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Prison Break

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The last time Peter was locked up and abandoned, he went crazy and killed a bunch of people. Stiles can’t understand why anyone would consider it a good idea to repeat history, but then, Scott has never been lauded for his good ideas. The only difference between then and now is the fact that Peter – now pretty much an Omega again – is currently locked up in a box instead of inside his own head.

 

Stiles hated Eichen House when he was there. He can’t imagine Peter having any better a time than he did.

 

So, after the umpteenth argument between him and just about everyone else in the Pack about this particular matter, Stiles throws in the towel and moves on to Plan B.

 

It’s easy to pull the blueprints of Eichen House from the computer archives at the station, and a little fiddling and experimenting and a few casually dropped questions to Danny for advice about hacking gets him the live security footage of that place.

 

After that, his bedroom sees the growth of three full whiteboards’ worth of research and planning, everything from security camera locations to the ventilation system snaking throughout the madhouse to the times and locations of the guard rotations, the latter painstakingly gathered through hours on his laptop and midnight stakeouts with a pair of binoculars.

 

It doesn't help that Peter has been shuffled into the prison wing reserved for the most dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s more heavily guarded, and all the inmates are on something. Peter is pumped full of wolfsbane to keep him docile, and on more than one level, the very thought of it makes Stiles’ gut simmer with anger. It’s not like Peter’s one of those dangerous mental cases who goes batshit at the drop of a hat; keeping him drugged to the gills is just inhumane, plus the guy is sharing breathing space with Valack. Now that’s one creep Stiles would very much like to stay away from.

 

He knows what Peter’s done, but he also heard from Lydia about what happened between Peter and Meredith, he’s reviewed the recording of that little interview himself, and he has to wonder if maybe things would be different – if Peter would be different – had they simply included him more.

 

Because Peter’s never been Pack, not really. He’s been allowed to linger on the fringes, but they only ever include him when they need his brain or his werewolf powers, and then they shove him out again, and do their best to exclude him. Hell, out of all of them, it’s Stiles who’s spent the most time with Peter when they're thrown together for research, and Stiles is virtually not Pack either. He’s the weak human who was possessed by an evil fox spirit and got Allison killed, and these days, Kira and Derek and even friggin’ Liam comes first in Scott’s books.

 

Stiles isn’t stupid. He’s slowly being sidelined by the Pack, and his attempts to convince Derek or Scott or any of the others to let Peter out of Eichen House have only sped up the process.

 

Well, screw them. He doesn't need them. He’s never needed anybody when it comes down to it.

 

But back to the matter at hand – he’s already come up with about half a dozen ways to get Peter out, but all of them include being seen by Peter’s cellmate, and Stiles is not okay with that. The guy will probably raise the hue and cry, or worse, he’ll demand that Stiles free him too, and that isn’t going to happen. Which means he needs to get rid of Valack in the time it takes Stiles to whisk Peter out of there, and that’s where he’s stuck. He’s spent the past seventy-two hours straight trying to figure out what Valack is so that he can discover a weakness and temporarily put him out of commission (Stiles doesn't want to go so far as to kill the good doctor, especially since the death would most likely be blamed on Peter), but he hasn't come across anything except for a few speculations about that third eye causing visions, producing traumatic flashbacks, and transmitting memories, but nothing of which is useful unless Stiles can somehow get Valack to use the eye on himself. Maybe with a mirror, but Valack isn’t that stupid.

 

He briefly considers going to Deaton, but he doesn't want to raise any red flags when everyone finds out that Peter’s gone so Stiles discards the idea. Deaton favours Scott too much anyway, and their resident druid was the one to suggest sticking Peter into Eichen House in the first place.

 

Stiles leans back to stare up at the ceiling.

 

He wonders what drugs the orderlies are keeping Valack on.

 

He wonders what would happen if the guy happens to overdose, not enough to kill, but...

 

He needs Valack’s file.

 

And while he’s at it, he wants Peter’s file too.

 

Stiles is willing to bet that copies of both are kept in Ms. Morrell’s office.

 

 


 

 

It’s easy enough to book an appointment with Ms. Morrell. All Stiles has to do is spout something about lingering PTSD over the Nogitsune issue, confess about the nightmares he’s still having (which is completely true, though he doesn't like talking about it), and the psychiatrist/teacher/counsellor/druid (Jesus Christ, the lady has a disturbing résumé) is more than happy to see him. Ms. Morrell is a big fan of talking about one’s problems.

 

Ten minutes after Stiles is invited in with a smile and a “Good morning, Stiles”, the alarm that signals the escape of an inmate goes off, its shrill ringing immediately setting Ms. Morrell on alert in a controlled I'm-not-panicking-so-you-shouldn't-either sort of way.

 

“Don’t leave this room, Stiles,” Ms. Morrell warns him as she hurries for the door. “No matter what you hear, no heroics today, alright?”

 

Stiles makes a face because it’s expected of him, and he even raises a token protest, but Ms. Morrell levels a stern look at him, and he subsides with a grudging nod. The woman seems satisfied, and without another word, she quickly sweeps out of the room, locking the door behind her for good measure.

 

Stiles is up and across the room by the file cabinets the second her footsteps fade away. There are no cameras in this office, probably for confidentiality reasons, and the locks on the shelves are easy to pick. He even brought gloves for the occasion. There’s a file for every patient in Eichen House tucked inside the cabinets; thank god they're alphabetized or it would take forever.

 

He finds Peter under ‘H’, and a Theodore Valack under ‘V’. He wastes no time flipping them both open and snapping pictures of all the pages with his phone. By the time the sound of the lock on the office door clicks open, Stiles has everything back the way it was before, and he’s in his chair again, left leg bouncing up and down as he leans forward to interrogate Ms. Morrell with fake apprehension.

 

“False alarm,” She announces reassuringly. “Nothing to worry about.” She takes a seat. “Now, you were saying about your most recent nightmare? Could you tell that it was only a dream and not real?”

 

Stiles settles down for an excruciating hour of being shrinked. Well, he has what he came for, and at least now he has confirmation that he can set a timer to trigger the alarms in this asylum anytime he wants.

 

 


 

 

Peter is only allowed visitors once every two weeks, something about not wanting anything to interrupt his rehabilitation. Stiles doesn't know what sort of rehab Peter is getting from a room with four walls and a three-eyed cellmate so he pretty much translates it to mean ‘not wanting Peter to get any ideas about escaping’.

 

It’s been two months since Peter was locked up. Stiles didn't go those first few times, and he knows there were no other visitors either, just like there aren’t any on the sign-in sheet today.

 

When Peter is brought out, his movements are sluggish, and they lack the lethal grace that Stiles has come to associate with the man. Gone are the v-necks, he needs a shave, his expression is somewhat muddled as if someone injected him with a fresh dose of wolfsbane before letting him out into the visitation room, and his eyes are a dull blue with a muted hint of something desperate and feral trying to claw its way out from behind them.

 

He’s handcuffed too. Even Stiles is slightly taken aback by the abrupt desire to do violence that rushes through him when he catches sight of the werewolf. Only slightly though.

 

When Peter spots him sitting at one of the many empty tables (mental cases don’t get many visitors, go figure), a flicker of surprise flashes across his face before it fades away under all the wooziness. Still, Stiles is inwardly relieved when Peter’s gaze seems to sharpen as it zeroes in on Stiles.

 

The guard that brings Peter over sits him down rougher than necessary, and he gives Stiles a skeptical look before moving away again to stand by the door with another man, an orderly, before both of them promptly turn impassive stares on Stiles and Peter.

 

They remind Stiles a little too much of Brunski, even the guard, and he has to hide a shudder. This place gives him the creeps.

 

“Stiles.”

 

Stiles shifts his focus to the man sitting across from him, cuffed hands out of sight under the table, and a strained smirk pulling at his lips.

 

“Hey, creeperwolf,” Stiles greets, mustering a smirk of his own even though it’s the last thing he wants to do in this place. “How’s your stay been in Hotel Crazy?”

 

“Five-star accommodations,” Peter deadpans. “I'm sure you’d know all about it.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees dryly. “Solitary was a particular highlight.”

 

Peter scoffs. Stiles is fairly certain that the werewolf would prefer Solitary.

 

“You don’t look at him, do you?” Stiles mutters, dropping their half-hearted line of banter. Eichen House really sucks the humour out of you.

 

“I don’t make the same mistake twice,” Peter retorts almost scathingly.

 

Which means he made it once. Stiles doesn't ask.

 

“What are you doing here, Stiles?” Peter sighs, apparently short on patience. “Did you need something?” His lip curls. “Did Scott send you? Or Derek?”

 

“No and no,” Stiles reaches into the paper bag beside him and pulls out a few books – Macbeth, a book of crossword puzzles, and a Biology text. He pushes them across the table. “I thought you might be bored in here so I brought you a few things. These have already been cleared by the guards.”

 

Peter’s eyebrows twitch. Eventually, his hands come out from under the desk (Stiles frowns when he realizes that the cuffs are too-tight and embedded with mountain ash) and flips through Macbeth. He does the same with the crossword book, eyes flitting between the pages and Stiles’ face. And then he opens the Biology text, and he stills for just a second before finishing his quick perusal and closing the hardback again.

 

He glances up at Stiles again, one finger tapping idly against the rigid cover of the textbook. Inside, here and there, the pages are marked with Stiles’ class notes.

 

Peter is perfectly aware of the fact that Stiles hates marking up books of any kind. Workbooks and photocopies are fine but not actual texts. If he has to take notes, he uses his laptop or a notebook. He never writes in the margins.

 

The notes aren’t what’s important, Stiles wills Peter to understand. They're just to draw your attention to that particular book.

 

“Well, enjoy,” Stiles says lightly when he sees the guard check his watch. “I’ll see you again in two weeks, okay?”

 

He hesitates, not sure if Peter will rip his face off for what he’s considering, but then he thinks fuck it, it’s a small thing, and without faltering, he reaches across the table to squeeze one of Peter’s hands.

 

Peter flinches a little but doesn't pull away, and after a long tense moment of silence, the werewolf rotates his hand so that his palm is facing upward, and his clawless fingers curl around Stiles’ hand in return.

 

It’s scant comfort, especially for tactile creatures like werewolves, but Peter’s blue gaze flares with life again, burning into Stiles’ eyes with familiar intensity.

 

“Time’s up,” The guard declares flatly, already walking forward, followed by the orderly.

 

Stiles lets go first, though he doesn't retrieve his hand until Peter releases him, slowly enough to seem reluctant.

 

“Two weeks?” Peter enquires as he’s hauled none too gently to his feet. He doesn't seem to notice, too intent on Stiles.

 

Stiles nods. “I’ll come again in two weeks.”

 

He watches Peter go until the man disappears through the door he came through, and then he grabs his now empty paper bag and takes his leave.

 

 


 

 

It takes Peter a disgustingly long time to find it. He blames it on the wolfsbane running through his bloodstream, not to mention he has to be very careful to hide any suspicious activity from his enchanting roommate. The task is more frustrating than he likes – his mind isn’t as clear as he wants it to be, and he knows better than to risk looking Valack straight in the eye again.

 

Peter’s wary enough of that man to not even challenge him for the bed. The very act would be demeaning anyway, although he supposes that having to sleep on the floor without even a blanket is equally humiliating. Nonetheless, he still has too much pride to resort to asking for even the most basic of luxuries. The damn guards around here will probably expect him to beg before they allow it.

 

He can’t tell the exact time in this godforsaken place but he’s pretty sure he gets three meals within a day so he sets his internal clock by that, and he waits for nightfall when Valack is snoring away before he checks the Biology textbook more closely.

 

The notes are largely insignificant. There’s no hidden message in the words, no codes worked into the sentences.

 

It takes him a week and a half before it occurs to him to check the covers. Peter can no longer manage a full transformation, or even a partial transformation, but he can extend a few claws if he pushes himself.

 

Peter’s eyebrows rise of their own accord as he stares down at where he’s peeled back the sheet of paper that was glued against the front cover. The space is only perhaps a quarter of an inch thick but the entire cover has been meticulously hollowed out, and the resulting cavity – if it can even be called that – is just wide enough to fit several dozen mini Ziploc bags all containing a dark powder. Peter plucks out a few of the bags and takes in the message scratched into the inside of the cover.

 

‘Add to V’s dinner. One bag/day.’

 

He arches an eyebrow. What are you planning, Stiles?

 

Peter doesn't know what Stiles is playing at, doesn't know why he visited, or why he touched him, or why – when Peter was close enough to catch a whiff of the boy’s scent – Stiles no longer smells as strongly of Scott and the others as before.

 

He smelled nervous though, uneasy, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that Stiles loathes venturing anywhere near Eichen House. Why he braved the trip anyway for a ten-minute conversation is beyond Peter.

 

And why Stiles has decided to- poison? – Valack is also beyond him. Judging by how many packets there are, it will be a gradual process too, which means... what?

 

Peter cuts a quick glance over at Valack to make sure the man is still asleep before tipping his head back to rest against the wall, letting his gaze rest on the ceiling in thought.

 

There are no windows here. He misses the moon.

 

He misses a lot of things these days.

 

Peter remembers the expression on Stiles’ face when Derek and Scott handed him off to the tender loving care of Eichen House’s employees. The boy looked like he wanted to protest but Peter didn't expect him to. He certainly didn't expect Stiles to come visit him either.

 

And now this.

 

He flexes his right hand. He can still recall the warmth of Stiles’ grip. It’s pathetic how something so simple makes him cling to the memory for comfort.

