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a savage such as i

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I.

Every day is burning agony. The inferno rages in his mind’s eye, a stream-of-consciousness film inside his head, all flashes and images of his loved ones screaming as the flesh melts away from their bones and sizzles into hot wax on the charred floorboards of the blazing house. The tortured sounds blend into a ringing that aches ceaselessly in his eardrums. The visions come in waves.

It’s an endless nightmare he can’t escape.

The state he’s in: the doctors call it a coma, but it isn’t. Not quite. He’s conscious - more or less - and aware of the sights and sounds of the nurses bustling in and out of his hospital room, alert enough to process his surrounding environment. His eyelids flutter, and he can see his bandages being changed, even though he can’t feel a thing. The nerve endings throughout most of his body have been fried by the fire. It’s the worst sort of living hell; existing in silence, day after day, unable to speak, unable to scream. Aware of everything.

Laura and Derek come to see him shortly after the night of the arson, essentially to pay their respects before they leave. Before they flee. Derek sits in the chair by the bed, eyes all watery and stricken, devastated. Laura just seems numb, touches Peter’s hand and shudders at the feeling of his skin flaking away under her fingertips. They don’t understand that he can see them, don’t realize that he can hear, and he wants to scream after them when they walk out the door at the end of visiting hours. Don’t go! he wants to shout. Don’t leave me alone!

But they do, of course, and the next day he hears the doctors say he’ll probably never fully heal. The physicians don’t know, though; they don’t know what he is. Faced with the prospect of living in a hollow shell for the remainder of his days, there’s not much else to do but dedicate his entire focus to repairing the damage done to his body.

Not much else to do except that and dwell on his thoughts.

 

II.

He’s strapped to a bed for the first two months - something about protecting him from ‘night terrors’ and involuntary muscle spasms - but after the skin grafts begin to take, the hospital decides it’s time to move him to the nursing care facility. The label now is ‘catatonic’ instead of ‘coma,’ and it’s equally untrue. He doesn’t complain. Disinclined though he may be to admit it, there is a refreshing sort of independence in being regarded as a vegetable. It frees him from the constraints of suspicion. No one looks twice at him.

It takes a while, but he grows accustomed to his wheelchair; it’s more comfortable than he would have expected. The nurse who changes his sheets often rolls him over to sit by the window, lets him look out through the blinds at the birds nestled in the upper branches of the trees lining the sidewalk of the road below. He can spot the tops of buildings here and there, poking up from the suburban sprawl.

He sits by the window and stares unseeingly, doesn’t care much for the view. He dreams instead of the house in which he used to live. The home that was taken from him, destroyed. And as the months pass by, the heartache of losing all he held dear slowly morphs into a singleminded desire for retribution.

Mourning lasts a lifetime, but bloodlust is forever.

He sits by the window in his chair, hands folded in his lap, head cocked and eyelids heavy, feeling the warmth of the sun on his scarred face. His nurse comes over to spoon-feed him - mild soup today - and she sits at his side, smiles tenderly.

Watching her from the periphery of his vision, he observes that there is a false warmth behind that smile. A nameless and indefinable insanity. He makes a mental note, files that in the back of his brain.

That might be something he can use in the future.

The months turn into years, and his wounds become less pronounced. It gets to the point where his caregivers at least allow him the dignity of using an actual toilet. Two of the stronger men will lift him from the wheelchair to the white seat, and his nurse will help him with his pants, flashing him a sweet smile before going to stand just outside with the door cracked.

There’s a routine to everything: meals on the hour, three times a day. Usual soups, lots of liquids. A sponge bath every morning, lotion rubbed into his diseased skin twice a day. He gets to watch television every once in a while in the main room - “He likes the noise,” his nurse explains to the doctors.

All things are a blur of white noise, jibber-jabber nonsense leading up to that day when, lying in bed just before lights out, he looks down at his feet and manages to wiggle his left pinkie toe. He would smile if he could. 

The rest comes with ease; from the feet up, his muscle and tissue repair themselves, nerves coming to life and sending prickling sensations all throughout his skin. Flesh come unburned, yet the fire still strikes hard and to the bone. He comes back in full force, finds himself sitting on the edge of his bed, finally manages to stand on his own.

