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Magic and Misunderstandings

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“Dude, you can’t just stay in your room the whole summer,” Scott’s voice says from the Stiles’s laptop. “You need to get out, explore the town, meet some people.”

Stiles rolls his eyes, even though his back is to the camera and Scott wouldn’t be able to see him. “First of all,” Stiles says, turning away from the box he was unpacking so he could look at Scott’s face on the laptop screen. “I’m not some hermit.” The look Scott gives him is unimpressed. “There are at least two other people living in this house,” Stiles points out. He holds up a finger. “My dad.” He raises another finger. “And your mom, my soon-to-be step-mom.” He holds up a third finger. “Plus, you’ll be here in like a week.” He puts down his hand and turns back to continue transferring clothes from the box he was working on into the dresser.

“And, point number two, I’m going to be meeting with Deaton twice a week so I can start my Emissary training.” He pauses as he considers the shirt in his hand. Around him is all of his belongings, packed into ten boxes. His whole life and still not enough to fill a single bedroom. He shoves the shirt in the drawer. “Third,” he says, glancing back at the computer, “Dad was going to help me look into a part time job, or just let me volunteer at the station until I figure out what I want to do next. A lot of the deputies there are the same ones that looked after me when mom died, before we moved away.”

He has to look away from the camera then, not wanting to see the flash of sadness across Scott’s face. He opens an empty drawer and starts shoving pants in to have something to do with his hands, but all too soon the box runs out. Stiles shakes his head, as if he can shake off the memories of that time. There’s a reason they don’t talk about it. He does what he always does when he’s uncomfortable, ramble. “And I do socialize,” Stiles points out defensively. “It’s not like I didn’t have friends at school. And some of them even want to keep in touch. Visit and email and all that. I have a Facebook now and everything. Plus, there’s my online gaming group.”

Scott snorts. “Your online friends don’t count,” he says. “I’m still not convinced that half of them exist.” Stiles has to smile at that. It’s been a long standing argument between them. “I mean, I know there are a lot of supernatural creatures out there,” Scott continues, “but I refuse to believe that you play role playing games online with an elf.”

“Don’t you diss Manny,” Stiles says with a laugh. He spins around to point threateningly at the camera. “He’s really knows how to play a warrior. And, he’s not a min-maxing douche like Tyr was.” He tosses the empty box aside and looks around for another one to start on. “The group’s actually talking about doing an IRL get together sometime, maybe going to Comic-con or a supernatural conference or something. If we do, you can come along and meet them.” He turns to grin at Scott. “Half of them think we’re dating with how often I talk about you.”

The look on Scott’s face is scandalized and sets Stiles howling with laughter. Stiles has to slump down in his desk chair before he falls over from laughing so hard. The sound must have drawn his father’s attention because he appears in the doorway with a questioning look. Stiles waves at the computer screen. Unfortunately, that causes him to look at Scott’s face again and sets off another fit of laughter.

“Hi, Scott,” Noah says as he wanders into range of the camera.

“Sheriff, err. Sorry. Noah.” Scott rubs a hand through his hair and shoots them both an awkward smile. “It’s going to take me a little while to adjust,” he says with a small smile. “I mean, I know I’ve known you since I was a kid, but it’s different now that you’re going to be my step-dad.”

Noah waves a hand dismissively. “It’s fine, Scott. Just go with whatever you’re comfortable with.” He looks down at his watch and then back at the camera. “Don’t you have a final in half an hour?”

Scott jerks back from the computer to look at something off camera. “Shit! You’re right. I need to get going.” Scott scrambles away from the camera and there’s sounds of things being tossed around. He reappears a moment later. “Bye guys! See you in a week. Tell mom I’ll call her later!” The camera clicks off a moment later.

Stiles chuckles and shakes his head before closing Skype and shutting his laptop. He hops back to his feet and back to his boxes. He has to shift through the boxes before he finds another one marked “clothes”. He sets the box on his bed and pulls out his a pocketknife. In a practiced move he flips the blade open, slits the box lid, then closes the knife and pockets it again.

“After all these years, I’m still not sure I’m fully comfortable with how familiar you are with knives,” his father says from where he’s leaning in the door frame. “I mean, what could you need a knife for at Hogwarts?”

Stiles snorts and shoots his father a grin. “You wouldn’t believe how annoyed some of the teachers got when I called it that, especially once I transitioned into the College.” He straightens his spine and puts on his most pompous tone. “We do not call the Otsego Mystic Academy and College of Sorcery... ‘Hogwarts’. Nor is it ‘Camp Half-Blood’ or the ‘Xavier Institute.’ The Academy has an illustrious history… blah, blah, blah.” Stiles rolls his eyes and goes back to unpacking. “For a bunch of people who are either literally mythical creatures or who can make the impossible happen with their minds, there was a distinct lack of a humor and imagination in that place.”

“Stiles, I’m sorry…” His father begins, and Stiles knows that if he looks up his father will have that sad and guilty expression he always does when Stiles complains about the school where he spent most of his childhood.

“It’s fine, dad,” he interrupts before his father can get much further. It’s not like he hasn’t heard the apology many times before. “There may have been some assholes at that school, but there were a lot of nice people too. We both know that’s where I needed to be until I got my shit under control.” He tosses the newly emptied box over with the others and looks up at his dad. He even manages a genuine smile.

“I made it through the Academy and the College as quickly as I could. It’s over and now I can see you and Scott whenever I want. No more being stuck on the opposite side of the country and the wrong side of a computer screen.” Stiles grins at his father and waves a hand at the room around him. “Look at us now, all together under one roof. You, me, Scott, and Melissa.” Stiles steps out from his box maze and reaches out for his father.

Noah doesn’t hesitate before pulling him into a hug. Even though they just spent the last four days cooped up together in a car on the drive back from New York, Stiles still can’t get over the thrill of finally being able to touch. He doesn’t think his dad has either. His dad hugs him like he’s making up for the years he couldn’t, when they were stuck on opposite sides of the Academy gates. It’s several minutes later when Stiles finally pulls away. He turns to look at his new room to avoid the tears edging the corners of his dad’s eyes.

“Definitely digging the new room,” he says as he surveys the space. The bed is big, a definite improvement over the tiny twin bed he’d had at the dorms at the Academy and College. There’s a dresser and a closet, two bookshelves, and a desk. And the best part is, he doesn’t have to share it with anyone else. Scott has his own room across the hall, but this one they’d left empty, waiting for him when he got home.

Stiles walks over to his boxes again and shifts the ones marked “books” over towards the bookshelves. There’s not very many boxes left. His trunk of magic supplies is in place under the window, where it will stay until he needs something. He shifts a box of plaid shirts and sweaters over towards the closet to be hung up later. There’s just the boxes of books left to unpack. Well, he supposes there are more boxes that he could go through. He knows there are boxes up in the attic from before, but he doesn’t think he or his dad are ready for that yet.

“Melissa’s going to be home from the hospital soon,” Noah says, startling Stiles out of contemplating his boxes. “How do burgers sound for dinner?”

“Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen.” Stiles narrows his eyes and considers his father. He relents when he sees the earnest expression on Noah’s face. “I suppose it’s alright this once.” He points a finger at his father. “But you are eating a salad with it. And one for lunch tomorrow too.”

Noah laughs and doesn’t look at all upset about the salads. “Deal,” he says before turning and escaping down the stairs.

Stiles turns to consider his boxes of books. He looks at the shelves and back down at the boxes. He could continue to unpack the normal way… Or he could expedite things. Stiles feels a small smile cross his lips. With a flick of a hand he has the boxes opened. Another flick has the books rising up to slide onto the shelves. It takes less than a minute to have all of his books unpacked. Stiles tosses the empty boxes aside. A thought and a touch of magic has the pile of boxes broken down and folded into a neat stack.

He turns back to the bookshelf. Stiles pulls two of his magical theory books out and moves them to a different shelf than his novels. But, then he has to pull his graphic novels out as well. He takes a moment to gather all the Harry Potter books in one place and puts them in order. And he really should put all of the books in some kind of order. Stiles steps back from the shelves and calls on his magic. He raises his hands and books start to fly around the room as he sorts. Three different groups form based on the type of book. He leaves two hovering while he shifts the third group into order.

“Well, that's one way to organize your books.”

Stiles spins around to look at Melissa in surprise. The books dip, but don't fall. Stiles waves a hand and the books slide into place on the shelves. He turns back towards Melissa with an apologetic smile on his face. “Sorry,” he mumbles.

Melissa just smiles at him. She steps into the room and pulls him into a hug. Stiles stiffens at the touch, but then relaxes into it. Melissa just holds him tighter. “I don't mind if you use magic, Stiles,” she says when she finally pulls back. “This is your home too.” Melissa waves a hand at the bookshelf. “It might take us a little bit to get used to, but if we adapted to Scott becoming a werewolf, I think your dad and I can handle floating books.”

Stiles chuckles as he pulls away. “I remember the phone calls around that time,” he says with a small smile. “The visions were kind of terrifyingly, but everyone survived.”

Melissa shakes her head. “Somehow,” she says with a smile.

“At least l finally get to meet Allison,” Stiles says with a grin. “Even across the country I got a toothache from how sickeningly sweet those two were at the beginning.”

“Don't remind me,” Melissa says with a drawn out sigh. “I like her now, but…”

“All the drama at the beginning?” Stiles supplies with a grin. He shrugs. “Technically if her family hadn't chased the crazy Alpha into Beacon Hills, Scott never would have been bitten. But, he probably also wouldn't be friends with most of the Hale pack.” Stiles turns away to fidget with the books. He switches the order of two of them, then realizes they were actually already in order and puts them back. “He became popular after he went werewolfy and he made friends.”

Melissa rests a hand on his shoulder. “It doesn't make your friendship with him any less,” she says gently. “You would have been right there at his side if you could have been here. You remember how excited he was when you told us you were coming home.”

Stiles can’t help grinning at the memory. To say Scott had been excited was an understatement. He’d been shouting and bouncing around the room. His dad had been just as happy, but it had been more of the teary happy than exuberant. Stiles nods. Melissa wraps her arm around his shoulder and steers him away from the bookshelf.

“Come on,” she says, “dinner should be ready.”

Sitting down to dinner with his dad and Melissa is at the same time weird and achingly familiar. It’s weird because he’s spent ten years eating every meal in the school cafeteria. He’s used to people crowding together, jostling him as they passed. He’s used to noise and chaos, half shifted creatures growling at each other and people doing homework or practicing spells in their spare time. But, the quiet way that Melissa talks about her day at the hospital reminds him so much of what it had been like with his parents before. Stiles eats his burger and tries not to let his thoughts show.

“When do you have to go back to work?” Stiles asks when there’s a lull in the conversation.

Noah smiles over at him. “I’ve officially got the rest of the week off,” he says. “I might stop in to check in tomorrow, if you wanted to come along? I can drive you over to Deaton’s and pick you up afterwards.”

“Sounds good.” Stiles takes a bite of his burger, then stops chewing as a thought occurs to him. He quickly swallows. “I’m going to have to get a California driver’s license at some point… and probably find a used car or something.” His father pauses with his burger halfway to his mouth, his eyes wide. “Not that I don’t appreciate you giving me a ride,” Stiles is quick to reassure him. “But I’m going to need my own transportation if I get a job.” He snorts. “I suppose I could be like Scott and get a motorcycle, but I don’t think anyone would be comfortable with me driving something like that.”

Noah puts down the burger. He looks stricken. “Who taught you to drive?”

Oh.

Stiles swallows down the lump in his throat. He forces a bit of enthusiasm into his voice. “They had a course at the Academy,” he says. He hurries on before he can think too much about how this is one more thing they took away from him and his father. Stiles turns to address Melissa because it hurts too much to look at his father right now. “The class is actually meant for the supernatural creatures that go to the school, like the elves and fairies who aren’t necessarily familiar with human technology. There’s a whole range of courses to help them fit into our society. Driving’s just part of it, but they let the other students who are of age practice too. Some of the other students even got New York state driver's licenses, the ones who had permission to leave the grounds.” His smile turns a little bitter. Melissa thankfully just gives him a small smile.

He looks down at his plate and plays with some of the curly fries that his dad had made just for him. Stiles shoves some fries in his mouth as an excuse to not stick his foot any further down his throat. The silence stretches uncomfortably long. Then, Noah clears his throat.

“Your mom’s Jeep is still in storage,” Noah says. Stiles’s eyes snap up to look at him and his father has this sad smile on his face, like he always does when talking about Claudia. “I put it in storage when we moved away.” Noah shifts in his chair, looking over at Melissa and then at Stiles. “She would have wanted you to have it. If you want it?”

It feels like the floor drops out from under him. Stiles swallows hastily and then he launches out of his chair. He’s across the table and wrapping his dad in a hug before his father can even blink. His throat is tight. There are tears threatening at the corners of his eyes, but he doesn’t care. “That sounds awesome.”

Melissa rallies then and takes over the conversation. She tells them about one of the patients and fills Stiles in on all of the hospital gossip while he and his father resettle in their seats. After a few minutes his father chimes in, talking about some of the deputies at the station. Stiles has heard some of it before, but he doesn’t mind. He likes feeling like he knows something about his dad and Melissa’s lives. Like there isn’t a ten year hole where there should be shared memories.

After dinner they gather in the living room, Melissa and his dad curl up on the couch while Stiles stretches out on the loveseat, his feet dangling over the arm. There’s a tall stack of DVDs next to the TV, an accumulation of movies that his dad, Melissa, and Scott all felt that Stiles needed to see. Noah grabs the one on top of the pile and puts it in. Stiles smiles a little as the movie starts. The Academy had had movie nights for the students, and even after he’d switched to the College he’d been able to attend, but they were only once a month and that still left a big gap when it came to popular movies. He’d at least seen all of the Marvel movies. He would have staged a rebellion among the students if those hadn’t been on the roster. But, the indie films that Melissa likes or some of the more serious dramas or campy movies hadn’t made the cut. So, Noah, Melissa, and Scott… his family had started a collection for the day that Stiles came home. He’d nearly started crying when he’d learned about that the night before.

They get through one movie before his dad is starting to nod off. Stiles watches as his dad and Melissa go through the motions of getting ready for bed. He knows they’ve been living together for the past two years, but it’s a novel thing to him. There’s an intricate dance to it. Melissa switches off the entertainment system while his dad checks that the doors and windows are locked. They move through the downstairs turning off lights and putting things in order before heading upstairs with Stiles trailing after. Stiles slips into his room at the top of the stairs while they head further down the hall to the master bedroom.

Stiles hesitates in the doorway to his room. It looks a little more lived in now that most of his boxes are unpacked, but it’s still so new to him. He steps forward and closes the door behind him. For a minute he considers checking in with his online friends. He turns to his laptop, but decides against it. He fishes out an old t-shirt and pair of pants. Stiles shuts off the light and climbs into bed.

He expects to fall asleep immediately, like he did last night. But, that doesn’t happen. Stiles stares up at the unfamiliar ceiling. He’s been out of the College for five days, seen four different unfamiliar ceilings at the motels they’d stopped at on the way from New York to California. He should be used to it by now. Instead, there’s a part of him that’s afraid if he closes his eyes, he’s going to be back in the dorms when he opens them. As if the last few days have all been a dream. Stiles shudders at the thought. He’s not sure if things would be better or worse if he were in his childhood home. At least then the ceiling would be familiar, but there would also be a lot of other memories there too.

He kicks the covers off his legs and then moments later strips out of the pants. He’d forgotten how much warmer it is in California. His body has adjusted to New York weather, even though he’d spent the first winter there feeling like he’d never be warm again. Stiles turns on his side and tries to push that thought away. He tries to relax his mind, practice the meditation techniques that they taught him at the Academy. They work. He slips into sleep.

***********

Stiles has spoken with Dr. Deaton a number of times over the years, but he’s never actually been to his office. It’s one thing to know that the local magical authority in the town is a veterinarian, but quite another to walk into the office and sit in one of the waiting room chairs while the man talks to a woman with a Pekinese. Especially when the Pekinese keeps staring at him.

Finally the woman turns to leave and Stiles springs to his feet. He dodges the woman as she steps out the door. Deaton holds up a hand and Stiles pauses. Finally the door closes, leaving them alone in the clinic. Deaton turns to him then with a pleasant smile. “It’s good to see you, Mage Stilinski,” Deaton greets formally.

Stiles feels a blush heat his cheeks at the title. “Please, just call me Stiles,” he says hastily.

Deaton raises an eyebrow. “It’s a great honor to be granted the title of Mage, Mr. Stilinski, especially for one as young as you are. While you may not be the youngest graduate, it is quite a rare thing for someone to complete their training at your age. You should be proud.”

“I am,” Stiles races to reassure him. He runs a hand through his hair. “It’s just… I didn’t… It wasn’t my choice.”

There’s an awkward moment of silence. Deaton’s expression is unreadable. Then, he smiles slightly. “Call me Alan then, Stiles.” Deaton opens the gate between the waiting room and the rest of the clinic and motions for Stiles to follow him. Stiles pauses at the threshold, his hand hovering over the broken line of mountain ash that’s built into the counter. He’s impressed. Deaton continues down the hallway without seeming to notice Stiles’s hesitation. “Druidic training is very different than the methods used by the Otsego Academy and the College. But, then, we are considered lower on the hierarchy.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Stiles insists as they come to a small office with a desk and some bookshelves. “I appreciate all the training I received, but the circumstances being what they were…” Stiles sighs. He slumps down in one of the chairs in front of the desk.

The vet gives him a sympathetic smile as he nods. He leans casually against the desk, rather than sitting behind it. “Marin told me about your circumstances,” Deaton says carefully. “If I had known at the time, I would have intervened before you were sent to Eichen House.” Stiles flinches at the name. He doesn’t like remembering the time he spent there.

“But, I didn’t,” Deaton continues. His voice is tinged with regret. “And by the time Marin found you, neither she nor I could contain your powers.” Deaton lifts a hand, as if to rest it on Stiles’s shoulder, but seems to think better of the action when Stiles flinches. He moves around to sit behind his desk instead. “While I may not always agree with the Academy’s methods, it was the safest place for you, both to protect others from your powers until you learned control and to protect you from others who would use your powers for their own gain.” Deaton leans forward intently, his expression turning serious. “Prophetic visions of your clarity are incredibly rare,” he says. “And while I appreciate all the help they have done for Beacon Hills, and especially the pack over the years, untrained children make very tempting targets and they don’t tend to live long once taken. Not without truly going mad.”

Stiles nods. It’s nothing his teachers hadn’t told him before. His visions make him a target. The strength of his magic makes him dangerous to others. Always he was reminded how dangerous it was for him outside of the Academy gates and how they locked him in for his own good. Stiles shakes off his thoughts before they can become too morbid. “Honestly, I think I’d just like to put it behind me for awhile,” he says carefully. He looks back up at Deaton as the man shifts his chair. “Hence the Emissary training. If you’re still willing, that is?”

Deaton gives him a reassuring smile. “Of course.” He pulls a handful of books off of one of the bookshelves and sets them on the desk next to him. “It’s not often that Mages are drawn to werewolf packs, but when they are they make for formidable Emissaries. Your magical ability will aid and strengthen the pack and in turn, the pack will protect and anchor you.”

Stiles feels a bit of warmth fill his chest at the thought. When Scott had talked about his pack, Stiles had always been jealous. Maybe it was from being kept away from his own family for so long, but part of him craved that sense of family that Scott said the pack had. And a pack like the Hales… Where there were both generations of born wolves and a number of bitten wolves... That sounded like just the kind of large pack that could use someone like him. He could use his magic for more than just making talismans and potions. Through the pack, he could potentially help some of the other supernatural species that he’d met and learned about at the Academy.

“Does the pack know about me yet?” Stiles asks, leaning forward. “I mean, I know a lot about them from Scott, but I don’t think he ever mentioned if he talked to them about me?”

Deaton shakes his head. “They know that I’m training a potential apprentice, and I’ve told Talia a little bit about your training, but you won’t be formally introduced to the pack until you’ve completed a certain amount of training. I haven’t mentioned your visions to Talia, and I won’t unless there’s a pressing need to do so. Part of your training will be spending time with the pack so that you can be sure that you get along with them and that you want to serve as their Emissary.” Stiles’s surprise must show on his face. “Don’t get me wrong, Talia would be very foolish not to accept someone of your talents as an Emissary, but the choice is ultimately yours. If you don’t feel like you would be a good fit for the pack, then Marin would be willing to take you on as an apprentice to her pack or we can find another suitable pack for you.” Deaton pushes the stack of books across the table to Stiles. “For now, let’s start with these.”

Stiles reaches for the books eagerly. He flips through the first book and finds row after row of tiny script. The second one is pretty much the same, only with some hand drawn illustrations thrown in. He pauses on a two-page spread detailing a shifted werewolf’s features.

“I know you’ve had some experience with werewolves thanks to Scott,” Deaton says, drawing Stiles’s attention away from the books. Stiles sets them aside reluctantly to give the druid his attention. “And you’ve probably covered some of this at the Academy already, but I’ve given you the most basic primers in werewolf culture and physiology.” Deaton leans forward slightly. “In some ways interactions between and within packs can be very archaic. The most rigidly traditional packs follow the old rituals very strictly, so it’s important that you learn them even if you’re never likely to use them.”

Stiles nods. He looks down at the books again and can’t help feeling a bit of curiosity. His fingers itch to reach forward and start diving into them. He just barely manages to restrain himself. “Scott never mentioned any rituals with the pack,” he says instead.

“Talia is not the traditional sort,” Deaton says with a fond smile. “She does observe some of the key rituals, but Scott might not recognize them as such. Spending the full moons together, pack runs, gatherings on certain holidays. All of these things have their roots in older rituals. And I don’t think Scott has witnessed any interactions with other packs or Emissaries.” Deaton takes pity on him then. “Go ahead and start reading,” he says. “I’m assuming that your father dropped you off?” Deaton continues at Stiles’s nod. “You can read those here or take them home with you. Come back once you’ve finished them and I’ll give you the next set.”

Stiles nods absently. He has a book in one hand and his phone in the other. He shoots off a quick text to his father asking him to come pick him up even as he cracks the book open. He quickly loses himself in what turns out to be a rather interesting narrative about the way werewolf children are raised and how their education is different than that of bitten wolves. The writer is a born wolf, but seems to have done a lot of research into the experiences of bitten wolves judging by how accurately he portrays their experiences. It’s fascinating and reminds him so much of Scott when he was first turned.

He jumps when his phone rings. Stiles scrambles to keep from dropping the book. He carefully places it on the desk before answering his phone. “Hey dad,” he greets as he gathers the books into his arms. “I’ll be out in a minute.” He waves goodbye to Deaton as his father responds, then ends the call.

Noah raises an eyebrow at the books, but opens the trunk for Stiles to put them inside. Stiles hops into the passenger seat of the cruiser and grins. Maybe the reading has gotten him nostalgic, but he’s suddenly reminded of riding along with his dad when Noah was still a deputy and how much he’d loved it. Even though he’s older now, it seems so cool to be in the front seat with the radio and all of the buttons. His father doesn’t comment on the goofy smile Stiles is wearing though. He pulls the car out onto the street and Stiles fiddles with the radio until he finds a station he likes. He hums along to the song as he looks out the window.

“Where are we going?” Stiles asks after a minute. If he remembers correctly, they’re headed further into town, not out towards where the new house is.

“I thought we could at least go and get your written test over with,” Noah says. Stiles looks over at him in surprise, but Noah just smiles. “We can schedule your driving test while we’re there too.”

Stiles cheers. He feels a grin split his face as they pull into the DMV parking lot. Before he can get out of the car, his father rests a hand on his shoulder. “I know you’re excited about this,” Noah says carefully, “but I just wanted to ask about something before we go in.” Stiles turns to give his father his full attention. He can’t help feeling a little nervous considering how serious his father’s expression is. “Your visions,” Noah says after a pause. “Do they still come with seizures?” His father looks down and away. “When you were little they would always scare the hell out of me and the thought of you having a seizure while you’re driving…”

“They do,” Stiles says. “But I can tell when they’re coming now.” He gives his dad a wry smile. “If the Academy managed one thing, it was getting my visions under control.” His smile turns a little bit more genuine. “I can even sometimes trigger them if I meditate.” Stiles can’t help the pride that fills his voice at that. His teachers hadn’t been certain that he’d be able to manage that. He gives his father a look that he hopes is reassuring. “Anyways, I’ll have enough warning if one starts that I can pull off to the side of the road.”

Noah doesn’t look completely reassured, but he nods eventually. “I’m willing to give it a try,” Noah says. “But if you even dent a bumper because of a vision, I will have your license suspended.” Stiles rolls his eyes, but nods. Noah just sighs and herds Stiles out of the car. “Come on.”

He’s probably the happiest person in the building, even when they have to wait in the line just to get to the front counter. The woman there seems amused by his enthusiasm. She hands him the test booklet and form. Then, she points him to a testing area to the right of her counter, with a bank of desks screened off from one another. There are a few other kids there taking tests, though they’re all younger than him. She directs his father over to the rows of seats in the general waiting area on the opposite side of her counter. Stiles gives his father a little wave as he bounces over to a free desk. He practically flies through the test. He remembers going over all of these questions with some of the other kids in his year when they’d been cramming to get their permits. Plus, a lot of it he’s heard his father mention more than once, usually in reference to someone he’d given a ticket to. He waits impatiently at one side of the desk while the woman finishes up with a customer. She takes his test and runs the answer sheet through the computer. A few minutes later he has a permit. Stiles carefully stores it in his wallet.

“Congratulations, kiddo.” His dad claps him on the shoulder as they leave the building. Stiles pulls out his phone and puts in a reminder for the driving test. Then he shoots off a text to Scott to let him know. He grins at his dad again as they settle in the cruiser, this time heading home.

The rest of the week passes in a blur of activity. He finishes unpacking the rest of his boxes in between reading the books he got from Deaton. His dad pries him away to visit the station. The deputies that he grew up with are excited to see him. Stiles resists the urge to flirt with the cute new deputy, Parrish. His dad seems to suspect something, because he quickly shuffles Stiles out of the station after that. Melissa helps him sort through his clothes and together they take the ones he’s outgrown to donate. Then, she surprises him by taking him clothes shopping. He manages to pick out a couple outfits before the sheer amount of people at the mall becomes overwhelming. He does the rest of his clothes shopping online.

