Stiles hesitated for a long moment – long enough that the call went to voicemail. He stared at his phone, waiting for the inevitable second call. He wasn’t disappointed. His phone lit up again seconds later and started buzzing again. Not long enough for anyone to have left a voicemail, which did not bode well. He answered the call, pressing his phone to his ear. The silence that answered him did little to calm his nerves. “Hey,” he said slowly.
“Don’t even try to bullshit with me, baby Milo,” came the glacial, furious response. “You missed the Skype call twice.”
Stiles winced. Yeah, his brother was not happy with him. He only pulled out Milo when he was a step below getting on a plane, and if it had come to that over one missed phone call, he was in some deep kimchee. “What are the odds I can convince you that it wasn’t my fault?”
“Donna found a missing person report,” he said curtly.
“Okay, yeah, that happened, but it really wasn’t me!” Stiles said. “I just got temporarily abducted by a geriatric asshole with a grudge against someone else. Not me. Not at all.”
His brother snorted. “And what did this geriatric asshole do with you while he had you?” he asked. “Play checkers?”
That had Stiles hesitating.
“Three broken ribs, a fat lip, and a black eye,” Stiles answered, giving his brother the same answer he’d given his father.
“Don’t lie to me, you little shit. You’ve got a tell.”
“Over the phone.”
“Little stab wound in the thigh. Five stitches, and it missed anything critical,” Stiles said.
Harvey sighed. “And your dad?”
“Is on shift.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Stiles nodded. “I know. He’s good. I’m healing. We’re all good on this end.” He paused. “I’m sorry I worried Donna.”
Harvey made an odd noise in the back of his throat. “She’ll get you back when you visit.” He paused, and Stiles heard someone else talking to Harvey on the other end of the call. “I’ve got a meeting across town.”
He grinned. “I’ve got homework to not do anyway,” Stiles said.
“Liar,” Harvey said, his tone mellowing. “Don’t miss another call. I don’t want to have to fly to California just to do a welfare check on you.” He hung up without so much as a farewell.
Stiles pulled the phone away from his ear with a huff. Harvey was such a diva sometimes. Still, the call wasn’t as bad as it could have been. And his research was calling his name. He tossed his phone aside and grabbed for his laptop, eager to finish reading about the Turkic Kurtadam.
Whoop here it is - chapter 2!
(For anyone wondering, I ain't got the foggiest idea where this is going. There's a plot in here somewhere, but I haven't found it yet. If/When I do, it'll be fun to see if I can make sense of whatever's been written so far. Critique is great, so are suggestions - though I can't promise the latter will always be used.)
The conversation with his brother stuck in Harvey’s head throughout his meeting.
Somehow, a hopeful potential associate had managed to convince Donna to book a meeting with him. Fortunately, they’d chosen a decent enough restaurant for the meeting, and he’d only been slightly surprised to learn that the young woman with bubblegum pink hair was his appointment.
He’d taken a seat at the bar next to her, only halfway listening and wondering how the hell Mara Gager had managed to get past Donna’s defenses – especially when there wasn’t a Senior Partner position open at the moment. If he’d even wanted an associate, he could have very easily plucked a duckling from Pearson Harman’s current gaggle of hopefuls.
When he first arrived and introduced himself, Mara had stared for a good minute before launching into a spiel about how much she needed the opportunity, that Harvard had been harder on her than she thought it would be, but that she would make a complete turnaround in the field. The only thing that caught his attention was her complete avoidance of what she was currently doing for work – not that it mattered much either way. Apart from the hair, she was just another of the clones that already inhabited Pearson Hardman’s lower echelons.
He was bored before the bartender set his drink on the table.
Mara took a breath, finally, and Harvey decided to throw her a bone with one question. “When you’re in court, would you cross-examine an adverse witness solely to discredit their reliability when you know for a fact they’re telling the truth?” he asked dryly.
Mara went blank.
Five seconds, ten, and then thirty seconds passed.
Mara was back to staring at him.
Harvey sighed, tossed back the last of his drink and pulled a twenty out of his wallet for the bartender. “How’d you get Donna to schedule an interview with me?”
She winced a little bit. “I told her I was someone who needed to speak to a great lawyer as soon as possible,” she said. “And I may have not said anything about looking for a job.”
Harvey snorted, handing the bartender the money as he walked up to check on the two of them. “So, you lied to Donna.” He leveled a look on her. “Word to the wise, don’t. She is capable of blacklisting you from every firm in the city, and she’s vicious when she’s been lied to,” he said, standing up.
“Wait, what? That’s it?” she asked. “I need this job!” she said, grabbing at his arm to try and stop him from leaving.
“There never was a job available,” he said, stepping just out of her reach. “Might be wise to not reach out to my firm any time soon.” Donna was going to be pissed.
Fortunately, the restaurant was only a few blocks from his apartment. He headed down the sidewalk, pulling his phone out and dialing a number as he walked.
It was answered on the first ring with a rough grunt.
“Manners haven’t improved, then?” Harvey asked.
“What do you want, Specter? I’ve been keeping mine in line. No one’s violated your terms,” came the frustrated response. “And I’m dealing with a pair of love-struck teenage morons right now, so make this quick.”
Harvey smirked. “This has nothing to do with our arrangement. I need to cash in one of those favors you owe me,” he said.
The silence on the other end was not unexpected. He heard the quiet sound of a door being shut and then another few seconds of silence before: “I was beginning to think you were never gonna cash those,” he said. “What’s got you wired enough to call me for help?”
“Geographical convenience,” Harvey said, hoping the flippant tone would be enough to disguise his bud of concern. “And I believe it’s more in your realm of expertise than mine,” he said.
That pulled a satisfied rumble out of the other man. “This is a pleasant surprise. Who do you need me to kill?”
Harvey stopped, a sigh escaping him before he could escape it, and pinched the bridge of his nose. “That is absolutely not what I meant. I know a Mowgli who’s in the sort of trouble that I can’t help with, and since he doesn’t have an Akela, I need someone to step in and play temporary advocate on his behalf. Unfortunately, Ennis, you are the only one I know capable enough to do the job right, even if you lack any knowledge of the concept of subtlety,” he said.
Ennis laughed. “I can do subtle. Where is your Mowgli?”
“California,” Harvey said, mildly confident and resuming his pace.
“Narrow that down, man. It’s a big state, and I’m still in Tahoe.”
“SoCal. Little town called Beacon Hills,” Harvey said. “You remember the place?”
Ennis paused before speaking. “Interesting place to stash a Mowgli.”
Harvey huffed out a laugh. “Not my first choice, but he’s stubborn.”
“Runs in the family, then?”
“Yeah, yeah, fuck you. You up to help or too caught up in teenage morons to manage it?”
“I can do it. If the little punk doesn’t leave my niece alone, you may get a call asking for a good criminal defense in this time zone,” Ennis said.
“Like you’re going to leave enough for that to be necessary.”
Ennis laughed again. “You’re too smart for your own good sometimes, you know that?” he asked. Without waiting for a response, he barreled on. “Am I relocating your Mowgli, or is this more of a welfare check? And you know there’s been my kind of activity there lately. More than in almost ten years.”
“Second option,” Harvey said, glancing around as he walked into his building. He didn’t see anyone paying him too much attention, but with the conversation he was having, he couldn’t be too careful. “And I wasn’t aware. I thought everything was pretty much ashes in that aspect.”
“Dormant is not dead, Specter. There have been rumors of a rogue and what amounts to civilian exposure. I don’t know if anyone’s been Bit yet, but if the rumors are true, it’s a matter of time.”
Harvey frowned. “Welfare check and situational assessment. I need details when you’re done.”
“Only if you can make it to my territory. Otherwise, my phone’s still a secure line,” Harvey said. “I need subtle from you. I don’t know if my Mowgli’s aware yet.”
“Yet?” Ennis asked dubiously.
“He’s too smart for his own good.”
“Something else that runs in the family.”
Harvey rolled his eyes. “I’m about to get on an elevator, so I need an answer. You able and willing?”
“I am,” Ennis said, no doubt flipping him off as he spoke. “It’ll take me a few days. Need to finish dealing with Juliet and the punk ass who wants to play Romeo, but I’ll be out there by the end of the week and have something for you maybe a week after that.”
He nodded. “I appreciate it,” he said. He expected to hear a curt farewell and then a dial tone, so when he was only answered by silence, his frown returned. “Ennis?”
“You want welfare on Mowgli’s Pop, too?” Ennis asked. “Sheriff’d be right in the middle of the shit.”
Harvey paused, mulling it over. “If you’re able without exposure. Mowgli’s the priority,” he said.
Ennis whistled lowly. “Man, you know how to hold a grudge.”
“You didn’t see the worst of it. I did. If I have to lose him to save Mowgli, I will.”
Another low whistle. “You sure you’re all squishy? Cause it sounds like you’ve got my kind of sharp edges under whatever expensive fucking suit you’re wearing.”
Harvey snorted, stepping onto the elevator, and pressed the button for the penthouse level. “Just a skill honed over years of experience and practice,” he said. “I’m relatively harmless otherwise.”
It was Ennis’ turn to snort. “Bull-fucking-shit, Specter. I’ll call you as soon as I have something.”
“As I said, much appreciated.”
“And was there anything else you want?”
Harvey cocked his head to the side. “Only to offer the suggestion that naming a girl Juliet is just asking for trouble. And if she’s your sister’s kid, double whammy. Your sister is smoking.”
Ennis rumbled. “I’ll let her husband know you think so.”
“Thanks,” Harvey drawled. “I’ll be waiting for your update.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Ennis said. “I get it. Grey Brother needs to protect his Mowgli. I’m your Huckleberry,” he said, and ended the call without another word.
Harvey tucked his phone back in his pocket. It didn’t put him completely at ease, but it would be enough to calm the worst of his concern while he waited for Ennis to call with updates.
Harvey did his best to be patient. Intelligence gathering was a delicate enough process even without taking into account the fact that his half-brother was infuriatingly slippery when he wanted to be. That, and the unpredictability of werewolf politics, forced him to be more patient than he wanted.
When a week and a half had passed with no word from Ennis, though, he started to worry.
An unnecessary conversation with Louis on his way back in from a quick lunch had him wired, and he stormed into his office, intent on calling Ennis and demanding some kind of answer. He had his cellphone out and the number halfway keyed in when he noticed the familiar teenager lounging on the couch in his office.
"Hey Harvey," Stiles said with a lazy grin, though Harvey didn't miss the odd, hardened look in the teenager's eyes.
"How the hell did you get in here?" Harvey asked, lowering his phone. "And don't you have school?"
"It's mid-June, Harvey. It's summer break."
"Answer the first question."
"I brought Donna coffee and a Panda from California Donuts," Stiles said.
"Do not make me pull out the name card, kid," he said, setting his phone down and shooting a quick glare out at Donna. She just responded with a grin as she bit into the donut.
He rolled his eyes and sat up. "I've got this older brother who's somehow more protective than my father, who is the Sheriff of a small town currently in chaos, and who gave me a credit card to use for emergencies," Stiles said. "And this wonderful thing called the Internet gave me access to the resources necessary to purchase an airplane ticket. Those Wright brothers, man. They're on to something," he said.
Harvey huffed. "Did something happen?"
Stiles shook his head. "Not with me."
"The hell is that supposed to mean?"
He walked over to Harvey's desk and leaned his arms against it. "Did you know that when you send someone to spy on someone else, it helps if they don't stick out like an Alpha werewolf in a town full of humans?" he asked, pitching his voice low.
Harvey's eyes narrowed. "You know?"
"I've gotten a crash course in werewolf this past year," Stiles said. "And I do remember Ennis. I wasn't completely unaware of the rest of the world at that time."
Not like his father had been. Harvey sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "How'd you figure out he was checking in on you?" he asked.
Stiles just gave Harvey a flat look. "Dude, Ennis is like seven feet tall and he drives a 1960s Mustang. He looks like no one else in Beacon Hills. Probably not even Beacon County. And he's got a vanity license plate. It was easy enough to track his name down," he said. "And when the dude just happens to be driving down my street at different times of the day and then coming up to the door about an hour after Dad left for his shift, pretending to be moving into the neighborhood and asking what the area's like?" he asked. "He's allergic to subtlety, and you can afford to pick better spies."
"And when you add in the glowing red eyes at night and him calling me Mowgli? Dude, it's either Ennis the Alpha werewolf or Sasquatch."
"Alright, I get it." He glanced at his phone, which still had no new text messages or emails, scowl darkening when he looked back over at Stiles. "How'd you get rid of him without him tipping me off?"
Stiles grinned suddenly. "Did you know that when you've got someone's full name and driver's license, it's really easy to find out what their criminal record is?" he asked. "Ennis has a few busts for assault. All three ended with probation and community service for some reason, but if you bring that up in your conversation with him, he freaks the fuck out?"
Harvey sighed. "You threatened an Alpha werewolf?"
Stiles shrugged. "He came to my house under false pretenses. Fair is fair," he said. "Apparently, when you bring up words like trespassing, menacing, and stalking a minor, it seriously freaks the big guy out."
"I told him I'd keep my mouth shut about it all if he went back home without one word to you on the matter," Stiles said. "He called me an asshole but if you haven't heard from him, I guess he's kept his word."
"You are a little shit."
"I take after my brother," Stiles said with a sharp grin. "I don't need you checking in on me that much. The abduction was a one-time thing. It's not going to happen again."
Stiles rolled his eyes. "Fine. I can't guarantee that it's a one-time thing, but I'm going to do my best to make sure it doesn't happen again." He cocked his head to the side. "And I get to skip the Skype call next week because an in-person visit counts for double."
"I never agreed to that."
The teenager shrugged. "It's new. Since I have the means and the ability to get rid of an Alpha werewolf without alerting the cops or the other werewolves in town, I figure that proves I'm not completely helpless. If you want to talk on Skype, wait until next month."
Harvey frowned but didn't say anything for a long moment. "Fine."
"And you won't send anyone else to watch me?"
"I don't have an endless pool of spies," Harvey said, deliberately not answering the question. It wouldn't go unnoticed, but he wasn't going to outright lie to Stiles about it.
He stared at Harvey for a brief moment, head cocked to the side, before nodding once. "I don't believe that for a minute, but I'll take it. I've got a flight to catch anyway."
"I can have Ray-"
"Uber's gonna be out front in five minutes," he said, holding up his phone. "I'll be fine. I told you, Harvey, I'm not helpless."
He frowned but didn't say anything, letting Stiles leave without further comment.
They'd let Deucalion go.
The druid had restored his vision, and his nephew and McCall had allowed the man responsible for the deaths of close to three dozen people a second chance. A second goddamn chance for the self-proclaimed demon wolf.
He'd had his throat slashed open for doing what was expected of him.
"Holy shit - Peter?"
The question startled Peter out of his half-feral state. He looked back at his hands, watching as his claws receded and he pulled back the shift. The blood didn't fade, though, and he found himself less than concerned about its origin.
"The fuck did you do, dude?" Stiles asked as he took a few steps forward.
He was standing at the trunk of the Nemeton, mangled parts of what used to be a body strewn on and around the tree trunk.
"I think you disemboweled my English teacher, dude," Stiles said, finally coming to stand next to Peter. He cocked his head to the side, looking almost curiously at the head, which was resting almost perfectly in the middle of the stump, though her eyes had been gouged out.
"You don't sound too broken up about it."
"Given everything that's happened in the past seventy-two hours, it's not even on my radar."
"And I am?"
Stiles shrugged. "Indirectly, I guess. I've been at the hospital with Dad since we got out of the dirt, but I suddenly got this pull to come here," he said. "Don't know why, though."
Peter snorted, though he was privately pleased. The Nemeton had decent taste - and if Stiles could feel its pull, it only further piqued Peter's interest in the teenager. "It can sense a lack of balance and will strive to restore that balance through whatever means necessary."
The teenager snorted, tossing a hand at the bloody stump. "One killing wasn't enough?" he asked.
"Apparently not," Peter said. His eyes flashed as a face came into mind.
"He's still alive?" Stiles asked, apparently having thought of the same man.
"I take it you weren't brought up to date, then," Peter said mildly.
"I was trapped under the trunk of a magic tree while a druid tried to kill me and my dad and a bunch of other people, and Scott and I haven't talked since then. He made sure we were all okay and then he and Derek fucked off to wherever," Stiles said. He huffed out a quiet laugh. "Temporary death sucks ass. I've actually got some respect for you."
"Temporary death?" Peter asked, the question coming out in a growl. His eyes flashed as he whirled on Stiles, backing the teenager against a tree. "You sacrificed-"
"It was the only way to find my dad," Stiles snapped, not intimidated in the least. "And I didn't have to mind-fuck a teenager to come back, so don't even try to play holier-than-thou, asshole," he snapped.
The sudden rumble of thunder stopped them both, and Deucalion's face once again flashed in Peter's mind. The tree was much less patient than Peter would have thought.
"So I guess the tree really wants him dead?" Stiles asked.
Peter smirked. "Care to join, or would you rather sit it out?"
Stiles bared his teeth at Peter. "He almost killed me and my dad," he said. "And he killed Ennis. He's got it coming."
"You had ties to the Alpha?"
"Friend of the family," Stiles said evasively. "Do you have any ideas where Duke's at?" he asked.
Peter paused. Nothing from the Nemeton. "Not yet," he said. "But this is a small town. There aren't many places he could be."
Stiles nodded. "Fair enough." He paused for a moment. "Let's go back to my place. We'll figure things out from there," he said.
"We?" Peter asked, cocking his head to the side.
