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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.

“Milo-“

“Three broken ribs, a fat lip, and a black eye,” Stiles answered, giving his brother the same answer he’d given his father.

“What else?”

“Nothing else!”

“Don’t lie to me, you little shit. You’ve got a tell.”

“Over the phone.”

“What. Else.”

“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.

Chapter Text

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.”

“In person?”

“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.

Chapter Text

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."

Harvey scowled.

"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."

"You didn't-"

"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."

Harvey snorted.

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. 

Chapter Text

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.

Peter growled.

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.

Chapter Text

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.

“Exactly.”

“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.”

“What? Why?”

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.  

Chapter Text

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.”

“Wha-”

“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.”

“What’s that?”

“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.

Two.

And took Peter’s hand.

Chapter Text

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.”

Stiles blanched.

“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.