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The Husbands Hoax

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Stiles has been at the police station plenty of times, typically to bring his father lunch like the doting son he is or to hang out and ask for homework help from the deputies. He's not typically on this side of the table, or in this room, or being stared down by the unyielding eyes of his father to be interrogated.

Or, Stiles thinks, remembering the key point, with Peter sitting beside him.

He spares him a glance. Of all the people he'd like to be in this mess with, Peter is definitely the very, very last, even past the bully who stole his extra cookies during fifth grade lunch who at this point, might be a welcome comrade in this situation from hell.

"Let me get this straight," the sheriff says, which Stiles knows means he's about to be berated via a long-winded summary. He braces himself and looks anywhere but the way his dad's forehead is wrinkled with his signature Sheriff Look instead of his much friendlier Father Look. "You two, one of you old enough to make this statutory rape, are sleeping together, and as of the last week, are married to each other?"

Yup, there's the summary he knew he didn't want to hear.

"Okay, yeah," Stiles says carefully, with dread that he hopes won't manifest as nausea in a few minutes. "But it's really not as bad as it sounds."

--

"You're kidding me," Stiles says. “I have to get married?”

Four sets of eyes turn to him, each displaying a different emotion, most of them completely unhelpful. Derek looks grim, Peter looks bored, Isaac looks amused, and Scott seems to be the only one caring at all.

“It’s not a real marriage,” Scott interjects hastily. “It’s just an act.”

“Okay, but with him?” Stiles points an accusatory finger at Peter like this is all his fault. It probably is. Stiles is pretty sure he can trace all of this back to Peter biting Scott in the woods that night, which has since turned his life upside down by the ankle and shaken all the dignity from his pockets. Pretending to be his loving husband is not the retaliation he had been hoping for.

“I can assure you, Stiles,” Peter says from where he’s sitting half-eclipsed in the shadows, only a sliver of moonlight touching him, “you’re hardly my first choice for a husband either.”

“Wow. What a lovely start to our union.” Stiles wheels back around to Scott. “Please tell me this is an elaborate prank.”

Scott shakes his head. Of course it isn’t a prank, Scott’s dreadful with pranks. Stiles puts his head into his hands, the only place in the entire room where it feels comfortable.

“Just until we can fix the problem,” Scott says.

The problem, in this case, being yet more evil creatures crawling out of their lair to torture Stiles. Just when Stiles thinks he’s getting used to it, just when he thinks he’s seen and heard of everything, something always has to slither out of the woodwork and prove him wrong.

“Sirens,” Stiles says into his palms, testing the word out on his tongue just in case the laughter starts, “that prey on singles. I just. I don’t.” He rubs a hand over his the spot between his eyes, taking a deep breath. “How about instead of getting involved, we take a long vacation over in Hawaii while this sorts itself out?”

No one answers him, so Stiles takes that as a no. A siren that prays on singles, seriously? Here in Beacon Hills, in his life, in his everyday routine? Shouldn't it be terrorizing a pirate ship somewhere?

"The siren's call only goes after people who are romantically available. It lets her lure them—seduce them, really—until they walk right into her trap," Derek says.

"Then what?" Stiles asks.

"Then she eats them," Derek replies instantly, and suddenly Stiles understands the deep-set grimness curving his mouth. "So this would probably be a good time to stick to the plan."

Except that this plan involves Peter, and not just that, Stiles having to work directly with Peter.

"I don't want to be paired up with him," Stiles says, and takes great care to emphasize him to sound like a word his mouth isn't even comfortable saying, like a particularly gruesome STD. "Why can't I go with Derek?"

Honestly, he'd rather be stuck with neither of them and remove his pen from the Hale ink pot altogether, but that doesn't seem to be an option here. Derek and Peter exchange glances that carry more weight than what their words are bothering to say, almost like there are extra facts that Stiles' delicate ears simply cannot be exposed to that they must communicate nonverbally. He crosses his arms, prepared to be uncooperative.

"I'm strong enough on my own," Derek finally says. "If she comes after me, I'll be powerful enough to fight her."

It's a flimsy excuse, and Stiles knows it. Derek probably just doesn't want to throw himself into this particular genre of storytelling with Stiles in which they pretend to be madly in love, or any other teenager in this room. Stiles throws him a look of pure derision to make it clear that he wouldn't be pleased at the prospect of holding Derek's hand either.

He throws his hands into the air. "Then how about I go with Deaton?" he suggests, the worst part being that he's actually considering it.

Peter gets up from the chair he's made himself comfortable on, stepping out of the shadows and closer to Stiles. "I'm a good fit for this situation, Stiles. I'm your best hope in terms of survival. People will believe we're a couple."

Stiles shrivels up at the key word survival, a low blow Stiles isn't amused by. Peter trying to get him on board with this plan by reminding him of his human fragility and how quickly his mortality can be toyed with is an unfortunately persuasive tactic.

Still, he won't go down easily. "How do you figure?"

"Because we have chemistry, obviously."

Stiles sputters. “No, we do not.” He stares at Peter hard, slightly mollified that he doesn’t have to crane his neck upward to do so.

“Tell me what the other option is, Stiles,” Peter says, waving around the room as if waiting for Stiles’ suitors to appear and whisk him away from this disaster where Peter is the only viable candidate as his boyfriend. “I’m a good choice.”

Stiles doesn’t want to live in a world where the words “Peter Hale” and “good choice” are side by side in a reasonable sentence. He slants his eyes, prepared to be obstinate about this, an urge that unfortunately passes all too quickly when images of being eaten alive and pulled apart like a chicken drumstick flash through his mind.

He catches Scott’s eyes over Peter’s shoulder, wide with concern and almost pleading. If Scott’s involved, the plan can’t be too terrible. There has been evidence to support the contrary but Stiles knows at least this much: if Peter tries to murder him in cold blood in his sleep, Scott will come to his rescue.

“Fine,” Stiles spits. “But I’m not going to be happy about it.” He fixes Peter with a look that he hopes underlines this for him. “What do we have to do?”

--

Stiles really wishes Peter would stop twirling his wedding ring so much. He knows he's doing it on purpose. He knows he's drawing attention to it. He knows he's only interested in seeing the sheriff's temple twitch with the vein that's threatening to burst all over the table. Stiles would elbow him under the table if it didn't imply a sense of camaraderie and cahoots.

"It was just to be safe," Stiles says helplessly. “It was a precaution. To keep me from getting targeted and all that.”

“Why did it have to be him?” the sheriff demands, pointing at Peter.

“No one else wanted the job,” Peter says.

“Oh my god, could you not?” Stiles grits out to his left where Peter is still perfectly calm, cool, and collected. It’s a miracle he hasn’t dared to put his feet up on the table yet. “Everybody else was… well, sort of taken. Scott had Isaac and Allison had Lydia and Derek, well. Derek can handle himself.”

“Derek’s undesirable,” Peter answers for him with a roll of his eyes. “No siren worth her salt would go after someone with eyebrows like that.”

“And the rings were necessary too?”

Stiles looks down at where his is still glinting under the lamps, a shimmering silver that he’s gotten rather used to sitting on his finger. He admits that he probably should’ve pocketed it before showing up; by now it just looks like overkill. He wonders, not for the first time, why he let Peter talk him into all of the histrionics and props surrounding their façade.

“I didn’t take your son’s safety as a half-hearted mission,” Peter says. Stiles has to bite his tongue to stifle his snort. Any other situation and he’d be laughing at Peter’s attempt to play himself up as the selfless, altruistic, all around Good Citizen, but right now, with his father being their audience, it might actually help. “I was fully devoted to making it seem believable.”

Stiles looks to his father for his reaction. Naturally, he doesn’t seem to buy a word coming out of Peter’s mouth.

--

The unfortunate part about the Husbands Hoax is that when he's being honest, Stiles will admit that it really will work. Peter is the perfect contender in terms of a faux spouse, what with Stiles being rather impartial to the good looks and deep vees Peter takes great enjoyment auto-congratulating himself on, and that Peter is by no means what anyone would call a Good Life Partner, which makes him the ideal pick for someone only pretending to play the part, at least as far as Stiles' personal involvement goes. He’s definitely not in danger of falling hopelessly in love with Peter along the way.

They also happen to be a disturbingly good team. Stiles wouldn’t be caught dead admitting this to a living soul, but he got a good glimpse of this a few months ago when, in an unfortunate moment where all of them were under the attack of a particularly vicious werehyena and Peter and Stiles had become separated from the pack, they single-handedly managed to pull off a spur-of-the-moment capture of the creature with their combined wits, taunting, and inherent skill.

So yes, they work off of each other well. They’re both a little more impulsive than the rest, and both also a little more likely to run from the danger instead of run headfirst into trouble, which evolution wise, is clearly the more evolved thinking process. They have a few things in common that make them a good fit.

Not that Stiles thinks that translates into good husband and husband.

"Is this really necessary?"

"It helps sell the bit," Peter murmurs. “Try it on.”

He puts a ring in Stiles’ hand, a sleek, simple band of silver that isn’t too shabby. Stiles slips it on and finds it fits perfectly, sliding easily over his knuckle and resting comfortably at the base of his finger. He gives himself a moment to look at his hand, now redecorated with a wedding ring, and take in all the implications that come with it.

“How did you know my ring size?” Stiles asks.

“I measured your finger in your sleep,” Peter says without missing a beat, and when Stiles’ mouth drops open, he looks at Stiles like he’s disappointed in his ability to detect sarcasm in a voice that isn’t his own. “I guessed. I know you have slender fingers, I just went off of that.”

Still, probably on autopilot at this point, Stiles is creeped out. He looks down at his hands and wiggles his fingers. "Stop looking at my hands, you weirdo," Stiles mutters.

Peter fixes him with a deadpan stare. "Where shall I look, then?"

"Somewhere else," he mutters, and Peter takes great, acidic care to look at the ceiling.

Stiles looks back down at his hand. Suddenly the ring on his finger feels ridiculously significant, and the sight of makes him swallow. He takes it off again only to have Peter grumble about it.

"Put that back on," he demands. "What, do you need me to get on my knee and put it on myself?"

Stiles jams it back on before anything remotely similar to that can happen. "I'd like to see you on the floor on your knees for a while, yes," he says. It sounds unfortunately salacious after it leaves his mouth and he bites the inside of his cheeks. "To, you know. Get bruises on your knees. To be uncomfortable."

Peter's lips tip up at the corner. "You want me on my knees?"

"I'm going to murder you," Stiles warns. He has connections, he can make it happen. "What does yours look like?" God, his mouth should not be speaking anymore today. "Your ring."

Peter gives him a look like he's absolutely no fun, which Stiles is fine with, then sticks out his hand to reveal his ring, a fairly similar piece with slightly more bling. Stiles isn't surprised that his version has extra crystals. Peter's just self-absorbed enough to think he deserves them, that they reflect his shining personality.

"It's a little flashy, isn't it?" Stiles says. He is of course hardly invested in this entire ordeal but would still like his own ring to be as good as if not better than Peter's.

"It's all temporary," Peter reminds him. "I think you can handle it for a few weeks."

Stiles moves his hand, shaking his fingers, fanning them out, waving at imaginary acquaintances in the distance, trying to get a feel for the extra weight on his hand. It isn't too bad, he supposes, not nearly as bad as the insinuations that come with it. He's just glad that the ring doesn't also carry a Married to Peter Hale sign with it—as it stands, he can tell anyone that he’s married to a world-traveling, long-legged supermodel if they ask.

"Just a few weeks? You think that's all it'll take?"

Peter shrugs. "It could be less." A faraway, clouded ecstasy films over his eyes, distracting him. "I hope the siren puts up a fight when we find her. I've been in the mood for some violence and bloodshed lately."

Stiles stares, waiting for the inevitable laughter, and then remembers exactly who he’s dealing with.

--

"And this was all necessary?" Stiles' father asks. He points at both of them with two fingers aimed at each like they're a team, a horrifying unit that's in this together. Stiles will throw Peter under the bus if things get too ugly, a feeling he knows is mutual, but he hasn't found the time to explain this to his father just yet.