He shrugged. "I figure if we were both brought here by the magic tree stump, it's got a reason for it. I'll go along with it for now."
"Aren't you quite the pragmatist," Peter mused. "It's quite an attractive quality."
Stiles snorted. "You know that only sounds creepier when you're covered in blood, right?" he asked. "And we can't obey the magic tree if you get arrested for walking around looking like you've just murdered someone." He pulled his keys out of his pocket. "They're keeping Dad overnight for observation so no one else is gonna be there."
Peter snorted but walked with Stiles back to his car. The teenager was uncharacteristically silent on the path back and they made their way back to the Stilinski house without any further comment.
Stiles parked in the driveway next to his dad’s cruiser, staring at the squad car for a long moment before sighing heavily and getting out of the Jeep. “Dad’s got his office, and I can do some poking around to see if I can find anything,” he said. “There’s leftover pizza in the fridge, so you can eat something after you wash the blood off if you want.”
“And I expect you’re going to give me some of your father’s clothes?” Peter asked as he followed Stiles into the house.
He shrugged. “If you want, I guess, but I’ve got some stuff you can wear. It’s a bit big on me so it should work for you, if you don’t object to Star Trek,” he said as he unlocked the front door. “Just let me know if you hear anyone around the house. I’m not expecting anyone,” he said. He punctuated his point by shutting the door as soon as Peter was inside and locking both the handle and the deadbolt, and then activating the home security system.
Peter nodded, holding back his question about the Star Trek reference for the moment. He had no intention of letting anyone, friendly or otherwise, anywhere near the house. He watched as Stiles headed through the living room and slid open a pocket door. “Your father’s office?”
Stiles nodded. “Clean up a bit. I’ll see what I can dig up in here,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s going to take too long. I’ll get you something to wear in like ten minutes, so make sure you get all the blood off of you.” He glanced out the front window and slid the door shut.
Peter stared at the door for a long few seconds before frowning. There was certainly more to this human than first impressions would suggest. He headed upstairs, quickly acquainting himself with the layout of the Stilinski house as he went. It was a decent enough house – certainly an improvement considering his current unfortunate living circumstances. The cabins used by the Hale Pack were private enough, but far from what he was used to. Not to mention the feel of the mattress was uncomfortably similar to a hospital bed. The paperwork reinstating his identity had yet to be processed through, so he’d be unable to regain access to his bank accounts and deposit boxes for another month or so.
He found Stiles’ bedroom easily enough and went into the adjoining bathroom, immediately stripping off his blood-soaked clothes and starting the shower. It didn’t take him too long to clean up, and he kept a careful ear out for Stiles in case the teenager needed anything.
Stiles, on the other hand, found it easier than usual to get into the police system. He didn’t see anything about any of the werewolves that had – until recently – been traipsing through town. He poked around a bit more, frowning when he saw that his dad was due to give testimony at the end of the week. Hopefully he’d be up for it.
He stared at the screen for a long few minutes before an idea popped into his head. He typed in a web address, only slightly surprised to find the absolutely hideous website for an old motor lodge just outside of Beacon Hills. Another bit of knowledge came to mind, and when Stiles successfully typed in the login to get to the back end of the website, he made a mental note to find a way to thank the tree. That line of thought was completely derailed when he saw one name in particular. “Son of a bitch,” he swore loudly.
“Something wrong?” Peter asked, appearing suddenly in the doorway with only a towel wrapped around his waist, hair still dripping wet.
“Jesus Christ,” Stiles yelped, startling enough to almost fall out of the chair. “Don’t do that!” he snapped, glaring at Peter.
“Your heartbeat spiked and your scent went sour,” Peter said casually. “What’s happened?”
“What’s happened is that your nephew is a goddamned moron,” Stiles said, still glaring at Peter.
“This is not news to me.”
Stiles huffed. “No, but what is news is the fact that Derek used his AmEx to get a room at Buck’s Lodge. Two hours ago,” he said. “And since he doesn’t seem to be the type to go for creature comforts, however low-rent and bedbug-infested, I’ll give you two guesses who’s set up there.”
Peter growled lowly, eyes flashing Beta blue.
“Is your father expecting you back at the hospital any time soon?”
He shook his head. “I’m supposed to be home, getting some rest and recovering from everything that’s happened recently. Why?”
“You and I could go out on a last-minute rendezvous. Confirm this suspicion of yours and see where the rest of the night takes us?” he suggested, letting slip a flash of fang as he spoke.
Stiles thought about it, weighing his potential options even though he knew his mind was all but made up. For as much as he wanted to go upstairs, curl up in his bed and ignore the rest of the world for a solid thirty-six to forty-eight hours, he knew he wouldn’t be able to get to sleep with the knowledge that the demon wolf himself was still out in the world. With access to room service, no less. “Do you have a car?”
Peter nodded. “A very inconspicuous Chevy Impala parked in the garage of a house two blocks west,” he said.
“You bought a house in my neighborhood?”
He shook his head, a slight smirk on his face. “The paperwork necessary to legally restore my identity is still processing, so I am unable to make such a large purchase without severely depleting my cash on hand. The house is empty and has been on the market for roughly six months. It’s served as an adequate temporary shelter when my primary hideaway is unavailable,” Peter said. “Let me shift and we can walk over together.”
Stiles was halfway through nodding before that last sentence fully hit him. “Wait, shift? You get that the whole goal is to avoid attention, right?”
Peter smirked. “I am capable of a full shift. At this time of night, it’ll look enough like someone taking a very large dog on a walk that we’ll be able to fly under the radar long enough to make it just a few blocks down the road,” he said. “Grab anything you might need for the rest of the night and I’ll meet you at your back door in five minutes.”
“Sure,” Stiles said. He very deliberately did not watch Peter walk away, just as he definitely hadn’t had to stop ogling the older man during that brief exchange. There were only two things he needed to grab, and they were both stashed away in the lockbox he had hidden under his bed.
He ran up the stairs, casting a quick look to see if Peter had rifled through anything. Not that he expected the werewolf to leave any visible signs of poking around. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, having a quick debate with himself before turning it off and tossing it on his bed. If anyone asked, he could go for the excuse that it died and he forgot it. The quiet click of claws on hardwood downstairs pulled his focus back to the matter at hand and he crawled under his bed, grabbing the lockbox.
In it were three things: a test tube of mountain ash he’d pilfered from Deaton a few months ago, a homemade mace in a repurposed police-issue mace can, and a Glock G30S. The gun had been cleaned maybe a week ago, and it was fully loaded, but he’d never had to use it before. Stiles shoved the mace and mountain ash into his pocket. He scowled at the gun for another few seconds before grabbing it and tucking it into the waistband of his jeans. It wouldn’t do much against an Alpha werewolf, but better safe than sorry. He closed the lockbox and replaced it in its hiding spot under his bed before heading downstairs.
Peter was waiting for him in the kitchen. Or, rather, the large brown wolf with Beta blue eyes was waiting for him in the kitchen, sitting in the one patch of moonlight that made him visible in the otherwise dark room.
Stiles scowled at the wolf. “This isn’t the back door, asshole.”
The wolf snorted at him and shook his head.
Stiles huffed. Of course the nonverbal werewolf was still a smartass. “How are we going to handle this?” he asked. “Beacon Hills has a leash law. I could get ticketed.”
Peter snorted again and stood, walking toward the back door, though not without nipping at Stiles’ jacket first. He didn’t make any contact, and had the situation been different, Stiles might have thought the gesture almost playful. He looked over his shoulder at Stiles and then back at the door, nudging the doorknob with his nose.
“Right, yeah. Getting bossed around by an overgrown Chihuahua,” Stiles muttered, opening the door. “Lead the way, Clifford.”
The wolf grumbled but took off in a slow lope toward the woods behind Stiles’ house, pausing every few seconds to look back and make sure he hadn’t lost Stiles. They continued at that pace for about ten minutes before Peter heading back toward the houses. He went straight up to the back door of a ranch house and shifted back to his human suit, completely mindless of his nudity.
Stiles went bright red at the sight and turned his gaze upward. “Do you have clothes in there, or are you planning on abducting an Alpha werewolf in the nude?”
“I’m sure it would do something to help with the element of surprise,” Peter said before shoving his shoulder against the door to force it open. “Though if it would ease your delicate sensibilities, I’ll put on some clothes and the two of us can get to work.” He smirked over at Stiles. “Come in, won’t you?” he asked before disappearing into the shadows.
“Said the spider to the fly,” Stiles grumbled as he headed inside. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie, making a mental note to touch nothing in the house. Trespassing was one thing, but he had no intention of getting pegged for whatever crimes Peter had committed here.
“Don’t be so melodramatic,” Peter said, appearing just in front of Stiles, pulling on a dark sweater and zipping it up. He already had a pair of jeans on, rucked up to his hips but not zipped up. “I am not so foolish to commit felonies where I’ve been sleeping,” he said, cocking his head to the side a bit. “Do you often mutter your thoughts aloud?”
“Only in the presence of serial killers,” Stiles said in a faux-chipper voice. He was suddenly struck by the urge to get out of the house as soon as possible. “Can we get our proactive closure session started? I’d like to get at least some sleep tonight so I’m not completely lying to my dad.”
Peter eyed him for a long moment, his brow furrowed slightly as he stared at the teenager. “Of course,” he said. He took a step forward, deliberately edging into Stiles’ personal space. “Hold out your hand.”
Peter huffed. “I’m not planning on biting you tonight. We’ve already got ourselves a full schedule,” he said.
“Then what’s with the upfront molestation request?”
The older man chuckled. “You are quite the drama queen, aren’t you?” he mused. “I am trying to hand you the keys to the Impala. It’s dark and I am aware that your human vision is inferior to mine, so I don’t want you dropping the keys because I hand you something you weren’t expecting.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Fine. Whatever.” He held out his hand and felt Peter set a pair of keys in his open palm. He didn’t miss the unmistakable feel of claws tracing the length of his middle finger as Peter withdrew his own hand, but when he voiced that observation aloud, Peter just chuckled again. “You’re a goddamn creeper, you know that, Hale?”
The quick flash of Beta blue eyes was not reassuring. “You were expecting something. It wouldn’t do to leave you wanting,” Peter said, the tone of faux-innocence coming off irritatingly almost convincing. “Now, do you need help getting to the garage?”
Stiles shook his head. “Nope,” he said, already knowing Peter would be able to catch the lie. “I’ll feel my way through the dark, thanks. But why the hell are you letting me drive?”
“Because I’m likely going to return to my full shift for at least part of this evening, and it makes more sense to have you drive to allow that flexibility. Talented as I am, I cannot drive with paws,” Peter said. “Shall we?”
“Yeah, sure,” Stiles said, straightening up a bit. He didn’t feel as nervous as he expected to, given what he and a formerly mad werewolf were about to set out to do. Instead, he felt tired. Exhausted. Like he’d been up three days straight and was only surviving on bad coffee, but most of all, he was ready to get this over with. As he felt his way toward the garage, Peter quiet but not straying from his side, Stiles felt himself wondering just how much influence a tree stump could possibly hold over him.
As he pulled to a stop on the street across the street from the motel, he felt an odd weight settle on the nape of his neck. He looked over at Peter, halfway expecting the man to have his arm draped over the back of his seat, but only found himself staring into the Beta blue eyes of a werewolf eager for the hunt. “Do you feel-”
“Hungry,” Peter rumbled, voice gravelly. “Heavy. We are mostly acting under our own influences, but the tree is leading us to solve a problem.” He smiled coldly, fangs slowly dropping as he turned his gaze to the motor lodge across the street. “End unit,” he said, pointing at the room in question. “Heartbeat is steady. I don’t think he knows we’re here, but the second we step into the parking lot, that’s likely going to change.”
“How do you know?”
“I am a born wolf, as is he. I know the tells.”
Stiles nodded slightly, not completely understanding, but willing enough to let it slide for now. If the two of them survived the night, he’d see if Peter would be willing to answer his questions some other time. When there wasn’t a killer Alpha across the street. “How do you want to play this?”
“In established Packs, after an intruder has been sent on his way, it is not uncommon for them to receive a visit from the Pack’s enforcer, who will make sure they leave the territory or make sure they’re left in no condition to return. He may be accepting of something similar.”
“That doesn’t really answer anything.”
Peter hummed. “He won’t expect a human to confront him. You’ll have some element of surprise. He’ll know you associate with werewolves by your scent, but one human smelling of wolf shouldn’t have him completely on alert,” he said. “Knock on the door, ask him a question, and I’ll be ready to defend you if things start to go south.”
“Yeah but how?”
Peter cocked his head to the side, asking a silent question.
Stiles huffed. “How exactly do you plan on defending me against an Alpha who’s already proven himself a killer?” he asked. “’Specially when you’re not rocking red eyes of your own?”
Peter smirked. “I spent a great deal of my life as an enforcer for my Pack, Stiles. I am more than capable of wrangling one interloper, Alpha though he may be. He will be limited in his actions, but we have the advantage of surprise and outnumbering him,” he said.
He rolled his eyes. “Fine. Hold your cards close.”
“As do you, little wolf-heart. You are not yourself an open book.” Peter’s gaze darted back to the motor lodge. “His heartbeat is starting to spike. If we’re doing this, it has to be now. Go. I won’t be far behind you.”
Stiles nodded, doing his best to steel his nerves. He got out of the car and, after a darting glance around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, headed across the street. The heavy weight on his nape settled, reshaping into a more reassuring pressure. As soon as he stepped into the parking lot, he heard the quiet thud of the passenger’s side door shutting. At least Peter hadn’t been outright lying about being there to protect Stiles.
He quickly made his way toward the end unit, mind racing with the possibilities of how the situation might play out. He found himself wondering how Harvey would handle it. Or Donna. He grinned to himself at that thought - she was ferocious on a good day, and his mind quickly derailed into a particularly entertaining mental image that involved Donna in her office armor and Deucalion on his knees, eating out of her palm.
Just as he walked within arm’s reach of the door, it pulled open to reveal an Alpha werewolf, looking altogether too amused for Stiles’ comfort. “This is adorable,” he said.
Stiles bared his teeth at the man, a subconsciously lupine gesture. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“It is not uncommon for a Pack enforcer to confront intruders, though I will admit I was expecting a bit more of a show of force. You are human?”
“A very capable human.”
“I doubt that,” Deucalion mused, absently scratching at his neck and looking entirely unimpressed by Stiles’ presence. “Though I suppose I will give you some credit. You stayed in the shadows long enough that I would never have expected you capable of this behavior.” He smirked. “Of course, had I known you were planning to interrupt my recovery, I would have slit your father’s throat when I had the opportunity,” he added.
Stiles’ gaze immediately hardened and he started reaching for the gun he’d tucked into the waistband of his jeans. “Right. Fuck subtlety,” he said, entirely prepared to unload the entire clip in the werewolf’s stupidly still-unimpressed face. It wouldn’t kill the bastard, but it’d definitely make Stiles feel a little better. Just as he curled his fingers around the grip of the gun, he heard a low growl and Deucalion went stiff before collapsing onto the floor with a heavy thud. “What the-”
Peter stepped up to stand next to Stiles, tucking a small blowgun into Stiles’ front pocket. His lips twitched upward slightly when Stiles didn’t react more than to tighten his grip on his gun. “Pulling a gun out this early would only have gotten you killed, darling,” he said, his tone oddly almost formally educational. Like a teacher, or an after-school tutor.
“He threatened my dad,” was all Stiles had to say in response.
Peter nodded slightly, his eyes flashing blue as his gaze turned to Deucalion’s limp form. “Well then, let’s get him somewhere more private so you can make him understand how much of a mistake that was,” he said. “Pull the car around.”
“He may not look it at the moment, but he is almost six feet and likely close to one-eighty in dead weight. I won’t have you pulling something trying to manhandle him into the trunk.” When it looked like Stiles was about to argue, he turned Beta blue eyes on the teenager. “And I will not risk your humanity by leaving you alone with an Alpha werewolf. The makeup of the sedative should give us a window of about an hour, but I can’t say for sure that it will last that long.”
“Fast metabolisms?” Stiles asked, struck by a sudden vein of curiosity.
Peter nodded again. “There will be time enough to answer questions once we are not surrounded by eight people in nearby rooms. Pull the car around.”
Stiles hesitated only a few more seconds before nodding jerkily and making his way back to the Impala. As he got into the driver’s seat and started the car, he was shocked by the sudden realization that his mind was clear. The exhaustion was still there, but it was much less draining than when he’d first left with Peter. The tree had to seriously have it in for Deucalion if it was going to such extreme lengths. He could only hope that once he and Peter had gotten rid of the Alpha entirely, the exhaustion would leave entirely and he could get some seriously needed sleep. “I need a damn vacation,” he muttered to himself as he started the car.
He pulled the car around, using only the parking lot and hoping there were no deputies patrolling the area any time soon.
Peter was quick to deposit the unconscious body into the trunk. “There’s no one around,” he said. “We should have about an hour before his metabolism cycles the sedative out of his system. Take a left out of the parking lot and head toward the ranger’s path,” he said. “It should take us about half an hour to get to the place I have in mind, but once we get there, there won’t be any interruptions.”
Stiles nodded. “Let me know if he starts waking up again.”
Peter smirked. “Not a problem,” he said, leaning forward and patting the dashboard. “Take a left out of the parking lot and head toward the old ranger trails by the outskirts,” he said.
Stiles nodded again and headed out.
It took about half an hour to get to the cabin, and all in all, the place was much nicer than Stiles had expected. Far from a dilapidated shack halfway devoured by ivy, the cabin was almost… pretty. It was a dark wood cabin with no windows – only a darker wood door. The cabin itself wasn’t too big, though, he noted as Peter directed him to park the Impala around the back of the cabin, in a specifically designed glen of trees. “How long has this place been here?” Stiles asked.
