owner.” 

“I am the owner,” he said with a grin. 

Derek stared at him, brain screeching to a halt, and before he could say anything, the girl appeared beside him, slapping a drink down a little harder than she’d probably meant to since some coffee spilled out through the hole in the lid. 

“Excuse me?” she asked, arching an eyebrow at him. 

His barista rolled his eyes, and then motioned between them. “We’re the owners,” he amended. 

“Damn straight,” she muttered, walking to the display case and pulling a pastry bag out from somewhere he didn’t see. “I paid my half, you don’t get single credit on this.”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever.” His barista rolled his eyes dramatically at him again. 

“Jerk,” the girl snapped. 




She rounded on him, pointing the tongs she was holding in his direction threateningly. “You take that back or I’ll cover your room in shaving cream again.” 

“You have no sense of humour.” 

“Stiles! My coffee!”

“Calm your tits, man!” His barista—Stiles, apparently, since he didn’t have a name tag on—flapped one hand impatiently at the guy who seemed to know them both extremely well. “It’s right here, it’s ready and everything.” 

The guy walked right up beside Derek and snatched the drink from Stiles’ hand, shaking his head at him. “Flirt in your own time, some of us need caffeine.” 

“Wha—get out! Shoo!” 

He turned to leave, reaching over to grab the pastry bag the girl was holding out to him without a word. Derek realized he really hadn’t paid, and wondered how this place stayed in business if they were constantly giving stuff out for free. 

“See you later Jackson!” the girl called, even as she moved to get started on another drink, despite no new orders coming in. Evidently she knew the order of the next person in line. 

“Dinner’s at seven.” 

“Not coming if you poison us!” Stiles shouted after him, this Jackson character having already walked out of the shop. “Asshole.” 

“I’m telling dad,” the girl sing-songed with a mischievous smile. 

“Will you shut up and make coffee.” 

“It’d be easier if you’d let people order.” She gave him a pointed look. 

That was when Derek realized he was still standing at the counter waiting because Stiles hadn’t actually passed over his drink and bag of pastries yet. 

“Right, shit, sorry!” He hastily pushed both items forward on the counter so Derek could grab them. “My bad. I get distracted easily. But uh, hope your day gets better. Enjoy the muffins!” 

“Thank you.” He offered him a smile. “I really appreciate your kindness today. I needed it.” 

“Any time!” He beamed at him and Derek nodded in thanks once more before turning to leave the shop, wishing the girl a good day on his way by. He hadn’t quite made it to the door when he heard the girl speak again. 

“Someone’s got a crush,” she teased. 

“Shut up, Allison!” 

Derek didn’t know if that was true or not, but he could confidently say that after four years of coming to this coffee shop every single weekday and seeing the same barista over and over again, he definitely felt his mood increase ten-fold whenever he walked in the door.

And not just because of the coffee and muffins. 

“How the hell didn’t you know his name until today? Even I know his name, and I go there like, once every other week.” 

“Why bother going yourself when you can just steal my coffee and muffin, right?” Derek asked dryly while Erica stuffed a huge chunk of muffin into her mouth. 

She was the reason he had to go for a second brain break at eleven, because she stole half his coffee every morning. 

And half his muffin. 

Not today though! He’d have both plus extras for once. 

Erica pointed a finger at him in agreement while she chewed, and then swallowed before saying, “Exactly. Really, the only times I go there are when you’re on vacation.” 

“Why do I put up with you?” he asked her on a sigh. 

“Because I’m fabulous,” she said with a wink, sipping her coffee and letting out a content sigh. “This is so good. Seriously though, thank you. You didn’t have to get this for me.” 

“It was free, I figured why not?” 

“You didn’t know it would be free for real though,” she argued, tearing off another bite of muffin. She’d already eaten the chocolate croissant he’d bought for her, but upon seeing the box of muffins, she’d stolen one of the double chocolate chunk ones and was now devouring it like she hadn’t eaten in days. 

To be fair, Derek felt like that every morning when he ate his muffin, not only because Erica always tried to steal half of it, but because they were that good. 

They probably put crack in them or something. 

“But no seriously, how have you gone this long without knowing his name? Haven’t you been going to that place for like, eight thousand years?” Erica licked chocolate off her thumb and Derek rolled his eyes. 

“Four years.” 

Erica shrugged. “Same difference.”

“I don’t know, he doesn’t have a name tag. I never really thought about it.” 

“You’re terrible. You see him every day. And he’s supposedly your favourite.” 

“He is my favourite,” Derek argued, his chair turning slightly from side to side as he leaned back in it, coffee in one hand and left foot shifting the chair back and forth. “He’s always so nice and cheerful. I don’t know, he makes me smile.” And he had a crush on him, not that he’d admit that to Erica. 

He paused then, eying her for a second. “How do you know his name?” 

“He and his sister argue a lot.” Erica shrugged. “It’s all in jest, but they bitch each other out by name all the time.” 

Derek hadn’t realized the girl he always worked with was his sister until today, either. They didn’t look anything alike, unless being attractive counted. Derek may not have known either of their names, but he had eyes, and both of them were very attractive.

He honestly didn’t know how he’d gone so long without finding out his name, because now that Erica was—well, berating him about it, he realized it was weird he hadn’t actually ever heard it before. Though Erica seemed to suggest the two behind the counter fought a lot, joke or not, but Derek had never seen that before this morning. Usually his favourite barista—Stiles, apparently—just chatted with him while ringing in his order, got his muffin, and wished him the best of days. Derek’s coffee was always ready by the time he reached the other end of the counter, and he realized today that it was because the girl, Allison, always started making it for him before he’d even ordered. 

He really was a creature of habit if she could do that, not that he minded. It just made him feel a little weird, he supposed. To have them know him so well when he’d never actually learned their names. He liked them, and he loved their coffee and muffins, but he’d never gone out of his way to actually speak to them. 

That might seem weird to anyone else—and, okay, admittedly to him too—but was it really so weird after four years? Erica knew their names, and she didn’t act like it was weird. And he really liked them, they were both really nice, and funny. 

And how had he not known they were the owners? The subject had never come up, he supposed, but still. He felt like he should’ve figured that out somehow, and not learned it today because he’d gotten a bunch of free stuff. 

Derek was still distracted thinking about it, but not so distracted that he didn’t notice Erica trying to sneak another muffin, and he slapped her hand away from the box, sipping at his coffee as she yelped and scowled at him. 

