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It's for the birds!

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Peter glares the entire time his neighbors are moving in, peeking through his front curtains at the shouting and the obnoxious laughter. There’s two of them, they look like fresh out of college babies, and the prospect of house parties and late night car door slamming is enough that Peter already hates them.

This neighborhood wasn’t for infants, it was refined, small houses and quiet people that had no interest in each other’s business. No one put up obnoxious decorations for Halloween or Christmas. The wildest thing on the block was Mrs. Fieldsburg’s floral painted mailbox.

Trucks, vans, and cars, a stream of people, clearly friends helping with the move, show up all day. Peter complains to his succulents and uses it as an excuse not to get any of his work done.

After all, how could he focus on ripping apart manuscripts fairly if he was already in such a bad mood? And Cora had been clear he needed to ease off or they weren’t going to have any authors left for him to criticize.

Instead, he finds a reason to work on his front yard and keeps an eye on the new nuisances.

He learns their names are Scott and Stiles, based on the yelling, and it’s the first place they’ve ever rented together. The one with floppy hair, Scott, keeps shouting about their first yard, and their first real mailbox, and their first stove. The last bit has Peter squinting a little behind his sunglasses.

The Stiles one doesn’t shout as much, but his laughter is loud and impossible to ignore. Peter doesn’t hate the sound but maybe that’s just because when he finally gets to see Stiles’ make it, he notices how stunning he is. A mile of pale skin, a plush mouth and an enchanting abandon when he’s got his head tipped back and his hand clutching over his belly as he cackles.

“Hey,” Peter hears from his left, beyond the fence as he’s watering the flower box hanging under his living room window. “We just moved in, obviously,” Stiles is calling and he’s got himself leaned on the little white fence that separates their yards. “I’m Stiles and that-” there’s a pause and then Stiles is whipping his head around to point out Scott who is putting out a chair on their porch. “That’s Scott.”

Peter pauses, having released the trigger on his garden sprayer, and looks first over Stiles and then up at Scott who is currently fussing with the positioning of the small matching table for the chair.

“You’ve got a killer yard, maybe you could give us some tips, we want to get some planting done. We’re supposed to maintain the front and back as part of our neighborhood agreement, but man, neither of us have ever kept a plant alive, you know?” Stiles is still chatting, fingers fidgeting on the edge of the fence and his weight shifting. He doesn’t look nervous, but Peter can practically taste his energy, his heartbeat quick. The excitement of the move, probably.

“Peter Hale,” he offers with a gesture of his hand. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Peter finishes watering his flower box and then starts walking with the hose, coiling it as he goes around his arm. “But, if you’d like, I could give you a few tips once you’re settled in.”

“Serious? That’d be awesome, yeah, maybe you could show me what you did with yours? I can kinda see it from our back porch but you’ve got that big tree,” Stiles makes a vertical gesture to indicate the tree and puts a hand in front of it flat and side ways to show their fence. As if Peter doesn’t know exactly what he’s talking about.

“The last owner of your house agreed to maintain the branches that hang over your side,” Peter says as he walks a bit closer, nearly at the side of his house, and drops the hose where it belongs before he’s approaching the fence.

“The privacy it offers has been a selling feature,” Peter smirks a bit and then settles against his fence with a propped hip. The thing is only waist high, more a divider and a quaint aesthetic than a real barrier.

Stiles nods at him and leans over more, hands on the edge of the fence and his foot coming up between the posts to rest on the connecting wood. The toe of his ked officially in Peter’s yard.

“Yeah he warned us not to go chopping branches down willy-nilly,” Stiles says and looks over at Peter. His gaze seems to pause and wander; Peter smirks under the attention.

A scuffle from the porch draws Peter’s to look over to Scott scraping the furniture across the boards as he repositions it.

