This is not the best day Peter has ever had (although to be honest, any day that includes Chris isn't exactly a bad day.) He's in Deaton's office, which should be safe, but it's not, it's not. Deaton is barely older than him and Chris, has just opened his practice, but the building doesn't look right, the air smells wrong – old – and it makes the wolf clamor for his anchor.
His nails dig into Chris' palm and Chris pulls him more snugly against him.
Scott kneels next to Isaac and starts picking up shards of glass. He smells like power. Alpha power. Peter is only a little bit jealous that a kid that young has his own pack; mostly he's wondering how fast he can get back to Talia and let her know a strange pack is in town.
There's silence for a few beats and then Isaac, who smells timid and unsure, leans into Scott and says, quiet and plaintive, “But they're holding hands.” It's loud enough for Peter to hear, and, unfortunately for them, Chris, as well. Peter can almost taste his anger as his shoulders tense and he darts in front of Peter.
“Yeah, that's right. Poofs, queers, fags, nancy boys, homos. Did I miss any? Go ahead and get it out, because I promise I can still grind your ass into the ground.” Chris' hands are balled up into fists and Peter is going to rip someone's face off for upsetting him.
Except a strangled, disbelieving sound pulls their attention back to Stiles. Stiles who managed to lie and not get caught. Stiles who brought them into a mess of werewolves under false pretenses. Stiles who Peter is going to watch very, very closely.
“Seriously? Seriously? You think that's why Isaac looks like he's gonna pass out? Because you like dick?”
“Of course they do.” Scott's voice is quiet from his place on the floor and Stiles whips his head around. Stupid, because Chris immediately advances on him, but Peter wants to hear what the boy has to say so he grabs Chris' hand and pulls him back. “Think about where they're from.”
Stiles' brows draw together and then spring up as his eyes widen infinitesimally and his mouth ohs. “Ha ha, yeah no. Let me clear that up for you.” He stabs a finger at his chest. “Bi.” He points to Isaac. “So bi. Our friend Danny? Gay. And his boyfriend is a part of Scott's pack.”
The noise Peter makes is scornful. Amused. “Wait. Is this some kind of...gay support group? Don't get me wrong. It's wonderful for all of you, I'm sure. But Christopher and I are just fi--”
“What do you mean 'where we're from?'” Chris interrupts, low and urgent. Oh. There was that. Scott looks pointedly at the wall to the left of them, at a calendar. It's stuck on June, when it's actually September, but it's not the first time someone has fallen behind on flipping a calendar page. Hardly criminal, or stunning. He opens his mouth to say something appropriately scornful when Chris' hold on his hand spasms painfully.
“The date, Petie.”
“Petie?” Peter hears Stiles choke it out, but it's just white noise, because he's focusing on the fine print in the upper right corner, a delicate cursive scripting of two thousand twe –
“This is a joke,” he says finally. “Christopher, this is some kind of joke.” He doesn't believe that, not really. Not with Deaton's office all wrong, and the air tasting off. It fits. It fits in a horrible, terrible way, but his brain is still spinning to catch up with it. And, well, he has his defenses. He whirls on the boys, who are watching the two of them warily.
“But you recognized us. I know you did. You knew who we were before you brought us here. How did you --”
“Exactly. Exactly.” Stiles is practically vibrating, as Scott stands up and gives him a look that is definitely supposed to convey some kind of warning. Peter glances at Chris to make sure he caught it (he did) as Stiles plows on unfettered. “Yeah, we know you. Old you. Like bazillion year old you. Well, forties or something at least. And let me tell you. Let me tell you, the two of you-- the two of you are not the same.”
“How are we not the same?” Chris' voice is calm and placid, which means he's probably more freaked out than Peter. That's the secret to Chris, the thing it took Peter years to learn. The more emotionless he is, the more carefree? The more upset and anger are boiling just beneath the surface. He has his breaking points, of course, but no one ever sees that but Peter, because Peter is the only person Chris trusts enough to expose his underbelly.