He just raised an eyebrow, completely unrepentant, and Erica turned back to her desk with a pout. She could buy her own damn muffins, he’d already given her one of them, the rest were his. 

The conversation with Erica stayed with him the whole day, and somehow he couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of things the two in the shop next door thought of him. He went in every morning at the same time—well, around the same time, for the most part—and always ordered the exact same thing. 

Did they think he was a robot or something? Honestly, he would think that were their roles reversed. 

And he kind of wanted to get to know Stiles. The guy always made every day infinitely better the moment he walked through the coffee shop door, and while Derek knew a part of that was the coffee, another part was legitimately him being glad to see the guy. 

Stiles was something else, and despite knowing he was probably gone by the time he finished work, he still looked into the coffee shop on his way by anyway. There were three other people behind the counter, one at the till and two manning the machines, one likely doing mobile orders, but he’d never actually noticed them before. 

He only ever saw Stiles and Allison. 

He thought about his morning routine a lot during the bus ride home. He kind of felt bad for not having tried to get to know someone he saw virtually every day. After all, what made Stiles—and Allison, but she didn’t talk much in the morning—different from Erica? He saw them both every day, they chatted, he enjoyed their company. 

Maybe it was time to change his routine a little bit. Not much, just—maybe he could show up ten minutes earlier. Chat with the other two for a little bit, maybe change up his order, make things more exciting. 

Or, as exciting as a breakfast order change could be, he supposed. But he honestly thought maybe it was time for a change. He’d been following the same routine over and over again every day for years, and the Karen from this morning had thrown a wrench right into it. He wasn’t mad about it, not anymore, because he felt like he might have gone another four years without knowing Stiles’ name, so this was a good thing. 

And if he thought about Allison’s joking tone as she teased Stiles for having a crush when he went to bed that evening, well, no one needed to know about it. 

While Derek’s morning the next day wasn’t nearly as awful as the previous one, he did unfortunately forget that his car wasn’t working and he had to rush to catch the bus on time. He made it with about a minute to spare, but made a mental note to ensure he got his car checked out after work so he could hopefully get it fixed sooner rather than later. 

He didn’t want to be riding the bus to work all the time, he liked his personal space, and having his nose in someone else’s ear while another person’s face was stuck in his armpit wasn’t a good time for anyone involved. 

The bus seemed to have less stops today, presumably because it wasn’t raining, so while it was still packed, it passed by a lot of the usual stops which put it ahead of schedule. By the time he made it downtown, he was five minutes earlier than usual, which was nice because it meant he could take his time getting his breakfast and coffee.

That was probably a good thing, because while he didn’t notice any Karens around today, he’d also decided the night before that he was going to change things up today. He liked his usual routine, and he appreciated that Stiles and Allison knew his order so well, but... he didn’t know. He wanted to try something different, have a chance to chat with them instead of just ordering and leaving. 

Entering the coffee shop, he saw there was only one person waiting at the counter for a drink, and no one at the till. Stiles glanced over when he heard the door open and he beamed at Derek like he was the highlight of his day. 


“Good morning,” Derek said, moving towards the till. 

“Muffin and a latte?” Stiles asked as his hand started flying across the buttons. 

“Actually...” Derek trailed off for a moment, and he saw Stiles’ hand freeze, the barista’s eyebrows shooting up. “I thought maybe I could go for something different today.” 

“What?” Stiles’ mouth dropped open. “Who are you? What’s going on? Is this Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Should I be worried?” He turned to Allison, who’d finished with the previous customer’s drink and looked to be cleaning the machine she’d just used. “Allison, I’m scared.” 

“At least I’d get a little peace and quiet for a change if you got body snatched.” 

“Bitch,” Stiles said automatically. 




Stiles flipped her off and turned back to Derek, offering him a grin. He’d never noticed the two of them acted like this before, but maybe he just didn’t stick around long enough for them to do so. 

“So, what’ll it be then?” 

Derek looked up at the board that boasted all their drinks and pastries, feeling a little overwhelmed. He kind of wanted to just go back to his default, but similarly, he was determined to switch things up. 

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “What do you recommend?” 

“What’s your price limit?” 

Derek arched an eyebrow at him, but admitted, “I’m fine with anything around the same price as my usual order. No more than fifteen though, if possible.” 

“Hm.” Stiles stroked his chin, overly dramatic in his movements, then asked, “Any allergies?” 

“None I’m aware of.” 

“That’s dangerous,” Allison said, leaning against the counter by the machine she’d finished cleaning. 

“Yeah, you should get that checked,” Stiles added. 

“Imagine we make you like, an almond-milk latte and you keel over.” 

“Tragic,” Stiles agreed, nodding solemnly. 

Derek glanced between them, a little confused. “Are you twins?” 

Allison burst out laughing at that but Stiles just rolled his eyes and threw a random sugar packet at her, beginning to hit buttons again. 

“Hey hyena girl, make him a new drink.” He glanced up at Derek. “Anything specific for your drink?” 

“As long as it’s got coffee.” 

He nodded, hitting another button, then turned to throw another sugar packet at Allison. She’d calmed down in her laughter, but it was clear Derek’s comment had amused her. Evidently they weren’t twins, and he could only guess Allison was older than Stiles and thus found it hilarious Derek thought she was the same age as him. 

“That’ll be seven dollars and ninety-three cents.” 

That was the exact amount his usual order was, so whatever he was getting today, it worked out well. 

Derek pulled out a ten, and when Stiles gave him the change, he stuffed it in the tip jar along with two extra ones. Stiles offered him a small smile and a nod of thanks, then turned to head for the display case. Derek didn’t see what he took out, but he turned to put the pastry bag in the warmer behind him for ten seconds before pulling it back out and handing it over to him. 

“You don’t have to tip us every day, you know. You come in all the time, it gets expensive.” 

“I appreciate your energy and I’ve never gotten anything I haven’t liked here.” 

“You always order the same thing,” Allison insisted, hip-checking Stiles out of the way while holding out a drink. “Hard to mess that up.” 

“Except if you messed this up,” Stiles shot back, hip-checking her in the other direction once the coffee was safe. 

“Are you implying my coffee is sub-par?” she asked, giving him a look. 

“Of course not, never. I know where my teeth are meant to be, I’d like to keep them there.” 

“Damn straight.” 

Derek honestly couldn’t believe he’d never realized they were siblings before. They were almost worse than him and his sisters. He couldn’t imagine working with them all day, so Stiles and Allison must have immense patience. 

It would’ve been further explained if they were twins, since Derek often heard about twins being able to tolerate one another in ways other siblings couldn’t, but they’d already shot that down.