When he looks back, he lets his gaze drag down Stiles’ neck and over the tee shirt and thin plaid he’s wearing. There’s smudges of dirt and paint on him, his clothes and his arms where the sleeves are rolled up to his elbows; forearms barely tanned with an obvious cord of muscle and a dusting of dark freckles.

Looking back up Peter smirks, Stiles’ eyes have rounded out and he’s staring before he twitches himself away from the fence and rubs his hands off on his shirt front. If he wasn’t turning pink at the collar Peter would think he was offended.

“I should finish up, we really want to get the furniture set up today,” Stiles’ hands come up and he’s waving them, fingers tight and spread and held in front of his chest. “It was nice to meet you, Peter, I - we should talk again. About the yards. Gardening.” He’s backed up and Peter watches him get to the stone path that leads to his porch.

“Feel free to stop by,” Peter calls after him with a deeper smirk and a last look before he’s turning and walking across his grass to his porch. He pauses at his front door to look over and catches Stiles peeking back at him before the blush becomes noticeable on fair cheeks and he darts into his house.

Maybe they won’t be the worst neighbors after all.

 

=====

 

 

Peter sees a lot of Stiles in the few weeks after he moves in. Never for very long. It’s often a wave across the fence. Occasionally it’s a quick chat about local eateries or places to buy organic pumpkin seed butter.

Stiles grins at him when they, by absolute chance, go outside to collect their mail at the same time each morning. It’s neighborly, friendly, Stiles is loud and charming but always on his side of the fence.

He crosses it on a Tuesday morning and when Peter answers his short rapid burst of knocking. Stiles is holding a bag of gourmet bird seed with a mild pink crawling up his jawline and his feet shifting on the porch wood.

“You were telling me about the bird feeders in your backyard, and I thought, you know, I never brought over baking or something. Scott’s mom said we were supposed to bring something around to the neighbors but everyone else around here…” Stiles’ face pulls down and he shrugs one shoulder.

“Keeps to themselves?” Peter suggests with a smirk, as if he hadn’t spent his years on this block ignoring every other neighbor he’s had.

Stiles nods vigorously and switches the plastic sack of bird food over to his other arm so he can gesture with his right hand. “We tried, you know. We were going to do the loop, and the house with the ugly puke green trim accused us of trying to give them,” his eyebrows dip and his voice lowers, “brownie-brownies.”

Peter snorts and leans into his door frame, more fascinated by the way Stiles moves when he’s agitated than the story. The house with the ugly puke green trim also turns their lights off on Halloween so Peter isn’t that surprised.

“As if people are going around giving that shit away for free,” Stiles snorts back at him and then he’s hoisting up the bag at Peter who has to take it or let it hang awkwardly in his door frame.

“My birds will be delighted,” Peter says as he looks down at the bag, a heavy mix of nuts and seeds and corn. It’s not the fine blend he usually fills his feeders with, but he appreciates the gesture, perhaps his birds will as well.

“Yeah? Good,” Stiles smiles, the edges soft, it’s disarming.

“Did you want to see the garden?” Peter asks suddenly, brows up as he hoists the seed back to his hip.There’s a sharp uptick in Stiles’ heartbeat, it’s loud and flattering; Peter can’t help the way his teeth peek out when he grins at him and then gestures out the door.

“Yeah, I mean, I’d love to,” Stiles chimes and he’s fussing with his hoodie pocket, tangling his fingers with something he’s stored inside. He glances behind him and then takes a step back with a sharp chirp of alarm when Peter is stepping out of his house and he nearly doesn’t get out of the way in time.

Peter pauses to watch him, bending to hook his finger in the heel of each of his shoes to slide his feet fully into them. “Come on around back,” he says as he breezes by down the steps and around the side of the house. The sound of a rabbity heartbeat behind him curling something hot in the wolf’s belly.

Stiles follows him down the cobblestone path through the gate to his backyard, leaving it swung open after himself as he’s lead into the garden. He freezes up behind Peter for a moment and his chin angles up as he looks thoughtfully around himself.

