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Whose Woods These Are

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Whose Woods These Are

 

Stiles chooses the house simply because it's far enough out in the wilderness to be away. His... reticence for human contact on any given day coincides entirely with how much pain he's in when he wakes up in the morning. His patience is limited, and he has more bad days than good.

His dad helps him find it. He trudges around the property with a video camera and enough sarcasm to pave the driveway if he wanted.

Stiles falls in love with the place.

It's a sprawling ranch style house built with log cabin finesse and only two shallow, low steps up onto the wraparound porch. It's got three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a library.

It needs work. General maintenance and repairs. The southeast corner of the porch has collapsed and Dad isn't too sure about the integrity of the rest of it, but there's no mice, rats, termites or any other sort of infestation.

Stiles will muddle through, he says. It'll give him something to do on the days when it gets so bad the only thing that eases the pain is movement.

Dad doesn't like it, but he helps with the realtor because he's too relieved that Stiles is alive and coming home to try and hinder the process.

Stiles gets it, he does, but it's his leg that's all screwed up. It's him that wanders around with a hardware store holding him together everyday. So, as much as he loves his father, the man doesn't get a say. He's the one who has to live without cartilage and a portion of his thigh muscle and the memories of being gutted by big steel rods that slammed through the side of his jeep like toothpicks through mini weiners.

Scott helps him move in, offers to do a grocery run with his hands shoved in his pockets, shifting from one foot to the other while he avoids meeting Stiles' gaze. Stiles gets that Scott's got some kind of weirdo guilt complex over what happened to him, but Stiles doesn't blame him.

He gives him a list and watches him climb into his beat up Dodge Dart and reminds himself that this is his best friend. Scott has always needed extra time to realize that something is not his fault. It'll come to him eventually.

Stiles places the blame solely on the shoulders of the truck driver that fell asleep at the wheel like a moron. Well, the driver and the load of construction equipment he was hauling.

So Stiles moves into an old house out in the woods like a creepy serial killer. Reminds himself that other people suck on a regular basis and just sort of gets on with it.

He creates a routine.

He wakes up on good days and works on his writing because it is what he loves and he does have a deadline. He learns to cook (badly in some cases) and discovers that while potatoes will never be his forte, he makes a mean croissant. He buys a used GMC Acadia to haul things around in after Dad tells him that walking fifty miles to the nearest grocery store is not actually a very good idea.

He wakes up on bad days and when he finally manages to haul his ass out of bed, he works on the house. He refinishes the hardwood flooring. He tears down pieces of the crumbling porch. He buys a new cane when hitting the rotting sections of porch damages it enough to lose supportive integrity. He paints the shutters and window frames a nice deep cobalt.

He wakes up on the really bad days. On those days he wanders around in the woods. Sometimes he wonders where his property line actually is. He owns the house and some ten to fifteen acres aside, but he didn't buy all of the property.

The Hales hadn't been happy that he hadn't wanted all of it, but were glad to get something, anything for some of the land. Stiles hadn't wanted the crumbling ruin that was the main house about thirty miles closer to town.

He didn't want anything in which anybody had been burned alive, thanks.

The Hales had understood, and according to Dad were quietly letting the county condemn and reclaim the land.

So Stiles walks. He walks, and he walks, and he walks.

The first time he sees the wolf, Stiles kind of thinks he’s hallucinating. There haven’t been wolves in California in over sixty years. Blinking rapidly and rubbing at his eyes don’t make the apparition vanish, so Stiles decides it’s real. After several sightings, Stiles breaks down and sates his curiosity and researches it.

It’s a Grey Wolf. Huge, with a white underbelly and a gorgeous patterning of black and grey fur ranging the scale. When he says the wolf is huge, Stiles means huge. He thinks it would easily reach his waist at the shoulder if they were standing side by side. The size of it is intimidating, so is the fact that those blue eyes watch Stiles when they see each other.

