The predator watches his prey with narrowed eyes. The gangly, awkward shape stumbles, arms flailing for balance as he trips his way after his companions. The predator’s fingers tap-tap-tap slow and methodically on the table, considering how much fun it’s going to be to sink his claws in…
A dark shape drops into a seat in front of him, neatly and cleanly blocking off Peter’s view of his new prey. His obnoxious nephew is slurping on a milkshake, blinking at him a little too innocently.
“I didn’t think it was cool to be seen eating lunch with one of your teachers,” Peter drawls, reaching out lazily and snagging up the peanut butter cups from Derek’s tray. Derek doesn’t even blink, just stares at him with that stupid little smirk on his face.
“Teaching assistant,” Derek corrects, enjoying every possible opportunity to remind Peter that he’s not an actual member of staff here, “I still can’t believe they let you on campus, let along teach.”
Peter glares at his nephew, even as Derek snatches his Reese’s back protectively.
“And I’m trying to protect some more innocent students from you. I bet the poor kid can feel your stare from across the cafeteria. Who is it now?” Derek turns, as if to follow where Peter had been staring.
“Don’t look!” Peter hisses, “You’re awful, I don’t know why Talia kept you. I was all for putting you up for adoption but no,” he rolls his eyes and steals Derek’s milkshake while the teenager is still trying to figure out who Peter was eyeing up.
“Argent,” Derek hazards a guess, although he’s got a limited pool to choose from, a small group huddled together at the far table, “Uh, wait, maybe not…”
“I would have thought you’d have had enough of Argents,” Peter drawls, “What with Kate and everything.”
Derek shrugs, turning back to Peter, “She’s not Powered. Imagine how that feels to be born into a family full of Powers? Chris and Victoria’s marriage was literally planned out to produce a Powered high-ranking kid, and what do they get? A daughter who is completely and totally a Norm.”
“She’s not a Norm,” Peter grumbles, “She’s at this school, isn’t she? You don’t get into this school unless you have some sort of power.”
Derek shrugs, “Everyone knows it’s because of her parents. The Argent name means a lot… even after Kate.”
Peter hums neutrally, gaze trying to flick around Derek to where his prey sits among the group, laughing.
“Oh,” Derek realises, “It’s not Argent, is it? It’s Stilinski. You think Stilinski’s got Powers?”
Peter hums, “Not like he had important parents. Or parent.”
Derek cranes his head again to eye up the group again, “I thought that was why he and Argent got on so well,” he says, distractedly, then finally notices Peter’s eaten about half his food, “Hey,” he protests, trying and failing to steal back his milkshake. “How do you know he’s even Powered?” Derek grumbles, glaring at Peter as if that might get him his lunch back.
“He's in the registry. I checked.”
“You checked the registry? Peter, that's confidential information! How did you even get in there?” Derek looks aghast. Derek - rule breaking Derek - is the one looking horrified. “You know what,” he nephew says, grabbing his bag and after one long sorrow filled glance at his milkshake, gives it up as a lost cause, “I don't want to know. It's probably illegal. So don't tell me. Plausible deniability.”
“It's like we're not even related,” Peter says in disappointment.
“Also I’m never eating lunch with you again,” Derek shouts over his shoulder, heading for the door and leaving Peter with a clear view of McCall and his gang who…
…are no longer there. Peter catches sight of Tate, Martin and Lahey vanishing out of the door. The table is empty.
Peter internally growls. This is going to be annoying.
“Peter Hale is staring at you again,” Lydia announces to Stiles. Stiles grins as if he knows that already.
“Why is that creep staring at you?” Malia looks alarmed, “Why are you happy the creepy is staring at you? Stiles, why--”
“Malia,” Stiles grumbles, batting her off before she can say anything more, “Stay out of my head,” he leans back as if the distance might somehow stop his friend from listening to the monologue flitting through his brain.
“Remember: personal space,” Lydia chides her.
Malia just blinks. She never quite gets privacy. She’s a girl who hears surface thoughts as clearly as if you were speaking them. The concept of privacy probably just never occurs to her. She turns to where Kira is chatting to Scott, blurting out, “Is this like not mentioning that Kira still causes lightning storms every time she and Scott have sex?”