Stiles does do a bit of job searching in between reading the books from Deaton. He’s lucky that it’s summer because there’s a number of part-time jobs targeted towards kids home from college for the summer. They seem like a perfect fit for him, seeing as he can’t tell most people about his degree. Not that it would actually help him get any kind of job outside of the supernatural community. If this were a large city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, he could probably find a job easily, but Beacon Hills doesn’t have that sort of community. He’s pretty sure there isn’t even a magic shop in town.

He could probably open up a shop and have it prosper simply based on online sales of potions and talismans, but he can just as easily do that on the side from his bedroom if he needs extra cash. Instead, he looks for entry-level jobs that don’t sound too mind-numbing. By far his favorite of the prospects is the job at the library. The idea of being in a quiet place surrounded by all that knowledge sounds perfect. His father helps him drop off applications on Friday, with a short stop at Deaton’s clinic to get the next set of Emissary books.

Saturday finds him pacing the living room while his dad lounges on the couch pretending to watch the television. Stiles can’t help glancing at the time on his phone every five minutes, as if that will make Scott arrive any sooner. He doesn’t understand how Noah can sit still. Not when Scott will be here any minute. Stiles feels full of energy. His magic bubbles up around him, manifesting in little sparks and wisps of flame. Which is probably why Melissa didn’t let him ride along with her to pick Scott up from school. She and Noah had seemed startled at first, but quickly got used to the little flames. His dad hasn’t even reacted to them in hours. It’s somewhat disappointing, really.

Stiles stops in his tracks when he hears a car and a motorbike approaching. He dashes to the front window and bounces on the balls of his feet while the vehicles slow down. He’s out the door before Melissa has even finished pulling in the driveway. Stiles waves at her absently before jogging towards the end of the driveway where Scott is parking his bike. Before he even rounds the car, a body collides with his, knocking him to the ground. Stiles chuckles as Scott squeezes him in a tight hug, right there on the front lawn. He wraps his arms around Scott and hugs back.

“Ten years, dude,” Scott says when he pulls back. There are tears at the corner of his eyes, but Stiles can’t say anything. His eyes are a little watery too.

“I know, bro.” Stiles pats Scott on the back as they slowly extricate themselves. He pushes himself into a sitting position. Scott offers him a hand up and he’s a little surprised by Scott’s strength. It’s one thing to know that his best friend has become a werewolf, but another to finally see the changes in person. Stiles reaches forward to ruffle Scott’s hair. “I’m taller than you.” He can’t help grinning like an idiot as Scott startles backwards and confirms that Stiles is in fact slightly taller.

“By, like, an inch maybe.” Scott looks like he’s pouting. It’s glorious.

Melissa comes up behind them and ruffles Scott’s hair. “I think he’s right,” she says as she looks between them. “Stiles is a little bit taller.” She grips each of them by a shoulder and steers them towards her car. “Now, how about unloading some boxes?”

Stiles looks around the neighborhood. The area is dark and no one is outside. He doesn’t see anyone peering out windows either. Stiles raises a hand and a shield shimmers into place in front of the house. He projects an illusion onto the shield so that anyone looking would just see the car sitting there and images of the three of them walking into the house. With another wave of his hand he has the boxes floating one by one out of the car. Scott flails backwards as a box floats past him towards the front door and almost drops the two boxes he was carrying before Stiles snags those to. Scott looks back at him with wide eyes as the boxes float past him into the house and up the stairs. Stiles trails after the last of the boxes and Scott stops staring to follow him into the house. Once Stiles feels the last of the boxes settle in Scott’s room, he snaps his fingers and the shield outside falls and with it the illusion.

“You know, we could have just brought the boxes in the normal way,” his dad says from where he’s leaning in the doorway to the living room. His eyebrows are raised and he has on his best ‘not-amused’ expression. “The way that doesn’t incite mass panic and threaten the secrecy of the supernatural world, as you’ve lectured me on before.”

Stiles huffs as he shuts the door behind Scott. “I put up an illusion shield,” he says reassuringly. “No one saw anything. Not that anyone was looking anyways.” He makes shooing motions with his hands until Scott and the others head into the living room. “This way I get to actually spend time with Scott and not just carrying boxes and then collapsing in bed.”

Scott shrugs as he flops down on the couch. “I didn’t know you could do illusions, bro.”

“Yeah,” Stiles blushes a little as he feels everyone’s attention on him. He’s still not quite used to being around people who aren’t used to magic everywhere. Stiles runs a hand through his hair. “I’m apparently pretty good at illusions… You know, in addition to the fire stuff and the visions that I’ve always been good at. Illusions were fun to learn, I guess.”

“Show us!” Scott nudges him with an elbow, practically vibrating with excitement.

Stiles glances over at Melissa and his dad, but they seem to be just as curious. He nods and licks his lips as he decides what to do. He lets out a nervous breath while raising his arms. Stiles holds his hands out in front of himself palms up. He concentrates and the image of a fox forms above his palms. He pushes a little more magic into the image and it solidifies, becoming a lifelike image. Beside him, Scott leans forward, his face drawing closer to the fox. Stiles can’t help grinning as the fox leans forward, booping its nose against Scott’s.

Scott flails backward in surprise. Stiles tries to suppress his grin, but fails. He chuckles as Scott straightens cautiously. Scott reaches forward to touch the fox and his hand passes through the image. Stiles wiggles his fingers. The fox hops onto Scott’s hand and paces up his arm to his shoulder. Scott watches it move, his eyes comically wide. Once the fox reaches Scott’s shoulder, Stiles has it jump off. With a wave of his hand he dismisses the illusion mid-leap.

“That’s a simple illusion,” Stiles says. “But what I did outside is a little different. Instead of making something appear from nothing, I made it seem like there was nothing where there was something.” His gaze flicks up to Melissa and Noah as he turns, but they seem to be taking the magic as well as they have everything else this week.

Stiles cups his hands over the book his dad had left on the coffee table earlier. He creates a domed shield over the book. “So, I create a shield around the area,” he explains. He runs his hand over the dome to show where it is. “Then, I put the illusion of what I want people to see on the shield.” Stiles focus on the image of the coffee table without anything on it. He presses the illusion to the shield. Between one blink and then next the book disappears.

“Dude!” Scott bounces on the couch. He leans forward and runs a hand over the shield. His mouth is open in awe. Scott’s hand traces over the entire length of the shield. He shifts around the table, checking out the illusion from every side.

“Very impressive, son.”

Stiles startles and looks up at his dad. Noah is giving him a small, proud smile. Stiles feels a blush heating his cheeks. He waves a hand and the illusion and shield dissipate. Scott lets out a startled yelp as his hand suddenly is no longer supported by the shield. He flails a bit before falling backwards onto the couch again.

“Dude, that was awesome.” Scott grins at him and holds out a hand for a fistbump. Stiles doesn’t leave him hanging. “I mean, you told us about some of this stuff,” Scott continues, “but seeing it in person…” Scott grins brightly. “It’s amazing. Like, I can’t even wrap my mind around magic actually being real…”

“Says the werewolf,” Stiles replies with a snort.

Scott grins at him as he settles on the couch. All of a sudden, Scott throws an arm over Stiles’s shoulders. For a minute Stiles stiffens, but then he relaxes into the touch. He knows both from Scott and from the readings Deaton gave him that werewolves are incredibly tactile. It’s just going to take Stiles some time to get used to it.

“So, Scott,” Noah says, drawing their attention. “Any plans for the rest of the weekend? You start at Deaton’s again on Monday, right?”

“I was thinking about having Allison over tomorrow, if that’s alright?” Scott looks first at Melissa and then at Noah as they both nod. “Some of the pack have mentioned getting together now that everyone’s back in town, but I don’t think there are any set plans.” Scott leans back into the couch. He nudges Stiles’s shoulder. “I wanted to introduce Stiles to them at some point, too.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Still not a hermit,” he mutters under his breath.

“They’re good kids,” Melissa says. She reaches forward to pat Stiles’s knee reassuringly. “It’ll be good to get to know them as friends before you take over as Emissary.”

“Dude! How cool will it be when you’re the pack’s Emissary?” Scott gives Stiles a one-armed hug and ends up practically plastered to Stiles’s side when he doesn’t move away after. “I can’t wait to see all the cool stuff that you can do with the pack. I mean, we’ve come a long way from when I was first bitten, but with you there… We’re going to be unbeatable.”

Stiles chuckles. He shifts slightly, putting a little distance between himself and Scott. “I don’t know about that.” He waves a hand towards his room upstairs. “Deaton has me reading a ton of books and there’s a lot I’ve got to learn. Like there’s a whole set of protocols for when one pack meets another and this whole intricate system of determining who ranks where in the pack hierarchies.” Stiles blows out a breath and tries not to feel overwhelmed by all of the information. “They barely glossed over most of this in school.”

Melissa gives him a warm smile. “You have plenty of time to learn it. The pack has been stable for a few years now.” She shifts to lean more fully against Noah, who promptly throws an arm over her shoulder in response. “Does Deaton have a timeline for the transition?”

Stiles shrugs. “I’ve got a lot of training to do before he even wants to introduce me to the pack. Apparently they’re not even supposed to know I’m training to be an Emissary until Talia and I meet and decide that we want to work together. Like, he wants me to try to meet the pack and feel them out, but he doesn’t want anyone to be mad or disappointed if I don’t think I can work with them or if Talia doesn’t think I’ll fit in with them in that role.” He looks over at Scott as a thought occurs to him. “You haven’t told anyone about the Emissary thing yet, have you?”

Scott holds up his hand with a grin. “I haven’t, I promise.”

“Cool,” Stiles relaxes back into the couch. “Anyways, I’ve already got a head start on the magic part of Emissary training, so it’s not going to take the five years that it normally does, but it’s still going to be a year or two until Deaton full retires as Emissary. And he’ll be there to consult if I need.” Stiles shrugs and hops back up to his feet. “Now, Scott’s home, so I think this calls for pizza and a movie marathon, right?” He grins over at the others and is pleased when they smile back at him.

Noah pushes himself up off of the loveseat to follow Stiles into the kitchen. Stiles watches as his dad pulls out a menu from a pile in one of the drawers. He leans forward eagerly. Noah just raises an eyebrow at him and hands over the menu. Stiles feels a bit giddy as he looks over the menu. He bounces a bit as he reads down the options. Noah smiles at him and shakes his head. “It’s just takeout pizza,” Noah says fondly. “You’d think you’d never ordered takeout before.”

Stiles lowers the menu slowly to the counter. It takes him two tries to swallow down the lump in his throat and paste on a smile before he looks up at his dad. “I haven’t,” he says softly. “They didn’t let delivery drivers near the school. I mean, some of the kids with cars would drive into town and bring it back for their friends and sometimes the teachers would pick up a large order for everybody, but that wasn’t allowed very often. I think the last time I had takeout actually delivered was after mom...” He swallows again at the sad look that crosses his dad’s face. Stiles looks back down at the menu. “We are getting something with vegetables,” he announces a minute later.

“I want something with meat!” Scott’s voice chimes in from the living room. There’s a pause. “And pizza logs!” Stiles hears Scott say something to Melissa. “Mom likes vegetable pizza,” Scott calls out a moment later.

He can’t help shooting a triumphant look at his father. Noah just shakes his head, his previous sadness forgotten. “Do you want to do the honors?” Noah asks, holding out the house phone.

Stiles takes the phone and dials the phone number. Placing the order is simple, though he stumbles a bit on the address. He hands the phone back to his dad and can’t help feeling a little bit proud. Between this and getting his driver’s permit, he’s starting to feel like a normal person. He can’t help smiling a little as he goes back into the living room. He sinks down onto the couch while Scott goes through the stack of movies near the television.

“Okay,” Scott says, pulling out a disc. “You’ve got to watch this one. You’re going to love it.”

Scott flops down on the couch as the movies plays. He presses up against Stiles’s side as he settles. It takes a few minutes for Stiles to get used to someone sitting so close, but as the movie plays he relaxes. He wonders idly if Scott is subconsciously trying to scent Stiles. He’s had a lot of hugs from Melissa and Noah, but it probably hasn’t done enough to cover up ten years of the Academy.

When the pizza comes, Scott is up and at the door before the delivery guy even rings the doorbell. Noah follows at a slower rate, handing over the money for the order while Scott takes the pizzas. By the time Stiles and Melissa reach the kitchen, Scott has the boxes spread out. Stiles has to pause in the doorway and take a deep breath of the smell of pizza. There’s something unique about the smell of takeout pizza so different from what they served in the school’s cafeteria. He grins at the sounds Scott makes as he bites into the first bite of pizza, not even waiting until it makes it to his plate before digging in. Melissa nudges Scott aside, forcing him to scramble to load up his plate and move back into the living room. Stiles fills up his plate once the others have taken some. He waits until he’s sitting back on the couch before biting into a slice of the sausage and pepperoni pizza he’d ordered for Scott. Stiles has to bite back a moan as the hot cheese and sauce hits his tongue. This is so much better than the cafeteria’s pizza was. Even the vegetable pizza is better.

Once the movie’s over, Stiles follows Scott up the stairs to their rooms while their parents start to turn off lights. Scott stops at in the hallway outside of their rooms. He turns suddenly and pulls Stiles into a hug. “It’s so good to have you home, bro,” Scott says, his voice full of emotion.

Stiles smiles as he hugs Scott back. He leans into the touch as Scott scent marks him. “It’s good to be home,” he whispers. They linger there for a moment until he hears his dad start to climb the stairs. Scott squeezes him one more time before releasing him. Stiles can’t help smiling as he turns and heads into his own room. He calls goodnight to his dad and Melissa as he gets ready for bed. For once, he doesn’t need to do any meditation to fall asleep.

***********

Meeting Allison is like seeing an old friend who’s also a complete stranger. He’s heard so much about her from Scott and Melissa and his dad. He knows her favorite flower, what her favorite classes are, all about her family drama, and way too much about her sex life. He feels like he’s had years of conversations with her, but he’s never spoken to her. And, he’s seen her so many times in visions that he recognizes her instantly. He knows her curls, the sound of her voice, and her dimpled smile, which lights up as soon as she steps in the door and sees Scott. It’s a brand new expression on her face, which he’s seen so many times. He’s seen her full of grief as her dad or Scott or one of the other pack is wounded in his visions.

He’s seen Allison in danger so many times that it’s a little weird seeing her whole and healthy. He’s had more visions of her dying than he would like, enough that he has to remind himself that the visions never happened. It’s like his brain has somehow associated the image of Allison with violence and blood and mayhem. And, won’t that make meeting the rest of the pack fun since he has similar associations with their faces. But, Scott and his dad had prevented them from happening, like they had so many of his vision. He just has to adjust to real-Allison.

Allison turns toward him as Scott enthusiastically draws her closer to introduce them. Stiles pastes on a smile and tries his best not to make things awkward. He glances at Scott and suddenly wishes he’d clarified what Scott has told her about him. Did he tell her about the magic and all the drama that happened before he got locked up in the Academy for his own safety? There’s no way to ask, so Stiles just holds out a hand and decides not to mention it unless she brings it up.

“It’s so nice to meet you,” Allison says. Her voice is warm and she sounds so genuinely pleased to meet him that he finds himself liking her instantly. As if there was any doubt that he would.

“You too,” he says with a small smile. He glances over at Scott, who hasn’t stopped beaming. “Scott’s told me a lot about you over the years. I’m glad we finally have the chance to meet.”

He moves aside to let Scott and Allison pass him into the living room. They settle on the couch together, already half-wrapped up in each other. Stiles takes a step towards the stairs. Before he can excuse himself, Allison calls his name. She smiles at him when he turns to look at her. “Stay,” she says softly. “I’d like to get to know Scott’s best friend a little better.”

Stiles can’t help smiling at the ridiculously besotted look that Scott gives Allison at that moment. He nods his head towards the kitchen. “Would you like something to drink?” he asks, prompting Scott to scramble off the couch and follow Stiles into the kitchen to fetch drinks and snacks.

Once they’re settled in the living room again, Scott and Allison curled up on the couch, and Stiles lounging in one of the chairs, Stiles turns to Allison. “How’s school going?” he asks, grasping at something normal to say. “Scott says you’re studying business?”

Allison smiles. “It’s going well. I should be done in another year. Plus, it’s nice being so close to home. I’ve been helping my father open up a store in town and this summer we’re going to go to some trade shows.”

“Allison’s also thinking about getting back into competitive archery,” Scott adds. He beams at Stiles proudly. “She’s really good at it.”

Stiles resists the urge to snort. “I’m sure she is,” he says with only a small twitch of his lips. Allison shoots him an odd look, but doesn’t comment. He wonders if maybe Scott didn’t tell her that he knows about the whole Hunter thing. Before he can ask, Allison is speaking. “What are your plans?” she asks him, politely curious. “Scott said that you graduated from the college you were going to?”

He slumps forward with an overdramatic sigh that makes Allison giggle. “I have no idea,” he admits. “My degree is pretty much worthless outside of a large city, but I don’t want to move. My dad suggested I go back to school for a second degree, but the thought of more school just makes me twitch.” He rubs a hand over his face and flops back in the chair. “Right now, the plan is to get some entry level job for the summer while I figure things out.” He shrugs slightly.

Allison nods her head as if his rant makes perfect sense, which maybe it does. He has no idea what normal college students are like. “Not everybody knows what they want to do right away,” she says, mirroring his thoughts. She turns to look at Scott then. “Lydia wants to go shopping tomorrow afternoon, but I thought we could meet up for dinner after you get out of work.”

“That sounds good,” Scott replies. Silence stretches as Scott and Allison gaze at each other lovingly. Stiles feels his teeth rotting. Then, Scott starts upright. “Oh!” Both Stiles and Allison turn to look at him. “Allison said that Lydia invited her to join the gaming group with the others,” Scott says, turning to look between Stiles and Allison and back again. “Allison wasn’t interested, but maybe you could join?”

Stiles blinks at the question. He hadn’t even known that the pack had a gaming group. And, he really wouldn’t have pictured Lydia for a gamer, but then from what Scott has told him she never has adhered to stereotypes, what with being both popular and brilliant. He turns to look at Allison. “Who all’s in the group, if you don’t think they’d mind you telling me? Do you think they’d be okay with me joining?”

Allison smiles at him reassuringly. “It’s just a bunch of our friends from high school,” she says with a wave of her hand. “Lydia, of course, and Isaac, Erica, Derek, Peter, and Laura. Boyd was in it but he had to drop out. I can ask next time I talk to Lydia, if you’re interested.”

“Sure,” he starts to say. Before he even gets the word out, Scott is pulling his phone out.

“I’ll text Laura and ask her,” Scott says with a smile. Stiles has a sudden rush of nerves at the idea of meeting the pack, especially any of the Hales. He’d hoped to kind of feel them out one by one, not all at once. He turns to Scott to ask him not to text Laura, but Scott must have gotten faster at typing because he’s sent the message and put his phone down before Stiles can even open his mouth. His closes his mouth again with a snap. Scott looks up and seems to sense Stiles’s nerves. He gives him a goofy smile. “It’ll be fine dude. They’ll like you, trust me. Plus, it’s a great chance for you to get out of the house and meet people.”

Stiles sighs and sinks back into the cushions of the chair. “I”m not a hermit,” he says, though he’s starting to wonder if he’ll ever get Scott to believe him. He waves his hand at Allison and then back at himself. “As you can see, with me socializing and meeting new people right now.”

Allison giggles at that. “He does have a point, Scott,” she says.

Scott just rolls his eyes. “You think the mall is a terrifying place.”

“It is!” Stiles feels a little bit of a blush heat his cheeks. He had hoped Melissa hadn’t told Scott about that. “I understand now why you always complained about going clothes shopping with your mother. I have experienced it now and I am traumatized. Truly. I don’t know why people enjoy going there.” He glances over at Allison and pastes on a smile. “No offense.”

Allison just waves a hand and giggles. “They didn’t have malls where you went to school?”

It’s said as an offhand comment, but neither he nor Scott manage to hide their flinches at the reference to the Academy. Allison is unfortunately observant and sobers instantly. He can see her mouth open, whether to ask or apologize he doesn’t know, and he cuts her off before the words can come out. “Otsego is a really remote area,” he says slowly. “The school’s at the edge of a state park and on a lake. It’s like twenty minutes to the nearest town, Cooperstown. And there’s, like… less than two thousand people living in the town, so not exactly the type of place to support a mall.” He shrugs. Allison looks like she might be curious enough to ask more questions, but Stiles isn’t really comfortable sharing more yet. He pushes himself up from the chair. “I’m going to let you two lovebirds catch up,” he says with cheerfulness that he hopes doesn’t come off as forced. “Allison, it was really nice meeting you.”

“You too, Stiles!” she calls after him, but he’s already at the foot of the stairs. He hears Allison say something apologetic to Scott, but climbs the stairs before he can hear Scott’s reply. Stiles quietly shuts his door. Once that barrier is in place, he lets out a long breath and tries to relax. Immediately he spots the latest set of books from Deaton on his desk. He snags one and stretches out on his bed. Within moments he’s lost in the descriptions of the different types of wolfsbane and their effects on werewolf physiology.

He’s still engrossed in his reading hours later when his phone rings, startling him into dropping the book. Stiles looks down at his phone and is surprised to see a number he doesn’t recognize. As far as he knows the only people that know he even has a cell phone are all in the house with him. Though, he supposes it could be one of the jobs he applied for. “Hello?”

“Stiles?” The woman’s voice is unfamiliar to him, but she sounds friendly enough. “This is Laura. Scott said you were interested in joining my gaming group?”

Stiles flails and almost drops the phone in addition to his book. He quickly pushes himself up into a sitting position. Laura, as in Laura Hale, his future Alpha if things work out and he becomes the Hale pack Emissary. “Hi!” he answers a little too enthusiastically. He thinks he hears Laura chuckle and he blushes. “Yes.” He clears his throat and tries again. “I would like that, if it’s okay with you? And the group?” He stands up and starts to pace the room while he tries not to let his nerves get the better of him. He really wants Scott’s pack to like him.

“Have you ever played before, Stiles?”

“Oh, yeah,” Stiles perks up. Geek talk he can handle. “I used to play at school and I still play with a bunch of friend online. I’ve done GURPs, Pathfinder, D&D in a couple different incarnations, White Wolf… I can give you the name of one of the members of my online group if you need a reference or something like that?”

Laura laughs. “It’s okay, I’ll take your word for it.” He hears a sound as if she’s shuffling through some papers. “We play every other week on Friday nights and usually run pretty late. Is that going to work for you?”

“Sure, totally fine.” Stiles can’t help bouncing a little bit with excitement. He had been half expecting Laura to say no, but it sounded like she was going to give him a shot.

“Cool.” Laura sounds amused, which he can’t fault her for considering she can probably hear his excitement through the phone. “We play Pathfinder. The group’s been playing together for a little while, but it shouldn’t be too hard to write you in. Make up an eighth level character. Prestige classes are okay as long as you meet the requirements and I okay it. No psionics, no guns. The guy that dropped out was playing a magic-user, so if you want to make something along that lines, that’s cool. If not, we’ve got a mix of most of the other base classes, so anything’s fine. I’ll text you my email address so you can email me the character once you’re done. Text or call if you have any questions.”

“Awesome,” Stiles says. He hops out of his chair and over to his bookshelf to pull out his copy of the Pathfinder core book. “Thank you!”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Laura says. “We’re a special bunch and some of them can be assholes at times, but if you’re friends with Scott, I think you’ll fit in alright.”

Stiles can’t help grinning at that. “He has mentioned you all,” Stiles says hesitantly. He realizes a moment too late how that sounds and rushes to correct himself. “All good things!” Laura laughs, so he’s pretty sure he hasn’t offended her. “But, like, you and Lydia, Erica and Boyd, Isaac, Derek… Scott talks a lot about you, so I feel like I kind of know you already? If that makes sense…” He trails off, suddenly uncertain about how much Scott has told them about him… Maybe he hasn’t mentioned Stiles that much and now he seems like a creepy stalker or something.

Laura’s voice is warm and reassuring. “He’s talked a lot about you, too,” she says softly. “I’m sure everybody’s looking forward to meeting you.” Relief fills Stiles at that. He sinks down on his bed with his Pathfinder book still clutched in his hand. “Anyways, our next game is this Friday, so if you have a chance to get your character together I can write you in for that. If not, no worries.”

“Sure!” Stiles thumbs through the book to the character creation section. A wave of magic has a pad of paper and pen floating over to him so he can start jotting down ideas. “That sounds great. I’ll email you soon!”

“Okay, Stiles.” Laura hesitates for a second. “Welcome back to Beacon Hills. I look forward to meeting you soon.”

He manages to stumble out a reply and then the call ends. Stiles stares blankly at his phone for a minute. He’s actually doing this. He’s actually meeting the pack. And his future alpha welcomed him to town. He feels like that’s momentous, like it puts him one step closer to becoming the pack Emissary. Stiles flops back on the bed. Really, he supposes, meeting Talia’s going to be his biggest hurdle. What if she hates him? But, he can’t help but suspect that a woman who raised someone as friendly as Laura must be a nice person. And he knows Talia’s actions from Scott’s stories and his own visions. She’s the kind of Alpha that he wants to serve. Someone strong and kind, who really cares about their family and helps other people. Stiles lets out a long breath. One thing at a time…

Stiles saves Laura’s number into his contacts. Before he’s even hit the save button she’s texted him her email address and also apparently the address for her brother’s apartment, where they play, and the time for the next game. Stiles grins as he sets the phone aside. He stretched out on the bed and flips through to the different magic-using classes. Normally, he prefers to play Rogues or Ranger types, but magic users can be solid too. It certainly won’t take too much imagination for him to get into character. He snorts to himself and jots a couple concept ideas down on his paper. And if maybe he daydreams about what the pack will be like while he’s making his character, there’s certainly no harm in that.