Five months from that moment, his catatonia is officially a charade.

 

III. 

His humanity - however much remains - has apparently decided to take a vacation.

He’s up and alive, giving in to the shift and letting the red cloud his vision, blocking out the sight of Laura standing rigid in front him. She’s the Alpha, and she’s stronger, but she’s off guard. Nothing could have prepared her for this sort of betrayal. A choked gasp gargles into iron-flavored blood spilling forth from her mouth as she cries out his name, bewildered, horrified.

His teeth clamp down hard, slicing through her throat and snuffing out her life before she even fully understands what is happening. And then it’s over. He feels nothing. He’s looking down at the corpse of his niece, claws and teeth dripping with her blood. And his heart is empty.

Later, he’ll think on it. Later, he’ll rationalize and talk a good game about ‘necessary evils’ and ‘not having any other choice.’ But the truth is far simpler and much harder to confront: he simply doesn’t care anymore.

 

IV.

Each killing is sweeter than the last. It’s a gas: watching his victims’ eyes go wide with terror, hearing their shrieks of agony as he eviscerates them - slicing them open from head to toe - and drinking in the soothing quiet after the noises fade and the shower of blood mist hovers in the air. The stench of death should repulse him, should remind him of his own personal tragedies, but instead it invigorates him. It spurs him onward, stokes the flames of his madness.

He kills them all, one after the other. All those motherfuckers who took what was his and burned it to the ground. He rips open their throats and basks in the afterglow of the death rattle, charges away from the scene of the crime and into the woods to come down from the high. Everything is glorious vengeance.

Forgiveness is for the weak.

 

V.

Seeing Derek again after all these years is a shock. The boy has only grown more handsome with time, but there’s a disquieting oldness behind his eyes that looks wrong for someone his age. He’s seen too much, too soon. Blood or no blood, Peter knows that the two of them are strangers now. This dark, brooding young man is starkly foreign from the bright-eyed, happy child he watched grow up. Looking at him now makes Peter’s stomach turn unpleasantly; it brings back so many memories of a life he can barely recall anymore.

So Derek is an anomaly - a potential ally, but not for certain. And then there’s the matter of the bitten boy. Scott McCall.

Peter cannot understand this child; a teenager who appears opposed on principle to resist joining a pack, whose ideas and loyalties seem to change every day, who thinks he’s the exception to the rule and that his relationship with the Argent girl will miraculously. It’s infuriating, but somewhat amusing as well. Peter wants to be there when Scott’s world falls to pieces. He wants to watch the boy crumble, shatter. Submit.

And Scott will be a part of the pack, whether he likes it or not. He is Peter’s first turned Beta. Having him on board is a necessity.

But for now, he waits. He sits in stoic silence and plays the role of the mental case, discreetly listening in on the boys’ conversation. Derek’s speech is stilted, uncomfortable, and Peter wonders how much he’s let Scott in on. If he’s told him about their family, or about life before the inferno.

He sits and listens and ponders. And when the boys leave, he rolls himself over to the window and gazes down at the street.

 

VI.

Sex is malleable, easily distorted.

This is something true of humans as well, but with werewolves, the slipperiness and fluidity of physical attraction is harder to ignore; once the inner beast recognizes a potential partner, it’s difficult to quell the interest, the arousal.

Melissa McCall is one such candidate. Even without the added bonus of using her as a means of getting to Scott, she’s still exactly the sort of woman Peter would have wanted to pursue in another life. Strong, protective. A mother. A person who has suffered some serious heartache and come out wiser on the other side; beaten but not broken. Peter regards her with a detached sort of admiration, and he clings tight to that feeling. It grounds him, makes him feel a little more human.

And then there’s Stiles. Stiles, who very nearly ruins everything.

The boy is distracting; unusually intelligent with a razor sharp wit, deep insecurities balanced out by unflinching loyalty and courage. Dark hair buzzed short for convenience, eyes wide and earnest. Full lips, begging to be caught between snapping rows of teeth. He smells of grass and soda and musk, young and virginal - a fact which Peter first takes into regard with no small amount of amazement; how this kid has remained untouched is beyond him.