It isn’t until after several sightings that Stiles realizes that the wolf is following him. It doesn’t matter where he goes, or how far, the wolf dogs his footsteps from twenty to thirty feet away. Stiles knows that he’s easy pickings. Between his limping gait and the cane he relies on, Stiles is no longer capable of running. His version of running now consists mainly of a slightly faster shamble interspersed with a hop every now and then.

If the wolf decides it wants to eat him, Stiles would be a pretty easy meal.

It doesn’t; so Stiles keeps walking.

- - -

Somehow he gets used to the wolf. Just like he gets used to everything else. The way the floorboards creak beneath his feet, but only in certain places. The way the water always sputters before coming out of any of the spigots, like the plumbing doesn’t like this idea of working. How sometimes in the early morning fog he can see the wolf trotting through the trees around the house, watching Stiles as much as Stiles watches it.

Stiles starts leaving a bowl of fresh water on the porch by the kitchen door. It’s easier for him to reach that way. It goes untouched for a few days until Stiles leaves out a plate of leftovers. He doesn’t eat as much as he used to, and reheated steak is never as good as it was the night of. Reheating it means cooking it more; cooking it more means losing the flavor.

So Stiles cuts the rest of the steak up, adds some leftover chicken from a few nights before when his Dad had come out to the house to see him, and leaves the plate on the porch next to the bowl. He doesn’t wait to see if the wolf will come, he just turns off the lights and goes to bed.

In the morning the plate is empty, and Stiles starts buying more meat when he goes to the store.

- - -

Stiles rarely sleeps well. His doctor gave him a prescription for some pretty heavy duty sleeping pills, but Stiles doesn’t like the way they make him feel. Doesn’t like how his head feels stuffed full of cotton and that lingering bitter medicine taste that lasts for twenty-four hours. So he only takes one when the pain gets to be too much to bear. Otherwise he’ll suffer through it, thanks.

On the nights when he can’t sleep, when he’s in too much pain to stay lying down, he likes to sit on the shallow steps leading up to the porch with all the lights off and his head tipped back so that he can see the stars. He likes to dig his bare toes into the earth and just breathe for a while.

That night it’s worse that it usually is. He’s tired enough, and in enough pain that he’s considering the idea that maybe he should have just taken that stupid pill anyway when he hears it. It’s soft, leaves rustling. The padding of paws on the ground that Stiles knows have been deliberately made loud enough for him to hear.

He’d given up trying to justify reasons for how intelligent the wolf is, and just accepts it as something that is.

He wonders briefly if he’s about to be eaten, but then decides he just doesn’t care all that much. Stiles doesn’t even so much as look down from the sky as nails click on the wood of the steps and a large, warm weight settles in around Stiles’ back. It curves around his spine and a black tail drapes over the leg that actually works.

Stiles sags, leans back into the warm bulk behind him and just decides that trying to puzzle this one out isn’t worth it. He’s too tired to care that this is a wild animal and could just as easily tear his throat out.

He can’t bring himself to care.

The pain seems to just drain away after the wolf settles in behind him. Stiles can feel all the muscles in his body loosen up one by one and he can’t help but let out a relieved sigh. He slouches and turns just enough to weave a hand through the dense fur at the base of the wolf’s neck.

He doesn’t know where the pain has gone, but he has the niggling idea that somehow it’s because of the wolf. There is no one around to hear it, so Stiles doesn’t bother feeling strange for speaking to a wild animal like it will understand him.

Instead he just whispers: “Thank you.”

- - -

It becomes sort of routine after that. The wolf comes and goes. Stiles knows better than to think it tame. There is free food for it all the time. A warm place to sleep and a creature that poses it no threat for company. Now, instead of watching Stiles' walks from afar, most days the wolf joins him.

He finds himself going farther and farther afield. The company of the wolf makes him braver. Somehow the pain isn't as bad as it once was. When they touch, it's like the wolf drains his pain somehow.

Stiles knows that this is not an ordinary wolf. It is far too intelligent, and Stiles always feels like he is having an actual conversation when he talks to it. It's in the looks he receives, the way the wolf tilts his head, or the expression in his eyes.