Scott chokes on his food, and Isaac sitting on his other side has to thump him really hard. His face looks a little like it’s turning purple. Kira just looks like she wishes the ground would open up and swallow her.
Malia can also be really blunt sometimes. It comes with the telepathy and lack of personal boundaries.
Nobody even has to say anything, “Oh,” Malia blinks, “I’m not meant to mention that, am I?”
“I for one love to hear about my friends sexual exploits,” Isaac inputs unhelpfully.
“Just when I think something intelligent is going to come out of your mouth you prove me wrong,” Stiles mumbles.
Isaac looks like he wants to snap something back, but probably can’t think of anything witty. He doesn’t get a chance because Scott’s literally sitting right there and probably exuding waves of fuzzy feelings right at him. Instead the curly-haired blonde settles for glaring at Stiles, “Still don’t know why they let you in this school,” he says, turning back to his soggy cafeteria fries.
“My charming personality of course,” Stiles smiles winningly, “What else?”
“And here I thought they just had low standards,” Lydia wins any and all battles of wit, “After all, they let Scott in.”
Stiles squawks indignantly, “But Scott’s a hulking mass of perfection. Also I think Finstock might fail everyone on principle if Scott’s not on the lacrosse team.”
“He’s still on the lacrosse team?” Allison frowns from where she sits next to Stiles, “I thought he was banned after that incident with the broken lacrosse sticks and dislocated shoulders.”
“Danny forgave him,” Lydia waves a hand dismissively, “Anyway, that’s not the point. They let Scott in back when he was still a wheezy asthmatic with no powers.”
“Scott used to be a wheezy asthmatic with no powers?” Kira frowns.
“I forget you didn’t know us then,” Lydia sighs, “Scott and Stiles used to be the asthmatic and hyperactive no-powered loser kids. Then Scott fell in some radioactive goo and his super-empathy triggered. Emotional and physical empathy - probably gets it from his healer mom. Unfortunately Stiles is still Stiles.”
“I didn’t fall in radioactive goo!”
“And none of that,” Lydia finishes off triumphantly, “Explains why Peter Hale is staring at you.”
Every turns around to try and see what she means, but Peter’s distracted talking to his nephew.
“He’s not staring,” Stiles says, somewhat mulishly, “He’s talking to Derek.”
Lydia frowns at Kira, “There are times I forget how new you are.”
Scott blinks, “You’ve met Derek, haven’t you? Cora’s brother?”
“Derek Hale?” Kira squeaks again, “The Derek Hale?”
Stiles frowns, “I don’t know any other sullenly charming full wolf shifters named Derek.”
Not that he’d always been a full shifter. Derek used to just shift partially. His nails sharpened into claws, his teeth to fangs and his eyebrows vanished from his forehead. It had been intimidating, but nothing that unusual in a school where everybody has some power or other.
“But… he caught Kate Argent…” Kira’s voice drops into a strangled whisper and she turns to Allison. Allison looks surprisingly calm, shrugging.
“I haven’t really spoken to my aunt much since I turned out not to be Powered,” she says, “My aunt was into the whole Power is Superiority thing in a big way. Me? I’m a let down to the family name.” Her voice is casual with a slight tension that’s barely noticeable. She makes no attempt to deny her relationship to Kate Argent. She makes no attempt to deny her relationship to a woman who left a trail of burnt bodies from one side of the country to the other with only one thing in common.
They were Norms born into a family of Powers.
They couldn’t even pin the crimes on Kate until she targeted the Hales. A large family with a line of strong Powers going back generations to rival the Argents.
It’s become kind of an initiation story for the school. “That’s Derek Hale, don’t piss him off or he will eat you.”
Stiles insists he’s more like a dog. A dog and not a massive wolf that is five feet tall at the shoulders with jaws that could snap a man in two. A wolf that is practically indestructible to gun fire and as Kate found out, real fire also didn’t really hurt him that much either.
“You’re a real let down,” Stiles mocks Allison, “Let downs like you make a habit of making holes in the middle of the targets on the range with arrows and guns, and taking down five men twice your size without a scratch.”
Allison smiles gratefully at Stiles, “Two men,” she corrects him, “It was two men. But they were only about five inches taller than me.”
“That was beautiful,” Scott sighs, “I’ve got pictures.”
“C’mon,” Stiles makes a grabby motion at Allison, “I need another Normal in my side next class. Be my friend.”
