Chris looks at the rear-view mirror and studies the image reflected there for a long moment before looking back at the highway in front of him. He isn’t surprised when a hand curves over his thigh, squeezing reassuringly.
“It’ll be fine.” Peter says for what seems like the hundredth time.
Speaking softly, Chris asks, “Are you sure about that? Don’t you think a couple of twenty-eight year-old men driving around with a little kid looks a kind of odd?” He glances over at Peter and catches the unconcerned look on his face.
“Lots of people are adopting these days.” Peter answers, releasing his hold on Chris’ thigh before settling back in his seat.
“Yeah,” Chris mutters, “legally.”
Peter scoffs. “We’ll have official paperwork drawn up. It’ll be fine, Christopher. You need to stop worrying so much.”
Chris shakes his head and looks in the rear-view mirror again. The boy is asleep with his head tilted at an odd angle. They’d had to jimmy the lock to his parents’ sedan in order to get the booster seat out before they left. Chris’ gaze traces over the trusting peacefulness of Stiles’ face. Just three hours ago, Peter had been shushing Stiles’ tears and assuring him nothing else bad would happen.
“This isn’t the kind of life he deserves.” Chris says, thinking of his own hard childhood.
Peter hadn’t joined the hunter lifestyle until he’d been forced into it by the murder of his own pack. As terrible as that was, Chris doesn’t think Peter will ever quite understand what it was like growing up in the hunter life.
Chris sighs. “We can’t guarantee his safety.”
“Hey.” Peter’s voice turns harsh. “He’s already lost his parents. I’m not about to let anything else happen to him.” The steel in Peter’s voice is chilling.
Chris has a sudden revelation that every ounce of protection Peter can give will be funneled into Stiles. After having his pack taken so violently from him, Chris can easily see how Peter would view this situation as a second chance of sorts. He saw the way Peter carefully held onto the screaming little boy who cried in anguish when his momma and daddy didn’t come back for him. Chris heard the soft, almost inaudible song Peter sang to Stiles last night in their hotel room, body curled on top of the covers as Stiles silently cried himself to sleep. Peter’s eyes had been bloodshot when he came back from his shower later.
Chris’ own heart feels like a fifty pound weight is tied to it, dragging it into the pit of his stomach. He feels guilt at the exorcism gone wrong even though they had no control over the way the demon lashed out from Claudia’s body. Burning and salting the bodies of Stiles’ parents was one of the hardest ends to a case he’s ever been on. Now, they seem to have acquired Stiles, sneaking off with him in the back of their SUV because the Stilinski’s had no immediate surviving family members. He and Peter have been partners for going on seven years now, lovers off and on for over a decade.
A patchwork family of three broken yet resilient people looking out for one another while protecting the innocent.
Brittle hope rises inside at that thought, one he’d been refusing to think until now. He reaches over and finds Peter’s hand without looking. Their fingers tangle. When he looks in the rear-view mirror again, large brown eyes are looking back at him.
Stiles blinks his nap away slowly. After a moment he sits up in his booster seat and asks, “Can we get curly fries?”
Peter is grinning to himself triumphantly when Chris says, “Yeah, buddy. We can get you some curly fries.”