In years past, Peter would have been disgusted, repulsed by his desire for someone who is essentially a child. But as he knows all too well, fire burns away far than flesh, and so the prospect of slanting his mouth against Stiles’, of covering the boy’s body with his own and driving in deep simply reinforces his instincts. 

“Do you want the bite?” he asks, standing out in the dark, muting out all sounds except the thrumming of Stiles’ heart. He pulls at the boy’s wrist, lifting it to his mouth, allowing his fangs to graze ever so gently against the skin. 

Stiles swallows, tugs away. “No,” he answers, shakes his head. 

Peter can’t help the feral grin that spreads across his face. “You’re lying,” he sing-songs. Because Stiles is, and that only makes him more desirable; that he would sacrifice his own potential for greater strength, just to spite his enemy. The very idea makes Peter giddy.

The boy fidgets uncomfortably under his gaze, looks away with a light tinge of pink coloring his cheeks. Peter leaves him be, for now. Temporary distance won’t hurt.

This thing between them isn’t finished.

 

VII.

And then it goes wrong. 

His claws dig in deep, and he slashes Kate Argent’s throat wide open. Her blood splatters on the floor and walls, and there’s a single moment of genuine elation. A feeling of completion.

But then, she’s lying dead on the ground, mouth parted slightly in surprise, and Peter’s stomach begins to twist into knots. It was too quick. She didn’t suffer enough. And the broiling hatred that has kept him alive throughout the years is still alight, still throbbing in his chest, aching and painful and telling him to KillSlayAnnihilate

It will never be enough, he realizes. The bloodlust never dies.

He doesn’t have time for soul-searching, however. Derek finds out the truth about Laura’s death, and his reaction is predictable. And it was mistake, as it turns out, to underestimate Scott. 

So Peter finds himself bleeding out on the forest floor, pine needles prickling at his back as he chokes and gargles, drinking in the irony of being burned alive yet again. Eyes darting around, bulging out from his skull, he can see Scott standing several yards away, asking to be the one to deliver the killing blow. Derek’s face looms into few, inches away and breathing heavily, anger and betrayal and hatred all manifested into a single, cold expression. Peter looks beyond that searing gaze, spies Stiles and the Whittemore boy standing awkwardly by, watching with wide eyes. Stiles looks shocked, dazed, slowly coming to terms with the reality that he’s just signed Peter’s death warrant.

The night air is frigid, offsets the warm gusts of Derek’s breath. Peter coughs, looks up into his nephew’s eyes as glinting nails slash down to cut his neck open. His last thought - an odd one - is that it would have been interesting to hear the sounds Stiles would make under the spell of his touch.

 

VIII.

Life is fire, all-consuming and wracked with pain. Death is the cold comfort of oblivion. There’s a split second - just as he’s breathing his very last - during which the events of the past few decades stretch out tight across the filmstrip of his mind’s projector. And it’s all a movie:

[The child, he, climbing the branches and making the backyard tree his very own hideaway spot. Crystalline sculptures of ice dripping cold water from the shingles of the roof’s edge during the thaw of winter, accompanied by the smell of meat in the kitchen and the sound of laughter from within the house. Making love for the first time in the afterglow of a rough full moon, throat straining with exertion as he comes with cry. The morning light shining warm against his dry lips as he lies in the meadow on a picnic of sorts with his pack. The birth of his niece, of his nephew; holding them in his arms for the first time, staring into those round eyes with love and joy welling up inside. Watching the kids grow, sharing stories and enjoying the excitement and admiration in their attentive gazes. And the fire, burning it all away, save for the two. And even they leave, and the loneliness comes. The pain and the hate, and the aching and the killing, and watching everything turn to rot. All leading up to-]

This moment. His breathing comes to an abrupt halt and the light fades behind his eyes. And then, like the cord yanking out the plug, he’s gone.

And the movie ends.

 

IX.

What he leaves behind is not so much a true piece of himself as it is an imprint, a faint shadow of his memory and knowledge and intent; all of it seared into the mind of poor, sweet Lydia Martin. He’s not really there. The creature that lurks in dark corners and haunts her dreams is little more than a ghost. Indeed, Peter hadn’t really expected his contingency plan to prove successful; although, admittedly, he never anticipated truly needing it in the first place.

