Peter wasn’t lying when he told Stiles it could have gone either way – he was dealing with a newly acquired Alpha status at the time - and his wolf wasn’t picky about the selection criteria. Pack thrummed through his bones, comfort and need, the itch for power, the imperative to increase numbers because they are nothing without Pack. Peter can remember the attack in fragments of scent, the saturation of light, the taste of blood between his maws. Scott’s fear delectable, rich in the winter woods. Peter was presented with two teenage boys that night but one was led away, protected by an arm slung across narrow shoulders, a father’s exasperation, until little red riding hood was the only boy left standing and Peter’s choice was made for him.
There’s a difference between what the wolf wants and what the human observes.
There’s a difference between how Derek is perceived and how Peter floats from one scene to another unnoticed.
His nephew is incapable of not drawing attention to himself – a black hole – the gravitational pull drawing trouble no matter how he scowls. Dark and gorgeous and beautiful to behold. Peter was never gifted with that type of magnetism, he walked out of the nursing home unseen, murdered Laura unlamented, he stands among the school grounds unobserved. Peter listens to Stiles therapy session while sitting on the school bench, and if any student looks in his direction, sees him out of the class window, they dismiss him for a waiting parent, a gardener taking his lunch break. Uneasy, they redirect their gazes elsewhere. Unlike Derek, they won’t remember him at all. It’s an under-rated skill set and one that Peter is perfectly happy with.
Stiles talks about drowning, about panic-attacks and knowing when something bad is coming, he talks about hyper-vigilance, his dad, about his friends and tension. He confides to an elder, doesn’t bottle anything up; he doesn’t spare his emotions and Peter thinks, half-bored as he listens, smart boy. Peter’s wolf didn’t care how he increased the Pack but Derek does…care, that is; his nephew chose his pups while fully human, went after the broken ones. Peter’s met them, seen them from a distance and has remained unimpressed. Like Derek, they’re children, an epileptic girl and a boy who was ignored too much by the crowd. They look at the world through teenage eyes and think they’re owed something, that the bite will make it all go away - make them better, stronger, more attractive – that they’re deserving of these gifts because they can’t be bothered coping with their affliction or because they can’t be bothered to change their own behaviour. For the most part, Peter wants to rip their throats out.
Isaac, he thinks, is the only one with potential, but Peter smells broken, undecided, lack of conviction, a pup finding his own feet, and he can feel his lips peel away from his teeth, feel the need to snap his jaw in the boy’s direction, restless with the display of weakness. And Derek, brooding, tall Derek – is no kind of alpha – the Pack reflects him as keenly as he reflects the Pack.
Peter lifts his head toward the sky, watches the clouds scud overhead and listens to Stiles voice, feels the timbre echo in his ribcage, the slow cadence of words, the hitch in his breathing as he works things out. If he could do it all over again, Peter would take a page from Derek’s book. He’d choose his Pack with human intelligence and not animal imperative. If he could do it all over again, Peter wouldn’t bite the traitorous Scott McCall in the woods. He’d be more selective, and the only person who interests him is the one teenager who said no. The one teenager who realised the world didn’t owe him shit, that you get by however you can, make your own magic, create your own spark. Ironic that it’s Stiles who exhibits all the qualities of the wolf, protective of his pack (father), loyal, and willing to stare Peter Hale in the eye while crouched over Lydia’s still bleeding body.
(When you’re in hell, keep going, she says, evenly, and Peter smiles because that's the voice of a prophet if ever there was one.)
Every Alpha can become an Omega, every Beta an Alpha, spiralling from one transition to another. If the wheel turns in Peter’s favour, he knows which direction he’s hunting. Stiles was smart enough to say no the first time around, smart enough to recognise the attraction and smart enough to steer clear of it. The next loop, the next time Peter offers the bite, refusal isn’t an option.