 

Peter looks down at the worn textbook again. Does Stiles want to give him a reprieve from Valack perhaps? Make the pseudo-doctor sick? He can’t identify the powder, probably couldn't even if his sense of smell was functioning at full capacity. If Stiles wants him to use it to spike Valack’s food, then the boy’s probably made it scentless and tasteless.

 

Well, it isn’t as if Peter has anything else to do in here, and poisoning Valack is definitely not something he’s opposed to. Besides, it’s not like Peter has anything left to lose.

 

Call it payback.

 

 


 

 

Stiles spends a week stalking three orderlies in charge of Peter and Valack’s cell. One of them lives in an apartment building on the sixth floor with a dog. Another has a wife and two kids in a three-story house. The third lives alone in a two-story house.

 

The third it is.

 

Stiles stakes out the third man’s house, studying his habits and routine. Thing is, he has to break in while the guy’s at home because the two key cards he needs – the one that will get him into the supernatural division, and the other that will get him into Peter’s cell – is never far from the orderly. Stiles should himself lucky that the man doesn't go to bed with it.

 

As it turns out, the guy likes to do his own yard work, and he leaves the key cards on the kitchen counter, so it’s easy enough to sneak in through the back door.

 

Then comes the hard part.

 

If the key cards go missing, the orderly may simply put in a request for a new set after thinking he’s lost them, but it’s equally likely that someone will get the locks changed as well.

 

Still, Stiles is resourceful, and he’s the Sheriff’s son. He knows a list of police informants off the top of his head, and at least three of them know how to make a perfect copy of the code in the magnetic stripes. All Stiles has to do is steal the cards, replace them with blank lookalikes, and then switch them back again before the orderly heads in for work the next day.

 

Stiles has to fork over a couple hundred but it’s worth it because the man he tracks down – Beck – knows what he’s doing, and he isn’t one to run his mouth either once money’s sealed the deal. Still, breaking in a second time in the dead of night makes Stiles feel all kinds of jittery, especially when he’s halfway across the yard and trips over a rake that’s been left out, and he just manages to scramble back up and vault over the garden fence right before the orderly’s bedroom light flicks on.

 

It’s a good thing he’s not prone to heart attacks.

 

By the time he’s finished with that phase of the plan, it’s time to go visit Peter again.

 

 


 

 

“What are you doing, Stiles?” Peter murmurs under his breath the next time Stiles – as promised – comes to see him. The two asylum employees across the room stare at them with transparent displeasure but there’s no actual rule around here that states that conversations between patients (prisoners) and visitors have to be monitored. Of course, that doesn't stop the guard from interrupting if the conversation remains private for more than a few minutes, so Peter wants his answers ASAP.

 

“Thought that’d be obvious by now,” Stiles mutters even more quietly. The boy’s shoulders are slightly hunched, and he tugs at his sweater like he’s cold even though there are at least two more layers underneath it that Peter can see. He’s uncomfortable here, and that’s putting it mildly.

 

There are dark smudges under Stiles’ eyes, and his hair looks like he’s run a hand through it multiple times out of frustration or anxiety. But also too, there’s a glint of steel in his eyes, honed and determined in a way that Peter has only ever seen in the boy when he’s running into danger after Scott or Derek or Lydia or any of the others in a bid to save their lives.

 

“’m getting you out,” Stiles says in an almost-whisper, and Peter freezes for all of a second before he forces himself to keep breathing and not alert the men across the room.

 

Peter eyes the boy for a long moment. He doesn't waste time on ‘are you insane’ or ‘it’s impossible’ because when it comes to Stiles, when Stiles puts that brilliant mind of his to any task, the task gets done, no matter how crazy.

 

So instead, he asks, “Why?”

 

The guard across the room drifts forward a few steps.

 

Stiles shrugs. “I know what it’s like to be locked up.”

 

Peter considers this. Stiles does, doesn't he? Knows what it’s like to be shut up in his own head, awake inside but unable to do anything as the Nogitsune used his body to hurt and kill. And the boy has personal experience with Eichen House.

 

Is that the only reason though? Stiles is a lot like him – the boy never lays all his cards on the table either.

 

The guard takes another step, looking tempted to cut Stiles’ visit short. They both notice.

 

“Is there anything I can bring you?” Stiles asks at normal volume this time. “More books? Sudoku?” A cheeky grin surfaces, one that erases some of the stress on his face. “Teddy bear? Chew toy?”

 

Peter rolls his eyes, though he feels a spark of genuine amusement for the first time since he arrived here. “I’d kill for some tea,” He drawls. “I'm afraid the selection of drinks around here is hopelessly lacking when it comes to diversity.”

 

Stiles snorts, a wan smile quirking one corner of his mouth. “Your standards are just too high for this place. Next time, go for the Hilton or something.”

 

“Time’s up.” The guard and the orderly begin approaching them with far more deliberate steps. Stiles’ jaw immediately tightens, and his fingers twitch like he wants to reach for a weapon. Or curl into pseudo-claws.

 

Instead, as they both stand, Stiles fidgets on the spot, flicks a glance at the other occupants of the room, and then swiftly sidesteps the table, only to reach out and grasp Peter’s shoulder.

 

Peter is startled enough, reflexes subdued enough, to let Stiles tug him forward into a tentative hug.

 

He takes all of two seconds to make up his mind. Stiles is offering; who is he to refuse?

 

With his hands bound, he can’t really use them with any sort of dexterity, but he doesn't need to since Stiles is already close enough to him – both in distance and in height – that Peter can simply bow his head, smother his face against the arch of Stiles’ pale neck, and silently drown himself in the boy’s intoxicating scent of coffee and forests after a rainstorm, of cinnamon and the chilly bite of the promise of winter.

 

“I won’t leave you in here.” The words are mouthed into Peter’s skin more than actually vocalized.

 

Peter doesn't say anything in response. He just listens to the thump-thump of Stiles’ slightly elevated but unmistakably steady heartbeat.

 

And then Peter is yanked back, and he almost goes for the offender’s throat, but then he remembers where he is, and with some difficulty, he wrestles down the urge to snarl. Instead, he cranes his head to look back at Stiles even as he’s hustled away again without so much as a second’s chance to say goodbye.

 

Stiles nods once. “See you in two weeks. I’ll bring books.”

 

That’s not a lie either.

 

Peter wants to know why.

 

 


 

 

Stiles is halfway through tracing down the manufacturing company of the uniforms that the orderlies of Eichen House wear when there’s a knock on his window. Fortunately, he’s had the foresight to cloak all three of his whiteboards with some camouflage magic that he managed to pull off after a few days of practice, and all anyone besides himself will see are the bedroom walls behind the whiteboards.

 

He closes his laptop, turns. Isn't surprised when he sees Derek crouched on the ledge outside.

 

He contemplates closing the curtains. And then he sighs because – for whatever reason – he may not take any of Derek’s bullshit but he’s also never denied Derek help when the guy needs it.

 

Besides, now’s as good a time to test another part of his plan as any.

 

He gets up and opens the window. “Hello to you too,” He intones sarcastically as Derek swings inside without a word. “To what do I owe the honour of your magnificently broody presence this fine autumn evening?”

 

A muscle jumps in Derek’s jaw. Stiles sighs again. Rubs a hand over his face. “Spit it out, Derek. I'm not in the mood to play charades with you today. What do you want? Research? Patrol? Bait?”

 

Derek glowers at him. “You're not-” He stops and then starts again. “Scott didn't send me.”

 

Stiles scoffs. “I sort of figured. Scott would've just sent me a text if he wanted anything.” He slouches into his chair. “And he wouldn't anyway, for anything other than research; he doesn't want me involved in all the danger.”

 

He wonders if he sounds bitter.

 

“What do you want, Derek?” He repeats on a tired exhale as he sinks into his chair again.

 

Derek doesn't reply right away, glancing off to the side, brow furrowed. Stiles waits him out. He’s used to it.

 

“...Why do you keep arguing for Peter?” The Beta finally asks, and he makes it sound like the question costs him.

 

Maybe it does. Peter isn’t Stiles’ uncle.

 

Stiles raises an eyebrow. “I know what it’s like being stuck in Eichen House, and let me tell you – the place isn’t gonna win Best Vacation Spot anytime soon.”

 

Derek’s expression darkens but he rallies, “But it’s Peter. He’s-”

 

“-evil, heartless, power-hungry,” Stiles waves a dismissive hand. “Yeah, yeah, I'm sure we’ve all thought it at least once.” He pauses. “I don’t think that’s all he is though, and the last time I really linked Peter with those adjectives, it was back when he was off-the-wall crazy. You know, crazy after being locked inside his own head for six years with nothing but nightmares for company, lying in a hospital bed where any hunter could’ve strolled in and pulled the plug on his life. Literally.”

 

Derek twitches at the reminder. Stiles presses his advantage. “They've got Peter shut in the same room as Valack, you know, and that’s not- that’s torture, Derek, with that creepy-ass third eye in Peter’s face all the time.”

 

Derek grimaces but he only shakes his head. “It’s safer for everyone if Peter’s not running around free. Scott agrees.”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes. “You and I both know that Scott is naively, annoyingly, black-and-white when it comes to his view of the world.”

 

“He’s a True Alpha.”

 

“That doesn't automatically make him King Solomon,” Stiles shoots back. “And it doesn't make him my Alpha either.” At Derek’s eyebrows of disbelief, Stiles rolls his eyes again. “I’ve known Scott for going on a decade now, Derek, and I’ve never once even followed him into a prank, much less into life-or-death situations. If anything, I was the one dragging him into trouble, and then dragging him out of trouble all the time.” He shrugs. “I’d do a lot for him when his life’s in danger, I’d die for him if it came to that, but don’t expect me to go along with everything he says just because he got an upgrade in the werewolf hierarchy.”

 

He glances away at last. “It’s not like he considers me Pack anyway.”

 

Derek frowns. “Of course he-”

 

“How’d you guys do with that witch last week?” Stiles cuts him off, lip curling when Derek stiffens. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Pack business should be shared with Pack, right? And since I didn't get an invite to the party...”

 

He trails off into a silence that speaks for itself.

 

“We handled it,” Derek forces out. “We didn’t-”

 

“-need me, I know.” Stiles leans back and spins himself back to face his laptop. “If there’s nothing else, I think you should leave now, Derek.”

 

“That’s not what I-” Derek cuts himself off this time, looking increasingly bad-tempered as he always does when he’s dealing with Stiles. When Stiles stubbornly keeps his back to the werewolf, Derek heaves a sigh, and a second later, Stiles is the only one left in the room.

 

Stiles stares blankly at his desk for a long minute before getting back to work. He’s got a werewolf to break out of the loony bin.

 

One finger taps against the charm tucked underneath his shirts. Looks like it worked. Like a charm.

 

 


 

 

Peter’s nostrils flare the second they sit down at their usual table, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. “Did they secretly give me a bigger dose today or...?” He examines Stiles more closely.

 

Stiles grins, and it’s a struggle to keep his relief hidden. “Oh good, it works. I wasn't sure, what with the rowan lining this place’s framework- but it works.” His voice dips even lower. “Hides scent and heartbeat, and I’m still working on a few other components. When I get you out, it’s gonna be like you disappeared into thin air from your cell.”

 

Peter appraises him for a long minute, eyes guarded. “Impressive,” He eventually commends. His handcuffs clink against the surface of the table. “But if you don’t mind, I’d prefer getting it all out in the open now – what exactly do you want in exchange?”

 

Stiles makes a sardonically amused noise at the back of his throat. “Nothing. Believe it or not, I'm just trying to get you out.” He stops, surreptitiously tugging his necklace off so that his scent and heartbeat comes back. “I want nothing in exchange,” He reiterates for good measure.

 

More silence.

 

Stiles flattens his hands against the metal-cold table, and then hides them under it when he notices the way they're trembling from too much caffeine and too many sleepless nights.

 

“It’d be nice if you don’t try to kill Scott again,” He suggests. “Or hurt him. Or any of the others. I’d take that as payment.”

 

He glances up. Peter is still drilling holes into him, eyes like blue fire. It makes Stiles nervous so he hurries on with a hushed, “How’s Valack?”

 

Peter blinks once, slowly. A smirk twists his lips. “Enjoying his stay, as always.”

 

Not for much longer is implied.

 

“I take it Scott doesn't know you come here?” Peter continues, casually pleasant.

 

Stiles frowns. “No. And if he did, he wouldn't be able to stop me either.”

 

Peter hums a noncommittal note, still watching Stiles like he’s searching for a specific reaction. “You haven’t seen him lately then? I can only assume you would want to avoid him so that there’s less chance of him finding out, even if you don’t care whether or not he does.”

 

He leans forward, and Stiles instinctively braces himself for the blow. “Is that why you don’t smell like Pack anymore?”

 

Stiles wrenches himself backwards like he’s been physically struck. Okay, he wasn't expecting that, but then, Peter’s an asshole, always has been, so he should have. Still, he’s breaking Peter out of prison; the least the bastard can do is not rub such a recent wound in his face.

 

Anger wells up in his gut, and he hates that he’s already given away how much a single sentence affects him.

 

He shoves himself to his feet, leaves the books he brought for Peter on the table, and moves to take his leave.

 

“Stiles?”

 

Stiles is already turning away, shoulders rigid with fury, and fury is good because it drowns out the hurt.

 

“Stiles, wait-” A hand grabs his forearm, jerking him to a stop.

 

Stiles whirls on the werewolf, yanking his arm out of Peter’s grip as he retorts with a scathing, “I already know I'm not Pack; you don’t have to-”

 

The seething words stall in his throat when he catches sight of Peter’s face. Stiles blinks. Peter looks... taken off guard. He’s frowning as if Stiles’ reaction wasn't what he was aiming for with that barb. Wasn't something Peter anticipated to begin with.