Stiles is grateful.

Slowly, very slowly, they develop a routine and suddenly the wolf is more living with Stiles than he is visiting. Late one night, after a day in town visiting his Dad, Stiles sits with the wolf and his laptop open to Behind the Name and scrolls through names. He can't keep calling the wolf 'you' or 'it'.

The wolf likes Peter, so Peter he becomes. Stiles tells his Dad and Scott that he's adopted a dog, not a wolf. Especially not a weirdly intelligent wolf that prefers classical music over anything else, or that he actually prefers his steak medium rare instead of raw.

It becomes just one more of those things that Stiles just doesn't talk about.

There are a lot of those these days.

- - -

One day Scott comes out to the house for the first time since Stiles moved in. They aren't as close as they used to be. Stiles doesn't blame Scott for the accident that crippled him, he never did. That doesn't stop Scott from feeling guilty though, no matter how many times Stiles tells him to just let it go.

So it hovers over them. Stiles finds that he can only tolerate Scott's guilty puppy eyes for so long before he just wants to punch him, so they usually do things. Go to eat, go to movies. They went bowling with Allison and Lydia once when Lydia was on break from MIT. Stiles is still pretty good at bowling, but the movements exaggerate his injury, and it makes Scott's puppy eyes worse. They haven't done it again.

Dad goes with him once a month. They've joined the Sheriff's Dept team and compete against the Fire Dept and both of the local hospitals have teams. Melissa McCall likes to heckle them from the sidelines when they're playing. She's on the Beacon County Hospital team. They're undefeated three years running. Melissa is very proud.

The day Scott comes out to the house, it's unannounced and Stiles had somehow gotten up onto the roof and was prying up rotting roofing tiles with a crowbar and a scowl.

"Dude! What are you doing?!"

Stiles scowls over the edge of the roof at his best friend, "What's it look like?"

"How'd you get up there?" Scott asks curiously.

"There's a ladder around the side. Bring a hammer will you?"

So Scott and Stiles spend the rest of the day replacing damaged roof tiles. After, they watch Gladiator and eat homemade nachos because Stiles is the Nacho King. Later when Scott leaves after a friendly, back-slapping hug, Stiles heads for bed.

Stiles had thought Peter had left when Scott arrived. That was what he usually did when Dad came out once a week for dinner. He was surprised to find that the big wolf had made himself at home on Stiles' bed.

Stiles scowled, Peter's gaze held no remorse.

So Stiles did what any self-respecting body would do when encountering an immovable object occupying their personal space. He got ready for bed, spent five minutes trying to push Peter out of the way, then gave up and just climbed into bed with him.

This, Stiles will realize later, is when all boundaries between wolf and man begin to fail.

- - -

It takes very little time after that first night sharing Stiles' bed for things to start happening. Stiles has always known that his wolf wasn't just some random wolf that had followed him home one night and then never left. There was more to it than that.

Peter the wolf was haunted. Scarred, silent, gigantic Peter. His Peter that sometimes stared off toward where the burnt out remains of the Hale House still stood. That section of the property that Stiles had refused to buy, and even now, several months later, still didn't go near on his walks.

Sometimes Peter would disappear for days only to return looking haggard. On those days Stiles made himself sit still. No matter how much his leg hurt or how restless he felt, he would sit down with his laptop to write and just let the wolf curl himself around him. On those days Stiles always got the feeling that there was something more human about Peter than wolf.

Stiles took to talking to him. The things he wouldn't tell his Dad or Scott, like how much he resented the fact that his Dad's worry always made him feel guilty or how Scott's misplaced guilt never really let Stiles move past the accident. Sometimes he talked about what he was working on, sometimes about the slow going repairs he was performing on the house.

It didn't matter what he said, Peter always seemed like he was listening.

Late at night, after the good days, but especially after the bad, they would curl up in bed together and sleep. It was the best sleep Stiles had had in a long time. Sometimes, when he wasn't sure if he was awake or asleep he swore he could feel strong arms around him and a face tucked into the back of his neck.