Peter frowned, cocking his head to the side. “At least fifty years, though likely much longer,” he said, pointing to the direct entrance of the glen. “The car will be completely hidden from outsiders if you park it in there, and it’s got an easy access point to the tunnels if we need to make a quick escape.”
“You’re expecting something to go wrong?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know where my nephew and your McCall ran off to, and I’ve already had my throat slit once. I’m not particularly interested in revisiting that experience,” he said. “Coming back once was entirely too complicated. I doubt I’d be able to manage it a second time, and somehow I’m not sure either of them would endorse our planned course of action.”
Stiles hummed quietly, not entirely sure how to respond to that. “Fair point,” he said, biting back any comment about Lydia. For some reason – it was probably the tree’s influence – he felt an odd sense of comfort in the werewolf’s presence and not being the subject of his wrath. “How do you want to play this once we’re on the inside?”
Peter look over at him, an odd look of amusement on his face before he wiped his expression clean. “You’re going to ring Deucalion with mountain ash, wait for him to wake up, and play it loose from there. I hadn’t actually given it too much thought,” he lied smoothly.
Stiles scoffed, not believing that for a second. “Sure,” he said, parking the car and dropping the keys into the cup-holder. It wasn’t like anyone was going to be around to steal the car while they were in the cabin committing murder. “The werewolf with at least one plan for coming back from the dead doesn’t have a plan to deal with an Alpha werewolf.”
“Oh, sweet boy,” Peter purred, his eyes going lidded. “Sometimes I find it best to go into a crime scene with an open mind. The opportunity to get creative is one that should never be taken for granted.”
Stiles rolled his eyes but silently ceded the point. Peter wasn’t entirely wrong about that.
It didn’t take long for them to get set up. Peter took care of the heavy work, lugging Deucalion’s still-unconscious body into the cabin while Stiles set up most of a circle of mountain ash in the middle of the room, well out of reach of the door. Once that was done, and the Alpha’s body had been dropped into the circle and the circle completed, Stiles occupied himself by poking around the cabin’s interior.
Not that there was all that much to it.
The main area was open, with an old stove against the wall opposite the sole door. There was a mini-fridge next to it, though from the thick layers of dust covering both appliances, neither had been used in years. There was a loft in the cabin, but no stairs to walk up there. It looked like the only way to get up there was by pulling himself up a modified pullup bar – which he wasn’t in any particular rush to do at the moment. “What’s up there?” he asked, looking over at Peter.
The man cocked his head to glance up at the loft. “A skylight. Queen mattress and a worn-out blanket. A few other personal amenities,” he said.
“What? I thought you were squatting at that house for sale?”
Peter smirked. “Diversity. I know better than to stay in one place and allow my enemies the ease of knowing where I sleep at night,” he said. He opened his mouth to say something but closed it abruptly and turned a sharp gaze on Deucalion, gaze flickering bright blue. “Showtime, darling,” he said. “Our friend is waking up.”
Deucalion, for his part, wasted no time waking up. He growled and stood, gaze locking onto Stiles will all the red-eyed fury at a pissed off Alpha. “Release me, boy,” he snapped. And really, ten for ten out of drama. If he wasn’t planning on beating Deucalion, he might just root for the jackass.
“Why?” Stiles asked, tone sharp. “So you can run off and take your claws to my father now that you know who plays nice and who doesn’t?” he asked, hand already straying to the gun. Discussions were one thing, but he had a dearth of examples warning him of the dangers of monologuing. He wasn’t going to drag this out too much longer.
“You are but one simple human,” Deucalion said, still glaring at Stiles. “You are not capable of imprisoning me like this alone.” He looked around the room, gaze moving rapidly. Stiles found himself absently wondering if the Alpha hadn’t quite adjusted to having his eyesight back. He whirled around, red gaze locking onto Peter, who returned the glare with one of his own, Beta blue eyes meeting the Alpha’s gaze without flinching. “I see,” Deucalion said with a sneer. “You sought out the aid of a traitor. How appropriately insidious.”
Stiles’ brow furrowed as he mouthed the word ‘traitor,’ glancing over at Peter. Destroyer of worlds aside, his curiosity had been piqued.
“I have never been the one to betray my Pack,” Peter said evenly.
“No, you tucked tail and ran from them,” Deucalion snapped. “And then you returned and killed your own blood in a fit of rage. Like an out of control pup throwing a temper tantrum.”
Peter bared his teeth, and Stiles wasn’t entirely surprised to see fangs starting to drop. “My sister believed that we could masquerade as humans and completely eliminate the need for an enforcer. To her mind, civilized Packs had no need for bloodshed,” he said. “She was entirely too willing to play blind diplomat and never so much as considered that the safety of a Pack mandates the existence of an enforcer. She saw blood on my hands once and banished me, severing my connection to my Pack and my blood,” he snarled. “She was the traitor, and you well know that. Her daughter was unfortunate enough to think the same way, and think that her inheritance of Talia’s Alpha status was sufficient to have me cowed and pliant to her will. She was wrong, and I will not apologize for my actions.”
Deucalion opened his mouth, fangs dropping, and he let out a low, almost subsonic growl – an Alpha furious with insubordination.
Peter returned it with one of his own, this one more feral and somehow much more frightening.
A chill ran up Stiles’ spine at the sound of the two werewolves squaring off. He was definitely more curious about Peter’s story – if it was true, it certainly explained much more of his behavior – and Stiles found himself edging closer to the Beta. His hand reached up to grab the gun out of his waistband, and with a shockingly calm demeanor, he pulled it out, aimed, and pulled the trigger twice.
Deucalion went down with a strangled yelp, clutching at his left thigh. Blood was gushing out faster than Stiles had expected – had he accidentally hit a vein? He shook his head, well aware of Peter’s gaze locked on him. Aimed again, this time hitting Deucalion in the right shoulder and knocking the Alpha flat on his back.
“Stiles?” Peter asked, words slurring around his fangs. “Is there some reason you left him alive?” he asked, turning his gaze back toward Deucalion.
The Alpha was laying on his back, struggling to breathe. The black veins spidering down his right arm told Stiles that the wolfsbane was working, but it didn’t quite explain his trouble breathing. Maybe one of the ingredients in whatever cocktail Peter had used in the blow dart was exacerbating the effect?
“Entirely possible,” Peter murmured from his spot right next to Stiles.
The teenager jumped – he hadn’t seen Peter approaching him, nor had he realized he’d been musing aloud.
“Would you like to watch him die like this, or would you rather put a bullet in his forehead and end this quickly?”
Stiles thought about it for a moment before an idea settled in his brain. He was relatively certain he’d had the idea, but he had little doubt the tree was contributing to it as well. He cocked his head to the side, watching Deucalion almost passively. The Alpha was flailing a bit. His right arm seemed almost paralyzed, and he was diffing into his shoulder to try and dig the bullet out before the wolfsbane got into his bloodstream. It wasn’t working at getting the bullet, but the wood floor of the cabin was getting thoroughly bloodied up in the process. “Neither,” he murmured, more to himself than in response to Peter’s quiet question. Without waiting for Peter’s response, he nudged his toe over the line of mountain ash, interrupting the circle, and stepped over to kneel next to Deucalion’s head.
Either the werewolf was completely distracted by the pain, or the tree was exerting some kind of influence, because the man didn’t so much as glance in his direction.
“What are you doing?” Peter asked, sounding mildly curious. His claws were fully extended and he’d taken a step closer to the circle, though he hadn’t quite stepped over the ash line.
Stiles shrugged, not entirely sure how to put his thoughts into words. “Come on over. The line’s broken,” he said, fisting a hand in Deucalion’s hair and yanking the Alpha’s head back. “Still think a simple human isn’t capable?” he asked, rapping the muzzle of the gun against the Alpha’s temple. “Cause I may have had to call in a friend, but I’m not the one who’s bloody and dying on the floor here,” he said. Another flash of information popped into his mind and he made a note to have a conversation with the tree later. If that was somehow possible. “It was your birthday last month?” he asked, looking up at Peter.
He frowned. “The tree certainly is informative when it wants to be,” he said by way of non-answer.
Stiles grinned up at Peter, well aware that his expression was likely at least partially unhinged. “How ‘bout a belated birthday gift?” he asked, giving Deucalion’s hair another yank. “Unless you want something else?”
Peter smirked at him. “Why, Stiles. I don’t know what to say,” he said, feigning ignorance even as he stepped over the ash line and knelt down, pressing claws to Deucalion’s throat. He turned Beta blue eyes onto Deucalion. “I can’t thank you enough for this,” he said, slashing Deucalion’s throat open. He dug into the man’s throat until he pulled up shreds of wood in his claws.
His eyes bled red immediately, and the growl he let out sent shivers down Stiles’ spine.
The teenager felt the tree’s influence fade slightly, replaced almost immediately with the bone chilling terror that came with an Alpha werewolf ready to kill, within arm’s reach. “Oh shit,” he said.
Peter stood, rolling his neck. “Don’t run,” he said when Stiles followed suit, looking ready to bolt.
“What?” Stiles asked, taking a step back.
“Set the gun down and do not run,” Peter said, the words coming out as an Alpha command that Stiles couldn’t help but obey.
“I don’t want the Bite.”
Peter nodded. “I understand. Take the mountain ash out of your pocket and set it on the ground. Do the same with your can of mace,” he said, watching with red eyes as Stiles did as told. “Good. Now, try not to panic.”
“What, why?” Stiles asked, taking another step back.
Peter walked over, backing Stiles against the wall. He braced his arms on the wall just above Stiles’ shoulder and pressed close, pressing his forehead to Stiles’. He wasn’t scenting him, as far as Stiles could tell, but he was staring into Stiles’ eyes with an Alpha red gaze. “The tree is doing something to regulate my power. I can feel the Alpha power settling in me, but the tree is slowing the rush,” he said. “I am not going to Bite you, nor am I at any risk of going mad.”
“That’s, uh, good, I guess,” Stiles said slowly. His eyes started watering from being open too long, so he blinked, reaching up to scrub at his eyes. “Then what’s the deal with the spontaneous clawed cuddle session?”
“You gave me back my Alpha status,” Peter breathed out, and that was not an answer.
“Dude, the situation kinda facilitated it. The hell are you doing?” he asked when Peter nudged Stiles’ neck to the side and took a deep whiff of Stiles’ skin behind his ear.
Peter smirked. “Making sure you were not affected by the wolfsbane. I understand it has some toxic properties for humans,” he said, pressing a bit closer.
Stiles rolled his eyes. “I didn’t touch the plant, asshole,” he said, shoving Peter back a bit. He didn’t need to feel the man’s entire body pressed against him. “I stole a box of bullets from Argent when he was arrested. He hasn’t called me on it and I wasn’t planning on asking if he’d noticed them missing,” he said. “What are we gonna do about the dead body?”
“I’ll separate his extremities from the rest of his body and we can deposit them in front of a bear’s den about 10 miles northwest of here,” he said. “You’ll need to clean up your magic.”
Stiles nodded. “And the cabin? I don’t think the floor can be saved.”
Peter shook his head. “We’ll have to burn it.”
“Seriously?” He hadn’t expected that answer from Peter.
“it is among the most forensically sound ways of destroying evidence,” Peter said. “Though I would prefer if you did the honors with that aspect of the cleanup.” He paused, looking down at the dead body. “I’ll take Deucalion’s head ot the tree. It seems only fitting.”
“Sure,” Stiles said. “I think I can manage that.” The tree’s influence came back a bit, suggesting a few suggestions. They all reeked of magic, and when Stiles absently wondered how he was supposed to perform magic without any formal training. The tree’s influence had a few suggestions there as well. “Fucking trees, man,” he said, rubbing a hand over his head.
“I’ll meet you back by the car once I’ve properly disposed of body parts,” he said. “And once everything has been handled, I’ll take you out for something to eat.”
“Weirdest date ever,” Stiles mumbled. He noticed the hungry look in Peter’s eyes as the werewolf continued to stare down at Deucalion and edged his way toward the door. ”I’m just gonna give you a minute with the corpse. Let me know when you’re done un-piecing the dude.”
Peter nodded. “I’ve got a few garbage bags in the loft, so you don’t need to worry about seeing a spare body part on my way out.”
Stiles just nodded weakly and left the cabin, closing the door just a bit harder than he’d meant to.
The disposal and cleanup went relatively easily as well – no doubt more of the tree’s influence.
When Stiles and Peter were sitting on the hood of the Impala, watching as the cabin burned behind a barrier of mountain ash, a warm breeze rustled through the trees. Stiles immediately felt lighter, and from the contented rumble Peter let out as he leaned back, letting his eyes go red again, he did too. “Tree’s done, then?” he asked.
“I believe so,” Peter said. “The tree sought us out to even out a sense of unbalance, and now that Deucalion’s dead, balance restored.”
“So, what? Curly fries to celebrate re-balancing?” Stiles asked.
Peter laughed quietly. “I suppose we can do that, though there must be one additional stop before I feed you.”
“We need to get ourselves cleaned up.”
“What?” Stiles asked. He glanced down at his clothes and groaned. His clothes were completely covered in blood and soot. “How the fuck did I not notice that?”
Peter smirked. “Preoccupied by murder. Happens to all first-timers,” he said. “But the sooner we get you cleaned up, the better.”
“Why’s that?” Stiles asked. “Other than the fact that I may vomit?”
“Even the least competent of werewolves would be able to smell the death on you. We’ve got to get cleaned up if we are to stand any chance at getting away with this,” Peter said, blatantly leering at Stiles.
Stiles snorted. “Right. Because you and I can just stroll into town and grab a shower like this,” he said, gesturing at his blood-soaked clothing and biting back the slight wave of nausea that came with that statement. “You do remember that my dad’s a cop and even the suspicion that I was involved in something illegal is going to bring a world of hurt down on me and anyone in my vicinity.”
“Sweet boy, I haven’t been able to forget that fact.”
The teenager rolled his eyes, doing his best to disregard Peter’s tone at that. “What’s your suggestion, then?”
“These are relatively desperate times. Desperate measures are called for, and there’s a river not too far a walk from here. We can take a quick dip, wash off the blood, and then you and I can go back to my place for a more in-depth cleaning, some fresh clothing and something to eat. Murder tends to be such hungry business, I find.”
Stiles huffed, not willing to acknowledge his amusement, however faint. “You’re a sick fuck.”
“And yet I can taste the tang of amusement on you,” he said. “If that doesn’t meet with your approval, I’ve no objection to us parting ways for a bit of time. It’s been something of an intense night.”
He hesitated, weighing his options. He was well aware that Peter was offering him something a bit heavier than just a quick dip in a nearby river.
Peter cocked his head to the side, watching Stiles. He paused a moment before holding his hand out to the teenager, waiting as patiently as Stiles had ever seen him.
It wasn’t just the cleanup, then, Stiles noted as he watched Alpha red again bleed into the werewolf’s gaze. He frowned to himself, quickly debating the options. On the one hand, he could walk away from the scene and he had the feeling that Peter would never again even address the events of the evening. But on the other hand, he’d enjoyed working with someone who hadn’t relegated him to the backseat because he was human, or because his father was the sheriff.
He paused, pulling in a quiet breath. His mind was calm. Had been for most of the night, and now that he thought back on it, he wasn’t sure how much of that calm was the tree or actually Peter. Gravity of the situation aside, that fact was not lost on him. He felt his heart thud in his chest.
He waited one heartbeat.
And took Peter’s hand.
a long one for y'all. hopefully you enjoy.
do pancakes and an omelet sound good to anyone else right now?
Howdy! It's a new year and inspiration's struck - because I'm supposed to be working on like three different high-priority projects - but fuck it. Here's a new one!
Lemme know what y'all think (and hey, thanks for coming back!)!
After stumbling through the brush in the dark for roughly ten minutes, hand still held in Peter’s firm grip, the werewolf came to an abrupt stop. Stiles didn’t realize he’d stopped until he tripped over a half-buried tree root and collided with Peter’s back.
“Seriously?” he asked, silently grateful that Peter hadn’t so much as loosened his hold on Stiles’ hand. “Not even a warning?”
Peter turned to him, eyes once again glowing red. “I am not about to walk into an open area without first ensuring we’ll be alone,” he said. No doubt with a smirk accompanying his statement.
“You’re such a goddamn creep,” Stiles muttered darkly. “And at the risk of making this situation even creepier, are we alone?”
Peter hummed, gaze turning back to whatever area he was inspecting. “It appears that way,” he said. “Come along,” he added as he stepped out from the brush, tugging Stiles’ hand. Like the teenager really had an option. Or an interest in doing anything other than cleaning the drying blood off of himself. The drying blood on his skin was starting to make him itch.
“So how do we do this?” Stiles asked as he followed Peter and looked around, trying to see something other than the shadows and vague shape of the trees.
“First, let your eyes adjust. There should be just enough light from the moon and stars that you’ll be able to see better,” Peter said.
Stiles nodded, still looking around. The sudden shriek of some kind of bird or another startled him and Stiles found himself stepping almost flush against Peter’s back and ducking his head down in preparation for some kind of attack.
“Just an owl,” Peter said, surprisingly without an ounce of smug in his tone. “Are you ready to move?”
He nodded, lifting his head and looking around as Peter took a few deliberately slow steps into the open area. He could see vague shapes in the dark, and the reflection of the moon on the water was reassuring. “Sure, yeah. Hundred percent ready to move. Why does drying blood have to be so fucking crusty?” he asked.
