Dedicated to that moment when you see someone cute… and then see that they’re wearing a wedding ring.
Derek might hate his job. He hates making coffees, hates how the coffee shop smell lingers in his clothes for days afterwards, and hates how early he has to wake up to open the shop every single morning. But what he hates the most is the way the moms who come into the shop are constantly flirting with him, keeping him from the one perk of his job: Talking to Stiles.
Stiles comes in every weekday, during his lunch break, at 1pm. Most people come by for coffee in the morning, but Stiles has always said that he’s too tired to have coffee before noon (a logic that has always baffled Derek), so he ambles in at 1pm with bleary, sleep-deprived eyes. Somehow the sight of them always makes Derek’s stomach lurch.
The problem is that the Moms Club comes in at 12:30. Yes, an actual Moms Club. They even have the t-shirts to prove it. They crowd around the counter ordering complicated drink after complicated drink, all while complimenting Derek’s outfit (despite the fact that he wears the same damn uniform every day), and asking him prying questions about his personal life. Derek doesn’t know what it is about him that makes mom’s so interested, but whatever it is, he doesn’t like it.
It’s Friday, and Derek has barely gotten to talk to Stiles all week, thanks to the Moms. When Derek sees him come in, he instantly excuses him and moves away from the Moms (currently asking him about his workout routine), and over to the cash register so he can take Stiles’ order.
“Hey,” Stiles says easily, blinding Derek with a huge smile.
Derek tries very hard not to get caught up in Stiles’ eyes. “Hi,” he responds, “The usual?”
Stiles grins even broader. “You know me,” he says simply.
Derek’s heart beats a little bit faster. The thing is, he does know Stiles. They’ve exchanged many words over the last few months; he knows Stiles works at the local police station, knows that he loves asparagus but hates bacon, knows that he wants two kids. They’ve talked about a lot. But every time they start to really get into a conversation, they’re interrupted.
Which is exactly what happens now.
“So, any plans for the weekend?” Stiles asks as Derek adds a heaping of whipped cream to his drink.
Derek fumbles. All he wants to say is something dumb like, “No, do you want to make some together?” or “Actually I was hoping that maybe we could have plans,” or anything that will somehow take his and Stiles’ rushed coffee shop conversations out into the real world. But that’s just not his luck.
“Derek, dear, can I have a refill of my latte please?” one of the mom’s asks as she approaches the counter. “And while you’re at it, I was wondering if you could tell me about the pros and cons of soy milk. Because my friend Jenny says that soy is bad for you, but she’s one of those health nuts, so…”
Derek tries very hard not to roll his eyes as he hands Stiles his drink and shrugs in apology.
“Another time,” Stiles says, giving him a small smile.
Derek watches Stiles’ back as he walks away from him and out of the shop.
Sighing, he turns back to the mom, plastering a fake grin to his face. “You were saying?”
When he gets home that night, Derek decides that he’s had enough. He’s sick of having mom’s hit on him all the time, sick of the way they are always taking his time away from valuable customers-okay, from Stiles-and he’s going to do something about it.
It’s not until he’s watching TV later that night and a Zales commercial comes on that he gets at idea.
On Monday, Derek goes to work sporting a brand new wedding band. Well, a fake wedding band. It was $15 at Target. He walks into the shop hoping it will keep all of the moms at bay, and by the time the morning is over he feels like he’s succeeded.
He flashes it around a lot, casually bringing up a hand to scratch his face when one of the moms talks to him, watching their faces falter slightly before they back away while looking a little bit confused.
By the time lunchtime rolls around, Derek is on cloud nine. He’s had more alone time today that he’s had in months and no one has asked him whether he waxes or shaves all day. He’s in such a good mood when he sees Stiles come in that he jumps up and immediately smiles at him.
“Hey Stiles,” he grins excitedly.
“Woah,” Stiles responds as he walks over. “You’re enthusiastic. Are you feeling okay?”
“Never better,” Derek says. “You want the same as always?”
Stiles nods, “You bet.”
Derek sets about making his drink, taking a deep breath before attempting to have a real, more than 30-seconds long conversation with Stiles.
“So,” he begins, “How was your weekend? Do anything fun?” he asks as he stirs up the liquid.
Stiles brightens. “Yeah! I actually went to this really cool art show downtown. It was called Lunar Art and it’s just all these shots taken in the moonlight. I don’t know if you’re into art or anything, but-“
Derek hands him his drink and Stiles suddenly trails off, staring down at where Derek is holding it in his left hand. “Uh,” Stiles says. “What was I saying?”
“You were asking if I’m into art,” Derek says slowly.
Stiles looks a little bit pale all of a sudden as he takes the drink from Derek. “Right. Well, actually, I’ve just realized that I-I have somewhere to be. So I have to go. But. Yeah. Bye,” he says, fumbling his drink in his hands before turning and walking quickly out the door.
Derek stares after him. The one time he actually gets a chance to talk to him, and Stiles flees out the door. It seems totally weird to Derek, but maybe his excuse was legitimate. He inhales deeply, calming himself. He can talk to Stiles about it tomorrow.