***********

Derek's apartment turns out to be on the top floor of a huge thirteen story warehouse-like building. And, doesn’t it say something about his life that his pack meets on the thirteenth story. The elevator is old and the doors creak, but it seems to work fine. At no point does he feel like he’s going to plummet to his death. If he happens to work a little bit of magic into the system to ensure that it operates safely, then he doesn’t think anyone would blame him. He really doesn't want to have to take the stairs if the elevator ever broke down. Once he reaches the top floor, there’s only a few apartments, so it’s easy to find the right door, which actually turns out to be a huge metal sliding panel more than an actual door.

Stiles hesitates in front of the door. On the other side is what will hopefully be his future pack, or at least a good chunk of the pack. He feels the need to make a good impression like a band constricting his chest. And, the werewolves on the other side of the door can probably hear his heart pounding away with nerves. Stiles closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He breathes in and out like he does when meditating. His heart rate slows. He briefly considers casting a quick spell to mask his heartbeat and scent, but then rejects the idea. He needs to know if he can get along with the pack long term and that means being himself. He raises his hand and knocks firmly on the door.

He has barely pulled his hand away from the door when it’s yanked open. Laura’s smile is warm and welcoming. Something in him relaxes a little bit more. “You must be Stiles,” Laura says as she steps away from the door to let him in. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her nostrils flare slightly as she scents him while he steps into the apartment.

“It’s nice to meet you,” he replies politely, but his attention is focused on the apartment in front of him. The space is huge with big windows covering the far wall and an equally huge skylight above them. There’s a spiral staircase to his left that must lead up to another level. There is a huge TV along the wall to his right with couches and chairs in a half circle around it. The center of the room has a huge table, right near the big windows, and that is where the others are gathered. And, they’re all watching him.

Stiles gives a small wave as he approaches the pack and smiles as best he can despite his growing nerves. Laura is right beside him, though. She steers him towards the table with a hand on his shoulders. There are two empty seats near her end of the table and he moves towards the one closer to her, if only because she’s the only one he’s actually spoken to yet.

“Everyone,” Laura says, grabbing their attention, “this is Scott’s friend, Stiles.” He gives them all another smile, but Laura continues on before he can feel too awkward and try to say something. “This is my brother, Derek,” she says, indicating the man across the table from him. Stiles has to bite his lip to keep from pointing out that Derek’s eyebrows of doom are even more intimidating in person.

Derek doesn’t move to shake his hand or anything, but Stiles feels the need to make some kind of effort to be friendly. “Nice place, dude,” Stiles offers with a small wave of his hand. Derek’s brow furrows slightly, but doesn’t change otherwise. Stiles isn’t sure if that’s a good sign or not, but Derek has always seemed to be a bit reserved so he tries not to take offense.

“My sister, Cora,” Laura continues, moving down the side of the table. Cora at least gives him a nod. Lydia doesn’t look up from her nails when she’s introduced, but Isaac gives him a shy smile from his seat at the far end of the table. Stiles doesn’t have to force himself to smile back. He’s seen Scott and Isaac interact in his visions and heard Scott talk about him. Isaac is one of Scott’s best friends, which is enough to make Stiles like the guy. He just has to avoid thinking about the years Isaac spent with his father and the freezer thing, because he still feels guilty that he wasn’t able to get him out of that house sooner. Thankfully Erica has a big enough presence to distract him from his guilt.

Erica grins at him in a way that feels very much like the wolf that she is. She leans forward once Laura finishes introducing her and snags Stiles’s arm, pulling him into the open seat next to her. Stiles reluctantly shuffles his things over as Erica drapes herself over him. “I think I remember you from elementary school,” she says. “You and Scott were joined at the hip.” She makes sure to lean so that her breasts are pressing against his arm and he has a prime view of her cleavage. And it is mightily impressive, but he also knows that she is just as much in love with Boyd as Scott is with Allison. He meets her eyes easily as he responds.

“Yeah,” he agrees with a smile. “Best friends since first grade.” He shrugs as best he can without dislodging Erica, because, if he’s being honest, he kind of likes the casual touch. He’s been getting more used to it since Scott came home.

Erica’s grin goes predatory. “Well, you certainly grew up well.” She presses closer, which he would have thought impossible. Her breath tickles his cheek when she speaks. “I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.” Erica’s voice is a seductive purr, but the heat doesn’t touch her eyes. He catches Lydia rolling her eyes across the table and Isaac covering a smirk. There’s a little bit of tension in the room.

Stiles licks his lips nervously and Erica’s eyes track the motion. “I’m looking forward to getting to know you better as well,” he replies honestly. “All of you.” He looks around at the table. “Scott’s told me a lot about you.” He turns back to Erica again. “I hope I get a chance to meet your boyfriend as well. Scott said that Boyd used to work at the ice skating rink. Maybe we could go sometime?”

“You skate, Stilinski?” Erica pulls back to look at him. She’s giving him a genuine smile now, one that makes her eyes sparkle. “You don’t look like the type.”

He shrugs. “The school I went to was right on a lake, like there was this little inlet right inside the school grounds. We did a lot of skating in the winter.” He smiles slightly, remembering the ways the naiads and selkies used to flow over the water and the creations that the ice-oriented Mages would make. “I was never really good at it,” he continues with a little self-conscious smile. He was always too heavily oriented to fire to be exceptional at anything ice related. “But, it was fun.”

“Where did you go to school?” Lydia asks, looking up from her nails.

Stiles blinks at her for a minute. He’d forgotten the others were there. “New York,” he answers quickly. “Near Cooperstown.” He continues at her blank look, a little surprised that Scott hadn’t told them all about the school. “I went to Ots…”

The door swings open with a bang and Stiles jumps. “The party is saved, your Bard is here,” Peter Hale announces as he strides into the loft. Stiles finds himself staring at the man who he’s seen in so many visions. He’d always thought the man was attractive, even when covered in blood and gore. None of the visions did the man justice. Peter seems like so much more in person. He’s wearing a V-neck Henley that shows off a tantalizing amount of muscle and hints of chest hair. His shirt and pants are tight enough to confirm that the rest of his body is just as toned as his chest. Stiles finds himself blushing as those sparkling blue eyes settle onto him. He turns away to dig his book and dice out of his backpack. Stiles fishes out his character sheet and passes it to Laura just as Peter reaches the table.

“You must be Stiles,” Peter says, his voice rolling over the name. “Welcome to our merry band.” Stiles looks up long enough to give Peter a shy smile. Peter settles into the seat between Stiles and Laura. His body is angled close and his eyes flicker up and down Stiles’s form. “I hope Derek hasn’t been chatting your ear off,” Peter says, a small smirk tugging at his lips. “My nephew is so very talkative.”

“Peter,” Derek growls out. Stiles can’t tell if it’s annoyance or a warning to back off or just how Derek is. Derek has usually been a side character in his visions of the pack, or at least those after the fire. Stiles glances over at the man, but his expression hasn’t changed. Cora looks amused and greets her uncle with a grin.

He’s saved from having to say more by Laura handing his sheet back. “Looks good, Stiles,” she says. Laura claps her hands and the others sit up at attention. Laura passes out their character sheets and there’s a few moments of shuffling as everyone gets their things together.

“So,” Laura begins. “When we last left the party, you had just finished clearing out a particularly nasty group of bandits for the local lord and been rewarded handsomely. Unfortunately your Wizard compatriot, Elros, has learned of a particularly rare collection of magical tomes and has left your party to study them. Hearing of your plight, the Lord offers to introduce you to a local Sorcerer. You’re gathered at the inn when the Lord walks in with a stranger following him.”

Laura waves a hand towards Stiles. “Lord Bertrand leads the stranger right up to the tables where you’re gathered. ‘My friends,’ he greets you. ‘This is the Sorcerer I told you about. Lasran, these are the adventurers who recently aided our town. I think you might be able to help each other out.’”

“Nice to meet you,” Stiles says with a small smile. He relaxes the final bit as he slips into character. This is easy. He’s been gaming for years and it’s always been his safe space away from the shit in his life.

Derek looks up from where he’s been staring at the table. “You’ll do,” he says before turning to Laura. “Does Lord Bertrand have any more work for us?”

Stiles bristles. “You’ll do?” he repeats incredulous. “How do I even know I want to join your group out of all the others out there? I’m packing some serious magical mojo here.” His arms flail and he barely manages not to hit Peter or Erica, much to their apparent amusement. He rests his elbows on the table and leans forward. “I’m assuming you’re the leader of this group, so what would I get out of it?”

Derek blinks at Stiles in apparent shock. Cora, on the other hand, grins. “I like this one,” she says. She leans towards him. “Bran may be assertive, but he’s not our leader.” She tilts her head to one side as if considering. “We’re more of a democracy, really.”

Erica leans into his space, her shoulder brushes his. “We share all of the spoils equally,” she says. “You join with us and you can take on bigger jobs than you could alone, which means a bigger share of the take.”

“And, you get the gift of my presence,” Peter says, leaning in from Stiles’s other side. Erica is still leaning against one side so he’s trapped where he is. Peter’s eyes twinkle as he invades Stiles’s personal space. His nostrils flare ever so slightly as he breathes in Stiles’s scent. “I can promise you’ll enjoy every minute of it. The name’s Alaric, by the way, you’ve probably heard of me.” Stiles has to swallow down a lump in his throat as his clothes suddenly start to feel too warm and too tight. Peter turns then to look at Laura. “I’d like to use Diplomacy to seduce our new friend.”

Stiles lets out a long breath when Peter pulls back. He has to laugh a little at the smug look on Peter’s face. “Sense Motive to counter?” He looks to Laura for her nod. Peter barely even glances at the table as he rolls the die. Stiles looks down at his own and watches in amusement as the d20 rolls across the table. He glances up at Peter.

“19.” Peter looks smug.

Stiles glances at his die and then at his sheet. “21.” He leans back a little as Erica erupts with laughter. He considers Peter for a minute before smiling. “I’ll allow it,” he says after a moment’s consideration. He leans in towards Peter and makes his eyes widen just a little bit. “I look forward to spending time with you…” His voice is light and breathy for the last few words before he suddenly pulls back with a grin. “And the group.”

For a moment, he thinks he broke Peter. Then Peter blinks and a wide grin crosses his features. It passes after a moment, leaving behind a smirk. “I’m going to like you.”

Cora barks out a laugh. “But really, Lord Bertrand, do you have any more work for us?” Stiles turns his attention to Laura and relaxes into the game. For the first time since he’s come to Beacon Hills, he thinks he might actually fit in here.

***********

It's like spending time with the pack knocks down another one of the walls he didn't realize he'd put up at the Academy. Somehow it reassures him that this Emissary thing might actually work. He stops spending his days waiting to be told it's all a dream. Stiles starts to believe he might be able to build a life here. He actively starts to put effort into doing just that.

He lets his dad take him out for driving lessons that weekend. His mom's old Jeep might be rusty and it sticks when shifting into third gear, but he falls in love with it instantly. He names it Roscoe and together they manage to pass his driving test. Which turns out to be important because he does get offered the job at the library. It's only three days a week for a couple of hours around lunchtime plus the occasional Saturday, but it's a job. One that he actually is decent at once he learns his way around the building. He spent most of his free time at school in the library, especially towards the end when he was trying to cram as much knowledge into his brain as quickly as he could, so it's nice to have that experience come in handy. Plus Beacon Hills has a surprisingly large and accurate occult section, so he starts to work his way through that in the evenings in addition to his homework from Deaton.

Scott drags him along to things with the pack. At first he protests, but Laura and Erica are actually glad to see him when he does come. Scott must say something because they make a point of specifically inviting him to join them after that. Apparently non-game Fridays are usually movie night at Derek's loft, which Scott and Allison do attend and by extension so does he. He really likes the first movie night. It’s yet another movie he hasn’t seen and he’s able to squeeze onto the couch between Scott and Boyd. At some point Allison plops into Scott’s lap and Erica sits on Boyd and their legs end up tangled on Stiles’s lap. He’s effectively trapped for most of the night, but he doesn’t mind. Boyd turns out to be a very chill dude. Stiles finds him relaxing to be around. It makes the night much less awkward that it could have been.

Out of all of the pack, he somehow spends the most time with Erica. She works at a coffee shop right down the street from the library, so more often than not he ends up going there after work. They hang out there for an hour or so until she gets off shift. Sometimes Boyd joins them and takes Erica home, other times Stiles gives her a ride. It’s nice, being out in public and knowing that one of the pack is there to help him if he needs it. He could come to like that feeling. Maybe even brave the mall...

Before he realizes it, his fourth week in Beacon Hills starts and he’s settled into a routine. Most evenings he hides in his room reading, but then one Tuesday he lingers downstairs when he gets home from work. He watches Melissa chopping vegetables in the kitchen and it reminds him so much of his mom that it hurts.

“Can I help?” he asks suddenly.

The question seems to surprise Melissa almost as much as it does him. She turns suddenly, but her surprise melts into a smile when she sees him. She beckons him closer. “I’m not going to say no to some free labor.” She hands him a knife and points him toward the tomatoes sitting out on the cutting board. “Think you can dice those for me?”

Stiles hesitates. He’s cut up ingredients for potions, but this is a whole different skill. “How…” He swallows and sets the knife down carefully. “I’ve never…”

Melissa’s hand comes to rest on his shoulder and for once he doesn’t jump. The pack’s gotten him more used to casual touches. Melissa nudges him out of the way with a hip. “Like this,” she says as she picks up the knife. “First you take off the stem and cut out this part.” He watches Melissa’s hands as she moves the tip of the knife through the top of the tomato. “Then you cut like this.” Within seconds she has a neat pile of tomato cubes which she slides into a waiting bowl. “Now you try,” she says as she hands over the knife.

It’s easy after that, dicing up the tomato and then onions, shredding lettuce. He makes homemade guacamole with Melissa’s help and watches as she finishes off the meat for the tacos. It all seems so simple, so very much like making a potion, yet much more practical. And when they sit down to dinner and Melissa tells Noah that Stiles helped with dinner, the look of pride on his father’s face is more than enough reason for him to come back the next day and the one after that until cooking lessons with Melissa becomes a thing that he does.

The next game night finds him approaching Derek’s door nervously and it feels like a thing, like he’ll always associate game night with anxiety and a desperate need to get the pack to like him that’s somehow absent in their other interactions. He actually manages to be early this time. Or at least, he’s not the last one there. Lydia and Laura are both missing, but the rest of the group is gathered, talking quietly at the table. All heads turn when he enters the loft.

Erica is up out of her seat and across the floor before he’s even managed to get the door closed. She snags the tupperware tub out of his hands and rips off the top, taking in a deep breath. “You brought us cookies?” Her delighted voice rings across the loft.

Stiles feels a blush heat his cheeks. He watches nervously as Erica bites into one, but the moan she lets out makes him relax. He had been a little worried they hadn’t turned out right. The others come and gathered around, inspecting the three different kinds of cookies crammed into the container. “Melissa’s been teaching me how to cook,” he offers softly. He trails behind the others as they make their way back to the table. Erica doesn’t relinquish her hold on the tub, but she does share. “These were this afternoon’s lesson and I didn’t want them sitting around for my dad to eat.” He shrugs and sinks down into his seat between Erica and Peter.

Peter leans in close as he reaches to grab another cookie. He keeps his eyes on Stiles as he bites in. Stiles can’t help following the path of Peter’s tongue as it snakes out to catch the crumbs lingering on his lips. “Very nice, Stiles,” Peter says in a low purr.

Stiles forces himself to look away. He sees the twinkle in Erica’s eyes and knows that she didn’t miss his reaction. He has to swallow twice and think very unsexy thoughts before he can get his voice to work again. “Glad you like them,” he replies. He looks over at the others and even Derek looks a little happier with a cookie in his hand. “I can’t promise cookies every time,” he says quickly, “because that’s just risking way too much temptation with my dad. But, it’s good to know I can count on you guys to help dispose of the evidence... In a culinary sense.”

Erica laughs beside him and even Cora snorts. Isaac gives him a grin even as he loads up a napkin with several cookies. “Feel free to bring any and all culinary experiments, Stilinski,” Erica says around a mouth full of cookies.

He nudges her with a small smile. “Saves some for the others.” She sticks her tongue out at him and he feels so happy he could float away. This is the kind of interaction he missed at the Academy. The kind of thing that Scott told him about, but he never got to experience. Not even the wave of nostalgia and sadness that comes with the memories is enough to dampen his happiness in this moment.

“Who’s the new guy?” It takes Stiles a minute to recognize the guy that walks into the loft, trailing after Lydia. It’s the arrogant manner that eventually brings the name to his mind. Jackson Whittemore, the kid that used to pick on Scott and Stiles in elementary school. He really shouldn’t be surprised that a guy like that ended up dating Lydia, though maybe he should question Lydia’s taste.

“Scott’s friend, Stiles,” Lydia says before he has a chance to respond.

It seems to take Jackson a second to remember him as well. Then, his eyebrows raise and Stiles feels dread fill him, his earlier happiness burst like a bubble. Jackson’s lips twist into a smirk. Stiles remembers that expression all too well. Nothing good ever came of it. He feels Peter and Erica shift beside him and wishes he’d remembered to mask his scent and heartbeat. “The Sheriff’s son,” Jackson announces. “Didn’t you go crazy and get locked up in Eichen House? Did they finally let you out?”

Stiles feels the blood drain from his face. He can’t seem to get the muscles in his jaw to respond, even if he could think of an answer. He watches as surprise crosses the others’ faces. There’s a moment where no one says anything, then recognition sets in and he knows that they know. It must have been prime gossip around that time. He looks down before he can see the pity that usually comes next in the emotional rollercoaster that people have when they find out.

“Did they turn you catatonic while you were in the loony bin? I suppose it makes sense that you ended up in there. Didn't your mother kill herself? Like mother, like son.”

Stiles’s embarrassment fades away as a hot, burning rage fills him. The werewolves at the table shift away from him. Even Jackson looks worried for a second before Stiles forces himself to look away. His control is perilously close to breaking and if he even looks at Jackson right now he will hurt him. And setting a packmate on fire is really not a good way to ingratiate himself with his future Alpha and pack.

“Why don't you go somewhere where you are wanted,” Erica says with a sneer. “Hint: It's not here.”

A smile twitches his lips, but Stiles doesn’t dare look up. He focuses on his hands, making sure they're absolutely still and flat. His magic is so close to the surface that one single twitch of his finger could send Jackson flying. But, Stiles didn’t spend ten years learning control to slip up now. He takes in a slow deep breath like his teachers taught him. He lets it out just as slowly.

Peter moves beside him. Stiles risks a glance to see Peter leaning forward, one elbow resting on the table. His posture is relaxed, but his eyes are focused on Jackson. Lydia is in her usual seat, pulling things out of her bag and placing them precisely on the table in front of her. Jackson just lingers behind her and Stiles really isn’t sure what he’s doing here. “I would say go home,” Peter drawls, “but Erica specified somewhere that you're wanted.”

Across the table, Lydia sits up straight. Her eyes narrow dangerously. Stiles looks away and tries his best to tune out the ensuing argument. He wishes he could close his eyes and drop into a trance, but as much as he likes the pack he doesn't trust them that much yet. So he hunches down in his seat and tries to draw as little attention to himself as possible. He focuses on his breathing, in and out, until the rage fades completely. Unfortunately, what he’s left with is a deep feeling of embarrassment. His chest is tight in a way that he knows means a panic attack is coming if he doesn't do something fast. Stiles reaches for his bag and pulls it closer. He should just pack up and make his escape before the others remember that he's there. He’s reaching for his books when the door slams open. He flinches at the sudden sound.

“Children! Enough!” Laura calls as she strides into the loft. The room instantly quiets, though glares are still been traded across the room. Laura thumps her bag down onto the table and Stiles jumps. His heart feels like it’s racing. Laura glances at him, but doesn’t comment. She turns to survey the others as they settle back in their seats around the table. “I’ve been waiting all week to kill you,” Laura says with a maniacal cackle. Somehow, it actually makes Stiles relax a little. She waves her hand as she starts to pull things out of her bag. “Talk amongst yourselves while I get set up.”

For a long minute there’s silence. He looks up and sees Peter and Jackson still glaring at each other. Erica looks ready to kill someone, while Isaac just looks uncomfortable. Stiles isn’t a werewolf, but he can practically feel the tension in the room. He looks across the table, which happens to be where Lydia is sitting. For a minute his brain flounders for a second before he remembers college. That has seemed like a safe topic with the group so far. “Lydia, you go to MIT, right? What have you been studying?”

Lydia looks up from inspecting the polish on her nails. She considers him with a slightly raised eyebrow. It does not seem like a friendly expression. “String theory,” she answers evenly.

“Oh,” Stiles says. He looks around the table but no one else seems to be jumping into making conversation. He licks his lips and forces a small smile. He settles on a generic compliment, hoping that will ease some of the tension. “That's really cool.”

One of Lydia's eyebrows raise in a way that makes her disdain evidently clear. Apparently complimenting her work was not the way to ease the tension. Stiles sinks a little further in his seat. He tries to remember if he knows a spell to make the ground swallow him up. He’s pretty sure that he does, but it would also take half the table with him. And, well, the rest of the building. For a second he considers just making a run for it. Stiles has the distinct feeling that he is very close to being verbally obliterated. “Cool,” Lydia repeats. Her tone implies that she finds string theory anything but. She leans forward, one hand resting on the table. Her perfect nails tap the surface ominously. “Do you even know what string theory is?”

Stiles has to swallow twice before he can force his throat to make audible sounds and he still can't manage to speak loud enough that the others would be able to hear if they didn't have enhanced hearing. “A theoretical framework that uses one dimensional strings instead of point-like particles,” he answers hesitantly. When Lydia only blinks at him in surprise, his mouth runs away with him in an attempt to fill the awkward silence. “I always remembered it by linking it with Yggsdrassil... The nine realms with the nine dimensions of space… Then you add in the dimension of time...” He trails off uncertainly at the way Lydia's eyes widen. Stiles looks around the table, but everyone else is giving him the same blank look. Except Peter, who just looks amused, his default setting as far as Stiles can tell.

“I hadn't thought of that,” Lydia says eventually. “Yggsdrassil…” Her words trail off and her eyes glaze over as if she's deep in thought. A moment later she pushes back her chair, snags her purse, and strides out of the room. Jackson scrambles after her a moment later. The door clangs shut after them, leaving him to sit in confused silence.

“What just happened?” Stiles asks softly.

Laura snorts and the sudden noise makes him startle. She gives him a kind smile when he looks up at her. “Don't worry about it. Lydia gets like that. She'll reappear in a couple days once she's run the idea into the ground.” Laura passes out the character sheets and her eyes land on the tupperware in the center of the table. “Ooo, cookies.”

Stiles slowly straightens. He snags the tupperware and passes it over to Laura. “They’re chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and oatmeal raisin.”

Laura bites into one and gives him a warm smile. “They’re very good. Thank you, Stiles.” He sets the container back down. Peter and Erica both brush up against him as they grab cookies. He flinches and draws in on himself. Before anyone can say anything further, Laura rests her elbows on the table and leans forward. “Now, where did we leave off?”

Stiles relaxes as he settles into the role of his sorcerer. It’s nice to pretend to be someone else for a couple hours as they continue in search of the stolen object that the Lord sent them after. The others relax too, though Derek still never really gets into character. At the very least, none of them seem to be feeling awkward about Stiles’s presence. They have the same easy camaraderie that they did last time. And it doesn’t help that Erica and Peter keep finding opportunities to touch him. Each time he flinches a little less. By the time Laura calls the game for the night, he’s relaxed again.

“So, what’s the most ridiculous thing the group has ever done?” Stiles asks as they’re packing up for the night. “I think my group’s weirdest was a dance off with a bunch of fauns.”

Erica snorts. “Maybe the time Peter seduced the dragon?” She looks around the table for support, but Laura just shakes her head.

“No, it was definitely the deep dungeon crawl with the subterranean lake,” Laura says as she slips the last of her things into her bag.

Cora raises an eyebrow. “That wasn’t that bad,” she argues. “The dragon thing was definitely funnier. I mean the thing wasn’t even in human form. It was huge.”

“You literally ate all the creatures you killed!” Laura exclaimed.

“We were deep in a dungeon,” Isaac points out reasonably. “We needed to conserve rations.”

“Yes, and that would be fine it it had been rabbits, but you ate the Kobolds.”

“We washed them first,” Peter tells Stiles, leaning close.

“And the gelatinous cube!” Laura practically yells.

“How did you neutralize the poison?” Stiles closes the gap between himself and Peter to whisper the question.

“Lydia provided us with a scientific solution,” Peter replies. He sounds almost proud. His blue eyes shine with amusement as he watches the argument in front of him unfold.

Laura throws up her hands. “You ate the merfolk! That's practically cannibalism.”

“We made sushi,” Peter whispers and Stiles loses it. Peter has to brace him to keep him from falling out of the chair. And, he’s not the only one. He looks up when Laura snorts and apparently that was all that was needed to set her off. Soon the whole table is laughing. Stiles laughs so hard and so long that he’s afraid he’s going to have an asthma attack. He lets his head thump down on the table as he gets himself under control. Peter's hand is a warm weight on his shoulder. He starts to sit up and the hand is gone. Stiles uses his sleeve to wipe tears from his eyes so no one will see the look of disappointment that is sure to be on his face.

He feels a smile lingering on his lips as he finishes packing up. He leaves the tupperware behind for Derek and the others, since they seem to gather here more often than anywhere else. The cookies are already half gone, but he saw Erica packing up a baggie full under the excuse of taking some to Boyd. Stiles is still smiling when he steps into the elevator. He’s a little surprised when Peter slides into the elevator after him.

They ride in silence for a few minutes as the floors slide by. They reach the ground floor and head out into the parking lot. He’s really not surprised when Peter heads towards the stupidly expensive car parked two spaces down from his. Peter turns back and places a hand on Stiles’s shoulder before he can climb into the Jeep. “Don’t let Jackson get to you,” Peter says. His hand reaches up to rest on Stiles’s shoulder before sliding down and squeezing his arm. “The past is just that, the past.”