“This is really nice,” Stiles gestures wide with both hands before they’re back in his pocket and he’s looking up at the tree that borders their shared fence. “That’s a nice tree.”

Peter turns to look at him, brows pitched at the stilted tone before he sees that Stiles means it. He’s looking up at the tree with something like adoration before his gaze trips around and he’s admiring the rest of the yard.

There’s lilies, sage, and salvia hedging the house. It’s green and lush and spotted with a bird feeder on either side with a fountain in among the penstemon. Peter takes pride in his yard. His raspberry bushes tucked against the far fence, and the raised garden bed with an ornamental rock wall at the back, his hand laid circular patio area with seating and a bbq.

“Dude this is - our yard looks like shit,” Stiles gushes as he’s ducking to touch some of the greenery and then watching as Peter goes to take a nearly empty bird feeder down and fill it with his gifted bird food. “This is an oasis,” his hand flails but he’s moved to pet the bark of the tulip tree. “Literally,” he points to the water fountain that’s trickling quietly in an imitation of a waterfall.

“Thank you,” Peter tries not to sound like he’s preening, but he’s preening, mouth turned up and his shoulders a little more rolled back as he comes down off the low garden wall, having set the bird feeder back on it’s designated tree branch. “I spend a lot of time outside.”

“So do I but I’m struggling to keep the grass alive,” Stiles whines, his hand up and in his hair as he looks around and not so subtly smiles at the bird feeder.

“Maybe I could lend you a hand,” Peter offers as he goes to put the bird seed in his locked storage bin, checking the seal with his finger once he’s closed it again. “Before you kill a dozen plants attempting it yourself.”

There’s a pause for an indignant gasp that’s as fake as Stiles’ scowl, his scent warm and sweet, with a strong dash of hazelnuts. Though, Stiles’ always smells like hazelnuts, even from across the fence.Hazelnuts and something peculiar that he can’t quite place yet.

“I’m going to let that go because I could actually use the help,” Stiles says as he wrinkles his nose up in a way that makes Peter’s chest swoop like it hasn’t in years.

 

=====

 

They start work on Stiles’ backyard six days later.

Peter comes for a tour with a disdainful scowl for the dead daisies (how does anyone kill a daisy?) and yellow grass but he leaves Stiles with a list of supplies and suggested plants and they make a date to get things started.

The next few weeks Peter spends his late afternoons split between going across the fence to help Stiles figure out mulch and planting, and arguing with a squirrel that’s recently showed up to raid his bird feeders.

The new seed must have attracted him in. He’s the first rodent that’s dared step foot in Peter’s yard since last year when Derek got drunk at a BBQ and pissed on the tulip tree.

Apparently, this squirrel has no fear of apex predators and is determined to chase away the birds with his ear piercing chirping and the way he stuffs his face with bird food before he’s scampering down the fence.

It becomes a thing.

Peter chases off the squirrel and the squirrel climbs to a branch in the tree he feels safe in and yells down at the wolf. Sometimes Peter catches the squirrel in the bird feeder. Sometimes he catches the obnoxious rodent sunning himself on the garden wall; tail curled over his back and all of his tiny limbs splayed out on the warm stone.

It shouldn’t be so annoying but it was strange to feel laughed at and spited by an animal so far down from him on the food chain. He moves the feeders and hangs them away from the tree branches, on poles instead, and watches the squirrel watching him as he does it.

“You’ll have to find somewhere else to mooch,” he tells the rodent with an irritable growl in his voice. The squirrel whips his tail at him, squawks, and disappears over the fence.

 

=====================================================================

 

“It’s starting to look pretty good,” Stiles says a month into their garden work as he sips on a bottle of beer in a brand Peter can’t stand, but has accepted anyway. It tastes like college and urine.

“It is,” Peter agrees. They’ve both got mud under their nails and sweat sticking their shirts to skin. “Still a ways to go, it’ll take some effort to get the bushes in.”