But those were just dreams.

Weren't they?

- - -

It was early. So early that the light coming in through the window was gray and weak. Stiles could hear the birds twittering in the trees outside. The summer was coming to a close and fall was setting in. Stiles knew that there was a chill in the air, knew that if he got out of bed the hardwood flooring would ice out his nice, toasty warm toes as he dashed toward the bathroom.

He wasn't getting up though.

He was warm in his blanket cocoon, wrapped up in the deep comfort only a night of solid, deep sleep could afford you. He allowed himself to smile a little, just a quirk of the lips and he snuggled back into the warm arms surrounding him.

A deep rumble vibrated through his back into his chest and his bed partner pulled him closer. Stiles sighed in content at the close feeling and let himself doze back toward sleep as a nose tucked itself into the crook of his neck.

Stiles would be the first person to admit that he wasn't really a morning person. His lightbulb was a little dim until after his first mug of whatever tea had caught his fancy that week.

So it took a while for him to register that he was in bed with an actual person and not a wolf.

As soon as this realization sank into his subconscious, his eyes flew open and he stiffened up. The body holding him grumbled at the suddenly less pliant Stiles in their arms.

"Go back to sleep," was whispered into his neck, "too early."

"Gotta pee," Stiles whispered back. He wondered why the hell he wasn't freaking the absolute fuck out, but then realized he couldn't be bothered really while he had an inkling of what was going on.

His wolf wasn't normal after all.

"Shhhh, sleeping" was muttered into his neck and the arm around his torso tightened.

"Peter" Stiles said softly, turning a little. It wasn't enough to get a really good look at the man, but he gave it his most valiant effort. He caught a glimpse of brown hair and sleepy blue eyes looking up at him. "My bladder waits for no one, wolf or man."

Peter flinched minutely and his grip relaxed a little, letting Stiles scoot to the edge of the bed where he hesitated for a minute. He peered down at the floor for a moment before he took a deep breath and bolted out of bed screeching 'Cold! Cold! Cold!' as he went.

He took his time in the bathroom. Staring at himself in the mirror as he contemplated what was going on. He wasn't freaking out as much as he thought he should be. There was a strange man in his bed after all... but... was he really a strange man? He'd been hanging around long enough as a wolf that Stiles felt like he knew him.

Peter liked his meat medium rare, enjoyed a good artichoke, but disliked peas and yellow squash. He preferred the side of the bed facing the window and had a thing about the bit of crumbling stairs off the back of the porch.

He knew more about Peter then he felt like he knew about Scott these days.

He squared his shoulders and trundled back into the bedroom. He half expected to see a wolf once again where the man had been. If this was happening now, all those half remembered dreams had been real too.

He was pleasantly surprised to see Peter-the-man still in his bed. Tufts of curly brown hair was sticking up over the pillow and he had the blanket tucked up around the back of his head. Guarded blue eyes were watching him from a handsome face with sharp cheekbones and a strong chin. There was some bad scarring across the right side of his face. It looked like it was healing, as if it used to be so much worse than it was now.

Peter's expression was wary, braced for the sort of pain only rejection could cause.

Stiles couldn't make himself cause that pain. Instead he darted from the rug in the bathroom, across the cold floor and crawled back into bed. He pulled the blankets up over their heads to keep in as much heat as possible and tucked himself into Peter's chest with a sigh as the ache that always came with the cold settled into his leg and upper back, protesting the quick movement to and from the bathroom.

He tucked his feet between Peter's, making the man flinch and scowl even as he pulled Stiles into him.

Stiles tilted his head back to get a good look at the man in bed with him. He was handsome, but he was all sharp angles. A bit underweight, but living in the woods as a wild animal would do that to you.

"Sooo," Stiles offered up between them. "Shapeshifter?"

"Werewolf."

Stiles grinned, that was going to be his second guess. Technically they were sort of the same thing, but semantics. "Bitten by a hairy dude on a full moon?"