Stiles swallows down a lump in his throat. He turns away and slides into the driver's seat. “Thanks,” he says softly. His phone beeps, giving him an excuse not to look at Peter as the man walks away. He feels a bit of warmth bubble in his chest. There’s a text from Laura already.

See you next session.

***********

Stiles wakes to his body seizing. He opens his eyes, but instead of seeing the ceiling in his bedroom he sees trees. The forest is dark and dense. He thinks it might be the preserve at the edge of town, but there’s no landmarks to help him orient. He sees movement at the edge of his vision and turns. There, suspended in the middle of a clearing, is a man. Stiles moves closer and tries to make out the man’s features. It’s dark, but he gets the sense of a middle aged man, dirty but mostly healthy. He gets the feeling that the man is a werewolf, but there’s no sense of pack ties about the man. Before he can focus any further, there’s a sound behind him. He tries to turn, but the vision doesn’t cooperate. He hears heavy footsteps, and it sounds like there are several people. They talk, but he can’t make out the words. Suddenly, there’s a flash of metal and the man in front of his is cut in half. If Stiles had a corporal body, he would flinch back. Instead he’s forced to watch as the man dies. Someone says something behind him, but all he can make out is a feeling of triumph, like part of a plan has been set in motion.

He gasps and his body arches off the bed. When he slumps down again, he can see his room. The lights are on and Melissa and Scott are on either side of him with Noah close behind. Stiles takes a shaky breath. Above him Melissa shifts. Her fingers press into his wrist, checking his pulse.

“You back with us, Stiles?” she asks gently. When he nods, she leans forward and checks his pupils.

Stiles licks his lips and flings a hand out to the bottle of water he keeps on his nightstand. Scott helps him sit up and then hovers close by while Stiles takes a deep drink. After a few swallows, he manages to chase away the weird taste that always follows one of his visions. He recaps the bottle and sets it aside. Stiles runs his hands through his hair and tries to get his thoughts in order. “Did I scream?” he asks, looking around at the others. His jaw feels tight, like he’s been clenching his teeth. He’d trained himself at the Academy not to make noise during a vision, but he has to wonder if maybe the change in environment has thrown off his habits.

“No, bro,” Scott says as he sits cross legged on the bed next to Stiles. “I woke up when your heartbeat started going crazy. I called mom when I came in to check on you and you were having a seizure.”

“I remember when you started having seizures as a kid,” Melissa says. She draws back slowly, not seeming to want to go very far, as if she’s not fully convinced he’s okay. “If they’re back we should probably get you checked out by a doctor.”

Stiles shakes his head. “It’s fine,” he says. He tries to give them what he hopes is a reassuring smile, but it’s late and he’s tired. “I always get seizures with the visions. The teachers say it’s like that for a lot of the people who…” He waves a hand vaguely at his head in a way that he hopes makes sense. “Who can do what I do… Well, the few of them that they’ve known about at least.” He shakes his head and tries to clear away the post-vision fog. He much prefers the times when the visions leave his adrenaline high and his blood pumping. Those he can at least focus through, rather than the ones that just leave him tired and spaced out.

“I thought the school was supposed to help you with the visions?” Noah asks. He perches on the edge of the bed while Melissa sits on the chair at Stiles’s desk.

“They did.” Stiles waves at himself. “Hence the not screaming or biting my tongue and being mostly coherent after a vision.” He shrugs. “They couldn’t stop the seizures from happening, so we found ways to manage them. And, like I promised, I always told you when I had one.” He snags his water bottle and takes another drink. Stiles sets it aside after a minute and looks up at Noah. “Anyways, the vision…” He closes his eyes and tries to remember what he saw. “It didn’t feel like one of the urgent ones, so I don’t think it’s happening now, but at some point in the next couple days there’s going to be a guy cut in half. He was probably around forty, dirty like he’d been running. Might be a werewolf, but a packless one. Omega maybe. Not too sure. He was caught in some kind of trap… I think… Someone had him strung up in a clearing in the middle of the woods. There was a group of people, maybe Hunters? One of them had what I think was a sword and they cut him clean in half.”

“Dude…” Scott’s voice is both impressed and grossed out. “He got cut in half with a sword?”

Stiles opens his eyes and gives Scott an unimpressed look, which Scott just smiles sheepishly at. “It was gross,” Stiles says with a grimace. “Definitely in the top ten visions I would be more than happy never to see again.” He rubs his hands over his face, pulling them away as he yawns. Stiles shakes his head to try to focus. “That’s all I’ve got,” he says, looking over at his dad. “Couldn’t get any sense of the place. Or the time beyond at some point in the evening maybe.” He shrugs and yawns again.

Noah leans in and pats him on the leg. “Don’t worry about it,” he says with a small smile. Noah pushes himself to his feet and turns to offer a hand to Melissa. “Why don’t we all try to get some sleep and if you remember anything else, we can talk about it in the morning? Maybe see if you can give a sketch to Miller at the station.”

“Sure thing,” Stiles says. He waves goodnight to his dad and Melissa as they head out into the hallway. Once they’re gone, he scoots down until he’s lying on his back again. Scott gives him a small smile before heading out of the room, flicking off the light as he leaves.

He falls asleep almost instantly, but it doesn’t last long. He keeps seeing the vision over and over again in his head. Stiles gives up sleeping just as the sky starts to lighten. He heads downstairs and pulls out one of Melissa’s recipe books. By the time Melissa and his dad come downstairs there are banana nut muffins cooling on the counter, bacon and eggs on the stove, and a ridiculous amount of pancakes staying warm in the oven. He makes plates up for his dad and Melissa. The smell must wake up Scott because he comes tripping down the stairs a minute later, barely awake.

“Not that I don’t appreciate the food,” his dad says once they’re all settled at the table, “but is this going to become a thing?”

Stiles shrugs. “Insomniatic baking?” He smiles a little bit. “Probably. At school I would make potions and charms when I couldn’t sleep, burn off some of the magic.” He shrugs again and takes a bite of the bacon. “This seemed a little more practical.” He points a finger at his dad. “But don’t get used to the bacon.” He waves between the plate and his dad. “This is a one-time thing.”

His dad snorts and snags another piece from the plate in the center of the table. “I think you overestimated the amount we can eat.” He gestures to the plate still piled high with pancakes.

“I figured I’d take them and some of the muffins in to the station,” he replies. “Then swing by and drop some off with Erica, since she always forgets to eat breakfast when she has a morning shift.”

Noah nods and pulls out his phone. “I’ll let Miller know to expect you for the sketch.”

Stiles turns to nudge Scott, who looks like he’s about to fall asleep and faceplant into his plate. Scott startles and shakes himself. When he looks up at Stiles he seems more awake. “You working at Deaton’s today?” Stiles asks.

Scott gives him a grunt that he assumes is a yes. “Cool. I’ll see you there after I get out of work. Deaton’s going to show me some of the pack-specific warding spells today.” He feels a little bubble of glee at the thought. Scott doesn’t seem nearly as excited. He does manage to give Stiles a sleepy smile and resume eating his breakfast though.

“Have you and Talia had the Emissary talk yet?” Melissa asks.

Stiles shakes his head. “I haven’t actually met her yet. The next movie night is at the Hale house though, probably because it’s the full moon. I’ll probably meet her and the rest of the Hales then.” He looks to Scott, who gives a nod. He seems to be waking up a little more.

“They’ll be there,” Scott says around a yawn. “Talia’s looking forward to meeting you.”

Once the plates are cleared Stiles packs up a big tupperware for the station and a smaller one for Erica. He drips syrup onto Erica’s portion, but just snags the bottle for the station so it’s less of a mess. He packs the containers into the Jeep and follows after his dad’s cruiser. The deputies descend on the proffered food like wolves, which is a thought that make him snort. He meets Miller, a new hire sometime over the years Stiles was gone. The man seems nice enough though, sketching with one hand while devouring a muffin with the other. He does good work though. The sketch is perfect. Stiles lies and says that he saw the man peeping in windows in their neighborhood, and soon all of the deputies are on the lookout for the man.

Erica lets out a shrill of glee when he comes bearing breakfast. His timing is perfect because she was just about to go on break and buy one of the shop’s overpriced baked goods. Instead, he gets a free coffee while she moans over the pancakes and muffins. At some point she shoots off a text, but he assumes it’s to Boyd. She looks particularly smug, so he can only guess that she must be bragging about her breakfast. He leaves for work in an extremely good mood.

The library is quiet for a Tuesday. There are a couple of kids and their parents in for the afternoon story-time and a couple of adults dropping off or picking up books on their lunch breaks, but otherwise the place is empty except for him and the head librarian. He reshelves books, dusts, straightens up the periodicals, and generally basks in the quiet.

He looks up toward the end of his shift and is surprised to see Peter stroll into the building. He gives the man a small smile and wave. Peter catches sight of him instantly and stalks forward like a wolf with its prey in sight. The unwavering attention sends butterflies through Stiles’s stomach, as does the way Peter purrs his name in greeting. The man leans forward across the counter. “I heard from Erica that you’ve been baking again,” he says with a smile. “I don’t suppose you have any left to share with your favorite gaming companion?”

Stiles rolls his eyes at the sheer smarm that Peter’s projecting. He pushes away from the counter and goes to collect the tupperware from the break room. There are only two left, so he hands the container to Peter. “Will these do?”

Peter’s eyes light up with delight and he delicately breaks off a piece of the muffin before popping it into his mouth. The pleased noise he makes does things to Stiles, particularly his nether regions. Peter’s nostrils flare ever so slightly. Stiles blushes when Peter looks up at him again. He holds Stiles’s gaze as he licks the crumbs off of one of his fingers. Stiles has to bite his tongue to hold in a whimper. There’s a smirk on Peter’s lips that says that he knows exactly what he’s doing to Stiles.

“You’re off work in a few minutes, right?” Peter’s voice is low and sultry and all Stiles can do is nod because words are escaping him right now. “What do you say to a late lunch? I’m feeling very… hungry.”

Stiles has never wanted to blow off a meeting as much as he does right now. He really, really wants to trail after Peter like the love-sick puppy that he is, but Deaton.... They’re finally switching from the mountain of books he’s been reading to actual practical things and he’s been waiting weeks to get to this point. And what if blowing Deaton off makes him think that he’s not serious about becoming an Emissary?

Peter’s eyebrow arches in surprise when Stiles makes a small frustrated noise. “I’d really like that,” Stiles says. “But I’m supposed to go to Deaton’s after this…”

A brief look of disappointment crosses Peter’s face before it smooths into a smile again. “Mustn’t keep Scott waiting,” Peter says. Stiles blinks, because that’s not what he meant at all. He opens his mouth to correct Peter, but the other man speaks before he can. “What about dinner?”

Stiles’s mouth closes with a snap. “Oh.” He feels a little bit of a blush start again and he resolutely tries to will his face to knock it the fuck off. “Yes,” he says quickly. “I’d like that.” He doesn’t blush, really. Because he’s not a twelve-year-old girl. Or so he keeps telling himself.

Peter’s face lights up. “Excellent. I’ll pick you up at six.” He gives Stiles one more long look before turning and striding back out the doors. Stiles can’t help watching him go. And if he spends a little too long staring after that perfect physique, well, there’s no one in the library to mock him for it. It’s not until he’s collecting his things to go that he realizes Peter took the container of muffins with him.

He’s still smiling when he gets to Deaton’s, which Scott picks up on immediately. “Dude,” Scott says when Stiles enters the back room where Scott is stitching up a dog under Deaton’s supervision. “What has you so happy?” Scott doesn’t even look up from the dog, so Stiles must be giving off waves of eau de euphoria.

His smile twitches impossibly wider as he leans in the doorway. “Peter asked me on a date.” Scott does look up at that, and so does Deaton, but neither of them look completely surprised. So, maybe Stiles’s crush on the man hasn’t been as secret or subtle as he’d liked to have thought. But, then again, werewolves. The whole pack could probably smell his reaction whenever Peter leaned close. He shrugs at the look Scott gives him. “We’re having dinner tonight.”

Scott wrinkles his nose, but turns back to the dog. “Isn’t he a little… old for you?”

“Apparently I like them older,” he says with an unrepentant shrug. “And besides, it’s not like he’s my dad’s age. He’s what… thirty-three?” He looks over at Deaton for confirmation and the man nods, though that does provoke a new question. “Are there any rules against an Emissary dating a member of their pack?”

“No,” Deaton says slowly. “It depends on the pack and how accepting they are. Some discourage it because they feel that it undermines the Alpha’s authority, unless of course the relationship is between the Emissary and the Alpha. Others encourage it because it makes the Emissary more integrated with the pack. And, a third faction believes that the Emissary should be completely separate from the pack, to maintain neutrality.”

Stiles nods. He licks his lips nervously. “Which do you think Talia’s pack is?”

Deaton gives him a reassuring smile. “I think her pack falls into the second group.”

“Yeah, dude,” Scott chimes in as he finishes up with the dog and strips off his gloves. “Laura’s going to be so ecstatic. I think she, Cora, and Erica had a betting pool on which one of you was going to make the first move.”

Stiles splutters at that. He turns to look at Deaton in an attempt to escape the conversation. “Magic,” he says quickly. “I was promised spells.”

Deaton coughs in what might be an attempt to cover a laugh, but the man’s expression stays pleasantly neutral. “Right this way.”

He spends a solid two and a half hours in Deaton’s lab pouring over intricate diagrams of wards, but by the end of the day he can successfully create wards to block out all other werewolves, all other supernatural creatures, or only creatures with hostile intent. He knows how to make it so only werewolves from certain packs can pass or how to block out certain packs. He thinks he could even tweak the wards to only include or exclude certain individuals too, but Scott reminds him of his date and he realizes he only has a half hour to get home and change before Peter picks him up. He takes the book that Deaton passes to him and ignores the man’s amused look as he sprints out of the clinic.

The book gets tossed onto the pile on his desk as he strips out of his clothing. He rummages around in his closet for a somewhat nice shirt, changes into a tight pair of jeans, and throws on fresh deodorant. He finishes just as the doorbell rings. “I’ll get it,” he calls out, but by the time he gets downstairs his father is already there.

“Peter,” Noah greets with a raised eyebrow and a bit of suspicion, “to what do we owe the pleasure?”

Peter grins as he looks past Noah at Stiles coming down the stairs. “I take it Stiles didn’t mention our date?” His grin gets even wider as Stiles stumbles to a halt in the doorway. Stiles tries to resist drooling over the way Peter’s button down shirt hugs his curves. Peter’s hair is perfectly arranged and he’s wearing a leather coat that Stiles wants to feel against his skin. His jeans feel even tighter than they’re supposed to because damn does the man clean up nicely.

“No,” Noah answers slowly. “He didn’t mention it when he flew in the house.” He regards Stiles with a raised eyebrow and an amused look.

“I was running late,” Stiles says. He keeps his face pointed downwards as he struggles his shoes on and hopes that his blush fades before he looks back up. He gives his dad a quick hug before shooing Peter away from the door and any possible parental interrogations. “See you later,” he calls over his shoulder.

Peter presses a hand to his lower back as he guides Stiles towards his sleek, silver Mercedes. He even opens the door for Stiles, pushing it closed once Stiles is seated and sliding over the hood in a move that would be much more impressive if Stiles didn’t know Peter was a werewolf. Then, he and Peter are alone in the car and his nerves bubble up. He realizes he doesn’t even know where they’re going. “Hi,” he greets with a small smile. He waves his down at himself. “Is this alright? I can change if you want.”

“It’s perfect.” Peter’s gaze travels up and down his body slowly. When he looks back up, his gaze is warm and hungry and Stiles is definitely blushing now. Thankfully, he looks away a moment later to start the car and pull out onto the street.

“Where are we going?” Stiles asks as they head towards downtown.

Peter glances over at him before looking back at the road. “A little Italian place I thought you might like. I’m guessing that you haven’t sampled too many of our restaurants since returning.”

Stiles shakes his head. “Dad took me to a diner near the station, and I’ve tried the Indian place near Erica’s work and some sushi place with Scott and Allison, but that’s about it.”

“Excellent.” Peter’s grin is so proud that Stiles has to shake his head. He wants to make a comment about possessive werewolves, but holds it in. He and Peter might enjoy snarking and flirtingly arguing during game, but this feels different. New.

The ‘little Italian place’ that Peter takes him to turns out to be the most expensive restaurant in Beacon Hills, where they apparently know Peter by name. “Mr. Hale,” the host greets as soon as they step in the door. “We have your usual table waiting.”

“Thank you, Richard.” Stiles raises an eyebrow at that because the man isn’t wearing a name tag. Then, Peter’s arm slides around his waist as they move through the restaurant and any twinge of jealousy he has disappears. He sees Peter smirk out of the corner of his eye, but then Peter’s thumb strokes up and down his side, subtly scenting him. He might be starting to like werewolfly displays of possession. Especially when they involve touching.

Peter’s usual table turns out to be in a little niche at the front corner of the restaurant. It’s along the wall of windows, giving them a nice view of the park across the street, but also a little removed from the other booths and tables. Peter guides him to the seat along the wall before sliding into the one across from him. Stiles feels a little bit of amusement at the placement of Peter between him and anyone else. He hides his smile behind the menu. Which doesn’t have any prices and he knows what that means.

“Peter,” he hisses in a whisper. “This place looks really expensive.”

“Hush,” Peter replies with a smirk. “It’s my treat.”

Stiles narrows his eyes. “You know you don’t have to spend a ton of money to impress me.”

Peter’s smile softens. He leans forward to snag one of Stiles’s hands and draws it to his mouth. He places a gentle kiss on the inside of Stiles’s wrist. The contact sends a shiver down his spine. He doesn’t draw his hand away as Peter lowers it to the table and intertwines their fingers. “I don’t have to,” Peter agrees, “but I will anyways.” The mischievous twinkle is back in Peter’s eyes and Stiles shakes his head.

“Don’t think I’m putting out just because you buy me an expensive dinner,” he teases. “I’m a classy lady.”

“Of course not,” Peter says. His voice drops low as he leans forward. “The finer things in life are meant to be savored.” The room suddenly feels very warm. Stiles tugs at his collar with his free hand. Peter’s thumb starts moving back and forth over Stiles’s hand in slow, teasing motions. “I’m going to take my time with you,” Peter promises. “I want you to savor each and every kiss and touch until I finally take you apart.”

Stiles is saved from having to reply by the appearance of their waiter. Peter sits up straight, looking perfectly composed while Stiles can barely even stammer out his drink order. Thankfully, Peter takes pity on him and releases his hand so that Stiles can focus on the menu. He decides on lasagna, something he already knows he likes. He hands his menu to the waiter and the man is gone again. Stiles leans back in his chair and tries to get ahold of himself. “So, what do you do for a living, Peter?” he asks, latching onto the first non-sexy topic he can think of.

“I’m a lawyer,” Peter says, leaning back into the booth.

“Oh.” Stiles actually didn’t know that. He knows what Peter looks like eviscerating an enemy, but somehow never learned what he did outside of pack business. “Are you in the District Attorney’s office with Talia?”

Peter shakes his head with a small twitch of his lips. “No, corporate law.” He seems amused by Stiles’s question though. “I get enough of my sister bossing me around without having it at work too.” Stiles has to snort a laugh at that, because yeah, that probably would be disastrous. “What about you, Stiles? Are you going back to school after the summer?”

“Nah,” Stiles says with a shake of his head. “I think I want to stick around Beacon Hills for awhile. Maybe see if they’ll hire me on full time at the library.” He relaxes back into his seat. He tells Peter about his coworkers at the library and his not-so-secret love of research. Peter shares his favorite books and they settle into easy conversation, barely even noticing when the waiter drops off their drinks and later their meals.

Stiles moans at the first bite of the lasagna. He doesn’t miss the flash of Peter’s eyes, but is too busy enjoying the sweet flavor of the sauce and the melty cheese to comment. Peter seems pleased by his reactions though, judging by the smile that keeps making an appearance through the rest of dinner. He hadn’t thought he was that hungry, but somehow he manages to clear his plate. He does decline Peter’s offer of dessert though.

All too soon, they’re pulling up outside of Stiles’s house. Peter opens his door for him like a gentleman. Stiles glances at the house. The lights are on, but it doesn’t appear like anyone is waiting for them. He wishes for a minute that he could invite Peter in, but maybe he’s also not ready for that yet.

“Stiles.” Peter’s voice draws him out of his thoughts. He turns to look at the man and catches a glimpse of amused blue eyes before Peter presses forward. Stiles’s eyes drift closed as Peter crowds him back against the car and licks into his mouth. His hands fist in Peter’s coat while one of Peter’s winds through his hair. Peter tilts Stiles’s head where he wants it and Stiles goes plaint under his hands. He lets out a low moan when Peter’s hips brush against his. Then Peter is pulling away to mouth at Stiles’s cheek and down his jaw.

His hips jerk forward at the feel of teeth on his neck, but then Peter’s tongue comes out to sooth the bite mark. He whimpers when Peter’s teeth latch onto the spot again. The only thing keeping him upright is the car pressed against his back because his legs have suddenly gone weak. He wonders if it would be too forward to wrap his legs around Peter’s waist. The werewolf could probably support him one-handed without taking his mouth away from the truly impressive mark he’s making on Stiles’s neck.

The sound of a throat clearing jolts them both into reality. He looks up with wide eyes at his Dad standing in the doorway to the house. Noah looks less than amused. “While I appreciate that you’re both adults, my front lawn is not the appropriate place for these activities.”

“Right,” Stiles croaks out, and wow his voice is wrecked. He licks his lips and swallows as Peter pulls back. The bastard looks very pleased with himself. “Thank you for dinner, Peter.” He leans forward to press a comparatively chaste kiss on Peter’s lips and slips away before the werewolf can deepen it. “I’ll see you Friday?” Stiles asks as he reaches the porch.

“Looking forward to it.” Peter gives the Sheriff a nod before climbing back into his car. Stiles lingers on the porch watching as Peter drives away.

Noah shakes his head when Stiles finally steps inside and closes the door. “You’ve got it bad, kiddo.”

Stiles sticks out his tongue at his father and rolls his eyes at Scott and Melissa snickering in the background. He ignores them all and heads up to his room. Stiles throws his clothes into the laundry basket and grabs his pajamas before heading to the bathroom to shower. And, if he happens to spend a couple minutes admiring the mark on his neck in the mirror, no one needs to know.

***********

The Hale house is a lot less intimidating in person that it was in Stiles’s visions. Granted, the only vision he had of it was when it had been burning to the ground with the family trapped inside, so maybe it’s the trauma associated with that memory that gave the building a more sinister feel. That’s not to say that the house isn’t big, because it’s huge with three sprawling floors and a picture-perfect front porch. Maybe it’s the power that he senses inside that’s intimidating. He can feel Talia’s presence much more strongly than any of the others, even Laura with her Alpha potential. He’s suddenly really glad that Scott drove, because he probably would turn tail and run if he had his Jeep with him.

But, then he sees Peter step out onto the porch and his fingers brush against the still visible mark on his neck and he can’t help smiling. He ignores the look that Scott gives him, even though he could easily point out how much worse Scott had been at the beginning of the Scott-and-Allison show. But he doesn’t, because he’s mature.

Peter presses a brief kiss to Stiles’s lips before drawing him inside. As soon as he’s through the door, Laura pounces on him. She gives him a very knowing look as she pulls him away from Peter and draws him further into the house. The pack is already spread out in the living room, but Laura pulls him past them and down the hall towards a large kitchen. Stiles recognizes Talia immediately as she turns from pouring bags of popcorn into bowls. “Mom, this is Stiles,” Laura introduces.

“Noah and Scott have told us so much about you,” Talia says as she reaches forward. Stiles holds out his hand, expecting a handshake, but is pulled into a hug instead. He sees now where Laura gets a lot of her personality.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Hale,” he says and then has a brief moment of panic wondering if he was supposed to call her Alpha Hale instead. But, he’s not a member of her pack yet, so technically she’s not his Alpha. And technically his Mage title puts him on equal rank with her, but it’s her territory and he’s suddenly blanking on all of the information that Deaton has been drilling into his head.

“Please, call me Talia,” she says before he can worry any further. She turns and motions to a man at the table. “This is my husband, Andrew.” She looks around before waving at the house in general. “My sister, Beth, is around somewhere. I’m sure you’ll meet her at some point tonight.”

“Nice to meet you,” he says with a small smile at Andrew. He looks around the kitchen. “Can I do anything to help?”

Talia gives him a small smile. She hands him two of the bowls. “You can take these into the living room, if you don’t mind.” Her gaze sharpens as she looks past him. “You, too, Laura,” she says holding out bowls of chips and pretzels.

Stiles follows behind Laura as they head back up the hallway. “That’s my youngest brother, Mark,” Laura says, nodding towards a boy maybe five years younger than Stiles who’s putting a disc into the Blu-ray player. “That’s Beth and her son, Noah.” She says waving to a woman with a boy around three or four who are sitting in a rocking chair at the far side of the room. “Everyone else you know.”

He looks around at the gathered pack. There are a couple chairs open, but also a spot on the couch between Erica and Laura. It’s close to the snacks, but far away from Jackson, who barely even glances at him. Probably on his best behavior with the Alpha nearby. He glances at Peter, but he’s in a single chair and while that doesn’t seem to be stopping Scott and Allison, he’s not sure that he and Peter are at that stage yet. He looks away quickly when Peter catches him looking. Stiles makes his way across the room, stepping over Cora where she’s sprawled across the floor and the tangle of Allison and Scott’s legs. He’s about to round the coffee table when firm hands grab him around the hips and pulls.

Stiles makes an utterly embarrassing yelp before he realizes that it’s Peter who has him. He blinks and finds himself arranged in Peter’s lap, much to the amusement of the others. Peter raises an eyebrow at him. His grip is loose, which means that Stiles could move to a different seat if he wanted to. He doesn’t really want to. He blushes, but rests his head on Peter’s shoulder as Peter’s arms circle around him.