Peter gives a long-suffering sigh. "Yes."

"Just for one week, you needed rings? Who were you trying to convince?" He narrows his eyes. "What else did you do in the name of survival?"

Stiles doesn't like what's being implied here. He straightens up, ready to save his very shaky reputation, but Peter gets there first to make sure there will be nothing to salvage once he's done. "It was all very innocent," he says. "We just had to convince everyone. We didn’t know who the siren was. It could’ve been someone in Stiles’ everyday life.”

“Hold on,” the sheriff interrupts. “You’re a powerful werewolf, aren’t you?” At Peter’s prim nod, like the very question is an insult to his strength, he continues. “But you couldn’t track this siren? You had to wait for it to come to you?”

“It wasn’t quite that simple,” Peter grits out, and Stiles doesn’t have to be an expert in reading body language to realize that Peter’s one snarl away from wolfing out right here and now to prove his power and talent and supremacy and other unnecessary things he won’t be getting a trophy for anytime soon.

“All right, all right,” the sheriff relents. “Anyway. So you’re telling me everyone at school, everyone in town, thinks you’re married?”

Stiles is starting to see the underlying problems in this plan. He hadn’t even thought of the crushing embarrassment that will follow having to look his local grocer in the eye when he’s become another statistic in the world of ill-advised teenage elopements and subsequent divorces.

“Um. Yes.”

“What about now when everything’s all over?”

“Sudden unexplainable divorce,” Peter throws out. “He’s a teenager with a woeful attention span. People will believe it.”

“So you actively told people that you were married to this guy?” Stiles’ father persists. He looks deeply disturbed, like anyone else, anyone else would have been an upgrade from Peter. Like he can live with werewolves and monsters and sociopathic crime sprees, but the undercover May-December relationship with the significantly older werewolf is too much for him to handle.

“It wasn’t like we sent out wedding invitations,” Stiles mutters. “Just. A few people saw us. In public. Wearing rings.”

“You couldn’t have just stayed inside? You would’ve been safe there, wouldn’t you?”

“The siren’s call could lure a nun out of a cellar,” Peter mentions. “So no, he wouldn’t have been. We had to make a statement. So yes, we went on a few dates, if you will.”

--

Wearing the wedding ring out in public for the first time feels remarkably like taking an aggressive three-headed dog out for a walk: it's shameful, it will turn heads, and it will eventually cause him to wonder why he went through the hullabaloo of going out in the first place.

They go to a café. Peter insists that scenting and flaunting and making sure people see the ring and acknowledge the two of them is important, a necessary step to keep Stiles from becoming a roasted dinner. It's wording Peter knows he can get away with by now, fully aware that it pushes all the right buttons that get Stiles to agree for the sake of staying in contact with his life and limbs. His dignity, however, is collateral damage.

Stiles settles himself into the table in the quietest corner with the lowest lighting where hiding is easiest and watches Peter grab coffees for them at the counter. Something he says as he pays makes the barista laugh, almost like Peter is actually charming, and Stiles both pities the barista for not seeing through Peter's jokes to the darkness within and is slightly annoyed that he didn't get to hear whatever a-grade humor Peter is apparently capable of.

He returns with two lattes, which looks nice enough to an outsider who doesn't know Stiles actually ordered a double espresso with foam whip. He texts Derek your uncle is the worst husband ever and uses no capitals to convey the grimness of the situation.

"That barista was flirting with me," Peter says, chest puffed out.

"Tell me," Stiles says, stirring his latte into a frenzy to bring something akin to a whipped topping to the surface, "how does hitting on the cashier make it clear that you're unavailable?"

"She saw my ring," Peter says hotly, apparently irritated that Stiles isn't congratulating him on his desirability. "This marriage will never work if you don't cap that ludicrous jealousy."

"We're not married," Stiles grumbles.

"See, now that's not helping the plan—for god's sake, it's like you're spanking your coffee."

Stiles promptly stops stirring the second the word spanking leaves Peter's mouth. His phone chimes then with Derek's response: sorry. It’s an odd thing to say, Stiles thinks, since it wasn’t exactly Derek’s idea for all of this to transpire. He sends back what are you sorry about? but Derek seems to have abandoned his phone in search of easier conversations and doesn’t reply.

Then Stiles' old English teacher from junior high spots him and waves hello and Peter promptly swings his arm around Stiles' shoulders like someone laying claim to land with a mighty sign hammered into the ground. Stiles waves back with a hand like a wilted flower blowing in the wind and waits for death to claim him.

"You're enjoying this," Stiles says darkly. He shakes off Peter's arm.

"No, I am," Peter says, positively gleeful.

Under the table, his knee is touching Stiles, an anchor to his body that makes Stiles’ unreasonably itchy. He shifts away, putting a more comfortable albeit less convincingly intimate space between them. Some couples don't even touch. They can be that sort of couple.

"I don't know why you are," Stiles comments. "You told everyone you didn't want to be married to me anymore than I wanted to be married to you."

"True," Peter says. "But then I saw the hidden goldmine that was being able to humiliate you." He squeezes Stiles' cheek, pinching it like a forceful grandmother. "And seeing your face go that lovely shade of tomato red."

Stiles bats away his hand. "Don't compare me to tomatoes," he says in low, deeply displeased tones. "Look. I still want to actually be in a room with you after all this without wanting to kill you. Well, more than I usually do."

"Then perhaps you ought to be less sensitive," Peter suggests, reaching over the table to grab the sugar. Stiles takes a moment to be vaguely surprised that Peter doesn't take his coffee black as his soul.

"Or maybe you could just be more tolerable."

Peter pours what seems to be half the sugar shaker into his cup before setting it back down, which is one of the strangest things Stiles has ever seen. How can someone so bitter like things so sweet? He's arching closer to peek inside Peter's cup to see if his coffee has turned into a sugary sludge when Peter suddenly grabs his chin with two fingers and Stiles is made very, very aware of their proximity.

"Stiles," Peter says slowly. "You realize me even agreeing to put up with you was me being nice, don't you?" He taps his cheek, something between a pat and a slap. "Take it for what it's worth."

Stiles pulls back and lets Peter resume the butchering of his coffee. He supposes there was a certain sacrifice that went into being Stiles' make believe husband—after all, this marriage isn't exactly mutually beneficial when Peter can protect himself on his own, which leads Stiles down an undiscovered path of questions of why, then, Peter is agreeing to all this in the first place. There has to be a self-serving interest. Peter isn’t exactly known for leaving the house for altruistic duties just because.

"Why even help, then?" Stiles asks.

Peter gives him a measured look. It seems to be full of messages Stiles can't understand, messages Peter probably doesn't want him to understand and is just tormenting him with because Peter knows that loose ends and unsolved mysteries and hanging questions will drive Stiles mad in the long run. Maybe that's it then, this entire marriage is just a way to turn Stiles insane once and for all.

"I'll let you know," Peter murmurs, securing his lid back onto his cup, and before Stiles can follow that statement onto a tangent, Peter tips his jaw in another direction. "Look at them. Now that's convincing."

Across the cafe, a real-life couple is murmuring into each other's mouths, so lost in the romance and hormones of it all that they nearly upset the sugar bowl. Stiles feels uncomfortably hot watching them, almost as if they're setting an example he ought to be following. He sets his cup down, hands suddenly a little damp.

When he looks over, Peter's watching him. He seems to already know what's coming, an amused smirk playing on his lips.

"We don't have to kiss, do we?" Stiles asks, feeling the need to lower his voice.

Peter's mouth twitches. "Thankfully, no," he says, leaving Stiles to silently grumble over thankfully and all the indirect insults it carries with it the rest of the day.

--

"All right," the sheriff says. He sounds like he's in pain, like someone's perpetually pinching his hands. "So that explains the rings. What about what I walked in on?"

"Ah." Stiles had been foolishly hoping that wouldn't come up. Considering it’s what got them here in the holding cell in the first place, it was a long shot. "Well."

"Was it the first time it happened?"

Stiles inadvertently looks at Peter, who's fixing him with the lewdest, most unhelpful grin he's ever seen. He quickly looks away and considers the merits of lying to his father. Pros: he doesn't have to deal with the memory of looking him in the eye while he tells him he's been defiled by the man twice his age sitting next to him. Cons: the crushing guilt and abundant sweat that comes with fibbing to his flesh and blood.

"Stiles," his dad grumbles. "Was it the first time?"

"Depends on your definition of first time. Really. Because we definitely never did that before."

"Stiles."

"No," Peter pipes up, completely unprompted. Stiles wants to feed him to hungry bears. "It wasn't the first time."

--

"What the hell is this?"

Right in front of him, intent on making a flashy entrance where it's parked on the curb right near the front doors, Peter's car, a horribly conspicuous sports model with angular curves and a shiny coat of black paint, sits soaking in the limelight of passing stares.

Stiles ducks his head, trying desperate to remain unaffiliated as Peter revs the engine. The loud rumbles of the engine grab the attention of all the remaining onlookers who haven't given the car at least a five minute appreciatory look yet.

"A reinforcement," Peter says. He takes his sunglasses off and slides them over his shirt, the pull of their weight exposing a sliver of chest hair Stiles highly doubts is appropriate on school grounds. "Get in before you make a scene."

Stiles sputters. "Showing up in this thing is already a scene!" He points in vain at the parking lot where his Jeep is waiting for him. "My car is right there."

"Change of plans, you're coming with me," Peter says, then leans across the car to push open the door for Stiles. "Come on."

Stiles gets in, resigning himself to the madness. He throws his backpack with as much bodily force as possible into the backseat and tries not to enjoy the feeling of cool, expensive leather against his skin as he climbs in.

"This is unnecessary," Stiles says even as he buckles himself up. "We don't need any reinforcements. You being my chauffeur doesn't reinforce anything." He throws his hands into the hair and tries not to enjoy the commercial free, pricy radio station playing from the speakers. "We have enough signs of our ridiculous, ridiculous marriage."

"It's all good," Peter agrees. "But not good enough."

Stiles pinches the bridge of his nose. With everything from rings to coffee dates to letting Peter humiliate him in public, Stiles thinks they have done enough. He considers what could possibly come next—"property of" tattoos, an appearance on The Newlywed Game, brunch with family members—and blanches.

"Besides, a show like this doesn't hurt," Peter says. "For all you know, one of your fellow peers is the siren."

"They aren’t," Stiles snaps back instantly. "Come on. Scott would've noticed."

Peter's mouth twists, but he seems to know better than to have a quibble with Stiles over his best friend's talents and general ability to observe his surroundings. He takes a new approach instead. "Getting my scent on you is important too, you know," Peter says. He pats the leather headrest behind him, caressing it like a lover might. "Sitting in my car is one way to do that."

Stiles looks out of the window where students are still wandering out the doors at leisurely paces. He envies all of them, how they're living a life that's never seen the horrors of being forced to put up with the mad ramblings of a werewolf who's less of a helpful accessory and more of a safety requirement. Now seems like it would be a good time to go wail on some moors and let the drama envelop him.

"There has to be another way," Stiles says. "Something other than picking me up after school like you're my soccer mom who's in a sports car because she’s in a middle life crisis." He turns back to Peter. "How about I roll around in your laundry for a while? That would work, right?"

Peter shrugs. He looks a little snubbed that anything about him could even be rationally compared to a soccer mom, but doesn't voice his objection to the title. "Or, if you'd like something even simpler."

"Yes," Stiles says. "The simpler the better, please. Also, less embarrassing me in public would be good too."

"Okay." Peter shifts like an animal reading its prey for weakness. "Stay still."

"What?"

Before he can even ask for further details of this plan, Peter's removing all sense of personal space between them until not even toothpicks could fit, and then a bad situation goes to much, much worse when his mouth latches onto Stiles' neck.

Stiles' first reaction is a deep betrayal of body to mind congruence he will never forgive himself for: he moans.