Whatever Stiles might have said is interrupted by a door slamming in the parking lot, and he brightens, while Scott jumps and grimaces. Stiles looks over his shoulder at him. “Is that Deaton? Please, dear God tell me it's Deaton.”
Scott reluctantly shakes his head. “Deaton's out of town with Ms. Morell. Some kind of 'Sorry we tried to kill each other but hey, we're still family' thing. It's, um...it's Allison.”
“Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me, Scott? Because that is not funny. Christ, why would you call Allison?”
“Because I didn't know! You didn't say, remember? I thought we might would need hunter-y things! I had no idea that -” He cuts his eyes at them, then snaps his mouth shut. “I should go meet her. Um, fill her in first.”
“You think?” Stiles glares at Scott as he slips out the door, but Peter is too busy concentrating on the fact they've invited some kind of hunter to this meeting, not to mention that Marin, who is all of six and pesters Deaton for piggy back rides is now out trying to kill people.
“Who's Allison?” Chris is eying the back exit and the windows as he asks, no doubt plotting the quickest escape route. Peter isn't that concerned, because no hunters are going to hurt them at Deaton's – emissaries are sacrosanct – but Chris is always thinking ten steps ahead and five eventualities out. Peter might be the traditionally smarter of the two, but Chris' eye to detail has been beaten into him like a second nature.
Stiles looks like he's thinking about not answering Chris, but then he shrugs. “Dude, she's your daughter.”
Peter's eyebrows shoot up, and a part of him wants to laugh, but really, it makes perfect sense. Because despite what his father is trying to turn him into, and despite what the rest of the world sees, there's something in Chris that's always been incredibly gentle and nurturing, if he's allowed. Peter only has to look at him with Katie to see that. Of course he'd want kids.
Then his heart lurches and pounds in his chest when Chris half grins at him, because yeah, it makes perfect sense, and the amusement in his voice is laced with pleased wonderment when he breathes “We have a daughter?”
But Stiles laughs, the sharp point of it edged with cruelty. “What? No. You two don't have a daughter. He – Mr. Argent – has a daughter. With his wife.” Peter's stomach drops and and acid burns the back of his throat and everything, everything, everything is wrong again; he barely hears Stiles mutter something about well, dead wife but still as Chris makes a broken noise beside him before straightening his back.
“You're a fucking liar,” Chris spits out, and he's got Peter shoved behind him, prepared to take a bullet for him, just like always. It steadies Peter some, gives him a rope to cling to in the sudden flood of we're not together? that he can't even comprehend.
“Yeah, no. That's why you're freaking us the freak out. Because you two?” He swings his pointer finger back and forth between the two of them. “You hate each other. Don't talk to each other. Barely stay in the same room with each other when we all have to work together. Heck, none of us even knew you guys knew each other before...before. And definitely not...not...this.” He makes a face that leaves no doubt how offensive he finds them.
Every one of his words are a physical blow and Peter finds himself backing further and further toward the wall, until he's up against it and he can't go any further. But he sure as hell tries. Chris has moved with him every step of the way, a barrier that can't do anything to keep the words out.
“In fact,” Stiles plows on, and Peter can feel his control slipping. There's very little he knows for sure in his life, but one of those things is the truth of him and Chris, of the permanence of their connection.
“In fact, I'm pretty sure Mr. Argent would kill Peter if he thought he could--” He breaks off as his face crumples to confusion, an expression Isaac joins him in. “Why the hell are your eyes yellow?”
Shit. He hadn't realized his eyes had gone. He blinks and shakes his head and then the implications of what Stiles has said carves deep into his chest.
“Of course my eyes are yellow. Why wouldn't they be yellow?” He hates the way his voice sounds, panicky and short of breath, and with a rasp that indicates he'd already be shifted if he were a lesser wolf. But of course he's not a lesser wolf. He's a Hale. Chris flips around, puts his back to Stiles and Isaac and cups Peter's face in his hands.
“Petie, he's lying, okay? He's lying or he's confused. You know there's no way. There's no way I would ever hurt you. There's no way I would ever not be with you. I promise.” It's not as effective as it could be, mainly because while Chris' voice is calm, his eyes are looking nearly as panicked as Peter feels.