He stiffens slightly when Talia and Andrew enter the room, but Peter tightens his arms and keeps him from moving. Talia just gives them a small smile and she and Andrew settle in two of the open chairs. The movie starts without anyone commenting. For once, the movie is one that Stiles has seen, Captain America. He glances at the stack beside the TV and sees the whole collection of Marvel movies, which is apparently the theme for the night. He’s glad he’s already seen the movie because when Peter’s hand starts idly trailing up and down his back, his eyes drift closed of their own accord. He burrows his face into Peter’s neck and the man makes a pleased rumble. Stiles could really care less if Scott makes fun of him later, because there is no amount of money in the world that someone could offer him to move right now.

Which of course means the phone rings. The movie is paused as Talia answers her cellphone. She stands and moves into the kitchen, but all of the werewolves have that rigid posture that he knows means they’re all listening in. From the looks on their faces, it’s not good news. In fact, he would guess that the body from his vision has been found.

Talia comes striding back into the room a moment later with a grim look on her face. Her eyes flicker to him before looking around the room. “I’m afraid something urgent has come up and Andrew and I need to step out for a little bit. Peter, Derek, Laura, would you mind joining me? I’m going to need a few hands to get some things from my office.” Her eyes search the room again before she speaks again. “Scott and Allison too, if you don’t mind.”

Stiles doesn’t protest as he climbs off of Peter’s lap. He glances around the room as he tries to rally his courage. He knows he told Deaton he’d wait until he finished his training before officially offering his services to the pack, but he thinks it’s pretty clear that he’s thrown his loyalty in with them. “Is there anything I can do to help?” he offers, looking straight at Talia.

She smiles at him politely, but it doesn’t quite meet her eyes. “Thank you, Stiles,” she says softly, “but we’ll be fine. Enjoy the rest of the movie. We shouldn’t be gone too long.” He opens his mouth to protest, but Talia practically herds the others out the door. Peter is the only one to glance back at him. His expression is unreadable.

The movie starts playing again and the sudden sound startles him from where he was staring at the door. Stiles tries to tamper down the hurt at being left behind, but he must not be successful. Erica pulls him down on the couch next to her and Boyd and throws her legs over his lap. It takes a few minutes for the tension to drain out of him, too aware of the fact that Laura should be on his other side. Except, they didn’t want him with them.

He supposes he can’t expect Talia to trust him yet. She did just meet him less than two hours ago, after all. Boyd throws an arm over back of the couch, almost but not quite brushing Stiles’s shoulders. He slouches a little, using Boyd’s arm as a pillow. Stiles looks around the room at the half of the pack left behind to watch the movie. He supposes he can’t feel too bad since he’s not the only one left out. He looks around at the younger, mostly bitten wolves. He wonders then if maybe his age is the problem. Maybe Talia’s uncomfortable with the idea of an Emissary so much younger than him. What if he has to wait until Laura’s the Alpha to become the pack’s Emissary? That could be years, decades even, depending on when Talia decides to retire. That means he’ll either have to go join a different pack or find some other magical job to appease the College Mages so that he’s not ‘wasting his gift’ as they put it.

Erica prods his side with a toe and jars him out of his thoughts. “Whatever you’re thinking, stop it,” she says, not even looking away from the screen. She stretches her leg back out across his lap. “They’ll be fine. It’s not like they’re doing something dangerous.”

“Right. Sorry.” He takes a deep breath and tries to relax. Captain America ends and they take a vote on which movie to watch next, which ends up being Thor. Stiles leans forward and snags a bowl of popcorn. Between him, Erica, and Boyd then end up decimating it. He almost has to fight Cora over the bowl of chips before she compromises and tips some into the bowl of pretzels, taking the rest of the chips for herself. They’re debating which movie to put on for the third round when all of the werewolves suddenly stop talking. Everyone turns towards the door and he knows that the others are back.

“I’ll ask my father about it.” He hears Allison’s voice before he actually sees her. Stiles sits up straight on the couch, relief filling him as the others walk in. There’s not even a hint of blood spatter or a hair out of place. “I think he mentioned my grandfather coming back to town so maybe it was one of his…”

“Gerard’s in town!?” Stiles interrupts. All eyes turn to him as if they’d actually forgotten that he was there.

“Yeah,” Allison says slowly. She gives him a strange look. “I didn’t know you’d met him.”

Stiles blinks and looks at Scott, who is also giving him weird looks. And that’s when he realizes that he knows more about the man than any of them do because the horrible things that Gerard did in this town never actually happened. They only exist in his visions and the Hales never actually had to deal with his crazy before. He swallows and tries to shove down his nerves. “I haven’t… actually.” And yup, they’re all remembering that he was once crazy now. He knows that look and it hurts. “I know of him though. Friend of a friend kind of thing.”

Before he can explain himself anymore, Talia speaks up. “It’s getting late,” she says politely, but firmly. “You kids should probably be heading home.”

“Right,” Scott says. “Allison, you’re getting a ride home with Lydia and Jackson, right?”

People start standing and clearing away the bowls of snack crumbs. Someone clicks off the TV. And, somehow in the chaos, Scott manages to steer him out the door and to the car before he even realizes that no one else actually left the house. Stiles sits in sullen silence the entire ride back to the house. Scott seems to pick up on his mood because he keeps casting glances at him.

Thankfully his father is still up when they get home, because Stiles needs to talk to someone who understands and that apparently is not Scott. “Gerard did it,” he exclaims as he marches into the kitchen.

His father looks up from the case file spread out on the desk. He cocks his head to the side and squints his eyes in a look that says he has no idea what Stiles is talking about. Stiles continues, flailing his hands as if that might make his point get through. “Gerard? Allison’s crazy grandfather? The one that produced Kate?” Recognition dawns on his father’s face.

“He’s the one that you’ve had visions about before, right? The one that was going to try to kill the Hales if Kate hadn’t confessed to the fire and who was going to kill that pack at the distillery?”

“That’s the one,” he says, pointing at his father. “Gold star for you dad.”

“Allison’s sweet old grandfather?” Scott says incredulously.

“Murdering psychopath,” Stiles corrects. He looks over at Scott. “Trust me on this, I’m never wrong.”

Scott and his dad both raise eyebrows at that and he has to roll his eyes. “About the visions and supernatural shit and murdering psychopaths, I’m never wrong.”

His father nods, but Scott doesn’t seem convinced. “Trust me on this one, Scotty-boy. The man is evil. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he liked cutting people in half.”

Noah jots down a note on the file. “I’ll take a look at him and his known associates, see if we have any record of them being in the area. Maybe there’s something we can use to pull them in for questioning.”

Stiles smiles, his earlier bad mood dissipating. “Thanks, dad.” His dad gives him a small smile, but there’s a flash of guilt there. He can tell his dad is thinking about all of the times he hadn’t believed Stiles. Back before he’d gotten put in the Academy. They might not be able to go back and erase those times, but knowing his dad has his back now makes up for it.

“It’s late,” Noah says, packing the files away. “You boys should head up to bed. We’ll figure Gerard out in the morning.”

Except, they don’t figure it out in the morning. Gerard doesn’t officially arrive at Chris’s house until the next evening. His dad pulls the records from the local motels, but the man was smart enough not to check in under his own name. Noah is still waiting to hear back about the man’s known associates so there’s no point in sending officers out to canvas with photos until the names come back. Not when they don’t actually have any kind of solid lead to go on.

Scott gets invited over to dinner at the Argent house on Wednesday and Gerard has him completely sold on the lovable old man routine. “What kind of evil psychopath makes souffle?” Scott asks skeptically. Stiles’s answer of “The kind that cuts people in half” is apparently not very convincing.

Deaton, at least, believes him, but then the man knows about all of the visions too. They spend both of his sessions at Deaton’s that week trying different things to trigger a vision, but nothing happens. He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s still upset about Talia shutting him out, or Scott not believing him, or the fact that Peter hasn’t scheduled another date, but Stiles can’t seem to concentrate. He tries meditating, staring into every reflective surface known to man, painting, drawing, singing, casting runes, chanting, anything that Deaton can think of. He runs through the Preserve, but nothing pings for him there either. Hell, he almost considers breaking into Gerard’s room to see if touching something of his might help, but Chris and Allison are both far too scary to seriously consider that idea. He goes to bed each night while meditating, but no visions come to him in his dreams. All the while he can feel something building, like a sword hanging over his head.

By the time Friday rolls around, he’s so stressed out that he has three huge tubs of baked goods to bring to game and Melissa has threatened to kick him out of the kitchen if he bakes any more. He’s weary by the time he gets to the loft. He struggles with the stupidly heavy door and the tubs and is almost to the point of magicking it open if he didn’t think that would send it rocketing into the wall. Someone must hear him struggling. He loses his balance when the door suddenly slides open. Warm hands catch his hips, but not before his face smashes into a very familiar chest. He hears a warm chuckle above him and rests his forehead against Peter’s shoulder. Someone takes the tubs from his hand, which he’s grateful for because it allows him to wrap his arms around Peter.

“Someone missed me,” Peter says, his voice a low whisper meant just for them.

Stiles nods into Peter’s shoulder. He feels Peter shift his weight and then he pulls away, but only long enough to dip his head down to draw Stiles into a kiss. All the tension in Stiles melts away. He feels better than he has all week. Stiles looks up at Peter when they finally draw apart. Peter’s gaze roams over his face, probably taking in the bags under his eyes. His hand comes up to press against Stiles’s forehead. “Are you feeling alright?” Peter asks.

“I’m fine,” he says, batting Peter’s hand away. “Just haven’t been sleeping well.” Peter seems to want to question him further, but Stiles just tangles their fingers together and pulls him towards the table. “Come on before they eat all the cupcakes.”

Peter perks up at the reminder and is suddenly the one drawing Stiles towards the table. Stiles settles down in his seat and accepts his character sheet from Laura as the others dig into the baked goods. Even Lydia looks like she wants to go against her diet for a second cupcake, which Stiles takes as high praise.

Once they start playing, it’s like last Friday never happened. Everyone treats him the same as they did before. He feels like part of the group again. Peter flirts with him. Erica hangs all over him. He trades sarcastic barbs with Cora and Isaac. Derek remains practically non-verbal and still can’t believably roleplay his character. Then he feels a tremor of electricity run through him. He sits up straight, hoping he was imagining the feeling, but it happens again and with it comes a slight spasm in his leg.

“Shit.” He pushes away from the table as it happens again. He looks towards the door, but there’s no way he’ll make it to his car in time. “Shit,” he says again. His legs both spasm and he falls to the floor, catching himself on his forearms before he can hit his head. He hears the others get up from the table, but his vision is already starting to go. “Nobody panic!”

Distantly, he hears the pack ignoring his orders and panicking. Stiles hears Erica saying something and then hands are turning him on his side. Then, that too fades as the vision takes hold. He blinks and he’s standing in an old warehouse. There’s some kind of machinery in the background, and the place looks familiar, but Stiles can’t recall where he remembers it from at the moment. He focuses immediately on the form of Scott tied to a chair. Scott’s dripping blood from some nasty stab wounds and there’s a cut across his cheek. Gerard is standing over him with a knife.

“Howl, boy,” Gerard yells. “Call your pack, bring that bitch Alpha to me.”

Scott shakes his head. Behind him, Allison is struggling against two muscular goons. “Why are you doing this?” she shouts. “The Hales haven’t done anything to you. They haven’t broken the Code.”

Gerard gives her an incredulous look. “If it weren’t for them, my only daughter wouldn’t be rotting in a jail cell. I sent them a message with that Omega and I’ll kill every last one of those mongrels before I die.” Gerard is practically seething with rage. “That retched pack has been a thorn in my side for years and I’ll be damned if cancer takes me before I take them.”

“You’re insane,” Allison screams. Then, she’s kicking and biting at the men holding her, but a third one comes up behind her. Her body seizes and then goes limp and Stiles sees the third man walk way with a taser in his hand. His vision rockets back to Scott as Gerard pulls back a gun. Stiles struggles to make his body move, but the vision doesn’t change. Scott screams as a bullet lodges in his shoulder. Stiles can already see black spreading from the wound. Wolfbane. “Now, roar, or the next one goes in her,” Gerard says, pointing the gun at Allison. The gun cocks. Scott roars. Stiles feels the shout pass through him and it rocks him. Gerard’s arm moves. He fires and a bullet pierces Scott’s heart.

Stiles wakes from the vision with a scream. It takes him two tries to blink his vision back into focus. He sees Erica hovering over him. He turns his neck and sees Peter watching him from behind with wide eyes. His hands are cradling Stiles head and neck. Stiles bats their hands away as he sits up.

“Stiles, you shouldn’t move,” Erica says worriedly. “You just had a seizure. An ambulance is on the way.”

He shakes his head as adrenaline runs through his veins. The vision’s left him with a sense of urgency that means the vision is happening soon. The others haven’t reacted to Scott’s roar, so he still has some time. He just needs to find Scott first. “Not a seizure,” he says as he pops to his feet. He pushes past Erica and grabs at his bag. “Vision. Scott’s in danger. Have to go. Now.” He contemplates his gaming books, before deciding to just leave them. He can come back for them later.

Erica blocks his path when he turns around. The look on her face is sad. “Stiles,” she says gently. “I know seizures. I used to get them. You need to go to hospital.”

Stiles looks around at the others. Laura, Derek, Isaac, Cora, and Lydia are all giving him pitying looks. They think he’s crazy. Unfortunately, he really doesn’t have time to deal with this diplomatically. “You're werewolves,” Stiles explodes as he tries to push past Erica. Her hands grip him, stopping him from taking more than a few steps. “You can tell when people are lying, so when I say I’m fine, you know I'm not lying.”

Suddenly everyone in the room stills. “Stiles, we’re not werewolves,” Laura says, but even Stiles can tell her heart's not really in the lie.

Stiles lets out a frustrated noise. “Yes, you are,” he says through gritted teeth. “You, and Derek, and Peter, and Erica, and... Okay, not Lydia. She's a banshee.” Any other time the look of shock on the others’ faces would be hilarious, but right now he really just doesn't have time for this. “We can talk about this later,” he says. “Scott is in danger and I have to go. Now. So either get with it and come help or let me go so I can do it myself.”

The sense of urgency he’d felt with the vision hasn't dissipated, but instead seems to be growing stronger. He manages to dodge around Erica, but then Derek is there blocking his path to the door with Isaac and Laura behind him.

“Stiles,” Derek begins in what he probably thinks is a soothing tone, but sounds too much like the doctors who sent him to Eichen House.

Stiles feels a wave of anger build with his frustration and with it comes a surge of power. A wave of his hand creates a wall of wind that throws the werewolves out of his way. He’ll probably regret that later, but now his path is clear. He hears Lydia call out to him but doesn't look back. Stiles feels movement behind him, but he’s quicker than the others expect. He doesn't even hesitate before he vaults over the railing and into the open space at the middle of the stairwell. He hears a gasp above him, but gravity is already hurtling him down the thirteen stories. Another wave of magic slows his fall so that he lands softly at the bottom.

When he pushes open the door to the building, he hears the roar of an engine. A moment later Peter's shiny silver Mercedes swings into place in front of him. Stiles hesitates for a second, not sure if Peter is trying to stop him or help him. The window rolls down as Stiles takes a step towards his Jeep.

“My car is faster,” Peter says with a slight smirk.

Stiles rolls his eyes at the dig, but climbs into the passenger seat. He barely has his seatbelt on before Peter is peeling out of the parking lot. And apparently just in time. Stiles sees Derek and the others spill out of the building just as they turn a corner.

“Where am I going?” Peter asks as they fly down the thankfully deserted streets.

“Umm…” He concentrates inward for a moment, but all he gets is a vague direction rather than a location. He flings his hand outward and Peter makes a sharp turn in that direction.

“I think the Preserve?” Stiles says uncertainly. He pulls out his phone, which already has several missed calls and texts, and dials Scott's number. He doesn't answer. Stiles disconnects when the voicemail kicks on and tries again. And again. He gives a frustrated groan and calls his dad instead, tucking the phone between his cheek and shoulder while he roots around in his backpack. His father answers on the second ring.

“So, I just had a vision in front of my gaming group,” Stiles says as soon as the line connects.

He hears his father drop the phone and swear, then a bit of fumbling. “Are you alright?” Noah asks a moment later.

“I’m fine,” Stiles assures him distractedly. He regrets once again that he doesn’t have a bag with better interior organization because it always takes him forever to find anything. “I may have just lost all of my friends,” he says a little bitterly, which is the exact moment that he stabs his hand on the point of the quartz crystal he’d been trying to find. He bites of a curse as he pulls the crystal free and shoves the bag back down by his feet. “But at least Erica is familiar with seizures, so she made sure I didn’t swallow my tongue. That was kind of nice.” His father makes a distressed sound, but Stiles ignores him in favor of the crystal.

He balances the crystal on the palm of his free hand. “Hold on a sec,” he says. Stiles focuses his attention on the crystal and thinks about Scott and how much he needs to find Scott right now. There’s a surge of magic. The crystal lifts off of his hand, spinning wildly for a moment before settling in a direction. Stiles lets out a sigh of relief. He glances over at Peter, but the man nods before Stiles can explain. He takes the next left, keeping the crystal pointing forward.

“Stiles?” His dad’s voice comes through the line, pulling his attention back to the phone.

“Right. Vision.” He grips the phone in his hand again and rolls his neck as they drive. “Gerard’s going to try to kill Scott,” he says without preamble. “He’s going to use him to lure in the rest of the pack too. He’ll torture Scott and shoot him…” Stiles shakes his head to clear away the vision. He wishes he could curl up, but the seatbelt is in the way. “It doesn’t matter,” he says after a long moment of silence. “Gerard’s definitely the one that killed the Omega the other week. He’s back to get revenge for Kate. Apparently he’s dying so he’s got a bit of a deadline.”

His father lets out a stream of curses. Stiles waits him out. A moment later he hears his dad yelling orders to the deputies, but he can’t make out what they are. His father’s back a moment later. “Which direction are you heading?”

Stiles glances away from the crystal and out the window. “Still heading towards the Preserve,” he says. “Not sure where from there.”

“You’re not driving are you?” Noah says in his disapproving dad voice.

“No, Dad,” he replies reassuringly. “Peter’s driving.”

He regrets his words immediately. “Peter Hale?” His dad’s voice takes on an amused tone and Stiles can almost picture the grin that’s spreading on his face. “He’s the one that you have a…”

“Yes!” Stiles interrupts loudly. He feels his face heat in a blush and resolutely does not look at Peter. “The werewolf who can hear every word you say,” Stiles points out tersely. His father only chuckles.

“Let me know when you figure out where Scott and Gerard are,” Noah says. “But don’t move until I get there. I don’t care how powerful you are, Stiles. You do. Not. Move.” His dad’s Sheriff voice is in full affect.

Stiles sighs. He hesitates, focusing on the crystal for a moment before answering. Part of him wants to rush in to save Scott, because there’s a part of him that will always value Scott and his dad’s safety ahead of his own. But, his vision wasn’t clear enough for Stiles to tell how many other Hunters were working with Gerard and where might be. “Fine, but if Gerard even breathes heavily on Scott I’m going in.” He looks out the window again. “We’re turning onto one of the back roads into the Preserve. Not sure where it leads though...”

“The old distillery,” Peter says. Stiles startles and glances over at the man, kind of surprised Peter has managed to stay quiet so long without at least one sarcastic remark or question. Peter’s lips twist into a smirk. “Derek used to sneak out here with his girlfriend to make out. He thought we didn’t know.”

“Oh my god. I am going to use that knowledge for evil at some point.” Stiles lets out a laugh and shakes his head before turning back to the phone. “The old distillery, dad. Apparently Gerard has a thing for the place.”

His father shouts something at the deputies and then Stiles hears the sounds of doors slamming and sirens. “We’re on our way,” Noah says. “Stay safe.”

“You too, Dad.” Stiles slumps back into the seat as the call ends. He shoves his phone back into his pocket and lets his eyes drift closed. He feels the car turn onto a dirt road, judging by the increase in bumps, and Peter slows down.

“How long have you been having visions?”

Stiles cracks an eye open and looks over at Peter, but the man’s gaze is focused on the forest road ahead of them. He considers not answering for a long minute. But, this is Peter, who so far hasn’t treated him like he’s delusional. “Since before my mother died.”

Peter glances over and away so fast that Stiles wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t been watching. Peter’s silent for a long minute. The car slows even further before pulling to a stop in a small clearing off of the road. “I imagine that gift has been of great help to your father.”

“My dad is good at his job,” Stiles says defensively. Peter simply raises an eyebrow and waits. Stiles sighs. “But we have an agreement that I always tell him what I see in case it might be tied to something in Beacon Hills.” He shrugs and looks away. “Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.” He starts to protest when Peter cuts the engine.

“We have to go on foot from here,” Peter says before Stiles can argue. “The Hunters will hear the engine if we get much closer.”

Stiles closes his mouth with a click and nods. He grabs his backpack and climbs out of the car, shooting his dad a text to let him know what they’re doing. He whispers a word and all sound around him stops. Peter looks back, obviously startled, before shaking his head and continuing down the path. Stiles moves as quickly as he can without risking tripping. He stops abruptly when Peter holds up a hand. He follows Peter’s example, crouching down low and crawling forward until they’re on the edge of a clearing shielded from view by a large bush. The distillery looms ahead of them.

There are at least three guards that he can see, probably more around back. Stiles pulls out his phone.

Do you think you can take out the guards? he types, then shows the phone to Peter.

Peter looks at the clearing and grimaces. He takes the phone from Stiles’s hand. Not without one of them noticing. There’s no cover.

Stiles nods. He roots around in his bag, but he really didn’t pack for extensive combat. He can take out the ones he sees, but that would just alert the others, like Peter said. He can hear voices through the open door of the distillery. Allison is giving her speech, which means he doesn’t have time.

“Shit,” he swears under his breath. His hand latches on to Peter. “Don’t move,” he says with as much force as he can.

Stiles presses a hand to the ground and lets his magic pour out of him. All of a sudden, images of the entire pack, Peter included pour out of the woods. Peter looks between his image and Stiles with wide eyes. He scents the air, but there’s no scent to go with Stiles’s illusions. They don’t even rustle the underbrush, but none of the guards notice that. The Hunters raise their guns to point at the illusions.

“Gerard!” phantom Talia yells. “I know you’re in there.”

Gerard appears in the doorway with his gun drawn. He steps through and a moment later more Hunters appear with Allison and Scott held between them. Stiles gives a sigh of relief that he managed to distract Gerard before Allison got tazed and Scott got shot.

“It seems you have something of mine,” Talia says, stepping forward slowly. Gerard trains his gun on her and all the other Hunters follow his lead. Stiles spares a bit of magic to throw a shield up around the clearing. The last thing he needs is for the incoming deputies to get shot in the crossfire, or you know, himself and Peter. He lets go of Peter’s arm and presses his other hand to the ground. His fingers dig into the earth as he sends power down deep into the ground.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to bring claws to a gunfight?” Gerard mocks. Stiles has the images of the pack crouch and growl menacingly.

The Hunters shift warily. Their aim shifts from Talia to each of the other wolves until they have the clearing covered. Meanwhile, Stiles’s magic has reached the other side of the clearing. Vines spring up from the ground and grab the ankles of the men holding Scott and Allison. As soon as the vines touch the men, they sag, eyes rolling back in their heads. Gerard turns at the sound, but Scott has already grabbed Allison and pulled her back into the building. Stiles hastily throws up a shield as Gerard fires. Scott knocks Allison to the ground, covering her with his body, but the bullet bounces harmlessly off of the shield.

“They have a Mage!” Gerard roars. “Shoot them! Kill them all!”

Stiles sends the illusions hurtling forward as Gerard’s men open fire. The bullets simply pass through the images though, hitting Stiles’s shield instead. He grits his teeth as the shield buckles under the force of so many projectiles. He lets the illusions fade and concentrates on holding the shields instead. He feels Gerard shooting at the shield over Scott, but it holds. Then, there’s the sound of sirens approaching. The Hunters try and scramble, but the clearing is suddenly overrun with roots and vines. They catch at ankles and hold.

He loses his concentration when Peter abruptly jerks him to the side and hides them behind a tree. Stiles places his palm on the tree and the vines and roots sink back into the ground with only traces of dirt showing they were even there. The deputies pour into the clearing just as the Hunters are staggering back to their feet, their guns in their hands once more. Or at least, until the notice the police presence and slowly lower the weapons and raise their hands. Scott and Allison are still huddled inside.

Peter lets go of him once the Hunters are subdued. Stiles shoots him a smile before grabbing Peter’s hand and leading him into the clearing. The deputies turn at the sound, but lower their weapons when they see him.

“Dad! Are Scott and Allison okay?” he says, making his voice breathless and scared. “Did you find them?”

Thankfully none of the deputies are looking at Noah because his dad rolls his eyes skyward as if questioning Stiles’s acting abilities. “They’re fine, son. Did you happen to see what the men were shooting at?”

Stiles affects a sheepish look. “I tripped over a branch and they just opened fire,” he lies. “Thankfully Peter had leaned down to help me up and we both just hit the deck until it stopped.” Stiles reaches the door to the distillery. He doesn’t have to fake his look of relief when he sees Allison and Scott, bruised and a little bloody, but otherwise unharmed. But then, he notices what’s missing. “Where’s Gerard?”

***********

“Can't you just use your crystal to find Gerard?” Peter asks when they’re in the car again, Scott and Allison bundled in the back seat after having given their statements to deputies at the scene.

Stiles shakes his head. “I’d need something connected to him. I mean, Scott is easy because we’re practically brothers and my magic… knows him, I guess would be the best way to put it. But, Gerard I don’t have any connection to personally, so I need a physical thing, like hair would do in a pinch, but something he has a real connection with would be better. Something that he carries with him all the time, touches, uses.” He turns to look at Allison. “Do you think he might have left something like that at your place?”

She looks thoughtful and pulls out her phone. “I’ll call Dad and ask. He’s at work right now, but he might be able to get to the house before Gerard does.”

Stiles nods, and then turns to look out the window. “This isn’t the way back to town,” he says as he peers suspiciously at the trees passing them by. His suspicions are confirmed when they turn up the lane towards the Hale house. He narrows his eyes at Peter, but the man just raises an eyebrow, not even glancing away from the road.

“I think it’s time we all sit down and have a nice long talk.” Peter’s voice is even, but he does not sound like a man who wants to be argued with. “I feel like there are some… misunderstandings that need to be cleared up.”