"No," Peter chuckled. "I was born this way."

Stiles was a smart man, and the puzzle pieces were starting to slot together. "You're Peter Hale, aren't you?"

There was a pregnant moment of silence. Stiles held his breath and Peter looked the sort of uncomfortable that usually came with visits to (or from) distant relatives.

"I - yes..."

Stiles nodded and then pressed his cold nose into the juncture of Peter's neck. Peter heaved a long suffering sigh, but didn't protest. "That makes so much sense. Did you know you're still listed as missing?"

"I thought I would have been declared dead by now," Peter replied, caution in his tone.

"Nah." Stiles would have shrugged, but he was comfortable now, so he fought the urge, "Derek and Laura call about you every couple of months. Dad keeps your poster on the board because he knows it makes them feel better. So the case is still open."

"What happened with the fire?"

Stiles had gotten extremely curious when he'd started to consider buying some of the property. He had originally considered the main house, but what he had learned had turned him off. Besides, the smaller house even further out in the woods was definitely more his style. What his Dad hadn't told him, he'd found out for himself by snooping into the case file on his own.

"One of the insurance guys Kate Argent paid off to cover up the arson got a case of the guilts and turned himself in. The evidence just kind of poured in after that. Dad managed to link her to three or four other cases in other states, enough to put her on the FBI's most wanted list. Dad wants to be the one to bring her in."

Peter made a noncommittal sound as he took in the information.

"Laura and Derek moved to New York when Laura got accepted to Parsons. I don't think they've ever been back. I dealt with them over the phone when I bought this place."

"Mmmm." It didn't seem to surprise Peter in the slightest that his niece and nephew had never come back to the place where their family had been burned alive. Missing uncle or no, no wolf with any sense in their head would have stayed.

They drifted into silence then. There was a lot they weren't saying. About a lot of things. Now that Peter was no longer a wolf things were different. Life would be different with someone else in the house rather than a large canine animal that avoided other people.

There was a lot to consider (like where Stiles' mind had gone since he wasn't freaking out).

It would wait.

For now they were both content to hide away from the world in the early morning, curled up together in a place that meant safety and less pain to both of them.

- - -

Days pass. Dad comes to visit and Peter makes himself scarce. Stiles' big-ass dog is lying on the couch instead. Stiles doesn't mind. Things are awkward enough with the Sheriff that trying to explain the appearance of an older man with his picture on the Missing board at the station is probably a bad idea.

The gaunt look begins to leave Peter's features. Stiles takes his chance to feed him large quantities of food, especially once he figures out that as a werewolf, Peter's metabolism is faster than average.

An added bonus to feeding Peter? Yeah, he starts to heal. The lingering damage from the fire begins to fade over the course of the next weeks. As summer begins to fade, so do the scars marring Peter's body as his accelerated healing does its job, no longer starved for the energy needed for such a feat.

They read a lot of books together. They go for a lot of walks, man and wolf, man and man.

Sometimes Stiles can't stand having anyone around. When he has a bad day and his leg is more searing pain than throbbing ache. When all he can see in other people's eyes is pity, even when it isn't there. Sometimes he yells, throws things.

He tells Peter to leave.

Peter doesn't. He gets it. Stiles is wounded. Even though it's been so long since the accident, Stiles is changed. He will never be who he was before a late night on a rainy road in junior year. He is angry, he is wounded. He does not have the advantage of werewolf healing to help him get better.

Stiles is never going to get better. So Peter gets it, and he stays.

Sometimes Peter gets quiet. Silent in a way that is unsettling. He gets a far away look in his eyes and Stiles can tell he's reliving the fire, or thinking of the people he lost. The love and the family. When this happens Stiles stays with him. He knows trauma when he sees it, he sees it often enough when he looks in the mirror.

He gives Peter his company, his silent support, and he lets him be quiet.

Slowly they become less like planets orbiting the same sun and more like moons orbiting the same planet. Together, synchronized and harmonious.