Stiles nods, and rubs the condensation of his bottle across his forehead with a sharp exhale. “But, that’ll be sweet. Free blueberries? Awesome.”

“Don’t expect them to produce much,” Peter warns, again, because he sees how Stiles eyes up the raspberries when he visits his yard. And those bushes are years old and tenacious.

“Worth it.” Stiles nudges his sunglasses better onto his nose along with a smearing of wet dirt. “Hey, and these,” he reaches down from where he’s sitting in his camping chair and rapped his knuckles against the garden knee pads Peter had lent him, “freaking awesome.”

Peter shakes his head mildly and sips his beer, lips pursed as he swallows. “I told you,” he starts and is cut off by Stiles making a throaty noise and waving a hand at him.

“I know-” Stiles’ tongue catches between his teeth when he smiles and he reaches over to clumsily clink his bottle against Peter’s. “Thanks for doing this.”

“It’s my pleasure,” Peter tips his head to look over and offer a returned cheers though it’s not quite as over enthusiastic. Their bottles linger together for a moment, because Peter’s distracted by the moles near Stiles’ mouth and Stiles has frozen solid staring right back.

 

=====

 

The squirrel figures out a way to climb up the bird feeders within a week. The tiny monster sits and chirps at Peter whenever the wolf comes out to catch him. It feels like laughter.

“If I wasn’t so suburban, I’d eat you,” Peter speaks to the squirrel as he goes to start his watering routine. The squirrel barks at him but doesn’t bolt away, just continues to pick out what he likes out of Peter’s bird food with tiny paws.

Peter works down the other fence, “I suppose, until I get rid of you, I could call you something.”

There’s a distinct rhythmic scratch as the squirrel climbs the fence and runs along the top, landing himself on a tall post near Peter. He takes out a mouthful of seeds and starts working through them. Littering shells as he goes.

“Irritating rat?” Peter asks, and the squirrel thumps at him, tiny back feet stomping and his tail wagging, “no? Fine.” There’s a pause as he looks up to the squirrel, realizes he’s talking to a squirrel, and scowls. It’s the first time they’ve been this close, just a few feet of space between them.

Peter doesn’t know anything about squirrels, they’re rodents, they’re annoying, but he couldn’t identify the type. This one is red and glossy in the late evening sunlight.

“I still want you out of my bird feeders,” he scolds quietly, in a huff, turning the sprayer over the raspberry bushes. “Little Red.”

There’s quiet chattering, it doesn’t sound agitated and when Peter looks up the squirrel is leaning forward over its front paws to sniff in his direction.

“Now, get out of my yard,” Peter shoos, turning the sprayer on to mist and puffing it a few times in the fluffy rat’s direction.

The squirrel yells at him but darts out of the way down the fence where he continues to bark, and then disappears.

Good.

Peter buys squirrel baffles the next day and clips the cones under his feeders.

 

=====

 

“So, it’s you,” Peter accuses when Stiles’ comes over for dinner after they’ve finally finished tilling and mulching his under window garden space.

Stiles freezes up, eyes turning over to him and his hand paused on its way to his mouth. A handful of hazelnuts visible between his fingers. Peter could smell them when he’d walked in.

“What?” Stiles asks, his voice sounds a little squeaky.

“I keep finding hazelnuts around my yard,” Peter says as he looks over at Stiles and purses his lips.

It was an understatement. He found hazelnuts in his patio furniture, tucked under seat cushions and in the folds of the table umbrella. In the flower pots he kept on the back steps. A few memorable ones on his windowsills.

Stiles glances at his handful of nuts and slowly goes to put them into his pocket. They make a little curve in the hoodie material. “Oh, I-” his tone is quiet, he smells strange and embarrassed.

“I was wondering who was leaving them out for little Red,” Peter continues, quirking his lips and a brow at his dinner guest as he moves the lasagna out from the oven and on to a pot holder. The entire kitchen smells like hot cheese and garlic. “I have a yard squirrel,” Peter elaborates as he snaps off his oven mitts and goes to pour two glasses of Chianti.