“Right.” Stiles sinks down in his seat. He’s tired from using his magic and cranky from arguing with the pack and the last thing he wants to do is deal with people who are probably also angry at him and are going to want him to answer questions. Before he can figure out a way out of the car, they’re pulling up at the Hale House and he has to move so Scott and Allison can get out of Peter’s tiny back seat.

He considers turning and making a run for it, but Peter’s hand settles low on his back and gently guides him into the house. He risks a glance at Peter. The man doesn’t seem mad at him at least, though he is throwing dagger-like glances at Scott’s back.

The whole pack is gathered in the living room and they all turn to stare at him when he enters. He would turn and leave, but Peter’s hand steadily guides him forward towards an empty chair. Peter drops down and starts to pull Stiles onto his lap, but he slaps Peter’s hands away. “I have a feeling this is a conversation that will involve pacing,” he explains when Peter gives him a hurt look. “And probably flailing. It’s for your own protection.” Peter snorts at that and some of the tension goes out of the room. He turns to look at Talia. “So...” he starts, only to be interrupted by a hiss of pain from Scott.

Allison is pulling the fabric away from the stab wound in Scott’s thigh, which appears to still be bleeding sluggishly. Scott makes another pained sound when Allison holds a wad of cloth to the wound to try to stop the bleeding. Stiles rolls his eyes. “You’re a werewolf, you’re already healing. Just stop poking at it.”

Scott gives him his best puppy dog eyes. “There was wolfbane on the blade. It hurts.”

“Of for the love of…” He bites off the words and stalks over to where Scott is sitting in a chair. He uses his thumb to wipe up the blood from the cut on Scott’s cheek. Scott hisses and Stiles feels the others shift in reaction to his pain, but no one interrupts him. He uses the blood to draw a sigil for healing on Scott’s forehead. He wipes the excess blood off on his pants. Stiles lets magic gather in his palm, then smacks Scott right on top of the sigil. His magic flows through the mark even as Scott gives him a dirty look.

“Did you have to do it like that?” Scott says, but his expression relaxes as his cuts visibly start to heal.

“No,” Stiles admits. He hears someone give a laugh, but doesn’t turn away to look. He points a finger in Scott’s face. “Next time I tell you somebody is a murdering psychopath, what do you say?”

Scott sighs and gives him a sheepish look. “Stiles is always right… about murdering psychopaths.”

Stiles narrows his eyes at Scott for a minute, but decides here in neither the time nor the place to continue this rant. “Damn right,” he mutters instead. He turns back to the room, then. Everyone is watching him. He takes a couple steps backwards until Scott is between him and the rest of the room.

“So, Stilinski has magic?” Jackson asks into the silence.

He can’t resist rolling his eyes at that. “Yeah…” he replies slowly. “What do you think I’ve been doing for the last ten years at school?” He snorts at the uncomprehending looks on the pack’s faces. “100% human here.” He waves a hand at himself. “And there’s only one reason for a human to go Otsego Mystic Academy and College of Sorcery.” He still can’t manage to say the name without sounding mocking and derisive. He should probably work on that. His hands flail out of their own accord. “I mean what else do you think I’ve been doing while trapped in that hellhole? Learning underwater basket-weaving? Mastering the fine art of yodeling? Skiing with Yetis?” He pauses in his pacing, which he hadn’t even realized he’d started doing. “Wait, I actually did that one. Very nice set of twins, the Yetis.” He looks up at the growing looks of amazement around him. “Right, not the point.” He snaps his mouth shut and waits for someone to say something.

Laura is the first to rally. “Otsego Mystic Academy?” she says in surprise. “Mom talked about us going there, but she didn't like that it was so far away. I'm glad we didn't if it was that horrible.”

Stiles shrugs uncomfortably. “For you it would have been fine,” he says. “It's basically a normal boarding school for shifters and the like. You get to go into town, go home on breaks, all of that.”

“But you didn't?” Lydia says, ever perceptive.

“No,” he says after a long moment of silence. “It’s different for the magic users. Some of them, the ones whose abilities develop slowly, they can come and go as they please. But the ones whose power manifested through… trauma.” He grimaces at the word which barely even covers what he went through. “We’re not allowed to leave the compound until graduation. No outside visitors either.”

Laura looks scandalized. “You didn't get to see your father?”

Stiles shifts awkwardly and looks away. “I’d really rather not talk about it,” he says decisively. “It’s over. I graduated and Deaton gave them his word that he’d look after me while I transition into ‘normal society’ and start training with him.”

“You’re training with Deaton?” Derek looks both surprised and impressed.

Before Stiles has a chance to answer, Peter leans forward intently. “You’re our new Emissary.” Peter’s lip quirk into a smirk. He seems incredibly pleased by the idea, but Stiles glances over at Laura and notices her shocked expression. He can’t help but remember a week ago, when they made it clear that he didn’t have a place in pack business.

“Yes. I mean, no… Maybe?” Stiles sinks down in an empty chair and wishes that a convenient sinkhole would open and get him out of this conversation. He glances at Peter, but the man only raises an eyebrow. “I’m training to be an Emissary,” he clarifies. He casts a worried glance over at Talia. “I don’t necessarily have to be your Emissary, if you don’t want me to… Deaton said we were supposed to meet and talk about it and we never actually did that. And, I mean, Deaton’s sister, Dr. Morrell is an Emissary too and said I could take over her place. Or they’ve got connections with other packs…”

“Stiles!” Laura’s voice breaks into his rambling. He flinches and quickly shuts his mouth. “We’d be glad to have you as an Emissary. Right, mom?” She turns and looks at her mother, who nods. Stiles’s eyes go wide with shock. He certainly hadn’t expected that. “Why would you think we wouldn’t?” Laura asks curiously.

Stiles feels a blush heat his cheeks. “Well…” He fidgets with the ends of his sleeve. “You were really careful not to mention pack business around me. And last Friday…” He trails off, feeling suddenly very self-conscious. “I figured you didn’t want me to be involved.”

Laura runs a hand over her face. “Stiles, we thought you were a normal human. Until you had your vision, we didn’t think you knew anything about the supernatural.”

Stiles has to stare blankly at them in confusion. He looks around the room and all of them nod. Well, everyone except Peter, who just looks smug and cryptic. “But…” His mind takes a minute to wrap around the idea. “Scott’s my best friend and he’s a werewolf. And, I mean, I love you, bro,” he says with a glance at Scott before turning back to addressing the room, “but he can’t keep a secret to save his life.”

“Hey!” Scott protests, but is immediately overridden. “He does have a point,” Derek says with a small smile. Stiles waves his hand in Derek’s direction. After a moment, the others nod their agreement.

“So… Scott never told you about the magic then?” He looks around at the others as they nod. He glances over at Scott to see the man slouching down into his chair, as if he can hide behind Allison. “Ten years and you never once mentioned that I was spending my time making potions and lighting shit on fire?”

“I thought I did,” Scott says defensively. He looks around the room for support but everyone shakes their heads. “I’m sure I mentioned the time Stiles set his dorm room on fire,” Scott points out. He flinches at Lydia’s withering look. “Forgot to mention it was with magic, right?” He looks over at Derek. “I had to have mentioned the asshole Minotaur he beat up senior year?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “It was part of a long conversation about the roleplaying system his gaming group was using. I thought you meant in game.”

Stiles snorts. “Nah, that asshole tried making fun of us for gaming.” He holds out his fist to Scott, who recovers from his embarrassment enough to not leave him handing. The rest of the room does not look as amused. “This explains so much,” he says with a shake of his head. Stiles runs a hand through his hair. He pulls out his phone and shoots a text to his dad to let him know about the misunderstanding. He’s not sure whether his dad will find it hilarious or frustrating. Stiles thinks for a minute and then also lets his dad know where they are in case he gets home from the crime scene and they’re not there yet.

“Wait.” He looks up from his phone to look over at Scott. “You didn’t mention the visions either did you?”

Scott looks around the room before turning to give Stiles a sheepish look. “Apparently not.”

Stiles actually facepalms at that. There is no other response he can think of. He pulls his hand away and looks skyward. “Explains so much,” he repeats.

“So, if you have visions, couldn't you have prevented all of this?” Cora says. Stiles looks up and sees her wave a hand at the bitten wolves and realizes she means all the crap they went through back in high school.

He lets out a laugh that comes out way too harsh and bitter. He has to bite his tongue to keep from launching into her. Only the reminder that they don’t know, none of them know apparently, what he’s been doing for them for years keeps him from snapping. He lets his anger flow out of him as he formulates a response. Stiles runs his hands through his already messed up hair. He sits up straight and looks at the room again. “It's not an exact science,” he says carefully, “and it took me years to get as good at it as I am. I can't always tell when something is going to happen or where. I mean, look at today, I had what, a half hour warning before Gerard was going to shoot Allison and Scott.”

Scott makes a surprised noise that draws Stiles’s attention. And, right, that didn’t actually happen. He waves his hand at the two of them. “Exhibit A of bad shit that never happened because of my visions.” He holds up a hand before Allison can interrupt.

Stiles turns back to the room and looks at Erica, Boyd, and Isaac. “And I couldn't actually do anything while stuck at the Academy.” He gestures to the cellphone still in his hand. “I mean I can say 'Hey, Scott, don't go wandering around the woods for awhile or you’re going to get mauled by a werewolf’, but I can't actually do anything to stop him from running off to make out with his girlfriend.” Scott gives a muffled yelp like Allison hit him. And, yup, Scott never mentioned that particular warning to anyone.

He looks around the room and sees the pack give nods of understanding. They all lived through the beginnings of Scott-and-Allison. “I mean,” he continues, “when I knew it was happening, I called my dad, but Scott didn't answer his phone and by the time dad found him it was too late.” He runs his hands through his hair again and has to resist the urge to grip and pull. He takes a deep breath and tries to calm his racing heartbeat. “I mean, I did the best I could, but at the very beginning, before my mother died, my dad didn't even believe me half the time, and then she died and things got a bit out of control.” He shudders when he thinks about that time. “And I was fucking eleven years old and nobody knew what was happening to me until Morrel found me and...” He realizes his voice has gone a bit shrill and panicky and forces himself to take a couple deep breaths. He feels a hand carding through his hair and looks up to see Peter perched on the arm of his chair. He leans into the touch.

“Then I got sent to the Academy, which admittedly helped even if it sucked.” He turns to look at the pack again. “It's not like there's an instruction manual for this kind of thing.” He waves his hand at his brain. “There's only, like, ten people alive right now who have regular, reliable visions and each of them is a bit different. I mean one guy paints his stuff and another lady has to be staring into mirrors or water or things like that… I get seizures and see things.” His breath rushes out of him in a long sigh and with it goes his energy.

He glances over at Erica. “Thank you, by the way, for earlier. I know it’s not actually the same kind of seizure that you used to have, but it was nice to have someone know what to do.” She shoots him a small smile. “But really, I promise, I don’t need a hospital after a vision. Might need a nap sometimes, but whatever happens… medically during the seizure heals right away. The teachers at the Academy checked… thoroughly.”

Erica nods and thankfully doesn’t say anything. Stiles collapses into a chair and tries not to look at anyone. He closes his eyes and leans into Peter’s side. “Any other questions?”

There’s a resounding silence that continues until Talia speaks. “I think we’ve all had a long day,” she says softly. “You can all sleep over here tonight if you want.” The pack lets out a little cheer at that and one of the girls mentions the words “slumber party.” Stiles is too far gone to care, though he’s totally going to guilt them into a slumber party some other time cause he’s never had one of those that didn’t involve just him and Scott. “Peter, why don’t you take Stiles upstairs and let him get some sleep?”

Stiles doesn’t protest when he feels Peter helping him to his feet. He grumbles when the man picks him up, but he’s too tired to do more than bat ineffectually at his shoulder. He blinks and suddenly they’re in a room with dark walls and the faint whiff of Peter’s cologne. There’s not a lot of things here, so Peter must not use the room too often, but Stiles can tell that this is definitely Peter’s room. He lets Peter help him into a different shirt and a pair of sweatpants. Peter’s hands guide him under the covers, but Stiles latches on to Peter’s wrist before the man can walk away. “Stay?”

Peter gives a low chuckle and leans down to press a kiss to Stiles’s temple. “I’ll be right back,” he promises.

Stiles yawns and tries to shake his head to clear some of his sleepiness, but Peter’s bed is really comfortable and smells really nice and he’s having a hard time staying awake. He must nod off, because he wakes with a start when Peter pulls the covers back and slips in beside him. He can’t help making a happy little sound when Peter rolls him into his side. Stiles nuzzles his cheek against the bare skin of Peter’s shoulder, not caring that it makes the werewolf laugh at him.

“Not mad at me?” The words come out slightly slurred, but Peter seems to understand. He presses a soft kiss to Stiles’s hair.

“No, I’m not mad at you. I question Scott’s intelligence and how he’s managed to survive so long…”

Stiles chuckles at that. “He’s such a puppy,” he says with a sleepy giggle. “Can’t stay mad at him. Glad you’re not mad at me. And no one thinks I’m crazy anymore.”

Peter gives a low rumble in his chest, but Stiles is too out of it process what that means. “No one thinks you’re crazy, darling.” Stiles smiles at that as he drifts into sleep.

Stiles sleeps through the night and is barely functioning when his dad comes to collect him and Scott in the morning. He’s never been so glad it’s the weekend because he faceplants in his bed as soon as he gets home and doesn’t wake again until Sunday morning, at which point he descends on the kitchen and eats his weight in leftovers. Scott looks fairly impressed, until he tries to take some of the pasta that Stiles is eating straight from the tupperware and Stiles almost bites his hand off.

He learns over lunch that Gerard’s things were gone by the time Chris got home, assuming that Gerard hadn’t packed beforehand in preparation for a quick getaway after slaughtering the Hale pack. Stiles, Peter, Scott, and Allison are all called down to the station separately to try and pick out any of the Hunters that got away from a large selection of photos. Stiles recognizes a few faces, but Scott and Allison only saw the ones that had been inside the building with them. They do have the texts that Gerard sent from a spoofed copy of Chris’s phone, which is how he lured them to the distillery. The police find Allison’s car on a back road through the preserve where one of the Hunters must have dumped it.

It feels weird to go back to work on Monday knowing that Gerard is still out there, somewhere, plotting. He gets a text from Peter halfway through his shift inviting him to dinner that evening. Stiles can’t stop smiling as he responds. He demands they go somewhere not expensive.

Peter picks him up in the Mercedes and he doesn’t even have time to get out of the car before Stiles is flying out the door of the house and sliding in the passenger seat. Peter smirks, barely waiting for Stiles to finish buckling his seatbelt before pulling away.

“Where are we going?” Stiles asks as they head toward downtown again. He narrows his eyes. “You promised it wouldn’t be an expensive restaurant again.”

“Calm yourself,” Peter says with a small smile. “It’s not.”

Stiles’s skepticism turns into surprise when they pull into the parking garage of a large apartment building. His surprise turns into confusion when they bypass the lobby, which might conceivably lead to a restaurant on the first floor, and head to the elevators instead. They stop on the tenth floor, where Peter leads him down the hall to a nondescript door. “Where are we?” Stiles asks as Peter unlocks the door and steps inside.

“My apartment,” Peter says, his tone implying that he’s questioning Stiles’s intelligence. Stiles has to blink in surprise for a second before he darts inside to look around. He kicks his shoes off in the entryway, nudging them until they’re in a semi-neat spot next to Peter’s. The door clicks shut behind him as he looks around.

The place is posh, but not as over-the-top as he imagined. There is a lot of sleek lines and white offset with black, but the couch is a soft brown and there’s a blanket draped over the back. There are several bookshelves along one wall, interspersed with nice paintings and some small statues and decorations. He finds Peter in the kitchen, pulling a salad out of the refrigerator to set on the table. Stiles watches as Peter puts steaks in one pan on the stove and a handful of asparagus into another.

For several minutes he watches in silence as Peter moves above the room. The man is obviously comfortable in the kitchen. He flips the steaks, stirs the vegetables, pours wine into glasses set out on the table. Stiles leans against the doorway to the kitchen and takes it all in. “No one’s ever cooked for me before,” he admits with a small smile. “Not in the date sense. But then, I haven’t really dated much.” He clarifies when Peter looks over at him. “Not a lot of people lining up to date Mages at the Academy, especially not ones like me.” He shrugs.

Peter looks away, focusing on the steaks then. It’s quiet for a few minutes. “You don’t have much experience, then?” Peter asks the question carefully, without any judgement.

Stiles watches as Peter slides the steaks onto the plates to rest. He licks his lips nervously. “I’m a virgin, if that’s what you’re asking.” He looks down at the food on the counter then, not wanting to see whatever look might be in Peter’s eyes. His eyes linger on Peter’s hands and back, drawn in by the motions. “Is that going to be a problem?” Stiles winces internally at how vulnerable he sounds.

Peter’s back goes rigid. He sets the pan down carefully and wipes his hands. He turns suddenly and stalks towards Stiles. One finger tilts Stiles’s chin up until he’s looking into Peter’s very intense blue eyes. “No, that will not be a problem.” He leans in then, kissing Stiles hungrily. Peter’s hand leaves Stiles’s chin to grip his hip, pulling him close so their hips grind together. Stiles makes a small whimpering sound at the contact. Peter’s other hand slides down to his hip and then he holds tight, keeping Stiles in place when Peter draws backwards.

“I’m in no rush,” Peter says as he presses feathery light kisses along Stiles’s lips and cheeks, down his jawline and neck. “I can be very patient. And when you’re ready…” Peter’s breath ghosts his ear and Stiles shudders. “I’ll make sure you’re ruined for anyone else.”

Stiles swallows and the noise echos in the quiet of the room. He tries to draw Peter back to him, but the werewolf slips away with a smirk. “Dinner’s ready,” Peter announces as he moves the plates to the table.

For a moment, Stiles can only stand there and stare at the bastard. He’s achingly hard and he would very much like to climb Peter like a tree. Stiles takes one deep breath, and then another. He reminds himself that they have all the time in the world and thinks very unsexy thoughts. Peter is still smirking at him as he moves to the table and sits down. He’s no longer disappointed when he takes a bite of his steak and has to moan at the burst of flavors. Peter is a very good cook. The man looks incredibly pleased with himself, but Stiles can’t be bothered to think of a sarcastic remark. Peter’s earned his smugness… for now.

They don’t talk much during dinner. Instead Peter goes out of his way to brush their fingers together or trail his foot up Stiles’s calf. He does things with his tongue around the fork that have to be illegal. And the sounds, the man makes… Pure evil. It’s like Peter’s mission is to keep Stiles half-hard the entire time and it is killing him.

He waits impatiently as Peter wraps the leftovers and places them in the fridge. Stiles takes the plates and puts them in the sink. For a minute, he thinks Peter is going to start washing the dishes, just to fuck with him, but instead the man turns to Stiles with a smirk. His fingers trail over Stiles’s shoulder as he passes, sending a shiver down his spine. He follows behind Peter as the man leads him to the couch. Peter turns something on the TV, a movie of some kind, but Stiles doesn’t care. He straddles Peter’s lap in one quick motion. Peter’s hands settle on his hips, but just rest there. Peter chuckles as Stiles leans in and devours his mouth.

Stiles has never had this before. He’s kissed people, sure, but he’s never had slow passionate kisses in the privacy of someone’s apartment. Never had hands slowly trailing up his back to tangle in his hair and fingertips digging into his hips with enough pressure to leave bruises. He’s never kissed someone like they’re his only source of air, but he feels that with Peter. Stiles doesn’t even try to grind their hips together, because he doesn’t care about getting off. He just wants to kiss and kiss and kiss until his brain is foggy.

They’re both panting by the time they break apart. Peter’s hand in his hair guides his head to the side. His mouth latches onto Stiles’s neck and bites down and Stiles can’t help bucking his hips with a yell. Peter’s other hand holds his hips still while he renews the mark on Stiles’s neck. Once he’s satisfied, Peter pulls away to admire his work. He looks very smug while Stiles is left panting for breath. Stiles lets out a low groan when he tries to move his hips. Peter’s hand doesn’t budge and he can’t get any friction. He lets his head fall down on Peter’s shoulder and tries to regain his breath.

The movie continues to play on the TV, but Stiles isn’t paying attention. The conversation from a few days ago plays through his mind. He actually does feel a little better having talked to the pack about the Academy and everything. He shifts so that he’s sitting beside Peter instead of straddling him and curls into the man’s side. Peter is a curious person and he’s got to be dying of curiosity about Stiles’s past. And, Stiles probably should tell him before they get… intimate, before he becomes too attached. He shuffles even closer until he’s plastered against Peter’s side. Peter’s arm comes around his shoulders and holds him in place.

“The visions started when my mom got sick,” Stiles says softly. He feels Peter stiffen slightly, but the man doesn’t move. In fact, he seems to be holding perfectly still.

“I actually was the first person to know she was going to die.” Stiles looks down at where his leg is pressed against Peter’s. He trails a finger up and down the fabric of Peter’s ridiculously soft pants. “I was the one that insisted that she go to the doctor. My parents thought they were just nightmares, but I was so insistent that mom was going to die that she went to the doctor to prove me wrong. She came home with a diagnosis instead. My dad told me later that the early diagnosis probably extended her life longer than if she’d waited until she’d started showing symptoms.” Stiles’s lips quirk into a small smile, but it doesn’t last.

“Then the dementia started to get worse and it twisted my words in her brain. She started to think that I was trying to kill her. She didn’t really remember me at that point. After she died, the visions got worse. My dad humored me when he could, but sometimes I just couldn’t get him to believe me.” Stiles focuses his attention on where his hand is tracing idle patterns, but he isn’t really seeing them anymore. “He thought I’d just overheard Kate at the school or something. He was able to stop the fire, but he didn’t believe me about some of the other things. A boy almost drowned because he didn’t believe me. And the things Isaac’s father did to him. And others.”

Peter goes tense underneath him. Stiles could practically feel the questions bubbling under the man’s skin, but he doesn’t say anything. Maybe Peter can tell that if he interrupts, Stiles might not have the courage to keep talking. Instead Peter starts to run his hand through Stiles’s hair. Stiles lets his eyes drift closed and leans into the touch.

“My dad had me start going to a doctor,” Stiles continues after a long minute. “The same one that diagnosed my ADHD.” Stiles feels his hands curl into fists. “I was just a kid. I trusted the doctor and I told him about what I was seeing.” He feels anger boil up in him like it always does when he thinks about that man. Peter’s free hand rests over his, worming his fingers into Stiles’s until his fists relax. “He talked my dad into putting me in Eichen House… ‘just for a couple days’ he said.” Stiles hates the way his voice chokes up. Peter keeps steadily running his hand through Stiles’s hair.

“I was in Eichen House for six months,” Stiles chokes out. “And a place like that… It just made the visions worse, so they kept giving me antipsychotics, which just meant I had even less control of my magic. I kept unintentionally starting fires, but they blamed it on my roommate because it kept happening even when I was strapped to the bed. One twitch of my finger and things went flying and fires started. But I couldn’t control it because I was out of my mind most of the time. And there are things there.” Stiles shudders. “I’m not just talking about the secret prison underneath the hospital, which was fun enough. And the insane banshee. Or the orderly that kills patients. There’s an evil buried in the building and it sensed me like I felt it. It couldn’t get out, but it was there all the time.” Stiles laughs but there isn’t any humor in it. “It’s really kind of a surprise that I didn’t go insane while I was there.”

Silence stretches for a few minutes while Stiles gets lost in the memories of that time. “How…” Stiles jumps at the sound of Peter’s voice, quiet though it is. “How did you get out?”

Stiles swallows a lump in his suddenly dry throat. “Marin Morrell, Deaton’s sister.” He feels an actual smile stretch his lips. “She’s a psychologist and was at Eichen House visiting one of the legit patients. Her presence triggered a really strong vision and after the seizure part was done I was able to get away from the orderlies. I was very insistent about talking to Morrell. I don’t even remember what I said to her… Something about eyes… and Gerard… and a pack about to die?” Stiles shrugs. “I still don’t remember a lot about the visions I had while in there. I was so pumped full of drugs…” He shakes his head again. “Anyways, whatever I said must have made sense to her because she listened to me. She believed me and stopped my vision from happening. I still get a Christmas card from her Alpha every year.”

Below him, Peter startles. “Deucalion!?”

“Yeah.” Stiles shrugs. “Apparently I saved his life or something.” His fingers twitch where Peter’s still holding them, but he doesn’t pull away. “Anyways, Morrell came back for me as soon as she could. She talked to my dad and had me transferred into her care. She got me out of Eichen House. But, by then, my magic was already out of control. It wasn’t too out of the ordinary in Eichen House. I mean, they noticed the random fires, but things moving and people seeing illusions that I was apparently conjuring? No one believed the other patients when they mentioned it because they already believed they were delusional. Morrell said if I’d stayed there it would have just gotten worse. I probably would have burned the place down eventually. Like, I’m not even joking.” Peter huffs a little laugh and presses a kiss to Stiles’s hair.

“Anyway,” Stiles continues, “by the time she got me out, I needed more help that she or Deaton could provide by themselves, so she took me to the Academy. They had to keep me isolated and under layers of shields until the drugs wore off. And then it was months of one-on-one training before they deemed me under control enough to join the regular classes.” Stiles feels his hands try to curl into fists again, but Peter’s hands stop them.

“My dad moved to the town near the school, Cooperstown. He took shit jobs just to be near me, but the teachers never let him come in and they wouldn’t let me leave. They let us talk on the phone twice a week. For a whole year we lived like that, because the teachers thought I was a danger to my own father.” Stiles feels tears start to well in his eyes. Peter lets go of Stiles’s hands to wrap his arms around him instead, pulling him close. He feels Peter’s cheek rest on his hair. It makes him feel safe.

Stiles wipes at his eyes when he realizes moisture has gathered there. “I tried to run away,” he admits. “But they had wards I couldn’t get past. I kept trying until they threatened to not let me have any contact with my dad at all.” Stiles feels tears start to spill down his cheeks. “I gave up. I convinced dad to move back to Beacon Hills. He didn’t want to, but there wasn’t any point to him staying if we could never be together. I made him leave me there.”