Lydia comes through with her end of the deal, though. Peter will later think over it and come to the conclusion that, yes, Stiles’ infatuation with the girl is rather understandable. She’s a resourceful little thing, only superficially shallow and nearly as smart as Stiles himself.

The moon shines in through the windows, glinting off the mirrors and raising Peter from the clutches of nothingness. His eyes flash, lungs seizing up as he gasps in the musty air. The floorboards are all torn up, the shallow grave of dirt and spiderweb strands disturbingly empty. Peter coughs, wipes away the muck from his mouth with a beaming smile, turns to look fondly at Derek lying crumpled on the ground beside him.

There are mice making a home in the nest of the hollowed walls, and Peter can hear their frightened squeaking as his canines extend into dripping fangs, a low roar of triumph rising up from within his aching ribs.

The king lives again.

 

X.

Strange, how death is what it took to placate the hunger in his spirit. He feels sober now, calmer than ever before. More calculating, smarter. The anger is still there, but his emotions take the backseat to his brain, and he feels more in control than at any time during his killing spree.

He’s more amused than surprised by how much has occurred in the short time he’s been gone from this earth: everything from arrival of the Argent patriarch to Derek’s new pack members, from the kanima’s rampage to Victoria’s suicide. So much for resting up. There’s work to be done here. He lurks in the shadows at first, hanging back while his power slowly restores itself and takes shape. He watches from the trees as Gerard Argent drowns the Daehler boy in the pond. He plays Iago to Derek’s Othello, whispers in his ear and coaxes forth an uneasy trust. 

“It’s a thing of necessity,” he tells his nephew. “You’re clearly in over your head here. I can help you.”

Derek is stubborn. He’s still angry - about before, about his life, about knowing Peter is right. His mouth curls at the edges, a snarl snaking into a hiss between his bared teeth. “How the fuck can I trust you? After what you did...”

Peter smiles, all gums and not teeth. “I never said you had to trust me.” He saunters forward, moves into Derek’s space. “We’re both adults here. We can set our differences aside in the interest of self-preservation, don’t you think?” He raises his hand for Derek to shake, does his best not to laugh when the other wolf startles at the gesture. “Besides. We get through this mess, and we’ll have plenty of time to deal with our issues.”

Hunters may take oaths of honor and write out rules in ink to cleanse their collective moral consciences, but born wolves have a code bound by blood. It’s in the animal’s nature to trust the pack, to maintain the bond even when difficulties arise. Peter can see the struggle behind Derek’s eyes, and he can see the exact moment when the hook sinks in. Derek takes his hand, none too gently, and they shake for truce.

“After...” Derek warns, eyebrows narrowed, pupils twin abysses. 

Peter beams.

The rest follows like a dream: Scott proving once more that he’s smarter than he looks and Gerard bending over with black bile gurgling up inside his mouth, Jackson taking a leaf from Peter’s book and shuddering back to life on the warehouse floor, Chris Argent slinking off into the night with the unspoken promise of tentative peace restored, Derek’s pack left broken with two Betas missing. Peter is there to witness it all, to assist in small doses. The Alpha pack is coming, and bloodshed is practically inevitable. 

But not just yet. There’s time to spare.

And if time can’t be spent on small indulgences, then what makes life so worth living in the first place?

 

XI.

He waits nearly a week, both out of practically and weariness. It’s not until a few days after the showdown that he feels the draw. He’s basking the heat of daylight and relaxing his weary muscles, eyelids fluttering and mouth parted, right on the verge of sleep; that’s when the urge strikes him. He can still see the kid’s face in his mind: bruised from Gerard’s beat down, eyes shining with unshed tears and shoulders sagging with exhaustion.

So he goes, breaks into the boy’s Jeep and waits. The bell rings some fifteen minutes later, and Stiles trails out through the double doors shortly after. 

He doesn’t look especially surprised to find Peter in the passenger’s seat; on the contrary, he almost looks like he’d been expecting this much sooner.

“So, you’re alive,” he opens with, monotone. “How’s that feel?”

Peter smiles pleasantly. “How have you been, Stiles?” he asks, easily evading the question. “You’ve had plenty of time to think since our last talk, and I’m curious if you’ve given any more thought to my offer.”

