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steel bars and blood-slick hands

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Derek almost kills Peter. Almost. But then Deaton shows up and whisks Peter’s charred, only half-dead carcass away, and Stiles can’t let it go. 

Stiles hates it when Scott goes to work, hates how Deaton plays himself off as this all-knowing Obi-wan Kenobi, because what if Scott fucks up? What if he’d killed Matt to save Allison? To save his mother? How far is too far according to Deaton?

If Scott disappears....

Stiles tries to find Peter so he can prepare himself, but Deaton remains frustratingly cryptic, even threatening, and Derek just wants to hide in his burnt parody of a home and brood. Chris seems interested in searching, but Allison’s grandfather sets off Stiles’s creep-o-meter far worse than Peter ever did, so Stiles stays the hell away.




When the alphas come to town, Stiles thinks he might be able to use them to sniff out Peter, but they go after Scott instead. Derek goes missing, a Darach goes after Stiles’s dad, and everything falls apart.




Glass. Cold against his clammy forehead. A thick wall between him and Deaton. 

"I’m sorry, Stiles," Deaton says, distant and calm.

"Wait," Stiles croaks, bracing his hand against the glass to hold himself up, and Deaton’s footsteps pause. "Deucalion—" Stiles’s own lungs betray him, heaving and pained. "Sc—Scott—"

"You don’t have to worry about Scott anymore, Stiles," Deaton says. A door slams shut, and Deaton’s footsteps fade away.

The last traces of adrenaline dissipate, and Stiles’s knees buckle. His blood-slick hand slips against the glass, and he hits the ground hard, head knocking back against concrete. He wedges himself into the corner and pulls his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around his legs, hands slipping together. He buries his face in his knees and swallows down deep, shuddering breaths of air thick with the smell of copper and sweat.

"Dear Lord, this is even worse than your bloody shouting," an ambiguously British male’s voice says in mild disbelief.

Stiles’s head snaps up, heart racing and hands curling into fists as he scrambles to his feet, but what he sees makes him freeze: Across the cell, a middle-aged man lying flat on what looks like a prison cot, some sort of ragged cut in the middle of his forehead, and curled in the middle of the floor, a monstrous black wolf. It’s different from what Stiles remembers, a little furrier with full paws instead of the distorted hands Stiles recalls smacking against the door of the high school locker room. There’s no way to tell, but—”Peter Hale?” Stiles asks.

Its eyes open, red and glowing. They blink at Stiles. Once. Twice. Then they close again, the wolf-thing breathing out a short huff of air before relaxing into sleep again.

"He’s a boring old thing, isn’t he?" ponders Ambiguously British Dude. "All he does is plot and plot and plot. Frankly, it’s ridiculous." He glances over at Stiles. "But that must be why you’re here."

Stiles blinks. “So he is Peter Hale?”

Ambiguously British Dude gives him a half-shrug. “Is. Was. Depends on your definition, I suppose.”

Stiles swallows. “You said he was shouting.”

Ambiguously British Dude turns his head towards Stiles, an ecstatic smile breaking out across his face. “Positively raving.”

Probably-Peter growls, eyes still closed, and Stiles pushes himself back into the corner. “Awesome,” he says dryly, glancing away from the wet welt on the man’s forehead. He looks around, finally takes in his surroundings. A single cot. A pile of ragged books. An open toilet and sink built into the back wall. Plexiglas and steel bars. Stiles picks at the blood he’s left on the window, its edges already flaking. “So where are we supposed to be? A zoo? Prison?” He meanders over to the sink, limbs shaking. “Both?” He turns on the faucet and puts his hands under the water.

"Eichen House," Peter’s hoarse voice says right behind Stiles. He grabs Stiles’s wrists from behind and whirls him around. Stiles jams his knee up before he even registers Peter’s naked body, but Peter bats it away. Thrown, Stiles steps back, jamming the small of his back into the sink. When Peter just stands there, blissfully warm fingers curled around Stiles’s wrists like vices, Stiles stills, gauging him.

