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The Devil You Know

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Stiles never wanted to want Peter. He tried not to. Tried not to admire how far he'd go to protect his pack—or, failing that, to avenge them. Tried not to enjoy their sarcastic banter, or the way Peter could follow his leaps of logic and intuition in a way that even Scott couldn't, sometimes. Tried not to appreciate the way Peter's eyes never looked at him with judgement or pity, the way Peter never treated him like he was fragile. He tried not to feel bolstered by the fact that Peter flirted outrageously with him, but never toyed with his feelings—under every innuendo-laden come on lay a serious offer. He tried not to feel validated, reassured by the fact that Peter never ignored him—or let him get away with trying to feed the older Hale the same crock of bullshit he fed everyone else.

He tried.

But the day he failed, he thought that maybe it was inevitable.

It starts with a monster—because that’s how everything always starts in Beacon fucking Hills—when Stiles is trying to clear his head. He knows better than to go wandering around the Preserve after dark, but he’d thought he would be safe with the last few hours of feeble daylight if he stuck to the edges. No such luck.

He finds himself bolting, trying to outrun whatever the hell is hot on his heels. The thing looks like a distant cousin of the velociraptor—if it was on crack. It had managed to get a hit in, and Stiles’s breathing is more ragged from the fiery pain gouging his shoulder than from running his ass off. He’s trying to think, figure out what he can use to get away, where he can go, because Scott isn’t answering his phone, and that means Stiles—

—is going to run full-tilt into a tree because he’s thinking instead of paying attention.

Although trees don’t usually grip back. Or smell sexy and edible.

Trembling and soaked—blood, sweat, he doesn’t know and doesn’t want to—Stiles looks and sees Peter. He sags against the werewolf. Peter frowns and says something, but Stiles can’t hear it over the pounding of the blood in his ears. “Chasing me. Dinosaur thing,” he gasps out, taking a wild guess at what it is Peter wants to know.

Peter’s attention turns then, away from him and towards . . . the thing that had been chasing him. Stiles tries to pull away, tries to run again, but Peter’s grip holds firm. Peter shifts, cups clawed hands over Stiles’s ears, and gives a vicious snarl. It isn’t as pants-shittingly loud as an Alpha’s roar, but it’s still the sound of an apex predator. The raptor-thing makes this weird chirruping noise before turning tail and running.

Stiles slumps against Peter, and just breathes. Peter lets him, skating gentle fingertips up and down his back until he isn’t shaking anymore.

Getting back home is fuzzy. Stiles can’t remember all of it, and what he does remember makes him think that he probably doesn’t want to. The next thing he registers with absolute clarity is Peter’s open palm connecting with his face. Hard.

“Ow! Th’ f’ck ‘z tha’ for?”

“I need you to stay with me, Stiles. I don’t know how much blood you’ve lost, and I need you to tell me if you suffered any other injuries.” Peter’s face is very close to his face. It’s distracting.

“Y’r distr’ctin’.”

Injuries, Stiles.”

He thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. “Jussa shoul’er.”

Peter listens carefully before nodding. He ducks out of sight, but is back before Stiles can wonder where he went. He reappears with a very familiar first aid kit. Which. That means they’re in the bathroom. Stiles’s bathroom. When did Peter get him into his own bathroom?

Before he can try to follow the memory-breadcrumb trail, Peter’s distracting him again. By slicing his shirt off. Which is not okay. Stiles is not built for random shirtlessness. That domain belongs to werewolves. His domain is more “in the right light, with someone who already knows he’s awesome”. Peter’s hands on his chest don’t change that. Though they do feel nice. Especially with the warm.

He spares a moment to question whether he might be a little endorphin-drunk. He thinks so. As well as very, very unmedicated. But surprisingly non-hurty. He wonders why that is. From what he recalls of the last hour, he should be feeling plenty hurty right about now. His view is pretty obstructed—there’s nothing much but bathroom-white in his peripheral vision, and a whole lot of Peter-hair right in front of him.

Then it occurs to him to wonder why he’s seeing hair instead of eyebrow sass. He tries to lean back to get a better look, but Peter stops him with a curt, “Hold still,” and a tight grip on his arm. His left arm. It was his left shoulder that the crack-raptor tore open.

Carefully, without moving the rest of his body, Stiles turns his head to glance at his shoulder. He mostly sees blood, but two things stand out as important: first, that the hand on his arm has black veins, which accounted for the lack of hurty, and second, that Peter’s other hand is sewing the deepest of the cracktor gashes shut.

His stomach lurches violently at the sight of the needle being pulled through his skin. Peter’s hands are deft as he stitches carefully, and it’s horrifying to watch but only feel as a slight tugging sensation. Despite his growing nausea he can’t tear his eyes away until Peter says, “I will kill you if you throw up on me,” without pausing to look at him.

Stiles tips his head back and stares at the ceiling. It doesn’t really help. He still knows that Peter’s jabbing a needle through his flesh, can still feel it in an abstract way even if he can’t feel the pain of it.