Stiles buries his head in Peter’s neck. Peter’s hands run soothing patterns along Stiles’s back and sides until he finally calms down. He sags against Peter as all of the energy drains out of him. “Thank you for telling me,” Peter says softly. His arms tighten around Stiles briefly. Stiles feels his eyelids growing heavy and nuzzles into Peter’s neck. “Rest. I’ll wake you when it’s time to go home.”

***********

On Thursday, Peter invites him over to his apartment again. This time, they stay away from heavy conversation. Instead, Stiles devotes the time to an in-depth study of how long he can kiss Peter without needing to come up for air (surprisingly long) and how long he can last with Peter biting at his neck, his fingers digging bruises into Stiles's skin, and their hips grinding together before coming in his pants (not long at all).

Friday brings another pack movie night at the Hale house. At first they're all a little tense about Gerard lurking around, but Stiles reassures them that he already tweaked the house’s wards to keep hostiles out and everyone relaxes. Instead they start to ask if he can do increasing ridiculous things with magic. Which leads him to telling Erica that, no, he doesn't know a spell to increase someone's penis size, nor does he want to know about the size of anyone's penis… except Peter's. That sets off a round of flailing from the assorted Hale children that makes him cackle with glee. No one asks about his magic for the rest of the night.

Saturday night is date night at Peter's apartment again, because apparently Peter likes having him in his space. Peter’s excuse is that he wants to fill the place with Stiles’s scent. He’s pretty sure that he just likes the easier access for making out without having to worry about public indecency laws. They order Chinese, which Peter goes down to the lobby to pick up.

Stiles flops on the couch, rolling around to get his scent all over it. He giggles as he stares up at Peter’s pristine white ceiling. Stiles has a mission for after dinner, and it involves clothes coming off. His good mood vanishes almost instantly when he feels a wave of electricity making his muscles twitch. He opens his mouth to call for Peter, but the vision hits him too fast and Peter wouldn’t be able to hear him anyways. The vision rushes in all at once, like a dam bursting. He sees the distillery again, but this time it's his dad tied to a chair. Scott's struggling in a chair next to him. Gerard raises a gun and fires right into Scott's heart. Scott screams as he dies. The gun cocks, and Gerard does the same to his dad.

Stiles gasps in a breath as the vision lets him go. He opens his mouth to call out to Peter, hoping he’s back in the apartment by now, but his phone chimes and distracts him. Stiles scrambles for it in hopes that he can warn his dad or Scott, anyone really.

I have some things that belong to you. Bring Peter and Laura and we can arrange an exchange. Bring anyone else and they die.

He feels the blood rush from his face. The text came from his dad’s phone, but he recognizes Gerard’s words. He is still trying to figure out what to do when a picture comes through. It’s so close to what he saw in his vision that Stiles feels panic welling up with an urgency to do something now.

“Is everything alright?” Peter’s voice calls from the doorway, startling Stiles. He scrambles after the phone as it falls from his fingers, only barely managing to catch it before it hits the ground. A whirl of his fingers casts the illusion needed to have his heartbeat and scent seem normal. The spell takes just in time for Peter to walk into the room.

Stiles forces a smile on his lips even as he shoves his phone in his pocket. “Just Scott oversharing,” he says with a wry tilt of his lips that makes Peter roll his eyes.

The man strides closer, a smirk forming on his face. He sets the bag of food down on the coffee table. “We could always do a bit of oversharing of our own,” Peter suggests in a silky smooth voice that never fails to send a shiver down his spine. “Unless, of course, you want to wait til after dinner.”

Stiles doesn’t have to fake the blush that heats up his cheeks, but he scoots back to make room for Peter on the couch anyways. “Nope,” he says shakily. “Now’s good.” His mind is going a mile a minute as a plan forms. It’s a sucky plan, but it’s the only one he can think of that won’t get his dad and Scott killed.

As soon as Peter sits down, Stiles climbs in his lap. Peter makes an appreciative sound as his hands find Stiles’s hips, pulling him even closer. Stiles runs a hand across Peter’s cheek before he leans in for a kiss that is probably softer and sweeter that Peter expected. Stiles has a sudden surge of sadness and grief that’s he’s really glad that Peter can’t smell. Instead, one of Peter’s hands comes up to tangle in Stiles’s hair, holding him in place as he deepens the kiss. The kiss is hot and steamy and threatens to derail all of his other thoughts.

He lets his body relax, something that’s almost instinctive when Peter’s hands are on him. Stiles slowly brings his hands up until they are wrapped in Peter’s hair. He extends his magic slowly as they continue to kiss. It travels through his fingers and into Peter’s skin, deeper still until it finds the intangible bonds that link Peter to the pack. Stiles grinds his hips down as his magic floods into the bonds, melding with them. Peter stiffens below him.

Stiles pulls back in time to see Peter’s eyes widen. “I’m sorry,” he says, as he magic surges through the pack bonds like a virus. Peter’s hands grab onto Stiles’s arms tight enough to leave bruises. Stiles leans in and places a soft kiss on Peter’s lips before drawing back. “Sleep.” He breathes the words onto Peter’s lips and the werewolf sags beneath him. His heart breaks at the look of betrayal on Peter’s face. Then Peter’s eyes slip closed.

His magic surges down the pack bonds. Stiles closes his eyes as he mentally follows the trail of the magic. One by one he finds the members of the Hale pack and eases them into sleep. Thankfully none of them were driving, though he does have to send a extra surge of magic to turn off the stove and guide Laura gently to the floor. He stops the magic before it can get to Scott, temporarily cutting him off from the pack so that Gerard doesn’t suspect anything is wrong.

He opens his eyes and pulls out his phone. I need a half hour to get Laura.

The reply comes back moments later. Better hurry.

Stiles’s fist tightens around the phone. He feels anger well up in him, which only serves to fuel his magic. I’m on my way.

He takes one last lingering look at Peter, trying to commit the relaxed look on his face and the lingering warmth of his hands to memory. He knows Peter doesn't take betrayal well. Stiles doesn't expect to be forgiven for this. He fully expects that this will be the last time he’s allowed in Peter's space.

A tug on the magic he slipped into Peter has the man’s body rising, though his eyes remain closed. Peter's sleeping form follows him out the door. Stiles snags Peter's keys from the little table by the door and grabs his backpack from where he dropped it on the way in. He locks Peter's door behind him before sliding the keys into Peter's pocket. The elevator and parking garage are thankfully deserted. He really doesn’t know what he’d do if someone saw him with a zombiefied person trailing after him.

Peter's body settles easily in the passenger of the Jeep. The seatbelt buckles itself at Stiles's thought. Stiles stops at his house only long enough to grab his jar of mountain ash before speeding off to the Hale house. Either all of the deputies are out looking for his dad or he somehow managed to get lucky, because he makes it into the Preserve without getting pulled over despite running several stop signs and ignoring all of the speed limit signs he passes.

Stiles pulls right up to the front porch and hops out of the Jeep, leaving the keys still in the ignition. He glances into the living room as he passes and sees Cora, Boyd, and Erica slumped over on the couch. Stiles feels a well of guilt surge up, but he pushes it down. He stops short when Allison steps out of the hallway in front of him. Her eyes widen as soon as she sees him. And doesn’t that just stab him with more guilt.

“Stiles!” Allison breathes out in obvious relief. “I can’t find Scott. He’s not answering his phone. No one was answering, so I can out here to check…” She waves a hand back toward the room that she’d come from. Talia’s study, if he remembers correctly. “I can’t get anyone to wake up.” A little bit of panic creeps into Allison’s voice.

“It’s okay,” he says. His gut twists even as he pastes what he hopes is a reassuring smile on his face. He’s kind of afraid it might come off closer to a grimace. Stiles moves forward slowly, reaching out a hand to Allison. “I’ve got it all under control.” He cups a hand on the side of her face, his other arm wrapping around her waist. “Sleep,” he says as his magic pours into her.

Allison’s eyes grow wide with surprise. “What…” She struggles weakly, trying to push him away, but then his spell takes hold. Allison slumps forward into his arms, asleep. Stiles gently drags her back into Talia’s study. He glances at Talia, slumped forward onto her desk, before setting Allison down on the floor as gently as he can.

He looks at his watch and swears. There isn’t much time left to get to the distillery. Stiles races into the kitchen and fling his magic at Laura. Her body jerks upright suddenly, her arm banging onto the counters. Stiles winces on Laura's behalf. He guides her more carefully out of the kitchen.

Stiles breathes a sigh of relief as he gets Laura into the back of the Jeep. As soon as she’s in he speeds down the road towards the abandoned distillery. His Jeep bounces along the dirt road and he knows there will be repair bills in his future. He doesn't slow until he reaches the clearing. There are no other vehicles in sight as Stiles parks at the tree line. He cut the engine, grabs his mountain ash, and sprints around the Jeep to pull open Peter's door. He glances nervously at the doors to the building, but no one comes out. As soon as Peter and Laura are clear of the car, Stiles throws his keys and phone on the seat and closes the door. It only takes a thought to have the two werewolves trail after him.

He unscrews the lid to the jar as he walks, tossing it to the side before he reaches the door. A flicker of magic sends the ash snaking through the grass to circle the building. Another twist of his hand pushes the doors open. A third casts a ball of light up into the rafters so the whole building is lit up.

“Stiles!” Scott's voice calls out from the center of the room.

Stiles feels rage fill him at Scott's bleeding form tied to a chair next to his dad. Noah’s mouth is taped shut and there’s a bruise over one eye, but he looks unharmed otherwise. Stiles tries to give his father a reassuring smile before he shifts his gaze to the men behind Scott and Noah.

There are three Hunters with guns drawn, but Stiles ignores them in favor of glaring at Gerard. “I kept up my end of the bargain,” he says. He waves a hand and Peter and Laura come a little further into the building. “Let them go.”

Gerard grins as he paces forward. “So you’re the little prophet that's been causing me so many problems,” Gerard says. He stops a few feet in front of Stiles. His gaze travels back to the limp forms behind him. “What exactly did you do to them?”

Stiles looks back over his shoulder. “They're asleep,” he says. “They'll stay that way for another hour.”

Gerard raises an eyebrow. “Impressive. How do I know that they're not illusions?”

It takes tremendous effort not to roll his eyes. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pocket knife. Gerard's goons bring their guns up to aim at him, but he ignores them. Stiles flicks the blade open. He turns and walks over to Laura. Holding out her arm he carefully cuts her skin enough for it to bleed. He turns back to Gerard and shows him the blade.

“Illusions don't bleed,” Stiles says, waving a hand dramatically. “Now let them go.” Stiles nods towards Noah and Scott.

“All in good time,” Gerard says. He gives Stiles a smile that shows a bit too much teeth to be pleasant. “How about you put the knife down first, then we can get on with this trade.”

Stiles flicks the blade closed. He slowly crouches down until he can rest a palm on the ground. He pushes magic into the ground even as his other hand lowers the knife to the ground. As he rises, his magic flows through the earth. Stiles rises just as slowly. He kicks the knife behind him towards the door.

“Now,” he says, pacing forward. As he walks he gathers his magic. “I believe you have something of mine.”

“That's far enough.” Gerard's voice is harsh, his doddering old man act dropped as he pulls a gun out and points it at Stiles.

Stiles raises his hands, but Gerard doesn't relax. All attention is on him. Which is good really, because no one else seems to hear Peter groan as he wakes up. No one even notices the ropes around Scott and his father fall away. Stiles smiles.

The sound of Gerard cocking his gun is loud in the silence of the distillery. “You didn't really think you could just walk out of here, did you?” Gerard asks. “Power like yours should be put to proper use. So, you're going to hold Laura and Peter still while I kill them, and then you’re going to be coming with me. As long as the others cooperate, they can stay here.”

Stiles pretends to think about that for a minute. He lets the power build inside of him. It comes easily, fueled by a rage so hot he’s not sure how it hasn't manifested. “That's not going to happen.”

Behind him he feels Peter and Laura struggle against his hold. He can feel their panic on the pack bond, still tied to his magic. He can also feel Talia and the others getting closer. He has to act quickly.

Gerard's eyes widen as he takes in the struggling werewolves. His gun moves to point at Peter and he fires. A wave of Stiles's hand stops the bullet in mid-air. It falls harmlessly to the ground.

“I think maybe we should continue this conversation in private,” Stiles suggests. His face splits into a grin that's probably a hair too manic. Stiles looks at Scott. “Protect my dad.”

Scott’s eyes widen. “Stiles, don't…”

Before Scott can finish the sentence, Stiles flings out a hand. He yanks with his magic and Scott and his dad fly out the side door. He doesn't even look behind him as he releases the spells on Peter and Laura and throws them backwards out the door.

He can feel the moment they pass his mountain ash. A flick of his hand brings the barrier up. “There we go,” Stiles says.

Something in his expression must frightened one of the Hunters, because they start shooting. Stiles raises his hand, palm outward. The bullets just stop. He lowers his hands and the bullets rain down to the ground. The Hunters stare at him with open mouths. For a minute, no one moves. Then, one of the Hunters throws down his gun and runs for the back exit. Stiles considers him for a minute before deciding to allow it.

“Stiles!” His father's voice shakes the bubble of rage that he’s wrapped himself in. “Stiles, drop the barrier.” He can feel fists beating against the ash barrier, but neither the werewolves nor his father can't get past.

“Sorry dad, I can't do that.” A wave of magic pulls the doors closed behind him, blocking them from sight.

The sound of a gunshot brings his attention back to Gerard. The old man seems to realize the trouble he’s in. He shoots again and again, but each bullet falls before it reaches Stiles. Gerard tries to take a step backwards, maybe to turn and run, but his feet are stuck in place. He turns to look at Stiles with eyes full of fear.

“This seems like a fitting place to end things, you and I,” Stiles says. He steps forward and lets his magic flow freely. The air around him grows hot and heavy, but doesn't impede him. He looks around at the wooden beams as they begin to glow and crackle.

“I can't count the number of times I’ve seen this place.” He closes his eyes as the air around them warms. “The things I've watched you do here.” He turns to look at Gerard then. The man has gone white with fear and rage. “I don't think you even realize how many times I've stopped you from doing horrible things to people who are different. You and Kate.”

The light spell he cast on the building dims, replaced by the glow of flames as they swirl around the building with him and Gerard at the center. “But it wasn't enough. I couldn't stop everything.” Stiles shakes his head. He feels grief well in him, like it does every time he remembers the times he failed. When he couldn't put the clues together, or couldn't get anyone to believe him, or just couldn't do enough. “You always find new ways to hurt people.”

“They're not people!” Gerard yells, his mouth practically foaming with rage. “Animals deserve to be put down.”

“No!” Stiles's rage boils over. The flames soar into an inferno. “They're my friends. My family. My pack! Mine!” Stiles feels his control slipping and for once he just lets go. He lets the fury and magic take over. He surrenders and everything is calm. Stiles looks down at Gerard as the flames engulf them. “And you can't hurt them, ever again.” His vision goes white.

***********

Stiles isn't sure how long he floats in a sea of calm before his magic finally runs its course. He blinks his eyes open and is surprised that he can see. The fire surrounds him still, but it doesn't burn. It just feels warm and welcoming, like a nice bath.

He turns his head and there is the charred corpse of Gerard. Further away are other corpses, partially obscured by the flames. Not all of the Hunter had gotten out in time. Stiles has no doubt that they’re dead. It's like he can sense an absence where there once was the spark of life that made Gerard… Gerard. And, if he weren't so calm that really should freak him out, but it just… doesn't. Like it's not important. And, in the grand scheme of things, it's not. Not when there are other sparks of life nearby that mean so much more. His dad, Scott, Peter, the pack. They're safe and Gerard can't ever hurt them again.

So he floats, and his magic roams the building, or what's left of it. The fire rages. He has the sense that it will for some time unless stopped. And he could do that. He knows, as clearly as he knows his name, that he could ask and the fire would just peter out and fade. But, he also knows that if he wanted to, he could just fade too. The fire is him and he is the fire, but they don't have to be separate. He could just stop being. Stop worrying about the future or about going crazy. Stop worrying that the College Mages will come for him some day and make him go back. That he’ll one day go nuts and not be able to tell reality from visions. He could just stop.

Then, a voice calls his name. Fists beat against the barrier of mountain ash that he’s still holding. He hears his dad calling out to him. Scott and Peter try to push through the barrier.

He can't stop yet. Stiles feels his feet settle on the ground before he even realizes he's decided. He takes a step and then another. His magic ripples around him. He gathers it as he walks, folding it around himself like a cape. The fire subsides, still burning but not as hot. Part of it slides into his skin, following the magic back into his body, the fragile shell that contains it.

It takes two tries to get the doors to the distillery open, not because they've warped, but because his limbs have grown heavy and tired. In the end, he just forced it with his magic. All sound in the clearing dies as the doors fall outward. He steps out of the building and the fire arks after him. It gives him one last parting caress before fading back into a normal fire.

Everyone stares at him as he steps clear of the building. He can't bring himself to meet anyone's gaze. He stops just on the other side of the mountain ash barrier. Stiles sees his father's uniform and he focuses on that. He raises a shaky hand and places it on the barrier. The barrier falls. Stiles sends a tiny wave of magic to collect the ash back in the jar, but that seems to be all he has left.

His knees buckle.

Before he can fall to the ground his father’s arms wrap around him, supporting him. Stiles buries his face in his father’s jacket. It takes him two tries to get his arms to cooperate enough to wrap around Noah. He hadn’t realized how much he was shaking until he’s braced against his father. He can feel every tremor acutely. He also seems to be naked.

“Don’t ever do that to me again,” Noah says, squeezing Stiles impossibly closer for a moment before pulling away to shrug off his jacket. For a minute, there’s a tangle of limbs when Stiles’s hands don’t want to let go, but they manage to get sorted out. The jacket is warm on his shoulders. Not as warm as the fire had been, but nice still. Or at least it would be if he could stop shivering. He can’t seem to focus on anything beyond the space immediately in front of his eyes. Stiles has a feeling he might be going into shock, but he can’t bring himself to care.

“Can someone get him a blanket?” Noah calls over his shoulder.

And that’s all it takes for Stiles to remember that the pack is there. He shuffles forward until he can hide his face in his father’s chest again. Grief fills him at the thought of Peter and Laura. He betrayed them. He saved the pack, but he lost them too.

He flinches when a blanket is draped around his shoulder. Stiles tries to curl in towards his father, to make himself somehow even smaller. “May I?” Peter’s voice is soft and that only makes it hurt even more. Tears prick at the corners of his eyes. He’s going to miss hearing Peter’s voice, soft like he is only with Stiles and his family. He can’t bring himself to respond, but then it seems like the question wasn’t directed at him.

“Yeah,” Noah says. “I’ve got to call this in and figure out how to explain it without referencing magic or werewolves.” His father sighs.

Stiles can’t help feeling guilty at the sound. He did just murder someone. And his father’s going to have to lead an investigation. Stiles half-turns and wonders if maybe he should have stayed in the fire. Maybe it would have been better for everyone.

“Whatever you’re thinking, stop it.” Peter’s voice is firm. Stiles flinches. He tries to pull the blanket further around himself, but he can’t seem to get his muscles to cooperate.

Before he can do more than fidget with it, the world rocks. Stiles’s vision swims and his muscles go lax. He thinks he’s moving, but he can’t tell over the sudden wash of dizziness. His stomach roils, but there’s nothing in it to come up. The world is hazy for several long moments. Then, he blinks and Peter’s face comes into focus, so close to his own. He has a brief awareness of the feeling of arms under his back and knees. He’s being carried somewhere.

Stiles blinks past the sudden flood of tears. “I’m sorry,” he manages to choke out.

Peter looks down at him sharply, then his expression softens. He leans forward to press a kiss to Stiles’s forehead. “Foolish, idiotic boy,” Peter mutters against Stiles’s hair. It sounds more… fond than angry and Stiles can’t figure out why that is. Anger he would understand.

The world tilts again. His visions swims, going dark at the edges. He tries to reach out a hand as if he can hold on to consciousness the way he can hold on to Peter’s shirt. But, the darkness keeps coming. He’s so tired. His limbs feel too heavy. “I’m sorry,” he says again before he passes out.

He wakes briefly to the sounds of arguing. He recognizes the voices, but that’s all. Stiles blinks his eyes up at an unfamiliar cream-colored ceiling. He manages to turn his head, but the black sheets are softer than the blue ones on his own bed and the furniture’s all wrong. There’s no IV hooked to his arm, no monitors or sterile smell, so he’s not in the hospital. But, he’s definitely not in his own room either. “Dad?” He calls out, but it’s barely more than a whisper. “Peter?” The arguing stops and he hears running. The door opens just as his eyes slide closed again. He sleeps.

When he opens his eyes again, the world has shifted and he’s in his room. His head is pounding and he feels weak, but he’s more alert than he was before. He groans at the light coming in through the window. He squints his eyes shut against the harsh light and flops his other hand in the general direction of the window. His magic feels sluggish and just as tired as he is, but the curtains close.

“You could have just asked,” Melissa says, startling him. He winces at the noise and groans again, adding in a few ineffectual flails as well. She chuckles, but her voice is softer when she speaks again. “Do you need anything?”

Stiles peers around the dimly lit room as he takes stock of his body. His throat is dry and his stomach feels like a cavernous pit. “Soup?” he manages to squeak out. He must sound as pathetic as he feels, because Melissa just gives him a small smile and nods. She presses a hand against his forehead and feels his pulse before drawing away. “Do you feel up for some company?”

He considers the question for a minute, then nods. He watches the door as she leaves the room. Melissa’s footsteps sound down the stairs, then he hears someone coming up. He doesn’t know what time of day it is, or even what day it is, so he expects maybe his dad if he’s not at work, or Scott. His dad is the first one through the door and Scott is right behind him, but more people keep coming in after that. He doesn’t manage to see who though because his dad is enveloping him in a warm hug.

Melissa must have warned him, because Noah’s voice is soft as he speaks. “Don’t worry me like that, kiddo.” Stiles nods into his father’s shoulder for lack of any better response. When he pulls away, Noah helps Stiles up into a sitting position, propped up with his pillows.

As soon as he’s sitting upright, Scott is there, hugging him tight. “You scared the crap out of me, dude.”

“Sorry,” Stiles mumbles into Scott’s shoulder.

No sooner does Scott pull away than Stiles is bracketed in a dual hug that mostly involves a lot of boobs and hair in his face and werewolf strength crushing him. He recognizes Erica’s blond curls on his left. The brown hair on his right can only be Laura. He feels a connection to her that wasn’t there before, like he’s still part of the pack bond, and that thought sends a spike of guilt through him. His scent must change because both girls pull back at the same time. They also almost simultaneously smack him on each shoulder.

“Oww!” His voice is too loud to his own ears and he winces. His body starts to curl inward as pain flares at his temples. Then a cool hand settles on the back of his neck. He sags in instant relief as his pain fades away. He blinks blearily at the black lines flowing up Laura’s arm. “Oh my god,” he whispers shakily. “I forgot you guys could do that. You’re my new favorite.”

“Hey!” Scott and Erica exclaim at the same time.

Stiles looks at them with a raised eyebrow, then flops his hand in Laura’s general direction. “You didn’t do the pain thingy.” He turns to look over at Laura and his mood sobers. “I’m sorry,” he says softly. “For the puppet thing, and the cut on your arm, and everything.”

Laura draws her hand away and ruffles it through his hair instead. “Don’t worry about it,” she says. Then an evil smile crosses her face. “Mom would like to have a long talk with you about going off on your own and communicating with your pack when you’re feeling better, though.”

His dread must show on his face because Laura and Erica both cackle. “You’re not my favorite anymore,” he mutters sullenly. But, really, he’ll take all the lectures in the world because Laura just said he was still part of the pack. He blinks quickly to try to clear the sudden tears from his eyes. Lingering at the back of the room are Boyd, Isaac, Cora, and even Derek. He notices a distinct lack of one certain werewolf, but forces down his grief. Stiles pastes a smile on his lips and weakly raises his arms. “Come on, Derek. I know you’re dying to hug it out.”

Cora and Isaac snicker, and Derek rolls his eyes, but the man actually does come and give him a hug. By the time the other three have taken a turn, Melissa is back with a tray and the room is suddenly very crowded. There’s a bit of shifting while his dad and Scott claim one side of the bed and Erica and Laura perch on the other side. Cora and Isaac sit on the trunk under his window while Boyd takes the desk chair and Derek leans against a corner.

“So, what have I missed?” he asks in between slow spoonfuls of soup. His dad looks like he wants to try to help, but Stiles stubbornly manages on his own. “What day is it?”

“Wednesday,” Scotts says helpfully. “Oh! Allison is going to be over after work.”

Stiles nods and continues to slowly eat his soup. The first couple spoonfuls hit his stomach and he is suddenly ravenous. He gives up on the spoon and just grabs the whole bowl, drinking it down. His hand wavers and his dad is there, steadying the bowl while he scoops the last bits of chicken and noodles into his mouth. He sets the bowl down a little mournfully. “Can I have, like, five more, please?” He looks up at Melissa hopefully.

She just shakes her head. “Scott, come help me,” she calls as she heads out of the room again.

“Thank you!” Stiles calls after her.

“A little hungry there, son?” Noah asks with a raised eyebrow.

Stiles nods as he sinks back into the pillows and lets his arms relax. “Yeah, probably will want to eat everything in sight for the next couple days, when I’m not sleeping like the dead.”

“Magical fatigue will do that,” Deaton says, from the doorway, startling him.

He glares around the room at the amused werewolves before turning his attention back to the druid. “What’s the prognosis, doc?”

Deaton comes forward until he’s right behind Laura. His hand reaches out and Stiles can feel the man’s magic slide over his skin like a soothing balm. “You seem to be recovering well, considering that you did something that I would have thought impossible. You’re drained, but not as badly as you could be.” His hand falls and the feeling of magic fades away. “A few more days of rest and you should be back to normal.” Deaton pauses then and glances between Stiles and Laura. “Have you noticed the new connection?”