Peter chuckled quietly but didn’t answer the question. He paused, allowing Stiles’ eyes to adjust a bit more to the dark as he too glanced around the clearing. The glimpse of Alpha red in his eyes was somehow reassuring for Stiles, and he took a small step away from Peter, though made sure not to loosen his grip on the werewolf’s hand. “One of the many reasons I’ve always preferred to live near water,” he said. “It’ll start to get itchy soon, if it hasn’t already, and the scratch marks are something of a dead giveaway to those who know what to look for.”
Stiles nodded absently. “Good to know, I guess.”
“There’s a large, flat rock just off the shore. It’ll be enough to put whatever you don’t want getting wet,” he said. “Unless you did the intelligent thing and stashed them back in the car before coming out this way?”
“Gun, mountain ash, and mace all in the glovebox,” Stiles said. “And my phone’s either back at Deaton’s or still under the tree,” he added.
Peter nodded, abruptly turning to fully face Stiles. “You are such a clever boy,” he all but purred, finally letting go of Stiles’ hand. “Now, strip.”
“What? My clothes are all bloody,” he said.
“And I’ve got a duffle bag full of clothes in the trunk of the Impala, but I will not have you getting sick by walking around in wet clothes and catching pneumonia,” Peter said. “If your delicate sensibilities are so offended, you can keep your boxers and undershirt on, but nothing more than that.”
Stiles still didn’t make a move to start undressing.
Peter rolled his eyes. “Stiles, you’ve got blood on your face and in your hair. You’ve got to get it washed off somehow, preferably before my idiot nephew or your McCall show up and start asking questions,” he said. “I have no intention of molesting you while we wash off the blood from our first kill.”
The teenager scowled up at the werewolf. “I wasn’t actually worried about that until just now, but thanks,” he drawled.
Peter smirked. “But of course,” he said, motioning toward the water.
Stiles huffed but stalked toward the water, almost violently yanking his shirt off and wading into the water. His indignation didn’t last too long – the water was fucking freezing. “Are you kidding me?” he asked, stuttering as the cold temperature sank into his bones.
“Keep going into the water and duck your head under for a count of three,” Peter said as he pulled his own clothes off and walked into the water, mindless of his nudity.
“And you’re not going to hold my head under when I do, are you?” Stiles asked through his shivers. “Drop the witness count down to just you and get rid of the last loose end of the night? Cause I’ve already drowned once and it sucks, so if you could, I dunno, just like snap my neck now and get it over with-”
Peter put a hand over Stiles’ mouth, stopping his stream of conscious. “I have no intention of either killing or maiming you,” he said. “And if that had ever been part of my plan, I would have killed you and gotten rid of your body back in the cabin.”
“Not entirely reassuring,” Stiles said, eyeing Peter warily. “But I guess that makes sense.”
“Duck your head under for a count of three,” Peter repeated.
Stiles nodded once but did as told. The water was still frigid, but it wasn’t quite so overwhelmingly cold. “Right,” he said slowly, hoping he got used to the temperature quickly. Uncomfortable memories of ice baths and drowning were coming to mind, and he had no real desire to have a panic attack tonight. Not so much that he was worried about Peter's reaction to it, but he wasn't exactly keen on finding out how the newly rechristened Alpha would react to him going into a sudden, uncontrollable panic. "So what happens after this?” he asked, the question coming out higher-pitched than intended.
Peter shot an odd look his way but he didn't mention it, instead choosing to indulge Stiles' sudden subject change. “You did mention something about curly fries?”
He shook his head. “No, well, yeah, maybe. But like, beyond tonight. What happens?” he asked. “You’re a brand new Alpha again, so are you gonna go off and bite teenagers again?”
Peter shook his head. “I expect I’m going to have my hands full with you,” he said.
Stiles huffed. “Right, great. Wonderful, thanks.”
“Of course, sweet boy,” Peter said with a smirk. “I have no intention of biting anyone else. You’ll continue on with your high school education and I’ll continue reestablishing myself with my old contacts, and we can take it from there,” he said. “I have no real intention of starting a Pack and tying myself to a land where I was never entirely welcome, nor do I have any intention of a joint custody agreement with McCall.”
“So that means I’m in your Pack and not his?” Stiles asked. He hadn’t considered that.
“Were you really ever in his Pack to begin with?” Peter asked, the uncharacteristically gentle tone back in his voice. “Given the sort of information he kept from you?”
That struck a chord with Stiles and he didn't know exactly how to respond to that.
Peter hummed. “It’s not my intention to start an argument with you. Nor do I have any real interest in starting a fight with McCall about whose Pack you’re in,” he said. “But proper Packs do not relegate their battle-proven members to essentially administrative tasks.”
“Even the humans?” Stiles asked before he could stop himself.
“Even the humans,” Peter affirmed. His eyes went Alpha red again and he ran a hand over Stiles’ head, scrubbing at a spot just behind his left ear. “There is a cut behind your ear.”
Stiles reached a hand back and felt where Peter’s fingers lingered. “Huh,” he said. It didn’t seem too bad - maybe an inch long and not very sensitive. “Must’ve happened under the tree. Is it still bleeding?”
“It doesn’t appear so,” Peter said. “You’re sure Deucalion didn’t nick you?”
“Pretty sure. And I’m still feeling human here. No weird urges for raw rabbit or frolicking in the woods,” he said. “I’ll put some Neosporin or something on it when we get back home.”
Peter nodded, choosing not to comment on the rest of Stiles’ statement.
“So how long do we have to stay in the water?” Stiles asked, scrubbing the blood off as best he could.
“Just long enough to get the blood off.” He looked Stiles over. “You’ve got most of it off your arms, but there are a few streaks on your neck. I don’t know that you’ll be able to reach it sufficiently-”
Stiles eyed Peter for a moment. “I’m going to set the bad touch accusations aside for now and ask you to get the spots so we can get outta here before I go fully hypothermic,” he said. “And this isn’t submission or whatever, either,” he said, tilting his chin back and exposing his throat to Peter. “Just get it over with.”
Peter stared for a moment, not entirely able to believe the sight in front of him. He, of course, acknowledged Stiles’ lack of submission, but his was a particularly delectable throat. All that delicate skin, and the heartbeat, strong, pulsing through his jugular. “I appreciate your cooperation, darling,” he said, reaching up to clean off the blood.
“Watch the claws,” Stiles said, flinching back when he felt the unexpected sharpness against his throat.
“My apologies,” Peter murmured. He hadn’t realized he’d unsheathed the claws. He was fixated on getting the blood and smell of Deucalion off of Stiles’ skin, and unable to completely ignore the urge to lave his tongue over the younger man’s throat, marking him so decisively that every supernatural creature this side of the Mississippi would know he’d staked his claim.
Stiles derailed his line of thought by grabbing his wrist. “Dude,” he said, jolting Peter out of his head. “You were straight up caressing my neck. I’m going to take that as a sign that the blood’s gone, and you’ve regressed back to your molesty ways.”
Peter smirked, letting slip a glimpse of fangs. “You have no idea how delectable you are, do you?”
“Course I do. I’m a fuckin’ catch,” he said, pushing past Peter to wade his way out of the water. “And there’d better be more than just v-necks in your duffle bag,” he added without looking back.
At that, Peter outright laughed. He dunked himself back in the water again, relishing in the chill for a moment before surfacing and following Stiles out.
“What are we doing with the bloody clothes?” Stiles asked, scooping up his shoes, as Peter caught up to him. He stayed close to the Alpha werewolf - not close enough for skin-to-skin contact, but enough to reap the benefit of the werewolf’s natural warmth. “And don’t flatter yourself. This is just because you run hot.”
Peter laughed quietly, draping an arm over Stiles’ shoulder and pulling him close, ignoring the indignant squawk he got in return. “Just providing warmth to a cold Pack mate,” he said, unable to stop himself from pressing his nose to Stiles’ temple in a subtle scenting. “My bag is filled with essentials. Henleys and sweatpants. There might be a pair of jeans, but I packed clothing that would be easier to lose should I need to shift,” he said. “And as delicious as you would look in Armani and cashmere, that will have to wait until later.”
“Armani and cashmere?” Stiles asked with a snort of amusement. “You’re kind of a snob.”
“I appreciate the finer things in life, darling. The fact that you’ve survived this far on a steady diet of flannel and ridiculous t-shirts is a travesty all on its own,” he said. “Do you still want curly fries, or would you rather get something more substantive in your stomach?”
Stiles glanced up at him, a genuinely curious look on his face. “What’d you have in mind?”
“There’s an IHOP not too far out of town. I can take you there before dropping you back at home.”
Stiles thought about it for a moment. He usually wouldn’t turn down curly fries for anything, but the idea of an omelet the size of his forearm was suddenly really appealing. “I could go for midnight breakfast food, sure.”
Peter nodded, a small smirk on his face.
The rest of the walk was spent in silence - Stiles huddling closer to Peter to sap his body heat while Peter kept a careful ear out for the sound or smell of any approaching predators. Once they reached the car, he popped the trunk and opened the duffle bag, ignoring the quiet noise of curiosity from Stiles as the trunk light turned on. Along with the bag, Peter had a laptop and a small safe in the trunk. No doubt it was the latter that had piqued the teenager’s interest. He smirked to himself and tossed a towel to Stiles. “You can attempt to delve into my secrets some other evening, sweet boy.”
Stiles rolled his eyes as he dried himself off as best he could. He’d wrapped the towel around his shoulders before frowning. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but do you, uh, do you have any underwear in that bag, or am I gonna be going commando for now?”
Peter chuckled. “Unfortunately not,” he said, handing Stiles a pair of dark purple sweatpants and a black Henley before pulling on his own pair of dark blue sweatpants. “As you may learn, most werewolves tend not to wear underwear. Rapid shifting tends to lead to ripped clothing, and that tends to add up quicker than one might think,” he said, watching as Stiles quickly shimmied out of his wet clothing and into the dry. “I do have socks, though.”
“Toe claws don’t make that complicated?” Stiles asked with a wry smirk of his own.
“Creature comforts,” Peter said. “Wool hiking socks,” he added, handing a pair to Stiles. “And there is some measure of comfort in being able to pull on a pair of fresh socks in the morning.”
“That actually makes sense,” Stiles said, leaning against the trunk of the Impala to pull the socks on, and then his shoes, though he left those unlaced. He turned a knowing, narrow-eyed glare at Peter. “Now that you’re done ogling my deliciously underage flesh, can we get something to eat?” he asked.
Peter smiled. “Only if you’re done putting on a show.” When Stiles just flipped him off, he laughed again and shut the trunk. “After you, darling.” He motioned toward the front of the car. “It’s unlocked and I do so enjoy watching you walk away.”
“Goddamn creep,” Stiles muttered, even as he headed toward the passenger’s seat. He made it just a few stops before hitting the ground hard, and with a strangled yelp. “Son of a bitch!”
Peter was at his side in a flash. “Are you alright?”
“Stepped in a goddamn gopher hole,” he said, sitting back against the car and reaching for his ankle. “I don’t think I did any serious damage. Just twisted it.”
“Let me,” Peter said.
“No,” Stiles said, the word coming out harsher than he’d intended. “No. Thanks. I’ve always been clumsy, and I’ve been able to cope without the werewolf pain drain for going on eighteen years now. I can’t start getting used to it now,” he said.
“Stiles. You’re Pack. It’s the very least I can do.”
He shook his head. “The very least you can do is help me back on my feet. If I can put weight on it, I’ll be fine. If I can’t, then we’ll talk about the pain drain,” he said.
Peter nodded and held out his hands.
Stiles took the hands and allowed Peter to pull him up to his feet, going with the werewolf as he took a step away from the gopher hole. He tested his weight on the ankle, grimacing slightly at first, but grinned. “Yeah. Just stepped on it wrong,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”
“You are an odd human,” Peter observed, keeping one hand on Stiles and using his other hand to open the door.
Stiles just barked out a laugh. He opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by Scott and Derek bursting through the brush, both half-shifted and snarling. He yelped again and stumbled back, stopped from stepping back in the gopher hole again only by Peter’s grip on his hand. “Jesus Christ what the fuck is wrong with you?” he yelled, glaring at the two werewolves.
Peter let out an odd rumble, keeping cobalt blue eyes fixated on Stiles. Only when Stiles nodded, steady on his feet, did he turn an icy - but not Alpha - glare on his nephew and Scott. “Do try to be more careful, nephew. Our darling Stiles will not recover from a head injury the same way we will, and it would be a shame if either of you were responsible for damaging his rather exquisite mind,”
“Creepy,” Stiles muttered, turning his gaze back to Peter as he re-steadied himself. He didn’t let go of Peter’s hand, taking some private comfort in the strong grip.
“What the hell happened?” Scott snapped.
Peter turned the full fury of his glare on him. “You nearly startled your friend into tripping and hitting his head,” he said. “And you’ve both lost control of your shifts enough that any jogger would see you.”
“It’s the middle of the night,” Scott retorted.
“And there are trail lights and enough visibility for anyone to see your shifts,” he said. The you idiots wasn’t said aloud, but they had all heard it clearly enough. “Do you have any idea how much you’re risking exposure?”
“We smelled blood,” Derek muttered, glaring at his uncle. “What did you do to Stiles?”
“I’ve done nothing to draw blood from the boy,” he said, glancing over at Stiles when he tugged his hand out of his hold. “Better?” he asked.
Stiles nodded. He looked back over at Derek and Scott, who’d pulled their shifts back, but the bewildered expressions remained. “We’re both fine, thanks. You two can go back to frolicking in the woods together,” he said.
Scott spluttered, his face going bright red. “That’s not-”
“We were running,” Derek said shortly, cutting off Scott’s mostly-incoherent statements. “What the hell are you two doing out in the woods?”
“Oh, you know. Hunting down the homicidal maniac and exacting the sort of justice that was deserved in the first place,” Stiles said, tone going sharp. “Making sure he got what he deserved instead of getting room service in a comped hotel room. What the fuck were you thinking?”
“Watch your tone, Stilinski,” Derek started.
“What’d you do to Deucalion?” Scott asked, cutting Derek off.
Stiles turned a flat look on his best friend. “The dude was responsible for the deaths of over thirty people, Scott. He doesn’t get a pass just because you think he deserves a second chance,” he said. “Someone had to get rid of him, and you two clearly weren’t going to do the right thing, so we had to.”
“The right thing?” Derek asked, glancing between Stiles and Peter. As the implication sank in, he snarled. “You killed him!”
Stiles just looked passively at the younger Hale. “I’d do it again, too. He was a murderer, he was a risk to everyone in the supernatural world, and he threatened my father. Add that up and the solution is pretty clear.”
“You had no right!”
“We had every right,” Peter purred, a dangerous edge to his voice. “Pack Enforcers are tasked with ensuring the safety of their Pack. Particularly when the elimination of an active threat becomes necessary,” he said, forcing himself not to flash Alpha eyes at Scott. The notion of pounding the True Alpha into the dirt was more than appealing, but he needed to keep his focus on Stiles. They’d hunted together, and Stiles had seemingly understood the offer Peter had extended, so he was in no mood to try and placate either the self-righteous or self-loathing werewolf.
“That makes you a murderer too, Stiles!” Scott yelled, throwing his hands up in the air. “You can’t decide whether or not to kill someone based on whether or not they’ve threatened your dad! That’s not how this works! I’m the Alpha! I let him live for a reason!”
“Your reasons were flawed, Alpha,” Stiles said acidly, and no one missed the vitriol in his tone.
Peter almost preened at the openly challenging look on Stiles’ face as he stared Scott down. His Pack may be comprised of just he and Stiles, but there was no doubt they were a formidable one.
“You can’t just decide-”
“He threatened my father, Scott. He was a threat to me, and I don’t do well letting threats like that go unpunished,” Stiles said, voice gone glacial. “Being a True Alpha does not make you werewolf Jesus. You do not get to absolve thirty four murders, eight of them children, and accessory to murder in close to fifty others. He does not get to live after that,” he said.
“Eighty murders?” Derek asked, having gone deathly pale when Stiles mentioned that children had been among the body count.
“That are accounted for,” Stiles said, tone not easing. “There’s probably more.”
“That’s not the point!” Scott said, viciously shoving Stiles.
He stumbled back, one foot getting caught in the gopher hole and twisting the wrong way while the rest of Stiles’ body fell back against the car. He flailed his left arm out, trying to catch himself on the door to stop himself from hitting his head against the window. It didn’t work - and the metallic copper smell of blood became immediately obvious to the three werewolves. Stiles landed on the ground with a wheeze as the breath was knocked out of him.
Scott snarled - temper overpowering any concern he had for his friend.
Derek, for his part, looked almost terrified, staring at Stiles with widened eyes.
Peter had narrowed his focus to Stiles and Stiles alone. He knelt at the teenager’s side, easing Stiles’ ankle out of the hole as he tried to suck in air. The gopher hole had done more damage this time - Peter felt the warmth and uncharacteristic tenderness that would soon be accompanied by swelling and pain. Once Stiles’ foot was free, and the young man finally pulled in a shallow breath, he gingerly took hold of Stiles’ left wrist and turned it to reveal the gash that ran almost the length of his forearm. It was bleeding steadily, but fortunately, there was nothing spurting. No arteries, and it didn’t look deep enough to have caught any veins. Stiles tried to pull his arm away and Peter met his eyes, furious Alpha meeting pained whiskey in a silent question. Stiles shook his head slightly before closing his eyes and focusing entirely on breathing. “Derek. Take McCall out of my sight,” Peter ordered, unable to completely suppress the Alpha tone.