It's the worst possible sound he could've made, including animal impressions or straight up screeching, and the redness takes over his face before he can quell it. Peter's tongue is laving up his neck, tracing the line of his veins, teeth light on the breakable skin, and the recesses of Stiles' mind remind him that this is crazy, so crazy, and yes, he'll do something about it the minute things stop feeling so good

God, he needs to get laid if this is doing something for him. That, or he needs a hot bubble bath and an evening alone with his tension-relieving hand. Alternatively, thirty thousand cool showers. Logic kicks back in his brain like power flicking back on after a storm, and Stiles promptly shoves Peter away.

"I can't believe you!" Stiles says, wiping down the side of his neck with his sleeve. "You don't just—we're in a school parking lot—you're deranged. Deranged!"

Peter seems to perk up with pride at the assessment. Stiles hates himself for only noticing the way his lips are pinker than they were before.

"You seemed to enjoy it," he says, and for one horrifying moment Stiles considers the possibility that Peter can read minds, up until he remembers that the heady smell of confused lust is probably hanging uncertainty in the air right now.

"No more of that," Stiles says. "Picking me up is the better option. Definitely. Keep doing that."

--

“Hold on, that’s not the time I was thinking of,” Peter pipes up.

“Yes, it was.”

“No, I was thinking of when—”

“Yes. It. Was.”

Stiles cannot make himself any clearer. He grabs Peter by the wrist and tries to squeeze the blood out of his hand to make it obvious that Peter shutting his mouth is the wisest choice of action for all involved, a message Peter rejects. Apparently, his concern for his own well-standing in the sheriff’s eyes isn’t as important as humiliating Stiles as much as physically possible.

Peter puts his hand on top of Stiles’ as if they’re an old couple holding hands over teatime. Stiles snatches his away.

“I was thinking of when we were in your room,” Peter continues. “And you thought it would be a good idea to practice.”

“It was not my idea!”

“Hmmm,” Peter says. “Are you sure?”

“If I am sure of absolutely anything in this life it is that I was not the one coming onto you,” Stiles says, enunciating every word carefully. Every square inch of his body is probably either red with ridicule or drawn tight from clenched rage. He will get his revenge. He will barter with Deaton in ridding him of his entire mountain ash stash. He will see the day when Peter will be sorry.

“How likely is it that I was coming onto you?”

Stiles lets out an outraged squeal he is not proud of. “Very! You—you and your big crush that you don’t even know how to communicate, dear god, your body will sink deep, deep underground when I’m done with—”

“Hey!” the sheriff clapping his hands together like a referee breaking up a squabble on the field snaps Stiles out of his fury. “How about someone just tells me what happened?”

Stiles doesn’t want to. He’s positive that this is a conversation his father can go without ever hearing, probably doesn’t even want to hear and just doesn’t know it yet, but if it’s going to be told, Stiles would rather have it be from his own mouth. He takes a deep breath, wishing he had a Xanax in his pocket all the while, and plunges in like a man swan diving into lava.

--

Peter keeps reinforcing scents and smells and odors over the next few days, either making sure Stiles has left his in Peter’s car or Peter’s left his on Stiles’ belongings. It’s better than the random mauling of his neck that, whenever it crosses his mind, Stiles feel the intense urge to wipe clean his neck again, but he’d still prefer a heads-up when Peter decides to randomly drop by.

“Just making sure my scent is in your room,” Peter says when Stiles finds him there, stretched out in his desk chair with his feet atop a pile of unfinished homework while he lazily fusses with Stiles’ laptop, probably looking for his secret folder of porn or a private online journal.

“This is.” Stiles stops himself, because he doesn’t have a word for what this is. He feels his heartbeat slowly return to normal as he peels himself away from the door he had flattened himself against out of shock when he noticed the uninvited intruder in his room. “This is out of control. You could at least tell me when you’re coming over.”

“You don’t have to be so jumpy,” Peter murmurs, sliding his feet off the desk with a sigh. “It’s just your spouse coming for a visit.”

“No one’s listening, stop talking like that!” Stiles says. If he hears Peter refer to himself as Stiles’ husband one more time, his ears will start ringing. “I think we can ease up on the vomit-inducing happily married stuff. We’re convincing enough.”

“Are we?”

“Yes. Yes.”

"We could always practice," Peter offers. "So it's really convincing."

"Or maybe you're just looking to feel me up."

Peter aches one presumptuous eyebrow. "Maybe. But unlikely."

Stiles groans out loud in the noisiest and most juvenile way he can. He doesn't want to practice playing Mr. and Mr. with Peter. He doesn't even want to be spending this much time with him as it is.

"I'm not kissing you, licking you, or touching you in any way, shape, or form."

Peter's judgmental eyebrow rises even higher at the word licking. "I get it," he murmurs, examining his fingernails with an exasperating amount of hauteur. "You're too scared."

Stiles isn't going to fall for it, he isn't going to fall for it, he isn't going to fall for it.

"I'm not scared," his mouth blurts out hotly. "I battle monsters of the night on a regular basis." Could that eyebrow possibly get any higher? "What makes you think I can't handle a make out session with you?"

"You refusing to do it, mostly," Peter says. He gets to his feet with a heavy sigh, like Stiles exhausts him too much for him to stay here any longer, and heads for the window to presumably make a monkey's exit out of it. "If survival is that unspectacular for you."

Stiles can't believe he's falling for this. He snatches the back of Peter's shirt, using the fabric to pull him closer and wheel him toward the desk chair. Peter goes willingly as Stiles shoves him back into it, braces his hands on the armrests, and ducks in to plant a short, married-for-ten-and-a-half-years-so-the-flame-has-died-down peck on his lips. Peter looks unimpressed when he retreats.

"So I'm your grandma now?" he mutters. "You are scared."

"I'm not!" Stiles grumbles. He leans in and recreates the same kiss, this time lingering a few extra seconds for effect. All right, so maybe his grandmother has kissed him in a startlingly similar fashion before, not that it matters. He's not pretending to be a newlywed, just a couple with passion that's probably not as wild as crazy anymore. It should suffice.

Peter disagrees. "For god's sake," he says, and yanks Stiles down by the collar of his flannel until he's suddenly sprawled on Peter's lap, legs straddling his thighs. "Try it now."

Stiles' mouth drops open of its own accord. Peter is all warmth and unyielding muscle beneath him, his hands coming up to slide over the small of Stiles' back, then back down, then back up, like a teasing massage lacking pressure. Stiles looks down at the man he's sitting on, now with both eyebrows raised in a clear challenge, and feels a defiance grow in him he won't deny.

He swoops down and kisses Peter, harder this time, and just when he's about to pull away, Peter's fingers curl over the base of Stiles' neck to keep him in place, pressing into the nape. Stiles goes with it, his hands trapped on Peter's chest where their bodies are pressed together. And shit, this actually feels good, if not a little awesome. Peter's mouth is the perfect slick curve under Stiles', hot where his tongue is coy and teasing against Stiles' lower lip. Then he bites down and Stiles nearly pulls away.

Peter doesn't let him. His free hand curls its way around Stiles' thigh, tantalizingly close to the seam by his crotch, just as his teeth tug on the lip he has trapped. Stiles feels himself go a little shaky, a little boneless, and pulls back to breathe just to get insistently reeled in again.

And now this, this ought to be persuasive. This isn't even newlywed territory, this is first night hooking up after months of sexual tension build-up territory. Stiles makes a noise, a keening sound that’s ridiculously embarrassing when coming out inside Peter’s mouth.

Suddenly there’s a hand on his belt buckle, the clank of it being undone pulling Stiles back to reality. He wrenches himself away from Peter's mouth, uncomfortably aware of the fact that he's sitting on Peter Hale's lap swapping spit with him without a moment's pause. Someone turns the sound back on in the world from the background static it had become, nothing but their labored breathing to be heard.

"What are you doing?" Stiles demands.

Peter's hand slither up Stiles' back, hitching fabric up as he goes. "Getting off," he says, like it's obvious, then leans in to bite his shoulder through his shirt. "Or, if you like, we can get you off first."

Stiles shakes his head and squirms, attempting to wriggle himself out of Peter's grip. "No, no. No. I thought we were just. We’re just—practicing.”

Peter’s hands, now keeping a bruise-worthy grip on his hips, hold him more tightly. His head emerges from where it's nuzzled against Stiles' neck. “Practice,” he says. His voice sounds a little hollow, like how Finstock sounds when Stiles has completely missed the point of a lecture. "Is this about Derek?"

"Derek?" Stiles parrots. "Why would I even be thinking about Derek?" He shakes his head again. "I just thought we were trying to make it look real. Practice."

That word seems inexplicably significant for some reason. It's the only word that keeps him out of hot water, that separates this from almost sex to actual safety precautions. Peter's chin tips downward.

“So is this your erection just showing up for rehearsal?”

Stiles’ head snaps down, mortified. He knows he was getting into it, but this is borderline horrifying. He scrambles off Peter’s lap and thinks about the most gruesome, depressing, revolting things he can. His grandmother’s meatloaf. Puppies dead. Mr. Harris doing karaoke.

“Let’s never speak of his again,” he mutters over his shoulder at Peter, twisting around so he doesn’t catch any more glances at Stiles’ boner.

--

“It was hardly anything,” Stiles says hotly. “It definitely—it wasn’t—everybody kept their pants on. Really.”

A ridiculously hot warmth spreads over Stiles’ cheeks, ears, and neck, a hostile takeover of redness that runs all the way down to his neck. He shoots a quick prayer into the sky that Peter won’t find it necessary to share details about the boner, or possibly worse, the noises he made with his mouth slanted against Peter’s. All of this is downright nightmarish.

“You realize just by laying a hand on him, you were making yourself a target of my rifle?”

Stiles’ eyes widen just in time to see Peter’s smirk crawl up his face as he processes the sheriff’s threat. It’s the heedless smirk of someone trying to turn a warning into a challenge, which is a showdown Stiles can go his entire life without ever needing to watch. He feels the very strong urge to mediate between them, stand as a barrier separating the madness, but as it stands, he can’t get himself to do anything but stare from one to the other like he’s watching a rather nail-biting tennis match.

“I see what’s happening here,” Peter drawls, leaning forward. “It’s totally natural to be concerned about your son enjoying the sexual touch of a man who had him begging for more just a few hours ago.”

Stiles stands up abruptly; it draws the attention to him before anyone can lunge across the desk and turn this interrogation lethal. “Oh my god!” He’s feeling a little light-headed. “Peter, you don’t get to talk anymore!”

Peter throws him a look much too flirtatious for his liking, clearly not deterred. If his intent is to drive Stiles’ father into an early grave, he’s going to succeed before the night is through. His father taking a slow, rattling breath across the table is proof of that.

“Okay, let’s just.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, a thousand more wrinkles appearing on his face. “Let’s switch gears.” He turns to Stiles. “Explain the injuries.”

Stiles looks down where his sleeve has ridden up, exposing a corner of his now bandaged arm. “That,” he says, pointing at it unnecessarily. “That was an unfortunate run-in with a siren.”

“A siren?” his dad repeats. “I thought this whole fake marriage was to protect you from the siren?”

Stiles and Peter exchange an involuntary glance. Even Peter has the decency to look a little ashamed that the brilliant plan he took great care to construct—with props and everything—wasn’t so brilliant after all.

“Well. It didn’t work out as nicely as we had hoped.”

--

Peter says it's prudent of them to "make appearances" so their farce seems believable, and according to him, "making appearances" means taking Stiles to a shady club.

The only reason he even gets in is because he’s pretty sure Peter threatens the bouncer and claws may or may not come out in the process, and now he’s on the inside wishing he was still on the outside where the smell of sweat and spilled alcohol wasn’t quite so strong and the strobe lights weren’t giving him a headache. He’s led to the bar through a throng of gyrating bodies and really, are these the type of people who Peter feels need to be persuaded of their relationship?

When they reach the bar, Stiles feels like he shouldn’t even touch the counter, let alone the seat he's on. The music is blaring and Peter's hand is on his lower back, either possessive or paternal or just to make Stiles itchy.