“But you’re not--“
“Shhh,” Stiles hisses, skipping to the door, “They don’t know that.”
“And Peter Hale?” Lydia asks dubiously after them.
“Peter Hale can eye up my ass as I walk out,” is the reply.
It’s a given fact that 50% of the population are born with Powers. When half the population can do strange things it becomes no longer strange. It’s practically natural now, normal to see someone skipping down the street with ice crystals forming where their feet touch the ground.
(Nobody does the capes and spandex anymore, that's so last century).
It used to be weird maybe two centuries ago, but now there are laws and rules and everyone lives with it. Not to say you don’t get some crazy Norms who want to be Powers, or so Norms who actually do fall into radioactive goo and come out of it changed but mostly people just go about their lives as usual. There are some powered division of the military and government to tackle powered threats (because nobody wants pyrokinetic kids leaving a trail of burning buildings across the country) and training schools to teach people how not to accidentally shatter windows every time you sing or cause lightning storms when you have sex (“Shut up,” Kira hisses in embarrassment at Malia, “You’re the worst best friend ever, I swear…”).
Beacon Hills High tries to teach the kids control. It mostly does with resounding success despite the tendencies of some of the teachers. Stiles swears he’s still deaf in his left ear from sitting too near Coach when he started shouting one time. And when Coach shouts, he shouts. Like, that’s his thing. Their economics teacher and lacrosse coach can shout really, really loudly. Anyone on the lacrosse team will testify to it.
Stiles currently has earplugs stuck in his ears in some vague hopeful attempt to save his hearing. He leans back on the bench, watching as Coach begins an argument with Liam about when he is and isn’t allowed to use his super strength. Scott and Isaac are exchanging a tired glance in the background. They’re probably planning to throw Liam off the roof or something. The kid is, after all, extremely durable. Also clumsy. It’s a bad combination. He’s fallen down a well and off a hospital roof top before and bounced up as if nothing had happened. He’s fallen down a hole and Stiles had to fish him out to his great chagrin.
Stiles is enjoying warming the bench, thinking he should probably get back onto the field before Coach catches him lounging, when someone drops down beside him. He thinks it’s Kira, which is why he doesn’t react for several seconds and when he does, it’s to flinch so violently he almost falls off the bench. “Gah!” he says, because it’s not Kira.
Peter Hale smirks down at him, “I’m sorry,” he actually manages to sound sincere, “Did I startle you?”
“Just thought you were someone else,” Stiles says, trying to right himself and his wounded pride. “What can I do for you, Mr Hale?”
“Peter,” the man says, “I’m not an actual teacher as my nephew likes to remind me. And you’ve known me since you were nine, Stiles.”
“And you’re just as creepy now as you were then,” Stiles grumbles, “If anything you’re creepier. I’m still not sure how you managed to get a job teaching children.”
“I have a lot experience dealing with traumatised children,” Peter says mildly.
Stiles scoffs, “Yeah, because you used to hang out in the locker room just to give me and Scott heart attacks. Those were some defining moment of my youth here.”
Peter scoffs, “I came to check I hadn’t traumatised you too badly. From the sounds of it you seem to have survived.”
Stiles rolls his eyes, “Did you want something?” he asks again.
Peter shrugs, blue eyes curious as he regards Stiles, and for a moment the younger boy feels a bit like a piece of meat. Then Peter’s gaze flicks away to the lacrosse practise going on, “You’re not playing?” he asks mildly.
Stiles shrugs, “Taking a break.”
“Must be hard, playing with all the other Powers.”
Stiles’ eyes narrow and his lip quirks. Peter misses it, looking away as he is, and Stiles turns to watch as Coach sticks Danny in goal. The poor technopath looks like he’d rather be hacking the Pentagon, but then again considering he did that when he was thirteen it’s probably not that daunting for him. Danny had probably been more put out than anything when the feds came knocking at his door to interrupt what Danny had thought was a video game.
Stiles has tried to persuade Danny to work his magic fingers on his car, but Danny refuses. It’s probably why he avoids Stiles nowadays, but then again he can’t get the microwave to work either, so maybe his Powers just have limits.
In response to Peter’s veiled line of questioning Stiles just shrugs because if Peter wants to play a game, well… Stiles can play just as well as anybody else.