 

Stiles isn’t going to stick around to decipher it. He’s running on fumes, and he’s still pissed off, and-

 

“Problem?”

 

Stiles freezes, his gaze instantly darting over to where the orderly – coincidentally, the orderly he stole from – already has a taser in hand. The guard has his hand on his gun.

 

Stiles moves before he’s consciously aware of making the decision. He summons a winning smile that probably holds more bite than it should even as he slides in front of Peter, planting a hand against the man’s chest to propel him back a step.

 

“No problem here,” Stiles babbles. “Just talking. Having a nice, civilized conversation. No need to get shock-happy.”

 

Because those things hurt. Stiles has firsthand experience with them.

 

The orderly looks at him, and something like recognition dawns on his face. A cruel smirk pulls at his features in a way that reminds Stiles far too much of-

 

“You know, I’ve heard about you,” The guy says. “Brunski mentioned you a couple times.”

 

Stiles’ fingers instantly dig into the fabric of Peter’s shirt.

 

“He said you were a pretty disobedient kid,” The orderly continues. “Had to sedate you more than once, even after he threw you into Solitary since you wouldn't stop mouthing off.” He looks sickeningly entertained. “He gave you a few things to remember him by though, didn’t he?” His gaze meanders down the right side of Stiles’ torso. “All those electric burns; did they scar?”

 

A roaring noise fills Stiles’ ears.

 

He can still feel his muscles seize and contract, his body convulsing uncontrollably on the floor.

 

When he speaks, Stiles is so, so grateful that his voice comes out without wavering in the slightest, bored and detached and borderline robotic. “You two were a regular pair of gossiping old perverts, weren’t you? Too bad he kicked the bucket before you could jack each other off some more over story time.”

 

The orderly’s amusement disappears, replaced by an ugly mottled flush of aggravated humiliation.

 

Stiles bares his teeth in another shark-like parody of a smile, digging his fingernails into his palm. “I still have two minutes with Peter; do you mind?”

 

The orderly gives him a dirty look, but when it becomes clear that Stiles isn’t going to – outwardly – rise to the bait, the man stalks away to rejoin the guard standing against the wall.

 

Stiles swallows hard and turns away as well, but he doesn't let either employee leave his periphery. It takes him a moment to register the fact that he’s still clutching at Peter’s shirt like a lifeline, and then it takes him a few tries before he can force his fingers to let go.

 

“Sorry, I'm- sorry,” He doesn't really know what he’s saying as he smoothes down the slightly scratchy material before stumbling a hasty step back.

 

His head is buzzing. He wants to run. He needs to get out of this hellhole before he dissolves into a full-blown panic attack.

 

A hand wraps around the nape of his neck, and Stiles almost jumps out of his skin.

 

“Stiles, look at me.”

 

His gaze involuntarily rises, and it’s instantly captured by Peter’s own.

 

Peter, who looks ready to commit homicide with extreme prejudice.

 

But all he does is stare back at Stiles, one hand cupping the back of his neck while the other – not able to manoeuvre very far from the first – draws him in by the shoulder into a careful hug, an echo of what Stiles did at the end of his last visit.

 

Like this, Stiles is boxed in by Peter’s arms, but for some reason, he feels perfectly safe, and for a long minute, Stiles just rests his forehead against Peter’s shoulder, not caring about their audience as he breathes in bleach and soap and stale air, and something underneath all that that’s still intrinsically Peter.

 

And then he pulls away, and if his hands are shaky when he reaches up to scrub a hand through his hair, Peter is decent enough to pretend not to notice. Instead, he just untangles his arms from around Stiles’ neck, eyes still steadily focused on his face.

 

“You never said anything.” It’s not a question, and Peter’s voice is too quiet for anyone but Stiles to hear as the werewolf’s fingers brush against his right side.

 

Stiles minutely recoils. Peter lets his hands fall away.

 

“Nobody needed to know,” Stiles mumbles almost defiantly. “Considering the fact that I was being possessed by the Nogitsune at the time, it wasn't important.”

 

Peter looks faintly skeptical but – to Stiles’ relief – he doesn't argue. Instead, he switches topics.

 

“What I said about you not smelling like Pack,” Stiles tenses. “I think you misunderstood. I didn't mean to imply that you weren’t Pack. I only meant that even Scott would get suspicious if you continued avoiding him so blatantly. It would be smarter to follow your usual routine so no one would feel the need to investigate. Your scent is far more... singular these days, and if you ever forget that little charm of yours, my scent would be all over you.” Stiles gets a characteristic leer, as if Peter simply can’t help himself. “Not necessarily a bad thing of course, but...”

 

He pauses, mirth fading as he scrutinizes whatever expression Stiles has on his face. “But you're not the one who’s been avoiding them, are you?”

 

Stiles’ shoulders lift in a half-hearted shrug. He hasn't been avoiding them, but he hasn't been actively seeking them out anymore either. And no one’s noticed the difference.

 

“It’s been a long time coming,” He says as lightly as he can manage. He offers a tight smile that feels wrong on his face even as he puts another foot of space between them. “I should go. Time’s up.”

 

And as if on cue, the orderly from before moves towards them, sneering at Stiles.

 

Stiles glances back at Peter. “See you in two weeks.”

 

He leaves without waiting for a reply. At least he doesn't run.

 

 


 

 

Peter spends the next two weeks after Stiles’ third visit mulling over the most creative way to kill Cernik once Stiles gets him out.

 

Stiles would probably stop him though. Or maybe not. Not after that repugnant man looked so delighted when divulging everything Brunski apparently told him about what was done to Stiles.

 

And Stiles never said a word. Never complained. Hid the scars. Put the Pack before himself, as he’s always done.

 

And that same Pack has apparently kicked him out.

 

Not for the first time, Peter wonders how – even when he was desperate for Pack – he could possibly have Bitten someone as astoundingly dense as Scott McCall.

 

Oh certainly, the boy sees the good in everyone, right up until he doesn't. No middle ground for Scott. It’s good or evil for him, and God help you if Scott decides you're evil because no one else will.

 

Except Stiles apparently, who is infinitely loyal, certainly the brains of any outfit, strong enough to bounce back from a possession that would've left anyone a drooling catatonic mess if not outright dead, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when he needs to.

 

And all of that is focused on Peter now, on getting Peter out.

 

Peter still doesn't understand why, not completely, but he can’t say he doesn't appreciate having someone in his corner for once, especially when it’s Stiles, and...

 

Peter hasn't forgotten the way Stiles automatically stepped in front of him when Cernik brandished that taser.

 

Scott McCall is a fool for giving that up.

 

No matter; his loss, Peter’s gain.

 

Peter does wonder what will happen afterwards though. There’s no way he’ll be able to stay in Beacon Hills and still roam freely; he’ll eventually be caught and thrown back into Eichen House if he lingers in this town, so more than likely, he’ll have to leave. Maybe that’s not such a bad option, all things considered.

 

And from what he’s gleaned, if Stiles hasn't been kicked out, then he’s at least been pushed aside. Sort of like how Peter was, except Stiles’ only crime is being human.

 

Either way, the McCall Pack doesn't want Stiles. Peter has always wanted Stiles, one way or another, ever since he met the boy.

 

He supposes that when it comes down to it, it will be Stiles’ decision in the end.

 

Valack’s grumbling interrupts his line of thought. “Bloody headache.”

 

Peter keeps his eyes on the crossword puzzle in his lap. “Again?”

 

“There’s no ‘again’ if it doesn't stop,” Valack snaps at him, pain obviously depleting that annoying smugness he’s been wearing since day one.

               

Peter conceals a vindictively satisfied smile. “I'm sure it’ll get better. Maybe it’s that eye of yours acting up. You should get it checked out.”

               

Valack just groans, shoots him a venomous glare, and then rolls over on his bed to face the wall.

 

 


 

 

“You look like shit,” Stiles blurts out.

 

Peter does. He looks like death warmed over, and there’s something haunted skulking in his eyes. His hands are out of sight again today. Stiles suspects they're trembling.

 

“Valack gets touchy when he’s in the throes of a never-ending headache,” Peter attempts a smirk. It falls flat. “...I fell asleep. He was waiting for me when I woke up.”

 

Stiles stares in incredulous disbelief for a full five seconds before shaking his head at the sheer sadism of the action. Peter most likely hit a nerve by taunting Valack or something because the werewolf can be a lot like Stiles sometimes in that they just won’t quit when it comes to ridiculing an enemy no matter what kind of backlash they’ll get for it, and Valack reaped his retribution by lying in wait with that unsettling Cyclops eye of his. Waiting for Peter to wake up, open his eyes, and stare straight into it.

 

And of course, the orderlies and guards wouldn't have cared.

 

Jesus Christ, half this town is filled with total whack-jobs.

 

“Freak,” Stiles mutters. He scrutinizes Peter for a moment longer before getting up and rounding the table. “Scoot over.”

 

Peter blinks, listless and even a tad manic, but after a vacant moment of outward incomprehension, the werewolf shuffles over to make room for him. It’s a tight fit, squishing together on one bench, but Stiles is pretty sure that’s what Peter needs, so without another word, he sits down and plasters himself against the werewolf.

 

Peter is as tense as a coiled spring, every muscle locked with fight-or-flight instinct. Stiles remains silent, merely crowding in even closer.

 

Six minutes and forty-two seconds later, Peter makes a low, hurt sound at the back of his throat, so faint that Stiles only hears it because he’s literally inches away from the werewolf, and then Peter is leaning into him, sagging against Stiles’ shoulder with a shuddering intake of breath as his hand – cold to the touch – fumbles for Stiles’ under the table. Still without making a fuss, Stiles just laces their fingers together and hopes that his own body heat will be enough.

 

They spend most of that visit in silence, but it’s a companionable one, and when the ten minutes are up, Stiles is relieved to see that at least some of the shadows have been chased from Peter’s eyes.

 

 


 

 

Stiles gets mauled on a Friday afternoon.

 

Well, ‘mauled’ is exaggerated, but after a rogue Omega blindsides him before Stiles can throw her off, threaten her with fire, and scare her out of town, he has to limp home with a bloody arm, new claw marks down his back, and a shredded sweater and shirt.

 

He picks a fight with Scott five minutes after he mops up all the excess blood. He considers it a minor miracle that Scott answers his phone at all.

 

“Why didn't you tell me there was a rogue Omega running around?!” Stiles demands the second the call connects.

 

He can practically feel Scott’s disapproval. “Stiles, you shouldn't be going after dangerous-”

 

“I wasn't running after anything!” Stiles shouts down the line. “I was ambushed on my way to the supermarket! And if you tell me this sort of shit like you're supposed to, I could've actually been prepared!”

 

“Well you're okay, right? Nothing happened? What about the Omega? You didn't kill her, did you?”

 

Stiles scoffs at his reflection in the mirror, twisting to examine his back. “Oh, I'm fine. Peachy. And the Omega’s gone. I chased her out of town.”

 

“You should've called one of us to handle it, Stiles. You're human; it’s not safe-”

 

Stiles hangs up on him. Scott only calls back once. Stiles doesn't pick up.

 

 


 

 

“You're injured,” Peter accuses the second he lays eyes on Stiles, good mood already plummeting.

 

Stiles makes a face at him as he gingerly sits down. “Your powers of observation are exceptional, Peter.”

 

Peter doesn't snark back, absorbing instead the way Stiles holds himself uncharacteristically still, his left arm tucked close to his side while his right hand unconsciously rubs at the blue-purple bruise already fully blossomed across one cheekbone.

 

“What happened?” Peter asks tersely.

 

Stiles just shakes his head. He looks tired, even more so than before. “Rogue Omega. It’s been taken care of.” A glimmer of anger enters his eyes. “They didn’t-” He makes a cutting gesture through the air, but in contrast, his shoulders slump. “Scott didn't tell me there was an Omega in town. I got caught off-guard.”

 

Peter remains outwardly neutral even as his wolf – tied down by the drugs in his system – howls in outrage inside him.

 

He doesn't let it show. Instead, he extends his own hands and wraps them around Stiles’ flailing one. The boy glances at him, sharply. Peter ignores the look, far more irritated when he realizes that he can’t take Stiles’ pain in the condition he’s in.

 

“...You know I've already promised to get you out, right?” When Peter looks up, Stiles is staring at their hands with an odd expression. “You don’t have to- um, you know, pretend or anything.”

 

Peter keeps his expression blank. “‘Pretend’?”

 

“Well, yeah, aren’t you?” The boy chews on the inside of his cheek while attempting to tug his hands back. Peter doesn't let him. “I mean, I appreciate it, now and- and that other time, and I- sort of did it for you last time, this comforting thing we’ve got going on, but by my count, I think it’s two to one now so you don’t have to-”

 

“Stiles,” Peter cuts his babble off with a thin smile. “In all the time you've known me, when have I ever done anything I didn't want to do? When it wasn't a direct order from Derek or Scott, and I had to follow through to stay on their relatively tolerant side?”

 

“I- er, never?”

 

Peter gives him a dry look. “Good answer.”

 

“But you want to get out, so-”

 

“You've given me your word, Stiles,” Peter interjects evenly. “I trust that much.”

 

Stiles still looks mildly baffled, like he has no idea where this sudden bout of trust – or honesty for that matter – came from, like he doesn't realize that Peter can see all the signs of Stiles working around the clock for him and protecting him. Like Pack would.

 

But Stiles’ eyes brighten anyway, the colour of sunlight through a glass of whiskey, and Peter can feel his wolf settle, content.

 

Well, mostly.

 

“Where did you get that?” Peter enquires, motioning at the bruise. Werewolves don’t tend to resort to straight-up punches, especially when they're feral.