"Get your hands off me, will you?" Stiles mutters. The memory of his boner touching Peter's groin through their jeans is vivid in his mind like someone's playing a high definition slideshow of his biggest regrets behind his eyelids, and now he's hyper aware of every single appendage they have touching.

"It's a tactic," Peter says, his eyes roaming over Stiles' head. When Stiles follows his gaze, he's shooting a glare like a bullet at a shirtless man on the other side of the bar watching Stiles like he's a dessert he wants to sample. "So everyone knows you're mine."

"Everyone?" Stiles asks.

"What?" Peter's eyes, still distracted, snap back to Stiles, focusing on him. "The siren."

Stiles is getting the distinct feeling—not for the first time this last week—that he's being kept out of the big picture. Just as he opens his mouth to grill someone on this, a cool drink is being pushed into his hands.

"Drink," Peter says. Under the dancing lights, the glass and its contents seem to jump from purple to orange to blue to red.

"No, thanks," Stiles says, swilling it left and right. It's not that he's against underage drinking—as a matter of fact, he condones teenagers under eighteen doing all things the law tells them they can't out of sheer proof that they can still survive the aftermaths—but he isn't so sure about accepting mysterious drinks in a club he didn't even catch the name of from a man he wishes he had never learned the name of.

"It'll loosen you up," Peter says.

"I don't need to loosen up. I am perfectly fine being tight." Stiles goes pink but barrels on. "Plus I think it's explicitly stated in the guidebook to staying alive in a town trying to kill you that you should keep your wits about you."

"With all due respect, Stiles," Peter says, which lets Stiles know he's about to hear something on the exact opposite side of the spectrum from respectful, "I wouldn't trust a guidebook that's let you scrape by death by the seat of your pants about eighteen times by now."

“Says the guy who’s literally resurrected himself,” Stiles huffs, and then remembers the point. “I’m not drinking any alcohol around you. I don’t trust you.”

“Suit yourself,” Peter says, in no way trying to defend himself. He seems morbidly proud of the fear he instills in poor hearts.

Around them, people are dancing so lewdly that they ought to be carrying R-Rated signs on their backs. Stiles is reminded of a few days ago when he was sitting in the café with Peter, feeling inexplicably as if all the people around him were setting examples he ought to follow, and feels his hands twitch at the idea of dancing with Peter like this, having his leg between his thighs and his mouth on his neck. If he’d like it as much as he had liked the impromptu make-out session in his room.

He remembers that this is a business outing, and decides to talk business.

“Any news on who the siren is?” Stiles roars over the noise of the crowd. “Does Derek have any leads?”

It was the wrong thing to say, clearly, since Peter stiffens like Stiles has just brought up his dead relatives. “Why are you so concerned about Derek?”

“I’m not, really, but,” Stiles says, “he is the only one without a partner in all this, so he’s not exactly in the safest position in the world.”

“I see where this is going,” Peter says grimly, which is rather funny, because Stiles didn’t know it was going anywhere.

“You do?”

"You want him as your husband,” he says, and when met with nothing but Stiles’ blank stare, he raises his eyebrows. “You wanted him for the job first,” Peter reminds him. "Deaton was second place, I believe, which I do thing was a rather unfair decision in terms of ranking."

"What?"

"Derek. Your favorite husband. Your pick as a lover. My nephew. Your first choice." Outside of the deadpanning, he sounds almost disappointed.

Stiles doesn't get why. He feels like he's on the outside of a door, failing to stare through the frosted glass and understand what's progressing on the other side. He misses being able to actually make sense of things.

"I don't get it," Stiles finally says. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"You're a bit slow on the uptake, aren't you?"

"No," Stiles says, instantly sour, and straightens up.

"Fine," Peter huffs. "I'll spell it out for you. Your feelings for Derek are extremely easy to pick up on."

"What on earth are you even talking about?" Stiles puts the glass, still untouched and still in his hands, down on the counter. "Are you trying to set me up with Derek?"

Peter's jaw slides imperceptibly left and right like he's grinding his teeth together. "No."

"Then what exactly is going on?" Stiles asks. “I’m not in love with Derek. I’m not even kinda considering having a crush on Derek.”

“Fine,” Peter grits out. “Don’t admit it.” Stiles opens his mouth to babble, but Peter cuts him off. “But you’ll have to wait to do anything about it until all this is over.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Stiles asks. He always knew Peter is insane, but this is stretching things a bit far. He reaches out to touch his arm, then thinks the better of it, leaving his arm by his side.

“I mean it,” Peter says. “Pack in your urges until we’re done with the siren.”

“My urges?”

“You have to spend more time with your actual husband. Before this entire ploy becomes completely worthless and everyone can see through it.”

There’s something like murder and fire and rage in his eyes, which Stiles can’t even begin to comprehend. The music is getting louder, something that thumps through the speakers and drowns out all voices.

“You do realize you’re not my husband, right?” Stiles shouts over the song, a remix that under other circumstances would have him dancing like a loon in the center of the floor. “You can’t tell me what to do.”

Peter’s fingers snag his wrist, his grip uncomfortably tight. “I can.”

“You know what, that is it,” Stiles says, yanking his hand back into his own personal space. “I’m not doing this anymore. I’d rather be a victim to a crazy, child-eating siren than sit for one more minute in the sociopathic world you seem to float around in all day.”

Peter’s eyes flash, a flicker of icy blue that has Stiles worried about the safety of everybody in this club for a moment. All the more reason to leave now and not look back, Stiles thinks, before the bloodshed starts. There’s a bed at home and sheets he can crawl under where no monsters can reach him, and he’ll make sure to lock all his doors and windows before he goes to sleep so there aren’t any middle-of-the-night horror movie surprises either.

“You’d rather die than spend time with me,” Peter says in a voice lacking all inflection. His fingers are white as snow where they’re gripping his drink.

“Uh huh.” Stiles considers taking off his wedding ring and throwing it onto the ground in a fit of dramatics, but decides the theatrical aspect of a storm-out isn’t really his thing. “I’ll take my chances.”

Peter looks murderous. For a moment, it seems he might say something—a wolfish growl, perhaps—but Stiles doesn’t linger to hear whatever retort he has waiting to be the Last Word, getting to his feet and thundering his way to the exit, pushing past crowds of people that hardly seem to notice his mission to leave as quickly as possible. When he finally reaches the door, it slams shut behind him, taking all color and light and sound with it and leaving him in the chilly nighttime air, quiet except for the far-off sound of a car honking.

He walks along the dark line of the sidewalk until he starts hearing something—singing.

The next thing he remembers is being knocked silly upside the head and the world going dark.

--

“Why didn’t you go with him?” the sheriff demands, looking furious. “If you had one job, and that job was to keep my son safe, why didn’t you follow through?” He whips around to Stiles, his rage turning into confusion. “And who’s Derek again?”

“Peter’s nephew,” Stiles says. “Who I do not have a crush on.”

It seems to alleviate some of the weight on his father’s shoulders, who appeared momentarily close to a mental breakdown at the idea of Stiles harboring feelings for two men much over his age from the same family.

“For the record,” Peter says. “I did try to stop him. He was too busy throwing a childish tantrum.”

“If anyone was being childish, it was you!” Stiles cries, outraged. “All your talk of telling me what to do, and some bullshit about you being uglier than Deaton, and other nonsense you were spouting.”

“It wasn’t nonsense,” Peter says, nostrils flaring. “I could smell the lust. I was positive you were into Derek.”

Stiles quiets down instantly, unwilling to admit that the lust may have been aimed in a slightly different direction. Most of what he remembers of the club before their fight was thinking about dancing with Peter in the haze of the lights, perhaps even fantasizing about their hips grinding together to the beat of an R&B song. He didn’t admit it then, and he certainly isn’t bringing it up now.

“Besides,” Peter says, flattening a broad hand on the table. “I did go after him. I just got there… a little too late.”

--

When Stiles wakes up, all he can hear is the ocean.

It seems like he's close to the beach. The steady pounding of waves is loud in his brain, right up until he realizes that that sound is probably his headache thumping against his skull, reminding him forcefully of the last twenty four hours. Namely, the being viciously knocked unconscious.

He reaches up to touch gingerly at his head where he remembers being clobbered, but his hands are chained, officially turning this evening from unpleasant to unsalvageable. The cuffs are thick and clunky around his wrists, attached to rattling chains attached to a ceiling. Stiles takes this moment both to curse like a sailor—appropriate, since he is at sea—and take in his surroundings: a small, dingy shack that seems to be lit only with the small windows lining the ceiling. A pit of consternation churns in his stomach when he realizes that it’s light outside, a new day, no longer the dark night surrounding him when he was kidnapped. It’s been a while, and no one’s found him.

On the bright side, the siren isn’t here either. Her lair—a building Stiles firmly believes is a repurposed surfer’s shack—is completely quiet except for the slosh of nearby waves and the sound of Stiles’ own slightly panicked breathing. The shack is damp, sticking his hair to his forehead with an uncomfortably warm humidity, and when he looks down, the bottom of his jeans are completely soaked and his shoes squelch every time he shifts his feet. He’s not sure which is worse, the wet socks or the numb arms that have lost all feeling with the blood no longer reaching anything higher than his shoulders.

The cuffs give him a little bit of room, easily slipping from his forearm to his wrist. They look ancient, brown with rust and loud every time Stiles jiggles them, but Stiles’ tugging doesn’t dislodge them, only makes his wrist sore where they dig in, threatening to break the skin.

He tries to remember every detail he can, exactly how he got into this mess. If he gets saved, the precise story might be important in terms of making his tale seem all the more perilous. He remembers the seedy bar and Peter behaving like a thirteen-year-old boy going through the hellish phases of puberty and leaving him there, and then the cool street and the gravel crunching underfoot, and then, something breaking the silence. Something melodic, something lulling, something that made him stop in his tracks.

Stiles figures it out about a few hours too late—it was the siren song. It had completely frozen him, leaving him vulnerable to whatever hammer or anvil or car engine lammed into his skull. Not without a bitter taste in his mouth, Stiles realizes staying with Peter in that ridiculous bar would've saved him from this situation.

His thoughts are interrupted when the shack door creaks open. It looks heavy, a sturdy iron, and the slow push of it opening is ridiculously dramatic—up until a woman delicately slips inside, bare feet and long hair that reminds Stiles strongly of seaweed, and his hope that a rescuer has come for him crumples within him.

So this is the siren. She looks remarkably like a human, if not for the slimy skin and the slightly blue lips and the appearance of someone who looks like they’ve spent the last few months floating in the ocean.

She looks directly at Stiles; he feels uncomfortably like he's drowning when she does so.

"Comfortable?" she asks him.

"Not so much," Stiles says, shaking his head. "Could I maybe get out of these cuffs? A show of good faith for your innocent prisoner?"

"I'm afraid not," she murmurs. “You wouldn’t be much of a prisoner anymore then.”

The way she pronounces her words, an emphasis on the s whenever possible and a slow need to draw out every word until it’s three times longer, it sets Stiles’ skin on edge. He sees visions of himself, nothing but a carcass, the way his plate of chicken wings look when nothing’s left but discarded bones, and his friends weeping over him and his profound, profound stupidity because he thought wandering alone at night with a siren on the loose was a smart idea.

Then again, he was supposed to have an out. He looks down at the ring still on his hands, a little slippery with sweat, and tries to hold up his hand as proof.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Stiles says desperately. “I’m taken. I’m married. I thought you go after singles.”

“I do,” she says. “And you are.” She steps an inch closer, which makes Stiles lean back, which makes her inch even closer. “Those devoted to another, they are not susceptible to my call. You were.”

The siren leans closer; she smells strongly of saltwater, of a day at the beach when it's still muggy. She seems to take a long, thorough sniff of Stiles' chest.

"I know you are lying to the world," she says, and then grabs his hand. It's the one with his ring on it, now glinting in the light as she lifts it, examining its authenticity. "Your props aren't good enough. I can still tell."

Stiles' stomach drops. Well, that means the last few weeks, even that unfortunately arousing afternoon making out with Peter, was a humongous waste of time. He might as well have just offered himself up as bait and made himself useful. At least then he would've known about the kidnapping and had time to mentally prepare himself, now all he has is panic and sweat and high-strung nerves.