“I think Coach deafened me,” he response casually, waving an ear plug around, “I’d protest about how it should probably be against the rules to allow teachers to do that but they let you in here so…”
“And here I thought you missed me,” Peter sighs.
“Are you kidding? The day Cora’s uncle graduated and left was the best day of my life. Then you came back.”
Stiles doesn’t really remember Peter as anything else other than Cora’s annoying uncle who used to like annoying them. He used to make a habit of appearing over Cora’s shoulder to mock them with witty banter that Stiles had enjoyed. It’s refreshing to talk to him again, and it’s not doing Stiles any harm to be admiring him. He’s kind of handsome.
“And to think I was nostalgically thinking of the days Cora used to bring you home to run around our house,” Peter scoffs, “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“Cora what now?”
Stiles flails again as said girl appears behind him. This time Peter grabs him before he can fall off the bench, steadying him. “You Hales are going to be the death of me,” Stiles says.
“Are you okay? You should try to relax a little bit,” Peter says, and Stiles snatches his hand back.
Peter blinks, and Stiles eyes him up, almost as if expecting something to happen. He rubs at the spot Peter’s hand had touched. “I’m good, thanks,” he says, and Peter aquisises with a tilt of his head, “Actually, I’m gonna go play, I’ll see you around.”
He lopes off towards the field and Peter watches him go with narrowed eyes.
Cora slides into Stiles’ empty seat. “So,” she says, eyeing up her uncle, “Stilinski, huh?”
“Don’t,” Peter growls, “Just don’t.”
His niece laughs, eyes sparkling, “That annoying little brat?” she asks, “You’re going after him?”
“I just want to know what his power is,” Peter says, resolutely, “That’s all.”
“Why don’t you just ask?” Cora says.
“Because,” Peter says, staring after Stiles looking almost hungry, “That’s cheating.”
Besides, it would taste so much better when he found out without using his powers. It always did after all.
It’s what he does.
He likes to pretend there are limits to his powers. It only works when he’s touching someone. When he’s looking them in the eyes.
In truth they just need to hear him. His voice does the trick. He tells them to jump they don’t even ask how high. They just do it.
It is Peter’s favourite past time. To manipulate. He enjoys doing it even more when he doesn’t use his power.
He doesn’t touch someone. He doesn’t meet their gaze. He talks, makes sure not to use direct imperatives. He talks and talks around in circles until people are eating out of his palm. They think they’re safe, they’re untouchable while he’s planting ideas in their heads without a single mesmerised laced word.
(Talia will never trust him again after what he’s done but that’s okay. Someone thought letting the real wolf out onto the playground was a good idea and Peter will take advantage of it.)
Cora takes after him in some ways but she messes with what you see. She messes with people’s perceptions and how they view the world. She wins every time at hide-and-seek because people simple can’t see her.
Just because she doesn’t want you to.
Once when Cora was eight she accidentally made her family think she had died in a fire. Cora was so upset she locked herself in her room for a week and wouldn’t come out until Peter went in, fifteen and all too used to the way Talia used to look at him when he asked her to do something, always unsure if he’s asking or asking.
Peter’s been her favourite uncle ever since. It doesn’t mean she’s nice about it.
“You want to do what?”
“Do I have to repeat it?”
Cora looks aghast, and then glances down at the list Peter’s scrawled down, “No, I think I got it. But Peter, you can’t throw Stiles off a cliff to see if his Power is flying. You just… what if it isn’t?”
Peter shrugs, “He might be unbreakable. I have to find out somehow, don’t I?”
“You’ve stopped jumping at my presence,” Peter sounds almost disappointed, “That’s a shame; I was beginning to think I’d acquired a new Power.”
“What, manipulative bastard isn’t enough for you?” Stiles’ tongue can be sharp when he wants it to be, but Peter just lets it bounce off him, leaning against the railing and eyeing up the class down below. It’s small, split down to about fifteen students with two or three instructors walking around, checking everyone has goals and knows what they’re supposed to be managing.
Scott’s sitting over in the corner talking to Allison so Stiles isn’t sure what he’s meant to be accomplishing. Malia is watching Kira try and illuminate up a light bulb and is inching away with every progressive attempt as glass goes flying wildly. One of their instructors pauses to erect a force field around them and then continues on to where Erica is demonstrating something to Boyd.