“Oh- oh,” Stiles deflates rapidly a hand on his chest which he then flicks out to flap at Peter. “Dude, yeah, I guess that’s me.” He comes around the kitchen island and starts poking into cupboards until he finds plates, bringing down a pair of them.

Peter brings the glasses to his dining table a few feet away and sets them down at opposite place mats. When he turns around Stiles has snagged a knife off the magnetic strip above the coffee maker and is using it on the garlic bread he’s taken out of the warming drawer.

It’s familiar, in that they’ve eaten together plenty of times, though usually it’s light meals sitting around one of their yards. Sandwiches, occasionally a bbq’d burger, casual food and beer. But it’s new to sit down at an indoor table and Peter refuses to be nervous about that.

“Oh my god, it smells so good,” Stiles moans as he’s sampling a piece of bread and then sliding the row of cut pieces onto the cutting board a little nicer. He rolls the foil on the loaf to keep the heat in and then brings the bread to the table. “This is fancy,” he says, shifting his weight and resting a hand on the back of a chair.

“Fancier than frozen pizza and poptarts,” Peter agrees with a snide little tilt to his nose but a warm smile a moment later.

Stiles sticks his tongue out, and then barks a laugh as he scrubs over his hair. “We do actually cook like real adults,” he points out and then takes a seat when Peter sets the lasagna down on a trivet on the table with a knife and a skinny spatula. “You, know, sometimes.”

Peter hums an ‘uh-huh’ of total belief and then takes his own seat after he uses the dimmer switch to take the lighting down to something a little more intimate.They’re not groping in the dark for their forks but it’s not the stark brightness of a friendly meal. The warm glow makes Stiles’ eyes look golden.

“So this is good wine,” Stiles says when he’s sipped his and made a face he can’t hide against the side of the crystal glass.

“It’s better with the sauce,” Peter promises but he’s smirking anyway, reaching over to cut out a few squares from the lasagna and carefully using the spatula to set one onto his own plate. He lifts up a second, holding it carefully as he waits for Stiles to lift his plate up next.

“Thanks,” Stiles says and he shifts in his seat as he brings his food down in front of him and picks up a fork. “I- don’t think anyone’s ever cooked me a whole meal before,” he’s laughing but his neck is turning pink at the edge of his hoodie. “I mean someone like-” he gestures between them.

Peter doesn’t know if he means a friend or something else but he nods anyway.

“You helped,” Peter offers, picking up a piece of garlic bread and setting it on his plate so it’ll absorb some of the oozing sauce.

“Oh yeah, I cut some bread-” Stiles rolls his eyes and his mouth goes tight before he’s skewering his fork in Peter’s direction. “You’re making fun of me.”

Peter nods, mouth curling as he stretches his leg out to bump his socked toes into Stiles’ shin under the table. The leg under his toes jerks and Stiles is kicking him right back before his heel drops back to the floor, and if his toes stay pressed against the arch of Peter’s foot well... he’s not going to say anything about it.

“How was work?” Peter asks, not because he really cares about the woes of the city archives, but because Stiles loves his job.

There’s a pause, while Stiles moans through his first bite of food and startles Peter into fumbling his fork before he starts talking. “Oh man, today was amazing. I came across a death certificate from like a hundred years ago and it said death by wolf in the post office. And I was like, okay what?” He waves his fork around and his brows steeple. “A wolf in the post office?”

Peter raises a brow and makes a circular motion with his bread before he takes a bite out of it.

“So it turns out half the town thought the postmaster was a werewolf and the other half swore he kept one as a pet.” Stiles is grinning like a cat and leaning over the table. “Werewolves,” he repeats but his eyes are sharp enough it makes Peter pause to look at him.

“Fascinating,” Peter says as he reaches for his wine, he swirls it, just for something to look down at before he takes a sip.