“Stiles,” Scott started, apparently shocked out of his anger as the smell of Stiles’ blood finally registered. “Holy shit, Stiles-” He took a step closer, hands outstretched as though to touch Stiles, but Peter whirled on the younger Alpha, eyes blazing and fangs and claws fully extended. “What the-”
Peter just roared, swiping at Scott’s chest. He felt flesh in his claws before Scott jumped back and followed the True Alpha’s retreat, intent on putting himself between Stiles and Scott. He’d done more than enough damage for one night.
Derek grabbed a handful of Scott’s shirt, whining quietly, and forcibly pulled him back.
Scott turned on him, swinging wide but missing.
Derek, having apparently lost the ability to form words, just whined again and yanked Scott back with more force. He shoved Scott back into the forest, glancing over his shoulder at Peter once before disappearing into the brush.
Once they were both out of earshot, Peter turned around to look at Stiles. He’d managed to stand upright, noticeably without putting weight on his right foot, and was staring unseeingly at Peter. “Are you alright?”
Stiles ignored him, instead closing his eyes and pulling in deliberate, measured breaths.
Several minutes passed.
Peter hadn’t moved from his spot, though he had pulled his shift back under control, keeping his eyes locked on Stiles. The bleeding on his arm had slowed a bit and his heartbeat had calmed some from its previous rapid pounding, but he hadn’t opened his eyes yet.
Keeping his eyes locked on Stiles, Peter headed back around to the trunk of his car and rifled through his duffle back for a towel. Swearing quietly when he found no fresh towels, he grabbed a shirt and headed back to Stiles. Very carefully, he wrapped the shirt around Stiles’ bleeding forearm in a makeshift bandage, tying the sleeves together and hoping it would help for now.
Stiles opened his eyes, slowly.
Peter stayed where he was, in a rare experience not sure what to do. Killing Scott had risen much higher on his list of priorities, but Stiles remained at the top of that list.
“I need to leave.”
Those weren’t the words he’d expected. And he hadn’t expected them to hit him so hard - that Stiles wanted to leave so soon after he’d accepted-
“Take me home. I need to fix myself up and pack a bag.”
Peter nodded, forcing his mind blank. Attend the situation now, deal with the consequences as they came.
Stiles leaned forward, dropping his head onto Peter’s shoulder and letting out a heavy sob before falling silent.
Gingerly, Peter wrapped his arms around Stiles and pulled him into a loose hug. He felt the same bloom of unusual warmth around Stiles’ ribcage and had to swallow a growl. McCall had very nearly killed his supposed best friend. Broken ribs could easily puncture a lung, and none of them had been in any position to provide the immediate care Stiles would have needed were that to happen. “I’ll kill him,” he said quietly, pressing his cheek to the top of Stiles’ head.
“No, you won’t.”
“You are in no shape to stop me,” Peter warned. “And his transgression cannot go unanswered.”
“You’re leaving with me,” Stiles said quietly, cutting off any objections Peter may have raised. “You didn’t spell it out, but I’m not an idiot. We hunted together. You protected me. You’re scenting me now.”
Peter didn’t answer, but didn’t move either.
“We’re Pack. I’m not leaving you here to deal with those two on your own.” He straightened a bit, enough to meet Peter’s gaze. “I need you with me right now. Please.”
And, really, how could Peter resist that?
Stiles wrapped an arm around Peter’s shoulders and hopped on one foot to face the still-open passenger door. “I’ll try not to bleed on the seat,” he said, smiling weakly in a failed attempt at humor.
Peter didn’t have much to say at that. Instead, he helped Stiles into the car, making sure the younger man was buckled in and as comfortable as he could be, before shutting the door, shutting the trunk, and getting in the driver’s seat.
Peter parked on the street in front of Stiles’ house, not concerned about arousing neighborly suspicions. It was shortly after two in the morning, and a quick listen for the heartbeats told him that everyone within hearing distance was asleep. “Can you walk on your own?” he asked.
Stiles glanced at his ankle, frowned, and shook his head. “Not without doing more damage. And no pain drain yet,” he added. “I can manage this much on my own.”
Peter nodded, not putting a voice to his concern.
“I do need to ice it, though.”
“I’ll be your legs,” Peter said before getting out of the car. He opened the door while Stiles gathered his weapons from the glovebox and helped Stiles out of the car, taking little comfort in their closeness while Stiles smelled of pain and blood.
Stiles grunted his thanks as the two of them made their way into the house. Once inside, Stiles deadbolted the door behind them and motioned toward the stairs. “Everything we need is gonna be upstairs.”
“Does your arm require stitches?”
Stiles shook his head. “Nah, I should be okay with just bandages for now. And the ankle’s not broken, I don’t think. Just a nasty fucking sprain,” he said. He barked out a hoarse laugh when Peter picked him up bridal-style to carry him up the stairs. “Warn a dude next time, would ya?” he asked.
“It is infinitely easier than our three-legged race,” Peter said by way of response.
“And easier for you to cop a feel, too, probably,” Stiles muttered.
Peter smirked at him. “I had not considered that,” he said, shoving his way into Stiles’ bedroom. “You are quite clever, thinking of all possible options.”
Stiles narrowed his eyes at the man. “Grope me and I will make you pay,” he hissed.
“Bold words from someone so easily dropped and left to whatever mercy I deem appropriate,” Peter said even as he eased Stiles into the computer chair in his room. The chair had wheels, so Stiles could maneuver around without too much difficulty. “Where is your first aid kit?” he asked as Stiles tossed his arsenal onto the bed, seemingly nonplussed about having disarmed himself with an Alpha werewolf.
“Hey,” he said with a grin. “My phone’s on the bed. I thought I left it out by the tree.”
“I’m thrilled you’re able to track down that little piece of technology,” Peter said. “Focus. First aid kit.”
“Bathroom, in the cabinet closest to the door,” Stiles said. “Push me in there, would you?” he asked.
Peter’s brows furrowed in confusion.
Stiles rolled his eyes. “How much experience do you have in administering first aid to humans?” he asked. Without waiting for Peter to answer, he barreled on. “I’m gonna need to hydrogen peroxide my arm and mummify it in like three different kinds of bandages, and as capable as you are, it’ll be quicker for me to just handle this part on my own. I’ve got a handle on the medical aspects. I need you to pack a bag for me so we can get out of here before Derek or Scott get the brilliant idea to come try to sweep this bullshit under the rug.”
“Alright,” Peter said, willing to set aside his mild frustration at being unable to take care of Stiles. The boy’s reasoning was sound, and Peter was glad he wasn’t the only one concerned that his nephew or McCall might show up in the window. He pushed the chair into the bathroom and flicked on the lights, watching as Stiles wriggled his chair over to the cabinet and pulled a rather large first aid kit out.
“Staring is just going to delay our escape,” Stiles said without looking at him.
Peter smirked to himself as he looked through Stiles’ closet, wondering how easily it would be to pack a bag that included no flannel whatsoever. As he poked through Stiles’ clothes, he scowled. “Why do you have so many ridiculous t-shirts?”
“I’m a teenager with more refined tastes than slutty Armani cleavage,” Stiles replied as he uncapped the hydrogen peroxide bottle, wincing out of habit.
The smell singed the inside of Peter’s nose and he let out an irritated snarl.
“It ain’t a picnic for me either,” Stiles retorted. He shifted in the chair enough to brace himself against the bathroom counter, arm over the sink. “And it’s gonna smell worse in a second, but no hyper-dramatics are necessary. Just run of the mill infection prevention,” he said, clenching his teeth. He hissed as he poured the bottle over his arm. Fortunately, the wound wasn’t deep, so the pain wasn’t as bad as it could be, but the sensation of bubbling blood could never be called pleasant. “Grab my red hoodie out of the hamper,” he said.
“You plan on wearing dirty clothes?” Peter asked, pulling out the three least offensively bright flannels and a few plain blue t-shirts.
“I plan on using the red fabric as a last resort kind of cover if I end up bleeding through the bandages.” He recapped the bottle and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around his arm. “I need your help, just for a second.”
Peter tossed the clothes onto the bed and headed into the bathroom, doing his best not to react to the overbearing, almost nauseating smell of the peroxide.
“I need you to wrap the bandage around my arm. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get it as tight as I need.”
“Are you planning on tourniquet-level tightness?” Peter asked, taking the bandage out of the first aid kid.
Stiles shook his head. “Tight enough that I can pull a shirt on over this without having to worry about it snagging, but no so tight that it cuts off my circulation,” he said, holding his arm out.
As Peter inspected the now-clean wound, he felt a growl bubble up deep in his throat and his vision sharpen even further, the tell-tale sign that his eyes had gone red. He zoned out for a while, shocked when Stiles snapped his fingers right in front of Peter’s eyes.
“Dude, Peter, I get that your mind is probably racing with the many ways you can maim, dismember, and otherwise beat the shit outta Scott, and I can’t really blame you for that right now. But if you want to grab any of your stuff before we get rid of the car so we can fly across the country, you need to snap the hell out of this,” Stiles said. “Just wrap me up so we can get moving.”
Peter nodded, forcing himself to focus as he wrapped Stiles’ arm. When the wound was fully wrapped, he tapped Stiles’ wrist. “Too tight?”
He stretched his arm a few times, splaying his fingers, and wincing slightly. “Yeah. Not too tight, but it all hurts like a bitch.” He looked up at Peter. “Thanks, dude.”
“Dude?” Peter asked, suddenly jolted out of his daze. ”That’s twice in as many minutes.”
Stiles grinned before digging into the rest of the first aid kid. He pulled out an Ace bandage and a compression bandage. “You heard me. And what would you prefer I call you? Pete? Petey? Buddy, pal?” His amusement suddenly went sharp and he turned a surprisingly intimidating leer on the older man. “Wind beneath my wings?”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Is there some reason my name is insufficient?”
The teenager shrugged. “I call everyone dude. Get over yourself.” He propped his leg up on the arm of his chair and started wrapping the Ace bandage around his ankle. “And don’t skimp on the flannel.”
“You and I need to have a serious conversation about the flaws in your wardrobe,” Peter muttered as he tossed the last two plain shirts onto the bed. “Do you have a suitcase?”
“Should be a duffle bag under my bed,” he said.
Peter hummed and retrieved the bag. He heard Stiles grunt and then the dull roll of wheels on the bathroom tiles and looked up, somehow not surprised to see the teenager on his feet. Well, one of them. He was leaning against the doorframe, not putting any weight on his injured foot and bracing his uninjured arm on the doorframe. “Do you require assistance?”
Without answering, Stiles hopped forward. Narrowing his eyes on his bed, he hopped forward once more and then allowed himself to fall onto the bed. “Nope,” he said, stretching for his laptop. “I’m gonna book us a flight and then I’ll change into less bloody clothes so we can head out.”
“Fair enough,” Peter said. He quickly folded the shirts he’d gathered, grabbed a few pairs of jeans and underwear for the teenager – the latter without the expected commentary. As much as he enjoyed their banter, if Stiles’ wary stare over the edge of his laptop were any indication, he was getting edgier the longer they stayed. He looked around the room and grabbed the laptop charger and the phone charger, tossing them both into the bag. “Toiletries?”
Stiles shook his head, not looking up from his laptop. “Don’t need to pack them,” he said. “Toss me my wallet, would you? It should be on my dresser.”
“Under the Latin dictionary?” Peter asked, amused despite himself.
“I’ve got an inquisitive mind,” Stiles said snippily as he snatched his wallet out of Peter’s grasp. A few seconds later and he nodded decisively. “Paid for. Flight leaves at five forty-three.”
“Giving us?” Peter glanced at the digital clock on Stiles’ nightstand. “Less than two hours to finish up here and drive almost eighty miles to the airport.”
“Gotta love Beacon Hills,” Stiles said flatly. “You done with my bag?”
“Unless you’ve got something else you need to add?”
He shook his head. “I need to put the firepower back in its safe and then I’ll change.”
Peter paused. “Do you require assistance?”
“I’ve been dressing myself since I was a toddler, creep, but thanks.”
He smirked. “In that case, I’ll be back shortly.” When Stiles cocked his head at him, he nodded toward Stiles’ duffle bag. “I’ll run to grab my things and be back in less than ten minutes. Give you enough time and privacy to change before we get rid of your bloody clothes and start for the airport.”
“Okay,” Stiles said, voice suddenly quiet.
Peter paused again, looking back over at the boy. He frowned slightly before walking over to him, shoving himself between Stiles’ spread legs and crouching down to be closer to eye level with Stiles. “I will not be gone long,” he said. “And I am coming back.” He very deliberately placed his hands on Stiles’ thighs. “I will be back in,” he glanced at the clock again. “Eight minutes. Just enough time for you to get changed without exposing your tender flesh to my adoring gaze,” he said, with just enough of a smirk to earn an eye roll from Stiles. “Once I return, you will not leave my sight until you feel ready to do so.”
Stiles hesitated for a moment before nodding. “Okay.” He nodded again, this time more confidently, and put slightly trembling hands on top of Peter’s. “I can handle that.”
Peter smiled, struck by the sudden urge to kiss the younger man’s worries away. Too soon, he thought, and instead leaned forward to press his forehead to Stiles’ and watched the boy with Alpha red eyes. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that you do not come to harm again.”
That seemed to mollify Stiles. “Thanks,” he said, relaxing a bit. “I think I needed to hear that.” He let out a heavy breath, apparently steeling himself. “Get going. I’ll be ready to go in seven minutes.”
True to his word, when Peter came back seven minutes later, he found Stiles sitting on his front steps, duffle bag at his feet and backpack beside him. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yep. Bloody clothes are soaked in bleach, wrapped in multiple trash bags, and out in trash can in the garage. Pickup was two days ago, so the smell will have faded by next week and Dad won’t notice it. Weapons are back where they belong and locked up tight, and I have my laptop and phone in here,” he said, patting the top of his backpack. “Left a note for Dad on his desk and locked his office back up again, so I’m all set to disappear. You?”
“I put my bag in the back of the car,” Peter said by way of agreement. He reached down and picked up the duffle bag, offering his other hand to Stiles.
“Thanks,” Stiles said, taking the hand and letting Peter help him out to the car.
“Of course, darling,” he said. “Do you need a crutch for your ankle?”
He shook his head. “I’ll grab a wheelchair at the airport before we leave, if one’s available. If not, I’ll just lean on you and limp. It’s not so bad I need immediate medical attention for it, but the longer I put weight on it without resting it, the more my ankle’s gonna hurt.” He shrugged, getting in to the front passenger’s seat as Peter tossed his duffle in the back seat. “I’ll play it the same way when we land,” he said.
“And where might that be?”
Stiles was silent for a long moment, fidgeting with his seat belt as Peter got in and started the car. “Somewhere safer than here,” he finally admitted.
When they got into the airport, it was fortunately early enough that not many other people were there. Then again, it was barely four-thirty in the morning, and it was a smaller airport. Peter deliberately parked his car in a short-term handicap spot and helped Stiles out of the passenger’s seat.
“You’re gonna get towed,” Stiles said with a tired smirk as he leaned in to Peter’s hold.
“The car isn’t mine,” Peter said, shoving his smaller bag into Stiles’ bag and slinging the teenager’s backpack over his shoulder without dislodging Stiles. “Lifted it from a home on the other side of Beacon Hills. The house smelled like they’d been absent for a few weeks, so they won’t realize their car’s missing until they get back.”
“Fingerprints?” Stiles asked before catching sight of an unused wheelchair. “Let’s grab that. I’ll carry the bag in my lap and you can push me up to our gate.”
Peter nodded and led Stiles toward the chair. “While I do enjoy your sudden docile nature, sweet boy, I am looking forward to you being healed enough to put up a fight. Compliance does not suit you.”
Stiles snorted but didn’t say anything as he gingerly lowered himself into the wheelchair. “Are your fingerprints on file?” he asked, looking up at Peter. “They’ll pop as a person of interest.”
“Not to my knowledge. I never had run-ins with law enforcement before the fire, and afterward, my wounds were too severe for fingerprints to be lifted,” he said. “Are you settled in the chair?” he asked.
“Yep,” Stiles said. “Bag me.”
Peter chuckled, running his free hand along the length of Stiles’ neck. “I will allow that to slide, darling, but only because you are currently injured,” he said, setting the bags in Stiles’ lap. “Do you have the information?”
“Flight code, yeah,” Stiles said. “But we’re going to need to print out our boarding passes inside the terminal,” he added.
“And do you plan on sharing our destination?”
“Safety isn’t enough?”
“Stiles,” Peter said, leaning down so that his mouth was about level with Stiles’ ear. “You and I are entirely too similar in tendencies to keep our cards close to the vest,” he said. “But there are some instances in which sharing is important.”
Stiles grinned, and without warning pressed a kiss to Peter’s cheek. “Trust me, Alpha. I’m not leading you astray.”
“I highly doubt that,” Peter replied, a bit stunned by Stiles’ action.
He laughed quietly. “Let’s go. We’ve got less than an hour to get through security.”
“It’s a one terminal airport, Stiles.” He cocked his head to the side as he pushed the wheelchair inside. “And there are less than fifty other people here. It shouldn’t be a problem.
“Regardless,” Stiles said. “And what are the odds of you buying me some booze before our flight?”
Peter snorted. “I doubt any of the duty-free shops are open at this hour,” he said. “And I’m not entirely sure I want to see what you turn into when you’re intoxicated and cooped up in an airplane.” He pushed the wheelchair up to one of the auto-kiosks and watched Stiles very carefully as he stood up a bit to lean on the machine and enter the code. “How long is the flight?”