Erica can partially shift. She never changes much beyond human, but she can shift parts of her body. Her nails curl into claws. She grows cat ears on her head. Sometimes she’s a mousy brown. Today her hair is a stunning blonde. She’s in control. Mostly she’s in control, but there are days when she changes and changes and changes as her emotions twist and tumble. The epilepsy probably plays a role in it; too many neurons firing at once and forcing her through shift after shift. Still, Erica wears her shifts like a catwalk model, teeth growing fangs and skin rippling to fur.
Peter’s still standing next to him, making Stiles somewhat nervous. “Do you actually have a job here?” Stiles asks with a frown, “Because I swear I never see you doing anything other than lurk and look pretty.”
“Do you think I look pretty?” Peter latches onto it, turning to eye up Stiles with a grin.
Stiles looks flustered, “Not the point.”
“Aren’t you practising with them?”
Stiles shrugs, “I’m done for the day,” he replies vaguely, “Trying to stay away from Lahey and his stupid scarf.” Peter’s gaze flickers only briefly to where Isaac and Boyd are, then back to Stiles, “Thought you’d be more interested in seeing Cora,” Stiles says, “Where is she, anyway?”
Peter has a suspicion and it involves a crash landing mat, which is a shame because he needs some way to test if Stiles bruises or if he heals.
There’s only one way to find out.
“He pushed you off the balcony.”
“Yes,” Stiles glares across the cafeteria and if looks could kill Allison has no doubt that Peter Hale would be six feet under already.
“I didn’t see anything.”
“Of course you didn’t,” Stiles says, “Cora was hanging about.”
“There was a mat…”
“Of course there was a mat; otherwise you would have noticed the Stiles-shaped hole in the gym floor.”
“And Peter pushed you off the balcony why?”
Stiles hums and doesn’t answer for a while.
“Stiles?” Allison presses, just as Lydia sits down next to them. The strawberry blonde arches one eyebrow at the pair.
“Oh, that? Peter’s trying to work out what Stiles’ power is.”
Allison stares at her, “And you know this how?”
“Sweetheart,” Lydia tuts, “I’m a genius. I know everything. That and Stiles is glaring at Peter across the hall. It’s really obvious.”
“It’s really dangerous,” Allison says, “What if you’d been hurt?”
Stiles waves a hand dismissively, “Nah, Peter wouldn’t hurt me. Not fatally at least. It would kill him if I died before he found anything out.”
The Norm looked at Stiles then at Lydia who acts as if nothing is wrong, “You’re crazy,” she decides.
“Where’s your sense of humour, Ally?” Stiles crows, “Come on! It will be fun!”
“'It will be fun', I recall you saying.”
“I didn’t think he’d start throwing things at my head.”
“It’s called dodgeball, Stilinski.”
“He was aiming at my head, Martin.”
“That doesn’t explain what you were doing on that treadmill though.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”
“He must have a power,” Peter rages, “He has to have something.”
Derek and Cora watch him angrily pace. Cora’s eating popcorn. “Derek could text Scott and ask him,” she suggests.
It’s reasonable. It’s easy. Peter won’t even consider it.
Derek reaches over and snags some of Cora’s popcorn.
He’s checked a few. Stiles can’t shapeshift like Derek or Talia. He’s not an empath. No telekinesis. Nothing elemental. Stiles still has the burns to prove it. The kid isn’t telepathic on any level, nor can he detect lies like his father. He probably now believes some really weird things about Peter. Stiles isn’t a speedster. He’s not enhanced be it vision, strength or skill. No enhanced trips over themselves that many times in one day.
“Hey, stalker,” Stiles greets him when Peter greets him for the nth day in a row to check off another Power on his list, “You’re just in time, Lydia’s chewing Jackson out again.”
“That’s nothing unusual,” Peter shrugs, sliding into a seat next to him to watch the clairvoyant shouting angrily at her boyfriend. Or ex-boyfriend. “Boring,” he says, “What about you, Stiles? Having fun? Got any plans this weekend?”
“You interested?” Stiles raises one eyebrow and grins, then glances to his left where Malia is sitting with Isaac, shooting them glances, “Malia thinks you’re planning to molest me. You’re not, are you?”