Stiles reaches for his own in mirror though he chugs half the glass before he sets it down and wipes his lower lip with his thumb. “Yeah, the kicker is that he actually might have just had a big dog.”

Peter coughs into his wrist and shakes his head when Stiles hand darts out to hover at him. When he catches his breath he laughs and there’s an answering cackle from across the table before they go back to eating.

Stiles keeps talking at him, about how a man in the 70s who tried to elect his pet duck for Sheriff, and how a cult once passed through. He talks through the rest of the meal and Peter listens.

They chat through packing away the leftovers and through the dishes. Stiles only seems to run out of words when they’ve settled on the sofa. Refilled wine glasses in hand, a sparse foot of leather cushion between them; Stiles fiddles with his hoodie sleeves and darts glances over at Peter.

“Thank you for joining me,” Peter says as he leans into his arm rest and studies Stiles’ profile. His heartbeat is so fast, it always seems fast, but now it’s sprinting.

Stiles fingers blanche against his wine glass before he tosses it back and sets it on the low coffee table. “Thank you for having me,” he pauses and swallows, “for dinner,” his hands fidget and wave, “I mean having me over for dinner.”

Peter exhales slowly and sets his own half filled glass down before he’s leaning back and putting an arm across the back of the sofa. “I enjoy our time together,” he murmurs and pauses to reach a hand out and set it on Stiles’ knee. “I hope we can do it again?”

The house is too quiet for a moment as Stiles breath spikes, the sweet spice in his scent rising like steam and then he’s nodding and dropping cool fingers over Peter’s hand.

“I’d really like that,” Stiles squeezes his fingers against Peter’s before he’s wiggling them under and then they’re holding hands.

It should seem childish, but Peter’s stomach does a nervous flop anyway. He glances down at their shared grip as it migrates to sitting on the cushion between them. Stiles’ fingers are long and pale, his own broader and tanned. He draws his thumb slowly across Stiles’ knuckles once and then again, sweeping as they sit in the quiet.

Later, when Stiles leaves it’s with a nervous parting hug that lingers in the doorway. The neighbors would be scandalized. Peter’s delighted, and he draws in a handful of red hoodie to press a light kiss against Stiles’ temple.

“Goodnight, sweetheart,” Peter whispers and Stiles rubs at his pink cheeks on the walk back across the yard to his own house.

 

=====

 

In the following week, Peter finds tiny bright red paw prints along his garden wall with half an abandoned raspberry, a pile of hazelnuts tucked into the crook of his tree branches, and the squirrel baffle on the ground under the bird feeder with very precise chew marks through the clasp.

This tiny creature is besting him. Outsmarting him. Peter’s fuming as he takes the broken plastic baffle out of his garden and he returns to the internet to find something else to dissuade his little Red.

When he tells Stiles about it the next time they’re working in his yard, he laughs, loud and bright, with a sort of mischief that Peter doesn’t understand but wants to taste.

“Maybe he just likes you,” Stiles says over his shoulder at Peter who is sitting on the porch on a camping chair lazily sipping his weak piss water beer.

The new shed they picked out together had been delivered, tucked neatly to the side of the yard. Stiles is sorting out his garden supplies into the fresh shelves with a focused energy Peter’s never seen before.

It’s almost hard to watch. Stiles ducks in and out of the shed seemingly at random, holding a single item at a time to pick a place for. He’s got sheers in his hands now, and a thoughtful look on his face before he zips in to put them upright in a blueberry themed tool caddy Peter had gifted to him.

“I think he’s mocking me,” Peter complains, resting his cheek against his beer bottle, and watching Stiles march a bag of fertilizer, and then a rake, and then a hose attachment, and then a different bag of fertilizer in. “Not afraid of me at all.”

Stiles peeks out of the shed at him and squints, his sunglasses tucked into the front of his obscure tee shirt with a reference Peter doesn’t understand enough to even ask about.