Peter’s pale and gaunt, empty eyes just a little more dead than Stiles remembers. He looks tired. “I’ve been looking for you,” Stiles says. “Thought you’d be somewhere a little more…,” he glances around, “outdoorsy than this.” He flicks his eyes downward, then back up, too exhausted to be fazed. “Also with more clothing.”

The emptiness in Peter's eyes fades slightly as he observes Stiles back, his forehead wrinkling. His eyes drift to Stiles’s hands, and he lifts them up. “Whose blood is this?”

Stiles slumps back against the sink. “You’re kidding me, right?”

Peter’s hands tighten, making Stiles hiss. “Whose?"

Stiles tenses, jaw tightening. “…Gerard Argent's."

Peter’s eyes flash, grip making Stiles’s wrists ache. “He’s here. In Beacon Hills?”

Stiles takes a deep breath and meets Peter’s gaze head-on. “His body is.”

Peter relaxes and raises his eyebrows, a hint of a smile on his face. His hands loosen, and Stiles twists his wrists out of his grip. “And Derek?”

Stiles rubs the skin of his shaking wrists and looks away. He jerks his head in the negative. “Missing.”

"Stiles," Peter growls. Behind him on the cot, Ambiguously British Dude sits up. "What's happened?"

Stiles sighs. “It's gonna take a while to explain. I gotta sit down first.” When Peter stays put, Stiles glares. “That means you gotta move, buddy.”

Peter rolls his eyes and steps aside.




"I thought Deucalion and Gerard could take each other out, you know, but instead Deucalion pushed Scott to kill Gerard, and I —he’s Scott. He’s not meant to be a killer." He looks pointedly at Peter, who snorts. 

"Anyone can be a killer."

Stiles shrugs. “But they don’t have to be. And I’d already taken out the Darach. So when Gerard went after Melissa....” Stiles shrugs again. “Someone had to do it.... But I guess Deaton disagreed.” He blinks at the ceiling and says, an edge to his voice, “Gerard was still human, after all.”

"Still, locking you up here seems extreme, even for Deaton, and you’re still human yourself. What did you do?"

"Honestly?" Stiles glances at Peter. "I asked too many questions. Ransacked his office one too many times. And...." Stiles shakes his head, eyebrows furrowing. "I was getting too close to something. You ever heard of the Nemeton?"

Peter perks up ever so slightly.

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Scott tracked the Darach there. He thought it was nothing, but.... I set a trap there, she fell for it, and I.... Ever since she died—" Stiles flicks his hand, and the sink turns on by itself. Peter quirks an eyebrow. "Yeah. And as for being placed with you specifically, I think he wants you to kill me so he doesn’t have to do it himself." He eyes Peter with only vague interest. "So, what’s it gonna be, Peter? You gonna do Deaton’s dirty work for him?" Stiles smirks at Peter’s narrowed eyes. "Or are we gonna blow this joint?"

Peter rolls his eyes. “I don’t know, Stiles. You set me on fire.” He leers. “Maybe I should bite you and make you my bitch instead.”

Stiles’s heart skips a beat even as he makes a face and flicks his palm out, summoning a small flame. It’s smaller than he intends, but Peter doesn’t need to know that. “Or I could set you on fire again. That option’s on the table, too.” He closes his hand over the flame. “So will you work with me or not?”

Peter smiles. Just a little. “I suppose something could be arranged.”

Stiles rolls his eyes and glances at Ambiguously British Dude. “And what about you, bookworm? You want out?”

"It won’t work," Ambiguously British Dude says.

Stiles snorts. “You know, a funny thing happens when people tell me I can’t do something. I do it anyway.”

Ambiguously British Dude hums in response, and Stiles and Peter spend the next hour or so plotting until Stiles falls unconscious from exhaustion.




A low, far too familiar growl jolts Stiles into awareness, and he launches himself off the cold, hard floor to see Peter’s alpha form crouching in front of him, ready to spring. “Woah, woah, woah,” Stiles says, holding up his hands and making himself seem small. “What—”

Peter whips around and bares his teeth at the steel door of the main cell. Someone in a surgical mask peeks through the bars and slaps a metal cover over them, and a misty gas starts pouring into the room. “Oh, fuck” is all Stiles has time to say, and then he’s out.