Stiles thinks now is the right time to say, "I wouldn't be a very tasty snack."

The siren smiles. Her sibilant tones flutter in the air as she speaks almost like the wings of a bird, and yet still coiling like snakes. "The taste does not matter," she admits. "It's the feeling that counts."

"The feeling of devouring defenseless humans?"

"The feeling of power," she says, "of taking the energy of another life."

Stiles pulls a face. This is all very Alfred Hitchcock, all very cannibalistic, and if it goes on, he may have to hurl. He tugs again on his chains just to have something to occupy himself with, but he shouldn't have—the left one is rusty, jagged, and slices down his forearm as it slips to his wrist. It leaves a single thin line of blood that burns instantly.

It seems to entice the siren. The smell, the sight, maybe just the memory of blood spilling between her teeth, it awakens her hunger anew as she sees blood ooze out of Stiles' thin wound. She moves closer with eyes full of thirst, then spares him a sympathetic glance.

"I'm sorry it had to be you," she murmurs, her hand cupping Stiles' cheek, uncomfortably slimy. "But you are too good not to have."

There is a moment, then, where Stiles realizes with perfect clarity that he's about to be eaten alive and all of the major consequences that come with it—namely: death—and that it is ultimately Peter's fault, Peter who didn't play his role as husband convincingly enough, Peter who is the death of him. Stiles is not surprised, but he is terrified.

He would close his eyes to brace himself if it wasn't for something he sees in his peripherals, something fast-moving and hope-igniting out the window.

He tries not to let it show on his face and bites the inside of his cheeks. "I beg of you," he says, almost hysterically. "Just wait a moment."

She leans back, her hand slipping off Stiles' jaw. She raises a questioning eyebrow at Stiles, sparing him another two point give seconds, which is thankfully exactly what he needs.

The shack door bangs open, threatening to rocket off its hinges. Then there's Peter, suddenly there, and Stiles hears the shink of his claws coming out before he sees them dive into the siren's neck.

He makes quick work of it and somehow manages to get most of the blood on himself instead of Stiles. It's not so much red as it is gooey, nearly alabaster, and Stiles watches with eyes that refuse to look away as the siren lets out one last cry and crumples to her knees, but not before fixing Stiles with a look of total affront, like having his faux husband nearby waiting to pounce was a low blow. She collapses to the ground before he can explain this is all just a happy, happy coincidence.

Stiles feels himself breathe again, the air forcing its way back into his lungs as he takes a moment to celebrate his survival. It's getting narrower and narrower every time, which Stiles is not exactly pleased by.

"You found me," Stiles breathes out like a relieved prayer. "How?"

Peter steps over the still siren, eyes roving over Stiles' body. For a second it seems like he's appreciating it, the fact that Stiles is still in one piece and not without any limbs, but then he seizes Stiles' wrist and twists it so Stiles can get a better look of the bleeding cut on his forearm.

"I knew she would be at the ocean. Then I could smell the blood," Peter says. "And the fear, and the sarcasm, and the regret, but mostly the blood."

“You can’t smell sarcasm.”

“You have no idea.”

Stiles can't believe he's actually grateful to an old handcuff for getting him rescued, even if he probably needs a tetanus shot. He rattles the chains, remembering they're still attached to him.

"A little help here?"

Peter's gaze snaps up from where it seems to be distracted, this time actually caught up in staring at Stiles' body. Stiles feels a heat spread through him, something he wants to look into when he isn’t wet and cold and bleeding.

“I do appreciate you like this,” Peter says, and there’s a moment where they do nothing but exchange glares brimming with sarcasm—Stiles’ a bit wearier than Peter’s—before Peter steps in and rips the chains off the wall.

--

“So the entire plan of pretending to be married. That was totally useless?”

Stiles heaves a long sigh that gives him a few extra moments to think about how to word his response. Admitting that he and his friends are almost always winging their schemes would probably end up in his father grounding him until he learns the value of being alive and thinking ahead. He scratches the back of his neck.

“We thought it would work,” Stiles says.

“But yes, it was useless,” Peter admits. Stiles really wants to put some duct tape over his mouth until he starts being helpful, or at least stops being unhelpful.

There are beverages in front of them by now, plastic cups of water that sit completely untouched on the table. Stiles taps the side of his to keep his fingers occupied.

“Why am I supposed to believe it wasn’t all just a plan of yours,” the sheriff says to Peter, brow furrowed, “to just get your jollies off with my kid?”

Peter mirrors his frown. “My jollies can get off on their own just fine,” he says coolly. “I don’t exactly need a teenager for that express purpose.”

“Peter.”

“Honestly, I think you’re looking at this from entirely the wrong angle, sheriff,” Peter says, ignoring Stiles, as per usual. “I should be thanked. I saved your son from death. I saved you from funeral costs. I even made sure he didn’t fall asleep in someone’s yard on the way back home. He wasn’t exactly lucid after the clobbering.”

“Peter, oh my god.”

“So from your perspective,” the sheriff says slowly, “you’re just a Good Samaritan in all of this?”

“That’s exactly it.”

“Then what kept you from leaving after you dropped him off at his house?”

“He was bleeding. In multiple places. I helped clean him up.” Peter leans across the table. “Again, I should be thanked. I’m thinking a fruit basket, but plain hard cash would also—”

Stiles knocks his elbow into Peter’s ribs, making contact with a few bones that unfortunately do not crack and splinter under the pressure of Stiles’ wrath. They will never make it out of his police station. They will stay overnight all because Peter cannot keep his mouth shut.

“He was just making sure I was okay, dad,” Stiles says. “That’s all it was.”

“Really?” his father asks, the doubt clear in his voice. “Then tell me, Stiles. How did it progress into—into.” He clears his throat, and suddenly Stiles sees what Peter was talking about when he compared Stiles to a ripened tomato as he watches a redness spread over his father’s face that’s not exactly attractive. “Into what I saw?”

“Well,” Stiles mumbles, addressing the table. “That’s all it was… at first.”

--

“Thank you for what you did,” Stiles says. The cut on his arm is still bleeding, a burning slash that he’s holding away from himself like a weapon, sleeve rolled up to his elbow to avoid touching it.

“You’re welcome,” Peter says. “Let me see your arm.”

Stiles sticks it out obediently. Peter encircles his wrist with his fingers, a strong touch that isn’t too gentle. Then again, Peter probably doesn’t know gentle. Still, Stiles winces as Peter’s fingers coil around his forearm, nearly touching the blood.

“Hey,” he yelps, fingers twitching. “Easy on the priceless cargo.”

Peter tsks, presumably at his sensitivity. “It’ll be fine,” Peter murmurs. “This isn’t exactly life or death. Just wipe it clean.”

His fingers ghost up Stiles’ arm like spider’s legs, but Stiles doesn’t move away in a moment of blind, probably stupid trust. It seems like a charged moment, or at least, it does on Stiles’ end; he feels himself unconsciously arching closer to the line of Peter’s collarbone.

“So much for this plan, huh?” Stiles huffs, twisting the ring on his other hand. “It didn’t fool her. She could tell we weren’t together. Maybe she smelled it on me.”

Peter shakes his head. “I’ve touched you enough to leave a scent.”

Stiles feels the back of his neck go red. “I was talking more about—you know, emotion. Love. Lust. The things that make a marriage.” He snorts. “I think I see the flaw in this plan. Your lack of understanding of a functional relationship.”

“You can’t manufacture love,” Peter says. His hand is still touching Stiles’ wrist, keeping it extended toward him. “If that was the reason she busted you, there wasn’t a way to stop it.” He shoots Stiles a grin that’s all shark. “I do know a few things about functional relationships.”

“Whatever.” Stiles rolls his eyes. The pain subsides when he doesn’t focus on it, so he pulls the sleeve of his hoodie over it, hiding it from view. “Just—thanks. Let’s leave it at that.”

They meet eyes for a moment. He feels the gratitude in his chest like a foreign language he’s not used to—at least with Peter—and it’s making him feel warm, warmer than expected.

“Well,” Peter says. “Dead children are so much paperwork.”

Stiles stiffens. He yanks his wrist out of Peter’s grip. “Are you kidding me? Why do you always gotta ruin things?”

“I didn’t ruin anything,” Peter snarls. “I was being myself.”

“Well, don’t, okay?” A silence stretches between them. “I was trying to have a moment. Be thankful. Which you should’ve recorded, because you’ll hear it from me again.”

“A moment? For what?”

God, had he really said that? A moment for what? Stiles doesn’t even feel like he knows. A redness takes hostage of his face, and god, of course he knows. A memory, more vivid than he’d like, of Peter’s hands on his belt buckle, mouth hot on his jaw, flashes through his head. If he knows, Peter knows—picking up on his heartbeat, or smelling the lust on him.

“Don’t you make fun of me.”

“I wasn’t.”

There's a look in his eyes similar to the siren's hunger, except with Peter, Stiles is ninety-three-ish percent sure it isn’t because he’s about to be eaten alive. Something in his chest flutters, probably his heart, and Stiles steps forward in a show of boldness and arousal. Peter’s hand lands on his waist, its intentions probably less than savory. Then Stiles feels his knees buckle underneath him.

“Fuck,” Stiles mutters just as Peter’s other hand comes out to catch him as a fuzziness slips over his eyes. He almost forgot about the head injury and the possible concussion that came with it.

Peter sighs, not bothering to move Stiles to the bed, perfectly content to keep Stiles slumped in his arms, daring to slip to the floor. “You should’ve been more careful. You probably have a concussion.”

Stiles musters up as must energy as he can to glare. “I was attacked. I can’t believe you’re blaming this on me.”

The dizzy spell passes, the world uprighting itself again like a carousel coming to a stop. He straightens his knees, trying to put a more appropriate distance between him and Peter again. Peter refuses to let go, almost like him daring to do so will result in Stiles crumpling to the floor now that he’s ailed with random fainting.

“You should take care of all that blood before your father comes home,” Peter says, and then he dumps Stiles onto his rumpled bed and leaves. At least, he seems to, right up until he reemerges holding a wetted washcloth from the bathroom, handing it to Stiles.

“Well, I can’t very well see where the blood is on my head, can I?” Stiles says, rather irritable from being thrown about like a ragdoll, and thrusts the washcloth back into Peter’s hands. “Do it for me.”

Peter snatches it up. He seems to be equally irritable, except his reasons for being so are out of Stiles’ grasp. After all, he’s not the one who was clobbered over the head and nearly slaughtered by a woman keen on eating him whole, except maybe spitting out the bones. Like owls. Owls spit out bones of whatever victims they’ve gobbled up. Stiles feels his face twist with disgust.

“I haven’t even touched you yet. Don’t make a face.”

Stiles looks up at where Peter’s poised the washcloth over Stiles’ hair, lips thin. A cool wetness descends on his scalp a moment later, a slight sting preceding the wiping as the blood, now crusted into his hair, is cleaned away. Peter works at it for a long time, longer than he thought it would take, which makes him wonder exactly how much blood he’s lost, which in turn makes him dangerously woozy. The bed seems to stare at him, begging to be slept on.

Peter rolls up his sleeve next, wiping down his forearm as well. Stiles watches out of the corner of his eyes, seeing the blood smear red over his skin before it’s sponged off completely, leaving nothing but a dark, thin line down the inside of his arm. He flexes it again, tilting his hand inward, and feels less pain than before.

“I want to sleep,” he murmurs, feeling spent. Peter roughly smacks that idea out of him by grabbing his chin and shaking it.

“You might die, you know.”

Stiles finds that statistically unlikely. He already had one near-death experience today, what are the chances he might die again, all in a timespan of a few hours? He shakes his head, not convinced. “I won’t. Scott’s mom told me—if you can hold a conversation, you can probably risk going to sleep with a concussion. Just. Just wake me up after an hour.”

“The paperwork, Stiles,” Peter reminds him, but Stiles is already making himself comfortable on the sheets. “There’ll be so much of it.”