Well, Allison had implied it was shot down given her hysterical laughter. 

Thanking them both for their kindness and rejuvenating morning shenanigans, Derek headed out of the coffee shop and next door to his own work building. It didn’t take him long to reach his desk, and once he was seated, he opened the pastry bag and pulled out what was inside. 

It looked like a ham and cheese turnover, and when he bit into it, it was just warm enough for the cheese to be oozing, but not so much that it burned his mouth. 

Just like his muffin, it was delicious. 

He picked up his coffee next and took a sip of it, a little surprised. He hadn’t known what to expect, but it ended up being a mocha, and bless Allison for adding in extra espresso. He only knew that because she’d written ‘x2 espresso as always’ on the side with a little smiley face. 

He appreciated her so much for that, it would help him get through the day. 

It was strange to realize one little change in his routine—bus notwithstanding, that was something that happened every now and then, thus didn’t count—could upend his entire day. But not in a bad way, in a really good way. He’d never thought to try any of the other things the shop had to offer, and he’d honestly never realized how much fun Stiles and Allison were. 

Honestly, now he was wondering if they’d always been that way. If Stiles always pretended to be afraid of Karens trying to get him fired, and if Allison got petty when people were being rude to her or her brother. If they often just name-called one another and made fun of each other, threw things at each other, teased each other. 

How was it he’d been going there for four years and hadn’t ever really paid attention to anything other than liking Stiles’ morning greetings and thinking he was cute? He felt like he’d missed out because he was too focussed on getting to work. 

He was never rude, and he always tipped—something Stiles noticed, thankfully—but maybe Erica was right and he should talk to them more. This morning had been fun, and he’d felt more awake than usual even before his coffee. He didn’t know how two people who woke up and started work before him every day could be so lively this early in the morning—probably coffee—but he liked it. 

He wanted more mornings like this one, and decided that maybe he could continue this little exercise for a few days. Just go in and ask them to choose for him, see what he ended up with, listen to them banter. 

Sipping at his mocha—which Erica didn’t steal, because she wasn’t a fan of mochas—he decided that he was going to do this. Break his routine, enjoy his mornings, and try out everything the shop had to offer on the menu.

And maybe one thing that wasn’t.

Stiles really was cute...

Derek liked having his car back, because he’d found the sweet spot for when to go into the shop with the least amount of people. It wasn’t far off his usual time, but he’d noticed that if he showed up just five minutes earlier than usual, the shop was generally empty. 

Allison explained it was because the people who came in earlier likely started at six-thirty and booked it—such as those who worked with the markets—and those who came in after were dependent on when the bus arrived. When Derek showed up at six-forty, the place was usually empty or only had one other person there. 

That meant he actually had time to stand around and chat with the two baristas, who were both more than happy to have a real conversation with him. Stiles seemed particularly eager to get every second he could with Derek, which Allison always teased him about as Derek was leaving. It was such a chaotic sibling thing to do, make fun of her brother while his crush was within earshot. 

He was sure she wouldn’t have done it if she thought Derek would react badly to it, but considering how many times it had been brought up this one week alone, Derek felt like he’d made it pretty clear it didn’t bother him. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. 

Derek always knew when it was time to head out based on when the patrons from the bus walked in, and more than once he’d ended up bumping into the guy who’d mouthed off at the Karen, that Jackson guy. Derek found out by accident on Thursday morning, after he said something particularly rude that had Derek two seconds away from reprimanding him for, that he was their brother. 

Apparently he always came by for coffee and a breakfast pastry before work, despite being two stops away. He was used to Allison’s coffee from home, and sacrificed twenty minutes of sleep daily to get his preferred drink. 

It explained why Derek had never seen him pay whenever he came by. 

Stiles and Allison didn’t seem to mind, and their brother meshed well with both of them whenever they bickered. 

Derek would’ve wondered if he’d been wrong about the whole twins thing because they were triplets, but he doubted it. 

The two baristas always got him something new in the morning, and seemed determined to outdo one another with their choices. If Derek said he liked the pastry he’d gotten for breakfast one day, Allison would pull out all the stops to make him the most sinful coffee he’d ever tasted. If the coffee ended up being the star of the show, Stiles went out of his way to give him the most delicious thing they had in their display case. 

Derek was honestly loving the diversity in what he was getting, and found it funny they had this sibling rivalry going on.

On Friday morning, he was a little disappointed to realize that this would be the end of his fantastic new week of changes to his routine, but while he didn’t have Allison and Stiles back home, he at least had the muffins. 

What was left of them, anyway. He’d tried to freeze them to avoid eating them all in one sitting but it wasn’t working out too well for him. He’d legitimately eaten one frozen after dinner last night. 

He was still convinced they put crack in their muffins. 

When he woke up at half-past-nine in the morning on Saturday, he lay in bed for much longer than necessary, primarily because he knew he didn’t have coffee waiting for him in the kitchen. He’d remembered late last night that he was out since he’d brewed the last of it for breakfast last Sunday. He often forgot to replenish his coffee supply since he got one from the coffee shop during the week, so this wasn’t a new experience for him.

Waking up without the promise of coffee the moment he got into the kitchen was always a recipe for disaster, but he sighed explosively after a good twenty minutes of lying motionless on his bed and finally got up. Wishing for coffee to magic itself into his apartment wasn’t going to work, so he had no choice but to go to the store. 

Getting dressed almost in slow motion, he grabbed a piece of toast with peanut butter on it, taking a bite while he headed out of his apartment. He’d have a real breakfast when he got home and had coffee to go with it, but he knew his stomach would rebel if he didn’t grab a bite to eat. Waking up early on weekdays meant he went to bed early, so any time he woke up later than eight on the weekends, his stomach acted like he hadn’t fed it in four years. 

Bodies were dramatic that way. 

He was finished with his solitary piece of toast by the time he got into the garage, licking peanut butter off his thumb while heading for the Camaro. When he got behind the wheel and started it up, it sputtered once threateningly, but Derek gave the steering wheel a warning look and it seemed to decide it wanted to live because it started without any trouble after that. 

Easing out of his parking spot and through the large gate, he turned left when he reached the road his parking garage came out onto and made his way to the store. 

The only saving grace about being up this early on a Saturday meant there were less people on the road, and when he parked in the lot for the grocery store eight blocks south, there were only a few cars present. 

Despite all the empty spots, most of the cars were clustered together closer to the entrance, and Derek followed suit, parking his car beside the last one on the left. It was a sky blue Jeep that was older than he was, but seemed to be in relatively good shape considering. 