“Just under six hours,” Stiles said. “It’s nonstop, so there’s that.”
“Hopping coasts entirely,” Peter said with an intrigued hum.
“We could be going to Hawaii,” Stiles snarked.
“Somehow I don’t think you’re the type for a getaway on the beach,” Peter said. He cocked his head to the side, holding out a hand for the boarding passes and quirking an eyebrow at Stiles when the teenager instead folded them in half and tucked them under the handle of the duffle bag in his lap.
Stiles shrugged, not even bothering to answer the question. Instead, he fell mostly silent as Peter pushed him through the security line and up to their gate just as the flight attendant announced boarding for first class. “That’s us,” he piped up.
“Like you’re really complaining,” Stiles said. “C’mon, hurry up! I wanna find out if that hot towel thing is real or not.”
The flight attendant laughed at that. “It is,” she said, taking a quick survey of the gate. “And it looks like the two of you are the only ones in first class, so all I need are your boarding passes.”
Stiles grinned and handed them over.
She took them with a nod of thanks. “Have a good flight.”
Being the only ones in first class, it didn’t take long for the two of them to get settled. Stiles had secured a row for just the two of them, and Peter ushered the teenager into the window seat.
“Are you gonna be okay on the flight?” Stiles asked, tone hushed as the dozen or so economy passengers shuffled aboard. “With your, um.” He trailed off and gestured at Peter’s face.
“This is not my first flight,” Peter answered. “It will be unpleasant but I’ll manage.”
“Cool,” Stiles said before shifting in his seat, resting his head on Peter’s shoulder to watch the plane load up. Almost hesitantly, he reached out and took the older man’s hand. “Thank you,” he said almost inaudibly, even to Peter’s enhanced hearing, and closed his eyes.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful. Stiles fell asleep shortly after takeoff, hand still clutching Peter’s, and didn’t so much as stir when the flight attendant came by to check on them.
Peter kept a close eye on the younger man as his mind whirled with the possibilities. Once they’d gotten to the gate, it was relatively obvious to see that they were flying to New York. He doubted Stiles would have chosen to run to a city where he knew no one, though if that were the case, Peter had his own resources in the city that wouldn’t take much to access. He still had a month or so before his identity paperwork was finalized, but he’d taken preemptive safety measures before he’d had to return to Beacon Hills. As long as his niece and nephew hadn’t rummaged through his personal life, he should still have access to the necessary resources for survival.
But then, Stiles’ pragmatism was not something he was willing to underestimate. The teenager had been able to surprise him several times thus far, and he doubted that was going to change any time soon. His initial interest in the young man hadn’t faded at all since their first meeting, and though McCall was an unfortunate mistake, he found himself growing more pleased that Stiles hadn’t taken the Bite. Something about his human ferocity was undeniably appealing.
He settled more comfortably in his seat and allowed his eyes to drift shut. He took a few deep breaths, willing himself to stay calm and to keep his protective Alpha tendencies under control. If that meant draining some of the pain that Stiles was hiding relatively well? it’s not like the teenager was awake to call him on it.
The landing was … rough, to say the least. A sudden, heavy pocket of rain during their descent led to unsettling turbulence, waking Stiles up and jostling his wounds. He did his best to bite back a whimper, but the quiet rumble he felt more than heard from Peter told him he’d been less than successful.
“Just a few more minutes, sweet boy,” Peter said quietly, watching Stiles with Alpha-red eyes. “LaGuardia is just ten minutes below us.”
Stiles nodded, gritting his teeth. “Distract me. Please.”
“Do we need to find a hotel when we land?”
“Nope. I just need to make a call.”
Peter smirked. “Care to share one of your secrets now that we’re close to your destination?”
Stiles paused for a moment before nodding. “I know a guy,” he said.
“I also know another guy. And a redhead terrifying enough to make Lydia look boring,” he said. “You’ll like her.”
“And your two guys?”
“Ray’s pretty chill, so you’ll probably like him.”
“The second man?” Peter asked.
Stiles grinned. “He’d probably like you better if I wasn’t injured for your introductions,” he said. “I mean, he’d be a pain in the ass either way, but you’re going to get a heavier dose of that protective older brother bullshit than usual,” he added.
Peter’s eyes narrowed. “Is that a figurative-“
“Half-brother, technically,” he said, voice wavering slightly. “Mom was Dad’s one true love, but I don’t think he was hers. He showed up at her funeral and we both found out we had a brother. He’s kept in touch since. I mean, as much as he can from across the country.” He shrugged slightly, and then winced when the move jostled his ribs painfully. “He and Dad don’t really get along.”
Peter snorted but didn’t say anything in response. Another round of turbulence had Stiles flinching again and clenching his eyes shut. Peter frowned and tightened his hold on Stiles’ hand and siphoned more of his pain until the plane landed.
As the rest of the passengers disembarked, Stiles motioned toward his backpack. “Grab my phone for me, would you?”
Peter nodded and did as requested.
Stiles turned it on, an inscrutable look passing over his face when he realized he had no notifications. He quickly set his hurt aside and pulled up his contact screen for Lionel Hutz and sent out a quick text, comprised of just four words: blue alert, condition yellow.
His next step was to call Donna, listed under his contacts as Panda, and pressed call.
“Baby Spec-linski,” came the almost immediate answer, and Stiles couldn’t help but relax at the voice. Donna had always been able to make him feel at ease. “This is a pleasant surprise. What’s up?”
“I just landed at LaGuardia and I’m heading to Harvey’s place to crash for the afternoon. I texted him,” he said.
“He’s not going to respond for another few hours. Partner meeting’s probably going to last until after closing hours,” she said. “Is everything okay?”
“Long trip, that’s all. Is he in trouble again?”
Donna laughed. “Not that kind of talk. It’s a good meeting,” she said. “Need me to call Ray?”
“Nah, I’ll call an Uber. Just wanted to let you two know I’m in the area,” he said.
“Much appreciated, kiddo,” she said. “Take care, and stop by sometime. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but definitely before you leave.”
“Will do. I don’t have any donuts with me this time,” he said.
Donna laughed again. “Kiddo, you do Harvey good when you show up. And you drive Louis batshit insane,” she said. “Something about the world going off the deep end with Harvey and baby Harvey. It’s beautiful to watch.”
Stiles grinned. “Thanks, Donna.”
Peter stood up to pull the duffle bag from the overhead compartment and watched as Stiles carefully leveraged his way out of the seats. “Do you need a hand?” he asked, not intervening as Stiles bent down and pulled his backpack out from under the seat in front of him.
“Nah, just let me lean on you. I think I’ll be okay for a bit,” he said, slinging the bag over his shoulder and limping over to Peter. “Just be prepared to catch me if I look like I’m about to fall on my ass." He tucked the cellphone into Peter's jacket pocket as the older man wrapped an arm around his waist.
He smirked. “Not a problem, princess. I’m here to catch you if you feel you’re going to swoon.”
Stiles rolled his eyes but leaned on Peter regardless. “Just get me out to the pickup lane so we can grab a ride to Harvey’s stupid soft guest bed and his equally stupid expensive coffee maker.”
Peter snorted but did as requested.
My thesis is due in eight hours, so what else is there to do but write another chapter for this little monster? :P
The cab ride was uneventful – save for the eyeful the cabbie gave Stiles’ injuries. When they pulled up to the front of a luxury apartment building, Peter found himself once again surprised. Even moreso when, as he helped Stiles out of the cab, the doorman greeted the teenager and headed over to unload their bags out of the cab.
“The younger Specter. It’s been a while,” he said before turning a wary eye on Peter.
“Hey Morgan,” Stiles said with a tired grin.
“Tell me the other guy looks worse,” he said. “And tell me you didn’t bring the other guy with you.”
Stiles barked out a quiet laugh. “Nope, he’s not the one who swung on me.”
Morgan huffed. “I need more than that before I let you in with a stranger. Your friend got a name?” he asked.
Peter glanced over at Stiles, curious about what the teenager would come up with.
“Hired a nurse to put me back together,” Stiles said. “This is Peter. Peter, this is Morgan, gatekeeper extraordinaire.”
Morgan looked Peter over, skepticism not fading. “He doesn’t look like a nurse.”
“Private practice,” Stiles lied easily. When Morgan looked back over at him, eyebrows raised, he lifted his less painful shoulder in a shrug. “He owed me a favor and he promised not to let infection set in for a slow and painful death,” he said. “And he promised to leave the other guy maimed if he shows his face anywhere near me.”
That earned Morgan’s approval. “Fair enough,” he said. “Does Harvey know you hired yourself private care?”
Stiles frowned. “Harvey doesn’t technically know I’m hurt,” he said. “Figured I’d break that to him in person when he gets home.”
“That’d be the way I’d handle it,” he said. He looked over at Peter. “Can you handle the bags and Stiles, or do you want a hand?”
“Both,” he said, holding out his free hand.
Morgan nodded and handed Peter the bags. “I’m on duty till eight tonight if you two need anything or something comes up.” He narrowed his gaze on Peter. “And I want a description of the animal that did this to Stiles.”
“Why?” Peter asked, though he found himself relaxing slightly at the protective gleam in the man’s eyes.
“Morgan’s more than just a doorman,” Stiles said. “He’s security. Badass security. The kind who knows how to handle an M4 and eliminate whatever human threats show up,” he added, shooting Peter a glance to further emphasize his point.
“And what about those nonhuman threats?” Peter asked, amused despite himself.
Stiles grinned. “He’s useless around rats. And stray cats. And that Chihuahua that got loose in the building a few years ago. Muffin, wasn’t it?”
“Mitzy,” Morgan groused. “Nasty little bastard’s bit me three times and I don’t really want to add another to that tally,” he said. “If you see that overgrown rat running loose, you let me know. I’ve been looking for an excuse to bring her case up to the board.”
Stiles nodded. “We’ll keep an eye out,” he said. “But I’m gonna let Peter take me upstairs so he can take my pants off.”
Morgan scowled. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that, and I’m going to play dumb when your brother comes by.”
Stiles laughed hollowly but walked with Peter as the older man led him inside, nodding his thanks to Morgan when the man held the door open for him. “Elevator’s at the end of the hall,” he said. “We’re heading to the penthouse.”
Stiles nodded. “He’s that kind of lawyer. Corporate law, some kind of pretentious bullshit,” he said. “I mean I’m not complaining about that but it’s kind of like having Lex Luthor as family sometimes.”
Peter snorted as he escorted Stiles into the elevator. “Do you have a plan to tell your brother what’s going on?” he asked.
Stiles shifted so he could easily reach the touchscreen and pressed the icon for P2. The screen prompted the entry of a code, and he quickly entered the code NCC1701. “He’s probably going to play dumb, see how much I’ll spill before he shows his cards.”
“Sounds like that tendency runs in the family.”
Stiles huffed. “He knows about some supernatural stuff. Werewolves for sure, but I’m not sure how much else. I know there’s some degree of attorney-client privilege going on, so I can’t pry too much,” he said. “He’s not going to be happy I brought company, and he’s definitely going to think you did this.”
“I’d be glad to correct him on that,” Peter said, ducking his head to avoid the camera as he flashed Alpha red eyes at Stiles.
The teenager shook his head. “Dude. I’m not exactly in decent shape right now, and he’s always been protective.” He frowned. “A few times to the point of violence,” he added quietly. The elevator chimed, pulling Stiles out of his sudden silence, and the doors slid open to reveal an apartment that wouldn’t be out of place in a home and garden magazine. “So. The plan. We’re going to go to my bedroom here. I’m going to shower, change my bandages, and crash in bed for at least three hours. I won’t need help with the first, but I might need help with the bandages.” He glanced over at Peter, cheeks tinging red, but didn’t continue speaking.
Peter nodded, looking around. More than curiosity, he needed to know for sure that the penthouse was safe. “I’ll grant you enough privacy to do so, but I’m going to be monitoring your heartbeat. Which is your bedroom?”
“I figured,” he said. “All the way at the end of the hall, door on the left.”
The room was surprisingly chic, though Peter supposed that wasn’t surprising – there wasn’t the same wall space as was at Stiles’ house in Beacon Hills, so there was no way he could hang his posters. More than half the walls were windows, providing a spectacular view of the city. The blue-grey paint on the walls was calming, and there was a set of French doors integrated with the wall of windows, leading out to a terrace. The dark hardwood offset the paint nicely, and as he helped Stiles into the bathroom, he took a quick inventory of the furniture. Queen sized bed, two nightstands, a chaise lounge near the French doors, and a small desk with several shelves on the sections of the wall above the bed and the desk.
He set Stiles’ backpack on the nightstand and tossed the duffle bag onto the chaise. “Which door?” he asked. There were two – one next to the desk and the other on the wall opposite the wall of windows. When Stiles motioned to the door next to the desk, he helped the teenager hobble inside, shoving the door open as he went.
The bathroom was equally impressive. Hardwood changed to a material that looked almost marble, matching well with the frame of the bathtub and the countertop. The tub looked large enough for two, but the shower was clearly high-end. Large enough to fit at least three people, with a rain-shower type faucet that Peter was almost eager to try. It reminded him a great deal of his old shower – and that he hadn’t had time for a decent shower in far too long. Sponge baths while he was comatose, and after his resurrection, he’d been careful with the use of resources where he stayed. The house for sale had long had its utilities turned off, and his use of Stiles’ bathroom was the first bathing he’d done indoors in close to two months.
“You’re quiet,” Stiles commented.
“Your brother has expensive taste.”
Stiles snorted. “Wait till you see his closet. He’s got a wall full of Tom Ford, expensive shoes, and a jewelry box just for watches.” He grinned as Peter let go of him so he could take a seat on the closed toilet lid. “Actually, you two freaks could bond over clothes.”
“Is he too a fan of slutty Armani?” Peter asked.
“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Stiles said with a wry smile. He looked up at Peter. “Go on.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Your eyes are all glowy red, dude, and your nose is doing this weird flaring thing like you’re trying to pull in every smell in the world right now,” Stiles said. “Go on. Do your Alpha inspection to make sure the penthouse is safe. I’m not completely incapacitated.”
Peter rumbled but nodded. “I won’t take long.”
“You do you, dude. I’m not going anywhere other than the shower and the bed.”
Peter nodded, another rumble escaping him. He turned to leave when Stiles reached out and grabbed his wrist.
“Hang on a sec. My phone.”
He handed it over. “Waiting to hear back from your brother, or hoping to hear from McCall or your father?”
Stiles shrugged, heartbeat skipping slightly at the mention of Scott and his father. “Harvey knows the code, so I don’t want to worry him too much,” he said quietly. “He, uh. We’ve been through a lot.”
Peter hummed. Without thinking about it, he leaned down and brushed his lips against Stiles’ temple. “Rest, sweet boy. I’ll keep you safe.” When Stiles looked up at him, an unexpectedly vulnerable look on his face that made him look almost uncomfortably young. “Your brother, too, if he wants my protection.”
“Thank you,” Stiles said, almost inaudible even to Peter’s enhanced hearing.
“If you need anything, call my name.”
Stiles nodded, watching as Peter left the room. Once the door closed behind him, he checked his phone. Nothing from Scott, which hurt more than he wanted to admit, but also nothing from Harvey or Donna. He frowned at his phone and stood, hobbling over to the bathroom cabinet to set his phone down on the counter. He opened the cabinet, somewhat relieved when he saw the first aid kit still there and hauled it up onto the counter. He’d switch up his bandages after he showered.
Peter listened to Stiles with a careful ear. The teenager was in some pain, but he seemed to be functioning without much difficulty. He looked around the bedroom level, conducting a thorough inspection.
In addition to Stiles’ bedroom, there was another bedroom, this one with the impression it belonged to an older man. A few baseballs in preserving containers and framed newspaper covers featuring the New York Yankee victories at the World Series, and the faded smell of leather and tobacco. It hadn’t been occupied in weeks. Months, maybe, but there was no sign of dust. Clearly, despite its lack of use, the room had been subject to regular cleaning. Full-length curtains were pulled completely shut, hiding any external light. The room felt almost heavy – strong emotions sometimes led to that sensation. He frowned, curious but not overly so, and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.
Another room, likely intended as another bedroom, was a home gym, outfitted with what Peter assumed was top-of-the-line machines and a full-size punching bag. He passed the private elevator bay and the laundry room next to it, more than slightly curious about the marble of the spiral staircase.
At the end of the hall was the master suite. He edged inside, nose wrinkling at the less than pleasant smell of different perfumes overlapping each other. Several of them were faded, and though there were a few more recurring scents – repeat visitors, perhaps. The bedroom was large. Opulent came to mind. The bed had to be California king, and there was a fireplace on the wall opposite the bed. Two walk-in closets – and he was certainly intrigued when he walked into the smaller of the two and found the wall of Tom Ford that Stiles had mentioned. The bathroom was enormous – the tub was the central feature, and he was only slightly surprised to find the fireplace feature in the wall. In the shower was the door to a sauna, and while Peter was again thinking about the opulence of the room, he had no intention of going near the sauna. Memories of the fire came too quickly as it was, and he saw no need to invite them to come easier.
The master suite had its own terrace, though it lacked any sign of recent use.
As he left the suite, he heard Stiles grumble under his breath, something about too many controls, before the quiet hum of rushing water signaled the start of the teenager’s shower.
He headed downstairs and took a quick inventory. A dining room with a table set for eight people, a media room with a television the size of the wall and a large leather sofa. The kitchen was particularly nice – large, with professional-grade equipment and an island with a built-in wine cooler. A quick peek at the collection had Peter more interested in meeting Stiles’ brother. Though small, the collection had several rare bottles, each worth a fortune on their own.