 

“Oh, that’s-” Stiles looks slightly sheepish now. “I smacked my face against the sidewalk when the Omega jumped me.”

 

Peter peers curiously at the boy. “Did you rip its intestines out for that?”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes, and most of the remaining tension leaves his frame. “No, you psychopath, she’s still alive. I threatened her a bit, and then told her to leave town and never come back.”

 

“How kind of you.”

 

“Really?” Stiles cocks an eyebrow. “She’s a feral Omega. She’s alone. I didn't kill her, but probably sooner rather than later, someone or something else will.” A humourless chuckle. “But hey, no killing unless there’s absolutely no other way. Beacon Hills policy.”

 

And just like that, Stiles is morose again. The boy notices too because he shifts in his seat and shakes his head like he’s trying to snap himself out of it. “Sorry. I'm not very good company today.”

 

Peter shrugs. He thinks the company’s fine. “Next time, use your judgement, not Scott’s. And if need be, I’ll help you hide the body.”

 

This gets an ironic smile from Stiles. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

“Time’s up, lovebirds,” Cernik jeers contemptuously from across the room. “This isn’t a date.”

 

Peter makes a note to ask Stiles later whether or not he would really be opposed to killing this worthless waste of space. He glances at the boy now, whose cheeks have tinged the faintest of pink, but – inhaling deeply – Stiles mainly just smells of annoyance, immense dislike, vague embarrassment, muted pain from his injuries, and a touch of arousal that Peter knows has always been there in varying amounts ever since the two of them met.

 

Stiles doesn't even object when Peter – careful not to jostle Stiles’ left arm – manoeuvres him forward to leave his scent all over the boy. The charm prevents others from picking it up but it’s still rather satisfying to mark Stiles as his.

 

And Stiles knows it too if his eyeroll is anything to go by. “You're such a possessive bastard,” He mutters, but the words edge on the side of fond, and he leans his weight against Peter for a moment anyway. He’s smiling – small but genuine – when he steps back. “See you in two weeks, creeperwolf.”

 

 


 

 

Stiles needs a getaway car. His jeep is too noticeable, plus someone may notice the vehicle gone from his driveway on the night of the breakout.

 

Lucky for him, he knows a taxi driver who owes him a favour for uncovering new evidence when the guy was framed for manslaughter a few years’ back. Stiles is cashing in all sorts of debts lately.

 

“I only need it for one night, for a couple hours,” Stiles tells the driver – Alfie – over the phone. “I’ll call you again on that day. Just leave the car where you always leave it but unlocked and with the keys inside. I’ll take care of the license plates. It’ll be back by morning, and no one will be any the wiser. All you have to do is turn a blind eye.”

 

Alfie agrees. He knows the Sheriff’s son well enough to trust that Stiles won’t leave any evidence of anything suspicious behind to implicate either of them.

 

With their exit ride confirmed, Stiles moves on to the next bit that needs taking care of. He throws on a dark oversized hoodie that pretty much casts his whole face in shadows, some baggy pants, and heads for the seedier parts of the county.

 

He walks out another hundred bucks lighter but with a pocketful of liquid sedatives from a not-quite-legal walk-in clinic.

 

After that’s done, he waits until his dad gets a case that will require an entire weekend spent at the station before catching the next bus out of town.

 

“I need a fake passport and new ID; the works,” Stiles says without beating around the bush the minute he arrives on the doorstep of a woman in her mid-twenties with a fox-like face and streaks of red in her long brown hair. Her name is Piper, and Stiles once drove her to the hospital when he stumbled on her in a back alley bleeding out from a knife wound to the gut.

 

Piper lets him in, an air of mischievous amusement cloaking her as she ushers him into a back room. “Planning to go on the run, sweetie?”

 

“It’s not for me,” Stiles fumbles for a picture of Peter, one that was taken on Derek’s birthday several months back when even Allison was still alive and Cora was in town. Peter showed up (he claimed for the cake), and it was only because Stiles insisted on taking a group photo that the older man was in it at all.

 

“Hmm,” Piper studies the photograph, one purple nail tapping against her lower lip. “Do you have an electronic copy? The werewolf eyes will have to go. What colour are they?”

 

“Blue.”

 

“Blue eyes with a face and body like that – this guy’s unfairly gorgeous, isn’t he? I’ll have to adjust things a bit to make it work...”

 

“But you can do it?” Stiles prods as he produces a USB.

 

Piper huffs out a laugh and ruffles his hair. “Sweetie, I make counterfeits for a living; of course I can do it. When do you need everything by?”

 

Stiles does a bit of math in his head. “One week would be ideal. I know it’s short notice-”

 

“Consider it done,” Piper promises. “I’ll have them ready in a week’s time.”

 

Stiles grins, relieved and grateful. He digs into his bag again. “You're a goddess, Piper. How much-”

 

“No,” Piper folds a hand around Stiles’. Her expression is firm. “No money. You don’t pay here.” She flicks his forehead with one finger when he opens his mouth to protest. “You know better than that. Now, are you staying the night or do you have to leave right away?”

 

Stiles sighs in defeat when Piper simply steamrolls any arguments he wants to make. “I’ll, uh, stay, if you don’t mind. I don’t have to be back until tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Awesome!” Piper slings an arm around him. “I’ll start on dinner.”

 

Stiles ends up having to dash for the fire extinguisher to put out the stove after Piper accidentally sets the pasta ablaze, and by the end of it all, they have to order takeout in a sea of white foam, but the entire incident also makes him laugh for the first time in months (Piper pouts at him until she has to give in to the humour of the situation too), and it’s a story he can bring back to Peter just to see if he can get a laugh out of the werewolf as well.

 

 


 

 

When Stiles sweeps in through the door, no longer smelling like pain, there’s a frazzled energy about him that seizes Peter’s attention even faster than usual.

 

“Hey Peter,” Stiles greets him with a perfunctory touch of his hand against Peter’s wrist. He seems a little distracted, though he does spare a second to roll his eyes when Peter snags his arm before he can withdraw too far.

 

Peter ignores him, wrinkling his nose instead as he hitches up Stiles’ multiple shirtsleeves and runs a palm up his arm because the boy smells especially strong of a stranger today. A female stranger if the lingering traces of perfume and- well, female, is anything to go by.

 

“Down, boy, I just went to visit a friend,” Stiles tells him with more than a little exasperation.

 

Peter growls softly at him. Excuse him for feeling territorial. He’s had nothing but four walls and Valack’s griping to occupy him for the past two weeks. And half the time, the wolfsbane makes him too woozy to even concentrate on the books Stiles brought him.

 

“For business,” Stiles adds in even quieter tones. The gleam in his eyes sharpen. “Preparations are just about complete. Two more weeks, Peter.”

 

The acute surge of yearning that rears its head inside Peter is near painful. He takes a precise breath before turning his mind onto a few important points he thinks he should bring up just in case. “Bring glue.”

 

Stiles blinks in bemusement. “What?”

 

Absently, Peter brushes a thumb over Stiles’ pulse point beating in one delicate wrist. It’s steady. No fear.

 

“Glue,” He repeats. “For the textbook. Or another copy to replace it.”

 

Stiles catches on within seconds. “Right, for the-” He looks like he wants to slap himself. “I was just gonna take it with us but that would be suspicious.” He frowns pensively. “I’ll bring another copy. That’s safer, and less time-consuming. Anything else?”

 

“Valack’s eating less,” Peter imparts succinctly. “There are still thirteen bags left but I don’t think I’ll be using them all before he’s sick enough for the doctors to move him to the infirmary.”

 

“That’s fine,” Stiles assures. “I’ve hijacked the security feeds in this place; if he’s removed early, I’ll know, and that’ll be the night I break you out.” His lips purse as his gaze roams over Peter’s face. “The cameras are only located in the hallways though. I can’t see the inside of the cells or anything.”

 

His left hand twitches like he wants to check Peter for a fever but he aborts the action at the last second.

 

“You haven’t been seeing eye to eye with Valack again, right?” Stiles asks instead, mirth flitting briefly at the corners of his mouth.

 

Peter snorts at the terrible pun. “I haven’t. Valack’s been too busy trying to sleep off a migraine to bother with anything else.” He cants his head to the right. “Cernik over there has been giving me sideways looks. He’s a very paranoid man, that one.”

 

“I’ll say,” Stiles agrees. “I tripped in his yard and he was out of bed almost before I got over the fence.”

 

Peter’s eyebrows rise. He’s all for setting Cernik’s house on fire or something equally gratifying but it seems a rather large risk to take at the moment.

 

“I need his key cards,” Stiles explains in a low mutter. “I knew someone who could make copies so...”

 

He shrugs. Peter nods, silently impressed. “And you have a definite escape route? Like you said, the security cameras don’t show everything.”

 

Stiles smirks slyly at him. “They don’t, but the blueprints do. I stole them from the station weeks ago.”

 

Peter almost laughs. Oh he does love this boy. “You would make a singularly terrifying criminal, Stiles.”

 

“Uh, I think I already am,” Stiles remarks with a rueful grin. Peter has to concede that point.

 

“Time’s up!” Cernik barks even though Peter is fairly certain that only eight minutes or so have passed. This particular orderly honestly seems to have it in for them.

 

That’s okay; Peter has it in for him too.

 

“See you in two weeks,” Peter says as they stand. After a moment of consideration, and with a fleeting smirk, he brings Stiles’ wrist to his mouth and presses his lips against it before nipping at the suddenly jackrabbit-fast pulse fluttering under warm skin.

 

Stiles stares at him with wide eyes even after Peter lets him go with a chuckle.

 

“Freaks,” Cernik sneers as he shoves Peter towards the door.

 

Peter’s last glimpse of Stiles is the fetching shade of red dusting his cheeks combined with a very disgruntled scowl aimed in his direction.

 

It makes him laugh under his breath. Not even Eichen House can dampen his mood for a good long while after such a sight.

 

 


 

 

“You didn't think a witch running around carving out people’s hearts is something I should've known about?”

 

“We didn't think she was going to go after you!”

 

“I have a Spark, Scott. Witches love that sort of thing, you know that!”

 

“But she didn't even know about you-”

 

“You don’t know that! Jesus Christ, Scott, is it so hard to keep me in the loop?”

 

“We’re trying to protect you! You're just human-”

 

“You know what? Just shut up, shut up, I'm not having this conversation again. You want it this way? Fine. Keep me out of your little supernatural fellowship but don’t you dare come to me for anything ever again. I'm not the fucking sidekick you call on every time you need something from me, and then shuffle me aside again once you get it. I won’t play bait for you again, and you can forget about dumping all the research on me every time a new threat crashes this town. I'm done.”

 

 


 

 

“I need the car tomorrow night.”

 

“Roger that. The keys will be inside. I do hope you won’t be breaking too many laws.”

 

“That’s for me to worry about. Thanks, Alfie.”

 

“No prob, kiddo. I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing. Just have it back by morning.”

 

 


 

 

“Thanks, Piper. I seriously owe you one.”

 

“You owe me nothing, sweetie. Now go get your wolf.”

 

 


 

 

Stiles takes a deep breath before checking the contents of his duffle bag one last time.

 

Tonight’s the night it all goes down. Everything is in place.

 

Valack was carted out an hour ago, convulsing and frothing at the mouth.

 

Stiles picked another fight with Scott and his Pack – not exactly a rarity these days – a few days ago before storming out, returning home, and ringing his house with mountain ash and wards. Derek came by once; the word should be out that Stiles’ house is no longer werewolf-friendly.

 

His dad is pulling a night shift and won’t be back until ten o’clock tomorrow morning.

 

The taxi’s waiting for him two blocks down.

 

Peter’s new identification and personal history are stored in the back of Stiles’ closet.

 

A charm hangs around his neck, and he has another ready for Peter.

 

And all the security cameras in Eichen House have been switched to a video loop of an average night at the nuthouse. None of the monitors will be streaming live until he switches them back.

 

Stiles himself is about as prepared for this as he’ll ever get.

 

He checks his watch. 12:15am.

 

Time to go.

 

 


 

 

Peter is already up and waiting for him by the time Stiles unscrews the vent cover that leads into the psych ward for supernatural guests, slithers to the ground already decked out in a set of blue scrubs, replaces the cover, and then makes a beeline for Peter’s cell, doing his best to tune out the screams and howls coming from a lot of the other secure units.

 

The key cards work like they're the originals, and his eyes find Peter’s the moment he steps inside.

 

“Nice outfit,” The werewolf comments as Stiles hurries forward to unlock the Plexiglas door.

 

“Precaution,” Stiles retorts, tossing his bag at Peter once the door swings open. Peter – even doped up on wolfsbane – doesn't waste time switching out the textbooks, stuffing the half-ripped one with all the Ziploc bags into the duffle and lobbing the second one back onto the floor in its stead.

 

“Put this on,” Stiles instructs, thrusting a second charm at Peter. The werewolf loops the cord around his neck with one hand while the other pulls out a pair of gloves and four syringes from the bag.

 

He arches an eyebrow as he pulls on the gloves. “Poison?”

 

“Sedatives,” Stiles corrects dryly as he slings the duffle onto his back under the scrubs. He checks the time. “We wait three minutes. Stay in there.”

 

He ducks back out, closes the door, and hunches down in the far corner where he won’t be seen through the small barred window built into the outer door. Peter squats back down against the wall, casually hefting Macbeth.

 

Stiles glances at the single bed. “...They didn't even give you any-” He cuts himself off. He has an abrupt urge to burn this place to the ground. Well, even more of an urge than before.

 

Peter glances at him, expression tightening momentarily before loosening up again. “It doesn't matter. I’ll take your bed tonight.”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes but doesn't dispute that. He was already planning to let Peter sleep off the wolfsbane in his room even before he registered the fact that the man has had no bedding whatsoever in all the time he’s been here.