- - -

Stiles doesn't realize how integral Peter has become to his daily life until the day he's throwing roofing tiles over the edge of the roof while repairing a few places he'd missed earlier in the summer and sees a dark, scruffy man standing next to his crappy car. The guy has this look on his face like Stiles had just shot his puppy and now he's going to murder him and bury him under the perennials.

Stiles eyeballs him for a second, throws the piece of roofing he's holding toward the pile by the weirdly collapsing side of the steps that he hasn't fixed yet and yells: "We don't want any! Go away."

The guy's very bushy and extraordinarily expressive eyebrows crawl up toward his hairline in a mild sort of disbelief that says this guy can't believe that Stiles is who he found when he came out here.

Stiles has been the recluse in the woods for nearly six months now. Everyone in town knows that the Sheriff's kid (you know, the one with the limp?) lives out on the preserve. Kids under the age of thirteen think he's the creepiest thing since they began daring each other to go out to the old Hale place in the middle of the night. Stiles lives out there. By choice.

Yeah, they're all convinced he's secretly a serial killer that feeds his victim to his giant dog.

Stiles thinks it's hilarious. So does Peter.

"Seriously, dude" Stiles tells the guy. "I don't care how well you rock the leather jacket, this is private property."

Eyebrow Guy says nothing, but now he looks mildly surprised that Stiles is essentially telling him to get off his lawn. If Stiles was that kind of guy, he'd heft a shotgun at the guy, but he's not. Besides, the shotgun is in the house in the umbrella stand he found at that antique/thrift store in town. It's shaped like witches feet, striped stockings and all. Stiles keeps his canes in it, not umbrellas.

He keeps the ammunition for the twelve gauge in a cookie jar shaped like Iron Man's helmet.

There's a long silence. Long enough for Stiles to wonder if he really does have to tell the guy to get off his lawn, before he says anything. "Where is he?" he demands.

"I don't know, where did you leave him?"

Stiles always figured his sarcasm would get him in trouble one day (his dad had money riding on it). He wasn't expecting it today, but it wasn't entirely unexpected either. The guy's eyes flared a bright blue and he snarled, huge fangs flashing.

Werewolf.

Stiles suddenly wishes he hadn't left his cane on the ground hooked over the porch railing.

The werewolf on the ground moves toward the house, and suddenly there's Peter. A big flash of gray and white and black and snarling and absolutely furious.

The guy looks momentarily surprised, and then Peter is on him and they go down in a tangle of limbs and fur and teeth. Stiles' heart leaps into his throat and the only thing he can think about is that that is his wolf down there.

If anything happens to his wolf, Stiles might just live up to that serial killer rumor and bury this dude underneath the irises.

"PETER!"

- - -

Peter is not the forgiving sort. Seeing Derek brings back the pain and horror and hate that seemed to be fading now with Stiles in his life. The moment his nephew makes a threatening move toward the only person he really considers pack ('mate' his wolf says) he attacks.

They go down in a mass of gnashing teeth and claws.

he vaguely recognizes the sound of Stiles screaming his name from the roof, but Peter is not a domesticated wolf. He may have been playing house with a man nearly half his age, may have been becoming more in touch with the humanity buried deep inside again, but that did not make him safe.

It did not make him sane.

Peter let the beast take over. In a flash of snapping bone and teeth the great hulking wolf that Peter was when he found Stiles repairing his house all those months ago is back. Only now he's filled out, no longer malnourished and scruffy. In its place is a strong, healthy wolf bigger than Derek's.

In moments Peter loses that small bit of him that makes an effort at humanity. It doesn't matter that the wolf he's fighting is his nephew, doesn't matter that, as Derek defends himself Peter begins to bleed. The pain doesn't matter, only protecting the only thing Peter finds comfort in does.

Stiles takes the opportunity to get off the roof. He continues yelling at the two wolves going at it on the ground as he does so. He hasn't yelled in this particular panicked fashion since just after the accident. It's kind of refreshing to just scream himself hoarse.