Stiles blushes and nods. He looks over at Laura and guilt starts to fill him again. “So…” Laura’s eyebrow rises and he flinches. “I may have added myself to the pack bond accidentally.” He rushes on when Laura’s eyes widen. “I kind of used Peter’s bond with the pack for the sleep spell… And somehow I ended up tied in… But, I can totally fix it… Probably…” He looks to Deaton for help, but the man just looks amused.

Laura smacks him on the shoulder again, though gently this time. “It’s fine,” she says. Her smile grows wide when he turns to look at her with wide eyes.

“I guess you’re stuck with us, Stilinski,” Erica says happily. She flops over onto his legs and then suddenly there’s a pile of bodies on top of his as he’s scented by the pack. They pull away when he starts to flail, resuming their previous positions around the room.

Stiles looks around the room with a small smile, but his good mood doesn’t last long. He licks his lips nervously. “What about Peter?” he asks carefully. “Won’t he mind?”

Laura gives him an odd look. “Why would Peter mind?”

“Well…” Stiles weakly raises a hand to indicate the room around him. “I kinda figured that since he wasn’t here… He didn’t want…” His voice chokes up before he can get the words out. He feels moisture gathering at the corners of his eyes, but he refuses to cry in front of the pack. He’s not going to make this more awkward than it needs to be. It’s his fault Peter probably hates him anyways.

“Oh, sweetie,” Laura’s voice is soft. She pulls him towards her until his head is resting on his shoulder. “Peter wanted to be here, but, well…” She snorts a little laugh and Stiles jerks his head up. That is not the sound someone makes when consoling someone who was just dumped. He narrows his eyes at Laura and she bursts out laughing. “Your dad banished him from the house after the second time he tried to kidnap you.”

“What!?” He turns to look at his dad, who looks a little sheepish.

“We had a disagreement about where you would be better able to recover,” Noah grumbles. “After I had to go over to his apartment to get you the first time, he tried to sneak out with you twice more. You needed your rest.”

Stiles looks around the room and wonders if maybe he has gone crazy. He lifts a shaky hand and runs it over his face before letting out a slow breath. “Well, somebody tell him to get his ass over here,” Stiles orders.

“I already texted him,” Scott says, waving his phone. “He should be on his…” Scott’s head cocks to the side. “Nevermind, he’s here.”

Peter must have taken the stairs two at a time because suddenly he’s there in the doorway. His eyes focus on Stiles automatically. Stiles makes a little whimpering sound as his eyes start to water. All the emotions that he was trying to hold back fly out at the sight of Peter. “I’m sorry,” he says around a sob.

Then suddenly, Peter is there, holding him to his chest as he shakes and sobs. He doesn’t even care if the others see because he needs Peter to forgive him. “I’m… sorry,” he says again, even though his breath is hiccuping and Peter probably can’t even understand him with the way his face is smooshed into Peter’s chest. He can’t seem to stop saying the words though.

It feels like years later when his breathing finally calms and the tears stop. It’s only then that he realizes Peter is talking. He keeps making soft hushing noises and whispering words of praise. One of Peter’s hands is slowly rubbing his back while the other one holds him tightly to Peter’s chest. Eventually Stiles manages to get himself under control. He squirms until he can get a hand between them and wipe at his eyes. Peter moves a little bit, leaning to one side. Then, there’s a tissue gently sliding over his closed eyelids.

He can’t seem to look at Peter when the man pulls back. Stiles looks around the room, but everyone else is gone, leaving him alone with no distractions. He sniffles and Peter hands him another tissue. Stiles blows his nose and tosses the tissue towards the trash can.

Peter presses a kiss to his forehead before slowly tilting Stiles’s face upwards. His hand tenderly traces the lines of Stiles’s cheek before sliding around to cup the back of his neck. Peter drains away the pain in his head before Stiles even realizes how much it had started to hurt again. Peter’s hands move again until he’s cupping Stiles’s face in both palms and Stiles can’t look anywhere else but into Peter’s intense, blue eyes.

“Don’t you ever do anything that stupid again,” Peter says, enunciating each word as if it will make it sink in more.

Stiles flinches. He tries to look away, but Peter’s hands are firm. “I’m sorry,” he whispers.

Peter gives a little snort and shakes his head. His lips twitch into the fond smile that only Stiles seems to bring out. “Yes, I had gathered that,” Peter points out.

Stiles blushes. He licks his lips and is a little please that Peter’s eyes still track the motion with hunger. “I know,” he says softly. “But, really… I am sorry. The vision hit and then Gerard sent me a text and a photo and I just… panicked.” He pulls free of Peter’s hands so that he can run a hand through his own hair and try to figure out words. “I should have talked to you and Laura. I should have trusted you to help, but it just felt like there was no time, and it was stupid, and I’m sorry.”

Peter gently pulls Stiles’s hand away from where it had started to tug at his hair in frustration. Instead, Peter smooths a hand over the strands and down his back and he melts. “Even if you don’t think you can tell the others,” Peter says softly. “You tell me and we’ll figure it out together, you understand?”

Stiles rolls his eyes at the command in Peter’s tone. It’s too serious and too heavy. “Yes, sir,” he says with a mocking salute. Peter’s eyes spark with something like hunger and he leans forward intently. Stiles licks his lips again, just to watch Peter’s reaction.

“Alright,” Melissa says loudly into the room, “enough of that.” Peter jerks backwards as if burned and Stiles can’t help snickering. Then he sees the tray of food that Melissa’s carrying, and the second one that Scott has behind her, and makes grabby hands at her instead. Peter shifts to the side of the bed, taking the spot that Noah had held earlier.

He has the first bowl raised to his face for long drinks when the others start to crowd into the room again. Peter hovers beside him, ready to catch the bowl if it wavers, but mostly grumbling when Stiles bats his hands away. No one mentions his puffy eyes or his sobbing fit as they arrange themselves around the room again. Instead, they talk about finally planning a trip to the ice skating rink once Stiles is on his feet again. Laura talks about pack bonding ideas in a tone that fills him partly with dread and partly with glee. Stiles smiles as best he can while shoveling food in his face. He feels the barest hints of emotions filtering through to him on his new pack bonds, and can’t help mirroring the happiness he feels there. He feels like he’s finally settled into a home.

***********

Stiles can barely manage to stop kissing Peter long enough to tug Peter’s stupidly low cut V-neck upwards in an attempt to get it off. Finally, Peter pulls back to yank the shirt off and tossing it aside. Peter has barely let go of the shirt before Stiles’s hands reach for him. Peter lets out a chuckle even as he dips his head to kiss Stiles deep and filthy. Stiles moans into Peter’s mouth. He reaches for the button on Peter’s jeans, but Peter just bats Stiles’s hands away.

“Patience, pet,” Peter teases, his lips brushing against Stiles as he speaks. Any reply Stiles could have made is efficiently silenced by Peter’s tongue sweeping back into his mouth. He settles for a low groan that he hopes conveys how desperate he is.

He’d been so certain that he was never going to have this again. Never going to feel Peter’s hands on him. Never going to do more than their makeout sessions on Peter’s couch or, in the last few days, Stiles’s bed in snatched moments of privacy. But, here they are in Peter’s bedroom, about to get naked and he wants.... A desperate little whine escapes his lips when Peter’s hips brush against his. He feels a blush heat his cheeks, but when he pulls back from the kiss, panting for air, Peter doesn’t tease him. Instead, Peter looks ready to devour him, which only makes him blush more.

Peter’s lips twitch into a smirk, but before Stiles can feel self-conscious, Peter moves. He blinks and the werewolf has him stripped out of his flannel shirt and t-shirt. And, he likes the direction this is heading. Yes, more naked. He must say that aloud because Peter chuckles. Stiles reaches for Peter’s pants again, only to have Peter bat his hand away again. Before he can protest, Stiles finds his own pants falling away. Peter gives him a light shove and suddenly he’s falling onto the bed. The sheets feel just as soft and luxurious as he remembers them.

Stiles lifts his hips up when Peter moves to pull down his boxers. And, then he’s naked sprawled out on Peter’s bed. He would have expected Peter to pounce him, but he doesn’t. Instead, he looks down at Stiles as if he wants to memorize the sight. Peter’s gaze trails along him like a physical touch, slowly moving from his toes all the way up until he meets Stiles’s eyes. He smiles when he sees Stiles watching him and slowly licks his lips. Stiles can’t help the little shiver that runs through him.

Then, Peter moves, supernaturally fast, and Stiles finds himself with a warm werewolf blanket. Said werewolf presses a soft kiss to Stiles’s lips before trailing down Stiles’s cheek. Stiles obligingly bares his neck, which Peter seems to approve of based on the sound he makes before his mouth latches onto the tender flesh there. Stiles moans at the feeling of Peter’s tongue and teeth working a new mark into his skin. His body arches when Peter’s teeth dig in, not hard enough to break the skin but definitely hard enough to mark. And, wow, he didn’t know he had a biting fetish before, but he certainly does now. Peter must be satisfied with his mark because he inches lower and starts a new one. Stiles can’t help writhing under the sensation.

He reaches his hands up, not sure if he wants to pull Peter away from the spot or hold him closer. Peter makes that decision for him. He catches Stiles wrists and pins them above his head with one hand. And, there is another kink Stiles didn’t know he had. He tries to raise his arms, more to test Peter’s grip than to actually get away. Peter’s grip doesn’t even budge. Peter lets out a low chuckle before moving to attack the spot where Stiles’s neck meets his shoulder. Peter bites down and Stiles can’t help arching off the bed.

“Peter!” His breath comes out in pants and he can’t believe how turned on he is right now. He’s so hard it hurts. He struggles against Peter’s hold, desperate to get a hand around himself. Stiles is sure he barely even needs to touch himself to come. Hell, if Peter keeps up what he’s doing, he might come just from that. He almost weeps with relief when he feels Peter shift above him. Peter’s free hand slides down Stiles’s chest in a feather light touch before circling around where Stiles so desperately wants it. Peter’s fingers trace maddening patterns down one of Stiles’s thighs and up the other.

He doesn’t even realize Peter’s let go of his neck until he feels hot breath on his earlobe. “Do you want to come?” Peter asks, his voice a husky whisper.

Stiles nods frantically. “Please.” His voice comes out broken and needy, but he doesn’t care. His hips arch, chasing after Peter’s touch. “Please, Peter…” He almost sobs when he feels Peter’s fingers stir the hairs at the base of his cock. Peter’s hand slides up and down in one quick motion. Stiles arches with a cry that cuts off abruptly when Peter’s hand clamps down on the base of his cock and squeezes. It’s just slightly on the bad side of painful and not at all what he was expecting. He can feel his orgasm slipping away, but he’s still so hard it hurts. Stiles struggles against Peter’s grip, but neither the hand on his cock nor the one holding his arms in place budge.

“Shh,” Peter’s voice is soft and soothing in his ear. He lets go of Stiles’s cock to begin trailing his fingers over Stiles’s stomach instead. Peter shifts again, one leg moving to pin Stiles’s in place. Peter leans up on his elbows so that he’s hovering over Stiles again. The bastard looks way too pleased with himself. Stiles feels anger building in him. If this is some kind of sick joke to get back at Stiles for using him and Laura against Gerard, then Peter’s going to find out just how helpless Stiles is not. His magic starts to build, but then Peter leans down and kisses him, soft and sweet. Stiles’s anger deflates and he’s left with confusion.

“Now,” Peter says when he’s pulled back again. “Someone has been a very naughty boy.” Peter’s voice is low and silky. Stiles can’t help squirming from a mix of guilt and arousal. Peter’s lips twitch. He pulls back a little more to look Stiles in the eyes. “And naughty boys get punished, don’t they?”

He seems to be waiting for some kind of response. It takes Stiles a minute to realize that Peter is giving him an out here. He could say no and Peter would stop. He doesn’t seem to be actually mad at Stiles, so maybe he would finish what he started and they could cuddle on the couch and watch some TV. Or, he could say yes. Stiles licks his lips and tries to control the nervous fluttering in his stomach. Peter just waits patiently.

Slowly, Stiles nods. He takes in a shuddering breath. “What…” He has to stop and swallow to work some moisture into his throat.

Peter seems to understand what Stiles is trying to ask. His lips twitch in a smirk even as his hand begins to move along Stiles’s stomach in the same teasing patterns as before. Peter leans down until his face fills Stiles’s vision. “You’re mine,” Peter says. There’s something serious about the way he says that, like it’s more than just in the context of this moment where he’s pinned at Peter’s mercy, but also the larger scheme of things. “You’re mine,” Peter repeats. His fingers trail up the length of Stiles’s cock in a too light touch that has him arching and whimpering. “Mine to play with and touch and tease.” Peter closes the distance between them to kiss Stiles, hard and just as possessive as his words.

Stiles submits easily. His body relaxes, no longer straining against Peter’s hold on his wrists. He opens his mouth and lets Peter in to take what he wants. Peter makes a low growl, which Stiles takes as a positive sign. He’s panting again when Peter pulls away. Stiles lets out an embarrassing whine as the weight pinning him to the bed moves. Stiles blinks up into the suddenly too bright room. Even though he’s free he can’t even fathom moving yet. For a minute he wonders if this is his punishment, if Peter’s just going to leave him here like this. But then he hears a drawer open and the bed dips again as Peter settles next to Stiles’s hip. He turns his head to look at Peter. The man has never looked more wolf-like than in this moment, staring down at Stiles with mischief and hunger in his eyes.

“Your punishment,” Peter says, finally answering Stiles’s aborted question, “is that you don’t get to come until I fill you up with my cock.” His eyes never leave Stiles’s, so Peter can’t miss the blush that heats his face. It just makes Peter grin wider. He leans forward to trail teasing fingertips over Stiles’s chest. Peter rubs his thumb over Stiles’s nipples, lightly traces his nails down his chest and stomach, then runs his fingertips back up Stiles’s side and down his arms. “You got to use my body however you wanted.” Stiles flinches at that as a wave of guilt hits him. Peter just kisses him again, long and sweet this time to soothe the sting of his words. “So I get to use yours,” Peter continues a moment later. “I’m going to touch you and tease you.” Peter’s voice goes softer, huskier as he leans closer with each word. “Get you nice and stretched out until that tight little virgin hole can take my cock.” The last words are breathed against the shell of Stiles’s ear, sending a shiver down his spine. “Going to make you beg for me. Make you desperate to be filled up.” Peter leans forward to bite lightly at the lobe of Stiles’s ear and he arches in surprise, right into the hand that Peter has waiting above his cock.

Peter pumps him quickly with sharp, twisting motions that have Stiles gasping and writhing as his orgasm builds again. Then, it stops. Peter’s hand closes around his balls in a vice-like grip that has him gasping with sensations on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Stiles cries out at the sudden change. He tries to wiggle away from the pain, but Peter’s other hand settles on his hips, pinning him in place. Just when he thinks he can’t take anymore, Peter lets go. Stiles gasps for breath. He hadn’t even realized his muscles had tensed up until he feels Peter’s hand soothing them again. And his body reacts to that touch like it always does. He’s practically putty in Peter’s hands.

“Not until I’m in you,” Peter says and it sounds like a promise. “That sounds fair, doesn’t it, Stiles?”

Stiles lets out a low whine. He wants to shake his head, to say no, but at the same time he really, really wants Peter to fuck him. He nods.

The look that Peter gives him is hungry and wicked and yet he also seems a little bit relieved, as if maybe he was worried that he pushed Stiles too far. And Stiles supposes that they haven’t really talked about kinks or any of the other things they probably should eventually. He trusts Peter though. Despite everything that he’s done to Peter, he still trusts him.

Peter leans down to press a gentle kiss on Stiles’s lips and Stiles melts. His arms reach out, intending to wrap around Peter’s shoulders and pull him close. Before he can make contact Peter’s pulling away. Stiles only has time to blink before he’s suddenly on his stomach. He starts to push himself up on his elbows, but Peter’s hand presses down on his shoulders. He lets Peter guide him back down to the bed. Peter’s hands trail over his backs and hips, rubbing along every inch of his skin. He runs his hands up Stiles’s arms. Peter’s hands circle Stiles’s wrists, moving them up above his head. “These stay here,” Peter orders. He squeezes Stiles’s wrists just a little bit before letting go, reminding Stiles of the pressure he’d felt there when Peter was pinning him down. He fists his hands in the sheets, but doesn’t move his arms.

He lifts his hips at Peter’s prompting and feels pillows being placed under him. The position is a little awkward, but he keeps still as Peter continues to arrange his body to Peter’s liking. Peter spreads Stiles’s legs. His hands run over Stiles’s thighs, his nails lightly scratching the skin there and bringing goosebumps to the surface. Then they move up. Peter’s hands knead the flesh of Stiles’s ass. His fingers dig into the flesh and Stiles really never expected the muscles there to be that sensitive, but Peter seems to have magic hands that force him to relax. His eyes flutter closed as Peter massages his flesh. He barely even notices when Peter’s hand shift, pulling his cheeks apart.

Stiles does notice the tongue that suddenly finds his hole. He would have jumped clear off the bed if not for Peter’s strong grip. Peter’s hands tighten, holding him firmly in place as his tongue trails slowly back and forth over Stiles’s hole. He tries to squirm away from the sensation, but Peter has him trapped. All he manages to do is grind his still-hard cock down into the pillows. Even that motion is stopped when Peter’s grip shifts again. Stiles is going to have bruises tomorrow, but he can’t bring himself to care. Not when Peter’s tongue starts tracing circles around his rim. It should be a weird sensation, but the skin there is apparently very sensitive and Peter is also apparently very good at this.

Peter’s tongue dips inside of him and Stiles lets out a long moan. His hands are clenched into the sheets so tight that he thinks they might rip. Assuming Stiles’s brain doesn’t melt first. Peter’s tongue starts up a slow rhythm in and out and Stiles’s hips twitch to match him. It doesn’t seem to affect Peter at all, though. He keeps up the slow and steady rhythm for what feels like an eternity despite the desperate whimpers Stiles lets out. Stiles’s world has narrowed down to the bed and Peter’s tongue. He feels Peter draw away and can’t help the low keening noise that escapes his throat at the loss. The noise quickly changes to a shout when Peter blows a gust of air on his wet hole. He tries to buck at the sensation, but Peter’s grip is too strong. Then, Peter is back, his tongue driving deep into Stiles.

Stiles shouts at the sensation. He thrashes on the bed as Peter’s tongue fucks into him deep and hard and so good. “Peter,” he calls out desperately. He feels his orgasm building with something close to despair. Peter’s tongue keeps plunging into him, pushing him closer and closer to the edge. He can feel beads of pre-cum leaking into the pillow, making it damp beneath him. He wants desperately to grind down until he comes, but he also knows it isn’t going to happen. Just because he knows it’s coming doesn’t make it any easier when Peter pulls away. Peter’s hands grip Stiles’s hips hard and he’s rendered immobile with his orgasm just out of reach.

He feels tears of frustration building at the corners of his eyes. Stiles buries his face in the sheets and grits his teeth against the urge to scream or cry or lash out. Peter’s hands release their hold once he’s no longer in danger of coming. Once more they soothe across his muscles. He didn’t even realize he’d been shaking until Peter starts making soft soothing sounds.

“You’re doing so good for me,” Peter croons. His hands slide up Stiles’s arms, massaging into the flesh there before prying Stiles’s fingers loose from the sheet. “So good for me.” Peter trails soft kisses and bites along Stiles’s back and shoulders until Stiles’s breathing evens out and his body relaxes. “Can you keep going?” Peter asks, his breath ghosting over Stiles’s neck.

Stiles doesn’t move his face from the sheets as he nods. Peter presses another soft kiss on his neck before pulling away. He feels the bed shift under Peter and then something wet touches his hole. He gasps as Peter slowly slides a finger into him. It seems to take forever just for Peter to slide in to the first knuckle and then the bastard stops. Stiles whines when the finger starts to pull back out, which only causes Peter to chuckle. His free hand rubs up and down Stiles back in the same slow and steady motions as his finger sliding in and out.

“Just relax,” Peter says softly. The finger presses in further, deeper. He tenses for all of a second before Peter soothes the muscles again. “That’s it.” Peter’s voice is warm and full of praise and that does something to Stiles’s melted brain. His cock twitches as Peter keeps up a steady string of words. “So good for me. Taking me so well. Can’t wait to get inside you. Going to make you feel so good.”

Before he knows it Peter’s finger is sliding all the way in before pulling out again, but it’s not enough. He shakes his head against the bedding as he tries to get words to form. All he manages to say is “Peter, please.” It comes out high and breathy. He knows how wrecked he sounds already and Peter hasn’t even fucked him yet.

“Do you want more, Stiles?” Peter draws his finger out, teasing it along the rim until Stiles nods frantically. He hears Peter squirt some more lube onto his fingers. Then his hand is back. Stiles tenses when the second finger slides into him. It’s so much more than the first one. The stretch burns. Peter keeps up a steady string of praise and rubs at Stiles’s back until he relaxes again. Peter’s fingers slide in with a slow and steady pressure.

Peter moves even slower now. His fingers twist and flex to stretch Stiles out before coming back together to drag along his walls on the upstroke. Peter repeats the motion a couple of times. Then, a jolt of electricity runs through him when Peter’s fingers run over a spot inside of him. Peter croons with delight when Stiles’s hips buck. His free hand slides down to hold Stiles in place even as his fingers work back and forth over that little nub of nerves.

If Stiles thought it was torture before, it was nothing compared to this. Peter’s fingers drive in hard and fast with each stroke hitting his prostate. Peter barely even pauses before adding a third finger, but Stiles can’t bring himself to care. His hips move as much as Peter will allow him. If he could, he’d be fucking himself on Peter’s fingers frantically. Thankfully, Peter seems to understand the incoherent babble that escapes his mouth and gives him what he wants. Peter adds a fourth finger and the stretch is almost too much, but also not enough. Peter’s grip on his hip relaxes and Stiles pushes himself up on his knees. He feels Peter knock the pillows away, but he doesn’t care because he can finally fuck himself on those fingers.

He’s not expecting it this time when Peter grips the base of his cock. Peter’s other hand stops, still buried deep in Stiles. He hadn’t even realized how close he’d been until Peter cuts his orgasm off. Stiles keens into the sheets, but Peter’s grip is unbreakable. Stiles feels tears start to spill down his cheeks and he knows he’s seconds away from outright sobbing. For a minute he doesn’t know if he’s going to go mad. If maybe, Peter’s fingers are what finally tip him over into insanity.

Peter’s hands draw away slowly. He feels empty at the loss of Peter’s fingers, his hole aching to be filled. “Please, Peter,” Stiles begs in a broken-off sob. “Please please please.” He can’t seem to stop chanting the word desperately. He feels the bed shift and Peter draw away. Stiles feels an overwhelming despair. This is it. Peter’s going to leave him like this. Stiles chokes on a sob.

Then, Peter’s back again. Warm hands run over his body, turning him onto his back again. Stiles blinks up at Peter until the tears clear from his eyes. Peter just smiles at him and whispers soft reassurances. He presses kisses to each of Stiles’s eyelids and cheeks before pulling away. Stiles watches with growing relief as Peter slicks up his cock. Peter looks at him reverently as he lines up with Stiles’s hole. Then, he pushes inside in one long, slow motion that has Stiles moaning.

His arms come up to wrap around Peter and this time Peter lets him. Peter braces himself over Stiles before starting a slow rhythm. But, it’s not enough. Stiles bites his lip at the sensations, so good but not what he needs. He wants hard and fast. He wants bruises and marks and to feel Peter inside of him for days. Stiles braces his feet against the bed and pushes back. Peter looks down at him with amusement.

“Fuck me,” Stiles says. His voice sounds raw and wrecked and he’s not sure if it’s the sound or the words, but Peter’s eyes flash blue. He lets out a low growl. Peter’s hips snap forward and Stiles shouts out “Yes!”

That seems to be all the motivation Peter needs. He leans back on his knees and grabs Stiles hips. Peter yanks Stiles towards him until he’s in Peter’s lap. Then Peter starts to fuck into Stiles, hard and fast and exactly what Stiles wants. Stiles shouts, not caring if Peter’s neighbors complain. He wraps his arms around Peter and buries his face in Peter’s neck.

“Yes, yes, Peter! Fuck!” Words are coming out of his mouth without his control, but Peter doesn’t seem to mind. He just grins down at Stiles as he keeps up the harsh pace. Peter’s fingers dig into Stiles’s hips, dragging him in with each trust. Stiles feels the tips of claws scratch at his skin and that sends him over the edge.

Stiles screams as he comes harder than he ever has in his life. His vision flashes white for one second before his magic surges. He distantly hears Peter growling his own completion as Stiles falls backwards onto the bed, but his focus is elsewhere. Visions flash before his eyes, for once not accompanied by a seizure.

And, oh, the visions that Stiles sees. Instead of one scene he gets a sort of highlights reel, small snippets of scenes that flash by almost too quick to be seen. And in all of them is Peter. Peter fucking into him in the middle of the deserted woods. Peter playing with a small child that looks remarkably like Laura. Peter stretched out on the couch reading when his eyes seem to look up and catch sight of something and he smiles a breathtaking smile. He sees Peter laughing from across a restaurant table, Peter stretched out on the bed asleep, and Peter roaring in challenge. He sees Peter, old and grey and somehow still by Stiles’s side. And then it all fades away.

The first thing that Stiles sees when his vision refocuses is Peter hovering over him with a worried expression. Stiles smiles up at him. He doesn't even care that he probably looks dopey. He’s still blissed out from the orgasm and the emotions that came with the visions. “I love you,” he says.

Peter's eyes widen. He stares at Stiles in shock for a moment. Then his expression softens. He smiles as he leans down and presses a tender kiss to Stiles's lips. “I love you too,” Peter says as he pulls away.

He feels the vague sensation of a wet cloth and hands rolling him until there are sheets covering him. A moment later Peter slides into bed beside Stiles, pulling him close so that Stiles is curled into Peter's side before pulling the rest of the blankets up over them. Stiles nuzzles into Peter's shoulder with a content sigh. His eyelids start to grow heavy.

“What did you see?” Peter asks. His fingers trace light patterns up and down Stiles's back.

Stiles smiles sleepily at Peter. “Spoilers,” he says in his best River Song impression.