He wakes up to growling —again— just above his face and opens his eyes to Peter’s alpha form hovering over him. “Holy—” Stiles presses his back against the cold concrete floor, heart fast and breath shallow. Peter dips his snout closer, baring his teeth, growl deepening. “Peter, Peter, come on. I don’t know what I did, but we can talk it out—” 

Peter snarls, and Stiles shoves his hands forward, blasting Peter away. He hits the glass hard, making it shudder ever so slightly, and launches himself back at Stiles. Stiles keeps his hands up, using magic to hold Peter at bay. Their bodies tremble with the effort, a mere foot of space between them. 

"Well," Ambiguously British Dude sighs from the bed, a Styrofoam food tray in his lap. "It was nice while it lasted." 

His splayed hands inches away from Peter’s nearing fangs, Stiles shudders under the brunt of Peter fighting to push closer. “What the hell is going on?” he grits out, but Ambiguously British Dude doesn’t answer. “Peter,” Stiles says, looking him in the eye. His gaze blazes red. “Peter Hale. Just calm down.” Peter snarls again, jaws snapping, his breath hot and wet on Stiles’s face. Stiles wrinkles his nose at the smell. “Oh, God. I promise we’re gonna get out of here. Seriously. We’re gonna get out. We’re gonna find you a tooth brush and mouth wash, and then we’ll find Scott, and then Derek—” Peter quiets, but he doesn’t stop pushing. “Yeah, Derek! Your nephew! Your family. We’ll find him. We’ll be safe.” 

Peter roars, and another inch of space disappears between them. 

"Okay, okay, okay, we won’t be safe. We’ll have to deal with Deaton and the alphas –I’ll have to deal with the alphas, I mean. You can leave. You can fuck off to Fiji for all I care, do whatever you want. Oh, God—” Peter snaps through the spell, his chest hitting Stiles hands and his front paws slamming down on both sides of Stiles’s head, caging him in. His jaws come snapping down, and Stiles squeezes his eyes shut as they close around his throat— 

But they don’t close. Peter’s canines press indents into Stiles’s skin, dull, pinhead-size points of hard pressure, strong enough for Stiles to feel his heady pulse pounding against them, his skin hot and wet under Peter’s breath. Stiles holds his breath, waiting for Peter’s jaws to snap shut. 

Peter huffs, teeth pressing a little closer with the movement, and then the feeling of them disappears. Stiles opens his eyes just in time to see Peter duck his head to nuzzle at the crook of Stiles’s neck. Stiles waits, stock-still, as Peter breathes in deeply, his cold nose sending an involuntary shiver rolling through Stiles’s body. Stiles opens his mouth to speak, closes it, opens it again. “…Peter?” 

Peter answering growl resembles a grumble more than anything else, and he pulls away from Stiles’s prone body and curls up in the corner. Stiles goes limp and sucks in air like he’s just breached the surface after a long dive. He sits up slowly, staring at Peter. “What the hell just happened?” Peter opens his eyes halfway. “You in there, dude?” Peter just closes his eyes, and Stiles glances over at Ambiguously British Dude, who shrugs as he bites into a limp sandwich. 

"He does that. A bit crazy, that one." 

"Um, no. I’ve seen him ‘a bit crazy’. And that? A lot crazy. That was mad-alpha-chasing-down-kids-in-a-high-school crazy. What the hell did they even do to him?" What are they gonna do to Stiles? 

Ambiguously British Dude finally glances over. “Would you like to see?” he asks, tilting his head with a self-satisfied little smile that sends Stiles’s creep-o-meter blaring. 

Stiles narrows his eyes. “How?” 

"I can show you. If you come just a little closer." 

Stiles wrinkles his nose, looking at the guy askance. If he tries to show Stiles his dick Stiles is totally setting him on fire, exhausted or not. “That’s great, but can you clarify how you plan to do so?” 