“But why wouldn't my eyes be yellow, Chris? Maybe I hurt you. Maybe I hurt you and you left me.”
He knows he has the capacity. Remembers all too well how he'd almost torn his little brother's face off during his first shift. How the overwhelming desire for destruction had terrified him. But also thrilled him. How he had struggled between the two extremes every full moon, a hard enough task for any eleven year old, even one born into it. Until two years later he'd met Chris. Chris who had made everything better. Made it so Peter didn't have to choke himself on his own leash just to maintain control. He's far less concerned about who his future self might have killed than with the fact he might somehow have driven Chris away. He wouldn't have. Wouldn't.
His breath is going shallow and shocky and Chris presses their foreheads together so that Peter can feel his breath on his lips. “You didn't, Petie. I don't care what they say. You didn't. And I would never leave.”
Which is of course when Scott walks in with The Girl.
Her face is easy to read: shock...horror...fear...fury. Her arms are crossed and her lips are pressed tight. She's pretty, and she carries herself like Chris, and Peter hates her. Hates her so much on sight. Because whatever alternate, fucked up dimension they've landed in – this can't be their future, it can't be - she represents there is some world, somewhere, where he and Chris aren't together.
He wants to kill her.
Chris just gives her an ugly look and stays pressed against Peter, stroking his thumb over Peter's cheekbone.
The Girl...Allison...stupid, insipid name, even though Peter knows it was Chris' mother's name...glances at Scott and nods slowly. Her voice is frustrated, but Peter can hear a note of resignation in it. “He looks just like the pictures I've seen of dad. I don't understand, Scott. This is...why would he...” She makes an angry noise. “This makes no sense.”
Scott frowns apologetically, although Peter doesn't see what he has to be sorry for, unless he's one of those annoying people who feels the need to feel bad for everyone's feelings (and in that case, Peter loathes him immediately). “I know. I know. I don't understand it, either.” And then he puts his arm around her shoulders and kisses her forehead. Well, then. He and Chris exchange another look and Chris finally verbally acknowledges her.
“You guys are together?”
Scott nods, but it's once again Stiles who barrels into the conversation. “Yeah. Oh, and guess what? You and the wifey tried to kill him when you found out.” Scott shoots him a look and something in it quells him, although he still finished sullenly. “You can see why she's a little pissed at this development.”
Peter is probably the only person who hears the tiny, sub-vocal whine Chris stifles, and his fingers on Peter's face tighten spasmodically. Peter presses into them for half a second, then swallows and meets Stiles' eyes, because he has to know. “Did I hurt Chris? Is that what happened?”
Stiles opens his mouth, starts to say something, changes his mind, then starts again. He seems calmer now. More sincere. “Dude, we don't know. Did you miss that part? None of us have any idea what happened. None of us had any idea.”
“Then take us to them.” Chris' voice is steady and resolute, and his words aren't a request. “Take us to them and we'll ask them ourselves.”
Stiles looks at Isaac, and then at Scott, who in turn looks to Allison. It's an interesting dynamic and one he'll pick apart in the future, maybe when he's no longer feeling like he's going insane. As it is, Allison finally shrugs helplessly.
“I don't think we have a choice at this point, do we?”
* * * * * * * * *
They end up choosing Derek's loft, because everybody knows how to break in anyway, and it's been used as a meeting place often enough that neither Mr. Argent or Peter will question it. And it's not like Peter would step foot in the Argent house, or vice versa. So really, it's the only choice. Stiles paces back and forth across the main room, glad that they couldn't get Derek on the phone, because this whole mess is volatile enough without adding him in yet. He's gotten...better...in the last year, but he's never gonna be what Stiles would consider level headed. Plus, Mr. Argent just doesn't like him. Willing to work with him when necessary, sure, but Stiles is pretty sure Mr. Argent won't be crying at Derek's funeral.