Which. Speaking of. “Thanks.”

“For?” Peter still doesn’t look up or pause what he’s doing. Is that rude of him? It’s Peter, so rude is his default setting, but Stiles isn’t going to argue this time. Not when it means the needlesome part of tonight can be over with faster.

“For takin’ the pain.” Stiles blinks slowly. He is so, so tired. Should he be worried about shock? Probably. But he’s the special kind of exhausted, and there’s a convenient werewolf nearby to call the ambulance, so.

“I need you with me for a little bit longer, Stiles.” Peter’s voice breaks through his mental meanderings, and it takes a moment before it sinks in that he’s never heard that tone from Peter before. He looks at the werewolf, and realizes that he’d closed his eyes.

He’s not sure if he’s glad he opened them, with Peter so close. There are two unnaturally hot hands cupping both sides of his neck, and Peter’s staring at him in a very disconcerting way. Like, dude’s hyper-focussed on Stiles, but isn’t actually seeing him?

It gets really weird really fast, so he mumble-asks, “What’re you doin’?”

“Checking you for signs of hypovolemic shock,” Peter replies absently, still looking-but-not-seeing him.

And, well. That’s probably a good thing. “Verdict?”

“You’re pale but not blue, smell of lingering terror but no fresh anxiety, and while you’re still trembling a little, I’m fairly certain that’s just the adrenaline. You’re not sweating, and your breathing is a little wheezy, but fairly normal. Those are all good signs.”

Stiles hears a ‘but’ in there. “I hear a ‘but’ in there.”

At the return of the snark, Peter looks him in the eye. His expression is tight, calculating. “But your pulse is fast, even for you, and a little weaker than I’d like.”

Stiles closes his eyes, and tries to assess how he feels now that Peter’s not sucking his pain like it’s a milkshake. He feels pretty shitty, but he thinks he’s felt worse. A little woozy, maybe. “I don’ feel too bad.”

Peter gives him another one of those considering looks. “What day of the week is it?”

“It was Wednesday when I lef’, but I dunno how much time’s gone by, so it might be Thurs’ay now.” All he wants is sleep.

“What’s your full name?”

Stiles opens his mouth, about to answer automatically with the monstrosity that’s on his birth certificate, but catches himself. He glares at Peter. “Nice try.”

There’s something unusual about Peter’s smirk, something behind it that Stiles can’t identify. His voice is gentle when he says, “I want you to stand up for me, so we can finish cleaning you up.” It’s freaky. But kind of nice? Usually he gets yelled at for being reckless after he gets hurt, but Peter hasn’t done any yelling since they got out of the Preserve.

Peter helps him up off the floor, and he groans, clutching the counter for support. He can see Peter hovering behind him in the mirror, hands close but not touching. “Any dizziness or light-headedness?” he asks. Stiles slowly shakes his head no. He can feel his muscles protesting. His legs don’t want to hold him up. “Stiles, do you feel like you’re going to faint?”

He snorts. “No, nope, I’m no’ gonna do that. I’ve already done the damsel in distress thing t’night,” he grunts.

Peter nods. “You should be fine, then, but let me know if any of that changes.”

And then Peter is boxing him in, sliding his hands under Stiles’s arms to get to the taps and wow, werewolves put out a lot of body heat. They’re not even touching, but Stiles can feel how hot the air is in the scant space between Peter’s chest and his bare back. When Peter wraps an arm around his waist, bringing their bodies flush, he gives a silent thank you to whatever might be listening that there’s not enough blood in his body to spare any for his dick.

He watches their reflection, feeling like he's looking into an alternate reality. There are seven neat stitches holding the deepest wound closed. Seven places where Peter entered his body, and exited leaving Stiles the better for his having been there. Even stranger, Peter runs a soapy washcloth over his chest and stomach, before rinsing it out to wipe away the worst of the blood and grime. He repeats the process with Stiles’s arms, sides, back, and he’s . . . clinical is the wrong word. This is anything but clinical. It’s also nothing like the bad-touch Stiles would have expected if Peter ever got him alone and half-naked.

When Peter turns him, propping him against the bathroom counter to carefully wash the evidence of the last few hours from his face, Stiles thinks he might have found the word, as outrageously un-Peter as it might seem. When Peter starts scrubbing away the blood spattered at his neck and hairline, he knows. Compassionate. That’s the only word for how Peter’s behaving right now.

He’s broken from that frankly bizarre thought by a twinging pain in his shoulder. Peter’s slathering antibiotic ointment over the claw-marks, and, as soon as he’s done, carefully covers it with gauze and tape. When he pulls back, he looks at Stiles. “Are you a restless sleeper?”

Stiles snorts. “Have you met me?”

Peter ducks down to the first aid kit, and pulls out an ace bandage. He positions Stiles’s left arm, and then binds his arm and torso in such a way that Stiles shouldn’t pull his stitches in his sleep. Stiles lets his eyes fall shut. “Too tight?”