“Doesn’t sound like my problem,” Stiles says, and then falls asleep in under a few seconds.

--

Peter is currently under the fire of a glare so calculating that Stiles feels a little uncomfortable even looking directly at his father in fear of meeting the lasers that his eyes have become and accidentally becoming seven again, babbling out incoherent apologies and wanting to go to his room. Peter, however, seems to have no problem dealing with the heat of the sheriff’s glowering.

“This is the part where you give me a good reason as to why you didn’t leave right then and there when you should’ve,” he tells Peter. It gives Stiles the distinct impression that Peter might be pistol-whipped if he gives the wrong reason.

Peter shrugs, very nonchalant. “I was making sure he wasn’t slipping into a coma,” he says. “I know—it sounds like a job for his father, but see, he’s never home.”

The sound of chairs scraping alarms Stiles back into action, shooting to his feet before his father can actually get to his gun and follow through on that pistol-whipping scenario. There’s a brief, nightmarish struggle in which Stiles tries to silence Peter by slapping a hand over his mouth while Peter wrestles him back into his seat, an extremely uncoordinated brawl that ends when Peter bites on Stiles’ fingers.

The sheriff composes himself after the quarreling subsides. “And when he woke up? You decided your presence was still required?”

“My personal opinion is that he could benefit from someone following him twenty-four-seven considering his knack for,” Peter’s lip curls, “clumsiness.”

“I was fine,” Stiles cuts in, even if he didn’t exactly mind what progressed afterwards thanks to Peter’s insistence on staying. A blush tickles his cheeks as the memory assaults him and he ducks his head to hide it.

“All right,” the sheriff says. “Let me try a different angle.” He tilts toward Stiles. “Stiles, why didn’t you tell this doofus to leave?”

Stiles is afraid he doesn’t have an answer. “Um,” he mumbles. “I was a little, er. Loopy. And I appreciated having someone to, you know. Keep me from locking myself into the laundry machine.”

Of course, he remembers it a little differently. He distinctly remembers a lot of squabbling and griping about being one hundred percent coherent and self-sufficient and wanting Peter to stop treating him like a five-year-old who needed constant supervision and lots of hot beverages, but it’s better than what he suspects the actual reason is: he remembered the look Peter gave him before he passed out, that unhidden thirst that radiated something more, something to be continued once he’d be conscious again, and he wanted to explore that.

“Sounds about right,” Peter puts in. “I wouldn’t have put it past him to eat the couch cushions had I not been there.”

“Gee,” the sheriff says. His voice is dry enough to induce droughts. “I’m so grateful you were.”

--

Stiles is roughly shaken awake what seems to be about five minutes later, nothing but a cruel blinking of his eyelids before Peter’s looming over him rocking him awake without any finesse. He jolts, mildly taken aback by the awakening, and then the pounding in his head returns like a mallet that suddenly remembers to hammer on Stiles’ skull.

“Get up,” Peter demands, yanking the sheets that have wormed their way over Stiles’ still clothed body, tangled with his legs, off his torso and onto the foot of the bed. “It’s been an hour.”

“No way,” Stiles grumbles, rubbing his eyes until the numbers on his bedside clock come into focus. It really has been an hour. “Give me another hour.”

“No,” Peter says, his voice all authority and command. He pushes a glass of water into Stiles’ hand, a glass clearly stolen from Stiles’ kitchen cupboard. “Drink it. All of it.”

Stiles does as he’s told, Peter behaving like an ill-tempered nurse urging him to follow directions. He finishes half of it, suddenly aware of how thirsty he is, and cradles it in his hand. “You’re still here,” he says, a little suspiciously. Who knows what Peter entertained himself with while Stiles was out cold? Did he sneak around in Stiles’ medicine cabinet? Did he go through his computer files?

“I said all of it,” Peter says, ignoring his comment in favor tipping the glass back up to Stiles’ mouth. “You’re dehydrated.”

He’s treating him like a child who just got their wisdom teeth pulled out, but Stiles is perfectly lucid. He tries to prove so by sitting up that much straighter and wiping his mouth dry with his sleeve. “I’m okay,” he says, “Stop treating me like a kid.”

“You are a kid,” Peter says instantly. “What were you even thinking? Storming out of that bar just to make a statement.” He huffs. “I can hardly believe your hatred of me trumps your own will to live.”

Stiles sighs and grabs Peter’s wrist, his fingers slipping down to grab his palm. Okay, maybe he is a little out of it. “That’s not true,” he says, already feeling inexplicably tired again. “You’re actually not so bad.”

“Not so bad,” Peter echoes. “Wow. I’m so flattered.”

He goes to pull his hand away and Stiles holds onto it more tightly, a strange pull inside him urging him to not let go. He remembers for a brief moment that eye contact they had before he fell asleep a few hours ago, the way Peter’s eyes were on him like he was enthralled and thankful and craving infinitely more, and finds it important he hold on.

“You should be,” Stiles says. “Not so bad is a big upgrade from what I would’ve called you years ago.” He thinks about it. “Evil thorn in everyone’s side and undead nightmare werewolf were big contenders back then.”

“I think I like those betters.”

“Yeah, I bet you would.”

Stiles laughs, then lets go of Peter’s hand before Peter gives in to the inevitable urge to start making jokes. He gets to his feet, eager to prove that he can do so without toppling over, and Peter does as well.

There’s a second where it feels like they’re two people unsure of what to say after a one night stand, which is ridiculous because nothing happened and Peter would never ever actually be unsure of what to say. Perhaps it’s just Stiles feeling as if there are still unsaid confessions swimming around inside him, like thanks for saving him, or sorry for making a big scene at the bar, or even questions like why is he still here? It feels like it’s on the same plane as why even agree to any of this in the first place, the question Stiles has been stumped with since the beginning, and Stiles has to start wondering if they’re related.

“You really killed that siren,” Stiles comments, feeling the need to fill the air with words. “I mean. I might get nightmares.”

“Would you have rather been murdered by it?” Peter says dryly. “Would that have been a better option for you?”

“Maybe I was complimenting your strength, did you think of that?” At Peter’s cocked eyebrows, Stiles shakes his head. “Not that I was. I really am horrified.”

He falls silent, letting his eyes catch on the ring still on his finger. He’s taken to fiddling with it when he’s nervous or eager to fidget, twirling and twisting it around his knuckle. Something about the farce was actually unexpectedly fun. Shame it didn’t actually work.

“Do you want your ring back?” Stiles asks, wiggling his ring finger under Peter’s face.

Peter shakes his head. “It’s worthless. You might as well keep it.” He ducks closer to peek at Stiles’ finger. “As a matter of fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t turned your skin green yet.”

“Gee. Thanks,” Stiles mutters, retracting his hand. “I’m glad you didn’t spare any expense for your husband.”

“Well, you weren’t a very good husband,” Peter says in his defense. “You never cooked. You never ironed my clothing. You didn’t even do my laundry. I highly doubt you deserve a high class piece of expensive jewelry.”

“That bad, huh?” Stiles asks. His head is still a little fuzzy; he didn’t have a single comeback to throw back at Peter. “Well. Then I’m sure you’re glad we don’t have to pretend anymore.”

“Right. We don’t.”

They meet eyes. Ten seconds—possibly ten eons—pass. Then they magnetize.

It happens very quickly. One second Stiles is standing and the next he’s being pushed onto his bed with Peter between his legs and his ankles hooked around Peter’s back, the mattress coming up to meeting them and cushioning the blow that comes with tumbling without any poise as a two person unit. Peter leans in to kiss Stiles and it’s somehow indescribably better than the last time, Stiles arching up on the bed just to get those crucial centimeters closer.

His head is still pounding a bit and he should probably be more careful—he certainly shouldn’t be having passionate sex here and now with Peter—but his body has an agenda of its own that doesn’t include logic or listening to reason. He pushes himself up, higher, nearer to Peter, digging the soles of his feet into the small of Peter’s back to grind their groins together, finish what he started days ago in that desk chair just a few feet away.

There’s a desperation in him Stiles doesn’t remember ever being there before, an urgency encouraging him to swallow every sound Peter’s making, slant his head closer, hold him tighter. Maybe it’s the head injury, making things blurrier, less clear, so his body’s compensating by making things bolder, less ignorable. He tries to wrench off Peter’s shirt to get to the muscle and skin underneath and Peter lets him without a word, lifting his chest to let it slide free of his arms. Stiles’ headache is nearly piercing by now, and he realizes a moment later it’s probably because he’s not breathing enough, every inhale quick and rushed as Peter drags his mouth down his jaw.

“This is so bad,” Stiles says to the ceiling, every part of him tingling as Peter’s tongue flicks out over his jugular and he tips his jaw back to give him room. His hand shoots up to knot itself into Peter’s hair, keeping him close.

“Lucky for me,” Peter murmurs on Stiles’ neck, “people expect me to be bad.”

Stiles huffs out a laugh and tugs on Peter’s head with the grip he has on his hair. “And me?”

Peter pulls back, observing him. He already has slightly pinked lips, fuller than before, and it takes all of Stiles’ self-control not to swoop back in and kiss him again, and again, and then still while their hands are in each other’s pants.

“Mm,” Peter says. “You can learn.”

“You’ll teach me, I suppose?” Stiles says, laughing. Laughing? It must be the bruise on his head.

“There are lots of things I can teach you, Stiles,” Peter says, and then pushes Stiles’ pants down. He doesn’t even remember him unzipping them, or unbuttoning them, or even fussing with the belt, but Stiles supposes that’s what happens when someone drags their tongue up his neck and then sucks on his jaw, he gets a little distracted.

He remembers after the haze of teeth grazing his chin that he actually had a reason for opening his mouth. He wraps his arms around Peter like it's second nature, some intimate sexual language his skin is already fluent in instead of fumbling to learn, and realizes this is the closest he's ever been to Peter without feeling the incipient dread of doom or bodily harm.

"No, but really," Stiles says, laughing again. "This is a bad idea. I mean, we don't even like each other."

When he opens his eyes—not that he even remembers closing them—Peter's slithered down his torso with his mouth torturously near his boxers. Peter drags Stiles' shirt up his stomach with his nose, his lips catching on Stiles' side and sucking a mark into place right above his hipbone.

"I like you," he murmurs directly into Stiles' skin, like sharing a secret with his flesh in hushed whispers.

"You do?"

"Stiles," Peter says, unnervingly calm, "shut up."

He bites down on his hip and again further up on his stomach, softer the second time around, but Stiles isn’t happy with him so far out of reach, only his hair up for grabs. He tugs him higher so he can look him in the face, look for deception, and when Peter looms over him, half-naked and breathing no longer composed, Stiles sees none.

They sit up, both of them tumbling out of each other's laps to tear off remaining shirts and pants. It's messy and frantic, not as slow and cheesy as Stiles always expected sex would be, and he's undressed in a truly impressive amount of time.

He's just taking off his boxers and flinging them carelessly onto his dresser when Peter crowds closer to him again, pushing his legs up by the underside of his knees and planting almost aggressive, biting kisses on the inside of Stiles' thigh. "If you say this is just practice," he growls, "I'm killing you."

Stiles tries to breathe and all that comes out is a bout of laughter. He wraps his hand around the nape of Peter's neck. Something about this feels important, completely different from whatever game they were playing in Stiles' desk chair before. Stiles takes note of the almost snarl on Peter's lips and comes to a realization: he might actually be invested. He might actually have feelings for Stiles, feelings that had morphed into annoyance every time Stiles brushed off their touches on rehearsing the careful lie of their marriage.

"It's not," Stiles says. Peter ducks in to kiss him again but he keeps a distance between them with a hand on Peter's chest, stopping him. "You never wanted it to be, did you?" When Peter's mouth twitches, Stiles grins. "You have a crush on me. Oh my god, I'm right. I'm right, right?" He throws his head back, hitting the pillow, and lets the laughter tumble through him. "You know, most people use their words to communicate their feelings—"

Peter climbs fully on top of him, aligns their erections, and slips his thumb into Stiles' mouth, effectively silencing him. Then he rocks down and all thoughts of teasing and prodding are wiped from Stiles' brain, replaced with more important but slightly less lucid thoughts like god yes more fuck.