Flipping his keys in his hand while shutting the door, he made sure the car was locked up tight and headed for the entrance. He reached it as an elderly man was coming towards it, struggling with his cart. Derek moved forward quickly to open the door for him, since they weren’t automatic. The man thanked him as he hobbled his way out of the store with his cart and Derek watched him for a moment to be sure he wouldn’t trip on the curb. He looked a little unsteady on his feet, but he seemed to be doing all right by the time he made it to the designated crosswalk for shoppers so he moved around the door he was still holding open to head inside. 

Grabbing a basket, since he’d probably buy more than just the coffee, he started for the end of the store so he could make his way through all the aisles one at a time. He started in produce, and ended up picking up a bunch of vegetables when he decided on the spot he should make some soup for dinner. Soup kept forever, and he could always freeze the leftovers if he got tired of eating it throughout the week. 

Walking through the next two aisles and grabbing things as he went, he’d just reached the end of one and was heading for the next when a familiar voice caught his attention. 

“I don’t know what you want from me, they’re out of the semi-sweet chocolate chips! Your choices are milk chocolate or dark chocolate.” A pause. “I know the muffins won’t taste the same, but it’s not like I can magic semi-sweet chocolate chips just for you because you’re asking me to make you muffins!” Pause. “What? No! I’m not driving around town for your chocolate cravings, dude.” Pause. “Dick.” Pause. “Doormat.” Pause. “Rejected cherub.” 

Definitely who he thought it was. 

Derek rounded the corner, and sure enough, Stiles was standing in front of the baking items with a cart almost overflowing with flour, sugar, and various other baking needs, phone at his ear while leaning back against the cart. 

Honestly, Derek had never really put much thought into where the baked goods at the coffee shop came from. He’d always assumed that the two siblings had a deal the same way Starbucks or any of the other coffee chains did with some bakery or catering company or whatever. 

Seeing what he was now, it was obvious the baked goods were homemade, which explained why they tasted so good. 

Also, easier to slip crack into them when they were homemade. 

Derek noticed Stiles was standing right in front of the shelves that held the various types of chocolate used for baking. One of the spots where Chipits semi-sweet chocolate chips usually sat was empty—or, that was what Derek assumed, given everything around the empty spot was Chipits brand, and Stiles was saying they were out of semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

His eyes shifted to the shelves right beside him, and he noticed that there were large bars of Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate. Chipits were Hershey’s brand, and while bars weren’t the same thing as chocolate chips, if Stiles just chopped them up roughly into chunks, he could still make the exact same muffins just with chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips. The flavour would be the same—or at least extremely similar—given it was the same brand. 

Grabbing one off the shelf, he didn’t want to interrupt the conversation Stiles was having with who he assumed was his brother, and moved forward until he was in his periphery. 

Stiles’ gaze snapped to him as he started to shift away, likely wondering why some random person was getting close to him, but he froze when he found Derek holding out the chocolate bar to him. 

His brother sounded like he was mid-sentence, but Stiles just blurted out, “I gotta go, call you back,” and then hung up. “Hey. Hi. You’re—here.” 

“I am,” Derek agreed, still holding out the chocolate. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard you talking about your preferred chocolate chips being out. Chipits is part of the Hershey’s brand, and they make semi-sweet bars, so I thought maybe you could use this instead. Chop it up and substitute the chocolate chips.” 

Stiles stared at him for a few seconds, then at the chocolate bar, then looked back up into his face. 

“Oh. You know—that’s... yeah. That’s a good idea. I didn’t even think of that. Thanks.” He beamed at him, the same way he always did in the shop, and Derek managed to smile back, letting the chocolate go when Stiles took it from him. 

He flipped it over to read the back—or ingredients, Derek wasn’t sure—then hummed and shrugged. “I’m sure it’ll taste just as good. I don’t want to drive around all day looking for these, I’d rather enjoy my Saturday. Thanks for the suggestion.” He smiled at Derek again, moving around him so he could grab five more of the bars, then paused, squinted, and grabbed another as if just for good measure. 

“Not a problem.” Derek watched him put everything into his cart, before he turned to look at him, the two of them standing there together. Derek felt like it should be awkward, but somehow it wasn’t. He’d never seen Stiles out of the coffee shop before, but even without the counter between them, his energy was so bright and fun that it was somehow relaxing despite being so vibrant. “That’s a lot of stuff.” 

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed, looking back into his cart briefly, arms crossed, before turning back to him. “I don’t like shopping during the week, I’m too tired to go out, so I usually stock up on the weekends and then bring it all to the shop Sunday evenings so it’s ready for Monday.” 

“I honestly didn’t realize you made all your own pastries.” 

Stiles let out an affronted gasp, uncrossing his arms so he could slap a dramatic hand to his chest. “How dare you. All of our items are homemade by yours truly.” 

“Explains all the crack in them.” Derek hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but before he could apologize, Stiles burst out laughing and shook his head. 

“Jackson says the same thing. He’d adamant that Allison and I add like, magical powders into our food and drink because he doesn’t like getting his coffee and pastries from anywhere else. We just insist he’s used to it, he’d been eating my baked goods and drinking Allison’s coffee since forever, so he’s picky about it.” 

“I don’t know, I kind of agree with him,” Derek insisted. 

“You want to know the secret ingredient?” Stiles asked, then leaned forward slightly, lowering his voice as if telling Derek a secret. “It’s sleep deprivation. I wake up at three in the morning to get stuff made in time for open at six.” 

He woke up at what time? 

“You—three in the morning?” he asked, horrified. 

Stiles nodded with a deep sigh. “Only way to make sure everything’s fresh for open. We usually get our first rush once the first bus comes a little after six, so we need to make sure we’ve got stuff to sell. Jacks keeps telling me to just make stuff the night before, but it doesn’t taste as good, you know? And you can bet your ass he’d complain if he got twelve-hour old muffins.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “He’s dramatic that way.” 

“Must not leave you much time for a social life,” Derek admitted.

“Eh, I do all right.” Stiles waved one hand at him dismissively. “I sleep in on weekends—well, sleeping in for me, which is like, half-past-seven. And I get all the holidays off. Allison and I decided early on when we started the place that we’d always work morning shifts during the week, but weekends and holidays we were off. No one wants to work mornings, and I’m the only one who bakes anyway.”

“What do the weekend people get for pastries and breakfast items?” Derek asked, confused. 