Peter glances at the telepath, “Well she’d know, wouldn’t she?” he offers up, and then slides off like a content cat just to let Stiles stew a little.
Peter will find out what Stiles is hiding eventually. And he’s going to savour every second of it.
Peter’s driving himself mad.
He can’t figure it out, can’t connect the pieces, can’t see a pattern, can’t…
“It’s probably something pointless. Like turning into a hamster or something. Or a guinea pig. Is there a way to force people to shift?”
“Get Derek to roar at him,” Cora suggests. Derek looks affronted at the suggestion.
“I’m a wolf,” he says, “Not a lion. I don’t roar.”
Cora eyes her twin sullenly, “You’ve never heard yourself, have you? Because I’m pretty sure you roar.”
At least one thing has come of this. Peter is now very sure Stiles can’t fly.
"Peter's trying to find out what your power is,” Scott realises, after about two months of Peter casually dropping into their conversations, “Don’t tell me that’s why he’s been hanging around all the time.”
"Yeah. I noticed," Stiles rubs at a bruise on his elbow as Scott drops into a seat beside him. Despite the pain he's grinning wildly. Scott actually feels slightly apprehensive by the amount of visceral glee bubbling up inside his friend.
"It's really pissing him off," Scott warns him. The glee just grows.
“A lot,” Scott says, and he’s worried as Stiles’ grin just grows wider.
Stiles and Peter have some weird, weird foreplay, he decides, and the other side of him someone chokes.
“Personal boundaries, Malia.”
“Maybe he is a Norm,” Peter decides, “Maybe he hacked the system.”
“You can’t hack the system,” Cora rolls her eyes; “This place is like Hogwarts, you can’t get on the registry if you’re not a Power. It just… it doesn’t happen.”
“Stilinski’s dad is with the police, right? Maybe he bribed someone?”
Peter’s not sure which option is more interesting. That Stiles has an unknown power or that he’s just that brilliant of a Norm. (He thinks he’s enraptured either way. Not in love because he’s Peter Hale, he doesn’t do something as trivial as fall in love, but he’s fascinated and that’s almost as dangerous.)
And at the very end he gives up.
"Screw this," he says.
"Uh oh," Cora mutters, as Peter decides enough is enough. Stalking across the grounds, Stiles looks up with wide, flustered eyes as Peter looms over him for a second before sliding into sitting next to him on the stairs. "This isn't gonna be good," Cora speaks into her hand.
"Hello Stiles," Peter purrs, and then purposely reaches out and grasps Stiles's hand. He feels the contact of bare skin and that's all he needs, "I was wondering," he says, "If you would mind telling me what your power is. There must be some reason you're at this school, after all."
Peter's smirking, He knows he's got it now, he just knows it. Why didn’t he just do this to start with? He could have saved himself months of pain. He’s got it now, he can see it in the way Stiles' eyes widen and his mouth opens and he's going to answer, helpless to resist Peter's manipulation.
"Wow," Stiles says, "That wasn't even subtle, dude, Even if that was going to work on me, I switched you off months ago, god, how could you not even notice?"
"What." Peter can't even form the infliction, just stares at where Stiles looks torn between laughing and looking really shocked.
Very slowly, Stiles grabs Peter's hand and slides his own through, so they are still maintaining skin contact, "I switched you off," Stiles says, like it's nothing, "So your powers aren't working. Not that they'd work on me anyway but... you seriously didn't notice?"
Well it's not like Peter makes a habit of using his powers. He doesn't like relying on them and he's proud that he'd good enough to get by without them. He had thought that the loss of the familiar tingle was just him, worrying about other things. Such as the kid smirking broadly at him on the stairs.
He's a Frequency. Those are rare; really rare. People who can suppress or amplify people's powers are highly desired by people both ends of the spectrum. The powerful want more power. The mutated and weak want it gone.
“At least,” Stiles says, patting him on the shoulder almost condescendingly, “When you finally get off your ass and ask me on a date you’ll know I’ll actually mean it when I say ‘yes’. I’m free this Friday. Seven o’clock.”
He flashes Peter and grin and then slips away, leaving Peter’s hand tingling from where they had touched.
"Well," his smug niece sidles up to him, "Think of it this way. At least you know what his power is now."
Has Peter ever mentioned how much he hates Talia’s children?