"Shut up," Peter growls. “For once in your life.”

He drives his point home by slipping a hand between them and pushing a thumb against his entrance, just feeling, just prodding. For a panicked second, Stiles wonders if he’ll be on the receiving end of a very dry sexual experience, but then Peter’s growling in thinly veiled impatience and stretching over Stiles to grab his discarded pants, hands leaving Stiles’ body to wrestle something from his back pocket. He pulls out a tiny bottle of lube and Stiles’ mouth drops. He snatches it out of Peter’s grasp.

“Are you kidding me?” he says. “What, you carry this around with you twenty-four-seven? That’s what you do with a driver’s license or a first aid kit, not, not lube.” He gestures between their bodies. “Dear god, did you know this was gonna happen?”

“Always be prepared,” is all Peter says, and Stiles can’t believe sex involves someone quoting Boy Scout mottos at him. He can’t believe that this is an actual thing that’s happening to him.

Peter seizes the lube back, uncapping it, and suddenly all of Stiles’ caustic thoughts are pushed on the backburner to make room for the finger sliding inside him and Peter's other hand wrapping around his dick and oh my god this is real. He grabs Peter’s shoulders to keep himself anchored and tips his hips up to get a better angle, and this isn’t actually so bad. Peter doesn’t think so either, clearly, as he starts murmuring groans and filthy nonsense onto Stiles’ neck, tongue slick where it collides with Stiles’ collarbone.

It feels strange, an unfamiliar intrusion that has Stiles swiveling his hips to try and find the best spot, the best position inside himself that Peter brushes with his finger. His knuckle breaches him, pushing in just enough to have soft near whimpers escaping Stiles’ mouth.

“Keep doing that,” Peter murmurs on his jaw.

“Doing what?”

Peter’s free hand moves from his cock to cup the curve of his bare hip just as he slides in another finger. It elicits a breathy jolt from Stiles’ throat, and suddenly Stiles knows what the outline of Peter’s smile feels like against his skin. “Making those noises,” Peter tells him. He crooks his fingers and Stiles finds it easy to obey the demand. “You’re driving me mad.”

Stiles feels oddly flattered at the statement. “I am?”

“You have been.”

He goes to say something, something cocky and witty like a quick you too, but Peter has other plans for him. His fingers touch a spot inside Stiles that feels like chemistry project explosions and Fourth of July fireworks and jumping out of an airplane all mixed together. The stars come out behind Stiles' eyes for what seems to be the first time he's ever really seen them.

"Keep that up," Stiles says, already losing his grip on his self-control. He winds one hand into Peter's hair and tries not to let his hips jolt when his fingers press into Stiles once more, failing anyway.

"Tell me what you're thinking," Peter demands, voice thick with a raspy authority.

Stiles can hardly string together thoughts let alone words spoken coherently aloud. All he manages to do is moan and Peter's fingers slow down, dragging inside him with a newfound languidness.

"Tell me," Peter commands of him again. "Tell me I'm the one you're thinking of."

Like lightning that finally strikes, Stiles finally gets it: Peter's jealous. His huff of incredulous laughter is drowned out when Peter's fingers push inside him again, more insistently this time.

"Oh my god," he pants out. "That's what all this is about. You always talking about me choosing Derek first—fuck." He's momentarily cut off when Peter slides a third finger into him, still refusing to speed up. "You're totally jealous."

He can hardly believe this—a crush and debilitating jealousy. This is going to go to Stiles' head at this rate, this new idea that he's wanted and the object of someone's affection. Peter growls again at his taunting, leaving Stiles pretending it doesn't turn him on to hear it rumble through the bed. He's about to start laughing since Peter isn't correcting him when Peter leans in and crashes their mouths together, teeth tugging and nipping over Stiles' lower lip.

"I said tell me," he says, right on Stiles' mouth this time, "what you're thinking."

He punctuates this statement with a sharp thrust of his fingers into Stiles just as his free hand wraps itself around Stiles' dick again. Stiles kisses him again, unable to help himself, and once more before he gives in.

"Only if you tell me the truth," Stiles says. "You really want me?"

Peter's jaw clenches. Then, so quickly a blink would've missed it, he nods. Stiles feels a rush of warmth like a hot springs pooling in his belly.

"And you've wanted me?"

"Hmm," Peter says, taking this moment to dip down and lick at Stiles' hole around where his fingers are stretching him. "Care to make an educated guess?" His tongue flicks out, suddenly replacing his fingers as he pulls them out and assaults Stiles' hole with eager, messy licks, the loss of Peter's digits inside him gone the minute Peter's tongue presses against him. Yes, Stiles thinks he has his answer. "Now tell me."

"Oh god," Stiles says into the pillowcase, pushing his head to the left where he can breathe in the linen. "I'm obviously thinking—holy shit—about you, duh."

"Only me," Peter says, not even a question, his words vibrating on Stiles' skin.

Stiles thinks about the man between his legs, the arms pinning him down, the stubble burning his thighs, the tongue flattened over his hole—and yeah, he's definitely thinking about Peter, who drives this point home by sliding his fingers up and down Stiles' length, stopping to thumb over the head. Stiles feels a familiar coiling heat in his midsection and realizes he doesn't want to end this all too soon, not when Peter's tongue circling his entrance could be the prelude to something even better.

He reaches out a hand; Peter grabs it in his own like it's a well-rehearsed habit. Stiles squeezes until Peter slows down his hand and his tongue that are both trying to work him to completion in record time.

"You wanna be in me, right?" Stiles asks. He sees Peter's eyes flash in what's probably the affirmative. "Do it."

Peter sits up, his free hand tracing the inside of Stiles' thigh. "Don't offer if you're not planning on following through, Stiles," he warns, his voice deeper and lower and sexier than Stiles has ever remembered.

"I want to follow through," Stiles tells him, nodding with an eagerness that seems to have possessed him. He knows it's a little spontaneous and insane, and as far as first times go Peter's probably not the sweetest or gentlest or sanest person he could've picked, but Stiles is young and in full obedience of his libido and willing to make ridiculous mistakes for the sake of impulses that at one point, may've felt important. He sits up, suddenly made aware of how sweaty he's become in a room that definitely wasn't this hot an hour ago, and drags Peter in by the nape of his neck.

Oddly enough, kissing clears up the world a bit, chipping away at his headache and the injuries he's still nursing. Peter's teeth cut into Stiles' lower lip, a show of ferocious need that Stiles always hoped sex would be engulfed in, swept up by. It crosses his mind that just a day ago Peter was a hopelessly off-his-rocker inconvenience in Stiles' life, a bother and a murderer and coincidentally, also a husband, and now he's in Stiles' bed, a mundane, comfortable spot in Stiles' life that's suddenly made new and exciting all with the promise of sex.

Stiles' back hits the mattress as Peter pushes him back down. Stiles is a little surprised he’s not being ordered to flip onto his stomach or crouch on his knees or something else equally acrobatic that would be conducive to a saucy sex position, but he can roll with this. Peter seems to be satisfied just watching Stiles’ expressions, the way his mouth curves with pleasure or his eyes flutter shut when Peter touches his cock one last time before he pushes up his legs.

“I’m not going to stop once I start,” Peter warns, and Stiles reaches out and grabs the first thing his hand lands on, which happens to be a chunk of Peter’s hair by his ear.

“Really? You mean sex isn’t supposed to be full of interruptions and snack breaks?”

Peter leans in closer. “You know what I mean.”

Stiles is too impatient for this. Right now, in this very moment, there’s nothing he thinks he would like more than to be pounded into the mattress, even if Peter’s intent on starting off with nothing but teasing and stroking and touching the underside of his knees until he’s wrought with need. Stiles takes matters into his own hands and grabs the lube from where it’s lying on the sheets, squeezing some onto his fingers and reaching for Peter’s dick.

It gives him the intended result. Peter’s entire body goes taut with a sharp breath, Stiles’ hands on him possibly just as powerful as Peter’s hands on Stiles. It gives Stiles a rush of power to know that he has this effect on someone, especially Peter, who always has the upper hand, who has never let Stiles see him in a moment of vulnerability before. Stiles strokes him slowly to give him a generous taste of his own medicine, slicking him up and watching how his hands tighten where they’re clenching Stiles’ knees. Then one of those hands shoots out and seizes Stiles’ wrist, stilling him.

“Enough,” he says, his voice distinctly lower and rougher than it was before.

He leads Stiles’ hand away, pausing to press his lips to the inside of Stiles’ wrist before he aligns himself with Stiles’ entrance. He slides in, just the head of his cock breaching Stiles' hole, and Stiles stiffens, reaching for Peter's chest for something to squeeze.

"You have to relax," Peter says, and he has the nerve to sound aggravated. It isn't until Stiles opens his eyes and sees the strained look on his face that he realizes Peter's trying to hold himself back, keep himself from either coming or wolfing out here and now. Stiles is flattered either way.

Still. "You could say it a bit nicer," he grits out. He takes a long breath and tries to loosen his body, relax his muscles, and Peter pushes in further.

The pain is undeniable, an intrusion his body isn’t quite used to—although Stiles is starting to wonder if it will be given how the next few weeks might progress—and Stiles’ gut reaction is to clench and grind his teeth. Peter must’ve expected it, as the next second his hand is on Stiles’ cheek, almost soft and careful as he strokes his jaw.

“I said relax,” he says again. “Breathe already.”

“It’s not that easy,” Stiles grits out, but he follows instructions anyway. He inhales carefully, focusing on the way Peter’s hands are distracting on his chin, trailing down his neck, and exhales just as carefully.

Peter starts moving. It’s nearly torturous how slow he’s going, but Stiles is grateful even so that he doesn’t fuck Stiles without any abandon. It’s incredible that something as animalistic as sex almost brings out Peter’s human side, an irony that isn’t lost on Stiles even in the heat of the moment, even as there’s a dick literally sliding inside him. His brain’s incredible, Stiles thinks, and then laughs again at the thought.

“What’s with all the laughter,” Peter grumbles, wrapping a hand around Stiles’ dick, which certainly sweeps the laughter out of his chest.

“I make myself laugh,” Stiles admits. Peter rolls his eyes, as expected, but doesn’t seem to be too interested in spending time making fun—instead, he shifts his hips, pulling out, and slams back in hard enough to pull Stiles’ mouth open.

He picks up a rhythm like he knows precisely what he’s doing, which Stiles makes a mental note to ask about later. Right now, he’s a little occupied, focused on nothing but the increasing tempo of Peter’s hips, the broken groans sounding in Peter’s throat, the sheen of sweat gathering on the expanse of his neck.

Peter’s hands fly back to Stiles’ hips, holding him like a treasure, like he’s been dreaming of keeping Stiles firm in his grip for god knows how long. His hips shift and the angle of his thrusts changes, going from rocking Stiles’ world to blowing his mind into a thousand unsalvageable pieces as his cock brushes his prostate. Stiles says goodbye to his sanity as it floats away from him, a part of him he no longer needs, and Stiles loses the control he has left, arching upward to meet Peter’s hips as they plow forward.

The pleasure crackles down Stiles’ spine like an electric shock, like the feeling of an airplane taking off, and Peter speeds up his movements. He opens his eyes, eager to memorize the way Peter’s face is twisted with want, with lust and desire, all emotions reserved for Stiles. He remembers what Peter asked of him—keep making noises—and stops biting his lower lip, letting a stream of moans and whimpers and keening tumble free. It has the wanted effect—Peter’s hips stutter and his eyes flash. The next time he pushes forward, Stiles nearly slides up the bed.

His hand reaches forward, thumb slipping back into Stiles’ mouth as if to feel the groans falling off his tongue. “Talk to me, Stiles,” he says. “You like that?”

Does he like that—what a ridiculous question. Stiles is practically sobbing with the force of it all, and he nods urgently. “Yeah,” he says. “God, Peter. Just—keep going.”