Stiles squirms a little. Shakes his head. He doesn’t open his eyes. Not until Peter skates his fingertips across Stiles’s cheek. “Come on, Stiles. Let’s get you to bed.”

He lets Peter half-carry him to his bedroom, and changes into the pajama pants Peter hands him after the werewolf ducks out. By the time he comes back, Stiles is easing himself under the covers, and Peter is handing him a glass of juice. “Drink that, and then you can sleep. I’ll be right back.

Stiles sips at it, too tired to argue. He has the niggling feeling that it’s a good idea anyway. He drains the glass, and then collapses against his pillows.

He’s asleep before Peter gets back.

***

 

John isn’t particularly quiet when he gets home. It’s one in the morning, and as much as he hopes his son is asleep by now, he knows better. There have been too many nights where Stiles has been up into the small hours for him to think any differently.

So he’s a little surprised when he gets upstairs and sees that his son’s bedroom light is off. And then he worries that Stiles might not be home at all. He didn’t get a text about a pack meeting or sleepover at Scott’s, but werewolves. Werewolves have become A Thing, as Stiles would say, and might be keeping his boy away from his bed, where he should be at one o’clock in the morning.

He taps gently at the door before opening it. He doesn’t expect what he sees. For starters, Stiles is home, and asleep. But most of John’s shock is being claimed by the fact that Peter Hale, spree killer, ex-Alpha, and undead thirty-something werewolf, is in bed with his son, his back against the headboard and Stiles’s face pressed to his thigh.

John takes a minute to do one of those breathing exercises the therapist recommended for Stiles’s panic attacks, but which are also surprisingly helpful for Sheriffs who need help not shooting the thirty-something werewolf in bed with his son.

Just before John whisper-shouts at said werewolf to get out of his house, Hale nods at him. His eyes glitter strangely in the dark, and John wonders if that’s a werewolf thing, or just a creepy quirk unique to this werewolf. He resolves to ask Stiles later, because Hale is beckoning him closer.

And, once John is close enough, he understands why. He does the breathing thing again.

Because Peter is gesturing to a bandage on Stiles’s shoulder, dragging three hooked fingers through the air over it. Claw marks. Three of them. He mouths “How bad?” only mildly terrified of the answer. Stiles is in his own bed and breathing easy, so it can’t be too bad. He’s not at the hospital, or being patched up by the vet. He’s just . . .

Being watched over by a werewolf.

“Seven stitches,” Hale whispers, and Jesus Christ, his baby needed stitches? Before he can ask—who stitched his boy back together, how Stiles handled the needle, what the hell happened that his son needed seven stitches—Hale’s speaking again. “Get some sleep, Sheriff. I’ll stay with him, and tell you everything you want to know in the morning.”

He squints at Hale. He’s not happy about it, but. He’s exhausted, and Stiles’s injuries aren’t going anywhere—and neither is Hale, apparently. It’s not a thought that should reassure him. He doesn’t want to be reassured by it.

But he can’t help feeling grateful that someone is taking care of his kid. Even if he would greatly prefer Chris or Melissa—parents who know what it feels like to have a child ass-deep in the supernatural—be that someone. Hell, Scott or Lydia or Allison would be great. But if Peter Hale is the one Stiles ended up with, at least he’s got someone.

John very carefully doesn’t think about why everyone else seems content to leave Stiles to fend for himself, or the upsides to having Hale watch over his son. He saves it for that talk they’re going to have in the morning.

 

***

 

When Stiles wakes up in the middle of the night, he’s not sure what time it is. He’s been asleep long enough to feel disoriented and groggy, though, which is why it takes a moment to register Peter.

Peter is in his bed. He’s curled up against Peter Hale’s chest, his face tucked into the curve where Peter’s neck meets his shoulder. He thinks this might be the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to him—and, given his Life with Werewolves, that’s saying something. He doesn’t realize Peter’s awake until hands start stroking—soft enough to soothe, but firm enough not to tickle—up and down his back, over his ribs, across his arms, his neck, the back of his head.

He’s so tired, in every way it’s possible to be tired. He tried going for a walk tonight to prevent a panic attack, and ended up being rescued, dazed and bleeding, by Peter Hale. There are so many things wrong with that sentence he doesn’t even know where to start. Panic attacks. Being stuck inside his brain sucking so hard he needed to be alone and moving. The sense of relief that came with crashing into Peter.

He shouldn’t be okay with this. He didn’t give Peter permission to sleep in his bed. His dad will be home soon. Peter’s more than a decade older than him. Peter can’t be trusted.

But he’s tired, and this feels so, so good. It’s unbelievably easy to lie there and let Peter learn him by touch in the dark, to accept the comfort being offered. He can’t find it in him to care what it’ll cost him later, even though he knows it will. But, better the devil you know, right?

So he lets out a quiet sigh, his body going pliant and trusting under Peter’s hands. He drifts back to sleep, lulled by the heartbeat tapping gently against his cheek.