“Weekends are outsourced.” Stiles grinned. “You’re spoiled with fresh goodies on the daily.” 

Derek was seriously impressed, and it made him even more appreciative of his morning pit stop. Knowing the baked goods were all fresh from that very day was amazing, and if Stiles made a batch before going home, they probably didn’t have much left over at the end of the night when they closed. Given how generous Allison and Stiles seemed to be, he was willing to bet any leftovers could be taken home by the staff. 

“Sorry,” Stiles said suddenly. “I’m taking up your time, you probably have somewhere to be, and I’m just standing here bothering you and—”

“You’re not bothering me,” Derek said quickly before Stiles could start to walk off. They were both free right now, when was he ever going to have another opportunity like this? “Actually, I’ve got nothing planned for the day. I only came to the store to grab some coffee and various groceries. If you’re free, I’d love to grab a drink. Not as good as your sister’s, of course, but whatever’s around.” 

Stiles’ mouth dropped open, and then he probably hurt himself with how sharply he looked over his shoulder, and then the other one, as if trying to see who Derek was speaking to. When he realized that, yes, Derek was indeed speaking to him, he just stared for a few seconds before nodding urgently, managing to close his mouth.

Christ, he was adorable. 

“Yeah. Yes, of course, one-hundred percent. I’m uh, I just need to finish shopping but I’m totally, one-hundred percent free. I’m so free, I should have a sign stating how free I am.” Stiles made a face, and it looked like he wished he could take the words back, but Derek just laughed and nodded once. 

“I haven’t actually gotten around to the coffee, so why don’t we both finish up and meet at checkout?” 

“Sure. Yes. Absolutely. One-hundred percent. Hundred and ten. Just—yes. Checkout.” Stiles pushed his cart backwards, eyes on Derek, and ended up stumbling when he bumped it into the shelf beside them. He flailed dramatically, looking back over at Derek and seeming embarrassed, then hurried out of the aisle with his cart. 

Derek couldn’t help laughing again, because that was quite possibly one of the cutest things he’d ever seen, and he moved quickly through the rest of the store to grab his things, wanting to be at checkout sooner rather than later. 

He was very, very happy that last-Sunday-Derek hadn’t bought any coffee. 

“So do you live around here?” Derek asked, leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed and his legs splayed. 

He’d been planning on bringing Stiles to Tully’s to grab a drink, but while they’d been heading out to their cars—apparently Stiles owned the Jeep he’d parked beside—his stomach had growled and Stiles declared it a crime that he hadn’t had breakfast yet. 

That was how Derek found himself sitting in a booth at Floyd’s two blocks away from the store. They’d left their cars back in the lot and had walked to the small diner together, Stiles promising that his various groceries would be fine given the weather was still relatively mild. 

Derek couldn’t say he was upset with this outcome. He’d expected a short coffee, but was now getting a full-on meal with Stiles. This was a good thing, in his opinion, and he knew Stiles wouldn’t have brought them here if he wasn’t interested in spending time with him. 

This was turning into a really good day, honestly. 

“Kind of,” Stiles said, licking his lips after having taken a few sips of his water. 

They were still waiting on their drinks, and Derek was desperate for his coffee. He was starting to get a caffeine headache. He’d settle for bad coffee, at this point, but thankfully knew that Floyd’s had a decent cup. 

“I live about ten minutes away by car, but this place has the cheapest deals so I always do all my bulk shopping here. Sometimes Allison and I go into the city to the Costco to stock up on things, but it’s actually not worth it unless we’re buying a lot. Gas is expensive these days, so usually I just come out here. What about you?” 

“Right up the street,” he admitted. 

“Nice, must make for quick pit-stops.” 

“When I remember,” Derek admitted. “I order a lot of takeout.” 

“Fair.” Stiles’ eyes shifted away from him and he leaned back, smiling. Derek assumed the waitress was coming with their drinks, and was proven right when she appeared beside them, handing over a chocolate milkshake for Stiles and a massive coffee for Derek. She put a creamer and some sugar on the table for him and said she’d give them a few more minutes with the menus before leaving. 

“I still can’t believe you’re having ice cream for breakfast,” Derek informed Stiles while ripping open two sugar packets and dumping them into his coffee. 

“I need the sugar to stay conscious until I can get coffee from Allison. Jackson’s not the only one with an addiction.” 

“He isn’t,” Derek agreed. “You can add me to that list.”

“Aw, and here I thought you came into the shop for my muffins and pretty face.” Stiles winked at him and Derek couldn’t help laughing again.

He liked talking to Stiles, he was a really fun guy, and he enjoyed the fact that he made him laugh like he did. 

“Muffins are definitely delicious, but the coffee is what keeps me going. I’ll admit to the pretty face being a bonus, though.” 

Stiles’ mouth dropped open before he hastily started sipping at his milkshake almost desperately, like he was trying to hide his embarrassment at having that be admitted to him. It didn’t work, since Derek could see a red flush creeping up his neck. 

He smiled to himself while sipping at his coffee, and the waitress returned soon after to get their orders, Stiles having hidden behind his menu after getting a brain freeze from his drink. Once she had their orders and had taken away the menus, Stiles had nothing left to hide behind. 

Which was fine, since he seemed to have mostly recovered. He didn’t seem like the kind of guy to dwell on things for too long. 

“By the way,” Stiles said after Derek had taken another sip of coffee, setting his mug down, “what’s your name?” 

Derek stared at him for a second, and then paused, realizing that—Stiles’ question was entirely valid. Despite going there daily, it wasn’t like Derek had ever had the opportunity to introduce himself. Hell, he’d only just recently learned Stiles’ name despite going there for four years! 

“I’m so sorry,” he said, shaking his head with a laugh. “I see you so often I forgot we don’t actually know each other.” 

“Something we’re fixing now,” Stiles said with a brilliant smile. He held out his hand to Derek. “I’m Stiles. Stiles Stilinski.” 

Derek reached out to shake it, finding that to be so formal considering how long they’d sort of kind of known one another. “Derek Hale.”

“Derek,” Stiles repeated, like he was testing the name out to make sure it suited him. “Nice to meet you, Derek.” 

“And you. Sorry it—took so long.” Derek frowned. “That seems like a weird thing to say.” 

“I mean, not really. I get it.” Stiles chased his straw with his tongue, and upon failing to catch it, finally reached up with one hand to force the straw where he wanted it, taking another sip of his milkshake. “I’m just a barista.” 

“Maybe, but I’ve been seeing you almost every day for four years. I only recently realized that maybe it was time I actually got to know you.”

