Stiles checks and double checks and all the supplies are waiting on the ground. Okay, it’s time, it’s now or never. He gets the shovel out of the car trunk and starts digging.
This is a convenient place, in the preserve, but away from all the roads and away from where the Hale house burned years ago. He’s as careful he can be, removing as much of the top layer of grass in one piece as possible. Then he sets it aside and keeps digging, hoping he’s not going to have to dig a full six feet.
Thankfully, the pack is still lazy and he has the box unburied after about an hour of digging. “Okay, show time,” he says, pulling over some additional tools to pry the lid off. Again, laziness means there’s not a lot of nails, and he pulls the plywood cover to the side.
He stares down at Peter Hale’s dead body. After a wendigo killed him, the pack decided to bury him here, in the woods where his family used to run. Scott said it was Lydia’s idea to cut his head off to be sure he didn’t do another magical reappearance. And there it is, tucked neatly between his legs. “Ew. Well, okay, gotta work with what we have,” he mutters, wiping his hands on the thighs of his jeans.
Peter’s been buried for just under three months. Thankfully, being a werewolf made his corpse look better than a human buried for three months. He actually looks a lot better than Stiles expected, which is good; it should make the magic easier.
Stiles pulls the makeshift sling into the grave with him and starts to pull Peter out. It’s not fun and while he isn’t a complete pile of goo, he’s definitely…not as solid as Stiles remembers him. Head goes on the sling as well, and Stiles gathers the edges, putting the ropes on the ground outside, with a stack of rocks he left there to weigh them down as he crawls out.
He looks back in the box one more time to be sure there’s no bits of Peter left and thankfully he did come up in one piece – two really, but without any missing fingers or toes, so that counts as a win.
It takes a few more minutes to get Peter (Peter’s body) laid out on the grass next to his grave. Now it’s time to really get to work.
First things first, he needs to reattach Peter’s head. It’s not pleasant, but he didn’t expect any of this to be and it has lived up to his low expectations. “Oh, this is so very gross, you better appreciate this, you dick,” he mutters as he finishes cleaning around the edges of the wounds. He dips his fingers into the open jar next to him, scooping out a gel that’s blue-black, slightly luminous and smells of herbs. He rubs it generously on the cuts – it’s easier to think of them as ‘the cuts’ rather than the stump of his neck – and after that’s done, he carefully aligns Peter’s head back on his body.
He holds it for a minute, using his free hand to rub a bit more gel around the cut. He lays the body down and takes a minute to wipe his fingers off while watching and making sure it looks stable. “Fuck it,” he says and reaches into his duffle bag to pull out an electric stapler. “A hundred fifty bucks for this, you better work.” He leans over and pulls the trigger shooting stables every inch or so around the parts of Peter’s neck he can see. “Worry about getting rid of those later,” he murmurs, tossing the staple gun aside.
Now it’s getting serious. Stiles gets up and grabs two small bottles, opening both and combining the powders inside. Then he creates a circle around them and his supplies. He’s memorized the ritual, of course, but also has notes that he pulls out. This is not the time to skip a step.
He takes the white, silk scarf and wraps it around Peter’s neck twice, and then adjusts the ends so they cross over his chest. He places the bowl of oil and herbs over his heart and Stiles lights it with one of the two lighters he brought. Two, just in case.
The full moon shines through the tree tops before being covered by clouds. Stiles begins to pray to the old gods, those that watched over werewolves and vampires and whatever it is that he would have been called in another time. He sprinkles the flowers around them and shuts his eyes as he rubs oil on Peter’s forehead. He wrote the spell on vellum and it still smells faintly of the skin he used to create it. It’s resting on Peter’s stomach so he can read it and he repeats it six times, feeling the familiar heat through his skin and the buzzing in his ears.
He takes a deep breath and puts both hands over the bowl of oil, putting out the flame and barely scorching his hand. Now he waits, sitting back on his heels to watch. “Wake up, come on Peter, wake up, you nut bag.”
And then suddenly Peter gasps, putting a hand to his chest and coughing as he blinks. Stiles grins and he can’t help himself from touching Peter’s arm and his chest and pushing a bit of greasy hair off his forehead. Peter looks at him and takes a couple of scratchy breaths and says, “It had to be you.”
“Okay, here’s the plan, Peter. You’re back from the dead, but you’re still kinda fragile. So you’re going to hang out there for a bit while I clean things up and make your grave look undisturbed. Or mostly undisturbed.” Stiles stands and pushes the now empty box into the grave. He uses the shovel to reposition it and then starts shoveling the dirt back in, checking on Peter with a glance over his shoulder. “How do you feel? And stay where you are, I want to be sure your head stays on.”