A half-bath, another elevator bay, and a sparsely decorated foyer.
An open room that Peter guessed would easily house a grand piano, but instead was home to two walls of bookshelves, all of them full. A cursory glance only contributed to his growing interest. Law books, several science fiction books, and three shelves of books that Peter had also seen in Stiles’ bedroom – including the Latin dictionary. He took a few minutes to get a closer look at the books. At first glance, it would appear to be a random collection.
However, after a few minutes, it became clear that Harvey’s knowledge of the supernatural stretched beyond just the acknowledgement that the supernatural, and werewolves, were real. There was a well-disguised grimoire tucked in between a French dictionary and a photo book of the Yankees history. Peter pulled it out and flipped through it. It was an informative grimoire, if not the most sophisticated, and had basic information about most of the supernatural creatures that could be found in the tristate area.
Several books were strewn over the coffee table in the adjacent living room. Another quick survey of the books had him intrigued. Two books on corporate law and policy, but the third and fourth books were more interesting. One on public guardianship and then a book on California guardianship specifically. The final book was smaller and was opened to a chapter on teenage emancipation. All of it was interesting, and the legal pad with several notes scribbled on it was telling of a story that Peter suddenly wanted to hear about – why else would a New York corporate attorney be looking at California custody cases if not to help his younger brother?
The notes pointed to the building of a relatively solid case. Flipping through the previous pages, he could tell that this wasn’t just a one-off inquiry. Several pages, and case laws going back years were written down. Some scratched out, a few circled, and one highlighted. Peter was inclined to settle in and read, examine more closely the case being developed, but knew he’d have to set it aside for now. He would focus on that later, once he got more context for the rest of the story.
A large sofa, an armchair, and a fabric bench bracketed an electric fireplace, and behind the large sofa was another set-up, this one looking much more formal. Stiffer fabric on a sectional sofa and a pair of armchairs that Peter was certain were more fashion than function.
Most of the wall space was taken up by floor-to-ceiling windows, and the living room, kitchen, and dining room all had French doors similar to those in Stiles’ bedroom.
All in all, the penthouse was impressive. Satisfied at having gathered a basic layout and ensuring that they were alone, he headed back upstairs just in time for the water to shut off.
He headed back into Stiles’ bedroom and began unpacking the duffle bags. He shrugged off his jacket and draped it over the back of the chaise before pulling out two pairs of sweatpants.
“You satisfied? We’re alone and safe in here?” Stiles called out.
“For now,” he said, heading into the bathroom.
The teenager had wrapped a towel around his waist and was wrapping a fresh bandage around his arm. “Hey creeper,” he said. “Can you finish wrapping this?” he asked, holding his arm out to Peter. “Angle’s awkward.”
Peter nodded. He set the clothes aside and took hold of Stiles’ arm, quickly wrapping it up. Once done, he pressed his palm flat to Stiles’ wounded ribs and pulled the pain. It wasn’t too bad, surprisingly, though perhaps more surprisingly was Stiles’ lack of argument. Peter turned his gaze up to Stiles’ face, smirking slightly when he saw that the younger man’s eyes were closed, the slow beat of his heart revealing just how close to asleep he was. “Up,” Peter said gently, tugging Stiles up as he spoke.
“You’re putting pants on and we’re going to bed.”
Stiles snickered but allowed Peter to manhandle him into a pair of sweatpants. “I thought you wanted to get me out of my pants.”
Peter rolled his eyes. Tired and punch-drunk from the pain-leech, then. As amusing as it was, he much preferred a sober Stiles to this pliant, muted version of the teenager. “I’ll wait until you’re aware enough to fight back. As I told you earlier, compliance does not suit you,” he said. “Let’s go.”
“My hair’s still wet.”
“You have a buzzcut. It’ll be dry by the time we get to your bed.”
Stiles nodded, sagging almost bonelessly against Peter. No doubt struck by the sudden heaviness of exhaustion. Despite having slept through most of the flight, the past 36 hours had certainly been emotionally draining, and his wounds would require rest to heal properly. “Carry me, creeper,” he said.
Peter huffed but picked Stiles up in an easy bridal carry and took him out to the bed. He tucked the teenager in under the covers and watched as he immediately nestled into the pillow. Keeping a careful eye on Stiles, Peter quickly changed out of his clothes, pulled on a pair of sweatpants, and cracked open one of the French doors just enough to let a breeze and the smell of fresh air into the room. Once done, he clambered into bed.
Stiles was on him in a minute, wrapping around him like a clingy octopus.
He tensed slightly when he felt Stiles nuzzling his throat, mumbling something about good smells before dropping off to sleep entirely.
Peter waited for a moment, curious to see if Stiles would wake up. When nothing happened, he wrapped an arm around Stiles’ waist, holding him close. He felt himself begin to fade as well, fangs dropping slightly. It wasn’t a loss of control – he had no interest in pulling his claws out. They were still in a new area, and while he was comfortable that there wasn’t an immediate threat lurking in the apartment, he would be on edge until he finally settled into some semblance of territory.
It would take time, but he could do it. Packmate at his side, he was at no risk of losing his mind again. All he needed to do was breathe.
He woke with a start when he felt Stiles squirming out of his hold, grip tightening on the teenager. It was dark outside, well past sunset. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept that long without nightmares.
“Dude, lemme up. I’m starving,” Stiles muttered, still squirming. “We didn’t have time to stop for food and I can’t remember the last time I ate. Harvey’s usually got some good takeout. And coffee,” he added.
Peter grumbled, pulling his fangs back and slowly loosening his hold on Stiles. “Food, yes. Hold off on the coffee for now.”
“Don’t want me jumpy and caffeinated at?” He reached over to the nightstand to check the time. “Twelve forty eight at night?”
“Ever the intuitive human,” Peter said. He felt a pang in his stomach reminding him that he hadn’t eaten recently either and crawled out of bed after Stiles. He watched the teenager limp over to their duffle bags and pull on a zip-up hoodie, wincing when the movement pulled uncomfortably on his ribs. “Does your brother tend to work late?”
Stiles shrugged. “Corporate law isn’t really a nine to five, really, and Donna said he had a meeting with the partners, so he probably ended up going to the bar afterward.”
“You know him well for being relatively estranged.”
“He deals with authority about as well as I do,” Stiles replied with a quick, tired grin. “I let him know I’m here, though, so it shouldn’t be an issue.” He leaned against the chaise and slowly shifted to put some weight on his wounded ankle, making a quietly pleased noise in his throat when he was able to do so without too much pain. “Did you do the pain suck on me?” he asked.
“So, what, you sleep-leeched my pain?” Stiles asked, walking slowly toward the door.
Peter shrugged. “It’s not entirely unheard of,” he said, keeping his tone deliberately light.
“But not common, either,” Stiles said, easily picking up on Peter’s hesitation.
He nodded. “Ours is a very young Pack. Bonds require a certain strength about them before that sort of bonding happens unintentionally,” he said, mind already awhirl with possible reasons for the rapid development. “Are you able to navigate the stairs without assistance?”
“I think so,” Stiles said. He smirked over at Peter. “I mean, I get that you’re gonna be clingy for a while and you’re probably going to try to take advantage of the opportunity to grope me, but just try not to be super obvious about it,” he said. “I’m still too tired to get seriously pissed at you right now.”
Peter smirked but didn’t say anything as he followed Stiles down to the kitchen.
The teenager was quick to scrounge through the refrigerator, pulling out a few boxes of what smelled vaguely like Chinese food. As he put it into the microwave and set the timer to reheat it, he ducked back into the fridge and pulled out a large box of sushi. “This smell fresh to you?”
Peter took a quick whiff and nodded.
“Awesome,” Stiles said, a genuine smile blossoming on his face.
Peter opened his mouth to say something when something caught his attention. A pair of faint, slow heartbeats in the master bedroom above them. “Your brother’s home. He’s not alone.”
“Yeah, he’s kind of a slut,” Stiles said. “Do you want a beer?”
“The alcohol would do nothing for me, and I’ve never been a fan of the taste. I will take that sushi, though,” he said.
Stiles frowned. “I’ll share, but Harvey gets the good stuff. Omakase at the high-end restaurants. I don’t think most of them even technically deliver,” he said. “I’ll share the General Tsao’s beef and let you have the extra egg roll.”
Peter watched him for a moment before nodding. “Acceptable.” He took a step closer to Stiles, backing him against the counter, genuinely amused when the teenager met his gaze without hesitation. “Next time, I will not share. That is fresh Maguro and Hamachi.”
“I thought wolves were all about the venison and rabbit, not fish,” Stiles snarked lightly.
He let out a gentle rumble and stepped forward again, standing flush to Stiles. “That, darling, I prepare myself. I never cared to learn the intricacies of making sushi, but that does not mean I don’t appreciate the final product,” he said. He heard one of the heartbeats quicken in the telltale signs of someone waking up.
Stiles snorted. “Just an appreciator of good art, then?” he asked.
“In all shapes and sizes,” Peter all but purred. He planted his hands on the back of the counter, essentially pinning Stiles in place. “Have you ever had the chance to explore the art in this city?”
“Do I really look like the museum type?”
Peter chuckled quietly, leaning forward and tracing his nose along Stiles’ temple. The smell of the two of them intertwined with the warm, sweet smell of good sleep between them was positively intoxicating. He let out a quiet rumble, one that sounded almost like a purr, and let his eyes drift closed. It was forward, more forward than he’d planned, but couldn’t quite convince himself to step back.
Not that Stiles was objecting, given the way he was leaning into the touch.
“Art comes in all shapes and sizes, pet.”
“Uh huh,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes but still not moving until the microwave beeped. “Grab us some bowls, would you?” he asked, pushing at Peter’s shoulder to get him to move.
Peter hummed but did as requested. A few seconds of searching proved no luck.
“Try the cabinet next to the fridge,” a new voice said. “Second shelf.”
Peter whirled around, a snarl ripping out of his throat as he faced the voice, already halfway shifted. He took a step forward, claws poised to strike, when Stiles grabbed him by the forearm. He paused but did not look away from the man leaning against the far wall.
“Hey, Harvey,” Stiles said, trying for nonchalance.
“Don’t you pull that hey, Harvey bullshit, baby Milo,” Harvey said, glaring at Peter. “Who the hell is that.” When Stiles opened his mouth, heart already stuttering as his mind raced to come up with a lie, “And don’t try to float private practice nurse.”
“Morgan ratted me out?”
Harvey took a step forward, crossing his arms over his chest. “Your bullshit excuse might’ve worked, too, if he hadn’t just ripped the Alpha off your Band-Aids,” he said, nodding at Peter. “Put the sushi back in the fridge.”
“No, kid. Sushi was supposed to be the comforting welcome to my little brother. You do not get to bleed on almost a hundred dollars’ worth of some of the best sushi in the city. Put it back in the fridge,” he said.
“Dick,” Stiles muttered under his breath as he did as told. “How’d you manage to sneak up on Peter?”
Harvey just quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Fine, keep your secrets.”
“What are you doing with an Alpha werewolf in my kitchen at midnight?”
“Not acceptable,” Harvey snapped.
Stiles scowled over at him. “We are a family of secret keepers.”
“Cryptic and not inaccurate but still not acceptable,” Harvey said, moving forward. “You’re welcome here. This is supposed to be a safe place for you, but I can’t keep that promise if you’re bringing strangers into my house without telling me.”
Stiles’ scowl just darkened. “I told you condition yellow.”
“Condition yellow means danger at home, not that you’re wounded to the point of needing help to walk, kid!” Harvey snapped, throwing his hands in the air. “Condition yellow also does not mean you’re bringing a goddamn Alpha werewolf into my house! And, you, knock off the fucking growling, you’re going to wake up the waitress,” he said, shooting a narrow-eyed glare at Peter.
Stiles snorted. “What’s her name?”
“Candice, Katy. Candy, maybe,” Harvey said, tone mellowing. “Generic and easily forgettable. Much like her service.”
“You’re such a prissy slut,” Stiles said with a smirk.
Peter pulled his claws and fangs back and focused in the pleasant cinnamon smell of Stiles’ relaxed satisfaction. He kept his gaze focused on Harvey, unwilling to look away from the man. As he looked him over, he found more than a passing resemblance to Stiles – though the most obvious sign of their relation was the identical looks in their eyes, the unmistakable challenge in them.
An almost pleasant silence settled between the three of them. Harvey came fully into the kitchen, taking a seat at the kitchen counter and watching as Stiles limped over to the cabinet with the bowls and pulled three out. He divvyed up the takeout into each of the bowls and slid one over to Harvey, very noticeably keeping the egg rolls for himself and Peter.
“How wounded are you?” Harvey asked, making a slight face at the fork Stiles slid his way.
“Not so wounded I’m an invalid,” Stiles replied.
“And your wolf?”
“He’s not wounded.”
Harvey glared at him. “Not what I meant, Milo, and you know that.”
Stiles sighed. “Harvey Specter, Peter Hale. Harvey’s being an overprotective older brother. Peter’s taking care of me.”
Harvey gave him a sour look.
“Not like that, asshole,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “He saved my life tonight,” he said before shoving a large piece of chicken in his mouth. “Last night, I guess,” he said, words muffled by the food.
“And why did your life need saving?”
“Because I’m a squishy and vulnerable human,” Stiles retorted.
Harvey rolled his eyes. He looked over at Peter. “What are your intentions with my underage brother?”
That had Stiles choking on his food. “Yeah, fuck that. We’re not having this conversation tonight,” he said sharply, pulling both Harvey and Peter’s full attention on him. “I get that I’m skirting the line of your rules right now, but it’s late. I’m hungry and I’m tired and I’m in pain.”
“You’re not being subtle about trying to manipulate me.”
“I have a broken ankle and severely bruised ribs, Harv, and you’re still riding your afterglow. Fuck subtlety,” he said.
Harvey let out a heavy sigh. He looked over at Peter. “Why do I know the name Hale?”
“We were a prevalent family in Beacon Hills,” he said, deliberately moderating his tone into one of neutrality. “Until a hunting family sought to destroy us.”
Harvey paused, frowning. “A fire?” he asked.
Peter nodded once.
“And how do you know my brother?”
“I was recently introduced to the circles he runs in,” Stiles said.
“Ennis’s kind of circles?”
Peter perked up at the mention of the dead Alpha, curious how he and Harvey would have had cause to ever meet, but stayed silent, focusing instead on the food in front of him. He would save his questions for when Stiles was feeling better and Harvey smelled less like the chemical jasmine and grapefruit, lingering perfume from his bedmate upstairs.
“A conversation for tomorrow,” Stiles said flatly.
Harvey narrowed his eyes on Stiles.
“I mean it.”
“Fair enough. How hurt are you?”
“Not badly enough to need a hospital,” Stiles said tetchily.
Harvey rolled his eyes. “You never need a hospital, Milo,” he said. “How hurt are you?”
“Broken ankle, bruised ribs. Little cut on my arm. Didn’t even need stitches,” Stiles rattled off. “And jet lag.”
“The Sheriff?” Harvey asked, a sudden sharpness to his tone that hadn’t been there before.
Stiles shook his head, expression shuttering to a neutral mask. “I left a note.”
Harvey frowned but nodded. “Did you book a return flight?”
“Not yet.” He eyed his older brother. “Do I need to?”
“Don’t ask stupid questions,” Harvey said. “Are you able to get back upstairs without help?”
“With the food?” Stiles asked, looking suddenly hopeful.
“I’ll relax that rule for tonight only.”
“Cool. C’mon, dude,” he said, nudging Peter with his elbow.
Harvey pointed his fork at Stiles. “You, upstairs. Peter and I are going to go over the rules for my house,” he said, turning a hard stare onto Peter.
Openly, fearlessly challenging.
Peter found himself impressed, even as the red bled into his vision.
“I’ll be just behind you, darling,” Peter purred, not breaking Harvey’s gaze.
Stiles grumbled but moved toward the stairs. “Any chance you’ve got a pair of crutches around here?” he asked.
“I’ll make a call and have them delivered before I leave for work.”
“Thanks, man,” he said, patting Harvey on the shoulder as he passed him. “We’ll do the happy-to-see-you, hugging shit when you don’t smell like perfume and sex.”
Harvey nodded. “I’ll take you to Pommes Frites when you’re able to walk without limping.”
Stiles barked out a laugh but continued his way out of the kitchen. “I’m not gonna wake Candy up, am I?”
“Not with the way she snores,” Harvey said. As soon as Stiles’ feet hit the stairs, he put his focus back on Peter. “So. Hale.”
“Peter is fine,” he said, wondering if the man in front of him would consider it an olive branch. “Unless you’d rather stick to the formalities?”
“You’re standing shirtless in my kitchen, eating leftover Chinese food and protecting my baby brother. Formalities seem moot at this point, don’t they?” Harvey asked.
“Fair enough,” Peter admitted. “Your rules?”
“You’re an Alpha werewolf.”
Peter nodded. “And this is your house. I have no intention of leaving Stiles alone, but I am perfectly capable of adhering to some rules when in another’s territory.”
Harvey stared at him for a moment. “You a lawyer?”
“In a former life.”
Harvey’s lips twitched into a slight smirk. “It’s late, and I’m of no mind to get into a drawn-out conversation at this hour,” he said.
“So give me the quick and dirty. We can get into the specifics at a more hospitable hour.”
He nodded. “Keep Stiles safe. He’s the priority here. No strangers in my place, other than for deliveries. Don’t let me find evidence if you snoop through my work, and if you’re anything like Stiles, do not leave notes with your suggestions in my files,” he said. He leaned forward a bit, setting his fork down. “Absolutely no contact with anyone from Beacon Hills in my house. My existence is to remain as minimal there as possible.”