Stiles offered him a smile at these words. It wasn’t one of his usual grins, or his beaming smiles, but something a little smaller, more meaningful somehow. “Thanks. I appreciate that.” 

“You’re a fun guy,” Derek admitted. “You’ve always been my favourite barista.” He paused. “Don’t tell your sister that.” 

“Don’t worry, she already knows. I’m everyone’s favourite.” Stiles winked at him and laughed. “But no, seriously, thank you. That’s really nice of you to say.” 

“Not nearly as nice as you giving me all those muffins and other items for free the other day,” Derek said. Which reminded him, “I’m paying for breakfast, by the way.” 

“Nope,” Stiles informed him. “I invited you, you don’t get to make that call.” 

“You gave me free things!” 

“Yeah, because I wanted to,” Stiles argued. He gave him a pointed look as Derek scowled at him, trying to force him to admit defeat. Evidently he was used to those kinds of looks, because he didn’t react other than to cock an eyebrow and take another long sip of his milkshake. “Glare all you want, I’m paying for my own meal.”

Derek kept the look up for a minute longer before giving up. Stiles seemed immune to it anyway. 

“I do appreciate what you did that day,” Derek admitted. “It started out as a horrible morning for me, and having that woman cut in front of me irked me like nothing else. You didn’t have to do that.” 

“Sure I did,” Stiles insisted. “You’re always really nice when you come in, you’re a regular, and you tip literally every day. Seriously, you don’t have to tip daily, you’re gonna go broke.” 

“I’m not any nicer than anyone else who goes in.” 

“Are you kidding?” Stiles’ eyebrows shot up. “Dude, you literally say good morning to us every day. You walk in, you greet us, you ask politely for your usual drink and muffin, you thank me, you tip me, you thank Allison, and then you wish us both a good day as you’re leaving. Do you know how many people do that? Not many. Not even the regulars. People are dicks in the morning, most of them don’t even bother to say hi to us. They just walk up to the till, ask for their drink, pay and leave. You actually make an effort to be nice to us, so as soon as the rude bitch started talking down at you, I decided right then and there that I was going to ruin her entire day for trying to ruin yours.” 

Derek... hadn’t ever thought about it. He’d never considered what his grunted good mornings and his well wishes for the day did for the two people he saw every morning. He did it because it was the polite thing to do, but he’d never considered that it actually meant something to Stiles and Allison. That they’d noticed, and they appreciated it. 

Stiles was basically admitting to him that the only reason he’d done what he had was because it was Derek she’d been rude to. Derek, who Stiles appreciated because he was always very nice and polite to both him and Allison. 

“I never actually thought about that,” he admitted. “I guess I never noticed that I was any different from anyone else.” 

“Trust me, we noticed. It’s why you’re our favourite customer and we give you discounts.” 

Stiles snapped his teeth together at those words, then winced, clearly not having intended to divulge that. Derek frowned at him, replaying what he’d just said in his head. 

“What do you mean you give me discounts?” 

“What?” Stiles laughed, waving one hand at him. “Who said that? You’re hearing things.” 

“Stiles,” he insisted, giving him a look. 

Stiles stared at him for a few seconds, then sighed explosively and covered his face with both hands. Groaning, he let them slide down his cheeks and off them before explaining, “After the first three months of you coming in, Allison and I realized you were literally there every day and that you always tipped. And, again, you were always really polite to us. We kind of came to an agreement that if you stayed a regular, we’d undercharge you for anything you bought. We’ve been doing it for years, and when you switched up your menu recently, Ally and I talked about it again and decided we’d keep charging you the same amount as normal regardless of what you bought.” He crossed his arms while leaning back in his seat, shrugging. “We make good money, and you always over-tip us anyway, so we wanted to do something nice for you. People forget that Allison and I are humans behind the counter, and if you’re nice to us, we’re nice in return.” 

Derek had no idea they did that! He’d never noticed a change in the price four years ago, and it’d been so long since then that he’d kind of just gotten used to the exact amount. 

And now that he thought about it, he’d actually noticed that first day he’d ordered something different that the amount had stayed the same, he just hadn’t thought anything of it. As the week progressed, he was just so used to that specific amount he literally hadn’t realized they were undercharging him! 

“Please stop undercharging me,” he said, feeling bad for some reason. 

“Then stop tipping us fifty percent every time you come in,” Stiles shot back instantly. “Seriously, you’re our favourite customer, if we want to give you stuff for free, we will. Jackson gets breakfast for free.”

“Jackson is your brother,” Derek argued. 

“Yeah, and he’s never tipped us once in all the years we’ve owned that shop. He’s a jerk like that.” 

“Stiles,” Derek insisted, but Stiles just waved his words away again. 

“My shop, my rules. You don’t like it, go somewhere else, but you’ll be missing out on the best muffins in town. Nowhere else puts crack in them, so your loss.” 

Derek might not know Stiles well, but he felt like he knew him well enough to know he was too stubborn to let Derek talk him out of this so he just sighed and let the matter drop. He’d just continue to over-tip and hope it balanced out. 

They moved on to other topics after that as they waited for their food, Derek telling Stiles about what he did for a living, and Stiles telling him how he and Allison ended up with the shop. Stiles was a really interesting person, and so expressive. Derek kind of loved watching him talk, because he was all big arm movements and open features and it was just really nice to talk with someone who was so fun and energetic. 

He kind of reminded him of Erica a little bit, and they got along extremely well, so he had high hopes for him and Stiles. 

When their food came out, they ate while they continued chatting, Derek learning a lot about Stiles and trying to offer some information about himself as well. He wasn’t much of a talker at the best of times, but he was trying with Stiles because he was hoping this wouldn’t be the last time he saw him outside the coffee shop. 

They’d finished their meals and were waiting on Stiles’ dessert—Derek had no idea how someone could order dessert after breakfast and a milkshake, but he didn’t judge—when he said something that gave him pause. 

He was talking about the names he and Allison had been brainstorming for the coffee shop before settling on its current name—which was ‘Cool Beans’ and a small disclaimer beneath that read ‘that are also hot’ as a sort of pun—when he referenced something about her name. 

“Wait, Argent?” Derek asked, confused. “Is she married?” He hadn’t noticed a ring on Allison’s finger, but maybe he’d missed it. 

“Hm?” Stiles asked, having evidently lost his train of thought at Derek’s question. “Oh, no. Argent was her birth name, she changed it after dad adopted her.” 

Derek had no idea how to respond to that, and it suddenly explained why she’d laughed so hard when he’d asked if they were twins. 