Except, it turns out that he can’t. Because Stiles doesn’t show up.
Derek tries to brush it off but Stiles’ absence feels like gaping a hole in his chest. He walks around the rest of the day only half-alert, replaying the previous day over and over in his head.
Stiles had been asking him if he’d been into art, suggesting something, even. Maybe he’d thought he was coming too close to flirting, and had decided to shut it down. Derek was sure they’d been flirting in the past, but maybe they’d just been flirting casually –maybe Stiles was okay with flirting in 30 second increments, but a real conversation was too far. Maybe he wasn’t interested in Derek at all.
Derek spends the rest of the week sulking. A week in which Stiles does not show up again. On Thursday, Derek removes the wedding ring, flinging it across his apartment angrily. The Moms seem to have gotten over the fact that he’s taken and have begun flocking around him again, so it’s really doing him no good now.
He wakes up on Friday to a cloudy sky. By the time he gets to the coffee shop, a light rain has started, and by the time the shop opens, it’s pouring outside.
Derek watches the weather get worse and worse outside, until it turns into a full-blown lightning storm. The shop is mostly empty save for a few Moms; customers kept away by the weather, so Derek takes the lull as an opportunity to clean the place.
He’s cleaning the window display case when he sees a figure huddled outside under the awning. He peers a little closer-it looks a lot like Stiles. The figure shivers and Derek can see it in his movements-it is Stiles.
Derek puts his rag down on the counter and opens the front door.
“Stiles?” he calls. Stiles turns around, shivering and dripping wet.
“Come inside, you’re getting soaked,” Derek says, trying not to sound as angry and hurt as he feels.
“I’m fine out here,” Stiles responds.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Derek says. “There are flash flood warnings all over the radio, and the news has been playing nonstop footage of downed trees and power lines. Come in.”
Stiles hesitates for a moment before walking inside, past where Derek is holding the door open for him. He stands there, wet and dripping, as Derek follows him.
“Stay there,” Derek says, gesturing to the welcome mat in front of the door.
He walks into the back room to get some dish towels and bring them back out for Stiles to use to dry off.
Derek’s mouth goes a little dry at the sight of Stiles, standing at the front door, soaked through, wet clothes clinging to his lithe body.
“Here,” he says, thrusting the towels at Stiles with his left hand.
Stiles doesn’t take them.
“For dying off,” Derek explains, shaking the towels a bit. Stiles is staring down at the towels, but still not taking them.
Suddenly, his gaze snaps up to Derek.
“What is your deal?” he seethes.
Derek takes a step back. “My what?”
Stiles shakes his head, pointing at the towels before snapping angrily. “You can’t just wear your ring whenever you please, it’s not fair.”
Derek looks down at the towels. And to where his hand is, ringless.
Derek goes over a thousand different scenarios in his head and comes up with no explanation other than the fact that Stiles is mad at him, and it has something to do with the fact that he’s not wearing his fake wedding ring.
Now Derek is mad, too. “What do you mean it’s not fair? Who is it not fair to?” he asks gruffly.
“To unsuspecting strangers, to me, to your husband or your wife,” Stiles seethes.
Derek pauses. “My-Stiles, are you kidding?”
“NO!” Stiles seems even madder now. “You can’t just take your ring off whenever you want, leaving people-people like me- to think you’re available when you’re clearly not. That’s false advertising.”
Derek suddenly has the urge to fight back a laugh, but he’s also still very confused.
“Wait, Stiles, you think I’m married? You’ve known me for how many months and you think that that wouldn’t have come up in conversation?”
Stiles is starting to look sheepish, but he’s still yelling. “I-wait-so you’re not married?”
“NO.” Derek huffs out a laugh. “I only bought this ring to keep those ridiculous Moms away so I could talk to you more, but then you disappeared.”
Stiles rolls his eyes as well as his entire body. “Well I wasn’t gonna flirt with a guy that’s married.”
Derek sighs heavily, pinning Stiles with a look. “Well, I’m not married. So flirt with me.”
Stiles blinks at him, suddenly pulled out from his angry reverie.
“What?” he says.
Derek hesitates. “Unless you don’t want-“
Stiles jumps forward immediately, placing a hand on Derek’s arm. “No, I want. I want I want to flirt with you so hard dude, you have no idea.”
At that moment, a Mom comes sauntering over from her table. “Derek, I have a question about-“
Stiles puts up a hand, looking Derek straight in the eyes. “He’s busy now. You’ll have to come back later.”
Stiles quiets her again. “He’ll get back to you later,” he repeats.
The woman stares at them for a moment, before huffing and walking away.
“You’re going to scare off my customers,” Derek says.
Stiles smiles at him, sliding a hand into one of Derek’s. “Good.”
Stiles makes Derek a button to wear on his uniform. It says in large, capital letters, “TAKEN. DO NOT FLIRT WITH ME.” He lets Derek take it off when Derek finally gets a new ring, a real ring, which Stiles gave to him when he asked if he’d like to flirt with him forever.