Peter frowned slightly. Those were all straightforward enough – and nothing he hadn’t planned to adhere to in the first place. “He’s kept you secret so far.”
“He’s a smart kid. Knows how to keep his cards close,” he said. “What are your intentions with my little brother?” he asked.
Peter let out an irritated rumble.
“Fine. Are you planning on fucking my underage brother?” Harvey asked, the blatant challenge back in his eyes.
Peter growled lowly. “Not while he’s injured,” he said, surprising himself at his honesty.
“And when he heals?”
“When he heals and is more prepared for the conversation, I’ll bring it up with him,” Peter said. “And not his older brother, who still reeks of sex and cheap perfume from a one night stand with a deviated septum. I appreciate your desire to keep Stiles safe, but I have no interest in seeing him come to harm.”
Harvey frowned but nodded reluctantly. “So any threats about what will happen to you if you do hurt my kid brother?”
“Are unnecessary. I assure you, there is no need for a shovel talk. I have a vested interest in seeing Stiles fully recovered so he can get back to being a pain in my ass.”
That pulled a bark of laughter out of Harvey. “Fair enough.”
Peter watched him briefly. “Is there anything else?”
“Werewolves can get jetlag too?”
He smirked. “Pressurized cabins are not pleasant environments, even without the added stress of watching out for a scared, wounded teenager,” he said. “We slept some, but we could both do with a few more hours of sleep. You as well, though I doubt it will be peaceful, given the snoring.”
Harvey shrugged. “I’ve dealt with worse.” He stood, then paused. “In the event that John Stilinski calls, he gets nothing. He’s got the resources to look up my address, and I’m not exactly flying under the radar with my job, but he gets nothing. No information about whether Stiles is here, what shape he’s in, or when or if he’s going back,” he said.
“Are there problems between them?” That had him concerned – the Sheriff had always smelled a little of whiskey and never enough of the Stilinski house or his son, but Peter had been willing to chalk that up to a part of the man’s job, the high stress and long hours. Had he missed something?
Harvey shook his head. “There are several problems, but nothing I’m getting into tonight. If I find out you’ve given the man any reason to come to my home and harangue Stiles, I will use my considerable resources to deal you as much pain as you’re capable of experiencing without dying, and I will keep that sustained for as long as possible.”
And that was a fair threat. Certainly more interesting than the rote ‘hurt him and I’ll kill you’ threat that Peter had half-expected. “I have questions.”
“So do I. But like I said, I’m not getting into that tonight. Whatever you don’t eat, put it back in the fridge,” he said, standing up and heading out of the room.
Peter watched him go, curious and impressed.
New chapter! Building up to the conversation when shit gets real.
(Concerning future updates, I've graduated :D and am employed :DD so there's more time in my schedule. Might be able to get chapters rolling out pretty regularly, but I am temporarily living in an area with regular power outages and inconsistent WiFi, so we'll see how this goes)
After finishing his Chinese food, Stiles had sprawled out on the bed, starfishing across the mattress with the empty bowl on the floor next to the bed. He’d finished his food before Peter had come back into the room and was already drifting off to sleep again. He had murmured something under his breath and patted the bed next to him.
Peter had crawled in after him, not far behind him in the pursuit of sleep.
He woke up several hours later to the sound of an angry woman snapping at Harvey, something about insensitivity, misogyny, and man-whores. He rumbled, not pleased about being disturbed, and lifted his head from the pillow. The argument ratcheted up – now Harvey had been called a slut and his response had been a particularly cutting response about her performance the night before. Peter found himself debating the merits of finding a good view to watch the meltdown in person. It’d been years ago, but on the rare occasions he’d brought his flings back to his house, they’d all known better than to presume they were welcome to stay the night.
The shrieked ‘pencil-dick amateur’ made up his mind and he extracted himself from the bed, careful not to disturb Stiles. He picked up Stiles’ discarded bowl and made his way downstairs.
Harvey had made it to the door and was mid-argument with the woman. She was attractive, he supposed, cocking his head to the side as he edged into the hallway. Petite with dark brown hair plaited back into a messy braid, wearing a wrinkled pink minidress and heels that were five inches tall if they were an inch.
“You are an ass, Harvey Specter,” she hissed.
He just gave her a flat stare and opened the door.
“Fuck you,” she snapped, shoving her way past him and flouncing angrily down the hall.
Peter heard a grunt from the hallway and continued into the kitchen. He set Stiles’ dish in the sink and headed up toward the front door.
Harvey was taking the crutches from the delivery man. When he found Peter standing right next to him, he held them out to him before reaching into his suit and pulling out his wallet. “He still asleep?”
“He is,” Peter said, taking the crutches. “Your friend –”
“Really should have left last night,” Harvey said, handing the delivery man a forty-dollar tip. “I’m guessing you’ve got a few more questions now that you’re less jet-lagged? I’ve got some time before I have to leave.”
He inclined his head slightly, tucking the crutches under his arm as he followed Harvey back into the kitchen. “Early hours you’re keeping for corporate law,” he said
“All senior partners require a full-time associate. I’ve got interviews set up all day,” he said, pouring himself a cup of coffee before looking over at Peter. “You want a cup?” he asked.
“Thank you,” he said, setting the crutches on the floor. “I expect you’ve got questions of your own.”
“Just carryovers from earlier, actually.” He paused. “What happened to my little brother?”
Peter frowned. “How specific do you want?”
Harvey scowled, setting a cup of coffee down on the counter. “How specific does it need to be?”
“Shock was the first thing, but he should have recovered from that by now,” he said. “The gash on his arm doesn’t look severe enough to require stitches. I’m not sure how severe his ankle injury is, and I don’t think he’s dealing with a concussion, but he’s got some kind of minor head wound and at least two broken ribs.” Peter frowned. “He’ll recover, but he won’t let me take the appropriate measures to ensure the perpetrators will be held accountable.”
Harvey scowled. “He knows the ones who did this to him?” he asked.
Peter nodded. “And I would very much like to flay them alive, but this appears to be a rare instance where his loyalty will protect the assailants,” he said. “He doesn’t strike me as someone overburdened with mercy.”
Harvey hummed around the lip of his coffee mug. “And is that something you’ve got experience in, flaying?”
“Before my Pack was burned, I was tasked with the dirty work. Patrolling our borders for interlopers, ensuring any threats to the Pack or to my sister were answered in kind, and conducting the sort of behind-the-scenes diplomacy that was necessary to keep the Pack safe without acting against Talia’s insistence that we behave as humans, not wolves,” Peter said quietly.
“Was your sister not a werewolf, then?”
Peter snorted despite himself. “She was born to a position of power, planned and chosen to be the Alpha from conception. She subscribed to our father’s belief that success would only come if we ascribed to humanity as much as possible,” he said. “I was less favored, and trained to be her enforcer, responsible for cleaning up her messes.” He took a sip of his coffee. “She never approved of my methods and made sure to remind me of that as often as she could.”
“Disrespecting her kingmaker?” Harvey asked, frowning. There was an odd look in his eyes that Peter couldn’t quite identify – nothing near pity. Compassion, perhaps, or maybe empathy. It was surprisingly comforting, and eerily reminiscent of the look he’d seen in Stiles’ eyes after Deucalion had been disposed of. “What an idiot.”
Peter relaxed slightly. “I’d heard that other Packs respected their enforcers, but it’s not a group that often gets together,” he said. He smirked. “Usually when two enforcers meet, the circumstances are such that only one is in any shape to walk away.”
Harvey was silent, watching Peter for a moment.
Peter returned the gaze, curious as to how long a corporate lawyer would hold eye contact with an Alpha.
“How old are you?”
“I was twenty-nine a week before the fire.”
“Young for a kingmaker.”
“But extraordinarily capable,” Peter said, letting the Alpha bleed into his eyes as he smirked.
Harvey snorted but looked away, rolling his eyes. “Why protect a Pack that did not respect you?”
“The threat of being abandoned, forced to become an Omega, was always the larger threat,” he said. “I knew I would be killed the second the decision was made. Too much knowledge, too much experience, and an intimate knowledge of the Hale Pack structure to be allowed to live, and I rather like being alive.”
“So you, what, accepted the abuse?”
Peter huffed. “I tolerated the parameters that allowed me to remain alive. Didn’t argue when Talia repeatedly screamed at me for coming home with blood on my hands after a fight, played complacent when my sister, my Alpha, called me her janitor and taught her children to behave the same way,” he said. “And did not struggle when, on my niece’s thirteenth birthday, Talia forced me to my knees, grabbed me by my hair, and forced me to bare my throat to a child some eight years younger than me,” he said, words coming out in a growl and eyes flaring angrily. “That brat had the arrogance to put claws to my throat and command me to submit to her as my future Alpha.”
Harvey’s eyes widened.
A tense silence between them as they finished their coffee.
“How much of that does Stiles know?” Harvey asked, refilling his coffee. He held up the carafe and looked over at Peter. When he nodded, he refilled his cup too.
“I haven’t told him anything,” Peter said. “And I did my best to keep everything as far off the record as possible.”
Harvey nodded. “Do you plan on telling him?”
“Not immediately. I’ve kept most of my childhood to myself,” he said. “Though I expect he’ll get it out of me soon enough.”
“Then why tell me?”
Peter paused for a long moment, not entirely sure himself. “Your priority is Stiles. He was assaulted in Beacon Hills and I have not been to New York in a number of years, so I don’t know what threats might crop up. You’ve allowed me into your home. It seems prudent to keep you informed as to my skillset, in the event that one of them proves useful,” he said. He cocked his head to the side slightly as he stared at Harvey. “And in the event that you have need of similar protection. Stiles cares about you, and because of that I will do what I can to keep you safe.”
“Pack, but for Stiles’ sake?” Harvey asked.
He nodded. Though he doubted it would take too long for Harvey to deserve his spot in the Pack without Stiles vouching for him. It was certainly a good start.
“Good,” Harvey said. “I am not the sort of trouble magnet my little brother is, so I doubt I’ll need the protection, but I appreciate it regardless.” He glanced at his watch and scowled. “I have to go. If something comes up, Stiles has my number. And Donna’s.”
Peter nodded again.
Harvey drained the rest of his coffee and set the cup in the sink. He looked over at Peter again. “Look, I’m only on the outskirts of your world. My focus is on human legality. If something comes up, with your past, or let’s call it your extracurricular activities, I’ll extend the courtesy of my services, pro bono. As long as you’re in Stiles’ circle, you’re in mine.”
“I appreciate that,” Peter said. He felt something small spark between them – the tentative bloom of a fresh Pack bond.
“And I know you’ve got questions of your own.”
“Several,” Peter said. “Most concerning his father.”
“Yeah,” Harvey said dryly, scratching at his jaw. “I’m not talking about that while Stiles is anywhere around. He’s had to live through it, and I don’t want to reopen his old wounds if I don’t have to. He’s the sort who’d manage to walk into the room just as the conversation turned ugly. I’ll work with Donna about setting you up an appointment at my office.”
Peter smirked. “Or we could meet somewhere outside your workplace. I am not opposed to meeting at a bar or some other public place that we can use to discuss the matter away from a certain troublemaker’s prying ears. At your convenience.”
Harvey eyed him warily. “You are quite the accommodating Alpha.”
Peter’s smirk grew into a toothy smile. “I have a great deal of interest in protecting my Pack. I’m entirely capable and willing to kill in his defense, but I am a curious man,” he said. “I find no true sense of satisfaction like knowing why a man deserves to have my claws embedded in his vital organs.”
That seemed to shock Harvey. He took half a step back, eyes wide, before adopting a more confident expression. “Keep my brother safe while I’m at work,” he said. “And if he needs a doctor, Donna can give you the name of a guy who does home visits and doesn’t ask too many questions.” He let out a heavy sigh. “He’s dealt with Stiles a few times before, so I don’t think the kid will object too much if you have to call him.”
“I’ll let him know,” Peter said, tossing back the last of his coffee.
Harvey nodded. He turned, pausing before reaching into his suit and turning back around, business card and pen in hand. “If an emergency crops up, this is my contact. Office number is going to route through Donna, so if it’s not urgent, let her know and she’ll get hold of me.” He scribbled two numbers down on the back of the card. “Top number is Donna’s cell, and bottom is my cell. I’ve got a special ring for Stiles, so if there’s something that can’t wait, call me from his phone first.”
Peter nodded and took the card. “I appreciate it,” he said.
Harvey’s phone dinged from inside the pocket of his pants and he swore quietly. “Shit. I need to go before I’m late.”
“Have a pleasant day,” Peter said.
Harvey just rolled his eyes again before heading out of the house.
Peter hummed, intrigued. He’d be getting that conversation out of Harvey sooner rather than later. He heard Stiles snuffle upstairs and rumbled quietly. Not wanting the man to wake alone, Peter made quick work of the few dishes, rinsing them out and loading them into the dishwasher. He retrieved the crutches and headed upstairs, keeping a careful ear on Stiles’ wakefulness.
Stiles was mumbling something, incoherent and still mostly asleep, bandaged arm splayed out in the spot Peter had vacated, lazily patting the mattress. “P’ter,” he said quietly, lifting his head up with a sleepy frown.
He cocked his head to the side and watched the younger man conduct his sleep-addled search for Peter. A few seconds later, he walked over to the side of the bed and crouched down to be about level with Stiles’ head.
The teenager rolled over, brow furrowing as he woke, clearly frustrated.
When he opened his eyes to see Peter’s red-eyed smirk just in front of his face, he jolted awake with a high-pitched yelp and scrambled back in the bed, heartbeat thundering in his chest. “Holy shit, goddammit!” he half-shrieked at Peter. “What is wrong with you?”
“How did you sleep? Are you feeling better, sweet boy?” he purred.
“I was until the fucking heart attack, you demented mutt! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Peter just chuckled and took a seat on the side of the bed. “Were you dreaming about me, darling?”
Stiles scowled. “You’re an asshole!” he said, pulling in a few deep breaths to calm himself down. “I was fuckin’ sleepin’ and then I wake up to see your fuckin’ laser eyes starin’ right at me!”
“You were calling my name in your sleep. I felt it only proper I answer that call, pet.” He edged closer to Stiles, reaching out a hand and pressing his hand to Stiles’ chest where his shirt had rucked up. The skin over his ribcage was mottled, bruised dark and ugly. It was too much damage. He felt his anger rise again, an angry snarl bubbling out of him as he pulled an immense amount of pain from the younger man. “I can still kill him.”
Stiles glared at him through narrowed eyes, not saying anything but not pulling away from Peter’s touch. If anything, he shifted a bit closer to the werewolf, giving him easier access to leech the pain.
After a long moment of silence, and the worst of Stiles’ pain taken, Peter pulled his hand back. “Your brother’s already left for work.”
“And his date?”
“Stayed the night and had several choice words on her way out this morning.”
That pulled a laugh out of Stiles. “Yeah, he really knows how to pick his one night stands,” he said. “Have you been awake long?”
“Just long enough to see the morning’s entertainment,” he said. “Are you hungry?”
Stiles shook his head. “Chinese food’ll hold me over for a while,” he said, scratching lazily at his stomach. “I could definitely go for some coffee, though. You want some?”
“I had a cup with your brother. We spoke a bit before he had to leave.”
“And did you get all your questions answered?”
“Some,” he said, lifting one shoulder in a lazy shrug. “I certainly appreciate the extent he’s willing to go to protect you. There aren’t many who would stare down an Alpha, blatantly challenging a creature capable of killing them faster than they can blink.” He smirked. “It earned him my interest. And a bit of my respect.”
“Only a bit?” Stiles asked.
“I tend not to warm up to strangers easily,” Peter said quietly. “Though given the family resemblance, I don’t foresee it taking too long.” He pulled on a deliberately smarmy smile and crawled closer to Stiles, running his nose along the teenager’s jawline before pressing an obnoxiously loud kiss to his cheek. “You are still my favorite, little wolf-heart,” he purred.
Stiles leaned back a bit and narrowed his eyes at Peter. “You’re a fucking creep, Peter Hale.”
“Yes, pet, but I’m your fucking creep.”
Stiles huffed a sigh and palmed Peter’s face, shoving it away from him. Peter picked up on the pleasant, almost vanilla bean smell of amusement curling from the teenager, but he said nothing about it, instead enjoying the contact and the ease with which Stiles behaved. “It’s too early to deal with your particular brand of bullshit. I’m going downstairs to get coffee.”
“Do you need help navigating the stairs?”
“Nah. If I can’t make the stairs, the elevator goes between the two floors of the penthouse,” he said. “What are you gonna do?”
“I plan on taking full advantage of that rain-shower faucet in your bathroom.”
Stiles nodded, crawling out of bed and reaching for his hoodie. He paused, scowling at the thing, and dropped his hand before he could grab it. “You said Harvey’s gone, right?”
“As of about five minutes ago,” Peter confirmed. “He had crutches delivered before he left. They’re propped up against the wall next to your bedroom door,” he said, gesturing toward the door.
“Sweet,” he said, limping over to them. “There’s a touchscreen in the shower. You can set specific temperatures, and there’s an LED setting so you can shower under different colors. Harvey didn’t scrimp on that,” Stiles said around a grin. “Enjoy it, dude. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
“And once you’re done, c’mon downstairs. We can talk about what we’re gonna do today, and I might even answer some of your questions,” Stiles said, shooting a smirk at Peter before grabbing the crutches and maneuvering his way out of the room.