“He asked her if that was what she wanted,” Stiles said quickly, misinterpreting Derek’s silence. “He didn’t like, force her or anything. She decided to keep Argent as a middle name, but went with our last name to make life easier for dad during emergencies and whatnot. I think she got her cue from Jackson, since he didn’t originally change his name until they wouldn’t let dad in to see him after he broke his arm when he was eleven.” 

Wait, what

“Sorry, I’m—” Derek was trying to reconcile all that information. “Are they both adopted?” 

Stiles stared at him for a second, then seemed to give himself a shake and shook his head. “Shit, sorry. I totally forgot for a second that this is the first time we’ve ever actually spoken. I see you so often that we’re basically best friends in my brain.” Stiles laughed awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head, and licked his lips. “Yeah, Ally and Jacks are adopted. They’re my real siblings through and through, though.” 

“I wasn’t implying—” Derek said quickly, but Stiles waved one hand at him.

“No, I know. Some people can be like that though. They figure because they’re adopted I shouldn’t call them my brother and sister, but they are my brother and sister. Them being adopted doesn’t change the fact that they’re my family, and I hate when people imply that they’re less my family just because my mom wasn’t the one to pop them out.” Stiles rolled his eyes, and Derek could tell this was a sore spot for him. Evidently he’d argued this point a lot in his youth. 

“I’m sure they appreciate you always making that clear to people,” Derek admitted. 

“Yeah. I know it upsets them when people imply things, which pisses me off, but I just remind them that nothing people say will change the fact that we’re siblings for life whether they want to be or not.” He half-smiled at that and Derek managed a small laugh, shaking his head. 

“I imagine you and Allison were a force to be reckoned with when you were younger,” Derek offered, because he saw how they were now, and couldn’t imagine how a little toddler Stiles would be with Allison. 

Probably absolutely chaotic. 

“Sort of, but Jackson and I were worse. Pretty sure we drove dad crazy most of the time.” Stiles let out a laugh, clearly unrepentant, and without prompting, he started telling Derek the story of how he got two new amazing siblings. 

Stiles and Jackson had been friends since pre-K, and when they were both seven, Jackson’s parents had been killed in a hit-and-run. They didn’t have any surviving relatives, and they hadn’t drafted wills so Jackson was set to go into foster care. Stiles’ parents had ended up going to court for custody because they’d known Jackson’s parents extremely well, and he was Stiles’ closest friend so they wanted to ensure he ended up in a good home. 

“Not to say foster homes are all bad or anything,” Stiles insisted quickly. “But, you know, the system’s full of kids looking for a place to go, and my parents didn’t want that for Jackson. They ended up winning and Jackson moved in with us after five months in the foster system.” 

“He must’ve been really happy. Living with people he knew, and who cared about him.” 

“It was hard for him at first,” Stiles admitted. “He was only seven, but he lost both his parents, so it was rough for the first year. After that, he got a bit better, and we were a really happy family for a while.” 

Stiles didn’t elaborate on that much, but when he continued his story, he stopped referencing his parents and switched only to his dad, which led Derek to believe his mother had passed away unexpectedly. The way Stiles spoke about her suggested it wasn’t a divorce, and even now, Stiles hadn’t mentioned his mother once before explaining how he’d come to have two new siblings, so Derek could put the pieces together. 

Allison had come into their lives when Stiles was twelve. Both of their fathers had served together and become close friends. While Allison lived in another state, she and her family often visited and Stiles and Jackson knew her really well. Stiles didn’t seem to know the details about how Allison’s parents had passed away, or he didn’t share them, because he just said they died unexpectedly and his father was Allison’s godfather, and listed as her legal guardian in the will, something Jackson’s parents hadn’t done. 

Given she was older, Allison had taken a lot longer to come to terms with what had happened to her parents. She was happy to be with Stiles, Jackson and their father, but she was still grieving the loss of her parents. Stiles said it took her almost three years before she was able to move past what had happened, and an additional three before she called Mr. Stilinski ‘dad.’ 

Apparently it had been at graduation when he’d been congratulating her, and he’d started tearing up at her easy, “Thanks dad.” 

“I hate what happened to them,” Stiles said, playing with the spoon of his dessert, having long ago finished it. “I hate that they both lost their parents like they did, but I’m glad I got to have them both in my life. I love them, and I’d do anything for them.” 

“You guys definitely seem like you appreciate each other’s company,” Derek admitted with a smile. “I never actually noticed until recently how much you and Allison bicker. It’s kind of cute.” 

“Someone thought we were dating once.” Stiles laughed and shook his head. “Dad said he could understand the confusion, but it was still funny seeing the guy’s face when I told him she was my sister.” 

“Is she seeing anyone?” Derek asked curiously. Not for any ulterior motives at all, of course. 

None whatsoever. 

At all.

Not like it was the perfect segue into asking what he wanted an answer to or anything. 

“Not yet, but she’s got a crush on one of Jackson’s coworkers. He comes in sometimes, and they both get all weird about it, so I think he’s into her too.” 

“Oh, that’s nice.” It was all curiosity, nothing more, no ulterior motives or fishing for information whatsoever. “And what about you?” 

Stiles’ hand stopped playing with the spoon, and he stared at Derek for a long while before clearing his throat and looking away, bringing one hand up to rub the back of his neck uncomfortably. 

“No, I’m uh—single. I’ve... yeah, I haven’t got anyone.” 

“Hm,” Derek said, and he couldn’t help the small smile that formed when he saw Stiles deflate a little. “Me too.” 

Stiles’ gaze shot back to him, and he gave Derek an incredulous look. “You? You’re single?” 

“Don’t sound so surprised.” 

“Dude, I am surprised,” Stiles insisted, slapping both hands on the table. “How in God’s name are you still single?! You’re like, the nicest guy ever, and I mean, not to be shallow or anything but like...” He trailed off to motion Derek emphatically, evidently referring to his good looks. “I mean, come on.” 

Derek shrugged, leaning back in his seat. “Maybe I was just waiting for the right barista to come along.” 

Stiles looked like he was going to say something, then paused when Derek’s words actually sank in, and his mouth dropped open again. 

The waitress chose that moment to come by and ask if they needed anything else. Derek informed her they were done, and that he’d be taking care of the bill. Stiles seemed to be in too much shock to realize Derek had just won their earlier argument about paying for breakfast. 