 

“What will you do about the rowan in the framework?” Peter enquires after a few seconds of silence.

 

Peter is not normally so slow on the uptake. Stiles motions at the charm around the werewolf’s neck. “What exactly do you think that’s for? I told you there was a few more components I still had to work into it, didn’t I? So long as you're wearing that, you can pass over any mountain ash line.”

 

Peter looks first at Stiles before glancing down at the charm with new intrigue. “It must've taken a lot of trial and error.”

 

“No kidding,” Stiles tugs off one of his gloves to show Peter the welts crisscrossing his hands whenever his magic backfired on him over the past two weeks. The lack of heartbeat and scentless aspects were easier to figure out. On the other hand, the camouflage Stiles attempted to install didn't work out so well on moving objects. “But it worked, and that’s what matters.”

 

Peter looks like he wants to say something, but then his gaze flicks over to the door, and both of them hastily pipe down, the werewolf immersing himself in Shakespeare while Stiles makes himself even smaller, eyes glued to his watch.

 

“Okay,” Stiles clambers to his feet once the guard has done his round (not even bothering to peer too closely into the cell). “Let’s go.”

 

He locks both doors behind them, and then they're off down the hall, Stiles leading the way. There’s only one hitch before they get back to the safety of the ventilation shaft.

 

 

“-terrogate Hale. He must be responsible. Valack’s never had an allergic reaction to the drugs before!”

 

“Fine, but don’t leave too many marks. It’s visitation day tomorrow.”

 

“What can one boy do? That kid was an inmate of this place not long ago. Still belongs in here if you ask me, getting cozy with a werewolf of all things. Can’t believe his father’s the Sheriff. The poor man must be so disappointed to have a son like that.”

 

Huddled together in a utilities closet, Stiles has to suppress a mangled sound as all the air freezes in his lungs, and his fingers dig into the doorframe until it creaks.

 

A gloved hand wraps around the back of his neck. Stiles’ head jerks up, and he meets electric blue head-on right up until Peter invades his space even further, mouth at his ear, “I could kill him right now. It wouldn't even be for you per se; think of it as doing the world a favour.”

 

This startles a choked laugh out of Stiles, swiftly strangled before it can fully form.

 

“No killing,” He whispers back, barely audible even to himself. “Just-”

 

Peter sighs but raises a syringe with a put-upon air. Stiles nods.

 

They wait until whoever it is Cernik was talking to walks away, and once the orderly’s shadow passes the closet, Peter pushes the door open, glides out like a particularly frightening shadow, and jabs the needle into Cernik’s neck from behind with a lot more force than strictly necessary.

 

Cernik never even sees it coming. He crumples like a sack of potatoes, and Peter quickly grabs him and unceremoniously stuffs him into the closet.

 

“Peter?” Stiles prompts when Peter doesn't close the door right away.

 

Peter glances at him, turns back, and then his foot swings out. Hard. This close, Stiles can hear at least two ribs snapping clean in half.

 

And then, coolly, Peter shuts the door.

 

Stiles throws his hands in the air. “You psychopath.”

 

“I didn't kill him,” Peter defends serenely as they continue down the hallway.

 

“You're lucky he’s practically been tranquilized into a coma,” Stiles hisses back. “Or he’d be screaming blue murder right about now.”

 

“I have faith in your most likely illegally acquired drugs,” Peter assures with a sharp smile, and that is so not the point here.

 

There’s no time for further debate though, especially when they reach the vent, and Peter lurches sideways against the wall, blinking rapidly for a moment.

 

“Peter-” Stiles catches him by the elbow to steady him.

 

“I’m fine,” Peter grits out. “Are we going through there?”

 

“Yeah, hang on.” He bends down and unscrews the vent again. “You go first. It widens out up ahead, splits into three directions. There’s one more thing I have to do so I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

 

Peter nods, doesn't argue. Stiles waits until the werewolf disappears inside, and then he slips away up the hall again, not stopping until he reaches the infirmary.

 

No one but Valack is inside, strapped to a bed, and the three-eyed sadist is dead to the world. Stiles ghosts over to the desk, and the report he’s looking for is right there in the fax machine, listing out the substances in Valack’s bloodstream.

 

Stiles swaps it out, leaving behind a report that says nothing that isn’t already supposed to be there has been discovered. By the time anyone thinks to retest it, the poison in Valack’s system and even the blood sample the doctors took will have dispersed.

 

That done, Stiles is gone from the room and jogging back down the hall again, slowing to a walk and making a show of being immersed in the report in his hands as he passes a security guard heading the opposite way.

 

The people who work here are all creepy as fuck. Nobody talks unless they have to, and the guard doesn't even slow down or try to make eye-contact as they walk past each other.

 

“What is that?” Peter asks, some of the tension noticeably draining from his features once Stiles has joined him in the vents.

 

Stiles is stuffing the file into his duffle. “Valack’s toxicology report. An electronic copy’s still saved on the hard drive but this entire place runs on the same computer system so I just have to go home and infect the whole thing with a virus.” He closes the bag and juts his chin to the right. “That way.”

 

It takes them approximately seventeen minutes to get outside with no one any the wiser that one of Eichen House’s inmates has flown the coop.

 

Peter staggers the moment he hits the frost-stiff ground, chilly night air all around them, star-studded sky above, moonlight peeking through the clouds, and his eyes flash blue as his wolf struggles to the surface against the wolfsbane.

 

“Come on, Peter, just a little longer,” Stiles coaxes, leading him away from the place that’s been his prison for so many months. He half-drags, half-supports the werewolf to the taxi waiting in the shade of a looming tree, bundling him into the passenger seat before running around to slide behind the wheel.

 

“Traded in your jeep, I see,” Peter gasps out as Stiles pulls off his facemask, starts the car, and pulls away from the curb. He drives with the head- and taillights off.

 

“I know the driver,” Stiles expounds, keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror. “He owed me a favour for keeping him out of jail.”

 

A wheezy laugh answers him. Peter’s head lolls against the headrest. “Do you make a habit of helping criminals?”

 

“I should probably add that he didn't actually do anything wrong,” Stiles tacks on as he takes a left. “He was framed, and I was a nosy kid who liked to snoop through the Sheriff’s case files. Things worked out for everyone. Well, except for the dude who actually committed the crime. He’s serving a life sentence at the moment.”

 

He side-eyes Peter when he doesn't get a reply right away. The man has his eyes closed now, sweat beading his forehead.

 

One hand remaining on the steering wheel, Stiles reaches over and clasps his shoulder. He’s surprised when he feels Peter relax under his grip.

 

“We’re here,” Stiles gives the werewolf a gentle shake as he pulls up to the house two down from his. The residents work night shifts at a hotel. He hesitates. “I need to return this car. Do you need help getting inside?”

 

Peter’s eyes flutter open, his chest expands with a shaky breath. “No, I can do it.”

 

Lie.

 

Without a word, Stiles gets out of the taxi, slaps a chameleon sigil against the hood, and then circles around to help Peter out. “There’s no shame in asking for help,” He grunts as he hauls Peter up the street.

 

“That’s rich, coming from you,” Peter pants out as they stumble towards Stiles’ front door.

 

“Yeah, we’re just two peas in a pod,” Stiles snarks back as he manhandles Peter inside. “Now shut up and concentrate on getting up the stairs. You're too heavy for me to carry.”

 

He manages to lever Peter onto his bed once they've made it into his bedroom. “Stay here, don’t go anywhere. I’ll be back soon.”

 

He gets a limp wave of one hand. Good enough.

 

The camouflage over the car slithers off like water the moment Stiles peels away from the curb again. He makes a mental note to work on that piece of magic when he has more time.

 

The getaway has been a complete success, barring Cernik’s... er, accident, but Stiles was prepared for that to happen. Well, Peter’s little bout of violence was overkill but whatever. It’s not like Stiles didn't want to get a few kicks in himself; he just has better self-restraint.

 

Now they only have to weather the fallout.

 

 


 

 

Peter only needs one glance at the sky to realize that it’s three days before the full moon. He wonders if Stiles planned it that way, so that Peter wouldn't have to suffer through another one in a room where no moonlight is able to reach, and the consequential aggression nullified by the wolfsbane, and then he shakes that thought away because of course Stiles planned it that way.

 

He’s dizzy from being outside – from being free – at last, but eventually, he does manage to prop himself up against the headboard, the smell of Stiles all around him, and it feels a lot like safety.

 

He’s gone soft from his time in Eichen House.

 

Gradually, he becomes more aware of his surroundings. More importantly, he notices the walls of information pinned up all around him.

 

Blueprints covered with scribbled calculations are spread out across one whiteboard, details of Peter and Valack’s drug intake, of Cernik’s house layout, of guard rotations, mealtimes, and of which orderlies are responsible for which prison cells are scrawled out in Stiles’ handwriting on another, and the timeframes, five different escape routes, three contingency plans in case things went south, and a list of materials needed for the actual breakout are painstakingly jotted out on the last.

 

Peter is pretty sure that he’s genuinely at least a little bit in love. Who else in the Beacon Hills Pack would be able to pull off something like this, had they the desire to do so in the first place?

 

The sound of the front door opening distracts him, but he recognizes Stiles’ footsteps, and if he knows the boy at all, he’s certain that Stiles has a ring of mountain ash already surrounding the house. Probably wards too. Nobody in the McCall Pack will be getting to Peter without Stiles’ say-so.

 

“Peter?” Stiles bursts into the room like he thought Peter would be gone. “Right, how are you feeling?”

 

“Spectacular,” Peter declares, and gets a punch to the arm for his efforts. Compared to when he was in the madhouse, he does feel pretty spectacular.

 

Stiles just huffs at him as he strips out of those god-awful scrubs, leaving familiar plaid behind. And then he starts tearing everything down.

 

“Burning it all?” Peter enquires, and yes, he knows that that’s the smart thing to do, it’s something he’d do himself – leave no evidence behind – but it’s still a shame to see the destruction of all that ingenuity.

 

“Yeah, I'm getting rid of everything,” Stiles confirms as he dumps a handful of paper into a bin. “Even the textbook. Even the bag.” He glances over at his desk. “I’m thinking I should smash my laptop too while I'm at it. Which reminds me, I'm not quite done with Eichen House yet.”

 

He looks pained by the future loss of one of his electronics even as he opens his laptop and starts typing, probably already calculating the cost of a new computer in his head.

 

“I’ll buy you another one,” Peter says. He’ll buy Stiles the best one on the market. It’s the very least he can do.

 

Stiles waves a dismissive hand. “Don’t worry about it. I can-”

 

“It wasn't an offer,” Peter cuts him off.

 

Stiles pauses, craning his head around to study Peter with a searching gaze. “...Is this... You realize I don’t expect payment, right? I don’t want payment. I got you out because I wanted to. I’ve pretty much cut all ties with Scott and the others because I disagreed with their treatment of you, and that’s not something...” He glances away, and then looks back again, eyes like liquid gold under the shaft of moonlight streaming through the drawn curtains. A wry smile curves his mouth up. “I like you enough to do this for free. Who else will I have to banter with if you're not around anymore?”

 

He turns back to his laptop. Peter examines the ceiling for a long minute. “...I didn't mean it as payment.”

 

“No?”

 

“No,” Peter hoists himself off the bed, ignoring the twinges that make his muscles ache. He saunters over to Stiles and drapes himself over the boy’s shoulders, smirking when he hears the uptick of Stiles’ heartbeat.

 

“Contrary to popular belief,” He murmurs silkily, his lips brushing one ear. “I can be nice without an ulterior motive. And I’ve said it before, Stiles – I like you. I mean that honestly, and not just because you got me out of that hellhole. Although you can’t really begrudge me for feeling some gratitude towards you, can you? Anyone else would encourage it.”

 

Idly, he traces a finger down the back of Stiles’ neck, along the knobs of his spine, enjoying the way Stiles shivers under his touch.

 

“...You know, you're taking the bad touch to a whole new level these days,” Stiles’ tone is as dry as a desert, and Peter grins, not bothering to pull away since Stiles has made no move to shrug him off.

 

Stiles sighs and spins around in his chair, knees knocking against Peter’s legs. He tilts his head to the side, leaving his neck subtly bared, and Peter really can’t be blamed for getting distracted by that pale column of smooth unmarked flesh. When he manages to drag his eyes back to Stiles’ face, the boy’s mouth is curved up into a smug, knowing smirk.

 

Brat.

 

“If you're well enough to creep on me, go take a shower instead,” Stiles orders bossily. “I need to burn your clothes. And go shave off that scruff while you're at it. Seriously, it looks like a furry animal’s latched on to your face.”

 

Peter rolls his eyes, knows the words are a deflection because despite the waft of arousal coming from the boy, Stiles isn’t quite ready to jump into the potential of what this thing between them that’s arguably been festering since they met can become. They've only just recently cemented some trust between them, which is a rather huge step forward considering they've only had snark and a wary, mutually beneficial sort of friendship before, especially on Stiles’ part.

 

So he steps back, gives Stiles the space he needs. Besides, a hot shower and a shave do sound a bit like paradise to his weary body right about now.

 

He heads for the bathroom. He calls back, “I'm buying you that laptop.”

 

A wordless grumble. Behind him, the click-clack of the keyboard picks up again.

 

 


 

 

Seven hours later, Peter is tossing and turning in Stiles’ bed, freshly shaven but drenched in sweat as withdrawal hits hard and heavy. Stiles does his best to keep his body temperature down with icepacks but Peter’s already thrown up twice, and he knows that the werewolf will have to ride out the agony of the yellow wolfsbane dissolving from his system over the next twelve hours on his own. There’s nothing Stiles can do to take away the pain.