“Do you really want to be scary to a squirrel? Is that really important to you?” Stiles is grinning, the sharp toothed kind that means he’s really delighted.

When he says it so bluntly, Peter does sort of wonder why he’s fighting with a rodent, but he rolls a lazy shrug anyway and grins right back. “Yes, it is.”

The raspberry Stiles blows echoes through the shed and so does the following giggle. Peter rolls his eyes and goes back to watching him pick items at random to store away. He wonders how anyone could tolerate being so chaotic, his own shed was meticulous.

When Stiles is done he’s petting the door of his shed with a satisfied smile and his scent is curling into something spicy and pleased.

“Come see,” Stiles says shyly, tapping his fingers on the shed door as he steps away from it with a gesture.

Peter imagines strewn tools and hides a wince before he climbs off the porch to look. His hand settles lightly on the small of Stiles’ back as he nears. Stiles is warm through his shirt, and he leans a bit into the touch before he looks over and reaches up to hook his elbow up on Peter’s shoulder.

“This is organized,” Peter says blankly after a moment of staring, everything is neatly clumped by use or season, it’s a showroom quality shed. Call Home and Garden. The body under his hand bristles up and Stiles scowls over at him.

“Wow,” Stiles snips, stepping away and back to the deck to the pile of hazelnuts he left on the railing. “I’m totally organized. I’m an excellent organizer.” He looks indignant and chews like it.

The strange smell, Peter has yet to place, intensifies. Musky almost, but clean, and frustrating. Peter braces his hands up in a placating gesture as he looks up at Stiles’ waspish expression.

“Yes, clearly,” he says and comes up to join him on the porch. “I didn’t mean to offend,” Peter can’t help but quirk his brows up because it’s a picky response and he finds it just a little funny.

“You’re very organized, lamb, you did a very nice job of the shed,” he coos it a bit, and goes to tug Stiles closer by his shirt front, soothing the crease between his brows with a warm thumb.

Stiles cracks a moment later, rolling his eyes and grumbling as he reaches around and gives Peter a proper hug; cheek on his shoulder before he’s pulled back to pluck up a few hazelnuts.

“Shut up,” Stiles pinches his side and then goes to pop himself up to sit on the railing.

Peter doesn’t understand his desire to perch himself up five feet in the air and goes back to sit in his camping chair.

“We’re almost done for the season,” Peter drinks more of his beer before he abandons it into the attached vinyl cup holder and turns his head to survey the yard. Everything that could be managed was just about done. There’s a pang in his chest as he thinks about losing his time with Stiles.

The bang of rubber sole against wood draws Peter’s attention back up to Stiles who is raising a brow at him, one leg brought up with him so he can rest his arms around a knee.

“You’ll help me with up keep though,” Stiles says, first like he’s testing it and then more firmly, “you wouldn’t want me to kill everything.”

“You’re right, I can’t leave you totally unsupervised.” It really would be a crime to have all this work undone.

Stiles shifts on his perch, “yeah. My garden guide.” His front teeth peek out when he smiles.


“Of course, sweetheart,” Peter agrees with a long look before he’s flinching away from a hazelnut Stiles chucks at his face.

 

=====

 

Four and a half months after Stiles moved in next door and subsequently into his life, they’ve got his yard completely sorted; complete with his own bird feeder and a bird bath with spitting frogs that Peter had set up as a surprise after a trip they’d taken to the gardening store.

Personally, he hated it, but Stiles had adored the stupid thing. He’d named the frogs before he’d seen the price tag and squawked.

They don’t talk about what they are or what they aren’t, and Peter’s alright with that. He’s persistent, he has no qualms against a long courtship.

The only remaining problem is the damn squirrel. Little Red comes by routinely to steal bird food and cache food around. He’s got a nest in Peter’s tree. He chitters when Peter’s working in the garden and scampers off whenever the wolf gets a little too annoyed with him.

