“You let me sleep in pretty late.”
“You had a rough night, son.”
“You let me miss school. What are they gonna say about the sheriff’s kid now?”
“It’s not like you’re getting into trouble in this state… Stiles. Would you like to talk to someone? About all of this. I can call your old counselor. Dr. Patel would be happy to see you again.”
“And say what Dad? That I have a little PTSD from that time I was possessed by a thousand year old fox demon. Oh, and I killed a few people while I was at it?”
“I just thought—”
“You thought what? For fuck’s sake, Dad. I remember what I did. How much I enjoyed it. My scars are gone because I have a new fucking body. I still dream in languages I don’t know. What do you think Dr. Patel is going to do?”
“I don’t know what else to do for you, Stiles.”
“When do you ever?”
As Stiles paints the last bit of potion onto the heart, it sucks in all trace of the strange liquid, and something within him warms. Looking at Peter fills him with such a rush that he has to distract himself, so Stiles stares at Peter’s living room, finally taking in his surroundings. It looks like it belongs in some home decor magazine. Lots of natural light and soft greys with green and blue accents. The pristine driftwood grey floors are set off by soft rugs. He can see the copper-bottomed pans hanging from their rack in the kitchen.
It’s home-y. Cozy. All of them are strange words to associate with Peter Hale.
“So,” Stiles says, “I didn’t think this would be your style.”
Peter laughs. “What were you expecting? Something a little more villainous?”
He shrugs. “This isn’t exactly a series of underground tunnels or a downtown apartment.”
“No, it’s not.” Peter smiles at him. He doesn’t elaborate. Dick.
Stiles blows out an irritated breath. He counts down from ten then asks, “Did you choose this place? Hire a decorator?”
“Do you really want to spend our evening playing twenty questions?”
Peter sounds like he could play this game forever. A begrudging part of Stiles almost wants to let him, but they have a schedule and more important things to do.
“No, Peter. I don’t.” Stiles sighs. “Sorry, but I didn’t think I’d have to interrogate you over some surface-level life shit.”
“Fair enough.” Peter tips his head in acknowledgement. “This was my aunt and uncle’s house. They left it to me after they passed.” He catches Stiles’ look and shakes his head. “No, not the fire. It was years earlier. I was still in college, and I took it as a sign to spend some time living on my own. I’ve done some redecorating over the years, but I tried to be mindful of the Craftsman aesthetic.”
“Huh.” Stiles fidgets with the heart, turning it through his fingers. “I guess I’m not surprised. Alli—I, uh, heard that you had opinions about fashion.”
He clenches the heart in his hand. How can he relax enough to almost say her name, like he has the right?
“I guess we should start this up.” Stiles thrusts his hand in the general direction of Peter’s face. “Here. Just hang on to it for the night. You can break it when I leave.”
Peter takes Stiles’ hand in his and cradles it. He stares right into his eyes, plucking the heart from nerveless fingers as he murmurs, “I carry it in my heart. I am never without it.”
Stiles’ heart, his real heart, thuds painfully at the absurdity of that line. How dare he? What a ridiculous, overblown sentiment. His vision narrows to a single dark point, so he shuts his eyes and concentrates on not hyperventilating.
His cheeks are wet, and Peter is kneeling with him, cupping his face between smooth hands. He looks so sincerely concerned that Stiles almost wants to cry again.
“Hey.” His lip throbs where he must have been biting down.
“Are you okay now?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“Was that too much?”
“It’s a love spell right? We’re supposed to feel that way.” Stiles croaks out a laugh. It’s hilarious. He basically has a panic attack over Peter being romantic. Just more proof of how broken he is now.
“We’re supposed to be in love, and that means caring about how each other feels and what we can bear. Especially if it’s about how we express affection.” Peter presses his forehead to Stiles’. “Whenever we’re under this spell, you are my priority.”
His breath hitches at the concept of being someone’s first priority, of knowing that he’s the most important thing to even one person. How does Peter always cut straight to the core of his true desires—all of his secret hopes and dreams?
This spell might be dangerous for a reason he’s never bothered to consider.
“What do you want, Stiles?” Peter thumbs away the last few tears, trickling down Stiles’ face. “I’m going to sit in my chair again. Then you’re going to kneel here, with your face on my leg, and think about the answer. Okay?”
True to his word, Peter releases him, returning to his seat. The leather creaks as he settles himself and urges Stiles forward. It’s awkward, but Stiles shuffles the required few inches and rests his face on Peter’s thigh. The denim is soft and warm under his cheek, and he instinctively cuddles into it.