 

He’s already burned everything that needs burning, he’s even infected his own laptop with a virus that would've made him cry under any other circumstances, effectively erasing all evidence of the premeditated breakout. The garbage bag that he’s stuffed all the remaining ashes into along with two days’ worth of several different neighbours’ garbage has been warded to prevent anyone from smelling the smoky remains, and is currently sitting outside waiting for the garbage truck to- no wait, it’s here, aaannndd... it’s gone.

 

It’ll be at the town dump before the end of the day, already mixed in with a hundred other identical black plastic bags, and the wards will dispel themselves within six hours. Another six will guarantee the total evaporation of any remaining magical residue. Not even Deaton or Morrell will be able track anything back to him after that.

 

He gulps down another mouthful of coffee. A new charm hangs around his neck, tucked under his clothes. This one doesn't hide his heartbeat; it keeps it steady instead – beating faster when his adrenaline gets going or slower when he’s calm, but always constant – so he can lie to his heart’s content. It also only represses Peter’s scent on him, makes it seem as if he scrubbed especially hard every time he took a shower instead of removing it completely. The orderlies are sure to let all parties know that Stiles has been visiting Peter regularly for several months now, and no one would think it illogical for Stiles to want to keep the visits a secret given their differences of opinion.

 

He checks his phone. Someone will call soon. Or text.

 

In front of him, Peter releases a weak moan, hazy eyes staring blindly at nothing.

 

Stiles cards a comforting hand through the werewolf’s hair. It settles Peter, if only for a few minutes.

 

He sits back. He waits.

 

 


 

 

Stiles purposefully doesn't pick up the first two calls that come at nine in the morning on Wednesday.

 

Then a text of :Pick up yr phone!! It’s rly important!: comes, followed by a third call.

 

Stiles answers that one with a flat “What.”

 

He pulls the phone away from his ear when the response comes through.

 

“Stiles! Deaton just called me! Peter’s gone!!”

 

 


 

 

“I was visiting him – I was gonna go again today – but that doesn't automatically mean I magically broke him out from maximum security!” Stiles snaps.

 

They've been at this for four hours now, with Stiles sitting in a chair in Derek’s loft, the Pack surrounding him in a loose half-circle, and Deaton, Morrell, Parrish, and even his own father standing off to one side.

 

“We’re not accusing you of anything like that,” Morrell says soothingly, but Stiles isn’t blind. He’s seen how all the non-werewolves in the room have glanced repeatedly at the human lie detectors every time he speaks to check if he’s lying.

 

The charm is doing its job. Being underestimated is always convenient.

 

“We just want to know if you're absolutely certain that Peter never hinted at an escape of any sort,” Morrell continues. “It seems you've spent the most time with him over the past few months, and Peter may have slipped up at one point or another.”

 

“If you remember anything, you have to tell us, Stiles,” Scott insists earnestly, moving forward. “I know you've never agreed with putting Peter in Eichen House but people like him just- they need to be locked away. Peter’s evil.”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes so hard he’s surprised he doesn't strain himself. “Okay, first of all, Peter doesn’t ‘slip up’. Ever. If he had a way out, there’s no way he would tell anyone about it until he’s at least- you know, out. And second of all, you're the one who said you couldn't even pick up a trail leaving the cell. How are you so sure that Peter broke out? Maybe those freaks working at Eichen House overdosed him on wolfsbane and decided to hide it.”

 

Scott’s features scrunches up into the confused!face that Stiles knows so very well after ten years of friendship. “Why would they do that?”

 

Stiles palms his face. “Scott, it’s not exactly feather mattresses and Jacuzzis twenty-four/seven in there. The orderlies, the doctors, the guards – they don’t care about the inmates. I wouldn't be surprised if they got careless with an injection, accidentally killed him, end up with a corpse on their hands so they need to hide it, and bam! No more Peter. Besides, from what I hear, the place is constructed with a rowan framework. It’s not like Peter could've waltzed out the front door even if he managed to get that far while high on wolfsbane in the first place!”

 

”The employees in Eichen House wouldn't do that,” Scott says confidently. “They work there. It’s their job to look after all the patients. Besides, we found one of the orderlies – he’s the one who told us you were visiting Peter all the time – he was crammed into a closet with three of his ribs broken, and he was sedated. Which means Peter must have figured out a way to escape, and he attacked the orderly while he was at it.”

 

Stiles gives up. He gets to his feet. “Whatever, dude. Bottom line – I don’t know anything. Am I gonna cry myself to sleep over the fact that Peter may have gotten lucky and escaped? Probably not. Either way, I can’t help you.”

 

He makes to head for the door. Everyone converges on him before they can stop themselves. He arches a sarcastic eyebrow at them. “Is that how it is? Am I a detained suspect now?” He glances at his dad. “Maybe I should start thinking about a lawyer.”

 

The Sheriff heaves a sigh. He looks at Stiles with something that’s both tired and resigned. “My son’s answered all your questions,” The man tells the others, arms crossed in that classic no-nonsense don’t-fuck-with-me stance that he’s raised to an art form. “If he wants to leave, you have no grounds to keep him here.”

 

Stiles flaps a hand at his father in a there-you-have-it gesture. “Right, well, I have things to do, exams to study for, a life to live. Don’t call me again, don’t text me again – I'm not done being pissed off at you all.”

 

And with that said, he stalks out of the loft, climbing into his jeep and taking off down the street. He doesn't stop until he gets home, and then he has to rest his forehead against the steering wheel and force down the mother of all panic attacks.

 

That was way too close for comfort. He’s pretty sure that at least Deaton and Morrell knows that he’s had a hand in the whole situation even if they have no proof, and the entire time he was being interrogated, he was afraid that they would whammy him with some truth serum magic or something, and then he would've been screwed. And Derek was silent the whole time but he stared at Stiles with the eyes of someone utterly convinced that Stiles was the one that did the deed.

 

He’s warded his bedroom six ways to Sunday and back to Monday, and the house itself is probably the most protected place in all of Beacon Hills right now, but if one of the Pack convinces his dad to get Stiles to let them in for a look-around...

 

Stiles needs to get Peter out of town yesterday.

 

Peter’s still sleeping off the last of the wolfsbane though. At least his fever went down before Stiles left, and he was slumbering more or less peacefully.

 

Speaking of which...

 

Something tugs at the back of his mind, and instinctively, Stiles raises his head and swivels around to look up at his window. Anyone else would see nothing out of the ordinary. Stiles sees the curtains twitch, and a shadow shifts beyond them.

 

He’s out of his car and inside the house within seconds, speeding up the stairs and into his room post haste.

 

“Peter?” The man is out of bed and just moving away from the window. “Are you alright?”

 

Peter – still looking somewhat haggard but definitely better overall – cocks his head in a distinctly dog-like manner. His hair is damp from a shower, and he’s wearing one of Stiles’ baggier shirts (the werewolf is thinner nowadays but still broader in the shoulders than Stiles) along with a pair of flannel pajama pants. He still has the charm around his neck.

 

“I should be asking you that,” Peter counters, seeming slightly puzzled. “I heard your car pull up but you didn't come out right away, and your heartbeat sounded like you were going to have a stroke. Did something happen?”

 

Stiles rocks back on his heels, letting some of the stress roll off him before turning to shuck off his coat. “Pretty much what I was expecting. Interrogated me for a few hours, asked me the same questions over and over again, Deaton and Morrell looked like they knew every word that came out of my mouth was pure bullshit, and Derek didn't say anything but... he knew.”

 

He sinks down onto his bed with a worn-out sigh, feeling a hundred years old. It’s been a long day. Actually, it’s been a long five months. Hell, he could even go so far as to say it’s been a long two years, but that’s not exactly relevant at the moment.

 

“Right!” He nails his action face on and gets down to business again. Peter doesn't look convinced. Stiles ignores him and heads for his closet, rifling through one of the shelves at the very back. “Well, you're obviously feeling better so I’ll fill you in on-”

 

He stops as a thought occurs to him, one that sits heavy in his stomach, a stirring of dread that he hates. Sticking his head out from behind a winter jacket, he peers over at Peter now perched at the end of his bed.

 

“You-” He catches his bottom lip with his teeth for a moment, uncertain as to whether he’ll be more disappointed with the most plausible impending answer or just plain frustrated.

 

“What do you want to do now?” He finally asks, and it sounds like defeat even to his own ears. “Do you- You're probably gonna go for the whole revenge angle again, aren’t you?”

 

And Stiles will have to choose a side, never mind the fact that he’s applied for early admission to Syracuse, Cornell, and Columbia and gotten in with offers of a full scholarship to both so long as his final transcript meets their standards. All he has to do now is sit – and ace – the last of his exams on the two upcoming weekends, pick up his diploma over the winter break, and then he’s free to leave Beacon Hills for the next big adventure of his life.

 

What was his original plan for this bit anyway? He’s never let himself consider it, not really, but some part of him has obviously believed that when he left, he would-

 

It doesn't matter. In the end, it’s up to Peter. And if Peter chooses to go after Scott-

 

“Not so much, actually,” Peter cuts into his thoughts with casual precision. Stiles’ gaze flies to where the werewolf is watching him avidly. “I’d like to think I'm intelligent enough to quit while I'm ahead. Taking on an entire pack as a lone Beta doesn't do much for my life expectancy.” He smiles, a falsely pleasant one, not really conveying any genuine sentiment with it. “And I’d have to deal with you if I went after Scott again, wouldn't I?”

 

“Probably,” Stiles agrees without fanfare, still wary, but also cautiously hopeful now. “We’re not... on the best of terms so if you somehow figure out a way to take his Alpha-ship without harming him, then hey, go for it. You wanna mess with the Pack, do that too. I won’t stop you. But if you try to kill him, or any of the others, well...” He shrugs, leaning against the drawer behind him.

 

I set you on fire once. I can do it again.

 

“I don’t want to kill you,” is what he lets slip, and it’s one of the most honest things he’s ever said in his entire life.

 

Don’t give me a reason to goes unspoken but not unheard.

 

Something smoothes away from Peter’s face. “Well that makes two of us then,” He quips lightly. His gaze zeroes in on the shelf Stiles was rummaging through. “I suppose you have an alternative for me?”

 

Stiles retrieves the package Piper prepared for him and tossed it over to Peter, waiting until the werewolf has pulled out the contents before clarifying, “Remember that friend I mentioned? She’s... well, she’s a counterfeiter, to put it bluntly, among other things. And she knows about the supernatural world, about werewolves. The name’s probably her idea of a joke.”

 

“...Ulrich Ferris,” Peter drawls. “Cute. I suppose I should be grateful she didn't choose ‘Fenris’.” He lowers the passport. “This can’t have been cheap.”

 

“It was free,” Stiles offers a lopsided smile. “We’re friends, and I would've paid, but Piper waived the fee. About a year and a half ago, I saved her life. Drove her to the hospital before she bled out from getting stabbed in a mugging.”

 

“So another one who owes you a favour,” Peter looks at him like Stiles is the most fascinating thing he’s ever come across. “You're a regular Good Samaritan, aren’t you, Stiles?”

 

Stiles makes a face at him. He can hear the mockery just fine. “Yeah, well, unlike you, I'm not enough of a sociopath to just walk away if a stranger’s dying in front of me.”

 

“Nonsense,” Peter waves an airy hand. “If I thought they would be useful to me, I’d save them too.”

 

Stiles throws up his hands. “I rest my case.” He shuts his closet and moves to straddle his chair. “So,” He keeps his tone nonchalant. “Where will you go?”

 

For the first time that day, Peter falls into a contemplative silence. “Risking a trip back to my apartment wouldn't be a good idea,” He eventually muses with a sigh. “It’s been... five months or so? My lease is good for another month so my belongings should still...” He trails off when he catches sight of Stiles, and then promptly affects the classic Hale eyeroll. “What did you do now?”

 

Stiles coughs. “Back when you were first locked up, the Pack talked about raiding your place.” Peter’s expression darkens to thundercloud proportions but he holds his tongue and waits for Stiles to finish. “We all knew you had a collection of old books on supernatural lore squirreled away somewhere, and it would help a lot if we had access to them.”

 

He pauses. Peter’s expression demands a solution. “Oh relax, I got them out. Lucky for you, the apartment you chose is one of a chain of complexes across California, and once the lease is up, if someone hasn't moved their shit out yet, then all of it is shipped to the same cluster of warehouses for storage in Sacramento where the main office building is located, and it just sits around for a month waiting for pickup before the stuff is sold if no one comes for it.”

 

“And let me guess,” Peter interjects sardonically. “My landlord owed you a favour.”

 

Stiles snorts with laughter. “Not exactly. More like – the guy way up at the top, the owner – he was a friend of my- of my mom’s. Busted for drug trafficking when he was a lot younger, a little before I was born, went to jail for a while, met my mom in county prison when he was just getting out and she was visiting my dad at work, and they sort of hit it off – in a completely platonic way but Mom said it was really funny how it drove my dad around the bend at first. They ended up keeping in touch, which is how I know him. Point is though, he knows what it’s like to have to start over after you fuck up big time so when I called him and told him that someone I knew was in jail, and that their family was gonna go all vulture on them and poach their stuff while they were doing time-”

 

He cracks a grin when Peter arches an eyebrow in disbelief.

 

“Hey, it was technically true! Anyway, I said you were a real mythology buff and that nothing was more important to you than your books, so he agreed to get the property manager to pack ’em up and transport them to Sacramento.” Stiles smirks rather smugly. “I didn't want the Pack to get suspicious so your clothes and cutlery and whatever else are still at your apartment, but every last dusty tome has been waiting for you in a warehouse for the past four months.”