Stiles snorts. “You’re not an Alpha anymore,” he answers, looks down at the steering wheel, picking at his fingernails. “You couldn’t give it to me now even if I said yes.”

“Derek could.” Peter leans forward, just slightly. Stiles looks up sharply, scoots closer to the door, like he’s ready to bolt at a moment’s notice, expression wary and untrusting. “And he could be persuaded.” Peter’s mouth twitches. “Although I doubt that would be necessary. I’m sure he’d be eager to have you in his pack, with our without my input.”

“Hmm.” Stiles looks doubtful at that. He turns, takes note of the students streaming out of the school exits in droves. “Mind if we continue this on the road?” he asks sarcastically, twisting the key in the ignition without waiting for a response.

The Jeep skids on the gravel at the bend, and Peter thinks he sees Scott squinting suspiciously in their direction from somewhere across the lot. The front left tire bumps against the curb as Stiles makes the turn a little too sharply.

“Careful now,” Peter teases. Stiles glares.

“So what, are you taking me out to the woods to whack me? Is this the part of the movie where Al Pacino stares at the baby in the church while all of the henchman go out to slaughter his enemies? Because I kinda don’t want to die, and I definitely don’t want to be in pain. I’m not really a pain person. Well, okay, there was that one website that- No. Never mind. Shutting up now.” He takes a deep breath. “Umm, yeah. So, are you going to kill me?”

“Oh, come now.” Peter clucks his tongue disapprovingly. He sticks his lip out in an exaggerated mock-pout. “I harbor no desire to cause you harm. Don’t you know that by now?”

Stiles looks at him like he’s crazy. “Uh, try no. No, not at all. You...I mean-” He flips the blinker on, makes the turn at the intersection, leaving the school behind in the dust. “Like, you basically mauled Lydia - which I am never forgiving you for, by the way - and you slammed me into things and threatened me, and you went all Kill Bill on everybody’s asses, and it was really scary and upsetting, and no. I don’t trust you to not murder me in my sleep or kick me out of the car and onto the interstate.”

Peter slouches, dropping out of his upright posture to wedge his knees up against the dashboard. He tilts his head, raises his eyebrows at Stiles. “That hurts, Stiles,” he says, innocent tone effectively ruined by the obvious laughter he’s failing to hold back. “And here I was, thinking we’d gotten past all that.”

“You’re joking, right?” Stiles glances repeatedly between Peter’s face and the road ahead, sweaty palms tightening on the steering wheel. “This is some weird, werewolf version of humor, correct?” Peter straightens up, abandoning the playful act to slip seamlessly into seriousness.

“I may have treated you roughly,” he says, voice dropping to a lower register. “And for that, I apologize. “But with that exception, and with the exception of harming your friend, I do not regret my actions. Those ‘people’ deserved to die.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Stiles says readily, like he’s spent the week preparing for this talk. “But that’s not your call. You can’t just go around killing people, even if they are awful. How is acting like a monster supposed to disprove the hunters’ idea that you guys are all monsters? Bad logic.”

Peter grins wide, feral. He’s missed this. “Hunters aren’t too big on logic themselves, as I’m sure you’re aware.” He reaches out and grazes his fingers against the fading bruise on Stiles’ cheekbone. Stiles jerks away from the touch, cringes. Peter lowers his hand. “Besides, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to lecture me on the ethics of murder when you yourself were prepared to kill your little friend as a preventative measure?”

Stiles stares at him for a moment, baffled. Then the lightbulb goes off in his head, and he looks away, ashamed. “That’s not the same thing,” he mutters. “And Jackson’s not my friend. And I was wrong, thanks very much.” He coughs into his sleeve, rounding the corner and going up the hill towards his neighborhood. 

The kid broods in silence for the next several minutes, wrenches the door open the instant he parks in the driveway and makes for the porch without looking over his shoulder. Peter stays in the car, watching through the windshield as Stiles enters the house and slams the front door behind him. 

Peter steps out of the vehicle, glancing around to make sure none of the neighbors are watching before moving around to the side wall to scale up to the second story window. He sits with his legs crosse in the chair by the desk and smiles when Stiles opens the bedroom door.