He makes a face at where Chris and Peter are tucked into the corner of the window seat. Chris' arms and legs are wrapped around Peter and their foreheads are pressed together as they whisper back and forth to each other. That's never not going to be disturbing, and you'd think they'd be a little more discreet with the PDA, but no. Scott is too busy doing his own comforting of Allison to commiserate with Stiles, so he turns to Isaac for some solidarity at the wrongness of it all.
Except Isaac is watching them with something that looks suspiciously like fondness. Like he wants to prop his head on his chin and coo. Goddammit, may as well just draw kawaii eyes on his face and throw a flower crown in for good measure. Stiles whacks him in the back of the head and hisses –
“The hell, Isaac?”
Isaac starts and ducks his head, the tips of his ears reddening. For half a second he looks apologetic, but then he shrugs. “Come on, Stiles. Look at them. I don't know...they're cute together. Didn't you hear all that stuff they were saying to each other at the clinic?” He nods his head toward where Chris has his eyes closed and the corner of his lips turned up as Peter scratches his nails back and forth across the back of his neck. Ha! Bet he wouldn't be smiling if he knew what Peter could do with those nails in his neck.
“Seriously,Isaac? Seriously? You understand who you're looking at right? Mr. Argent sent people to kill you. And Peter...who hasn't Peter tried to kill? That over there? That is not cute. That's...that's like a whole big ball of fucked up wrong. And them being here? It has to mean something bad, too. We don't just get visitors from the past for funsies. It's never for funsies here, dude.”
Isaac shrugs again. “I know. But it's hard to think of them like Mr. Argent and Peter. They're kids. Like us. They're like Allison and Scott.”
“No. No. They are nothing like Allison and Scott. Although,” he considers, “she did try to kill you a few times, didn't she?” He shakes his head. “But no. Just no.”
Isaac rolls his eyes. “You could go upstairs, you know. Then you wouldn't have to look at them.”
Stiles shakes his head. “And miss the look on Mr. Argent and Peter's face when they walk in? No way. Oh, God, I really hope they get here at the same time.”
Isaac's eyes widen. “You didn't tell them? Are you kidding me?” He starts looking wildly around, maybe searching for a place to hide.
“Heck no. We need genuine reactions and I can't see that over the phone. I just told them it was an emergency. I might have hinted to Chris it was about Allison. If it makes you feel better, just tell yourself it's for investigative science.” He holds up his phone and shakes it with a grin. “I might even take pictures.”
“Oh my God, you're going to get us killed, you idiot!”
“Please. Peter's not gonna kill us.”
“Yeah, but Mr. Argent will!”
He...might have a point. But still. Stiles has been thrown against walls, dragged around and slammed into cars, and threatened within an inch of his life by both men at one time or the other. He's owed a chance to rub their lying lyingness in their faces. Besides, Allison won't let her dad kill him. Maybe.
He's spared thinking about it any longer by Derek's stupid elevator alarm going off. Seriously, one day Derek's going to realize the only time that thing goes off is when whoever's coming wants it to. He's pretty sure everyone he knows has figured out how to disable it ages ago, and God knows their enemies have always managed to use it to their advantage.
He hears the much softer ding of the elevator chime, and then the sound of shoes. More than one pair. He mentally fist pumps at the fortuitous timing. The loft goes deathly quiet as all eyes turn toward the wide, open entrance, and no one moves, much less breathes as far as Stiles can hear. The footsteps get closer and then, between one heartbeat and the next, Mr. Argent and Peter Hale – the elder – step into the room, a careful arms breadth apart.
Mr. Argent has his hand on his gun, as per usual. “Stiles, what's going -” He cuts off when he sees the pair on the window seat, and both he and Peter freeze in unison, faces going instantly blank.
Nobody says anything, until Peter – young Peter, and God, Stiles is going to have to come up with a way to separate the two of them in his head – leans into Chris. His face is sad, and it occurs to Stiles that he might have held out hope that this was all a mistake.
“He smells just like you, Christopher. Except not like -” Chris nods his head like he gets it, like Peter doesn't need to explain, which is frustrating as hell, because Stiles most certainly does not get it. Peter pauses a beat and then adds, “Christopher, you grow up really well.”
Mr. Argent wordlessly turns on his heel and walks back out the door.