The guy plants his feet on the floor and shifts on the cot to face Stiles. He tilts his head forward, baring his forehead. “All you have to do is look.” 

Peter growls, but Stiles ignores him, leaning forward to peer at what he had previously thought of as a welt in the middle of Ambiguously British Dude’s forehead. Instead, it’s more like a crudely cut hollow, the skin inside wet and glistening, with a thin slit at—”Holy shit!” Stiles gags, jerking away and covering his face. “Oh my god, I think I’m gonna puke.” 

"You didn’t even see it!" Ambiguously British Dude says indignantly. 

"I saw enough! That was disgusting. That was –what even was that? An eyeball? Did you rob the three fates? Steal it like a black market kidney? What even—" Stiles gags again. He glances back at Ambiguously British Dude, who’s staring at Stiles with his mouth open and brow furrowed. Stiles looks away just as quickly, his stomach roiling at the flash of eyeball white. "I think I’m scarred for life." He clutches his stomach. 

Peter snickers from his corner, apparently human again and very amused. And still naked. 

Stiles glares at him. “Shut up and put some clothes on,” he snaps. “And seriously, what the fuck was that all about? I thought we had a truce or whatever.” 

Peter raises his eyebrows. “What was what all about?” 

Stiles flails. “That —that thing! With the teeth and the roaring and –and the teeth!” He rubs his throat. 

Peter blinks, brow furrowing in contemplation. He looks around the cell, eyes landing on the remains of two Styrofoam trays sitting near the glass. Old cooked carrots and cheap coleslaw lay spilled across the floor. “Well, it would appear I ate your sandwich.” 

Stiles makes a face and shakes his head. “We’ve gotta get out of here.”




Time doesn’t exist in Eichen House, not really. There’s no sunlight, no moonlight. Only fluorescent light forever and ever, bleaching their skin. The only visitors they receive are orderlies delivering food, but Stiles almost never sees them, knocked out by the gas. He sleeps a lot, slumped in the corner opposite the cot, shoving himself up against the glass and not-actually-concrete-but-mountain-ash walls. 

It’s a restless sleep that deepens the ache in his bones and leaves his eyes stinging. The rest of the ward's screams echo in his dreams, and he’s always running, running from jaws snapping at his heels and bullets pounding into his shoulders. 

He tries smashing Eichen House’s walls down, tries melting them with fire, tries to shake the building by its foundations, tries to chip away at the mountain ash with a steel rod Peter broke off the cot. When the orderlies drop off their next meal, the rod disappears. Stiles magic is weak, muffled by whatever they’ve mixed in with the mountain ash. 

After every attempt, Stiles paces listlessly, too jittery to sleep but too tired to use his magic for anything other than small tricks and basic charms. He makes glittering patterns of light to lend some color to the stark florescence of the cell and conjures up a small breeze whenever the cool air feels too stifling. 

The three of them don’t talk much. Peter shifts between human and werewolf, but he doesn’t attack Stiles again. Just curls up and sleeps. He leaves Stiles’s food alone, too, and growls at Ambiguously British Dude –Dr. Valack, Stiles finds out— when he gets too creepy, which is funny, Stiles muses, because Peter’s pretty creepy himself. But maybe Stiles is, too. 

One time when the gas starts pouring in, Stiles holds his breath and goes purple in the face waiting for the orderly to bring in the food. When he finally does, Stiles slams him up against the wall to cut off his air supply and steal his keys. Vision fading, Stiles is too oxygen-deprived to react before another orderly stabs him with a hypodermic needle. 

He wakes up strapped to a table, a scalpel cutting into his chest. “Patient Number Twenty-oh-five” they call him. They describe his screams as a “mild reaction to stimuli.” 

When he wakes up in the cell again, his chest burns with pain. White, sterile bandages run from his collarbone to his belly button. He whimpers and buries his face in Peter’s fur. Peter lets him. 