 

He stalls again, this time out of apprehension because- “And uh, the movers – they weren’t snooping exactly, but you apparently hid all your books like some creepy miser so they had to poke around a bit – anyway, they also found a photo album and an old basketball with a bunch of signatures on it at your flat. Tom – my mom’s friend – called me about it after the landlord called him, and I asked him to get those boxed up as well. I know you don’t like people touching your stuff, especially personal stuff, but I figured it was better to take them too. Scott and the others got there... I think five days later. I tagged along. They didn't find anything important enough to take with them, especially since I swiped your laptop before they saw it. It’s in the back of my closet right now. And, uh, I grabbed a few of your v-necks too cuz you're totally not you without them. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the search, the Pack was discussing whether or not you had buried your books, so. All’s well that ends well, right?”

 

Peter has gone very quiet by the time Stiles concludes his verbal vomiting. It’s a hushed sort of silence instead of just not talking because the werewolf was listening. Stiles watches as Peter places his new identification papers aside before rising to his feet and padding towards Stiles with all the lethal grace of a predator.

 

“Their scents?” Peter enquires as he lopes closer. “I would never let strangers into my den. Derek at least would know that.”

 

“I told Tom your family had trained guard dogs,” Stiles says, standing his ground. “And that you guys went everywhere with at least one of them, and they’d bark like mad if they smelled strangers on what they considered family property. So Tom told the landlord to open all the windows and plug in air-fresheners in every room while the movers were there.”

 

“This Tom character is unbelievably gullible,” Peter murmurs, prowling even closer until there’s less than half a foot between them.

 

“Nah, he probably didn't believe half of what I said,” Stiles admits, hoping that he doesn't sound as mortifyingly breathless as he thinks as he does. Peter’s about the same height as him, but the older man has always seemed to take up space, filling a room with his presence alone whenever he wants to. And he definitely wants to right now. “And to be fair, I didn't try all that hard to make the lies sound believable either, mostly because he likes me, and even though he’s on the straight and narrow now, he’s not exactly someone you’d want to use as a moral compass either. He knows the kind of person I am, and he knew I wanted to help a friend – that was good enough for him.”

 

Next second, he’s been backed against the nearest wall, Peter’s hands resting on either side of his head so that his arms trapped Stiles between them.

 

“Are we friends now, Stiles?” He purrs, and yeah, that’s definitely hunger making his blue eyes burn. Stiles can recognize that much even though he’s not one hundred percent certain about what put it there.

 

Stiles mentally congratulates himself when his voice doesn't crack as he speaks. Their noses are practically brushing at this point. “Dude, I don’t break just anyone out of creepy mental facilities, you know. You gotta be pretty- pretty special for me to risk life and limb for.”

 

Peter hums his acknowledgement. For a second, Stiles thinks the man is going to kiss him, but then his head dips, and he noses at the spot just below Stiles’ left ear instead.

 

Stiles doesn't know if he’s more relieved or disappointed. But. Not yet. Not here, not now. He doesn't want to start something so new and exhilarating and borderline frightening until he’s sure that it won’t be snatched from him by the threat still hanging over Peter’s – and by extension, Stiles’ – head. Besides, even with just this, Stiles is fairly certain he’s not breathing anymore even though his heart is pounding a hummingbird rhythm in his chest.

 

“I find you utterly captivating, Stiles,” Peter confesses out of the blue, one hand drifting down to clasp his hip with something a lot like possessiveness before it sneakily snakes around his waist, not giving Stiles a chance to object. He wouldn't anyway. “Every time I think I have you figured out, you pull another card out of your sleeves and surprise me all over again. Sometimes, I want to crack that mind of yours wide open just to see what makes you tick.”

 

“One,” Stiles croaks out hoarsely, his own hands coming up to tangle in Peter’s (his) shirt. “That’s a disturbing thing to hear, and I’ll have you know that I vastly disapprove of cracking any part of me open. And two, I could say the same for you, you manipulative asshole. It’s not like you're the most predictable guy in the world either.”

 

A distinctly fanged grin is pressed against his neck. Stiles wonders when he started trusting Peter enough to let the werewolf this close without feeling any fear over getting his throat ripped out.

 

For a long moment, they remain like that, suspended in time with Peter all but wrapped around him, breathing him in like he’s oxygen and moonlight and freedom. Stiles’ heart rate evens out, and his left hand sweeps a path up the werewolf’s back before tentatively threading his fingers into soft dark hair. Peter doesn't protest.

 

It’s peaceful. Which – considering Stiles’ track record ever since the supernatural freight train hit Beacon Hills and proceeded to use the town as a permanent pit stop – is a significant rarity in and of itself.

 

He doesn't really know what he’s doing, or what Peter wants out of whatever this is (going to be). He just hopes the werewolf isn’t screwing with him, or if he is, then at the very least, he isn’t screwing with him in a way that will end in blood and body bags. With Peter, with Stiles, and – most of all, he suspects – with them together, that outcome is always a very real possibility.

 

Peter is the first to stir and pull away, though only enough so that Stiles can see his face again. Both of the werewolf’s hands come together to cradle his face, and Stiles’ breath hitches as Peter gazes back at him with steady, reverent eyes while his features melt into softer lines.

 

“Stiles,” Peter says quietly. “Thank you.”

 

The werewolf isn’t thanking him for just any one thing, and it’s probably the truest words Stiles has ever heard from the mouth of Peter Hale.

 

 


 

 

It’s a Saturday. Stiles has to go to school and wouldn't tell Peter why. The boy was very vague about it.

 

Peter stays in Stiles’ bedroom. He paces. The full moon is tonight. A part of him wants to hunt, wants to tear out the throats of anyone he even remotely considers a threat – to himself, to Stiles – but he as good as made a promise to show some restraint when he made Stiles his anchor (he doesn't even remember when that happened, it just did, and it’s not exactly what one would call a shock, all things considered, and it’s probably part of the reason why he capitulated so easily to Stiles’ request of no more revenge), a bond that binds him better than any mountain ash chains.

 

That should bother him more than it does, but something’s settled inside him, his wolf at peace with itself for once despite the impending full moon, and the desire to be Alpha again, the desire for power, for strength enough to protect himself – while still there – is no longer as overwhelming.

 

The cemented pack bond between himself and Stiles is probably to blame for that, which doesn't really make sense considering the fact that he now has two people he needs to protect instead of just one, but then again, the whole point of having Pack is so that all parties are stronger, so that he won’t have to fight his battles all on his own anymore, and Stiles, who may be human and fragile and young, is also dependable in any crisis big or small, faithful to a fault to those who don’t betray him first, and the type to willingly burn the world down if it means protecting those he cares about.

 

And now he’s more or less Peter’s.

 

Finally.

 

And the best thing of all is that it was all Stiles’ choice, his choice to save Peter, to take a gamble on the outcast werewolf of Beacon Hills, to walk away from a Pack that doesn't think it needs him in favour of a man who will never be good.

 

It was always Stiles’ choice, and in a way, Peter recognized as much from the very beginning, ever since that long-expired offer of the Bite in that parking lot a lifetime ago. Stiles was the only one that some part of Peter – even when insane – knew better than to take what wasn't given freely from the boy.

 

And evidently, it’s paid off.

 

He gets bored soon enough so he starts rifling through the various piles of paper on Stiles’ desk. If the boy didn't want him snooping into something, he should've known better than to leave Peter in a room alone with it. Therefore, everything here is fair game.

 

He digs up the envelopes within minutes, and upon flipping through the contents, he has to grin when he finds acceptance letters to three different schools clean across the country. Early admission, and so far away from Beacon Hills – Peter can put two and two together.

 

Pack, he thinks, and he can feel the pack bond between them, glowing bright and strong. It’s an unconventional pack of two, with no Alpha and only one werewolf, but Peter has no desire to share Stiles anyway.

 

Sometime in the late afternoon, after sneaking down for soup and pasta that Stiles pre-made for him, the Sheriff comes home and makes his way straight into Stiles’ bedroom. Peter trusts Stiles’ handiwork but he still tucks himself into the far bedroom corner, leaning against the wall and watching Stiles’ father with careful eyes as the man enters, stops in the middle of the room, and does a three-sixty scan of the entire place.

 

“It wouldn't be the first time my son’s hidden a fugitive in his room,” The Sheriff says after a long, pensive silence. He’s looking at a point somewhere between the bed and the desk, partially facing away from where Peter’s stationed himself, but the man is definitely talking to Peter.

 

“And if anyone can pull off a jailbreak and get clean away with it to the point where even werewolves and druids can’t track him, it’s Stiles,” The Sheriff continues almost conversationally. “Not to mention he’s been trying to make a case for you for months, Hale.”

 

Peter’s mouth tips up into a pleased smirk.

 

“He’s eighteen years old, he’s graduating, and he’s been accepted into some of the best schools the world has to offer,” The Sheriff says quietly. He smells like nostalgia and pride and a wistful sort of love. “And I won’t stop him if that’s the direction he chooses for his life even if it is on the other side of the country. I couldn't stop him even if I tried; I never could once he set his mind on a goal. But here’s the thing, Hale,” Steel laces his voice now. “No matter how smart he is or how strong he’s become, he’s still my son. I have no doubt he was responsible for breaking you out, and moving across the country? That’s for you too. So all I'm saying is – you better be worth it. Because if you hurt him, in any possible way, it won’t matter that I'm human or that you're a werewolf; I will hunt you down, and I will make you sorry if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

 

He stops, looks around one more time, gaze drifting over Peter again in the process. And then he nods once, curt and firm, and exits the room again without further fanfare.

 

Peter takes a seat on the bed once the Sheriff disappears down the stairs again.

 

Well, John Stilinski is Stiles’ father after all.

 

But – as it turns out – the Sheriff isn’t Peter’s last surprise of the day.

 

“I don’t know if you can hear me, or if you're even in there,” Derek mutters from his Camaro parked across the street. “And if you can, you probably don’t even want to hear this, but I'm gonna say my piece anyway.”

 

A lengthy fumble of tongue-tied thoughts follow. Derek’s never been good with words. Peter waits, lying on the bed, one arm tucked under his head. Clinically amused.

 

“I just want to say,” Derek starts again at last. “I'm sorry, for Kate. I don’t think I've ever said that to you. If I could go back and change it, I would, in a heartbeat. If nothing else, I hope you know that. That I never would've deliberately put our family in danger. And... I'm sorry for leaving you behind in Beacon Hills for six years. Even if it was Laura’s decision in the end, I should've at least tried to convince her to get you transferred to a different hospital that would be closer to us. But I didn't, so, I'm sorry.”

 

Another pause. Peter doesn't move a muscle.

 

“And... you probably don’t care but- I forgive you for Laura. That- That wasn't all your fault either; at least I don’t think it was. I still don’t believe that you didn't know it was her, but you weren’t exactly in your right mind either, and she never acted like an Alpha – or even like family – should when it came to you, so. It wasn't all on you.”

 

Derek stops again, inhaling shakily. Peter stares blankly up at the ceiling.

 

“...When I first came back to this town,” Derek finally speaks after a full three minutes of silence this time. “Stiles and I weren’t exactly... on friendly terms. But, on hindsight, he was actually the only one who helped me out from the very beginning without asking for anything in return. Stiles, not Scott or any of the others.

 

“I don’t... get him,” A tinge of frustration colours Derek’s voice. “Even now, but it was worse back then. He accused me of murder, and then he turned around and helped me hide from the law. We were practically strangers but he was willing to cut off my arm to save my life even though he was scared out of his mind. I pushed him around and threatened him, and he held me up in a pool for over two hours so that I wouldn't drown. I don’t get him at all.”

 

Peter has to roll his eyes at this. Good lord, his nephew’s an idiot.

 

“But that’s not important right now,” Derek dismisses, tone going gruff again. “I just- He’s a good friend. Loyal. I should've offered him the Bite when I had the chance.”

 

Peter instinctively snarls. It’s a good thing Derek never went through with that idea or Peter might actually have had to add one more death to his tally.

 

Then again, would Stiles – independent, clever, ruthlessly protective Stiles – even turn as a Beta?

 

“I don’t know why he cares about you so much,” Derek forges on from the privacy of his car. “But anyone can see that he does. And I don’t know how he got you out, and I don’t want to know. Just- treat him right. I doubt he’s going to stick around for much longer once he’s smuggled you out of town. At the very least, he’ll be leaving once he graduates high school, and then he’ll probably join up with you at wherever you’ll be, which – with any luck – won’t be here. You have another chance so don’t screw it up by coming back for revenge again. Just- stay away, build a new life for yourself somewhere else, and – if you care about Stiles at all – treat him right. He deserves that much from you.”

 

And with that, Derek seems to have exhausted his vocabulary when it comes to heartfelt monologues, so it’s a surprise when he tacks on one last bit.

 

“And wherever you end up, I- I hope you’ll be happy, Uncle Peter.”

 

The Camaro’s engine roars to life, and then Derek is gone as abruptly as he arrived.

 

Peter remains motionless for a long time after his nephew leaves.

 

 


 

 

“They both know?!” Stiles groans into his pillow from his sprawled position on the bed.

 

“You already thought as much,” Peter points out, shamelessly eyeing the sliver of pale skin currently visible between Stiles’ jeans and shirts.

 

“I suspected,” Stiles corrects him, voice muffled from where he’s attempting to suffocate himself. “I didn't think they’d actually come by and start talking to thin air.”