“That’s what someone wants to hear. And I’m not sure how I’m feeling,” he answers, clearing his throat. “I don’t even remember dying.” He raises a hand and grimaces at the thin, bony fingers. “How long was I dead?”
“About three months, just under actually. It’s September 22. You died on June 30th.” Stiles tosses the shovel to the side and then pulls the patch of grass he took off over the top, kicking some nearby leaves and dirt around the edges. “Well this isn’t perfect, but it’ll pass at first glance. And I haven’t seen anyone here, sorry about that, so I’m guessing no one really checks on you.”
“I’d guess if they cut off my head, they were feeling pretty comfortable I’d stay dead.” Peter shifts a little and reaches to touch his face when Stiles takes his wrist and gently guides his hand back down.
“Let it be for a bit, you’re still a little… smudgy? It’ll come together, between the spell and I’m hoping werewolf healing, you should be okay tomorrow night, I think. Or the next day.” He flops down next to Peter and rests a hand on his shoulder. “Try the eyes or something, let’s see how werewolfy you are.”
Peter blinks a couple of times and nothing happens, other than his regular blue eyes, still sunken in his face. “Nothing.”
“Give it time. So do you want to hear the whole plan?”
“There’s a plan? That’s reassuring. Tell me.”
Stiles starts grabbing things to put back in the duffle bag and says, “We stay here for a bit longer, probably just till I’m done packing. Then we get into my car and get out of here so you can have a few days to get back to normal.”
“Your father’s going to love this, he was always a fan. Can I try to sit up?” Peter pushes back to lean on his elbows while Stiles supports his back and keeps a hand on the back of his head.
“Slowly. And let me check your neck.” He unwraps the scarf and uses an end to wipe up a bit of goo, before wrapping it around again like a bandage. “Looks good. You’re going to have a bit of a scar for a while, but given that your head was completely off, I don’t think that’s too bad. And we’re not staying at my dad’s house, don’t even think that. I’ve been staying at a motel a county over. Been there a few weeks; it’s good because no one in Dad’s department is around to see me.”
“How long have you been here?” Peter asks. He’s now sitting up, leaning against a nearby tree and watching Stiles finish cleaning.
“About a month or so. Scott let me know about a month after you were killed; I would have been here earlier if I’d known. But then again, I needed the time to get the spell figured out and all the stuff I needed.” He finishes packing and sits, cross legged, in front of Peter. “How you feeling now, a little more together?” Peter shrugs and before he can turn his head, Stiles has his chin in both hands. “Try to keep the head still for a bit. I mean, I’m like 99% sure it’ll stay on, but why risk it?”
“99% sure? Oh I’m not worried at all.” He shuts his eyes and takes a few breaths, feeling Stiles’ eyes on him. “If it’s September aren’t you supposed to be in school?”
“Yeah, looks like I’m starting sophomore year late. I’m really only doing it at all because it makes my father happy and I’m studying with a witch who’s nearby, so why not. And I have a couple of scholarships so it’s not like I’m out of a lot of money or anything. At least not too much.”
They sit silently for a few minutes until Stiles’ natural urge to fidget kicks in. “Look, I’m going to go put this stuff in the trunk, it’s just a couple minutes’ walk from here. Just rest up for a few more minutes and we’ll go.”
“I can go with you,” Peter says quickly. “I think I’m okay to walk for a couple minutes. Just let me get my legs under me.”
Stiles doesn’t comment about the slight edge of panic in his voice. Which is logical given that he’s weak and can’t defend himself at all. Any pack member could come in and easily take him down – a determined raccoon could probably take him down.
“Okay, but we’re going slow and you hang on to my arm,” Stiles says, putting the duffle bag over his shoulder. He’ll need to make a second trip, but actually having Peter rest in the car does make sense.
Peter takes the hand Stiles holds out and slowly stands, swaying a little on weak, thin legs. “I’m good, I’m good. Let’s get out of here.”
“Aaaand we’re walking. We’re walking. And we’re walking.”
“Shut up, Stiles and let’s get to the car.”
They walk slowly, but it’s still only a couple of minutes. When they get to where Stiles left the car, Peter leans against the back door while Stiles dumps the bag in the trunk. He pulls out a blanket, and uses it to cover the front passenger seat before he carefully guides Peter inside.
After Stiles buckles him in, Peter leans back with his eyes shut again. “And the blanket is because?”
Stiles shrugs even though Peter can’t see him. “First, I thought you might get cold and also… well, you’re kind of skanky and you don’t smell the best and this is a rental car. And since I’m going to have the window open a little, I didn’t want you to get cold.” He takes a breath, looking at his new passenger and says, “I’m going to go back and get the last of the stuff, I’ll be, like, three minutes.” He waits a second and when Peter doesn’t answer, jogs back to the gravesite.