“Ugh, really?” Stiles lets out a little groan of annoyance. It’s a somewhat high-pitched sound, should be annoying. Instead, it makes warmth blossom up inside Peter’s stomach, makes him want to pin Stiles to the bed and rut against him until he hears that noise again.

“We haven’t finished our conversation,” Peter says by way of explanation. 

Stiles rolls his eyes. He flaps a hand vaguely in the direction of Peter’s face. “Nice facial hair combination you’ve got going on, dude. Auditioning for the new James Bond villain? All you need is a cat and bigger mustache to twirl. I’m sure you’ve got the maniacal laugh down already.”

Peter raises a hand to stroke his beard. “I’m glad you like it,” he replies, smirking at Stiles’ embarrassed blush.

“Shut up. You total weirdo.” He sits down on the edge of the bed with a huff, making sure to stay as far on the opposite side from Peter as possible. “So. If this isn’t another exciting round of scary-werewolf-intimidates-Stiles, what exactly are you doing here?”

“Well, I thought I made that clear.” Peter cocks his head, hands smoothing out his pants. “I want you in the pack.”

Stiles shrugs. “Yeah, well my answer hasn’t changed. I don’t want the bite.”

Peter uncrosses his legs, dropping his feet to the ground to scoot the chair closer to the bed. He chuckles at Stiles’ alarmed expression, coming to a stop three or four feet away  and planting his shoes firmly on the carpet. “Yes, but you were lying then. And you’re lying now.” He makes a show of biting his lower lip, pretending to be deep in thought. “I wonder why that is...”

Stiles scowls. “It doesn’t really matter, does it? I’m saying no, and you can’t force the bite on me. Not now, at least. And Derek won’t do it either, I don’t think. So-”

“I gave you a choice back then,” Peter interrupts. “And I’m giving you one now. I understand why you feel compelled to lie, but-”

“Actually, you don’t,” Stiles snaps. He stands up, hands balled into fists at his sides. “You may be smart, but you don’t know everything. And you definitely don’t know that.”

“You’re afraid that turning will taint your humanity,” Peter says casually, smooth. “You’re afraid that it will change who you are as a person. You think you might not be able to handle it as well as your friends, which would - in your mind - lead you to believe that you are inherently weaker than them. Lesser.” He rises from the chair, looming. He cracks his neck. “You’re afraid of further involving your father in this secret little world of ours, and you’ve always been terrified of him dying. Terrified of being alone. Because you believe that no one else truly loves you.”

Stiles looks as though Peter just slapped him. He clears his throat, and his voice comes out shaky. “Don’t try and screw with my head. It won’t work. I have people who love me, and you can’t just-”

“Not Scott,” Peter continues, like Stiles never even spoke. “Scott, who is happy to have you around when he needs an ear, but who didn’t even come to rescue you when you needed his help most.” His eyes flicker down to examine Stiles’ bruises again. “Not dear Lydia, who hates that you can see behind her mask and resents you for it. Who is happier with Jackson because he can’t see that side, and because he has better hair than you, more muscles than you.” He arches an eyebrow in challenge. “Am I wrong?”

Stiles doesn’t answer. His mouth is drawn into a thin line, eyes fixed on Peter’s like he’s trapped under a spell, face all closed off and expressionless.

Peter lifts his shoulders in a tiny shrug. “Not Allison, of course. You’re a friend by association. And with Scott out of her life, it’s doubtful you’ll even remain in contact.” He looks to Stiles for confirmation. “Has she even spoken to you since all that nasty business with her mother?”

The following silence is answer enough.

Peter leans in further, places a hand against Stiles’ chest and pushes him slowly back up against the wall. “Not Derek,” he murmurs, and Stiles’ flinch tells him that he’s hit a sensitive spot. “No, not him. He finds you interesting, of course. He wants you in his pack. But he wants you because you’re useful and intelligent and instinctive. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t even like you.”

Stiles pushes him away, reaches up to scrub at his eyes with the back of his sleeve. When he looks up, the wetness is gone, lips curled back in a surprisingly effective snarl. “Get out.”

It’s a challenge, and the beast reacts to it. He’s waited long enough. He darts in and slams Stiles into the wall once more; not hard, just enough to keep him pinned. He presses his knee in between Stiles’ legs, working them apart. He dips down to lean into the crook of the boy’s neck to breathe in his scent. “I can see what they can’t see,” he whispers, and his voice has gone dark, wolfish. He runs a hand fervently over Stiles’ head in repeated motions. “I would very much enjoy having you.”