Short of actually eating the thing, Peter doesn’t know what else to do, and he’s begrudgingly a little fond of the animal. Not that it stops him from going out in the middle of the night and greasing up his bird feeder poles.

It might not be ethical but the decoy owl Peter had bought had been knocked over and stuffed with hazelnuts and bird food, so really, the little rat deserved it. Peter would not be mocked by an afternoon snack.

He’s not sure it’ll work, considering the apparent intelligence of his backyard pest but sure enough, while Peter’s having his morning coffee on the porch he watches little Red dart across the fence.

The squirrel leaps down and shimmies around the base of the feeder before with a solid jump he grabs for the metal pole and slides around it to fall a half a foot away on the other side. Stunned and bobbling back up to his paws.

Peter has to cover an ear against the explosive chattering that follows as the angry slicked down ball of fur rushes off the garden wall and across the patio stones.

He makes it to the porch before Peter even processes that he’s being charged by a squirrel and thinks to take a step back from the barking creature. It hops up the porch railing and in a blink the oiled fur is replaced by a dark brown cowlick and pinched up features.

“That is not fair. That was mean. I could have broken my neck,” Stiles rants at him, with one hand instinctively cupped over his naked groin and the other gesticulating angrily into Peter’s face.

“Stiles-” Peter starts, blinking slowly at Stiles’ face before the opportunist in him looks down to take in the rest. “Stiles, you’re naked in my yard.”

The words don’t seem to click before Stiles flushes a dark red and looks down at himself and then backwards at the neighbor's fences and then he’s darting forward to let himself into Peter’s house.

“Look I thought, you know, it was fun, I liked - I told you I liked your yard. I bought you bird food! I bought you my favorite bird food!” Stiles is using a kitchen hand towel to hold over himself as he grumbles accusingly. “I thought you were joking about not liking - me?”

Peter chews his lips a moment, holds up a hand, and Stiles falls silent after a few breaths.

“You’re a weresquirrel?”

“You’re a werewolf.” Stiles shrugs at him and then he pauses. “Oh my god you didn’t know! I totally thought you figured it out? Like months ago?”

That shocks Peter enough that he has to set down his coffee mug and raise a hand to rub at his brow. “I’m a werewolf?”

Stiles nods at him as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world and then he’s reaching over into a jar of hazelnuts Peter started keeping around for him weeks ago.

“Dude you made a cache in your house for me, I totally thought you knew.” Stiles raises his handful of hazelnuts before the palmful goes into his mouth.

“How did you know about me?” Peter demands trying to recall anything that could have outed him.

There’s a gentle hum from Stiles who waves his hand a bit and swallows. “Dude, relax, I’ve got like a super enhanced sense of you know, predators and danger, and things that could eat me. I’ve known since you introduced yourself.”

They’re quiet for a few moments before Peter sighs, rolls his shoulders, and moves to get down a second coffee mug. “Black, two sugars, sweetheart?” He speaks as he’s already pouring.

Stiles grins at him from across the kitchen and nods before he’s approaching and goes to slide under Peter’s shirt to grip his waist. He hadn’t quite gotten all of the oil off on the towel so it’s a little slick, but he squeezes enough that Peter gets the point and turns around.

“You’re not mad, right?” Stiles asks, nose wrinkled up and his mouth turned down as he studies Peter. Twitching his weight from foot to foot.

It would be silly to be mad, a little embarrassed maybe, but hanging on to that would be pointless. Especially when he’s got Stiles nearly pressed against him like this.

Peter lifts a hand and lets it rest on Stiles’ shoulder, slowly dragging it along his skin until he can cradle the nape of his fragile little neck and pull him in gently. It’s been months that he’s wanted to do this but they’d been dancing around it, playing cat and mouse-- so to speak.

“I’m furious, little Red” Peter breathes with an obvious eye roll before Stiles rushes forward to close the gap.

He tastes like hazelnuts and smells like olive oil and it’s perfect.