When he reaches the ground he grabs for his cane and heads for the tumble of blood and fangs and fur and hefts the cane just as Derek rolls them. With a loud crack! Derek's head snaps back and he falls away from Peter with a grunt and a wounded expression, staring up at Stiles who is panting heavily and clutching his now broken cane in a white knuckled grip.

"Get off my property."

Derek stares at the human for a long moment, blood dripping down from his rapidly healing broken nose. He's just a human, but Derek can tell from the tight lipped frown and the grip on the cane that this human is ready to impale him on said cane. He looks to Peter then. Peter is crouched, bloody and growling next to the human.

"I want -"

Stiles cuts him off with a gesture "I don't care what you want. I don't care who you are. This is private property, you are trespassing, and you tried to kill my wolf. I will call the cops, and you will be arrested."

Derek stares as, with a cracking of shifting bones, Peter returns to human form and stares at his nephew with eyes like ice. Stiles puts his hand on Peter's arm as the older wolf snarls: "You are not pack. Neither is Laura. Stay away from us."

Peter stalks naked up to the house and Stiles watches Derek get to his feet. Derek watches warily as Stiles pulls out his cell phone.

"I have the Sheriff on speed dial, just so you know" Stiles says conversationally. The look on his face betrays the conversational tone he uses. "I recommend going back to New York Mr. Hale. Peter's not really the forgiving type."

Derek doesn't say anything, but his gaze flickers to the front door, which Peter left open. Then he turns and heads back down the drive in the direction of the Hale House. Stiles watched him until he topped the low hill that marked the edge of the property between the two houses and vanished from view into the trees.

Stiles' gaze sweeps the treeline. He peers down the drive for a minute, then he turned and headed into the house. He abandoned his splintered cane to the pile of old roofing tiles before he hauled himself up the stairs and into the house.

Stiles knows that he is an inherently selfish being. He hopes that Derek doesn't come back. Stiles cares for and looks after those he loves. Loyalty is his default setting, and Peter is his.

- - -

After that everything changes. And everything stays the same. Stiles and Peter remain them. Only, instead of hiding, Peter is there. Stiles takes him to the station to reclaim his identity. This inevitably brings about Peter meeting Stiles’ Dad.

Dad knows Stiles well enough that all he does is just sigh and say “Stiles, no.”

But it is too late. Months too late. The Sheriff knows that.

They don’t see Derek again for weeks. Peter settles into life as a human under his own identity and suddenly Beacon Hills has two recluse psychos living out in the woods. Stiles continues to find it fairly hilarious. Peter likes to encourage it along.

Scott doesn’t like Peter. It’s not that he doesn’t think he’s a good match for Stiles intellectually, it’s that he transforms into a giant ass monster of a wolf. He’s a veterinarian, and animals that size is just wrong and makes his inner vet cringe.

Stiles stopped caring about other people’s feelings shortly after the accident when a doctor told him he would spend the rest of his life in excruciating pain. Scott knows this, doesn’t begrudge it. It makes for some awkward moments, but eventually Scott gets used to Peter being around.

Peter decides to retake the bar exam and get back to being a highly paid lawyer. He deals in locating and acquiring antiquities. Stiles doesn’t get how that works, and it makes his brain hurt, but when Peter undercuts someone else or gets to sue someone who goes after something he shouldn't be because Grandma left them out of the will, he cackles like a supervillain.

Stiles thinks it’s adorable.

After the incident with Derek, they trust each other. In that ‘I would gladly go to prison for murder for you’ way. Which fits the whole being the creepy hermit in the woods the kids (and a good majority of adults) of Beacon Hills have developed.

A few weeks after Peter reclaims his identity Derek reappears. This time, Laura is with him.

Peter is furious.

- - -

The confrontation is inevitable.

Violence is inevitable.

Laura and Derek come back into town just as Judge Carter bangs the gavel and states that Kate Argent doesn’t get bail. She’s a flight risk. Also, she’s being charged with eleven cases of murder, so that might have something to do with his choice.