Stiles’ eyes go wide, all of his anger and hurt draining away in seconds, swallowed up by an overpowering fear. For the first time in Peter’s presence, the kid is genuinely, completely afraid. “What? No. No, no, no...” He starts shaking, and his heartbeat is thundering in Peter’s ears. He’s right on the verge of a full blown panic attack.

The wolf demands submission, but Peter ignores the urge. As a show of good faith, he backs away, just slightly. Just enough to give Stiles the space to breath. He keeps hold of Stiles’ arms, rubbing up and down from his shoulders to his elbows, soothing. “Relax,” he commands. “I won’t take you by force.”

Stiles goes still. His heart is still hammering, body trembling, but he something in Peter’s voice seems to have gotten through to him. He’s calming down. “You’ve made your point,” he grits out. “Okay? I’m insecure, and you’re smart, and that’s fucking great. Doesn’t mean my self-esteem is so low that I’m going to whore myself out to you.”

Peter smiles, brushes a hand against Stiles’ cheek. The boy freezes, but he doesn’t recoil. He looks more surprised by the gentleness of the gesture than anything else. “Oh, Stiles. Such a curious thing you are.” Peter’s eyes lower, studiously examining Stiles’ mouth. “I want so much more than that.”

Stiles turns scarlet, cheeks tinging brighter than Christmas lights. He does duck away from the touch now, and his expression is almost shy. Bashfulness mixed with bewilderment and the remnants of fear. “Look, this is seriously entering bad touch territory, and I think I’ve already established I’m not down with that. Don’t make me scream for my dad.”

“Your father isn’t here,” Peter replies, and his grip on Stiles’ shoulders tightens. He swings the kid around, backs him up to push him down onto the bed. “And once again, I’m not going to do anything you don’t ask for.” He covers Stiles’ body with his own, holding him down and cupping his face.

Stiles squirms underneath him, cheeks burning redder than ever. “You’re already doing this. Which I totally didn’t ask for. Plus, that sounds really ambiguous. Like in the it’s-okay-because-she-was-dressed-slutty sort of way.”

Peter chuckles fondly. “Tell me you don’t want it.” Stiles bites his lip, shakes his head jerkily.

“No. No. Definitely not. Get off of me.”

He squeaks in fear as Peter leans in closer and nips at his ear. “You’re lying...”

“I’m absolutely telling the truth. Like hand to God. Or Buddha, whatever your thing is. Buddha? You kinda seem like you might be into that stuff, except with your whole Captain-Ahab-versus-Moby-Dick thing with the Argents. You were dead for a while, so I guess you might know more about death than most-”

“Stiles,” Peter interrupts. “You’re rambling.” Stiles swallows, nods slowly.

“Yeah, thanks for noticing. Now about the being on top of me thing. Can it, like, not be happening anymore? I won’t lie, it’s starting to get a little scary.”

Peter pulls back, hand still bracing Stiles against the mattress. “I don’t want to scare you,” he says honestly. 

Stiles licks his lips nervously, gulping when he sees Peter’s eyes tracking the movement. “Yeah. That’s good. Sooo...about the getting off?” Peter smirks. Stiles groans. “Oh, God. No. Not like that.”

He makes a sort of strangled noise as Peter dips in close, breath hot in his face, their mouths very nearly slanting together. “Tell me honestly that you don’t want it,” Peter murmurs. “That you don’t want me to make you feel good. That you don’t want someone to want you. Someone who can really see you, who knows how special you are.” His hips press down, rocking against Stiles’. The kid squirms, gasps. “You smell of arousal. You reek of it. Tell me I’m wrong.”

“Oh, fuck. Damn it.” Stiles glares up at him, embarrassed and angry. “You’re not wrong, you asshole, but that’s not the point. I’m a teenage boy. You’re manhandling me. I can’t help how my body reacts.”