“Next time,” Peter’s saying, and Stiles doesn’t miss out on the promise of there being repeats of this, “I’ll take my time with you.” He squeezes his hip. “When you’re not injured, and can handle everything I’ve got.”

“I can handle whatever you got, big guy,” Stiles says, hardly able to grab the breath to even respond.

His promise pushes Stiles that much closer, especially when Peter grabs his waist firmly enough to bruise and comes, his hips coming to a stop like a train screeching to a halt as he does so. Stiles burns into his memory the look on Peter’s face, the closed eyes and the open mouth, the raw emotion that he rarely sees on Peter when it’s usually just a mask, a front or a manipulation, hardly ever the real thing.

Without warning, Peter pulls out, leaving Stiles gasping and emptier than he would’ve liked, only for him to disappear between Stiles’ legs, slide two fingers into his hole, and fasten his mouth around Stiles’ dick. Nothing is gentle anymore, now nothing but fierce thrusts of his fingers and harsh suctions of his lips, and it works like a charm on Stiles. The world is swaying, turning and plunging like a fast-paced roller coaster, so Stiles closes his eyes and lets himself go along for the ride, trusting Peter to do the steering.

Suddenly there are clouds shifting and Stiles' entire body lets go, better than any long nap or hot shower could do for him, and who even cares that a few hours ago this entire idea of Peter's dick being in his ass seemed absurd? Who cares if up to this point, none of it was kind or graceful or easy? It's gotten him to here, and here is where there are orgasms and complete satisfaction and a hand on his cock.

Peter emerges from between his legs after he comes, and it’s just about the best thing Stiles has ever seen, so good that he curses himself for not having a camera or even just a picture frame to hold up to capture the moment. He reaches out, grabbing Peter’s wrist in a sweaty hand, and tugs until he’s lying next to him, squeezed onto the tiny mattress. Everything is sweaty and sticky and hot, and that’s when Stiles realizes his headache is gone.

“I can’t believe we did that,” Stiles says, incredulous and sated and incredibly loose-limbed. He twists around to look at Peter and grin.

“Don’t worry,” Peter murmurs, crawling on his chest and catching his mouth a quick kiss, then a slower one. “You waited until marriage.”

Stiles laughs, a little giddy by now, his injuries completely forgotten, and is about to start rolling his hips up again just to tease Peter when a dreadful sound reaches his ear—his bedroom door opening.

He knows who it is without even having to check, and within nanoseconds, the post-orgasmic bliss he was wafting in as if floating on a cloud vanishes and he goes plummeting back to earth. He squeezes his eyes shut. Peter doesn’t roll off of him.

“Dad,” he says, waiting for the sheets to have mercy on him and swallow him into a cottony abyss. “There’s a really, really good explanation.”

--

“Stiles, none of this has been a good explanation.”

At this point, Stiles has to agree. He’s not sure he ever actually had good excuses at the ready—it more or less just felt like the thing to say at the time—and his hope that his brain could cook up an elaborate story on the way to the station fell a little flatter than he expected.

“Okay, okay. Maybe it wasn’t a good explanation,” Stiles mumbles, scratching at his head. It’s still pounding a little. “But don’t I at least get sympathy points for having just been kidnapped?”

“For god’s sake, Stiles, that’s not what I’m upset about,” the sheriff grumbles. “I’m not even upset about the hare-brained scheme you cooked up pretending to be married.” He points at Peter, not bothering to look at him. “I’m upset about this bozo taking advantage of you, a minor, when he knows you’re underage.”

“If it makes helps, Stiles was definitely consenting.”

“It doesn’t help, but thanks for that, Peter.” Stiles sends him a look of derision before turning back to his dad. “Dad, I know this seems really, um. Unpleasant to process. But.” He refrains from mentioning that this is a bit more low-key than most of Peter’s crimes. “We just got… caught up in the moment. In the role, I guess.”

The sheriff looks skeptically at both of them, eyes sliding from Stiles’ guilty face to Peter’s cool expression. “So it’s over now?”

Stiles says “yes” just as Peter says “no,” the words overlapping each other. They turn to each other and Stiles’ chest gives a funny flop that feels like bouncing on a trampoline.

“No?” Stiles says. “What, you want to be with me? For real?”

Peter shrugs. “I’m not saying I want to marry you.”

“No, right. I’m glad.” Stiles blinks, still trying to process this sudden revelation that Peter Hale might actually find him desirable if not lovable past the point of animalistic jealousy and hot sex. A smile twitches at his mouth. “But the other stuff?”

"Well," Peter murmurs. "The sex was... quite satisfactory." Underneath the table, Peter's hand touches his thigh, and Stiles swears the narrowing of his father's eyes at that exact moment is proof of his x-ray vision. "And saving you from the siren did boost my ego. Considering how much you end up in trouble, my ego stands to grow quite a bit by your side."

The fingers on his leg squeeze and Stiles nearly rockets through the ceiling. If he gets hard in front of his father he will never be able to look him in the eye again. He'll never be able to step foot into the station again without reliving it all over.

"But," Stiles says, trying to piece this together, finally get a glimpse of the bigger picture. "Wait. Was it never really practice?"

"For god’s sake,” Peter snaps. “I thought you were smart.”

Stiles goes pink. He thought so too—clearly, however, he’s a little slow when it comes to observing the people around him.

"I can't believe I'm actually considering this," Stiles says. "That was the worst way to ask someone out ever."

"No," the sheriff says, drawing Stiles out of the nonsense he was about to be sucked into. "Stiles, no. This isn't even an option."

Peter's hand squeezes his thigh again, probably as a tactic to get him to disobey his father. "Dad, I know this is, uh. A little crazy. And a lot illegal."

"Would you rather have him do it behind your back?" Peter asks. "Or, rather, me do hi—"

"Peter."

"I could always arrest you," the sheriff offers. He sounds like he's boiling over with carefully contained disbelief and rage, a combination Stiles has never seen expressed on his father's face before. It's not exactly flattering. "That would probably put an end to this."

Peter's fingers crawl higher. Stiles rolls his lips into his mouth and tries not to groan.

"Breaking out of prison has certainly been a dream of mine," Peter admits almost curiously, as if imagining some elaborate fantasy where he claws his way through a jail cell and makes a daring escape from the roof. It’s not exactly helpful at this point and time of the evening.

Stiles sneaks a glance at his father, who seems to be considering everything he's heard in the last few hours. Stiles doesn't know when he became a seventh grader begging his father for approval to date the reputed bad boy when just a little while ago he was daydreaming of hogtying Peter on the table just so he would stop throwing in unnecessary comments, but if anything, the bit about Peter saving his life ought to count for something.

"Both of you listen well," the sheriff finally says. "Don't ever let me catch you doing anything... illegal together."

"Dad—"

"Are you listening?" he continues as if Stiles hasn't said a word. "Don't let me. Catch you."

Realization dawns on Stiles slowly along with something Stiles identifies as an emotion he hasn't experienced in a while: relief. Don’t be caught. Stiles can’t believe after the ludicrously crazy week they’ve had, they’re still managing to get out of everything with only a few scars and without a jail sentence. His father deserves some recognition, perhaps a personalized mug or a free lunch.

"Got it," Stiles says, and feels the need to wink conspiratorially. "Can we go now?"

His father nods. He looks about fifty years older than when they started this conversation. Just as they both get up, he holds up his hand. "Not together," he grumbles. "I think you two have had enough fun for today."

Peter brushes specks of dirt off his pants and sighs like the sheriff keeping him out of jail, letting him go without so much as a lecture, and allowing him to continue to deflower his son is simply not enough to make spending three hours trapped in a police station worth it. His hand slides briefly over Stiles' ass as a goodbye and then he's breezing past him and headed for the hall.

Stiles meets his father's gaze and finds that his eyes are gratefully looking upward, vision completely vertical to avoid discussing him maybe or maybe not just seeing Peter grope his son in front of him. Stiles feels intensely fond of him.

"Wait just a second," Stiles calls after Peter, sprinting after him.

Peter turns around in the hall, thankfully out of the sheriff's earshot as the door to the interrogation room shuts behind him. He approaches him, suddenly remembering that in the last few hours, he was actually writhing naked underneath Peter, and feels ridiculously self-conscious at the memory.

"Listen," Stiles says urgently. "I'm not saying you lured the siren here and sicced her on me or anything, but this was your plan, wasn't it?"

Peter bristles, but knowing perfectly well that being offended by another's words is not in Peter's capacity, Stiles doesn't believe he’s portraying genuine displeasure.

"My plan? What exactly was my plan, Stiles?"

"To make me your husband and woo me along the way," Stiles says. When Peter remains quiet as if stunned by Stiles' rampant stupidity, he switches gears. "You said you would let me know the reason. That day in the cafe, you said you would tell me why you agreed to doing any of this at all. Was it me?"

“I did, didn’t I?”

Stiles is getting the impression that Peter was counting on Stiles’ memory not remembering this information. He grabs Peter’s forearms, keeping him close before he can decide to stalk away without another word of illumination.

“Come on. We've already established you have a big fat crush on me. All that jealousy and pining and—"

“All right,” Peter cuts him off abruptly. “Perhaps certain parts worked out more favorably than expected. Perhaps I purposefully asked Derek to step aside so I could work with you. Perhaps I did have you in mind when I first heard of the siren being in Beacon Hills.”

Things make a little more sense very quickly. That look Peter and Derek shared when Stiles asked who he was supposed to be paired with, the apology Derek sent him since his stepping aside is what left Stiles stuck with his uncle, the constant rampaging jealousy Peter was perpetually struck with. Stiles realizes suddenly that he’s been the subject of a plan; someone has devoted time and energy and scheming all with him as the prize. He flushes pink. Pretending to be Peter’s husband might just be the most romantic thing anybody’s ever done for him.

“You could’ve just told me,” Stiles says. “You didn’t have to do all this.”

“Didn’t I?”

Well, Stiles supposes it was all the perfect excuse if nothing else. And the Stiles from a few weeks ago wouldn’t have exactly jumped on board of the idea of Peter propositioning him out of the blue—which leads him to his next question: how long has Peter felt this way?

“Okay, maybe you did,” Stiles admits. “I probably wouldn’t have—well, we wouldn’t have—I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see you like this if this never happened.”

“Like what?”

“Boyfriend material,” Stiles says, making sure his smile is extra cheeky. “Since that’s what you want, isn’t it?”

Peter looks caught somewhere between murderous and immeasurably amused, perhaps even a little fond. He takes a step closer, reminding Stiles of the room down the hall where his father is probably watching them through the glass.

“You’re having fun with this, aren’t you?”

Stiles grins. He thinks of all of the times Peter was having his fun over the past week at Stiles’ expense, how mortified Stiles was at all of it, and how he deserves his chance to mock Peter into the ethers too.

“I am,” he confesses. “And maybe I’d actually like to hear you say it. I mean, yeah, we may’ve done this a little backwards—enemies to husbands to, well, this—but I still deserve to be asked out properly."

“You want moonlight and roses?"

"I'm more of a tulip guy," Stiles says. The idea of Peter showing up at his door in a crisp suit and a handful of flowers, probably stolen out of the neighbor's garden, flashes through his mind. It's so ludicrous and also sort of incredible.

Peter sighs like Stiles is asking him to complete household chores, then slides a hand over the back of his neck. Stiles feels his skin tingle at the presumptuous touch, the way Peter holds him and touches him with certainty.

"Stiles," he says, voice slightly louder than it needs to be. "Will you do me the honor of taking you to an overpriced restaurant and then back to my place for filthy sex?"

Down the hall where a few of the deputies are booking criminals to be taken into holding cells, a handful of snickers sound. Stiles should not have expected anything but pure and utter madness, so he goes along with it.

"I will," Stiles tells him. "You may now kiss me."

Someone down the hall claps, probably a drunkard being detained for disorderly conduct, and for a second, it feels like what their real wedding would probably be like. Peter appears to be completely unamused by Stiles' shtick, but leans in, holds him by the waist, and kisses him anyway.