It seemed to take a few minutes for his brain to restart, but by then they were heading back towards the store with Stiles berating him for having tricked him into letting him pay. Derek was completely unrepentant, especially after finding out he’d been undercharged daily for four years

When they reached their cars again, they both stopped at the hoods, looking at one another. Stiles was rapping his knuckles lightly on the hood of his Jeep, lips pressed together and looking like he didn’t know what to say. 

“I really enjoyed breakfast,” Derek finally said. 

“Me too,” Stiles admitted with a smile. “We should do it again sometime.” 

“I’m free tonight.” 

Stiles stared at him for a moment. “Wait, really?” 

Derek motioned the Jeep. “I know you told me not to worry, but I didn’t want any of your perishables to go bad, otherwise I’d have stayed out longer. If you’re free for dinner, I’m more than happy to meet with you again.” 

“Fuck yes!” Stiles blurted out, then coughed once and said again, much calmer, “I mean, yeah, I’m available tonight.” 


“Cool.” Stiles grinned at him, then started and hastily reached into his pocket. He pulled his phone out, looking at the screen, and Derek realized he was getting a call.

Probably his brother, whom he’d said he’d call back hours ago. 

Stiles answered. “Hey, can’t talk, making date plans, you’re on your own for dinner, don’t order pizza or you’ll get fat. Love you, bye!” He hung up, stared down at his phone for a second, then looked up at Derek. “Can I grab your number?” 

Derek laughed, because that conversation was very reminiscent of something he and his sisters would say to each other. “Yeah, Stiles. You can definitely grab my number.” 

Man was Derek ever glad for a break in his routine. 

Many Muffins Later.

When Derek pushed through the front door of the coffee shop, he couldn’t help the smile on his face when his eyes found the man standing behind the till. He beamed at him the second their eyes met and Derek walked forward to stand in line while Stiles finished with the customer he had in front of him.

The woman paid and moved to the side for Allison to get her drink ready, and Derek closed the distance, stopping in front of the till. 

“Good morning,” he said. 

“Morning,” Stiles replied, still smiling brightly. “Usual?” 

“You know I’ll never say no to one of your muffins,” Derek replied. 

Stiles’ smile was softer this time, but he hit a few buttons to put the order in, then let the till open and shut, totalling out to zero. Derek gave him a look and Stiles just shrugged, the smile turning into an impish grin. 

“You know I hate it when you do that.” 

“And you know the price of breakfast,” Stiles countered, leaning forward and crossing his arms over the till so that he and Derek weren’t so far apart. 

Rolling his eyes, because this was hardly payment, Derek leaned forward and buried one hand in Stiles’ hair, closing the distance between them and pressing his lips against his boyfriend’s. 

“I swear to God, I am going to ban him from the shop if you two keep this up,” Allison’s voice said from Derek’s right. 

He pulled back slightly, pressed another chaste kiss to Stiles’ lips, and then let his hand fall from his hair, straightening entirely and turning to Allison. 

“Good morning Allison.” 

“It’s too early for your PDA,” she insisted, pointing a finger at him. “Stop enabling him. If I walk in one day to you two screwing in the back room, I’m buying him out and banning you forever.” 

“You know I’d never risk never drinking your coffee again,” Derek insisted, pulling his wallet out and shoving a five dollar bill into the tip jar. Stiles didn’t notice, but Allison did, and she rolled her eyes at him. 

He didn’t care what they said, just because he was dating Stiles didn’t mean he wasn’t going to pay in some way, shape or form. 

“You’re both getting bolder as time passes. Eight months ago, you wouldn’t even kiss him on the cheek while he was working. Now you’re basically making out at the till.” 

“We were not making out,” Stiles insisted, bumping her with his hip. “Make his coffee.” 

“Like it’s not ready for him,” Allison insisted, sounding offended. She reached down past the part of the counter Derek could see and then held out his drink. He started to reach for it, but she pulled her hand back and pointed her opposite finger at him threateningly. “I mean it, Derek. You’ll never drink my coffee again. Don’t think I don’t know you have your one year anniversary off and you’re planning on coming in to help Stiles out that morning. I swear to God, if you two do anything risque in the back, you’ll regret it.” 

“We won’t,” Stiles insisted, rolling his eyes and passing a pastry bag over the counter to Derek. “He’s just gonna help me make muffins, no funny business, I promise.” 

Allison motioned that she was watching him with one hand, then pointed a finger at Derek threateningly before handing over his coffee. Then she turned to clean the machine she’d just used to make his drink. Derek smiled at her back, shaking his head, but looked at Stiles again when he leaned over the counter as far as he could with an impish grin. 

Derek leaned over to kiss him again, but pulled away relatively quickly when the door opened since Stiles was working. 

“Fucking hell, get a God damn room.” 

“Good morning Jackson,” Derek said without turning. 

“It was good until you two making out assaulted my eyeballs.” He appeared beside Derek, scowling slightly between him and his brother. Then he turned to Allison, who was still cleaning off the machine. “Do you think dad would ground him for this shit?” 

“Maybe if we bribed him,” she offered. 

“You two are the worst, stop raining on my parade because I have a boyfriend and you don’t.” 

“What are you implying?! I can get a boyfriend! I can get a hotter boyfriend than Derek!” Jackson said, rounding on Stiles. 

“And on that note,” Derek informed the three of them with a small salute. “Have a good day.” 

“Bye Derek,” Allison said, eyes still on Jackson while he and Stiles argued. 

Derek shook his head with a small laugh while exiting the shop and walking to the building next door. It was like this every morning now, because Allison and Jackson liked teasing Stiles about his public displays of affection with Derek. He’d legitimately asked Allison once if he should stop doing it, because he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, but she’d insisted she just liked giving Stiles a hard time. 

And him too, apparently, since she’d started making threats about him as well. Then again, the coffee threat if they banged in the back room sounded pretty serious, and Derek was not willing to risk his coffee. If he and Stiles needed to have a good time, they could do it in Derek’s office, his door had a lock. 

Smiling to himself while hitting the elevator button, it occurred to him that they’d be in extremely early the day of their one year anniversary. Stiles would be making the pastries as usual, since he literally never took a weekday off unless he was extremely sick—nor did Allison—but being that early meant no one would be around. 

He was sure he could convince Stiles to start a little later making those muffins if it meant having a nice, hard bang in Derek’s office. 

Something to think about in the coming weeks, for sure. 

When Derek sat down at his desk, he couldn’t help the sigh that escaped him when Erica swooped in to steal half of his coffee. 

That was okay though, he could get another one from the coffee shop later. 

After all, he knew the owner.