Stiles starts waking up with Peter at his back more often than not. He restrains himself from commenting on it, too afraid of losing Peter’s solid warmth if he does. Peter never talks about it, either, so Stiles thinks he mustn’t remember it, until one day Stiles falls asleep while Peter’s still human. He wakes up screaming and fighting, only to open his eyes and find Peter pinning him down by his forearms, ordering him to wake up. 

Stiles freezes, and Peter rolls his eyes and climbs off him. “Thanks,” Stiles mumbles, pushing himself off the ground and slinking over to his corner.  

Before Stiles gets very far, Peter sighs and tugs Stiles towards his own rear corner of the cell. “Come on,” he says, dragging Stiles down with him. 

"What? No," Stiles says, pulling away and pointing at his corner. "I’m fine over there. Alone." 

Peter tugs him back, and Stiles falls back against his chest. “Fine is the last thing you are,” Peter says, slinging his arm over Stiles’s shoulders. 

"Like you’re one to talk," Stiles grumbles, rubbing at his chest. The bandages are off, his skin red and swollen around his stitches. Stiles shivers, cold. 

Peter narrows his eyes, bringing a hand up to Stiles’s incision. Stiles flinches away, but Peter rests his hand over his chest anyway, his fingers hot on Stiles’s skin. Black lines creep up his forearm. “What are you—” Stiles starts to ask, but he cuts himself off as the pain fades away, leaving his incision cool and tingling. He sighs and melts into Peter, eyes fluttering shut. “Didn’t know you could do that,” he mumbles. 

"All werewolves can," Peter says. 

"Scott’ll love it when I—" Stiles opens his eyes. He swallows, eyes darting to the wall. 

"You’re not having doubts already, are you?" 

"You should be," Valack chimes in from the cot. 

Stiles grinds his teeth together, a hollowness in his chest, but then Peter leans in to murmur, “Now him I wouldn’t mind being set on fire.”

 Stiles smirks back at him. “That can be arranged.”

 Valack sighs, long-suffering.

 Peter grins and bumps his forehead against Stiles’s. “I knew there was a reason I liked you.” His fingers curl into Stiles’s hair at the nape of his neck.

 Stiles huffs and swats Peter’s fingers away. “Creep.”

 Peter twists his fingers through Stiles’s hair again. “Brat.”

 A smile tugs at Stiles’s lips. He closes his eyes.




When he wakes up sprawled atop Peter’s body, fighting the urge to kiss him awake, he knows it’s far past time for him to get the hell out.




With Stiles's body running on more food and sleep and with Peter growing more lucid and reliable, it’s not too difficult to plan their escape. Valack offers no help, but he doesn’t interfere either. Stiles wonders about him. His fingers itch to research. He misses the internet and books. He misses everything. Everyone. 

His breath stutters in his chest, and the lights flicker. “Stiles,” Peter says cautiously. “We’re going to be okay.” 

Stiles’s heart races, and his breath starts coming faster. He shakes his head. “No, we’re not.” 

Peter grabs him by the shoulders. “Yes, we are,” he growls, more a demand than a statement. “We’ll be okay. Say it with me.” 

A broken laugh rips itself out of Stiles’s lungs. “This –coming from you.” He gasps. “Oh, God.” His hands fly out, seeking support. 

"Stiles," Peter says, grabbing Stiles’s face and bringing their foreheads together. "If I have to kill everyone here for us to escape, I will. We’ll be fine. We just have to be patient. Do you understand?" 

Peter’s breath ghosts across Stiles’s face in a slow, steady rhythm, and Stiles latches onto it like a lifeline. “I understand.” 

Peter smiles and pulls away. “Good.” He glances up at the lights. “Now, do you think can you do that again?” 

Stiles nods slowly, still breathless. “I can try.” 




"If we can get to the third floor, I can lead us out," Stiles says. 

"Wouldn’t the first floor be simpler?" 

Stiles shakes his head. “No,” he says shortly. “Trust me. It’ll be safer if you let me navigate the third floor.” When Peter quirks an eyebrow, Stiles sighs and says, “I’ve been here before. For my mother.” 