“You like being manhandled?” Peter asks, grinning at Stiles’ spluttering. “That can be arranged.” His expression turns serious, and he presses down suddenly into the groove of Stiles’ neck, teeth pricking gently against the tender flesh. Stiles goes still. “Say yes,” Peter whispers. “Such a clever boy...so sweet, so good. Say yes.”

They’re both breathing heavily, and Stiles is saying a lot of things: mouth running like a motor gone haywire, no filter and all brain-to-mouth nonsense. Peter rocks forward again and, yes, Stiles is definitely hard. The beast growls, pleased by the minor victory. Stiles hands are clutching at Peter’s biceps now, scrabbling without conscious aim. He’s whimpering, confused and aroused and unsure. Somewhere in the constant stream of chatter, he lets slip a stray, “Yes, please...”

And Peter takes that at face value; he bites down.

It’s more playful than predatory, and he doesn’t draw blood. No skin is pierced. Stiles yelps anyway, startled by the sudden flash of pain, but he doesn’t make a move to get away, to punch or lash out. He goes limp under the pressure of Peter’s teeth, cock twitching feebly in his pants. 

Peter releases him and rolls away, head tilting to admire his handiwork. It’s a lovely bruise; a perfect imprint of Peter’s canines embedded in purple against the expanse of white. The wolf approves.

Stiles rolls over on his side to face him, eyes fluttering, bemused. “Okay, what the hell was-”

The rest of his words are swallowed into Peter’s mouth as the werewolf licks in between the boy’s teeth and moves in close to wrap him into a warm embrace. Stiles reacts instinctively, giving in with silent permission. He even groans in displeasure when Peter eventually backs away.

“I’ll be seeing you soon, of course,” Peter says, totally nonchalant. He rises up from the bed in a swift motion, strides over to open the window.

“Wait. What?” Stiles sits up slowly, rubbing at his face. His lips are stung red, face flushed with heat. He’s bewildered and turned on and starting to get angry. The sweltering blend of scents is almost enough to make Peter return to the bed. To make him push further, continue with this.

But not today. Not just yet.

“I’ll be back,” Peter says again. “I promise.”

Stiles blinks at him. He rubs ruefully at his neck, checking for blood. His eyes narrow distrustfully. “Okay, what the fuck? Should I even ask what the point of that was supposed to be?”

Peter shrugs. “I claimed you. And now you’re mine.” He steps out the window and drops to the ground, laughing at the expression on the kid’s face. Stiles looked astonished and horrified (and a little bit flattered).

But not really repulsed. Not really repulsed at all.

 

XII.

It’s night when he returns to the house. Derek and Isaac are crowded together at the desk by the staircase, hunched in front of the laptop screen. Derek looks up, scowls.

“Where the hell have you been?” he grumbles. Isaac glances awkwardly between the two of them, shrinks back and stays silent.

Peter flashes a radiant smile. “Out.”

“Do I even want to know?” Derek asks, turning back to the computer like he doesn’t actually care at all. He bristles when Peter moves around him to ascend the stairs. 

“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.”

Derek asks nothing, and Isaac has nothing to add. Peter clutches hold of the banister as he mounts the steps, claps his hands together upon reaching the top to wipe away the residual dust. 

He hides away in the room at the end of the hall, just on the left. It’s small and empty, walls barren. Compared to the rest of the house, it’s so deeply demolished that it bears no resemblance to the place it used to be. Peter feels right at home.

He lies directly on the floorboards, flat on his back in the moonlight from the window. His body ripples with the urge to shift. He pushes it back.

The air is cool, and the darkness makes him drowsy. He closes his eyes and licks his lips.

The taste of Stiles is on his tongue.

 

XIII.

He waits two days before going back.

It’s midnight, and he climbs up the wall and presses his hands against the glass, raps once. Stiles is awake, sitting at the desk. He looks up at the sound, doesn’t seem surprised. His heartbeat spikes and he smells of nerves, but he’s definitely not surprised. Not afraid.

“It’s unlocked,” the kid says, voice wavering but tone bold. He lifts an eyebrow in challenge.

Peter smirks.

 

XIV.

The hollow cocoon of eternal night breaks free for no man, but Peter Hale is not a man at all. Death may carry the comfort of cold oblivion, but life is sweeter still, even in the midst of the pain. 

The movie starts again.

And who knows? Maybe he’ll grow to like the fire.