Back at the car, he says, “Done, let’s get out of here. Oh, here, this’ll help.” Reaching into the back seat, he grabs a plastic grocery back and puts it between them. Then he pulls out a bottle of water and one of orange juice and hands them both to Peter. “Drink more of the water, but a little juice too. Obviously, you’re dehydrated.”
“Thank you, again,” Peter answers and takes a small swallow of the water with a satisfied sigh. “I can’t even tell you how good that tastes.”
“I’m glad.” He watches carefully, being sure he can see Peter swallow and nothing leaks out around the scarf. And in fact, Peter does look a little better even with just a half bottle of water in him. “Try the juice, just a couple of sips. I don’t know if it’s too acidy for you, but I think the sugar would be good.”
Peter hands him the bottle to open, flexing his hand, looking at the tendons showing on the back. “I’m guessing the rest of me is pretty horrible?”
“Eh, let’s just say you’re not your usual handsome self yet.” He leaves the preserve from the backroad and makes his way to the freeway. He nods towards the bag and says, “There’s also some peanut butter crackers and peanut butter cups in there, too. A little protein, maybe. I wasn’t sure you should have anything like jerky, cause you know, your jaw might fall off.”
“Lovely thought.” He digs in the bag and pulls out the orange package with a triumphant smile. “Thoughtful of you, thank you.” It takes him a minute to get his hands to cooperate to get the wrapper open, and after the first bite, he leans back and sighs. “I suppose I should share with you, since you did all this.”
“Nah, go ahead, I got it for you.”
They’re both silent for a moment and then Peter asks, “So you do expect that I’ll be fully human and normal again, right? And not an extra on The Walking Dead?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sure. I mean, I haven’t personally tried this on a human, but I know others have. And I did bring back a cat,” Stiles assures him. He reaches over and pulls the blanket a little closer around Peter’s legs. “Gonna open the windows just a little, let me know if it’s too much.”
Peter eats the rest of the second candy and answers, “A little fresh air will be fine, I was buried, Stiles. I appreciate fresh air. Later I might appreciate a steak as well.”
Stiles glances over and speeds up a bit, passing a couple of slower cars. “Much later, I think. My plan is to get us back to the motel and then you rest up a bit. We’ll get you a bit of a snack, something with some protein, like an egg or something. Then you take a shower – you should be feeling pretty stable on your legs by then – and then we’ll think about a real dinner. Maybe a hamburger, that’s protein but soft enough that you should keep your jaw attached.”
“We can put off the shower until later? I thought I smell?” He sniffs the air and says, “I think I smell.”
“Well yes, but I think a bit of a rest to be sure your legs hold you up is a good idea,” Stiles answers. “I’ll bring you back from the dead, but I really don’t want to hold you up in the shower. No offense.”
“None taken.” Peter moves carefully, turning his body and keeping his head steady. “Would you tell me something? Why did you do this? The studying and the expense and I’m sure there’s danger as well. Why did you do it?”
Stiles drives a few miles not saying anything. Finally he sighs and says, “What do you think? You’ve always been smart and snide and the only one who keeps up with me. Maybe the only one who ever respected me. I always thought we kind of… I thought we connected, you know?”
“Hmm, I always thought we did, too. And I always knew you liked me,” Peter says, smiling and raising an eyebrow.
“Maybe you should hold off on the snarky face until you look a little less dead and a little like your normal look,” Stiles answers back.
Peter reaches to look at the mirror on the sun visor, but Stiles puts a hand on his arm and guides it back to his lap. “You could wait a bit on that, give yourself some time to get back to your normal handsome self.”
He looks down at Stiles’ hand still on his arm. “You think I’m handsome? I always thought you did.”
Stiles blushes in the dark and shrugs again. “You know you’re handsome, or you will be again. I don’t think I’m telling you anything you didn’t know already. It’s not like I’m blind.”
“You like me, don’t you? Did you bring me back because you like me?” Peter leans back in the seat and roots through the bag finding the orange juice again. “Did you forget that I had a wife and child? Kind of making assumptions, aren’t you?”
He reaches over and grabs the juice, taking a drink before answering. “I don’t know. I’m not assuming anything, I mean, I’m not against it – us – but that isn’t why I did this. And sorry if you’re insulted I assumed you’re not straight, although it’s not an insult. And I mean, I have seen you checking out my ass.”
“I never said I was straight,” Peter says grabbing back the bottle. “And yes, you have a nice ass. I didn’t say I was against something with you. Now that you’re a bit older and you’re apparently loyal enough to bring me back from the dead, I certainly think you’re worth a second or third look.”
“So basically that earlier stuff about a wife and kid was just to fuck with me? Did I mention you’re a big bag of dicks?”
Peter laughs and puts the empty bottle back into the bag and tosses it into the back seat. “You brought me back, sweetheart, you know what you’re getting.”