The Sheriff had been working tirelessly with Peter to put away every single person involved with the Hale fire. Peter wanted to play prosecutor, but he knows he’s still out of practice after so many years. He’s taking several classes to get caught up. So he called in an old school friend and now Kate is facing down one of the best prosecutors in LA.

Laura and Derek slip into the arraignment at the very last minute. Stiles is sitting next to Peter just behind the prosecution. Peter is wearing an armani suit, Stiles is in whatever suit Peter picked for him. He’s twirling his cane in the aisle.

Stiles is very good at looking sinister these days. Between the cane and the limp.

Sheriff Stilinski and two deputies have book-ended Kate into the space for the defense. She looks resplendent in prison orange. Peter finds it fitting.

Peter notices them come in. Of course he does. He’s lived for years in wolf form, his senses are always at their height. He tenses, but chooses not to react. It doesn’t stop Stiles from placing a hand on his thigh.

The argument after Kate is led away in chains is epic. It occurs in the big front hallway of the courthouse where all the marble tile is.

Meaning? It echoes.

Laura makes demands. She’s the Alpha, she’s supposed to be in charge… but Peter isn’t her Beta. He’s not a part of her pack, not anymore. She’s all flashing eyes and anger. Derek is a silent shadow behind his sister. He’s keeping one eye on Stiles as he watches Peter and Laura argue.

Good. He should be worried about Stiles. Stiles wields his canes like weapons. His grip on the one he has with him today is so tight his knuckles are white. It’s a replica of Lucius Malfoy’s cane, and the snake on top is solid pewter with little green glass gems for eyes. Hitting that thing hurts. Stiles should know, he’s landed on it several times after falling over.

He is ready to flip this thing and swing it like a bat if he needs to.

“There a problem here?”

Stiles stifles his grin. Derek quirks an eyebrow at him, so he knows he wasn’t the most successful at it, but he doesn’t care. That is Dad’s ‘I’m the Sheriff’ voice. Stiles loves that voice (when it isn’t aimed at him).

“No” Laura says quickly. She’s angry enough steam might as well be coming out of her ears.

“Yes” Peter says at the same time. “My niece doesn't seem to be taking kindly to the idea that I have no desire to see or interact with either her or my nephew.”

“This the guy you were complaining about trespassing a while ago?”

“Yup” Stiles says, slouching a bit and leaning on his cane.

The Sheriff’s eyes sharpen, he straightens up and suddenly everyone eavesdropping on the argument remembers why this man has been re-elected four times. He eyeballs Derek and then looks at Laura. “I believe Mr. Hale has a right to his request, Miss Hale.”

“This is a family matt-”

The Sheriff cuts her off with a waved hand like he’s telling her that Peter’s not the droid she’s looking for. “You are in a public venue, causing a disturbance. It is very much my business.”

Laura colors. Peter steps back with a little smirk. He’s suddenly very glad Stiles introduced him to his father.

“I’ll ask you to respect my son-in-law’s wishes, Miss Hale, or I will arrest you for disturbing the peace while he files the restraining order.”

A ripple of whispers goes through the bystanders. Stiles grins manically. Laura has a look of open mouthed shock on her face.

Peter heaves a heavy sigh and throws Stiles a look. He’s tired. He’s been staring the past down it’s ugly maw for years. First fleeing and now in helping the Sheriff. He’s just tired. Stiles gets it. He’s tired too. Every time he gets that strangely pitying look whenever anyone sees him walking past.

So Stiles limps forward, laces the fingers of his free hand through Peter’s. “C’mon, let’s go home.”

Peter looks relieved. It’s not outward, but Stiles learned to read Peter’s eyes way back when he thought he was just a wolf. They turn away from Laura and Derek together.

“You coming over for dinner later, Dad?” Stiles asks the Sheriff when they pass him.

“Yeah kid” Dad says with a little grin.

Then Stiles and Peter leave the courthouse.

They go home.


.. fin ..