 

He kicks his legs and wriggles in distress, thoughts probably racing to figure out a way to work around this latest potential problem. Peter is delighted when the movements only serve to ruck Stiles’ shirts up even further, revealing more smooth skin, a mole to the left of the base of his spine, and-

 

Peter’s eyes narrow in on the slightly darker blemishes peeking out from under Stiles’ clothes on the right side of his back. They curl around towards the front so Peter can only make out a little, but it’s enough.

 

He wants to touch. Well, he always wants to touch, but he wants to see the damage too. And then maybe he’ll go hunt Cernik down, torture him to death, then find a way to raise Brunski from the dead, and then torture him straight back to the grave as well.

 

He reaches out. His fingertips graze the edges of the scars. And Stiles freezes before rolling away, pushing himself upright in one fluid motion even as his shoulders drop in that tense-relaxed way that signals his heightened readiness to attack or defend.

 

They stare at each other, and Peter rather hates the wariness in Stiles’ eyes.

 

“Well aren’t you forward,” Stiles blurts out, and he’s probably aiming for offhand levity but he falls short and hits a prickly sort of anxiety instead. “You haven’t even wined and dined me yet.”

 

Peter shrugs, never looking away. “I wasn't aware you were the candlelit dinner type but I’ll be sure to surprise you with one sometime in the future.” He cants his head, flicks another glance at Stiles’ torso. “May I see?”

 

Stiles looks taken aback at the frank promise of a date (there’ll be more than one if Peter has anything to say about it), but it’s quickly overshadowed by the straightforward question. He huffs. “What’s to see? They're just scars.”

 

“Then it shouldn't matter.”

 

Stiles’ brow knits together. “Peter...”

 

Peter says nothing more, waiting for a definite yes or no.

 

Stiles squints at him suspiciously, and for a moment, it seems as if he’ll refuse, but then something in his expression relents, and he ends up sighing instead before lifting up his shirts.

 

Peter is immediately drawn to the faint scars extending from ribs to hip on Stiles’ right side. He’s tracing the most visible ones before the boy can yank his clothes down again or flee.

 

The skin flinches minutely under Peter’s touch, but Stiles only makes a noise at the back of his throat and doesn't move away.

 

“I can still kill Cernik,” Peter offers candidly as he regards the scars like they've done him a personal offense. “Just say the word. I'm sure the world wouldn’t miss him.”

 

Stiles snorts and some of the trepidation drains from his frame. “If I really wanted him dead that much, Peter, I’d kill him myself. Besides, it was Brunski who did this, and unless you can pull a Resurrection Take Two...” He trails off, gauging Peter’s speculative expression. “Never mind. Even then. It’s in the past. Now are you finished touching me?”

 

Peter summons his best over-the-top leer just to see Stiles roll his eyes. “I will never be finished touching you, Stiles. Really, I've barely started.”

 

He gets his hand slapped away when his fingers wander too close to one nipple, but not before he feels a near imperceptible shudder run through Stiles’ body.

 

“You're just turning out to be a giant old pervert, aren’t you?” Stiles accuses, pulling down his shirts and – disappointingly – hiding all that glorious skin again. His features sober. “You, um, don’t-?” He gestures at himself.

 

Peter gives him a reproachful look that’s more effective than any words he could've come up with if the sheepish grin tinged with relief that Stiles gives him in return is anything to go by.

 

They don’t talk much after that, not for the rest of the day. Peter’s still recovering from his stint in Eichen House despite being able to walk around again, not to mention it’s the full moon, so after a quick dinner and a few hours of reading, Peter gives in to the urge and drags Stiles away from his studying and into bed, curling around him and ignoring the boy’s half-hearted grumbling.

 

A winter-chilled breeze blows in through the partially opened window, but Peter is his own furnace, and he’s careful to make sure Stiles isn’t cold. The moon sings to him from the dark skies outside, but for once, Peter is perfectly content here – happy even – basking in Stiles’ solid, vivid presence.

 

 


 

 

They leave a week into the winter holidays. Stiles only spares enough time to give his father a heartfelt, possibly teary-eyed hug. They haven’t talked about Peter – probably won’t until things settle down, and only if the Sheriff decides to visit Stiles in New York – but there’s a silent understanding between them on the issue, and Stiles doesn't miss the way his dad pointedly doesn't ask about the extra luggage case that Stiles brings out to the taxi on the day he leaves.

 

He doesn't give Scott or the others a heads-up. Sure, they’ll definitely think something’s up once they realize that Stiles has graduated early, but they already think that anyway, and it’s not like they have evidence of anything beyond Stiles wanting to get away from Beacon Hills and the Pack once and for all, what with how bad their relations have deteriorated lately. Besides, Stiles has always subscribed to the tried and true adage of ‘It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission,” and in this case, Stiles isn’t exactly in a hurry to obtain either.

 

He’ll never ever want any of them to come to any real, fatal harm, but he’s done playing gopher for them.

 

Peter left the night before with a promise to meet him at the airport, and even though they've been texting constantly, Stiles is still anxious to have the werewolf back in his line of sight as soon as possible.

 

Between his house and the airport however, he gets one more surprise.

 

Stiles heaves a sigh when he spots Lydia stepping off the curb and striding straight in front of the taxi like she owns the street.

 

“Sorry,” He tells the driver as the brakes are slammed on. “She’s a friend of mine; she must want to say goodbye. Could you wait a few minutes?”

 

Stiles gets as far as five steps out of the taxi before Lydia marches right up to him and slaps him across the face. The blow isn’t as strong as it could've been but it still stings.

 

“Ow!” Stiles yelps, falling back a step, more out of bewilderment than any actual pain. “What was that for?!”

 

Lydia simply crosses her arms and levels an imperious stare on him. “Where do you think you’re going, Stiles?”

 

Stiles rocks back on his heels and takes in the banshee’s expression. “...Don’t ask when you already know. Though I’d like to know how you know.”

 

Lydia flips a dismissive hand in the air. “I had Danny hack your school files when you stopped showing up for classes.”

 

Stiles snorts. Of course. Although he didn't think anybody would care enough to ask about that, much less look into it.

 

For a moment, they stand there on the sidewalk in silence, and part of Stiles hates the awkward cloud hanging between them. They went from strangers to a one-sided crush to allies to freakin’ besties, and now they're right back to... whatever this is.

 

“You could've told me,” Lydia says at last, and Stiles knows she isn’t just referring to his early graduation and consequent relocation across the country.

 

Still, he admits to nothing. Lydia purses her lips. “I would've helped.”

 

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “Really.”

 

Her glare would make Chris Argent cower. “Yes, Stiles. Why is that even a question? I thought we were closer than that.”

 

Stiles glances away, almost guilty. When he looks back, he relents and reminds her in a hushed voice, “You don’t like him, Lyds. And I wouldn't expect you to.”

 

Lydia scoffs. “You're an idiot. This isn’t about him; this is about you, and I do like you.” Her nose wrinkles. “Besides, you’d have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to notice how much chemistry the two of you have. It isn’t exactly a surprise that you’re together.”

 

Stiles instantly flushes. “We’re not-”

 

Lydia holds up a hand. “Save it. Have been together, will be together – whatever. You get my point.”

 

Stiles heaves a sigh, barely resisting the urge to throw up his hands in exasperation. “Okay, fine. What do you want then? If you’re not totally against it like the rest of the Pack, you should know that me bidding Beacon Hills a speedy adieu is the best plan all around.”

 

Lydia’s features take on a smug look, and Stiles follows her finger when she gestures at another taxi parked further ahead. “I’m coming with you of course.”

 

Stiles’ jaw drops. Lydia smirks.

 

“What- Wait, what?” Stiles splutters, completely thrown by this out-of-the-blue announcement.

 

Lydia rolls her eyes. “What do you think I’ve been doing all this time? I know you've been busy but you can’t have been so clueless as to miss the fact that I haven’t been palling around with the wolves recently either.”

 

Now that Stiles thinks about it, she’s right. Lydia was noticeably missing even at his interrogation a few weeks ago but Stiles didn't think much of it at the time.

 

“I was accepted into Cornell too,” Lydia confides, and of course she has. “And I know that’s where you're going so I might as well leave with you.”

 

Stiles stares at her for a long minute. Lydia arches an eyebrow and waits him out.

 

“But why?” Stiles asks at last. “I’m glad you aren’t going to sell me out, and the fact that you would've staged a jailbreak for someone you don’t even like just because of me is awesome – hard to believe but still awesome – but you don’t have to move across the country with me. You have the Pack here, and Danny, and your mom-”

 

“My mom and I are closer these days but not that close; she’s certainly not enough of a reason to make me stay,” Lydia informs him staunchly. “Besides, I would've moved out anyway even if I’d waited until the summer holidays and chosen to go to Stanford. It would've amounted to the same thing. And Danny’s graduating in June but he’ll be heading to Syracuse to join Jackson after that. As for the Pack, maybe I’ll keep in touch, maybe I won’t.”

 

She frowns up at him, one hand coming up to tuck a stray lock of red hair behind one ear when a gust of wind whistles past them. “You're not leaving me alone in this deathtrap of a town, Stiles. The werewolves may have fangs and claws and enough brave stupidity to fling themselves headlong into crisis after crisis, but I’d rather stick with the one who has enough of a brain to avoid the aforementioned crises if at all possible, and short of that, then at least with less bloodshed and death and violence. Besides...” She hesitates for a beat, uncharacteristically. “We’ve made a pretty good team over the years, haven’t we?”

 

Stiles has to smile at that, a helpless quirk of his mouth that earns him a matching grin from Lydia. “Guess I can’t argue with that. The Pack will lose their own brain if you leave too though.”

 

Lydia huffs. “They can deal. They kicked you out after all.”

 

Mere weeks ago, that would've stung a whole lot more than it does now.

 

“What about Peter then?” Stiles asks instead, voice pitching even lower.

 

Lydia shrugs. “What about him? You trust him, right?”

 

Stiles touches the mental pack bond in his mind. “Yeah, I do.” Somehow, he does.

 

Lydia grimaces a little but nods resolutely all the same. “Then that’s good enough for me. I can put up with him, like he’ll be putting up with me. Maybe I’ll even learn to like him. I know he’s not all bad; I did see him with Meredith. And I may have wanted to stab him with wolfsbane from time to time but that doesn't change the fact that the three of us were the smartest in the Pack. At the very least, I’ll be able to hold intelligent conversations with him.”

 

Stiles rakes a hand through his hair before sighing again. “I won’t be able to talk you out of this, will I?”

 

Lydia gives him the unimpressed look this deserves, which is an answer in and of itself.

 

Stiles chuckles. “Yeah, okay. You're heading straight to the airport?”

 

Lydia smirks, eyes gleaming, expression brightening all at once with triumph even as she turns on her heel and sweeps off back to her taxi. “Just waiting on you, Stilinski.”

 

Stiles laughs and shakes his head, heading back to his own cab. That’s Lydia for you. Although, now he’ll have to...

 

He settles into the backseat as the driver merges with the traffic again. Pulling out his phone, he quickly shoots off a text, amused in spite of himself.

 

:We have company.:

 

Not five seconds later, :Oh?:

 

:Lydia’s coming with us.:

 

:Why am I not surprised she found out?:

 

:Cuz she’s a genius and we both know it. And she’s promised to put up with you so long as yur good.:

 

:Did she?:

 

:Well not in so many words, but the implication was there.:

 

:If she kills me in my sleep, I’m taking her with me.:

 

Stiles grins.

 

 


 

 

Peter and Lydia’s reintroduction goes about as well as one can hope. Peter plasters on a charming smile. Lydia narrows her eyes at him.

 

“Miss Martin,” The werewolf greets her with faux sincerity. “What a lovely surprise.”

 

Lydia’s lip curls. “The feeling isn’t mutual. But Stiles likes you enough to break you out of Eichen House and move across the country with you and forgive all the crap you’ve pulled so I suppose I can tolerate you.” Her eyes flash dangerously. “But make no mistake, Peter – if you hurt him, I’ll make you regret it for a very long time.”

 

And with that said, she spins and begins leading the way towards the baggage drop-off counters, heels clicking with every step, head held high.

 

Stiles follows with an almost dopey smile. Peter rolls his eyes and falls into step beside him. “That girl is a menace.”

 

Stiles slants him a cheeky smirk. “Careful; green doesn’t suit you.”

 

Peter snorts disdainfully. “Hardly. You're already mine.”

 

Stiles eyes him for a moment longer, feeling a sudden rush of fond amusement at Peter’s almost petulant tone, and before he can stop himself, he’s leaning over and dropping a kiss on one stubbled cheek. When he pulls away a second later, Peter’s eyes are startled and wide, and despite the heat rising in his cheeks, Stiles cackles at the man’s expense before fleeing after Lydia, luggage in tow.

 

Fifteen minutes later, Peter snags him around the waist just before they reach the waiting area, reeling him in and all but devouring his mouth in a possessive wreck of a kiss that leaves him dazed and wanting more.

 

The werewolf smirks proudly, one thumb brushing over Stiles’ swollen bottom lip. “You shouldn’t tempt a predator, Stiles. But then again, I can’t complain. You look positively edible like this.”

 

Beside them, Lydia rolls her eyes hard enough that it moves her whole head. It’s definitely an eyeroll worthy of a Hale.

 

“You two will be nauseating,” Lydia decides, snapping her fingers to draw their attention away from each other. “At least keep the PDA down until we’re in New York, lovebirds.”

 

They do as she says, mostly because it’s a sensible idea (that Stiles technically thought of first yet still dropkicked out the window on an emotional whim), but Peter laces their fingers together until they have to board their flight, and even though it makes Stiles fidgety with nervous energy and embarrassment and a thrilled sort of delight, he makes no move to detach them.

 

And once they're settled in their designated seats, Stiles is the one who reaches for Peter’s hand this time.