Pointing at his hand, Stiles says, “I think you’re doing okay, getting better. Your hand looks better, not as boney. You think there’s any werewolf back?”
“That’s good,” Peter says, flipping his hand back and forth studying it. “I think the wolf’s back a little, I hope so, it’ll help to heal more.”
“Yeah, I was counting on that and…” Stiles stops talking when Peter raises an arm and then slams his fist onto one of his legs.
“Oh, fuck,” he gasps, bending over with his head on his lap. “Fuck me, that hurts.”
Stiles can see the blue flash of his eyes and jerks the car over to the side of the road. “What the fuck are you doing? Are you insane? We’re trying to get you better, not breaking new things! Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
Peter sits up, breathing heavily, and pants out, “Triggers the healing. Healing the leg and everything else around it.”
“You’re fucking insane is what you are.” He pulls back on the highway, still shaking his head and keeping an eye on Peter.
He’s quiet, leaning back against the seat with his eyes shut, rubbing the broken leg though the quilt covering him. “It’s doing something, I can feel it.”
Stiles looks over and dammit, even with the quilt covering him, he can see that Peter’s thigh is looking thicker and more solid than before. “You werewolves are crazy. Or the healing is crazy or both. I can see why they cut your head off,” he says, shaking his head. “I said be patient, you’re going to be back to normal in a few days.”
Peter flips the sun visor down before Stiles can stop him and looks in the mirror. “I have looked better, that’s for sure. I guess after three months, I could look worse.” He unwraps the scarf from around his neck and leans forward, flipping on the light in the car. “Stiles. Stiles, what the hell is this?”
Looking over, Stiles says, “Staples. Sorry, but I needed to be sure your head stayed on. We’ll take them out at the motel, obviously.”
“Jesus, look at this!” Peter runs his fingers over the red scar on his neck and snorts. “This better fade because I’m not spending the rest of my life wearing turtlenecks! The only men who should wear turtlenecks are, I don’t know, English professors. Who are having a mid-life crisis and sleep with a student.”
Stiles speeds up, with his knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. “Calm the fuck down and you’re welcome for bringing you back from the fucking dead, Peter. I should have fucking left you there, you ungrateful shit. And quit insulting English professors; I slept with one of my English professors.”
Peter flips the visor up and slumps back into his seat. “Was that who you lost your virginity to?”
“No, you ass, that would be your daughter.”
They ride in silence for several miles until Peter reaches over and laces his fingers through Stiles’. “I’m sorry, I guess I’m still a little off, you know. It’s, um, a little disturbing to wake up next to your grave. And thank you. Thank you for this, for bringing me back, for the time you’ve taken and the preparations you made. I’m sorry, I’m not good at expressing gratitude. I could say I haven’t had a lot of reasons in my life, but that doesn’t matter. Thank you for this, Stiles.”
Stiles squeezes his hand and mutters, “Yeah, well, you’re welcome. But try to remember, this isn’t science, this is fucking magic, okay?”
“Of course. This is way beyond science.” They fall back into silence for a few more miles until Peter asks, “Where is this hotel we’re going to? Is it much farther?”
“It’s a motel, not a hotel. I didn’t think I should drag your nasty ass through a hotel lobby. And it’s about another fifteen minutes – I wanted us to be securely in Shasta County.” He gives Peter’s hand another squeeze and then pulls his hand away, running it through his hair and covering a loud yawn. “I’m about ready to get there, too. Adrenaline crash.”
Peter rolls down his window a bit more, letting cool night air in. “And your plans for later? I recover and you’d like to… go back to school? Alone?”
Stiles glances over and smiles a bit tentatively. “I thought maybe you’d want to come with? Get out of here and like I said, finish college. I mean, why not?”
“Sounds good. I have nothing to keep me here.” He pauses a minute and looks over at Stiles, head cocked as he thinks. “Do I have any money left? Or is it all gone?”
“Man, don’t do that with your head yet, okay? And your money… um, I think it’s split between Derek and Cora. And Derek has your life insurance money, I do know that.” He turns and grins at Peter, seeing how his face is filling in again. “That was nice of you, making him the beneficiary. I’m told he was surprised.”
“Think of how surprised he’ll be when I tell him to give me everything back.” Peter puts a hand on his thigh and returns Stiles’ grin. “Cora can keep whatever she wants, but I think Derek needs to return it.”
Stiles covers Peter’s hand with his own and replies, “How about we wait until we’re across the country and skype him? I don’t want to be around when he shits himself.”
“I think we have some interesting times ahead,” Peter says, with his smirking back in full force.
Stiles pulls into the motel driveway and heads towards the back, to their room. “Yeah. Yeah, Peter, I think maybe we do.”