They make their move the next day. When the gas pours in, Stiles and Peter lie against the back wall like they’re sleeping, hiding their faces, and Stiles conjures up a small breeze to keep the gas away from their faces. As soon as the orderly opens the glass door, Stiles takes out the lights, and Peter darts into motion, snapping the orderly’s neck and taking out the second one at the second door. Stiles takes a deep breath and staggers upward, and for a moment silence weighs heavy on his ears. Vertigo pulls on his stomach, and he stumbles for where he thinks the door is. 

He should have known Peter would cut and run.  

He runs into glass and feels along it for the door. He doesn’t dare conjure up a light yet for fear of making his location obvious. He’s not going under the knife again. He’s not. 

His lungs beg for air, his abs drawing inward, and he’s just about to suck in a breath of toxic air when a clawed hand takes his and drags him to the side. He panics and coughs, but a flash of red eyes calms him down, and he races to keep up with Peter as he drags Stiles out of the cell. 

A herd of racing footsteps rush towards them, and the generator lights flicker back on to reveal Stiles and Peter running down the hallway right towards a pack of white coats. Stiles balks, but Peter shifts into the wolf and rips right through them. 

Just before the doors of the elevator close, Stiles sets the entire ward on fire.




They race through Eichen House, passing raving people in strait jackets and cells with restraints on the beds. It all makes Stiles want to vomit. 

One person tries to stop them, a middle-aged, white man with short brown hair and a cruel, ratty face. He runs as soon as he catches sight of Peter. Peter tears his throat out anyway, and Stiles can’t bring himself to be upset because, honestly, what sort of monster would work here in the first place? 

They run into Morell right before they reach the secret fire escape, but after a moment of observation, she steps aside. “Be careful, Stiles,” she says, and Stiles blinks at her. Before he can respond, Peter comes up behind him and shoves him out the exit. 




As soon as they’re on solid ground, Stiles plants his hands in the grass and sends quakes through the earth around the base Eichen House, not enough to collapse the building, but enough to rock its foundation. Enough to warrant an investigation. He looks up and sees smoke billowing out the windows of the fifth floor. He smiles.

Peter, still in alpha form, growls behind him, and Stiles looks around to see orderlies streaming out the front door. He runs.




As soon as Stiles steps outside the front gates, his knees buckle, a sharp jolt of pain electrifying his nerves, and he goes down with a shout. Another jolt goes through him. “Fucking –shit,” he grinds out, pressing his forehead into the blacktop of the driveway. 

"Language," Peter says hoarsely. 

Stiles looks up and sees Peter standing over him in his grotesque human-wolf hybrid form. “Gross,” Stiles groans, his body jerking as another jolt runs through him. 

He hears people shouting and running closer, then a wild snarl followed by shrill screaming. He tries to push himself to his feet, but another shock knocks him to the ground. 

The screaming stops, and Peter scoops Stiles up and takes off. 




He wakes up in the woods, his back against a tree and Peter’s very human self shaking him by the shoulders. 

Another spasm rips through Stiles, stronger than before. “What’s happening?” 

Peter presses his lips together, and he glares at Stiles’s chest. “They put something inside you. In case you escaped.” 

Stiles stops breathing for a second. He swallows, looking down at the violent red pucker of his incision. “We should’ve tortured them more.” 

Peter looks back up at him. “I need to take it out. You won't survive as you are now.” 

Another spasm, and then Stiles pants, “What if—” he coughs. “What if I say no?” 

Peter stares at him. “…Don’t say no.” 

Stiles stares back. “Earlier, back in the cell, I thought you left me.” 

Peter frowns. “You’re loyal, clever and vindictive. I wouldn’t dare leave you. You’re perfect.” 

Another spasm. “You're so creepy.” Stiles’s incision pulses with his heart, and his stomach lurches. 

Peter’s lips curl upward. “And you're a brat.” He curls his fingers around Stiles’s wrist and raises it to his lips. “Yes or no?” 

Stiles meets Peter’s gaze head-on. He’s so tired. 

Eyes on Stiles, Peter ghosts his lips over the pulse point of Stiles's wrist.