“Just relax, Stiles. I’m here.” Peter begins to stroke over Stiles’ head, running gentle fingers through his hair, stiff with product.
Peter’s fingers are deft and light, seeking out knots in his scalp and neck. Before long, Stiles slumps bonelessly across Peter’s lap, moaning as the ever-present tension eases out of him.
“This is nice,” Stiles says, eyes shut tightly against judgement.
Peter says that like breathing, like it’s easy. Maybe it is easy for him. The damn thing is that Stiles knows it’s true. Every word Peter says tonight will be the absolute truth.
“I don’t know what I want,” he forces himself to admit, after a short eternity. “But you knew that. It’s why I took you up on this insane idea.”
“Because you were out of them.”
“Yeah.” And that observation, so quiet, so confident. It kills him to agree, but he’s bound to the truth just as much as Peter. Despite the temptation, Stiles hasn’t left himself any loopholes. There’s no backdoor out of honesty for him.
“Did you like this? A quiet evening, kneeling for me and letting me take care of you?”
“Yes, but… it’s not enough.” Too soft. Too kind. There’s a restlessness in him that no amount of meds or relaxation has ever been able to settle. Stiles has spent the last few years springing from one dangerous impulse to the next. The great werewolf revelation has only served to enable his adrenaline junkie tendencies.
“Hmm. I can see how it wouldn’t be.”
“Can you?” Stiles demands. “All this mindfulness crap and meditation doesn’t work for me. If it did, I wouldn’t have tried this.” I wouldn’t have needed you.
“I like to know what I’m working with. Next time we’ll try something a little different.” Peter’s fingers tightened in his hair, tugging at the short strands. “For now, you’re going to take off your clothes and fold them, neatly. Then… well, I’ll sure I’ll think of something.”
Stiles stomach swoops and wooshes. Is this the sex he’s anticipated from the beginning of this arrangement? If he gives over his body, will Peter be what Stiles needs? Will he do something interesting?
He opens his eyes, peeking at Peter through his lashes. Peter seems so composed, so compassionate. It fills him with a wild urge to do something to ruffle him up, just a bit, so Stiles knows that something about the situation affects him.
Exercising what self-control he has, Stiles doesn’t poke at Peter’s composure. He stands. His joints protest after the kneeling, but he’s had worse from sitting on the floor and gaming all night.
He bites his lip and reminds himself to be patient. He doesn’t need to act out. He’ll definitely get what he wants from Peter, from this situation… eventually. Blood rushes to his face as he slowly pulls off his t-shirt.
After the Nogitsune, the only blemishes he has are his moles.
The sudden, sharp focus on Peter’s face says that he’s enjoying the view.
Stiles folds his shirt lengthwise, in precise thirds. He adjusts the sleeves to lie flat before folding it in horizontal thirds. It only takes a few seconds to wriggle out of his shoes and tuck the corresponding sock into each shoe. His jeans and boxers follow. Those he rolls into a compact cylinder.
He deliberately refuses to shiver even though he’s standing naked in front of Peter Hale. Stiles is a teenaged boy on a sports team. Semi-public nudity is old hat to him, and with a minimum of fidgeting he sets everything on top of his backpack. It’s a sad, little pile that threatens to topple over, but it should be neat enough for Peter’s purposes.
“Thank you, Stiles. Come and sit beside me.”
Stiles spins around, his mouth falls open to see Peter reclining on the blue, tufted sofa, patting the cushion next to him.
“Sure,” he replies, like it’s normal for him to be in Peter Hale’s living room and sit on his couch, naked in broad daylight. Thinking about sex with Peter, doing spells to fall in love: these are just things he does now.
He sinks into the soft, chenille upholstery and allows Peter to tug him close so he rests under the curve of his arm. They’re pressed side-to-side, every inch of his bare skin is sensitized, hyper-aware of each point of contact. The warmth of Peter’s hand is a brand on his shoulder. The fabric of Peter’s clothes, so soft earlier, is now rough as sandpaper.
Peter reaches over with one finger and tips up his face. Stiles blinks, drifting in new sensations and emotions. He stares into Peter’s deep, blue eyes. They’re so full of stolen affection that he can only bear it for a moment.
He shuts his eyes and reminds himself, it’s only a spell. He doesn’t really love you.
“Very good, Stiles. Can you keep being a good boy for me tonight?”
Tears burn behind his closed eyelids. For something so vital and so absent from his life, praise really shouldn’t hurt so damn much. Why does it feel like everyone sells him short? When is the last time someone told him to try without expecting to be disappointed?
It’s been far too long.
“Yeah,” Stiles answers, “I can be good for you .”